Business opportunities in Malta
Finance and Economic Affairs Minister John Dalli addresses
last Fridays D.K.F. European Members Meeting. With the meetings
subject of Business opportunities in Malta Minister Dalli
speaks about the balance of the Maltese economy between tourism and
manufacturing, and makes particular reference to the hi-tech sector
Malta has managed to build up over the years a stock of
very high quality tourist accommodation and recreation facilities as
hotels, health spas, casinos, cinemas and restaurants. Our property
market is also concentrating on upmarket accommodation facilities situated
on our coast and harbour area, with stunning views some of which you
will be able to experience this afternoon during your harbour cruise.
Land sports available in Malta include rock climbing, trekking, golf
and horse riding. Malta also offers very good facilities for water sports
as sailing, jet skiing, water skiing and windsurfing. The Islands
natural harbours, bays, sheltered creeks, cliffs, reefs and wrecks offer
excellent sport for both beginners and experienced open water and cave
For the less adventurous Malta also offers a large range of open air
and indoor museums for every era from prehistory to World War II. Maltas
strategic location meant that various civilisations who ruled the Mediterranean
region needed to occupy the Maltese Islands in order to maintain their
power. Thus Malta has traces of all these cultures. A tour of Malta
can acquaint the visitor with the complex history of the Mediterranean.
This mix of culture, relaxation and sports attractions helped reach
tourist arrivals per capita in Malta which is higher than those in other
islands as Seychelles, Maldives, Cyprus and Barbados. We are currently
working to further upgrade the tourist experience of our Prehistoric
Malta offers a very good quality of life to its inhabitants. Life expectancy
is close to that of developed countries, we have an ever increasing
number of students completing their tertiary education in Malta itself,
an unemployment rate which is one of the lowest amongst EU acceding
states and very close to the EU average, lower income inequality than
the average for EU member states, a lower proportion of persons at risk
of poverty than the average for EU member states, a lower amount of
criminality than countries as the UK and Sweden and we enjoy some 300
days of sunshine. We are currently working to improve our environment
and road infrastructure through funds tied to Maltas EU membership
in order to further enhance our quality of life in the future. We also
aim at further improving the skills of our labour force as well as the
innovative capability of our economic base.
However, Malta is more than just a tourist destination. About 72 per
cent of Maltas manufactured exports are of high technology products
compared with 63 per cent in Singapore, 48 per cent in Ireland, 34 per
cent in the US and 32 per cent in the UK. Over 200 foreign companies
in the engineering, electronic components and assembly, telecommunications,
software, rubber & plastics, pharmaceuticals and medical products
are operating in Malta. Some world-renowned names such as ST Microelectronics,
Dowty Automotive, Baxter, Methode Electronics, Lufthansa, Playmobil
and De La Rue Currency and Security Print have found Malta a very good
base for their operations. Maltas attractiveness to manufacturing
investment stems from the flexibility and dedication of our workforce
as well as our political ability to react quickly to the opportunities
open to us.
The quality of our human resources is also a determinant factor in the
attractiveness of Malta as an investment location for financial services.
However, Malta also offers a serious regulatory framework, which is
up to EU standard, competitive cost and a good communications infrastructure
for this sector.
Malta has a number of mobile subscriptions and fixed telephone lines
per 100 population which is higher than most EU acceding states and
some EU member states. VOIP minutes consumed have more than doubled
between March and September 2003. Market liberalisation has allowed
the consumers to benefit from lower prices as well as the ability to
choose among a wider spread of telecommunications services. We intend
to continue increasing competition in this sector so as to further decrease
the costs of telecommunications to local consumers.
Malta has daily flight connections with major European cities. Malta
can be reached from most European capitals within a few hours by air.
The national airline, Airmalta, operates flights to and from major airports
not only in Europe but also those in North Africa and the Middle East.
Malta also has a Freeport, which is a leading transhipment hub in the
Mediterranean. In terms of the overall tonnage of cargo loaded and unloaded,
Maltas growth has outpaced that of all other Mediterranean ports
with a growth rate of 35 per cent between 1998 and 2002 while the average
growth for all the Mediterranean was only 13 per cent.
Malta aims to take full economic advantage of all the economic activity
taking place within the Mediterranean countries. The setting up of our
Freeport was part of this strategy. Our shipyards are also tying to
be part of this vision through concentrating on the maintenance of vessels
sailing in the Mediterranean as super yachts and yachts.
This vision is also applicable to the provision of financial services
and the distribution of goods from the European Union member states
to the developing North African region. Maltas cultural and physical
proximity to both the North African and European region makes us an
ideal facilitator for trade between these two economic regions.
Maltas EU membership will undoubtedly help Malta in the materialisation
of this vision as we well as in opening up further opportunities for
our manufacturing base throughout the European Union and beyond. EU
membership is a guarantee to investors that Maltas legal and economic
infrastructure is up to the highest standards.
Through EU membership Malta is preparing itself to enter into a new
era which will permit the full exploitation of our capabilities and
therefore lead to increased prosperity as we will now have the supporting
infrastructure of fully developed nations. Malta is looking for strategic
partners capable of helping us in the full realisation of Maltas
vision for mutual benefit.