On the conquest of the Americas

It’s the city of everyone’s dreams, the metropolis that never sleeps, the peak of the ‘American dream’ and a place where wishes have no limits. A lot could be said about the scenario’s magnificence but New York, the most cosmopolitan city worldwide, is increasingly a stage for the Portuguese companies.

The USA are the fifth major client of the national products and represent over 5% of the exports. In 2015, 2734 national companies exported to the biggest economy worldwide. However, the Portuguese products represent just over 0,1% on the national exports' ranking.
According to Robert Sherman, the USA's ambassador in Portugal, the interest in the national products goes beyond the Portuguese communities on the country and reaches the national clients. “The Portuguese products are very good and the American customers are excited to have access to them.”
This is a priority market for the footwear sector. The USA is the main footwear importer worldwide and, among all the exports, represent around 26% of the global footwear market - out of every ten pairs of shoes, eight come from China.

However, over the past five years the Portuguese footwear doubled the exports to ‘the land of Uncle Sam’. In 2015, the exports for the country reached the 67.5 million euros. In 2016, the exports had once again a significant growth in the first semester: over 14% for 34 million euros.
Numbers that have increasingly encouraged the footwear companies to invest on this market. At a first moment, the aim is to stablish the Portuguese name in Las Vegas and New York through the attendance in events of the sector and, more recently, with the opening of stores. According to Rui Boavista Marques, from AIECEP Portugal Global, “this is a huge market and the Portuguese companies have been gaining market shares in a way that has never happened in the past. In recent years, we have more than doubled the exports for the USA. We went from a billion to 2.5 billion (euros). One of the sectors with a higher growth is the footwear industry. Last year alone, it grew 45% and has been increasing between 50 to 70% per year and has been also one of the sectors that has exploited better the opportunities of the USA markets.

New York, in particular, has a very attractive consuming public, where dwell people from around the planet and has consumers from every stratums and styles. In the State of New York only, live around eight million people, consumers that can increasingly step into Portuguese stores within the American soil. It’s the case of Fly London, which opened its first store in America two years ago and has already a high sales peak. According to Craig Johnson, the brand’s director in New York, “the footwear presents a top-notch quality: they’re well produced and have high standards.”
More than a sales point that embraces the world within one state, the magic of New York inspires young creators and Portuguese brands. The brand Josefinas has just crossed the Atlantic and opening their first store in the big metropolis. “We decided to invest in New York because it’s a city that we always liked a lot. We want to captivate more people to wear our products and, therefore, we wanted to create a magical place in the New Yorker neighborhood. There, we symbolize all of our dreams and expectations.”
New York establishes itself as a trends market at an international level, and the Portuguese exports to America reflects that. Those are brands which went on the conquest of this market… And a lot more are to come.

A transatlantic opportunity
The signature of the Transatlantic Treaty (TTIP), between the European Union and Washington, initially predicted to the end of this year, can reduce the customs fees and increase the exports. “I hope, naturally, that the settlement will be contracted. If not, our advice for the companies is that they don’t forget this market. It is clear that we’ll benefit from reduced customs fees with the signature of TTIP. It will be an even more competitive situation, which we shouldn’t be neglected. However, without the TTIP, the companies must invest in the USA and in the market opportunities it offers.”

A handbook for investments
The Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD) launched the “Portugal Business USA – Support Handbook for internationalization to the United States of America”. A document projected to the small and medium-sized enterprises that want to invest in the American market. “We intend to help prepare an increasing number of companies, in such a way that when they enter the American market, they will be able to do so in a solid and successful way. The USA are an essential market for a simultaneously European and Atlantic country as is ours”, explained Vasco Rato, President of FLAD.