Free trade does not mean a free
hand - Vassallo
In what could be interpreted as a reaction to criticism
over the Doulos affair, Parliamentary Secretary Edwin Vassallo yesterday
said in a statement that free trade could not be interpreted as a system
free from regulation.
Vassallo has been heavily criticised for his comments on the governments
stand to not allow the MV Doulos to sell books in Maltese waters. In
his statement the Doulos was not mentioned, but the implications were
Vassallo was speaking to furniture manufacturers at the Malta External
Trade Corporation and said: "Our duty is to have an organised market
with a level playing field for all. We cannot interpret the concept
of free trade as a system where the rule of the jungle is king. The
more free trade is adopted, the more we need to obey organisational
rules. We must be careful and be sensitive to other companies needs.
There is need for intelligent competition in business, we have to be
able to work and learn from each other."
The Parliamentary Secretary is pushing for more sustainable businesses:
"small enterprises were always considered to be the motor of the
economy. It is important that we strengthen the role of small enterprises,
and the government is committed to help you with your decisions in order
to make your businesses more sustainable.
You have to learn to defend yourselves."
Vassallo intimated that there were people who were working against the
interests of Maltese businesses: "Those that are against, are trying
to make their voice heard and it is your duty to inform the public of
the genuineness of Maltese products and the services being offered to
On a more positive note, Vassallo announced that the idea of a Business
Clinic, where representatives, officials and experts from government
would be able to visit and advise businesses in financial difficulties.
The Parliamentary Secretary concluded by saying that government entities
previously considered to be some sort of police over business were now
looked upon as partners in business. He mentioned as examples, the Small
Business Unit, the Malta Standards Authority and the Malta-EU Information