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Despite having a land mass of just 316 square kilometres and a population of 419,000, Malta is highly regarded in the European Union and enjoys good trading relations with the rest of Europe, parts of Africa and Asia due to its unique location between the three continents. Malta has been a member of the European Union since 2004 and joined the Eurozone in 2008. It has excellent transport links via regular flights and a bustling terminal port in Valletta. Malta's excellent judicial system and political stability make it an ideal business hub with more than 200 international companies based here, a figure that is grow ing every year.
Malta's main trading partners are to be found within Europe, however the US is also an active trade partner as is Singapore and Japan, so this tiny Mediterranean has connections on a global scale.
Economically, Malta is performing impressively. This is largely thanks to government policies which support and encourage export-orientated businesses, as well as foreign investment lured here by large tax incentives. Unemployment is low, inflation stands at 2.4% and GDP growth at 2.1%. Economic freedom according to the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom is above both the world average and the regional average. All of this gives Malta a great advantage in the global market.
Types of business in Valletta
Valletta is a growing city with many new developments and business opportunities. The main industries are tourism, ICT, shipbuilding, financial services, aviation and more surprisingly the film industry with many huge Hollywood blockbusters choosing Malta as an ideal location including The Da Vinci Code, Troy, Gladiator, Munich, the Count of Monte Cristo and many others. Blue chip companies are also a growing trade.
Seven target industry recommendations were put forward for the government's initiative Vision 2015 and beyond and these were:
- Financial services and support
- International Educational services
- Creative industries
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Life Sciences
- Transportation and Advanced Logisitics
It hopes that by building upon such industries, Malta's unique assets can be globally promoted and will in turn lead to economic growth, lower unemployment and wealth creation.
Setting up Business in Malta's Capital
Valletta is the ideal city in which to start up a business enterprise. It is the economic heart of Malta and in 2012 was named as the European Capital of Culture, a title which the Malta Business Bureau predicts will increase the visitor footfall by 12%. Valletta is also a UNESCO listed heritage site.
So why choose Valletta as the place in which to invest your business plans? As the capital city of Malta, Valletta has more to offer the investor.
Benefits of Valletta
The Malta International Airport is just 8 kilometres from the city and from here a number of direct flights go into Europe, Russia, Cairo, Tripoli and Turkey with many more connections to major cities worldwide.
The Port of Valletta offers a range of maritime services which include freight shipping, cruise liners, bunkering facilities, ship repairs and building yards. Smaller vessels (water taxis) also sail to Gozo and Sliema.
Buses run regularly from the central bus terminal to all over Valletta and beyond and a nearby park and ride scheme encourages workers and shoppers to leave their cars in Floriana and catch a regular minibus to take them into the city.
A fleet of electric green taxis also ferries people from 10 locations around the city to any destination within it for a fixed price of a few euros.
The city operates a controlled vehicular access system, while many of Valletta's streets are pedestrianised. Parking in the city centre can be difficult, so one of the above alternatives is considered a preferential way of getting around Valletta. However, plans to increase the number of car spaces are in the pipeline as part of the regeneration of Valletta.
Regeneration of Valletta
Valletta is undergoing a major regeneration project which is heavily influenced by the Valletta 2018 Foundation; a board of governors including the Mayor of Valletta who work closely with the local council, businesses, education, cultural and creative sectors to drive Valletta forward, promoting it as an international cultural hub whilst improving life and opportunities for local communities and businesses.
The Grand Harbour in Valletta is one such renovation success story with a full restoration of the original quay and facades, the creation of an inlet sea and a buffer zone for cruise liners as well as turning the waterfront into a thriving commercial area full of retail space for shops and restaurants and pontoons for powerboats. The Luna Boutique Hotel and Holiday Complex was recently completed here and has received a warm reception from both tourists and locals, gaining global coverage and highly rated reviews.
Business Community in Valletta
The Valletta Business Community Committee was formed in 2010 under the general umbrella of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry to support existing local businesses and to encourage the development of new enterprises in Valletta. This gives businesses a voice and a say in the redevelopment of their areas.
The Valletta Alive Foundation also supports both large and small businesses based in Valletta and its objectives are to encourage more investment in the city and to realise the tourism potential of Valletta.
Business Funding and Grants
The Bank of Valletta in 2012 set up a new EU Business Development Department which assists the local business community to take advantage of EU funding opportunities, programmes and initiatives to help promote and grow both local and international trade and investment.
The Maltese government are also keen to encourage urban regeneration with their grant scheme designed to promote investment that restores and conserves privately or commercially owned properties within conservation areas. A rebate may be available on the costs of any restoration, conservation or maintenance costs.
Further commercial tax credits from the Maltese government are also made available for the restoration of commercial Grade 1 and 2 properties within Urban Conservation Areas.
Commercial Properties in Valletta
As well as the grants available for the purchase and restoration of listed commercial properties in Valletta, there is also the possibility of acquiring brand new commercial premises in one of the many new developments which combine both residential and commercial buildings in stunning locations just outside Valletta.
Valletta is one of the few economic success stories that manages to combine history with modernity and which takes full advantage of its UNESCO status, British connections, transport links and huge tourism sector to recreate itself as a thriving commercial and residential hub which possibly offers the best investment opportunities anywhere within Europe.