Malta General Information and Facts
Malta, a small island state in the heart of the Mediterranean, lies in a strategic position, a crossroad between North and South and a stepping stone between Europe and North Africa. With little natural resources, the importance of Malta, has always lied squarely with its geographic position and the island has a chequered history of foreign rulers from the Phoenicians, Romans, Normans, Arabs, Spanish, Knights of St. John, the French and lastly the British. The island was a fortress economy, with a 150-year reliance on the British armed forces. Post independence, in 1964, the island sold itself as a manufacturing hub, particularly in the textile and the electronics industry, and bolstering its nascent tourism industry. In the early 1990s, the island changed skin once again, with a drive to embrace EU membership, bolster its services industry and reduce the reliance on the tourism sector. This paved the route to a series of privatisations of many government enterprises and government-owned companies and tighter control on government expenditure. Malta became a member of the EU on 1 May 2004 and adopted the Euro on 1 January 2008. Pursuant to the accession to the EU, new knowledge-based activities were spawned such as financial services, remote gaming, information and communications technologies, aviation services increasing the clout of the island state. Well positioned after the international financial crisis, Malta seeks to retain its competitive edge and attract foreign investment with a blend of professional services, low costs, receptive and stable investment climate and fiscal advantages.
Malta EU Post Accession Era
Malta acceded to the EU on 1 May 2004 along with Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The Accession to the European Union has further enhanced Malta’s political and economic stability. Malta has become a strong business and financial business centre within the EU, a powerhouse in Remote Gaming and significantly increasing its clout in Financial Services, particularly as an alternative Fund jurisdiction to Luxembourg and the Republic of Ireland.
Malta has the infrastructure, the know-how, the legal system, the professional services and the expertise to fulfill successfully its new strategic role as one of EU’s prime International Business and Financial Centre.
Investment Climate in Malta
Malta, a member of the European Union since 2004, has sought and has incentivised foreign direct investment to increase its rate of economic growth. Malta provides incentives to attract investments in manufacturing, transshipment and servicing industries especially generic pharmaceuticals manufacturing, information and computer technology (ICT) and financial services.
Foreign investment has played an integral part in the Government of Malta’s policies in the drive for reducing the role of the state in the economy and increase private sector activity in the drive for the adoption of the Euro as the currency of the country as of January 1, 2008.
Malta’s advantages for foreign investors include membership in the EU, competitive wage rates (compared to other EU states) a highly skilled English-speaking labour force, access to European and North African markets, a fair and just business environment, excellent telecommunications and transport connections as well as several financial and other investment incentives.
Professional Services in Malta
With some specialised I.T. schools and a reputable university spawning over 8,000 graduates in Malta every year a skilled, multi-lingual workforce consisting of auditors, accountants, secretaries, lawyers, translators etc are available in Malta.
The standards of the accountancy profession are very high, and are strictly adhered to International Accounting Standards and International Standards on Auditing.
Malta Banking System
The unit of currency of Malta is, as of 1 January 2008, the Euro.
The banking system in Malta, is well developed, highly organised, reputable and capable of providing fast and efficient service worldwide. The system is conservative, depending mostly on retail deposits rather than wholesale borrowing. Nevertheless, the banking landscape has developed swiftly in the past years, and as of March 2011, there are 25 licensed credit institutions. Although most of these credit institutions partake essentially back-office roles, over the years, most licence holders have branched out into more specialised areas of their group’s global operations, to include amongst others, wealth management, private banking, treasury options and syndicated loans.
In their effort to satisfy the diverse needs of the business community, the commercial banks are full members of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) and provide a wide range of facilities. FBS can assist non-residents to open bank account in Malta and other jurisdictions.
Malta Exchange Control
Exchange controls have been abolished since 19 April 2004. External transactions (i.e. capital and current transactions involving operations between resident and non-resident persons or other entities, whether in or outside Malta) are not subject to any restrictions under Maltese law.
However, in certain cases agents licensed to deal in foreign exchange in terms of article 24A of the Central Bank of Malta Act (Chapter 204 of the Laws of Malta) have to report external transactions effected on behalf of resident customers to the Central Bank of Malta for statistical purposes.
Accordingly, the island is an ideal location for the maintenance, transfer and conversion of funds, which is facilitated by excellent telecommunication and efficient international banking services.
