Letter | Wednesday, 04 February 2009

Malta’s rebalance of trade with Italy

I refer to your editorial (Bad News Turning Worse 28/1/2009) in which you referred to my speech at the inauguration of the SGS Ates plant in 1981, soon after I was appointed Minister of Industry. In your editorial you highlight the fact that in my speech at the time I did not dwell on the importance of getting such an important industrial giant operating in Malta but rather on how SGS would rebalance our trade with Italy.
You may be interested to know that when SGS came to Malta our primary target in Industry was to attempt to correct the imbalance of trade that Malta had with a number of countries, Italy included. Discussions with Italy started immediately after I took over. My counterpart was the affable Filippo Maria Pandolfi who was then Minister of Industry in Italy. Those talks held over nineteen weeks concluded with the Pandolfi-Grima Commercial and Industrial agreement through which Italy agreed to increase its purchases of Maltese goods, agreed to send regular missions from the main Italian grandi magazzini (Upim, Standa etc) to survey and purchase Maltese products for Italian consumers and, above all agreed to portion to us the purchase on their behalf, of an amount of essential products from countries that bartered with us. In order to fight the massive European recession, and in order to move exports to Europe that were going nowhere, we had to think outside the box. The Pandolfi agreement was one way of doing it. Highlighting the imbalance of trade was one way of getting counties, with which we had an imbalance in their favour, to increase their purchases of Malta-made goods.
My speech at the opening of SGS Ates fitted into that policy.

Joe Grima
Former Minister of Industry



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04 February 2009

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