Doing Business in Malta
Despite being the EU’s smallest member state, Malta has been one of the most exciting countries to watch and invest in. Over the years, the island’s leaders have been on a mission to make Malta a magnet for financial services. It was their vision to turn the island into a platform for international business and to develop a model economy, which has regularly been among the best in the EU.
In no small part, Malta’s rise into the ranks of Europe’s leading finance centres has been driven by the island’s reputation for stability, predictability and security which has made it an exception among other global financial centres. A robust, EU-compliant regulatory framework, diverse ecosystem and deep talent pool also helped financial services companies from around the world to find opportunities for doing business in Malta.
Behind Malta’s ascent is a combination of sound policymaking and a pro-business environment, and its development has largely been attributed to its focus on knowledge and value-added industries.
While financial services has become a key pillar of its economy, Malta also boasts a thriving tourism industry, is home to a large maritime service cluster and supports a host of other sectors including ICT, advanced manufacturing and life sciences.
Doing Business in Malta - Key Facts
Malta stands alone as an oasis of financial prosperity in a Europe desiccated by the financial crisis. From a financial standpoint, Malta is proof that you do not have to be a big country to be a big player. Home to a population of just over 421,000 people and just 316 square kilometres in area, the island prides itself on being one of the best performing Eurozone economies, registering healthy economic growth and low unemployment.
Adapting and Growing
As a hub for business from European and North African countries, Malta is marked by its flexibility, innovation and competitiveness. It is with these qualities that Malta has gone from strength to strength since it gained independence from Britain in 1964. In particular, Malta’s financial services industry has been a key focus of the government and a great success story in the country’s growth.
Located at the centre of the Mediterranean, the Maltese Islands lie virtually midway between Europe and North Africa, some 90 kilometres south of Sicily and 300 kilometres north of Libya. This makes the island an excellent gateway for business between Europe, Africa the Middle East and Asia. The capital city, Valletta, is both the administrative and business centre of the country.
Committed to Business in Malta
Malta’s parliament recognises the importance of business success to the nation’s prosperity. This is why Maltese political leaders are committed to developing key industries, such as finance sectors, ICT and aviation, as well as encouraging more direct foreign investment. Over the past years, both government and opposition have worked hand-in-hand to create the right legislative and regulatory framework for financial services firms to grow and prosper.
Today, Malta is a democratic parliamentary republic in which executive powers rest with the Prime Minister. The President fulfils the function of Head of State. Elections are contested, for the most part, by the two main parties: the Labour Party led by current Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, and the Nationalist Party headed by Simon Busuttil. The last general election, in March 2013, resulted in a landslide victory for Labour, at the expense of the centre-right Nationalist Party which had been in power for 15 years. In April 2014, the island also appointed a new president, Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, Malta’s second female president.
Malta has posted healthy economic growth for the last four years. In 2014, the economy and the labour market continued to perform well, and the outlook for 2015/16 is favourable. Strong labour market fundamentals, recovering investment and an accommodative fiscal stance are projected to have resulted in real GDP growth of 3.3 per cent in 2014. This has also allowed Malta to maintain one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, hovering around 6 per cent against the EU average of 10 per cent.
Over the past years, Malta has diversified and thrived. Popular as a safe and sunny tourist destination for sun-starved northern Europeans, the tourism sector contributes some 25 per cent to the island’s GDP. However, a variety of service businesses have joined the traditional economic generator, and services now account for 75 per cent of Malta’s GDP. Industry accounts for 23 per cent and agriculture for 2 per cent.
A Future in Services
Malta has played to its strengths by establishing itself as the most successful knowledge-based economy in the Mediterranean region. Key to this success has been the growth of service-focused businesses in fields such as ICT and the booming Maltese financial services industry. Expansion of the aviation and maritime industries together with life sciences and education pave the way for a prosperous future.
Towards the Future
As hard work and diligent regulation have built the foundations for Malta’s recent achievements, the country’s future well-being is crucially linked to its success in moving further up the value chain and finding markets for the export of high-quality products and services. One of Malta’s aims is to become the European financial centre of choice. Outside of Europe, Malta continues to build its good relations with China, with both nations keen to encourage cooperation between their financial services sectors.
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