alta’s international outlook and skilful economic management are paying big dividends as the island shines as a perfect example of how a small island state can live up to its full potential. Famous for its 7,000year history and 300 days of sunshine, the country has emerged as one of the most remarkable success stories in the Eurozone. Recognised for its pro-business attitude, state-of-the-art infrastructure and modest costs of doing business, it has become the go-to country for growthminded entrepreneurs and multinational companies.
Country Profile ❱ Foreign Direct Investment ❱ Financial Services ❱ iGaming ❱ Medical Tourism ❱ Film Transport ❱ Maritime ❱ Aviation ❱ Visiting Malta ❱ Real Estate ❱ Citizenship & Residency ❱ Capital of Culture
CountryProfiler MALTA FEATURE
Welcome to the New Malta As Malta prepares to take over the EU Presidency in 2017, the eyes of the 28-nation bloc turn to the Mediterranean island nation, which has become a model for economic progress and confidently charts its path to the future.
conomic activity is abuzz in tiny Malta, which has seen a remarkable turnaround since the 1950s when a lack of opportunity at home caused many Maltese to move away. To lessen the economic distress, the country actively encouraged its population to look elsewhere for employment and better quality of life. Today, the situation couldn’t be more different. Its well-diversified economy proves alluring to foreign companies, and Malta is placing more emphasis than ever on human capital seeking to attract professionals from abroad to support its booming economy. Saying that Malta’s success is a result of the can-do attitude of its people and the international outlook of its businesses sounds like a cliché. But it is true, and it reflects the country’s extraordinary strengths. Home to a population of just over 421,000 people and being resource-poor, Malta has created a viable and powerful marketplace for industries such as financial services, ICT, advanced manufacturing, maritime and life sciences. The island also understood that its strategic location at the centre of the Mediterranean could be used to take advantage of the opportunities offered by global trade, long before the term globalisation became the new economic mantra. Today, Malta prides
itself on boasting one of the best-performing Eurozone economies, registering low unemployment and economic growth. A newfound confidence has risen from its economic success, and it is driving the small island nation’s appearance on the international stage. Mediterranean Island
Located at the southern tip of Italy and just over 316 square kilometres in area, the Maltese Islands lie virtually midway between Europe and North Africa, some 90 kilometres south of Sicily and 290 kilometres north of Libya. The archipelago comprises Malta, Gozo and Comino. The main island, Malta, is 27 kilometres long and measures 14.5 kilometres at its widest point. It takes just 45 minutes to cross Malta, reducing commuting times and increasing leisure time. The official languages are Maltese and English, with 90% of Maltese being completely bilingual. A rocky Mediterranean island with a dry and often windy climate, Malta enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate, with the average temperature ranging from 12 degrees in winter to
“Our priority was to stimulate growth. We widened our labour pool by offering incentives to foreign professionals to work in Malta, amongst other initiatives. In addition, we embarked on a dual strategy of controlling expenditure while assisting the business community to expand. We are also not resting on our laurels and are focusing on improving bureaucracy.” Edward Scicluna Minister for Finance
30 degrees in summer. The capital city Valletta is both the administrative and business centre of the country. Other main towns include: the popular sea-side towns of Sliema and St. Julian’s on the west coast; the inland towns of Mosta and Birkirkara, situated in the centre of the island; and Paola in the south. There are also numerous small villages that still evoke the traditional Mediterranean rural way of life, although some 90% of Maltese live in urban settings and the overall vibe of Malta is modern. A Unique Mix
Descendants of ancient Carthaginians and Phoenicians, with strong elements of Italian and other Mediterranean stock, the Maltese are said to be among the most international of people. With a history that has seen a succession of foreign rulers from the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Carthaginians, the Arabs, the Ottomans, the Knights of St John, the French and the British, the islanders have acquired a unique ability to adapt to new ideas and adopt, and improve, the best of them to their ultimate advantage.
Malta’s population is also one of the most politically active in Europe, with elections seeing voter turnout regularly exceeding 90%. Today, Malta is a parliamentary representative democratic republic, in which executive powers rest with the Prime Minister while 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 elections, 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 elected a new president, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, Malta’s second female president. Strong Performance
Gaining independence from Britain in 1964, the country’s decision to join the EU in 2004, and the Eurozone in 2008, was integral to the expansion of its horizons and bolstered its status as a key business hub in the Euro-Mediterranean region. There is no doubt that Malta leads the region in many economic indicators. The island’s small, open economy has proven to be remarkably resilient in the face of the global economic downturn. Malta has posted positive growth figures over the past five years and has regularly been among the best-performing economies in the EU. In 2015, the island’s economy grew by an impressive 6.3%, while unemployment remained below the 5.5% mark. The International Monetary Fund recently said that Malta’s outlook is strong and that growth is expected to remain solid in 2016 and 2017, highlighting that Malta’s
diversified economy has helped preserve stability. Diversified Economy
Famous for its 7,000-year history and 300 days of sunshine, Malta has become a top destination for tourists. In 2015, close to 1.8 million tourists visited Malta – more than ever before. Tourism today accounts for some 28% of the island’s GDP. Rivalling tourism’s importance and growing in tandem over the last few years has been Malta’s financial services sector, which now accounts for 13% of GDP. Life sciences and digital media are joining the traditional economic generators and creating a solid base of diverse operations from which Malta is competing on an international level. The maritime industry is one of the oldest, and today Malta is home to the largest ship register in Europe and is one of the major logistics providers in the Mediterranean. The country now aims to replicate this success in the aviation sector and has introduced new legislation to help achieve this. Malta is also on the fast-track to becoming a hub for education, healthcare and energy – sectors that are poised to become the island’s next success stories. With the help of foreign investment, Malta is seeking to add those economic activities to its list of exportable services.
“Malta’s GDP growth of over 6% has been one of the highest in the euro area. The main impetus to such economic activity came from domestic demand, while sectors such as tourism, financial services and internet-related activities have continued to perform strongly. The country has the potential to develop other growth sectors, including health and education, that would support this robust performance over the longer term.” Prof. Josef Bonnici Governor of the Central Bank of Malta
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has helped to push Malta’s economic performance throughout the years. Providing access to the EU’s single market, Malta’s proximity to, and cultural links with, North African and Middle Eastern countries are particularly attractive to companies that use the island as a stepping stone for trading, distribution and marketing of their international operations in Southern Europe and North Africa. Some prominent companies which have invested in Malta are HSBC, Microsoft, Playmobil, Betfair, Cardinal Health and Lufthansa Technik. In addition to the historical and strong commercial links with Italy and the UK, Malta also enjoys healthy trade with France, Germany and the Netherlands. Malta’s exposure to international commerce is one of the highest worldwide, and the country’s leaders are constantly working on developing new ties with foreign governments in order to facilitate worldwide market access for all industries. For instance, trade with Asia, mainly China and India, is increasing. The Voice of Malta
Although critics say the island’s government needs to pay closer attention to threats and challenges that new developments and economic growth can pose to the environment, Maltese businesses are confident about the country’s economic future. Regarded as one of Europe’s most inspiring nations, Malta is now seeking to strengthen its position on the global stage. After heading the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November 2015, the island looks forward to holding its first presidency of the European Union in 2017. This will give the island an opportunity to influence key EU decisions and set the agenda of the 28-nation bloc. n
CountryProfiler MALTA FEATURE
Interview with the Prime Minister of Malta, Dr Joseph Muscat
“We have much to be proud of” As the smallest EU member state, Malta’s economy is constantly outperforming Europe. Malta’s Prime Minister, Dr Joseph Muscat, says the secret to the island’s economic success can be found in its diversified economy, while it also gives the country the confidence to steer the EU’s agenda when it takes over the EU presidency in 2017. ‘The Economist’ recently hailed Malta’s economic achievements. Could you give us a brief overview of your country’s economic performance?
The past years were not easy ones: We were surrounded by economic and political instability both in the north and south. However, Malta is an optimistic country, and we moved forward. The Maltese economy continued on its expansion path. Growth accelerated to 6.3% in 2015, and our unemployment rate is the third lowest in the EU and the lowest in Maltese history. The budget deficit has been shrinking gradually, and has been reduced to 1.6% of GDP in 2015. We have much to be proud of. What do you believe have been the key drivers for Malta’s economic success?
We have created employment opportunities and through the introduction of familyfriendly measures increased the female participation rate in the labour market. We also attracted unprecedented tourist arrivals and reformed crucial sectors, including education, health and energy. Looking at our past and current success, I would also say that the key driving force has been that we are open for business. We attract entrepreneurs and investors from all over the world. They come because Malta is a fantastic place to grow a business. We have a skilled workforce, first-class technology and communications, the English language and a pro-business environment. For a small island state, our economy is also unusually diversified. We retained our strong manufacturing base and developed into a state-of-the-art financial services centre
and Europe’s top remote gaming base. All economic sectors contribute to our growth, and we are keen to diversify further. What kind of investment are you seeking to attract?
We are currently investing heavily in education and health, also with a view to make them exportable services industries. We want Malta to become a leading medical hub in the region, and the interest received by foreign investors, for instance for the opening of a new private hospital and a medical school on Malta’s sister island Gozo, confirms that Malta has the right credentials in this regard. When it comes to education, we want to build on our reputation as teaching and training centre. Malta is already a top location for the teaching of the English language. Last year, we brought a €115 million investment to set up the American University of Malta (AUM), envisaged to
ACCOUNTS FOR APPROXIMATELY
10% OF MALTA’S EXPORTS IN THE LAST TEN YEARS
bring 4,000 students to the island. Our intention is to position Malta as an education destination for students from all over the region and beyond. We also want to consolidate the results we achieved so far in other sectors, and current and potential investors believe that Malta is extremely attractive for FDI. Malta endeavours to pursue its promise of an environment conducive to business that offers investors stability and transparency in terms of corporate taxation and regulatory processes. In particular, Malta’s International Finance Centre has flourished in recent years. What are the main reasons for this growth?
We have solid, responsible regulation. That’s the bedrock of good finance, but we don’t stifle the sector with bureaucracy. Responsible regulation allows the sector to flourish. The reputation of the financial services sector was actually reinforced because of the resilience and stability it showed during the financial crisis. Malta has close ties with Germany in a diverse number of sectors. What makes Malta’s relationship with Germany so special?
Germany has been highly relevant to Malta’s economic development. Starting in the 1970s, Germany has consolidated its position as one of Malta’s top trading partners, accounting for approximately 10% of Malta’s exports in each of the last ten years, and a similar proportion of our imports in the same period. There are a number of German production and industrial
services companies in Malta, spanning a very wide range of activities. Over the years, many companies have also reinvested and further expanded their production capacity and technical capabilities in Malta. German companies have been great partners in our policy of bringing higher education and the economy as close as possible to each other. In the tourism sector, Germany is the third largest market in terms of number of inbound tourists, and many Germans visit Malta for intensive English courses. 2015 has been an important year for your country. For the second time in 10 years, Malta has been hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. In terms of foreign policy, what role do you believe Malta can play in the future?
Malta has a reputation for being the place where the world meets. 70 years ago Franklin D Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met in Malta to plan a common position on the liberation of Europe, before going to Yalta. Some 25 years ago, George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev met in the Grand Harbour to assess the global position just a few weeks after the Fall of the Berlin Wall. In the autumn of 2015, the 28 leaders of the EU and 36 African countries met in Malta to map out a way forward on migration, only to be followed by the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. Malta has always been an advocate for diplomacy and dialogue, we have always
RATE IS THE
3RD lowest in the EU
Valletta has been chosen as the European highly regarded the proactive approach to Capital of Culture in 2018. What is the key resolve international issues and address message that you would like to get across threats to global security. My country has a about your country? natural vocation to serve as It is a brilliant opportunity a natural bridge between the for us to showcase Maltese European Union and North culture. The truth is Valletta accelerated to Africa. Malta is considered is a gem that many people a key ally by many North have yet to discover. It is a African countries because wonderful place to wander we have a genuine interest in around and absorb. Many these countries. We want stain 2015 people in the EU associate bility in the region, and we Malta only with issues such believe stability brings prosas irregular migration, but Malta is more perity. Going forward, we want to play out our vocation as a constructive and confident than that. The European Capital of Culture gives us the opportunity to show the other contributor to regional stability and peace. side of Malta: our history, culture and arts.
