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Maria Estela Ferreira

This chapter aims to illustrate the main outcomes and the characteristics and factors of the resilience of the footwear industry in the northern region of Portugal as performed in the last 30 years. This industry acts in a cluster located in a number of towns around Porto, within a maximum distance of 50 km from this city. Such cluster is responsible for more than 90 per cent of Portuguese footwear exports. Along the analyzed period, and among other difficulties, two main shocks are identified which the industry had to face: the full membership of China in the WTO, in 2001, which carried the delocalization of most foreign footwear companies, mainly to the Far East, and the sub-prime world crisis in 2008. The industry survived and surpassed these shocks thanks to a thorough preparedness sustained by the action of entrepreneurs, together with a strong and active association and a technological center, which provided management and technical support and strengthened links between them, stimulating coordinated actions. This chapter suggests, through a non-linear approach, that Portuguese footwear exports are about to reach the level they would have attained if China hadn’t joined the WTO.