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Egypt’s middle class forced to adapt as austerity bites Mohamed Kassem is working hard to secure one of the last links in a supply chain he believes will turn Egypt into a clothing export powerhouse and help revive an economy long shackled by politics and red tape. Like other exporters, the former chairman of the Ready Made Garments Export Council of Egypt had hoped the November 2016 devaluation of the country’s pound would trigger a surge in foreign sales. That has been slow in coming even though the currency’s value against the dollar has more than halved since then, but Kassem is confident that his new $350 million project — a huge, customs-exempt textile complex — will be one cog in an export revival by the time its looms start humming. “Egypt does not produce enough fabric in the quantities that are needed. This is the last component to complete the entire supply chain,” he said. Egypt’s economy was damaged by years of unrest that followed a 2011 uprising which toppled long-time President Hosni Mubarak . President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi , now serving a second term, promised to put it back on track. “Exports from Egypt have not been as sensitive to the changes in foreign exchange rates as in other countries, and that’s why we haven’t seen a bigger pick-up in exports,” said Reham Eldesoki, a Cairo-based economist. A factory employee works in a thread spinning factory in Cairo, Egypt, July 5, 2018. MOHAMED ABD EL GHANY/ REUTERS High interest rates, a breakdown of trust by foreign buyers during the post-uprising years and a lack of capacity to meet changing foreign demand have all played their role.