Europe is currently under severe strain due to the influx of people fleeing repression and wars. What issues will feature high on your agenda when you assume the EU Presidency in 2017?
The topic of migration has long been on our agenda, and migration and asylum issues will, of course, be among our key priorities for the Presidency. Together with our trio partners, the Netherlands and Slovakia, we will focus on the development of the Common European Asylum System, efforts on relocation, resettlement, returns and readmission, as well as fighting human trafficking. In addition, we will work to strengthen Europe and promote economic growth and social justice. We would also like to focus on getting Europe closer to its citizens and developing an anti-poverty strategy.
How would you like Malta to develop in the future and where would you like Malta to be positioned in the next 10 to 15 years?
We want to continue building on what has been successful so far. Our aim is to create significant economic growth. In addition to strengthening sectors such as education and health, we will continue to target investment from financial services, tourism, high-value manufacturing, life sciences, maritime and aviation, as well as ICT and the creative industries. My vision is that we create enough employment opportunities that we need to bring in people from Europe and elsewhere to fill these roles. This is what I dream of and this is what I will work to achieve. What message would you like to send it to the international community about Malta and its people?
Malta is a unique country, where both the English and the Mediterranean influence can be felt. We recently celebrated our 50th anniversary of independence and the 40th anniversary of being a republic, as well as 10 years of EU membership. All these events have made Malta and the Maltese people what they are today â€“ a Mediterranean country founded on European values and a hard-working, modern population that meets and defeats challenges as they arise. n
has been chosen as the European Capital of Culture in 2018.
CountryProfiler MALTA FEATURE
Foreign Direct Investment
Investors eye Malta’s Growth
As Malta seeks to diversify its FDI landscape, global investors and multinationals are keen to take advantage of the island’s economic boom.
alta’s economic diversity strategy of recent years has paid off in spades but analysts and international institutions all agree that the island’s investment appeal has been crucial in unlocking its full potential. The country’s world-class business environment, cutting-edge technology, competitive labour costs, highly educated workforce and gateway position to European and African markets helped Malta attract companies and capital from Europe, Asia and the US. Today, Malta has a global reputation for being a high-quality hub for the maritime, manufacturing, ICT and financial services industries, but investors are also becoming increasingly upbeat about the opportunities that the island offers in emerging areas such as education, health, life sciences and research and development. A Vision for FDI
Malta recognised early on that for a small open economy with few natural resources, FDI could be an important engine of economic development. Faced with the challenge of building up a private sector after 150 years of reliance on the British forces stationed on the island to keep the economy afloat, in the 1960s Malta began setting up labour-intensive manufacturing businesses in the textile and clothing industries and marketing itself for mass tourism. Two decades ago, the country took a strategic decision to transform its economy by shifting the focus away from low-cost manufacturing and package tourism to knowledge-based industries and high-end manufacturing in order to keep up with global developments and remain competitive as an investment location. The island’s visionary strategy proved successful, and today some 250 FDI companies operate in Malta. High-end Manufacturing
Manufacturing continues to be a crucial part of Malta’s FDI fabric, with high value added quality engineering enjoying a dominant
position. German toy manufacturer Playmobil and French-Italian electronics manufacturer ST Microelectronics were among the first to arrive in the 1970s and 1980s. In more recent times, German heavyweight Lufthansa Technik chose the island as a location for a multi-million euro aircraft maintenance centre, and was followed by Swissbased aircraft maintenance company SR Technics. In the pharma sector, Malta has also attracted many of the global leaders, while a new life sciences park is set to help develop the biotech industry further.
“We do not wait for investors to knock on our door. We target potential foreign investors that are, for a variety of reasons, likely to consider a presence in Malta, and knock on their door. We also look beyond Europe to diversify the sources of foreign investment, while leveraging the advantages of European Union membership.”
gaming. The island is also increasingly ranked on decision makers’ shortlists when it comes to choosing the location of their international and regional headquarters. Konica Minolta, FimBank and HeidelbergCement are just some of the corporations that have located corporate management functions on the island. Welcoming Investors
Leading the way in attracting foreign investment to the island is Malta Enterprise. The agency is armed with an attractive package of incentives, which includes soft loans, investment allowances, training grants, tax incentives and the proviFinance and ICT sion of ready built specialised With a growing financial sector, factory space. Over the past it comes as no surprise that two and a half years Malta international banks such as Enterprise – true to its vocation HSBC and insurance companies to think outside the box – has like Munich Re, Aon and Marsh ventured into the promotion have set up operations in the of foreign direct investment country. Fund administrators in the field of education and Amicorp, Citco and Custom health. The decision by one of House are also present on the the UK’s finest medical schools, island, as well as a selection of Barts and the London School Fortune 100 companies that have Mario Vella of Medicine and Dentistry, to structured financial operations Chairman of set up a fully fledged medical in the country. Malta’s IT sector Malta Enterprise college on the island of Gozo, has probably attracted the largest is certainly a major success for number of companies. In addithe island. In addition, Jordanian group tion to software developers, many iGaming Sadeen has been granted a licence to open companies have chosen Malta because it a higher education institution in Malta. was the first EU country to regulate online
A Base for R&D
Providing research and development incentives, information security and intellectual property rights, Malta has also begun to exploit its advantages as a base for science and technology companies, aiming to attract a diverse range of biotech firms, IT start-ups and corporations engaged in other knowledge-intensive activities. Malta is particularly attracting companies seeking a test bed for research and innovation, and the government is encouraging research activities and development, as well as product and process (re)-design. Malta has already succeeded in attracting Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies to its shores. In 2015, the company committed to start testing 5G technologies in Malta.
ideal jumping-off point for accessing the growing markets of the region. The island’s proximity to Libya, Egypt and Tunisia are enhancing Malta’s role as a regional hub for trading, distribution and marketing. Foreign companies based in Malta comment favourably on their experiences with the local employees in terms of productivity, profitability, dependability and rapid response times. Indeed, Malta’s flexible, highly trained and multilingual workforce is the country’s most valuable asset, with wages below the Western European average. Maltese workers are well educated and qualified, as a result of recognition on the part of the Maltese authorities that higher value-added products require better and more flexible workforce skills.
Servicing World Markets
The underlying strengths of Malta are its location and the ease of access that it offers into surrounding markets. Situated two to three hours by air from Europe’s major cities and well connected to other parts of the world, Malta’s EU membership provides companies with access to the Union’s massive internal market of over 500 million people. At the same time, the country has sought to promote itself actively in overseas and developing markets and is an
The island is keen to direct foreign capital into more infrastructure-related projects. Sectors such as energy, waste and transport may be developed on a public-private-partnership-basis. Malta Enterprise believes that flexibility and adaptability are essential in further diversifying Malta’s investment landscape. Moving forward with confidence, the agency is reaching out to key innovative players in Europe and beyond to help realise this vision. n
Malta Industrial Parks
An Investor’s Best Fit Malta has long been focused on creating tailor-made space in order to host some of the world’s biggest companies. However, as investors’ interest continues to grow, Malta’s industrial parks are poised for a leap in quality too.
n 1970 a company named Brand “Factory space International started its operation in remains crucial Malta. Today the company, better known and is in demand. for its world-famous product Playmobil, Our mission is to is one of Malta’s major employers. While provide readymanufacturing in Malta was initially made factories a cost-cutting move, the tailor-made to companies support Playmobil and other foreign choosing to locate investors received from the Maltese auin Malta. Our aim thorities throughout the years has played is to maximise no small part in their decisions to reinvest on areas which in the country. The provision of readyare already used made infrastructure and purpose-built while making space has long been a top priority in Malta, better use of and there is a strong desire to take the space which is island’s industrial parks to the next level. underutilised.” There are currently 10 industrial parks in Malta and Gozo, designed Mario Galea to make starting a business easy and CEO of Malta reducing the time it takes for an inIndustrial Parks vestor to get up and running. The parks are administered by Malta Industrial Parks (MIP), Malta Enterprise’s right arm responsible for the allocation of factories for new economic investment projects, as well as the management of all government-owned industrial estates in Malta and Gozo.
Malta’s approach also places a strong emphasis on the creation of sector-specific infrastructure. A cluster development dedicated to the aerospace industry, the Safi Aviation Park, has been completed, while some €35 million has been invested in a Life Sciences Park providing laboratory space to biotech companies. MIP is now seeking to up the ante in what these zones offer in terms of amenities and support services, ranging from childcare centres to recreational areas. As industrial parks around the world increasingly draw in foreign investment, MIP is also considering strategic alliances and partnerships with specialised industrial park firms to help develop the next generation of economic zones. n
CountryProfiler MALTA FEATURE
More than a Sister Island Malta’s second island is paving the way to reverse its economic fortunes with the clustering of high-value activities in areas such as health, ICT and tourism.
alta’s positive economic turn has had its effects on Gozo, the archipelagos’ second island. However, Gozo is not just relying on big sister Malta to fuel its advancement. It has found ways and means by which to offset its connectivity issues to develop into a flourishing business centre. To unlock its full economic potential, Gozo seeks to reinforce its traditional strength as a holiday hotspot by boosting tourist arrivals in the winter months, while also building the required infrastructure to attract high-quality and technology-related Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Furthermore, plans for a public-private partnership that aims to turn the island into a medical tourism hub have emerged, bringing along a sense of anticipation about what Gozo could really become.
toric locations such as the temples in Ggantija, which alongside the remainder of the other Megalithic Temples of Malta, are the world’s oldest free-standing buildings. Gozo also offers some spectacular panoramas. One of the highlights is the Azure Window, a picturesque stone arch that was formed millions of years ago when a limestone cave collapsed. Economy in Transit
Myths of Blue and Green
Measuring about one third the size of Malta, Gozo is the second-largest island of the Maltese archipelago. It is home to around 28,000 people. The island’s capital city is Victoria, which is also referred to as Rabat, the towns’ original Arabic name before the British renamed it. Gozo is more rural and greener than Malta, and it is known for its scenic hills, which are featured on its coat of arms. The island has long been associated with Ogygia, the island of Calypso in Homer’s Odyssey. In the story Calypso, a nymph with great supernatural powers, falls in love with Odysseus and holds him captive for a number of years, until finally releasing him to continue his journey home. Gozo’s countryside is dotted with oldstone farmhouses and baroque churches, and the island also comes complete with his-
50% OF GOZO’S GDP DEPENDS ON
“Economic growth depends on investment. For Gozo, attracting foreign investment is of essence, and we want to send a clear message to investors that they have our full support. We are also actively encouraging our graduates to return to Gozo and contribute more fully towards the island’s economic development.”
as ICT, financial services and education to name but a few. Through Malta Enterprise, the country’s investment promotion agency, companies and entrepreneurs investing in Gozo can benefit from tax credits and other incentive schemes. The island has already attracted RS2, a global payment software and managed service provider. In 2015, the company invested €1 million in a new office in Gozo, which will serve as an extension of the services currently provided from Malta.
Because of its beauty, tourism has always been Gozo’s main economic pillar. In previous centuries, Gozo has also had its Medical Tourism Hub fair share of FDI in the manuIn the next months further facturing sector; however, these change will reach Gozo through operations have been downsized a major FDI project that will considerably in recent years. see the Maltese Government Today, some 50% of Gozo’s GDP enter into a public-private depends on the tourism sector, partnership with Vitals Global and the numbers are on the Healthcare to develop the rise. In 2015, close to 170,000 needed infrastructure to turn tourists visited the island, an 8% Malta and Gozo into a fully increase on 2014. While many fledged health-tourism hub. A tourists holidaying in Malta revamped Gozo hospital will visit Gozo for a day, the small not only offer better quality island is increasingly becoming of care to Gozitans but also to Anton Refalo, a destination in its own right. foreign patients. There will also Minister for Gozo Tourism arrivals are increasbe openings towards developing steadily every year with ments in areas such as rehabilione million bed nights registered in 2015. tation services and even in the specialised This was an unprecedented figure which medical manufacturing industry. In addialso constitutes a record for Gozo. tion, Barts Medical School, which is part of Tourism will remain a key player in Queen Mary University of London, comGozo’s economy; however, the developmitted to setting up a campus on the island ment of other services industries and – its first one outside the UK. Some 300 stumore specialised niches has been gaining dents from Europe and beyond are projected momentum. The island is looking to attract to populate the highly reputable courses service-oriented companies in areas such in the first five years of the operation.
