Industry had little importance in Egypt until recently. The main production of the country, that of cotton, except for a grandiose factory recently built in Alexandria and some smaller factories to partially satisfy local needs, can be said to feed only the work of ginning and pressing. The first takes place in modernly equipped factories in el-Manṣürah and Kafr ez-Zayyāt which employ indigenous workers under the direction of European technicians. Pressing takes place in Alessandria, where large hydraulic or steam plants are set up. However, the manufacture and refining of cane sugar has taken on considerable importance, for which grandiose establishments have arisen. Minor processes for weaving silk or wool, for the tanning of skins and the making of shoes, the manufacture of ceramics, etc., they are more or less widespread both in Lower and Upper Egypt. But on the whole it can be said that the Egyptian industry is still in the first phase of its development, due to the competition, not held back by customs tariffs, which are made especially by the products of the European industry.
The activity of the vast majority of the populations is devoted to agriculture. According to data of 1917, the surveyed who had declared their profession (5,100,000 in all) the 4 / 5they were farmers, 677,000 were employed in industry (including 150,000 in transport), 280,000 in commerce and 143,000 in the liberal arts. It must also be taken into account that the vast majority of those employed in the industry are craftsmen (bricklayers, blacksmiths, tailors, seamstresses, shoemakers) rather than real workers. The sugar refineries (29,000 workers) which absorb the largest number of workers belong to the big industry. Of those surveyed as farmers, half and perhaps more own the land they work. Small owners owning a small field of a few acres, the number of which is growing; hence the excessive fragmentation of land ownership, which, with the ever greater extension assumed by waqf assets, that is to increase the real estate and rental value of the land, is considered one of the causes that limit the progress of the agricultural industry. For Egypt economics and business, please check businesscarriers.com.
Egyptian external trade, which has been steadily increasing, has quintupled since the date of the British occupation. The first regular statistics, which date back to 1885, gave a total traffic of 21,600,000 Egyptian pounds, which had risen to 110 million in 1929 with an almost complete correspondence between imports and exports. They were respectively 56.9 and 53.4 million in 1929; but in the preceding three years exports had barely exceeded imports. Among the former it can be said that cotton figures for four fifths, while the rest is represented by agricultural products (onions, rice). In imports, for less than a third are yarns and fabrics of wool, cotton and silk, then iron objects, flour, wheat and other agricultural commodities, coal, timber, European industry in general. Overall it can be said that Egypt exports raw materials for industry and imports processed products. In this state of affairs, which is harmful to the national economy, they have tried to partially repair the changes recently introduced in customs tariffs that have so far remained unchanged from those that had already been imposed by Turkey. For them it is raised from 10 to 15% ad valorem, the customs duty on most imported manufactured products; and, with the exception of a few articles of which Egypt has an interest in encouraging local consumption, abolished the right of the 1 to 2% that already burdened exported goods.
The countries with which Egypt trades are – according to the statistics of 1929 -: in the first place England, which absorbs a fifth of imports and a third of exports; for imports follow on an equal footing: France and Italy with one tenth each of the total, while the United States hold 2nd place in exports and Italy occupies 4th place after France. Germany follows Italy, both for imports and for exports. Then follow Belgium, Japan, etc. British imports tend to decrease considerably, while the Germans and especially the Italians are increasing.
The metric system, introduced up to 1875 optionally in Egypt and made mandatory, apart from agricultural and capacity measures, for public administrations starting from 1 January 1892 (see also Law no.9 of 26 September 1914), is becoming more and more widespread, especially in external relations. For agricultural measures see feddān.
Mining products. – The soil of Egypt was celebrated in ancient times for the riches of gold, copper, precious stones (emeralds), building stones (red Aswan granite, porphyry and sandstone). The current mineral wealth of Egypt consists of phosphates, which are found in the Cretaceous limestones between el-Qoṣeir and Safāgiah on the Red Sea, object of intense exploitation; in oil, of which there are rich deposits in the coastal regions of the same sea adjacent to Gimsah; in the iron manganese, which is found in the mines of Sinai. The production of phosphates in 1929 was 200,000 tons; of tons 268,300 that of oil; of 137,500 that of manganesiferous iron. To be added, among the mining products, in addition to construction materials, sulfur, gypsum, salt, sodium carbonate, nitrates,