Malta’s financial sector has achieved rapid growth since the country’s 2004 accession to the EU and the island is now seen as having a sound and sophisticated financial system.
The country’s excellent financial services combined with a low cost and fiscal base, an English-speaking workforce and a strategic geographical location has led various entities to choose Malta as their home, including hedge funds, insurance captives, fund managers, investment services providers, credit institutions, insurance intermediaries and forex operators of various types.
Malta is one of the fastest growing information and communications technology (ICT) markets in Europe. In recent years, Malta’s ICT industry went through a period of consolidation that resulted in an impressive expansion of the sector. With an approximate investment of EUR30 million, Smart City has also placed Malta on the map within the global ICT arena. Today, the ICT infrastructure of Malta is one of the most sophisticated and reliable in Europe. The island has an also earned a reputation to provide highly qualified manpower at all levels.
Tourism is one of the key pillars of the Maltese Economy contributing 23.7% of the labour market. Malta is the port of call for over half a million cruise liner passengers, with this niche expanding and an ever-growing number of companies including Malta in their Mediterranean itineraries. The strategic decision to open up the market to low cost airlines has helped the country penetrate into new niche segments such as weekend visits and short breaks thus tapping on less seasonal-centric market.
Moreover, investment in five star hotels and conference and incentive travel facilities continues to strengthen the island’s product offering, and the MICE travel industry keeps going from strength to strength. In recent years the local tourist market has gradually penetrated new niche segments including tourism for education purposes, medical tourism and agri tourism.
Malta offers a vast range of courses, starting from fundamental studies in English language for foreigners to degree or postgraduate level courses provided either by the University of Malta or by foreign universities through their representatives on the island. Malta also offers specialised training courses in such fields as Health and Safety, Risk Assessment for oil and gas industry, as well as Flight Academies, amongst many others.
The country is also an ideal base for companies to set up their regional training centres. The recent American University of Malta (AUM) €115-million project by Sadeen Group further consolidates the island’s reputation as a training and education hub of excellence.
Healthcare is an important priority for Malta. The island’s first class medical facilities in public and private hospitals and clinics combined to a mild climate, make it an ideal location for medical tourism. The industry is also looking ahead with the setting up of a new Life Sciences Park.
The BioMalta Campus, Malta’s life sciences centre, is one of the latest developments within this sector. The project will enable the creation of a research, development and innovation cluster and is being developed by Malta Enterprise in collaboration with the University of Malta and the national hospital, Mater Dei. The project, with an investment of around EUR 38 million, is strongly supported by fiscal and financial incentives as well training aids that will be of great interest to companies that are active within the industry.
The local manufacturing industry specializes in high-end operations with a high added value. Malta specialises in the production of electronic components which represent one of its major exports, as well as precision engineering, automotive components, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, foodstuffs and beverages.
These are also complemented by services provided to the maritime and aviation industry, with the Malta Shipyards having found a new lease of life and the Aviation sector growing significantly and attracting some of the world’s leaders in the industry, particularly in the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) sector such as Lufthansa Technik and SR Technics.
Located at the centre of the Mediterranean basin, Malta is a key player in the region in shipping, bunkering and ship repair. Malta has the third largest transhipment port in the Mediterranean and an unrivalled geographic location. This allows Malta to act as bridge between the north and south divide making it the most compelling candidate for a European distribution hub.
The Malta Freeport Terminal has played an active role in the development of the country’s transhipment industry. Indeed, the terminal can now handle one of the world’s largest container vessels, CMA CGM Marco Polo. Moreover, Malta’s support mechanisms including trained local people and a strong regulatory and legal framework push Malta to the forefront in the maritime sector.
Malta also plays a key role in the aviation sector. Changes in the legislative frameworks and entry to the European Union has changed the the island’s position in the Aviation industry with new customs and competition rules seeing the introduction of an increasing number of service providers using Malta as a reputable and cost-effective destination.