15 October 2003

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Becoming Europe’s most successful nation state

Finance and Economic Affairs Minister John Dalli speaks at Sunday’s JCB European, Middle East and African Regional Conference themed ‘Tapping the European and North African markets through Malta’.

It is indeed a pleasure for me to welcome you to Malta and I hope you will enjoy your stay. We have invested heavily and shall continue to invest to make Malta always more attractive to visitors.
Leisure is high on the agenda in Malta; eating out is a national pastime thanks to many quality restaurants. cinemas, casinos, nightclubs, bars, and international 5 star Hotels are in abundance. The island has a beautiful choice of living experiences, be it luxury sea front apartments or 200-year-old traditional farmhouses, purchasers have a varied choice and the property market remain buoyant.
Our Mediterranean location lends itself to water sports and sea orientated relaxation or leisure activities. From Super Yachts to day sailing, the facilities are readily available. Diving is a fast growing area of tourist interest with visibility and conditions similar to those found in the Caribbean or Indian Ocean.
Malta is an extremely safe and cultured place to live; it has a deep and varied past with man leaving his first marks on the Island in 5600BC. Our climate is predominately warm and sunny with clear blue seas providing a beautiful place to live.
State primary, secondary and university education is readily available as is private education. However the private education fee scale is amongst the lowest in Europe but the standards are equally as high. Our university currently has 8,000 students studying a broad range of courses and some 6 per cent of the population hold a university degree qualification.
On the 1st May next year, Malta will be one of twenty-five countries making up the European Union. As such Malta will operating at a high level of standards in all sectors, which standards will be ensured by the system of peer review operated in the European Union.
Malta’s relationship with Europe dates back many hundreds of years. But Malta as a centre of European culture was evident in the 16th century with the arrival of the Knights of St John and the fusion of all the different European cultures which they realised in Malta. Their influence and sense of history also taught us well the advantages of being a small country. Our political ability to react quickly when opportunities are presented is a strong card in the game of international business, and we play it eagerly to strengthen our global and European business advantage. This helps secure our future as an equal partner in what is possibly the most ambitious and successful club in the world.
Today, Malta has an active economy which builds on its human resources to interact actively with the global economy. Unemployment is amongst the lowest in Europe and our holistic approach to future education requirements ensure that our children learn skills that will provide them with work now and in the future.
Over the past five years we have upgraded our logistical infrastructure to the standards necessary for European Union membership. A de-regulated telecommunications market now provides companies and individuals alike with a choice of mobile phone operators – GSM or GPRS 3G service provision - low cost VOIP international calls from landline or mobile and ADSL or cable IP connection to the door.
Travelling is made simple with daily flight connections to most European capitals. These are available via Air Malta together with many other major airlines such as Lufthansa - British Airways – Alitalia - Emirates and KLM providing direct services to and from their homelands. Flight times are very reasonable with London only three hours away, Rome just one hour away, and Paris just two.
Shipping is a prime industry for Malta and our Freeport is one of the busiest container terminals in the Mediterranean with a throughput last year of 1.2 million TEU’s. It contracts to some of the most renowned international carriers in the containerisation industry, who are operating regular services from Malta Freeport. As such we presently enjoy global connections with approximately 110 ports worldwide, with over 60 in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. This facility combined with Malta Maritime operating our Valletta harbour deep-water anchorages, provide one of the largest such facilities in the Mediterranean.
Malta Drydocks further complement this by providing a full service ship repair yard complete with floating dry docks.
Financial Services are a key expansion area for Malta and over the past 5 years huge changes have taken place. With a well-supervised onshore regime, Malta is in line with the new standards of financial operations. In fact it is being viewed by the serious operators worldwide as one of the safe and trusthworthy centres from which to operate. With sound regulation and a low to medium cost base, growth in our financial services sector has been dramatic and shows no sign of abating.
Over 3,500 foreign manufacturing, trading and financial companies operate in or through Malta today such as ST Microelectronics, Playmobile, Toly Products, De La Rue, HSBC, Microsoft, and Dowty to name but a few. Their reasons for being here vary but quality of life is one of the most important.
In the words of one of these investors:
"Malta should be considered as a prime location for companies requiring: A combination of administration, engineering and hourly employees at very competitive costs High quality standards Skills in the English language Benefits arising from the Maltese financial services"
Together with these partners, we continue to build the infrastructure, educate and re-train the labour base and practice our ‘business today’ political mentality enabling us to enter the 21st Century with confidence.
Malta’s geographic position has historically pointed its vocation not just towards Europe but also towards North Africa. Malta will be the only European country speaking an Arabic Language. It is also the only European country that has been imbued in the Arabic culture. This makes us the best facilitators in Europe for those global companies that want to do business in North Africa. Malta does not only translate languages. We are capable of translating cultures between different groups.
The road is now clear for us for a fast development. As a country we now seek specialist Global business partners to further strengthen our economic base and to move Malta toward its chosen goal, TO BECOME EUROPE’S MOST SUCCESSFUL NATION STATE.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
Tel: (356) 21382741-3, 21382745-6 | Fax: (356) 21385075 | E-mail