Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) countries more than doubled their shoes imports from China in five years while intra-regional trade in footwear is on the decline. Chinese footwear exports to Comesa increased by 218.2 per cent from $241 million (Sh24.1 billion) in 2009 to $767 million (Sh76.7 billion) in 2014.


A one-week forum in Hawasa, Ethiopia, organised by the Comesa Leather and Leather Products Institute (LLPI) noted that China’s relative importance in the regional market grew from contributing 61per cent to 72 per cent of the footwear import bill in the same period.


Comesa LLPI director general Mwinyikione Mwinyihija said the Asian nation’s exports into the region are much higher compared to intra-trade in footwear which has retreated to 2.2 per cent from 6.8 per cent.


“The impact of China in the Comesa market is visible. But many small and medium enterprises as well as consumers rate the quality of Chinese products as below market expectation,” he said.


“However, these shoes are lowly-priced. It is, therefore, imperative that SMEs should aim to produce quality, durable and competitively-priced products to ward off competition from China,” added Mwinyihija. Comesa imported leather worth $41 million (Sh4.1 billion) from the rest of the world in 2014 compared to $31 million (Sh3.1 billion) in 2009.


Mwinyihija said growth in finished leather imports has been slow in comparison to footwear imports, which reached $1 billion (Sh100 billion) in 2014 from $391 million (Sh39.1 billion) in 2009.


“This is a reflection that the Comesa footwear and leather goods production segment is not growing in tandem with the rising demand. The slow growth was attributed to a plethora of constraints for SMEs,” he added.


Source :

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