New figures show China is now the world's largest footwear producer and exporter with its firms churning out more than four billion pairs a year and accounting for around half of all shoes made around the world.

Figures released by customs chiefs on Tuesday reveal China exported more than $10 billion worth of footwear last year, up 2.5 per cent from 2000, as overseas firms took advantage of its low production costs.

Its main export markets were the US, EU, Japan and Hong Kong, but one trade boss expressed concern at low export prices which have been triggered by fierce competition and overcapacity in the market.

He added that the nation's shoe producers need to improve the quality of their goods, upgrade technology, and build their own brands in the international marketplace if they are to remain leading players in the worldwide industry.

Guangdong Province is the largest footwear producing region in China with an annual output of three billion pairs, accounting for one-third of the world's total shoe output.