Malta has a diversified free-market economy which mainly relies on tourism, manufacturing and financial services. Government encourages foreign investment and Malta enjoys good industrial relations. Malta also provides numerous financial incentives and maintains a tax regime that encourages economic growth. Yet, Malta’s qualities as an investment environment are not limited to its numerous tax benefits. The Island offers international investors a highly advanced telecommunications network, skilled professionals and a strategic location. In addition, Malta’s laws are in line with EU directives. The Island’s potential advantages attract other industries such as the Freeport industry and the film industry.
The Maltese Archipelago made up of Malta, Gozo and Comino, covers an area of 316 sq km for the three islands. The Maltese Islands are located 93 kilometres off the southern coast of Sicily and 290 kilometres north of the shores of North Africa. Malta has a temperate Mediterranean climate. Winters are mild and summers are warm, with long periods of sunshine. Autumn and spring are mild. The lowest temperatures occur between December and February and the highest in July and August. During daytime, winter temperatures rarely fall below 10 degrees centigrade. The mean temperature in the winter is between 17 and 22 degrees centigrade and the mean temperature in the summer is between 32 and 35 degrees centigrade.
Population and language
The population of Malta, including Gozo, is approximately 418,000. A recently carried out census revealed that there are 1,322 persons per square kilometre in Malta. However, the annual demographic growth is fairly modest at 0.7 percent. The national language of Malta is Maltese, but Malta has two official languages, Maltese and English. The language of the Courts is Maltese but proceedings may be conducted in English. The Laws of Malta and the Government Gazette are printed in Maltese and English. Most of the educated Maltese can speak fluent Maltese, English, and Italian.
Malta’s international banking centre has been gaining considerable ground in establishing itself as a finance hub both in the Mediterranean region and internationally. Over the past decade or so, the sector has transformed from a retail banking sector serving only the local population to a reputable international banking centre. This growth, which includes several international leading banking groups, has added dynamism to Malta’s thriving financial services industry, and the expectation is that many other banking institutions will follow this lead. Continued growth in this industry has also increased the range of products and services being offered in and from Malta. These include retail banking, private banking, trust business, investment banking, trade finance, treasury operations and syndicated loans.
Financial services industry
Malta is being increasingly recognised as a quality European financial centre and often serves as a European hub for business serving clients worldwide. It stands out as an alternative European financial centre of excellence for private banking, investment funds, asset managers and insurance companies and continues to grow and evolve rapidly in these areas. Malta has adopted and established a comprehensive legislative and regulatory framework for financial services activities based on standards of leading practice. The success of Malta in attracting such business may be attributed to the fact that Malta offers an attractive range of investment product solutions with a sophisticated regulatory environment having a knowledgeable, accessible and responsive regulator. The financial centre is served by highly experienced and competent locally-based service providers such as accountants, lawyers and tax advisers with significantly lower labour costs and competitive fees compared to major European jurisdictions.
Malta enacted its Securitisation Act in 2006 to facilitate both domestic and cross-border securitisation transactions under its hybrid system of laws. The regulatory and the legal framework for securitisation transactions is non-intrusive, flexible as to the assets which may be securitised and at the same time secures the required level of investor protection. Furthermore, a securitisation vehicle may take a number of legal forms and may be established either under the laws of Malta or those of a jurisdiction recognised by the MFSA.
The range of assets which may be securitised through a Malta securitisation vehicle is extensive given the flexible regime in place. Any assets may be securitised, whether existing or future, movable or immovable, tangible of intangible and where the context so allows includes risks. This implies that both traditional assets, such as trade receivables, mortgage loans, life insurance policies, as well as risks relating to obligations or liabilities assumed by third parties may be subject of a securitisation transaction.
Investment and incentives
Malta has seen a drive by successive governments to promote the Island’s development as a prime international, financial and maritime centre. Following the success of the 1988 financial and industrial services legislation, legislative changes were made in 1994 which aimed at boosting Malta’s development as a reputable financial services centre and at attracting further international business to Malta. The establishment of the MFSA was a step forward in implementing legislative requirements in areas of financial and investment services. As a result of these legislative initiatives, Malta offers a strong infrastructure which is capable of supporting considerable international economic activity including fiscal planning opportunities. Malta’s accessibility, comparatively low running costs, rent and wages, advanced telecommunication systems and well trained professionals, serve to further enhance the Island’s attraction as an international business centre.
Since 1 January 2008, the unit of currency is the euro (€).
*Source: EY Report ‘Doing Business in Malta’ – 2015