New Niches in Tourism
While health tourism might be the new kid on the block, Gozo has already been venturing into other niche tourism segments. Preserving the aura of an idyllic island in the Mediterranean, Gozo has embraced sports tourism, religious tourism and most recently even marriage and LGBT tourism, with the latter being a special form of niche tourism marketed to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, mainly concerned with cultural and safety issues. In addition, a variety of events are held every month, which are steadily transforming Gozo into an all-year-round destination. Not to mention the 60,000 tourists who visit the island every year to be able to dive in some of the clearest and cleanest waters in the Mediterranean. Another element is the development of amenities to facilitate cruise liners to include Gozo in their Central Mediterranean routes. While Gozo’s harbour currently does not offer berthing facilities for cruise ships, works are underway on a new buoy that would allow boutique cruise liners of the smaller and medium sizes to anchor off the island. The construction of a dedicated cruise liner terminal is not being excluded for the future. Other avenues being pursued touch upon the Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Exhibitions (MICE) sector, encouraging directors and executives from major international brands to travel to Gozo for team-building workshops or training. Film & Real Estate
Film has also become a new vocation for the Gozitans. A-list stars have made Gozo their playground; the most visible of which were Hollywood’s prominent power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who chose Gozo as the backdrop to their intimate independent flick By The Sea in 2014. The Ministry of Gozo is keen to invest more solidly in this sector by developing and building film-servicing infrastructure. Gozo’s real estate sector also offers promising prospects. Much like Brad Pitt
and Angelina Jolie, increasing numbers of foreigners fall in love with the island while on holiday and many decide to purchase property. Particularly retirees and freelance professionals who can work remotely are moving to Gozo, some from as far away as Hong Kong and South Africa. Property in Gozo is between 20 and 30% cheaper compared to real estate on the main island Malta. Foreign nationals can also take advantage of one of Malta’s visa, residency and citizenship programmes. Purchasing real estate is one of the criteria to obtain residency status, and lower investment thresholds apply to Gozo than to other parts of Malta. Connecting Gozo
Gozo’s transformation is also based on the realisation of key infrastructure projects that seek to address connectivity and accessibility issues, which are often highlighted as drawbacks to doing business in Gozo. Thus far, the only link between Malta and Gozo is a ferry service. However, planning work for a tunnel across the channel is advancing and a regional airport connecting Gozo to Malta and Sicily might also be on the cards.
Funding a second submarine fibre-optic cable to Gozo is another priority of the current administration in order to provide companies investing on the island with a back-up to the existing fibre-optic link. An alternative route in case of failure of the cable currently in operation is seen as crucial to attract businesses that rely heavily on international connectivity in areas such as ICT and financial services. A Younger Gozo
Developments such as these suggest that, with the right investment, Gozo will take off. The challenge for the island will be to strike a balance between preserving its natural beauty while readying itself to support an ever-diversified economy. The future of Gozo is also very much about helping young people believe in their island, say government officials and entrepreneurs alike. Gozo needs to beat the brain-drain it has been experiencing in past decades, which saw its best talent move to the larger island of Malta which offered better work opportunities. With new tech and finance companies opening offices and the development of additional economic pillars, many islanders’ are confident in Gozo’s future success. They argue that the change Gozo is witnessing will make leaving the island for career purposes an option rather than a must. It will also ensure that companies investing on the island face no problems finding employees with the education, training and skills needed to fill their jobs. n
CountryProfiler MALTA FEATURE
International Financial Services
The Rising Star of Global Finance
Malta’s growing financial services sector is not only diversifying but also internationalising at a very fast pace.
alta has solidified its place among Europe’s finance centres, and its global appeal continues to grow. Viewed by industry players, investors and regulators as a particularly business-friendly location, the Mediterranean island has been a favoured entry point to the European Union because of its robust, EU-compliant regulatory framework, diverse financial ecosystem and deep talent pool. Over the years, financial services have become one of the country’s world-class export industries, registering impressive year-on-year growth. Malta’s International Finance Centre (IFC) now supports financial firms from around the world, including banks, investment funds, insurance companies, pension funds and family offices. Rising up the Ranks
Malta’s decision to join the EU in 2004, and the Eurozone in 2008, laid the foundations for the island to become one of the most dynamic and fastest growing finance centres. The finance sector has expanded
by around 25% annually in recent years and accounts for 13% of the island’s GDP, providing almost 10,000 jobs. Largely unaffected by the financial crisis, the sector has been given a clean bill of health by rating agencies, the EU Commission and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The country’s banks did not require government assistance, and enjoy strong capital reserves and liquidity ratios. By implementing a sound regulatory framework and a transparent fiscal regime, Malta has distanced itself from secrecy jurisdictions and tax havens. Prudently managed growth of the sector is a government priority, and Malta is increasingly regarded as an alternative to more established European financial centres like Dublin, London and Luxembourg. Financial DNA
Malta has built up a diverse financial services portfolio. More than 25 banks have established operations in Malta, while the insurance sector has experienced an upsurge due to the presence of expert insurance management services and EU passporting rights. As investment fund domicile, Malta has risen to the fore after a specialist regime for alternative investment
funds has been introduced in addition to UCITScertified funds. The island is now increasingly attracting larger fund platforms, best-in-class service providers and sophisticated asset management activities. Corporate formation is another important area of activity, and the island’s register today lists around 65,000 companies. Malta has also developed into an important wealth management location. High-net-worth individuals, wealth managers and family offices increasingly avail of the country’s wide range of investment vehicles including trusts and foundations. Tailored Operations & Multinationals
The island has gained a reputation as a jurisdiction for smaller financial services companies and start-ups, which offer clients more personalised services than those provided by the bigger firms. But as Malta’s status as a financial centre has grown, the island has also attracted international credit institutions such as HSBC, Banif Bank and trade finance specialist FIMBank. Malta hosts nearly 30 fund administrators and 60 insurance companies, ranging from well-known international names to smaller, niche establishments. Fund administrators such as Apex, TMF and Custom House all have a presence in Malta, along with insurance specialists such as Munich Re, Aon and Marsh. In addition, multinationals
– a level of access which is rare in other finance centres. Talent Pool
Human capital investment is at the core of much of The finance Malta’s success. From homesector has grown talent to experienced expanded international financial by around sector professionals, Malta offers a diverse talent pool. A high proportion (60%) of Maltese students continue Pensions, Payments to third-level education, and Securitisation annually in with law, accountancy With a track record of recent years and management among outstanding recent achieveand accounts the most popular subjects. ments, Malta still has ambifor 13% of the In addition, industry-spetious plans for the future. cific training is offered by a The country is expanding its island’s GDP, number of institutes. While portfolio into profitable niche providing the surge of growth in busiareas such pensions and payalmost ness has left a shortage of ments. Malta is emerging as a specialised skills in certain base for international retiresegments, the country has ment operators, and pension jobs. introduced tax incentives assets have exceeded the €2 for highly qualified foreign billion mark. In the area of professionals working payments, Malta is attracting on the island, who can benefit from growing numbers of e-money institutions a flat income tax rate of just 15%. and payment processors. Securitisation has also been singled out as a future growth area. As a politically stable and neutral country, Market Access Malta also has potential to become a centre EU membership has provided Malta with for international arbitration, while its longaccess to the union’s massive internal standing connections to North Africa and the market of over 500 million people, and Middle East make it a suitable jurisdiction unsurprisingly, Malta’s most important from which to establish Shariah-compliant commercial relationship is with the European Union. The island has also sought structures. Malta’s capital markets are also poised for growth, in particular offering to promote itself in overseas and developopportunities for small- and medium cap ing markets and has negotiated favourcompanies from Europe and beyond. able tax treaties with powerhouse growth markets such as China, India, Hong Kong and the US, with some 70 tax treaties in Service & Product Innovation total. Malta’s geographic position in the Service innovation is the new mantra of middle of the Mediterranean, and its close Malta’s finance industry. All stakeholders, proximity to North Africa, also make it a financial service companies, support service good stepping stone for financial compaproviders and the regulator, are aware that nies wishing to target the Arab world. speed to market is crucial these days. Malta is also keen on finding new niches for which it can develop the necessary regulation to attract Strong Financial Ecosystem business. The close collaboration between New companies setting up on the island industry and regulatory authorities is a key find many helping hands. FinanceMalta, a strength of and augurs well for the future non-profit public-private initiative set up of Malta’s IFC. Malta’s greatest challenge is to promote the financial sector, is the first point of contact for investors and financiers maintaining its reputation as a robust yet benign jurisdiction in the face of the damage who soon find that the island’s professional that the reputation of the financial services services firms offer a wealth of knowledge sector in general has sustained. However, and experience. Most law firms are affiliated with international networks, and many the industry remains focused on expanding the sector and developing Malta’s lawyers have post-graduate degrees in reputation as a stable financial centre that finance. In addition, each of the ‘Big Four’ is international in outlook and reach. n accountancy firms has a presence in Malta
such as BMW, Peugeot, Citroën and Vodafone have set up captives on the island. Malta also boasts considerable expertise in the field of trusts and foundations, including many legal firms with in-house trust companies along with international organisations. Driven by Regulation
Pragmatic regulation, service innovation and creative diversification are just some of the strings in Malta’s bow, which have helped financial services become one of the country’s most important economic generators. Its legislation is in line with EU law and has facilitated a commercially secure business environment from which international investors can operate. The country has gained a reputation for striking a good commercial balance, providing an appropriate legal framework without over-regulating in a way that might inhibit growth and innovation. All financial services are overseen by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA). As a result, companies benefit from streamlined procedures, reduced bureaucracy and lower regulatory fees. The MFSA is open and approachable and offers face-to-face meetings with international companies seeking to operate from Malta
and, together with the smaller accountancy and auditing practices, service international clients. Malta also offers significant cost advantages. Legal and accounting fees are lower than in most other European jurisdictions, as are other operational costs and salaries which are 20 to 30% less than in more established centres.
CountryProfiler MALTA FEATURE
Malta Stock Exchange
The Global SME Finance Centre The Malta Stock Exchange is targeting international small cap companies with growth potential to drive its expansion plans.
