Egypt’s ministry of agriculture has halted the import of cotton “to protect local produce” and “resolve problems related to marketing it,” the ministry’s spokesman said on Tuesday.
The decision is temporary, spokesman Yehia Qadh told Aswat Masriya. He nevertheless did not say when the decision will be suspended.
Cargoes shipped before July 4 will be excluded from the decision.
The decision comes shortly after the Egyptian government lifted cotton subsidies completely at the beginning of 2015. The subsidy cost the government $550 million in the last season it was applied.
Locally produced cotton is not being properly marketed due to competition it faces from imported cottons, said Amin Khair Allah, an official at the Industry and Trade Ministry’s internal cotton trade committee. Khair Allah noted an increase in the production volume of local cotton.
Cotton cultivation is expected to span 260 thousand acres this year, according to an Agriculture Ministry report issued in March.
Egypt has long been famous for its unique long staple cotton, especially under the British colonial rule.
Total Egyptian cotton exports rose by 94.3 percent year on year, in the period from December 2014 to February 2015, the national statistics agency reported in May.
(reporting by Mohamed Gad)