Vietnamese leather exporters have registered a 14.8 per cent year-on-year jump in earnings to US$1.29 billion for the first half of 2004, making the country the fourth largest exporter of leather goods in the world according to the Industry Ministry.

Of the total export volume for the six-month period, European Union (EU) countries accounted for about 80 per cent, the ministry said.

Exports to the US increased slightly during the half, it added, while those to Japan and other market showed slight fluctuations.

Commenting on the earnings figures, Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association president Nguyen Gia Thao said the country's leather exporters could face a slowdown in the near future, as the EU reconsiders its application of the Generalised System of Preferences to the eight largest exporters to the union.