016 is poised to be a very a special year for the Malta Stock Exchange (MSE). Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Exchange is seeking to position itself as the preferred international market of choice for smaller growing companies and well-established, mature businesses seeking to expand. Internationally recognised technologies have been adopted in order to improve the MSE’s appeal as a listing venue. In addition, new products are set to increase international market access and help the MSE compete with other European exchanges, including those of Luxembourg and Ireland.
tions can expect a swift, well-organised process. trading history the opportunity to access Both local and foreign companies can also benefit capital markets, must adhere to the criteria from ancillary services ranging from admission laid down in the Prospectus Directive. and trading to depository and custodial services. To expand its services, the MSE has created a new SME-oriented market called Prospects that provides an opportunity for Debt Securities & Islamic Finance SMEs from Malta and elsewhere to raise Following its vision of becoming an international capital. Prospects’ rules have been player, the MSE has also created a market designed to offer a lighter regulafor debt securities in cooperation tory regime compared to the with the Irish Stock Exchange. Exchange’s other markets, The European Wholesale while providing robust Securities Market (EWSM) is Highly Networked Infrastructure investor protection and aimed at a global client base, Traditionally the MSE mainly served the transparency through the targeting issuers who desire a Maltese market, however, the Exchange requirement to appoint European listing for distribuhas recognised that future growth has to be a corporate advisor. The tion to European investors. driven by international expansion. Significant MSE is convinced that this Another strategic move by investments in infrastructure over the new market has the potential the Exchange was the introducpast years have paved the way for the MSE to become a major pillar in tion of a Sharia Equity Index in to realise its international ambitions. The the provision of capital financJanuary 2016. This new index has Exchange now uses Deutsche Börse’s Xetra ing to SMEs and will help Malta been certified Sharia compliant “We are looking trading platform, currently connecting over attract international business by Dubai’s Islamic finance conoutside our 4,000 traders in 16 different countries. On from countries such as China, sultancy firm Dar Al Sharia and is shores to identify the settlement and custodial side, linking up Turkey, Italy, Spain, Eastern seen as a way to explore opportucompanies within with Clearstream, Deutsche Börse’s liquidity Europe and the Middle East. nities within Islamic Finance. the emerging provider, removed barriers between Malta The ambitions of the MSE also markets to list and the world’s trading centres. The Central go beyond small cap companies, Reaching Out in Malta. The Securities Depository (CSD) has also continand the Exchange is marketGoing forward, co-opetition will be a island offers a ued to expand its range of services that are ing itself to larger cap compamajor theme for the Exchange, who listing solution on offer for listed and unlisted companies nies as a gateway to European is looking to develop its relationships that appeals to across Europe. These developments have investors. These companies with major global stock exchanges cost-conscious already helped the Exchange improve its can look to Malta as a first step outside of Europe. The aim is to companies, and I performance, and it ended 2015 with a market towards an eventual listing on provide foreign exchanges with a see no reason why capitalisation of €11.4 billion, an increase of the main European exchanges. white label solution, which they the Malta Stock over €1 billion compared to the previous year. could offer to companies within their Exchange should home markets who wish to have a A Professional Environment not flourish in Listing Solution listing in the European Union. n What differentiates the Malta the same way as The MSE is presenting itself as an ideal Stock Exchange is its very high other segments place to accommodate specialist services standard of personal service, of Malta’s finance and small and medium-cap companies, and which provides a lot more centre do.” is aiming to become one of the top three support in the preparation for European stock exchanges catering for SMEs an initial public offering (IPO) Joseph Portelli by the end of the decade. The MSE currently than on a larger exchange. In Chairman of operates three markets. Companies on the addition, costs and fees remain the Malta Stock Main List and the Alternative Companies competitive while those making Exchange www.borzamalta.com.mt List, which offers firms with little or no primary and secondary applica-
Carlo Gavazzi Cardinal Health Trelleborg
De La Rue
Find out what these companies have in common. Contact Malta Enterprise on +356 2542 0000 or email: email@example.com Gwardamangia Hill, Pietaâ€™ MEC 0001 - Malta T: +356 2542 0000 â€˘ F: +356 2542 3401 W: www.maltaenterprise.com
CountryProfiler MALTA FEATURE
Mobilising Malta Malta’s transport system is undergoing a radical rethink, and the island is betting on intelligent traffic management systems and other innovations that have the potential to shake up the sector.
alta’s road transport sector is in the midst of a transformation as the island is seeking to upgrade and improve many facets of its infrastructure. While huge investments over past years have turned Malta into a major hub for international trade and maritime transport, the island’s expanding economy is putting pressure on its road network that has failed to keep pace with this growth. Keen to see the sector heading in a new direction, the Maltese authorities are implementing novel concepts and are willing to partner with global innovators to create a better connected and more efficient transport system. Capacity Constraints
Malta is one of the most densely populated countries in the world – an island nation of just 316 square kilometres and home to more than 420,000 people. Car density is also one of the highest in the European Union, with some 330,000 cars registered despite the short distances on the island. It comes as no surprise that road congestion is a major problem at times and finding ways to ease the traffic flow has become a top priority. The authorities are aware of the crucial importance of a functioning transport system for business and foreign investment, so they are keen to address structural issues that impede economic growth and competitiveness. Easing Traffic
The entire transport sector is overseen by Transport Malta, while regulatory policies are drawn up by the Ministry for Transport and Infrastructure. Identifying bottlenecks and upgrading road infrastructure are some of the main tasks at hand. In an effort to
address traffic congestion, the Maltese government is already in the process of installing an intelligent traffic management system. The system includes variable message and lane-changing signs and will provide motorists with real-time traffic updates. This is intended to effectively direct traffic and limit congestion. The island’s bus system has been taken over by Spanish transport group Autobuses Urbanos de León and efforts are underway to encourage more people to use public transport. Reconstruction and upgrading work is also being carried out on a number of routes that are part of the Trans European Transport Network (TEN-T). EU funding has played a pivotal role in road building and maintenance and will continue to be an important source of financing. Other Measures
Although major upgrades are being undertaken, additional investment in the transport sector is needed to support Malta’s growing economy. The increased use of water taxis and sea links in the harbour area, as well as a tunnel connecting Malta and its sister island Gozo are some of the concepts currently being looked into, while policies on heavy vehicles
“Malta has established itself as an international centre of maritime excellence, and we have all the right elements in place for the aviation industry to prosper. Good transport connections and economic activity are also intertwined. In the area of land transport, we are considering new transport technologies, to be used alongside our bus service, which could provide an alternative to vehicles on the road.” James Piscopo Chairman and CEO of Transport Malta
and horse carriages are in the pipeline. Proposals for the future also include moving commuters off the roads and onto a simple underground railway or a monorail system, which currently do not exist in Malta. Promoting Partnerships
Around the world, public-private partnerships have proven to be an effective way of expanding and maintaining transport infrastructure, and Malta believes the future lies in greater private sector participation for long-term projects. The island also offers interesting prospects for engineering and construction firms and is willing to partner with companies that can introduce innovative technologies or materials. The long-term vision for the sector also includes a greener and cleaner Malta. This means encouraging innovation and further research, as well as the promotion of environmentally friendly technologies. Malta is keen to become a part of the transport sector’s journey into the future: its small market provides the right environment for companies looking at commercialising ideas as well as testing new transport products and systems. With big data and the internet of things affecting traditional transport models like never before, Malta has recognised that it must continue to evolve and respond to changing transport demands and dynamics. n
In the air, on the sea and on land – Transport Malta (TM) keeps the island’s growing transport sector on track. The authority is responsible for the regulation of all transport in Malta. TM is actively involved in the promotion of maritime affairs, including the management and operation of the Maltese Register of Shipping and the operational activity within the Maltese inland waters and ports. Transport Malta is also responsible for the building of roads and associated infrastructure, the promotion and regulation of aviation affairs and the regulation and licensing of vehicles and drivers.
Flying Higher Malta’s aviation sector is flourishing, and the country has built up a cluster of highly respected and well-recognised companies in a short space of time.
he global aviation industry is touching down in Malta and is becoming an important contributor to the island’s growing investment pie. A new legislative framework has turned Malta into a recognised address for the registration of both private and corporate jets, while maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) providers have long discovered Malta to be a profitable base. The country is also a leader in a broad range of other aviation services as it hosts firms catering for everything from crew training to engineering services and communication. With the worldwide aviation industry growing at a rapid pace, Malta is keen to expand its already impressive aviation cluster by attracting more aircraft leasing, finance and charter companies. Aircraft Registration
Malta’s first aircraft register was established in the 1960s, but it was the introduction of a new Aircraft Registration Act in 2010 that helped Malta become a serious competitor in Europe’s aircraft registration and management industry. The Act offers an easy registration procedure for private aircraft and has been designed to accommodate the most demanding structures and trends in aircraft ownership. There are now close to 220 aircraft and some 30 operators listed in the Maltese aviation registry. 2015 also brought a number of firsts, with two Airbus A340 and a Sukhoi Superjet 100, the latter being the first ever model of its type to be registered in the European Union, opting for the Malta flag. Corporate charter airlines such as Comlux, Orion Malta and Carree all registered aircraft in the country, while Austrian private jet company VistaJet has relocated its headquarters and registered 50 aircraft in Malta. The Civil Aviation Directorate of Transport Malta, the regulatory authority for all transport in Malta, provides a very attentive, personal service to companies setting up in Malta.
Leasing & Finance
Malta has also implemented the Cape Town Convention, now widely recognised as a market standard in aircraft finance transactions. The island is well placed for the structuring of air finance deals through various methods, such as syndicated loans and securitisation. In fact, a wide variety of asset classes can be securitised under Malta’s Securitisation Act, including lease and charter payments for aircrafts. In addition, the regulator has developed a procedure for aircraft leasing, and VAT payments are only due for the time an aircraft is being used in the European Union. With 40% of the world’s aircraft being leased today, aircraft leasing proves to offer tremendous opportunities for Malta to position itself as a Mediterranean hub alongside established or emerging centres, such as Dublin and Singapore. Service & Maintenance
These business streams are strongly supported by investment in physical infrastructure, such as the €17 million, 200,000-square metre Safi Aviation Park. The park hosts a number of business aircraft operators and MRO facilities, including Lufthansa Technik, which began servicing aircraft in Malta in the early 2000s, prompting other companies to follow suit. The growth of the industry has also allowed
the establishment of flight academies, as well as permitting the island’s educational institutes to offer aviation-related training. Added to its very supportive environment, Malta has taken strides in attracting an even greater share of top-tier talent and world-class firms by extending tax-friendly policies, originally drawn up for the finance industry, to the aviation sector. Foreign aircraft managers coming to Malta can now benefit from a reduced income tax rate. Growth Ahead
Malta’s government has also announced its intention to invest heavily in the aviation industry’s research and development sector in order to retain its competitiveness on a global scale, while the Aircraft Registration Act is currently being refined. The new version is expected to include targeted incentives to make Malta even more attractive to companies offering aviation-related services. This bodes well for the future, and there is little doubt that Malta will be able to reinforce its position in the years ahead. n
CountryProfiler MALTA FEATURE
Maritime & Yachting
Europe’s Leading Flag of Confidence
A significant percentage of the world’s shipping fleet is controlled from Malta, while the island has successfully honed its image as a premium location for the wider maritime industry.
s a small island nation, Malta is not necessarily known for world records and global leadership – its maritime sector though is an exception. The country has built up Europe’s largest flag register and is making waves as a top location for the yacht and superyacht industry. Key to this success has been Malta’s well-run international maritime register where high service and safety standards are attracting clients from as far away as Asia and Latin America. Malta also boasts the third-largest transshipment port and has cultivated world-class support services to provide the best possible facilities and expertise to ship owners, financers and operators who choose to become a part of Malta’s rich maritime industry. Business streams such as ship finance are also being explored, while Malta seeks to become a centre for maritime litigation, with the setting up of a maritime court and the strengthening of dedicated arbitration services.
A Maritime Nation
Marine and maritime activities have long provided great economic value to the country’s well being. The island’s strategic location midway between Europe, the Middle East and North Africa has seen it used as a transshipment hub for thousands
of years by everyone from the Phoenicians to the Order of Saint John and the British who turned Malta’s Grand Harbour into a major naval base. It is estimated that Malta’s maritime cluster contributes to the employment of more than 20,000 people. Supported by growth in a number of traditional and emerging sectors, it is expected that maritime activities will soon account for some 14% of Malta’s GDP. Record Figures
Ship registration has become the number one activity of Malta’s maritime centre as global ship owners increasingly turn to the Malta flag. In 2015, Malta’s shipping register grew by some 14% over the previous year, with the registered gross tonnage reaching 66.2 million gross tons at the end of last year. Over 900 ships have been registered during the year. This is a new record for the Malta Flag, and it means Malta continued to consolidate its position as the leading European ship register, ahead of Greece and Cyprus, and the 6th largest in the world. Malta’s register ranges from LNG carriers to cruise ships, from bulk carriers to RORO ships and from oil tankers to superyachts (yachts of over 24 metres in length). In particular, the number of high-end vessels on Malta’s register is constantly on the increase. Over the past 10 years, the global luxury superyacht market has expanded beyond all expectations, and the development of a new yacht code has made the registration of commercial and pleasure yachts, including superyachts, in Malta very
attractive. Despite the financial situation worldwide, in 2015 Malta recorded an increase of over 10% in superyacht registrations compared to the previous year. There are now more than 500 yachts registered on the island. However, there is much more to the country’s shipping industry than its registered merchant fleet: Malta is also home to a premier maritime cluster, including excellent yacht marinas, cargo port facilities, and shipbuilding and repair services. This is in addition to a wide range of finance, law, insurance and management facilities. A Practical Approach
Malta has successfully attracted professional companies to its shipping sector because it has struck the balance between serious regulation and an industry-friendly approach. Dedicated legislation and tight registration criteria, all in line with EU Directives and International Maritime Organisation conventions, as well as a high-level 24/7 administrative service are among the driving forces behind the success of Malta’s shipping industry. Transport Malta, the regulator of the transport industry, goes to great lengths to emphasise that Malta is a flag of confidence and not one of convenience. The island’s status as an EU member state, its state-ofthe-art maritime framework and the excellent safety records of Malta-flagged ships helped the island to be officially classified as a low-risk flag. Ship owners appreciate that Transport Malta is on call 24-hours a day to deal with problems from managers or ships’ staff. The authority has technical staff on
hand to guide ship owners through whatever issues might arise. In addition, documentation can be lodged outside normal Central European working hours – a service which is important for ship owners and financiers coming from the Americas or the Far East.
