Egypt’s Ministry of Trade and Industry has signed a cooperation protocol with United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Italian Development Cooperation. The ministry says the two-year $1.72 million project aims to increase the added value of Egypt’s long and extra-long staple cotton, improve the performance of cotton farmers and producers, and maximize the role of institutions supporting cotton production.
The development comes as Africa gets renewed attention as a textile and apparel sourcing region after years of what the industry saw as untapped potential and the 2015 renewal of AGOA, the African Growth & Opportunity Act U.S. trade preference program for 10 years.
According the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel Egyptian cotton is prized for its premium extra-long staple fibre, production and exports have been on the decline. Textile and apparel imports into the US from Egypt were worth $363.38 million for the first five months of the year. The project will be implemented over two years and will include building the capacity of 400 cotton farmers and 15 private companies in the textile business, improving the skills of 300 workers and offering training programs for 300 technical students.
This month, the US Agency for International Development East Africa Trade and Investment Hub signed a grant with Kenya to create 2,000 full-time jobs and provide more than 100,000 hours in skills development for young workers in the apparel industry. According to USAID the signing of the grant also marked the kick-off of East Africa Cotton, Textile and Apparel Workforce Development Initiative, a partnership between the Hub and the American Apparel & Footwear Association to ensure U.S. brands and retailers goods are manufactured in accordance with “best business practices and operations” in East Africa.