Malta, a member of the European Union since 2004, offers good business and financial services, excellent telecommunications and flight connections, availability of highly skilled personnel, labor costs that are competitive with other western European countries, a sound legal system and a low crime rate.
Malta’s geographical location, fiscal and other investment incentives, political stability and modern infrastructure make it a natural hub for companies seeking to do business in southern Europe and northern Africa. In its 2006 report, the UN listed Malta as a ‘frontrunner’ in the high FDI potential category. More than 200 international companies have established operations in Malta.
Malta joined the Eurozone in January 2008. Since May 2005, Malta’s currency the Maltese Lira (LM) had been fixed to the Euro at a rate of 2.35 EUR to 1.00 LM under the European Exchange Rate Mechanism II.
Malta is a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean with around 400,000 inhabitants. Therefore the market is very small. For many companies that manufacture for export, Malta serves as a stepping stone to nearby markets.
However, lack of direct flights with the United States and the long distance involved in shipping goods directly from the U.S. has traditionally limited the amount of bilateral trade. (Although there is a direct shipping connection to Malta for containerized shipments, partial shipments must be shipped through neighboring European ports.) Local importers have succeeded in overcoming these difficulties by importing high value-low volume items and/or source the goods from U.S. subsidiaries or associates in Europe or other nearby states.