Malta is widely Malta and tap into the island’s Malta’s regulatory framework is professional services. Malta’s recognised also attractive to yacht owners. lawyers and corporate service For example, yachts registered as within the providers are among the most commercial vessels can benefit experienced in international industry as by paying an annual tax on the circles and can advise on all tonnage, rather than an income aspects of registration and an efficient tax on earnings. For yachts operation of vessels. Specialist and profitable lawyers from the island today which are not commercially registered, Malta operates an location to do handle a wide selection of attractive system for purchasmaritime disputes in both the business. ing and leasing. This enables so-called wet and dry sectors. yacht owners to pay VAT on Maritime litigation is also a their yachts calculated on the percentkey growth area for the future. The Maltese age of the time that vessels are deemed government has announced its intention to have sailed in EU waters – based on to set up a maritime court and to overthe assumption that the larger the yacht, haul the maritime legal framework with the less time it stays in those waters and a vice-admiralty court and a revamped vice-versa. Recently, the island has also International Arbitration Centre. Initiatives adopted a reduced VAT rate on short-term such as these are aimed at positioning Malta yacht charters commencing in Malta. While as a maritime hub providing all-embracing such charters will continue to be subject maritime legal and corporate services. With to a rate of 18% on the cost of the charter, a growing international finance sector, the this will only be applied proportionally, country is destined to see future opportubased on the amount of time the charter nities arising in banking and insurance, is in EU waters. Malta’s proximity to North while Malta’s maritime community is African and Eastern Mediterranean destiequally convinced that it can compete with nations means that a superyacht charter European ship management jurisdictions could be undertaken where a significant by developing and offering a greater level of portion of the time is spent beyond the sophisticated ship management activities. realms of the EU and its tax rules.
New Growth Areas
Incentives for Yacht Owners
As one of only two open registers in the EU, registration is available to vessels owned by Maltese and non-Maltese persons, and in practice any kind of vessel may be registered, including one under construction. However, Transport Malta has put a premium on quality by introducing regulations which require ships aged 15 years and over to pass additional inspections, and ships over 25 years are not accepted on the register. The island now has one of the youngest fleets in the world. The average age of merchant ships registered under the Merchant Shipping Act during 2015 was of 6.7 years, thus decreasing the average age of all the registered merchant fleet to 12 years. A key reason for the flag’s success is also that Maltese law offers a huge degree of protection to the financier, giving operators significant advantages when dealing with banks.
The Next Level
While the international shipping community is still facing some headwinds with reduced trade volumes and freight rates near historically low levels, Malta’s shipping sector is expanding. The development of the international ship register has also encouraged owners and management companies to locate their operations in
The Malta Flag in Figures (2015)
Malta shipping register: 1st in Europe and 6th in the world
500+ 12 superyachts
average age of merchant fleet
The task at hand for Malta now is to build on cluster dynamics. The island also hosts various specialist companies, including IT companies focusing on marine software engineering and electrical engineering companies who develop and install vessel-management systems. In addition, there are five marinas on the island catering for luxury, private and charter vessels, while a maritime services park spanning 172,000 square metre will be constructed in the near future. The sheer volume of facilities makes for a competitive and productive environment. Industry analysts keeping track of Malta’s maritime sector are certain that a promising future lies ahead if the island continues on its path of making consistent, steady progress. n
6.7 66.2 YEARS
average age of vessels at registration
CountryProfiler MALTA FEATURE
Global Residence & Citizenhip
Mediterranean Pulling Power
Attracting the best – Malta’s Mediterranean charms are fascinating growing numbers of affluent foreigners, expats and globetrotting professionals looking for a permanent or temporary home.
However, the island is also increasingly on the radar of individuals and families from Asia, the Middle East and the Americas. Malta recently introduced a new residency and visa programme for third-country nationals with the aim of attracting intercountry full of history, passionate national investors to the island by grantpeople, excellent weather and crystal ing them residency in Malta and a visa by clear seas, Malta is a place that expatriates which they can access the Schengen area. like to call home. Seeking to attract highly The programme is linked to the purchase or skilled and networked people from around rental of property in Malta or Gozo, while the world, the country has introduced a citbeneficiaries are also required to hold an izenship-by-investment programme in adinitial investment of €250,000 for a period dition to new residency programmes, which of five years. Alternatively, affluent non-EU have made relocating to the island easier foreigners can also take advantage of the than ever before. If you want to escape from country’s Global Residency Programme, the grey skies and polluted air of northern fi- which offers a 15% flat tax rate on income nancial and industrial centres, Malta may be remitted to Malta. A similar programme the ideal choice. The ‘sunshine island’ offers for EU/EEA/Swiss Nationals has also been a unique lifestyle of unsurpassed quality that introduced, and both programmes also combines comfort with luxury, the modern require the purchase and rental of property. and the traditional, and work with pleasure.
Living in Malta has long been popular with European nationals, and especially with people from the UK and Scandinavia.
Those who would like to stay even longer can apply for Malta’s Individual Investor Programme (IIP), which offers foreign nationals the possibility to obtain Maltese
citizenship by paying €650,000 to the National Economic and Social Development Fund, purchasing property having a minimum value of €350,000 or leasing a property for a minimum annual rent of €16,000, in addition to investing €150,000 in government-approved financial instruments. Malta’s IIP is the only one of its kind endorsed by the European Union, and the island is aware that citizenship is a very complex and sensitive matter, and therefore has developed a four-tier due diligence system to ensure that applicants are worthy of Maltese citizenship. Given that investment migration is exclusively the domain of high-net-worth individuals and business persons with substantial personal assets, Malta sees its IIP as an opportunity to attract highly talented people to the island. Identity Malta
The Identity Malta Agency is responsible for the administration of these programmes. However, potential applicants need to make use of the services of accredited agents who are authorised and trained to guide them through the whole appli-
cation process. Contact details of these agents can be found on the website of Identity Malta (www.identitymalta.com). Working Professionals
While Malta has historically been a popular choice for those looking for an increased quality of life in a Mediterranean island setting, economic growth and investments from international companies have also caught the attention of high-flying foreign professionals. Malta is fast becoming an all-round top expat destination that ranks well as a place for career progression and financial gain, as well as for a lifestyle change, demonstrating that the country delivers across numerous elements of expat life. To fill gaps in its labour market, Malta also introduced a scheme that offers highly qualified professionals in a range of executive positions and sectors a flat tax rate of 15%, provided they have an annual income of at least €81,457 (basis year 2015). Any income over €5 million is tax-free. Conveniently located at the centre of the Mediterranean within a few hours flying time from major European cities, the country is also the ideal location for globetrotting professionals working in Europe, Africa or Asia. Retirement Hotspot
Pensioners can benefit from the Malta Retirement Programme, which has been designed to attract nationals of the EU, EEA and Switzerland, offering a 15% tax rate for individuals. Retirees can also make use of Malta’s wide network of double taxation agreements. Under most tax treaties that Malta is party to, pensions are
tax-exempt from the country in which they are sourced, as long as the person is residing and receiving the pension in Malta. This means pensioners can remit their pensions to Malta and have them taxed at only 15% if they apply for the Malta Retirement Programme. Living the Lifestyle
Aside from the fiscal benefits of relocating to Malta, expatriates can also rest assured that they would be living in a country where crime is virtually nonexistent. Despite the island’s size, there are always new experiences to be enjoyed from scuba diving and jetskiing to exploring Malta’s vast and engrossing history first-hand in its preserved medieval cities. Leveraging a rich legacy of historical buildings and magnificent architecture, Malta boasts an abundance of lifestyle properties, ranging from sea-front apartments to exclusive villas with private pools. Anyone seeking to purchase property in connection with the residency programmes will be spoilt for choice. Many expats also report that they have a better standard of living and more luxurious life since relocating due to the island’s lower cost of living. In addition, exclusive, five-star restaurants combining the finest seasonal produce with innovation and expertise can be found all over the island. While some of the high fashion brand names, designers and upmarket services present in Monaco or Milan are not as common on the island; this merely serves to accentuate the unpretentious and genuine nature of Malta and its people.
A Network of Support
In order to support the thousands of foreigners who have chosen to live in Malta, a large and experienced network of professionals has developed including estate agents, lawyers and other service providers. There are also a number of relocation specialists. They advise on all administrative matters such as applying for the respective permits, taxation, the sourcing of property and even with issues such as schooling for children to help foreigners settle in to life on the island. Expats in Malta often spend many years in the country. Some even stay until they retire, knowing that Malta offers the best fusion of the traditional and the sophisticated, the luxurious and the intimate, and embodies the very best in Mediterranean charm. n
Fabulous all-year round weather with 300 days of sunshine and a crystal clear sea
REASONS why expats enjoy living in Malta
The Maltese Islands have a low crime rate
Friendly and hospitable local population
Excellent social life for all ages, with bars, clubs and restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets and a thriving cultural scene with big name concerts, outdoor festivals and a number of theatres and cinemas
Short distances between destinations keep commuting times to a minimum
No communication problems with English and Maltese as official languages, while Italian is widely spoken, as well as German and French within the tourism sector
Low cost of living while all goods are easily available
Good medical services with a government hospital and many private clinics
Above UKaverage schooling in English-speaking schools and a respected university
A wide variety of property is available in all price ranges
CountryProfiler MALTA FEATURE
Residence & Visa Programme
A Golden Opportunity
Malta’s ‘golden visa programme’ is set to become a popular choice for individuals seeking a residence in Malta.
With 300 days of sunshine every year, a high standard of living and idyllic seafront properties, Malta is fast becoming one of Europe’s top expat destinations. The country has just launched the Malta Residency and Visa Programme (MRVP), aimed at attracting reputable third-country nationals from across the globe to the island. The programme is managed by Identity Malta, which is the agency responsible for passports, identity documents, work and residence permits for expatriates, the Individual Investor Programme and the MRVP, amongst other. Roderick Cutajar, CEO Residency & Visa Programme, explains the requirements and benefits of this new programme. Malta just opened its door to more foreign expats, investors and entrepreneurs. What are the main advantages of the MRVP?
Malta provides a safe and comfortable living environment in a Mediterranean island setting. Stability and security are important factors motivating people to seek residency elsewhere, and we are convinced that third-country nationals in search of a safe location for their families will see the benefits of this programme. It should also prove attractive to nationals of countries that do not allow dual citizenship and hence cannot apply for citizenship-by-investment programmes. Through this programme, Malta acts as a gateway to Europe, providing visa-free access to the European Schengen Area for those third-country nationals taking up residence, which is an attractive feature for nationals coming from South Africa, Russia and China to name but a few.
Who can apply for the programme and what criteria need to be fulfilled?
What are the costs involved and how long is the residency permit valid for?
Applicants cannot be citiOnce residency is granted, zens of the EU, the EEA and every applicant needs Switzerland and must be at to pay a contribution of least 18 years old. It is crucial €30,000 to Identity Malta. that they – along with all family There is also a non-refundable members benefitting from the administrative fee of €5,500 “Malta provides programme – have a clean crimion application, which will be a safe and nal record. They are required to deducted from the contribution. comfortable living invest in property on the Maltese This fee covers the applicant, environment in Islands. The value of property spouse and children. The apa Mediterranean bought must be at least €270,000 plication can be extended to island setting.” in Gozo or the South of Malta, or include parents or grandparents of €320,000 elsewhere in Malta. of the main applicant or of the Roderick Cutajar Renting property is an alternaspouse if he/she is not economiCEO of Malta tive; the annual lease must be cally active and is principally Residency and between €10,000 and €12,000. dependant on the said person. Visa Programme. Applicants must also commit to Beneficiaries are allowed to invest €250,000 in Government stay in Malta as long as they bonds, and this investment must fulfil certain criteria of the be held for a minimum period of five programme, such as having the required years. In addition, the applicant needs to income or liquid assets. However, they are declare either an annual income of not not required to hold government bonds less than €100,000 arising outside Malta and property for longer than five years. or capital of not less than €500,000. You are marketing the MRVP as a credible programme for reputable people. How are you ensuring that applicants fit this bill?
