Opinion Article: Mario Vella, chairman of Malta Enterprise

Chairman of Malta Enterprise, an agency focused on attracting inward investment and supporting enterprise, Dr Mario Vella shares his insights on the Maltese approach to investment promotion.

When compared to other European Union member states, the Maltese economy is doing very well indeed. According to the spring 2015 European Economic Forecast, Malta’s real GDP growth stood at four percent year-on-year in the last quarter of 2014, the highest rate of growth since 2010. After reaching 3.5 percent for the whole year 2014, the Commission forecasts 3.6 percent in 2015. Malta and Ireland (also 3.6 percent) are expected to be the fastest-growing economies in the euro-zone.

The European Commission commented that “job creation and the unemployment rate are projected to outperform euro-area peers”. It also stated that “employment growth surprised positively”. The European Commission forecasts that Malta’s unemployment rate in 2015 will be 5.9 percent. When compared with the other euro-zone countries, this places Malta amongst the top performers, with Germany, Luxembourg and Austria.

In terms of success in keeping unemployment down, Malta has no peer in southern Europe. Compare its 5.9 percent to Greece’s 25.6 percent, Cyprus’ 16.2 percent or France’s 10.3 percent. It is also expected to do well when compared to more northern member states, such as Slovakia (12.1 percent), Ireland (9.6 percent) and Belgium (8.4 percent). All this, it must be underscored, is being achieved within the context of a further decline in the budget deficit.

As Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has already remarked, the European Commission may well be surprised at Malta’s economic success but we are not. Repeating his words, it is a question of having a bold but flexible vision, and the determination to go for it.

Our success is due to our proactive approach. We do not wait for investors to knock on our door.
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The promotion of foreign direct investment, its attraction to Malta and all that is needed to keep it here, is a key component of this vision. This is what Malta Enterprise is responsible for, what it endeavours to do so as cost effectively as possible and what it is, in fact, succeeding in doing.

Our success is due to our proactive approach. We do not wait for investors to knock on our door. We target specific potential foreign investors that are, for a variety of specific reasons, likely to consider a presence in Malta, and knock on their door.

Malta Enterprise leverages Malta’s location advantages in a broad range of engineering-based niches, in the more creative niches of information and communications technology, in higher education and training for the regional and European markets, in innovative niches within aviation services, in the creative industries generally and in the long-neglected field of international logistics.  To this end, Malta Enterprise is leveraging the excellent reputation we have built within the world of shipping as Europe’s largest flag register and one of the world’s fastest growing ones. We are leveraging Malta’s tradition of medical excellence and its historical reputation as “the nurse of the Mediterranean” to develop it as an international health care hub.

To quote Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, “Opportunities are the result of navigating smartly in an uncertain international environment and to identify situations created by uncertainty itself.


This article was published 19 November 2015
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