Vietnam: Handbag Exports on Track for 2012 Record

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A Binh Duong Province-based handbag factory in Vietnam

Hanoi—Vietnamese handbag producers say their Vietnam-made products are on track to reach a 15% increase this year—to more than $1.5 billion.

In January and February alone, exports of handbags, luggage, hats and umbrellas increased to $71.6 million to the United States,Vietnam’s largest export market.

Lefaso, the Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association, said Vietnamese handbag producers are capable of producing 200 million units each, so the producers will have little trouble in reaching such a target. Export value of handbags is expected to reach a growth rate of 30% during the next few years, it added.

Vietnam’s rising role as a handbag producer is increasing as more global brands and handbag companies shift production from China to other regions, Nguyen Duch Thuan,

Nonetheless,Vietnam’s producers haven’t been able to capitalize on some handbag production business since the companies still lack the financial resources, equipment, facilities and skilled workforce necessary to complete major contracts.

Lefaso said the greatest weakness in its handbag production is dependence upon raw materials and imported materials. Vietnamese producers can only meet about 20% of leather demand along with some basic accessories.

At present, many producers still have to outsource orders from foreign firms so they can only use existing designs, Thuan said. However, Thuan said the goal ofVietnam’s producers it to manage the design process themselves, eventually building up to 100% made inVietnam handbags.

In 2011,Vietnam earned more than $1.3 billion by exporting handbags, a 33% increase over 2010, Lefaso, said.

Key export markets included theUnited States (about $461 million in export value), the EU (about $422 million), Japan (about $140 million) and Southeast Asian countries (about $66 million).