We will do everything possible to ensure that successful applicants and their dependents are fit and proper persons; they must satisfy the high standards of our rigorous due diligence process. The residency right can also be removed at any time should a beneficiary commit a crime or breach the law. Furthermore, an application can also be deemed against the public interest and turned down.
Where can one apply for the programme?
While Identity Malta is entrusted with the running of the programme, each application has to be administered by a registered accredited person or a registered approved agent with Identity Malta. n
Real Estate & Development
Cosmopolitan Island Flair Malta is inviting global architectural firms to put their stamps on the island’s urban landscape.
ith a booming economy demanding commercial space and a desire to position Malta as a second home destination for affluent buyers, many think the time is right for a 21st century makeover of certain areas on the island. There is a lot of enthusiasm to create iconic buildings with unique design features that can cater for the needs of modern Malta. In breaking new ground, the island is seeking to partner up with architecture and management firms of international repute that are ready to go beyond the industry standard by experimenting with structures, arrangements and technologies, without compromising the island’s heritage and historic fabric.
city, Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has just undergone a radical transformation, with Italian star architect Renzo “We are ready to Piano designing a new entrance support innovative to the city, as well as a new parideas that can liament building. Demand for take Malta’s built high-value and quality property environment to in recent years has also led to the next level, the development of a number of while respecting lifestyle developments providour centuriesing a mix of luxury apartments, old heritage and commercial outlets and leisure environment.” amenities. These projects have become catalysts for urban reJohann Buttigieg generation, encouraging further Executive high-quality re-development. Chairman of the At the same time, an influx Planning Authority of foreign companies fuelled demand for commercial space High-end Developments and spurred the construction of new office Careful to preserve Malta’s century-old blocks and the modernisation of older ones. architecture, the island’s construction industry has reinvented itself in recent years Creating Modern Marvels with a focus on heritage-led projects that However, there is rising awareness that more integrate historic buildings and areas within ambitious projects are required to address regeneration schemes to create popular, the infrastructural challenges the island successful environments in which people faces today. The Malta Planning Authority enjoy working and living. Malta’s capital acknowledges the fact that iconic buildings
can act as a catalyst for economic growth and urban renewal. A number of locations have already been identified for re-development, including an area in St Julian’s known as St George’s Bay and a number of sites on Gozo. They are said to have attracted the interest of international architectural firms, including Zaha Hadid Architects and Chapman Taylor. While there is an appetite in Malta to have the next big idea on the drawing board, the realisation of these projects is not an easy task, as it requires careful weighing of environmental and planning concerns, including the fear of overdevelopment. Iconic buildings will also cost more to design and to construct, but they are more likely to attract higher profile tenants and buyers. Promoting Malta’s image as a progressive country through its built environment is also aimed at positioning the island as a top choice for people seeking to purchase property abroad. Today, almost 5% of real estate is foreign-owned, mostly British, but the island increasingly attracts buyers from other European countries as well as the US and the Middle East. New projects are sure to attract more investment and have the potential to become symbols for Malta’s growing cosmopolitan culture. n
CountryProfiler MALTA FEATURE
Patients Beyond Borders
Operation transformation will see Malta join forces with two of the world’s most respected healthcare providers to deliver world-class treatments with cutting-edge technologies in new state-of-the-art hospitals.
alta’s healthcare system is set to gain access to the latest medical technologies and clinical treatments thanks to a deal with Vitals Global Healthcare in collaboration with Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, a faculty of Queen Mary University of London, and Partners HealthCare International from the US. Vitals will be investing €220 million in revamping Malta’s medical infrastructure following the award of a service concession from the Government of Malta. The investment is set to transform the nation’s healthcare sector
into a medical education and health tourism hub with specialisations in oncology, aged care, rehabilitation and the treatment of trauma, adding much needed extra capacity for patients seeking high-quality medical care and health facilities. The plan will also incorporate a medical school and teaching hospital capable of hosting 300 students, in addition to a nursing training college. All of which has been designed to complement the current national health system. Thinking Outside the Box
The Maltese government, like many of its European counterparts, has been facing the challenge of keeping health costs in check. With increasing demands, ageing population and rising expectations, Malta sought to find innovative ways to bolster
the capacity of the health service and futureproof the country’s needs while at the same time internationalising the sector to tap into the ever-growing market of patients seeking treatment outside their home countries. To do this, the island’s political leaders recognised that Malta would need to seek private sector investment to construct new hospitals and attract globally renowned health providers with the experience and expertise to redesign and totally overhaul the country’s health offering. With an extensive list of demands, Malta invited the private sector to play its part in delivering its vision of providing the best high-quality healthcare system in Europe. Following a full evaluation, Vitals Global Healthcare was chosen as the preferred bidder to deliver on government’s vision for the sector.
High-Calibre Institutions medical school in England Vitals Global Healthcare, and Wales, founded in which has been tasked 1785. Barts is looking with delivering this ambiinto offering a full MBBS tious project, is backed programme in Malta in by a Singapore private collaboration with VGH equity fund and managed on teaching hospitals. by the Oxley Group, who has a strong track record A New Landscape in healthcare infrastructure Vitals and its partners will investments. They will be significantly alter Malta’s joined by Partners HealthCare healthcare infrastructure. “Through a worldInternational, who will focus Vitals will be building a stateclass medical on the development of cliniof-the-art acute hospital on school operated cal quality and patient safety Malta’s sister island Gozo with by Barts and our standards, benchmarks and 250 acute care beds. The Gozo Public-Private systems, and the development hospital will have an additional Partnership with of structures and systems for 200 beds for long-term care to Vitals Global postgraduate medical education. be used for rehabilitation, geriHealthcare that Partners HealthCare is one of atric and psychiatric services. will transform our the leading integrated academic Vitals will also be building the hospitals, we aim healthcare systems in the US and medical school and campus not only at turning was founded in 1994 by Brigham to be used by Barts, which will health-tourism and Women’s Hospital and host 300 students, in addition into a key pillar Massachusetts General Hospital, to a nursing school. In Malta, of the Maltese the two oldest and largest teachSt Luke’s Hospital, which was economy but also ing hospitals of Harvard Medical Malta’s general hospital before to present Malta School. Partners’ top five hospithe opening of a new hospital as a global player tals are consistently ranked in in 2007, will be refurbished and in this industry.” the top 10 list of Best Hospitals. will have 220 acute care beds Barts School of Medicine and and specialise in orthopaeKonrad Mizzi, Dentistry, a preeminent medical dics, cardiovascular diseases Minister for school located in the United and prosthetics. It will also Energy and Health Kingdom, will open its first offinclude a 150-bed rehabilitashore campus in Malta. One of tion centre. In addition, Malta’s the leading medical schools in the UK, Barts Karin Grech Hospital, which is currently and The London School of Medicine and being used as a rehabilitation centre, will be Dentistry bring together two venerable teach- transformed into a 320-bed geriatric hospiing institutions: St Bartholomew’s Hospital, tal. The Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, which dates back to 1123, and The London a Partners member hospital, and a recogHospital Medical College, which was the first nised leader in rehabilitative medicine in the United States, will advise both rehabilitation hospitals. According to Vitals, the investment will create employment for more than 1,000 people on the island. A Health Vocation
Malta has a medical tradition that can be traced back to the Knights of St John when the country’s hospital gained fame across Europe for the quality of its care. During the First World War the island affectionately earned the name ‘Nurse of the Mediterranean’ when allied soldiers were evacuated to Malta for treatment and rehabilitation. At its peak, Malta had 25,000 beds filled with service men being treated at the island’s 27 hospitals, a role that was repeated in 2011 when evacuees from Libya received treatment in Malta. The Maltese authorities, in partnership with the
CountryProfiler MALTA FEATURE
“Our main objective is to help deliver the highest standards of healthcare to Maltese citizens. It is our goal to deliver the excellent, comprehensive services that will result in a better experience for patients, staff, family and friends. To that end, we are confident in the experience and expertise that Partners HealthCare International brings to this important project, and look forward to working together.” Armin Ernst CEO of Vitals Global Healthcare “Vitals’ primary focus is on health transformation and population health to improve the quality of care and not just running hospitals.” Ram Tumuluri President & Director of Vitals Global Healthcare “At Partners HealthCare International we continue to be approached by health care organisations and academic institutions around the world that possess greater expectations for quality healthcare. We will mobilise the vast expertise that is available across Partners HealthCare to address this transformative project. To work with Barts and Vitals Global Healthcare in this collaboration brings unique partners to healthcare innovation.” Gilbert H. Mudge, M.D. President and CEO of Partners HealthCare International "The collaboration with the Government of Malta is even more exciting because not only will we be doing this in the newly expanded state-of-the-art clinical facilities, but that we will also be working with an academic partner of the standing of Partners HealthCare International."
Prof. Anthony Warrens Dean for Education of Barts & The London School of Medicine
island’s healthcare professionals, are now laying the groundwork to develop Malta’s century-old role as a medical centre in the Mediterranean into a fully-fledged sector that can cater both to local and international demands. The agreement with Vitals will also provide access to cutting-edge research and bring the latest treatments from top UK and US teaching institutions to patients in Malta. As part of Vitals efforts to attract medical tourists, they plan to apply for Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation within three years of starting operations. JCI accreditation is considered the gold standard in hospital certification worldwide and offers foreign patients confidence that the treatments and quality of care they are receiving is the best in the world. Treating the Region & Beyond
No longer the preserve of only the rich and famous, the global medical tourism market has witnessed an increase in patients travelling abroad seeking high-quality, technologically advanced and competitively priced health services. These patients are part of an expanding global trade in medical tourism that is estimated to be worth US$32.5 billion by the end of 2019. At the crossroads of Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Malta’s geographical advantage as well as its unique cultural richness is an important factor in carving out a niche for itself as the region’s leading medical hub, serving patients that are seeking more complicated procedures rather than just cosmetic interventions. Malta will be competing with well established medical tourism countries in the region, such as Jordan who attracts 250,000 medical tourists per year, and Turkey who treat an estimated 500,000 foreign patients. However, Malta is confident that with the support of two of the world’s leading names in healthcare, the country can become a credible alternative to the best healthcare systems in the world. Malta is targeting both the developed and developing world. In the EU, North America and the Middle East, medical tourism is often driven by the lack of timely access to quality care and cost, thus some patients choose to travel in order to receive treatment in a matter of weeks. In developing countries quality healthcare does not exist, so travel is the only option. As an Englishspeaking country, Vitals expects that Malta will particularly appeal to patients from
Canada who are keen to beat long-waiting lists in their home country, as well as to US patients seeking more affordable healthcare. In addition, Malta’s location at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and the Middle East means the island is easily accessible for patients from the region. State-of-the-art facilities and Western-qualified doctors, along with affordable prices, high quality of life and security, offer them the opportunity to recuperate in a pleasant and totally safe environment. Malta’s many four- and five-star hotels also provide accompanying relatives with a wide choice of accommodation options. Medical Education & Research
Malta and its partners are also keen to set new standards in the training of medical staff and research and development within the healthcare sector. While the Barts campus in Gozo is expected to draw in medical talent from around the world, Malta’s St Luke’s Hospital is envisioned to become a centre for nurse training. Emphasis will be placed on specialist courses in areas such as geriatric care and physiotherapy, while nurses from Asia and other non-EU countries will be able to attend six-months traineeships to qualify for work in Europe. Vitals’ plans also go beyond the provision of health services and the Group has a strong focus on health transformation. In Malta, Vitals will be operating a medical simulation centre and is interested in forging partnerships with innovative health solution providers in areas such as telemedicine and health-related app development. The idea is also to tap into EU funding to establish Malta as a medical R&D location, which would attract pharma firms at the cutting edge of scientific thought and laboratory research. The Future of Healthcare
The unified effort between the Government of Malta, Vitals, Barts and Partners is expected to translate into better amenities and quality of service for the Maltese population while accomplishing a giant step forward into developing Malta and Gozo into a reputable health-tourism hub. As rising patient expectations, chronic diseases and budget constraints are placing pressure on healthcare systems around the world, Malta and its Public-Private-Partnership approach are also being seen as an example for other countries. The model has already attracted the attention of five Eastern European nations. n
What has established our global reputation in the gaming industry? At the Malta Gaming Authority, our regulatory philosophy, organisational principles and culture are focused on player protection. Maltaâ€™s transparent legal framework and experience in regulating gaming has developed into a world class eco-system providing effective, innovative and efficient regulation. Our regulatory framework provides assurances both locally and internationally that fairness and transparency are at the core of everything that we do. To this effect, our licensees are associated with the highest levels of integrity and efficiency. Proudly recognised as a world class authority in terms of innovation, governance and diligence.
