Vietnam is beginning to feel the effects of the economic slowdown, according to the Vietnam National Leather and Footwear Corporation.

Export turnover for the first four months of the year was US$487.5 million, only 0.3 per cent higher than the same period last year.

Now the industry body is launching a campaign to promote trade, increase marketing activities and expand existing export markets.

These include the EU and Japan as well as the formerly lucrative markets in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

The leather and footwear corporation also plans to invest in advanced technology, modern equipment and improve productivity.

It says many of its members are short of capital and borrow money at high interest rates.

Some accept contract labour for international conglomerates on the side, reducing profit margins.

 Around 80 per cent of materials and accessories needed for footwear manufacture have to be imported, eating into profits.