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Egypt Starves (and Egyptians Steal)

If the cotton is bought by local textile companies, and their exports are down by 10% during the first 9 months of 2012, where did it go?

It is all the stranger given that domestic cotton varieties are generally exported to manufacturers of high-end fabrics, while Egypt's textile industry  imports cheap yarn from Asia for mass market ready-to-wear clothing. As the Financial Times reports,

Egypt is known for the high quality of its cotton, but the local crop, most of it long-staple varieties, is mainly exported because it is too fine and too expensive to use for denim and T-shirts, the main items manufactured for western markets.

“The impact of the devaluation is not as positive as it could have been, because the problem here is that we have not deepened the industry so we still need to import a lot,” says Magdi Tolba, chief executive of the Cairo Cotton Center, an Egyptian manufacturer which supplies retailers in the US and Europe such as Macy’s, Nikeand Marks and Spencer.

“All fabric for exported garments comes from abroad. Even the yarn for T-shirts comes from southeast Asia.”