MALTA GAMING AUTHORITY Building SCM02-03, Level 4, SmartCity Malta, Ricasoli SCM 1001, Malta T +356 2546 9000 E firstname.lastname@example.org www.mga.org.mt
CountryProfiler MALTA FEATURE
The Epicentre of Europe’s Gaming Industry Malta was the first EU country to regulate iGaming, a sector that since then has erupted in growth. The island is now seeking to become a leader in the provision of game-related services to companies based in Europe and beyond.
Creating an Industry
Photo courtesy of NetEnt
he story of Malta’s iGaming sector is currently being rewritten. The island was the first EU member state to introduce iGaming-specific regulations, and its licensing regime has attracted hundreds of iGaming companies to operate from the Mediterranean island. However, this version, say operators and service providers, is out of date. While Malta continues to appeal to iGaming operators and still boasts one of the highest concentrations of iGaming companies in Europe, the sector is evolving and embracing new opportunities. Malta’s new story features the island as a thriving service centre for all things gaming.
single market in the world. While many European states have begun to regulate the iGaming industry to cash in on the tax revenue and employment opportunities, the island is confident in withstanding competition and is busy reshaping itself.
Few countries in the world Europe’s iGaming Capital have a vision for the gaming Today, the gaming industry The Gaming Industry contributes around 10 to 12% to sector as defined as Malta’s. contributes around The first online gaming busiMalta’s GDP and employs around nesses arrived on the island 8,000 people directly, with in the late 1990s, well before an additional 2,000 to 3,000 to Malta’s GDP and the online boom. Unlike many providing ancillary services such employs around other countries that protected as web hosting, security audittheir monopolies, Malta allowed ing or legal work. With around commercial operators to set up 270 operators now based on people directly and enter the gaming market, the island holding 490 licences with the first online betting for online offerings such as businesses established under casino-style games, lotteries or the Public Lotto Ordinance in 2000. The sportsbooks, the industry is proving that government quickly recognised the need tight regulation and stringent supervifor a dedicated framework, set up a regulasion offer the ideal conditions for remote tory authority for this young industry and gaming companies to succeed and flourish. released the Remote Gaming Regulations in Major companies such as Betsson, Betfair, 2004 just before Malta joined the European Interwetten, Unibet, bet-at-home and Tipico Union. This move gave licensees the added have long understood Malta’s advantages benefit of being located in and regulated by as a gaming jurisdiction. New businesses a jurisdiction that forms part of the largest are also flowing in: 2015 saw leading online
bookmaker Pinnacle Sports and industry heavyweight bet365 receive Malta licences to name but two examples, while long-established players announced plans to expand their operations. They all comment that Malta offers them a stable and secure framework in which to carry out their business. The Whole Package
Malta is regarded as a world-class base because of the high quality of its industryspecific services and infrastructure. Its established state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure delivers round-the-clock connectivity, while investments in this area over the past few years have cemented the island’s position as the leading EU jurisdiction for iGaming operators. The presence of industry support services such as data centres, online payment processors, security auditors, gaming software developers and platform providers, contribute to a tailor-made environment that is conducive to growing a successful business. The island also boasts technical expertise to support critical operations in areas such as search engine optimisation, as well as affiliate management companies, with experienced consultants always on hand. Equally, the island’s lawyers and accountants have a wealth of experience, thus ensuring that a vibrant and creative
cluster of talent and know-how is in place to help companies manage their operations. Despite the fact that Europe’s iGaming market has changed considerably over the past few years, Malta hasn’t lost its dynamism. The country has always been an advocate of online gaming within the EU’s single market, believing that an operator licensed on the island should be allowed to provide services across Europe. At first glance, the introduction of national authorisation models in many EU countries, which means iGaming operators targeting players in a number of countries need to hold multiple licences, seems to make Malta less attractive as an iGaming hub due to the small size of the local market. However, Malta’s iGaming sector is working together to develop ways to recharge the industry, acknowledging the fact that past successes are not a guarantee for the future. A New Framework
One initiative is the overhaul of the gaming legislation that the regulator, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) initiated in 2015 to streamline, consolidate and future-proof all gaming sectors under one legislative umbrella. A key change envisioned is the design of a new licensing framework and the introduction of only two different licences: a Business-to-Business and a Business-to-Consumer licence. In 2015, the Maltese government and the MGA have also launched a new promotional body ‘GamingMalta’, which is expected to take over the marketing of Malta as an iGaming jurisdiction during 2016. A new Gaming Academy to train local and foreign people to acquire the required skills to work in the sector is also in the pipeline. Ultimately, the aim is to make Malta a centre of excellence for game-related companies, where executive decisions are made that drive global gaming businesses and where startups and innovative ideas are nurtured. Sector Evolution
Towards the Future
“Regulation for innovation – this is our roadmap for the future, and I am sure that our new regulatory framework has the potential to become a role model for others. We are also seeking to strengthen the environment for start-ups. My vision is for Malta to be the ‘Silicon Valley’ of iGaming, and we have already done a lot to achieve this vision, but there is much more to do.”
Malta is also embracing opportunities for growth in a number of areas. The new regulatory framework will cater for new and innovative gaming products. The MGA also emphasises that operators offering betting on eSports, professional video game competitions that have seen explosive growth in 2015, can already be licensed in Malta under the current framework. Gametech is also very much on Malta’s radar, and the island is building a conducive environment for iGaming and tech start-ups, including access to incubation facilities. Despite efforts to reposition Malta, most professionals do not expect a drastic slow-down of activity in Malta. They highlight that even though more countries are introducing national licensing regimes, for operators active in more than one country Malta still makes sense while emphasising that future growth could come from international service provision. n
Joseph Cuschieri Executive Chairman of the Malta Gaming Authority
There are around
operators now based on the island holding
licences for online offerings such as casino-style games, lotteries and sportsbooks.
Photo courtesy of King.com
The industry is already witnessing increased management, structuring and financing activity, and the island is developing into a European hub for the operation of multijurisdictional online platforms. Some operators choose the island as a nominal
base, without applying for a licence in Malta. Instead, they use Maltese companies to hold their licences to operate in other countries to take advantage of Malta’s fiscally efficient framework. More important than having been the first to enter the market, is that Malta understands the iGaming industry’s needs better than others. The island boasts specialists and the necessary resources in all lines of services that gaming companies require, and these can be used by gaming operators irrespective of where they are licensed and where they are selling their products.
CountryProfiler MALTA FEATURE
Travel & Tourism
The Mediterranean Essence
Discover Malta: Once the home of the noble Knights of St John, the charming island of Malta offers visitors a funfilled, unique experience packed with the best of all things Mediterranean.
‘The Mediterranean on a dime’ is how the New York Times recently described Malta. Listed 3rd in the newspaper’s ‘Top 52 Places to visit in 2016’, the island is becoming an increasingly popular tourist hotspot. Moving beyond its traditional image as a sun and sea destination, the island has successfully repositioned its tourism sector by offering a broader range of tourism products, including cultural tourism, English-language training and conference and incentive travel. A significant expansion of flight connections, efforts to develop Malta as a city-break destination and investment in all-yearround leisure facilities are complementing this strategy and have helped in attracting a record of over 1.8 million tourists in 2015. A Year-Round Destination
Tiny Malta is located midway between Europe and Africa, 93 km south of Sicily and 290 km north of Africa. Getting to Malta is easy these days. From most major cities such as London, Frankfurt, Paris, Rome and Istanbul it takes just two to three hours’ flying time to reach Malta International Airport, the island’s only airport. With around 300 days of sunshine per year, and temperatures rarely dropping below 15 degrees Celsius even in winter, Malta is an ideal holiday destination year-round.
The peak holiday season is July to September, however the milder temperatures of spring and autumn attract tourists keen to explore the island’s rich history and cultural heritage. Tourism is Malta’s most important industry, both in terms of revenue and employment. The sector employs around 20,000 people and accounts for some 28% of Malta’s GDP. Given the close relationship between Malta and Britain over the past 200 years, the UK is still the most important market, but Italy, France and Germany are also key markets. In fact, around 130,000 to 140,000 German travellers visit Malta every year. The island has also made significant process in opening new markets. Visitors from the US and Asia are more common these days, while Malta is eyeing Turkey and Eastern Europe as growth markets of the future. Active Holidays
Malta prides itself on being all things to all people. It can offer action or relaxation, peace and quiet or excitement. For lovers of music, theatre and the arts, there is an extensive cultural calendar. For visitors interested in sports,
“Tourism is flourishing in Malta. We are not simply a beach resort and neither solely a culture destination, but we offer a mix of a preserved cultural product paired with a pleasant Mediterranean climate and lifestyle. We are passing through exciting times and are working hard on different fronts to further upgrade our product, which means Malta is ready to make another leap in quality.” Edward Zammit Lewis Minister for Tourism
it offers practically any activity, from golf and tennis, to horse riding and hiking through Malta’s rural landscape. The seas around Malta and Gozo are clean and clear and offer an unlimited variety of water sports. Sailing, snorkelling and windsurfing are superb, and as a scuba diving location Malta ranks among the best in the world. Most of the picture-postcard bays are found in the northern region, although there is no shortage of natural beauty anywhere on the island. Malta also offers an eclectic mix of foreign and local cuisine, with many restaurants, cafes and bars to choose from. At just 316 square kilometres in area, the island’s small stature makes it easy to get around using public transport or a rental car, offering visitors the opportunity to experience Malta’s many different faces even if they only stay for a short while. Special Interest Travel
The island is also becoming a popular wedding destination, with many couples opting for open-air ceremonies against stunning backdrops. Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) tourism has been on a steady growth path in Malta in recent years due to the many suitable facilities that are widely available. With some of Malta’s temples being over 7,000 years old
What not to miss
and 365 churches – one for each day of the year – the island is also seeking to tap into the growing market of cultural and religious travel. Easter processions, Christmas festivities as well as the traditional Maltese ‘festas’ complete with fireworks and band marches are a spectacular sight for foreigners to enjoy and participate in. Another successful niche is English-language training, and Malta attracts on average 80,000 students per year. In addition, the island has become a key player in the Mediterranean cruise industry, with some 600,000 passengers visiting Malta as part of their itinerary. Going forward, the industry seeks to encourage repeat visits from those travellers who only had ‘a taste’ of Malta, while some believe Malta also has the potential to become a gay tourism destination. Quality Accommodation
“Whenever you would like to come to Malta, there is something going on. There are around 250 different events taking place every year, including the Malta Marathon, the carnival, the music festival ‘Isle of MTV’, and many Maltese cultural festivities that our foreign guests like to attend.” Paul Bugeja CEO of the Malta Tourism Authority
Recent years have seen a push for quality both in terms of accommodation and leisure facilities. Visitors can today choose to stay in one of many four- and five-star hotels, including most international brands, in addition to smaller family-run boutique hotels, as well as self-catering apartments. The Malta
Tourism Authority is actively incentivising hotels to upgrade and is working to ensure that all establishments remain top quality providing high standard services. To expand their capacity many hotels are currently adding additional floors, while there are also plans to develop six-star establishments, taking service standards and quality to a higher level. European Capital of Culture
In many ways, Malta has already succeeded in combining its fascinating history with modern culture and comforts. This has earned Valletta the honour of becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2018. Once a hidden gem in the Mediterranean, Malta is now the word on everybody’s lips. The island’s tourism industry is confident that Malta’s appeal will remain strong, while new investment will help the island maintain its status as a must-visit destination in the Mediterranean. n
One of the island’s most popular tourist attractions is the Hypogeum, a unique example of prehistoric underground burial chambers. There is also the capital city of Valletta, voted European Capital of Culture 2018, comprising cathedrals and classic baroque style architecture throughout. The old capital, Mdina, dubbed the ‘Silent City’ quietly evokes a bygone era with its elegant stone palaces and hushed cobbled streets. With warm temperatures and clear waters around the coast, you will certainly enjoy a swim or diving experience to explore the thriving marine life. You can also test your endurance rock climbing high above the deep blue sea on the majestic Dingli Cliffs; or wind down with a leisurely round of golf and afternoon tea on the lawns of the Royal Malta Golf Club. Other activities include horse riding, jeep safaris and even paragliding. You can also head to Gozo, Malta’s smaller sister island, which is only 20 minutes away by ferry. Gozo is an island idyll of hills, valleys and cliffs, where time moves slower and life can be savoured, minute by minute, second by second.
