Q: What is attracting investment to Malta?
A: Malta has reformed excellently in terms of ensuring sustainability in the diversification of its economy and growth. Moody’s, Fitch and the IMF have [upheld Malta's ratings], and our forecast for 2019 [will make us] a top performing country [scoring] above the eurozone level and far above the EU level [when it comes to GDP growth]. So Malta is stable, secure and profitable.
As a small nation state we have flexible legislative procedures, which make the country quite nimble in adapting to new niche markets in production, manufacturing, tourism and services. We have seen recently, for example, the launch of our new legislation on fintech, blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
We use English as a language [and we are] in a very strategic position. We have a very enthusiastic labour force, which is highly educated and is always seeking quality jobs. In small jurisdictions, access to institutions is much easier and we try our best to help investors that might have challenges. Whoever comes to Malta will feel safe and have a robust banking system they can adjust to, and will also have services that relate to their lives – for example, education for children and sports facilities.
Q: Do you see any advantages in being an island economy?
A: Our only resource is our human resource. We have managed to increase our manufacturing output, increase our tourism, and balance and diversify our economy by tapping markets such as the services sector. Small islands face challenges in terms of transportation – for example, the costs involved are quite high – but we always try to mitigate these extra costs through extra efficiency and extra productivity, particularly in the manufacturing lines.
We’re also being creative in introducing incentives such as the use of co-generation electricity. We have introduced incentives to have more women in the workforce by having a system that provides free childcare to all families.
Q: Is Malta making the most of its renewable energy potential?
A: Yes. In the past five years we have transformed how we generate our energy. The government has pledged a cheaper and cleaner way to produce energy; we have switched from oil to gas. Simultaneously, we have embarked on huge projects to create electricity with solar energy and we will also reach the 2020 targets timelined by the EU.
Q: How does a small country such as Malta promote itself?
A: We use a system called ‘micro-targeting’, by which we acknowledge the fact that we are too small to be visible. Micro-targeting means that we try to individualise potential countries, regions or provinces, and potential investors in those provinces, that we forecast will be profitable in the medium term for investment. So we do a lot of groundwork for potential investors – we come up with their business plans, so to speak.
Q: Can you elaborate on the challenges to FDI in Malta?
A: The programme that we have as a government is to overhaul our infrastructure in a timeframe of five to seven years, and that is undoubtedly our major challenge at the moment – so it is roads, capital projects and connectivity with other countries.
Q: Is Brexit good news for Malta?
A: What we need and what we are working on is co-location. Until 1964 we were part of the UK – we wish to help any companies who would like to keep their business in Europe by having a subsidiary in Malta. We are engaging with British entrepreneurs and trying to find solutions.