Confidentiality in Malta
Confidentiality in Malta is ensured through a number of legal instruments such as:
The Professional Secrecy Act 1994 which imposes strict confidentiality rules on all professionals, officials and other individuals who recieve privileged information in the course of their duties; the sanctions are heavy fines and imprisonment;
Article 27 of the Criminal Code, Chapter 9 of the Laws of Malta, which imposes far-reaching criminal sanctions pursuant to any violations of professional secrecy;
Article 1124A of the Civil Code, Chapter 16 of the Laws of Malta, which prescribes the statutory obligations which apply to any person carrying out the functions of a fiduciary.
Maltese Trust law establishes the confidentiality of trust documents and dealings and the actions of the trustee, and any legal proceedings or disclosures which may be ordered by a Court of Law are strictly made behind closed doors, accessible only to the Court and the interested parties.
Malta has one of the most highly developed and efficient telecommunication systems in the world, with one of the highest internet penetration rate per capita.
Evidence of this sophisticated network is the SmartCity project – a technology park currently under development in Kalkara, Malta. The plan is to transform the Ricasoli Industrial Estate into a state-of-the-art information technology and media city on the models of Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City. The project was unveiled on 10 September 2007 by the Prime Minister of Malta, Lawrence Gonzi. The project will cost at least 275 million Euro. The whole development, which covers an area of 360,000 square metres, is to be fully completed in 2021, although the first offices have been operative since 2009.
There are a number of telecommunication service providers in Malta, and applications for telephone or internet services are available online. ADSL and broadband services are widely available. The telecommunication service infrastructure is robust and can adequately service the several Remote Gaming Companies which are licensed in Malta, and which are obliged, as a condition to their licence to host their gaming system in Malta.
There are a number of mobile phone networks providing good coverage across Malta, as well as good national and international postal services, operated by Maltapost and international courier service providers such as Fedex, TNT, UPS are available.
Malta has a range of daily and weekly Maltese and English language newspapers. Traditionally, many of these have had strong political affiliations. The main daily English language newspapers are The Times and The Malta Independent. Other English language newspapers include The Malta Business Weekly and the Sunday Times.
Malta International Transport
The transportation system in Malta is small, and the islands’ small domestic system of public transport is reliant on buses and taxis.
There are a few options for transport to help you get around in Malta. Buses with various routes can get you virtually everywhere on Malta and Gozo, and at a cheap fare. Other options are taxis and mini buses which are available for private booking, along with car hire which is widely available.
Malta has three large natural harbours on its main island; the Grand Harbour, the Marsamxett Harbour and the Marsaxlokk Harbour.
Malta International Airport is the only airport serving the Maltese Islands. All airlines that fly to Malta, including those offering cheap flights to Malta, have their own representative office at Malta International Airport.
Malta Economy – Facts
In its drive to modernise its economy, Malta has moved from an economy almost entirely dependant on tourism services to a service-based one, with financial services, banking and igaming enjoying steady and consistent growth. The most salient features of the Maltese economy may be summarised as follows:
Malta Export Opportunities
The accession to the EU on 1 May 2004 liberalised the island’s trade regimes, allowing all goods to be traded between Malta and the EU with a zero tariff rate. Under the same agreement, Malta has adopted fully the EU’s Common Customs Tariff (CCT) for products from third (non – EU) countries.
Best prospects generally lie in services and high technology sectors, such as computer equipment and data processing services, financial services, environmental protection technology, medical and telecommunications equipment, and tourism development projects.
Finally, the island’s private sector has a growing appetite for office machines, computer software and data processing equipment.
Geography – Facts about Malta
Having virtually no natural resources, Malta has historically taken full advantage of its strategic position in the heart of the Mediterranean, first as a military base, and then as a financial service and igaming hub, with daily flight connections to continental Europe and Northern Africa.
Malta People – Facts
Paying homage to cultural and historic ties, Malta has a rich and varied history. The Phoenicians were one of the first peoples to settle in Malta, followed by the Romans, the Arabs, the Normans, the Knights of the Order of St. John, the French and lastly the English. English is one of the official languages of Malta, with Italian, French and German widely spoken.
Malta Government – Facts
Malta is a politically stable parliamentary democracy on the Westminster model, based on the Constitution of 1964 (modified in 1974). The President is the Head of State, but executive power lies with the Prime Minister and Cabinet; Ministers are appointed from among elected MPs. Malta has declared itself neutral territory.