Malta flag Malta: Investing in Malta

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Malta

FDI in Figures

Malta is well positioned in terms of foreign direct investment appeal, fuelled by a welcoming and progressive regulatory environment and a strong iGaming sector. According to UNCTAD's 2021 World Investment Report, FDI inflows to Malta reached USD 3.9 billion, a slight increase from USD 3.8 billion in the previous year, despite the global economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. The total stock of FDI is estimated at USD 241 billion. The main contributors to total FDI flows are financial and insurance activities with a contribution of 97%. Other sectors for investment are electronics, pharmaceuticals and communications. Malta is a natural hub for companies seeking to do business in Southern Europe and North Africa, with more than 31,000 companies established on the island having foreign shareholders. During 2020, outbound direct investment flows totalled EUR 6.3 billion. The stock position of direct investment abroad stood at EUR 58.8 billion in 2020, down by EUR 0.9 billion from the stock position in 2019. Financial and insurance activities made up 99.5% of the total FDI abroad (Bank of Malta).

The country offers a number of advantages to foreign investors: it is an EU member; offers a highly-skilled, English-speaking labour force at a competitive cost; holds a geographical position that gives it privileged access to the Mediterranean and North African markets; and has developed niche economies, especially in the area of pharmaceuticals. Malta has signed double taxation treaties with more than 50 countries and the Government has also established a global pro-investment policy. Even if the corporate tax rate is set at 35%, the tax is actually much lower due to the participation holding shareholders are allowed to have. Malta ranks 88th out of 190 economies in World Bank's latest Doing Business report, losing four positions compared to the previous year. In line with EU Regulation 2019/452, in 2021 Malta has enacted the National Foreign Direct Investment Screening Office Act, which gives the Office authority to screen, assess, investigate, and eventually authorise foreign direct investments carried out by non-EU persons which may affect the security or public order in the country.

 
Foreign Direct Investment 201920202021
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 3,7783,9444,005
FDI Stock (million USD) 211,068240,949231,446
Number of Greenfield Investments* 18612
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 3099392

Source: UNCTAD, Latest available data

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

 

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What to consider if you invest in Malta

Strong Points

Malta is a member of the European Union since 2004 as well as the Eurozone since 2008 and has interesting advantages for foreign investors:

  • Malta is at a crossroads between the eastern and western Mediterranean and North Africa.
  • A stable political environment made of two major political parties, both focusing on attracting foreign investors
  • Robust economic growth (estimated at 4.8% in 2021 by the IMF)
  • A competitive job market compared to other European Union countries with a productive and bilingual labour force
  • A globally positive business environment with strong tax benefits and other investment incentives
  • Modern infrastructure: Malta's free port serves 115 ports around the world, the international airport has direct flights to 37 major foreign cities and the country has a strong telecommunications system.
  • A surplus in public and external accounts
Weak Points

The main weaknesses of the country are:

  • The small size of its domestic market
  • An economy devoid of natural resources and dependent on certain sectors, such as tourism (to which Brexit and the Covid-19  raise fears of significant impacts) or e-commerce
  • An open economy dependent on global economic conditions
  • Road infrastructure still deficient
  • Lack of structural reform in R&D and human capital formation to enhance growth potential
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI

Malta provides incentives in many sectors to attract foreign direct investment. Most investments are in manufacturing, transhipment and servicing industries, in particular the manufacturing of generic pharmaceuticals, information technology and financial services. The government offers generous tax incentives for investments in industrial projects:

  • Preferential taxation rates (5% instead of 35%)
  • Tax credit on investments (up to 50% of the amount invested or 50% of the first two years' salary of new jobs created)
  • Reduced taxes on reinvested profits
  • Incentives for job creation
  • Soft loans for promoters of industrial projects
  • Indefinite work permits for shareholders with more than 40% shares

Additionally, Malta has a free trade zone, Malta Freeport, which offers companies operating within it reduced taxation and investment tax credits.

In 2014, Malta introduced a citizenship programme, entitled the “Individual Investor Programme” (the “Citizenship Program”), which is targeted towards non-European Union nationals. The Citizenship Programme permits the acquisition of Maltese citizenship by a certificate of naturalisation to foreign individuals and families who contribute to the economic development of Malta.

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Latest Update: November 2022

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