Thu, Oct 27, 2005 - Page 11 News List

`Taiwan' to guarantee shoe quality

HOME MADE In a bid to promote quality manufacturing and resist increased pressure from cheap WTO imports, shoe makers are making 'Made in Taiwan' a branded logo

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Economic Affairs yesterday launched a "Made in Taiwan" footwear logo, aimed at adding more value to locally-manufactured quality shoes and boosting both domestic and export markets that have been clobbered by cheaper Chinese products.

"Using the logo, we hope to distinguish our fine quality products from the low-priced and poorer products dumped from places such as China and other countries in Southeast Asia, and boost both domestic sales and exports," Minister of Economic Affairs Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥) said at the launch ceremony.

A few years ago, local shoe manufacturers boasted annual output of US$3.7 billion, but with the industry migrating to China to take advantage of its cheaper labor, the figure has now slumped to just NT$60 billion (US$1.8 billion), Ho said.

The number of shoe makers in Taiwan has also dropped from over 3,000 to about 800, said Lin Chin-hsing (林進興), commissioner of the committee promoting the "Made in Taiwan" logo.

The opening of the market after Taiwan's accession to the WTO also severely impacted on local makers' domestic business, Lin said. Before entrance to the WTO, local manufactures commanded over 60 percent of the domestic footwear market, but now their market share is only 15 percent, thanks to an influx of low-priced products from Chinese makers, Lin said.

To earn more profits, local retailers have even put "Made in Taiwan" on the tags of shoes imported from China, which has prompted local makers to initiate the certification system, Lin said.

Companies that apply for the logo must produce the finished products in Taiwan, and pass a series of tests set by a committee composed of officials from the ministry and several local footwear manufacturing associations.

A total of 45 shoe manufactures applied for the certificate, but only 15 passed the tests, among those were the Kanfung Footwear Co (健豐鞋業) and others.

Major local footwear makers such as Shui-mu International Co (阿瘦實業) that has shoe stores using the "A.S.O." brand and La New International Corp (老牛皮國際股份公司), that owns stores with the "La New" name, will also join the program soon, Lin said.

Aside from products sold in the local market, the logo can also be used on original equipment manufactured products for export to help overseas consumers distinguish the origin of the products, Lin said.

To further enhance the sector, Ho anticipated local makers developing their own brand names in the way many consumer electronics makers have and marketing their products around the world.

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