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SADAT – Egypt’s Trade and Industry Minister, Tarek Qabil, has announced plans for the construction of the country’s largest ever textile and garment city. The government claims inward investors are stumping up the lion’s share – 87 per cent – of the US$2bn project, which will cover an area of 3.1 million square metres in Sadat City and include 568 factories. 

The Minister said the US$2 billion will be injected over a period of seven years, with local investors also contributing.

During a visit by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to Sadat City, Qabil told reporters the new textile city will provide direct employment of up to 160,000 jobs, with a potential total annual production value of US$9 billion. It will also include a training school on the latest technology in the spinning and weaving industry.

Man Kai, a Chinese holding company which exports to Egypt, is executing the project, which will be implemented in five phases, beginning in March this year. The first phase is planned for completion in 2020 and includes 57 factories with total investments of US$230m, while the fifth and final phase of the project will be completed in 2024.

The Minister added that the government would consider part-funding the project under the condition that the implementation period is reduced from seven to one and a half years.

Egypt textile exports in 2016 totalled US$750m, a signifiant drop on 2015 when exports topped US$900m. The country is renowned for its long staple length cotton which has historically made up a significant proportion of textile exports.

Production of the crop has slumped since 2011, the year of the Arab Spring. That period also saw looser regulations which, arguably, degraded the quality of local cotton and saw many farmers switching to rice.

In 2016 Egypt banned all but the highest quality cotton seed, shrinking the area under cultivation in a bid to improve quality. 

In 2016-17 Egypt will produce 160,000 bales, half the previous year’s crop and a figure which is dwarfed by the 1.4 million produced in 2004-05 according to US Department of Agriculture estimates.

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