Over 70 Egyptian and 20 Italian leather companies participated in a series of business-to-business meetings held last week in Cairo, Egypt. The meetings were part of a business mission organized by the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) office in Cairo, with the collaboration of the Italian Embassy and the Italian Development Cooperation Agency (AICS). The mission aimed at promoting knowledge of the Egyptian market and fostering new business partnership between Italian and Egyptian operators.
The first day of the mission organized by ITA was dedicated to over 300 B2B meetings. The conference was attended by representatives of the major Egyptian institutions and business organizations in the sector: Cairo for Investment & Development, Industrial Development Authority, Leather Export Council and Leather Technology Center.
The program of the second day included a visit to Robbiki Leather City, a large industrial hub located in el-Roubiki, about 54 kilometers east of Cairo. The hub is part of an Egyptian government project launched in 2016 which involved the transfer of tanneries and leather companies from Sur Magra al Oyon, south of Cairo, to the newly build industrial district. The goal is to develop the leather industry, attract investments, improve the living standards of workers and protect the archaeological site of Sour Magra al Oyoon, home to ancient walls dating back to the 11th century.
The Robbiki Leather City project was developed with the help of Italian experts, thanks to the Italian-Egyptian Debt for Development Swap (IEDS) Programme. According to ITA, Italy “still plays a leading role in the development of Robbiki Leather City, with important development cooperation projects, that together with the promotional activities of ITA have contributed to the increase in trade between the two countries, with particular reference to Italian export of tannery machinery and import of leather”.
The goal of the visit was to identify and develop opportunities for technical, industrial and commercial partnerships with Egyptian companies not only in the manufacturing sector but also on other aspects of the supply chain. ITA’s mission was organized at the right time, since the industrial hub will soon be completed and fully operational. The participants visited two tanneries, the tanning technology center and the new industrial facilities that will be dedicated to leather products.
The leather industry, footwear sector included, is the fifth most important industry of the Egyptian economy, both in terms of production and number of employees (about 270k workers). The Egyptian government has been investing in the modernization of the industry and has embarked on an ambitious project for the development of the manufacture of leather products, from footwear to bags and accessories, to clothing.
Italian companies, thanks to their know-how and the technology at their disposal, are seen by Egyptian companies and authorities as potential partners that can help them achieve their ambitious goals. Not surprisingly, many expressed great interest in meeting Italian entrepreneurs to discuss possible partnerships for the development of the sector.