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Egypt bans cotton imports to boost local crop

Staff writer |
In a change of course just six months after announcing an end to subsidies for its cotton farmers, Egypt has stopped all cotton imports to help the local crop, according to media reports.

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Egypt imports cotton mostly from Greece, the U.S., Burkina Faso and Benin.

"The decision aims to protect local production of cotton and resolve its marketing problems," the agriculture ministry said in a statement, adding that cargoes shipped before July 4 would still be accepted.

"The ministry is keen on Egyptian cotton regaining its glory on all levels," it said.

The market for Egypt's high-quality, extra-long staple cotton has been declining over the years.

Egypt exported $83.8 million worth of raw cotton in 2013-14, down from $120.3 million the previous year, according to Central Bank data. Imports of raw cotton, however, grew to $117.8 million in the same year up from $51.3 million.

The chairman of the Egyptian Chamber of Textile Industries Mohammed al-Morshedy has asked farmers to grow more short and medium staple cotton to support the country's textile industry, which he said would be hit by the lack of cheap cotton imports.

Cotton acreage has fallen dramatically since the heyday of the 1960s, when Egypt produced cotton from up to 2.2 million feddans (924,000 hectares) helped by fixed state prices.

The acreage his year is expected to exceed 260,000 feddans, according to a report issued by the agriculture ministry in March.


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