This Is What It Takes To Revive Egypt’s Cotton Industry

March 8, 2023


Egypt needs $1.6 billion to rehabilitate the country’s Cotton, Spinning, Weaving and Clothing Holding Company, Egypt’s Prime Minister, Moustafa Madbouly said in February. 

The overhaul for the company will include upgrading machinery worth $696 million, as well as investing in new ones, according to Al Ahram. The announcement came after Madbouly was led on a tour of the company’s factories, which are based in the governorate of Al Mahalla, known for its cotton harvesting and weaving. 

In 2023, Egypt will also start building the world’s largest textile factory in Al Mahallah, Al Ahram reported in December.  This is part of the government’s initiatives to rehabilitate sectors like weaving and spinning, which play a vital role in the textile industry.

White gold 

Egyptian cotton has historically gained popularity as one of the staples of the country, being dubbed white gold. The plant that produces cotton was first documented in Egypt in 2500 BC. The cultivation of cotton during that time period can be found transcribed in hieroglyphic symbols, reliefs, and seeds discovered in Thebes. Moreover, upon closer examination, archeologists found that the wrappings of some mummies showed traces of cotton. 

The production of high-quality cotton exported from Egypt grew in popularity during the American civil war in 1861. Throughout the years, the quality and production has fluctuated. 

Today, cotton plays an important role in Egypt’s textile industry. Known for its quality globally, the abundance of Egyptian cotton within the country is a contributing factor to the growth of the spinning and weaving industry – considered one of the dominant sectors of the national economy. 

The textile manufacturing industry comes in third as the largest industrial sector for Egypt’s economic growth, as per a study published in July 2021 by the Arab Association of Civilization and Islamic Arts. 

In 2020, Egypt was considered the 44th global cotton exporter, having sent out $221 thousand worth of the product, with the leading destinations being Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Jordan, and France, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity. The top importers of Egyptian cotton, however, as of 2022, are India and Bangladesh, according to Statista.

By 2021, Egypt exported $521,7 million worth of cotton, as per Trading Economics. During that year, the agricultural sector accounted for almost 11.83% of Egypt’s growth in the domestic product (GDP), albeit subject to oscillation, according to a report published in 2023 by data analysis and mining provider Statista. 


As a side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, Egypt’s textile industry witnessed a 14% drop by late 2020, according to the international trade center. As international companies retracted orders, postponed shipments, and pushed back payment, local companies suffered with exports plummeting to 29% during the beginning of 2020. 

The harvesting area of cotton is predicted to increase by 14% in 2023, as per a report by the Foreign Agricultural Service released in April 2022. Moreover, the textile manufacturing industry, ranked the world’s second largest, has been expected to reach a 4 % increase in compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2022 and 2027, as per the Egypt Textile Manufacturing Market Study, published in March 2022. 

Cotton along with artificial and synthetic fibers account for about 90% of raw materials exported by the North African country, the report notes.