CountryProfiler MALTA FEATURE
Conference & Incentive Travel
Meet in Malta
Attend a conference in a historic venue, enjoy a gala dinner in an outdoor location and discover your team spirit while biking, rock climbing, diving or sailing in the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean. Malta’s compact size allows groups and delegates to fit business and pleasure activities into a packed itinerary.
usiness meetings in Malta offer the chance to explore some of the island’s most beautiful treasures and experience the charms of a truly Mediterranean lifestyle. Companies and organisations such as the EU, the Commonwealth, WHO, UNDP, Microsoft, IBM, Bayer, Roche, Cable & Wireless, Cadbury, Sony, Dell Computers, Eriksson, UPS, Opel, Deutsche Telecom and many others have already chosen Malta as their meeting place, and the reason is not difficult to discern: whatever the size, formality or informality of the event, Malta has the expertise, the venues and the track record to ensure an unforgettable experience for all. Excellent facilities, year-round good weather and convenient connections to Europe’s major airports are only a few of Malta’s attractions as a Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) destination.
Venues & Hotels
Malta boasts an impressive selection of function venues, any of which would be sufficient alone to turn any occasion into a memorable event. From the 16th century Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta, to magnificent castles, stunning palazzos and impressive forts, adding a historical accent to the function is easy in Malta. For a more contemporary note, available venues
Professional Service include theme parks, village Excellent The Malta Tourism Authority offers squares, luxury yachts and facilities, year- a variety of services designed to help exclusive sea-front properties event organisers, both through its among others. In addition, many round good MICE Division and through its dedifour- and five-star hotels, includweather and cated microsite www.meet-malta. ing most international brands, com, which provides specific inforare able to offer the highest level convenient mation on hotels, facilities, service of accommodation, facilities and connections providers and venues, as well as services to visiting delegates. contact details for destination manFrequent connections to Europe’s agement companies (DMCs), audio between Malta and all major major airports visual companies, exhibition stand European cities mean comfort designers and event organisers. The and convenience for the are only a country’s DMCs are committed to delegates participating in the few of Malta’s offering excellent services, and the conference or enjoying an MTA issues quality seals to those incentive break. Travel times attractions. companies that excel in quality and vary from three hours (from professionalism. Malta is also excellent value London) to just one hour (from Rome). for money, distinguishing the island from its Malta International Airport offers excelEuropean neighbours. Most smaller venues such lent facilities, and is located less than as palazzos and hotel ballrooms can be rented 30 minutes away from most hotels. for around €2,000 a day, while hotel rates in the off-peak season can be as low as €40 a night. Trending Destination
Excellent conference facilities and an abundance of extra curricular attractions in addition to its glorious Mediterranean climate make Malta the must-visit destination for thousands of conference delegates every year: With great food, shopping, cultural and musical events, historical sites and sports of all types, all within a few minutes distance of each other, Malta is rapidly taking the lead over competitors in this lucrative sector of the tourism market. With its European heritage and tradition for both professionalism and hospitality, the island remains one of the most interesting and charming MICE destinations available today. n
Malta International Airport
As traffic grows to unprecedented levels, Malta International Airport is pursuing an ambitious investment programme to ensure that its vision of offering the best airport experience in Europe is realised, says CEO Alan Borg. Malta international Airport (MIA) has enjoyed six consecutive years of record growth. How has this been achieved?
2015 ended on an exceptional note for our airport, and the local tourism sector in general, with a record 4.6 million passenger movements registered. Every year our challenge is to keep topping the previous year’s success, a feat we work tirelessly on in co-ordination with all tourism stakeholders, most notably Government and the Malta Tourism Authority. Last year, these efforts resulted in increased flight frequency of a number of airlines, the inauguration of new routes, increased seat capacity and a higher seat load factor. The overall outlook for the tourism industry remains very positive, and we are expecting 2016 to be another record-breaking year, with MIA welcoming at least 4.73 million passengers. Airports are a key driver of economic growth. How important is it for Malta to attract new airlines, and what impact does MIA have on the development of the local economy?
Increased connectivity for Malta means added benefits from increased trade, higher investment and more tourism activity, resulting in better productivity overall. Being an island, Malta’s air connections are crucial for us to remain plugged into the global economy. Presently, our growing family of 37 airlines connect the Maltese Islands to 95 airports in 86 cities. Fully aware that our connectivity has a direct impact on the island’s GDP, we strive to drive seat capacity and further develop Malta’s route network. We do this hand in hand with our partners by marketing Malta as a year-round destination. We have, in fact, been focusing on increasing traffic in the shoulder months by offering airlines incentives that encourage them to extend their presence. Our priorities are to keep developing our network in the Scandinavian and Eastern European markets, and attract more visitors and traffic from the Iberian Peninsula. These
regions present opportunities for further connectivity, both in increasing our frequency to top cities like Stockholm and in developing routes to new destinations like Portugal.
MIA has featured regularly in the Best European Airport Award given by Airports Council International. What do these awards mean to MIA?
“We are committed to investing in a well-designed and efficient airport, and our ambitious €78 million investment programme reflects this”
terminal expansion which will ensure that the airport’s capacity adequately matches the increasing number of passengers. In essence this will mean more check-in desks and double the footprint for the airport’s central screening area, improving passenger flow and efficiency significantly. On the back of the success we achieved with SkyParks Business Centre, which is now fully occupied, €40 million of the investment package is estimated for SkyParks 2.
Being recognised for our commitment to service excellence is the ultimate reward for our airport team. This year’s silver SkyParks Business Centre has been a medal shows that our tireless tremendous success, being regarded efforts have put us on the right by many as Malta’s top corporate path towards becoming the best address. What is the strategy behind airport in Europe and furnish us this next round of investment? Alan Borg with invaluable feedback on how SkyParks Business Centre is CEO of Malta to reach this ultimate goal. We the result of a strategic move to International are presently focusing on analysdiversify MIA’s revenue streams Airport ing all the touchpoints on our and decrease our dependency customers’ journey, looking at on the aviation segment. Today, every detail, so that the expectations of every non-aviation revenues constitute over 30% of guest visiting or passing through our airport our income, so we are now looking to develop are continually exceeded. If we get the detail this area further and harness the opportuniright, everything else falls into place. ties Malta’s expanding economy offers. We have seen an increase in demand from aviation and financial services companies that MIA recently unveiled an ambitious €78 are setting up in Malta and require high-end million-investment programme. What office space. Through the creation of increased can you tell us about this initiative? office and retail space, parking facilities and a Deeply ingrained in our company’s strategy, business hotel, we expect to see this segment we are committed to investing in a welldesigned and efficient airport, and our ambi- of our business continue to flourish. tious €78 million investment programme reflects this. Our plans include a €28 million What is the outlook for 2016, and do you think you can continue the positive momentum that has been achieved over the past number of years?
Projections for 2016 show that around 4.73 million passengers will pass through Malta International Airport, a figure which represents growth over last year. Armed with sensible investments, growth projections and the staunch support of our employees, guests, shareholders, and stakeholders, we journey on confidently and responsibly. n
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in By the Sea (2015). © 2015 Universal Pictures Photograph courtesy of the Malta Film Commission
On Location in Malta International directors and producers from around the world discover the unique benefits of this Mediterranean island location.
015 was a record-breaking year for the Maltese film industry, which generated over €100 million, up from just €5 million in 2013. Malta has long been one of the most preferred locations for filming. Crews from Hollywood and Bollywood as well as marketing agencies and production companies frequently visit the island. Attracted by the versatile location, the film servicing facilities and infrastructure, English-speaking film professionals and the fiscal incentives offered by the government, Malta has become a key player in this industry. The list of major box-office hits under the island’s belt is impressive and includes The Da Vinci Code, Troy, Gladiator, The Count of Monte Cristo, Munich, Popeye, Captain Philips and many more. But aside from cinema blockbusters, Malta is increasingly attracting producers of documentaries, short films and music videos from as faraway as Japan and India. TV commercials are a particularly promising market, and there are discussions underway to incentivise this segment further.
To date, some 100 films have been shot in Malta, either entirely or partially. Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott and Ron Howard are just a few of the award-winning directors who have chosen to film in Malta. A range of commercials have also been produced on the island, including campaigns for Bacardi, Range-Rover and Coca-Cola. The most recent high-profile films shot in Malta include: Angelina Jolie’s By the Sea, starring herself and husband Brad Pitt; historical drama The Promise, starring Christian Bale; and Assassin’s Creed starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. Sequences for popular television series such as Game of Thrones and Sinbad have also been filmed in Malta. ‘Lookalike’ Location
The ability to double-up for multiple locations is one of the country’s greatest selling points. Over the years the island has been transformed into ancient Rome, Marseilles, Tel Aviv, North Africa and the South of France. Producers are also attracted by the island’s natural beauty and
the diverse architecture of Malta’s towns and villages, castles, palazzos, towers and farmhouses. Mother Nature also plays her role: with 300 days of sunshine a year, directors can rest assured that filming will not be unexpectedly interrupted. In addition, the island is home to the Malta Film Studios offering shallow water tanks that allow the shooting of water scenes in a controlled environment with an unlimited ocean backdrop. The government is currently looking for a strategic partner to redevelop, renovate and operate the film studios. This includes the building of sound-stages, where producers can work in a fully controlled environment. World-renowned companies have expressed their interest in the project. Malta Film Commission
Filmmakers are given a warm welcome by the Malta Film Commission (MFC), which is responsible for the promotion and development of the industry. It offers assistance and guidance and is usually the first point of contact for any filmmaker considering Malta as a location. The MFC also runs an incentive scheme, which offers a 25% rebate on costs for accommodation, transport and location hire. Film is also being seen as a great tool to promote Malta and Gozo across the globe, and productions that portray Malta in a cultural way can benefit from an additional 2% rebate.
Film Crew and Production Support
“Malta is back on the international film industry map, and film is one of our fastest growing economic niches. We are continuously fine-tuning our financial incentives to keep a competitive edge. At the same time we are also investing in human resources and infrastructure, including the building of stateof-the-art film studios where film can flourish 365 days a year.” Engelbert Grech Film Commissioner
Production companies can call upon a wealth of local talent and an army of enthusiastic extras. Productions have already employed up to 2,000 extras in one day. The availability of English-speaking location scouts, camera operators, sound technicians and assistant directors helps greatly in attracting international productions to Malta. The MFC has invested over €1 million in the past two years towards training people for the industry to ensure the highest quality crews are available. The island has also developed specialised film infrastructure that includes everything from the renting of trailers to costume-making and special effects, while producers can tap into expertise in 3D production and animation found in Malta’s games and digital media industry. A Creative Hub
Although competition among creative hubs is fierce, Malta believes it can continue to compete because of its strong combination of attractions. While cost tops the list these days when production companies select locations, Malta also sells itself as a convenient and increasingly creative location. n