Speech by An­ton Borg, Pres­i­dent of the Malta Cham­ber of Com­merce, En­ter­prise and In­dus­try ad­dress­ing a Busi­ness Del­e­ga­tion from Tur­key

It is my plea­sure to wel­come you to­day to our his­toric build­ing and, on be­half of the Malta Cham­ber of Com­merce, En­ter­prise and In­dus­try, al­low me to briefly share our am­bi­tions to con­trib­ute to­wards a fu­ture of busi­ness col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Malta and Tu

The Malta Business Weekly - - FRONT PAGE -

The pres­ence of the Prime Min­is­ters of both coun­tries at to­day’s busi­ness fo­rum is tes­ta­ment of the com­mit­ment and gen­uine in­ten­tions that ex­ist at both ends to take our solid re­la­tions to the next level. I hon­estly be­lieve that we share nu­mer­ous com­mon­al­i­ties which can be de­vel­oped for the mu­tual ben­e­fit of both coun­tries.

Although Tur­key and Malta es­tab­lished for­mal diplo­matic ties ex­actly half a cen­tury ago (in 1967), con­tact be­tween the two coun­tries date back cen­turies. How­ever, re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries strength­ened con­sid­er­ably over the last decade, due to growing busi­ness in­ter­ests and the sup­port of ef­fec­tive po­lit­i­cal com­mit­ment at both ends.

In 2007, growing com­mer­cial ties led us to es­tab­lish a Mal­tese-Turk­ish Busi­ness Coun­cil, which we fur­ther strength­ened to its present for­mat about two years ago. To­day, un­der the Chair­man­ship of Dr. Mark Bencini, the MTBC works tire­lessly to bring to­gether busi­ness peo­ple from the two coun­tries to col­lab­o­rate and build on each other’s knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ences.

To this end, MTBC lever­ages its con­tacts with DEIK and other stake­hold­ers to pro­mote busi­ness and in­vest­ment ties be­tween the two coun­tries. More­over, the MTBC is sup­ported in its ini­tia­tives by Trade Malta which is the ex­ec­u­tive agency re­spon­si­ble for sup­port­ing Malta-based com­pa­nies to pen­e­trate new mar­kets abroad for their prod­ucts and ser­vices. Trade Malta was es­tab­lished in 2015 as a pub­lic pri­vate part­ner­ship be­tween Gov­ern­ment and our Cham­ber and my pre­de­ces­sor, David G. Curmi was en­trusted to be the first Chair­man.

Statis­tics clearly in­di­cate that the in­te­gra­tion be­tween our economies is growing steadily. Trade be­tween the two coun­tries cur­rently stands at €22 mil­lion in terms of our ex­ports from Malta and €325 mil­lion in terms of imports from Tur­key.

Mean­while, we have both seen a steady in­crease of tourist traf­fic both ways with peo­ple trav­el­ling for leisure and busi­ness pur­poses. It is safe to say that this marked im­prove­ment is di­rectly at­trib­ut­able to Turk­ish Air­lines’ in­creased pres­ence in Malta of­fer­ing di­rect con­nec­tion be­tween Malta, Is­tan­bul and be­yond. This con­trib­uted in no uncer­tain way to the open­ing up of busi­ness gate­ways be­tween the two coun­tries in var­i­ous sec­tors such as mar­itime.

It is cer­tainly per­ti­nent to men­tion the strong pres­ence of Turk­ish in­vest­ment in Malta’s mar­itime sec­tor. Yildirim Hold­ing in­vested €200m in 2011 to ac­quire a 50 per cent stake in the con­tainer ter­mi­nal at Malta Freeport. Four years later, in Novem­ber 2015, Global Li­man Islet­meleri ac­quired a ma­jor­ity stake in the cruise liner ter­mi­nal, Val­letta Cruise Port.

In the bank­ing sec­tor, one can­not fail to men­tion the strong pres­ence of Turk­ish banks op­er­at­ing in Malta (in­clud­ing Ak­bank, Türkiye Garanti Bankası A.Ş, Fi­nans­bank (Malta) Ltd, Yapi Kredi).

Hav­ing said that, as a Cham­ber we be­lieve we are only scratch­ing the sur­face and that there is more that we can achieve to­gether. Our two coun­tries can bring spe­cific el­e­ments to the ta­ble that may be valu­able to the other party. With a pop­u­la­tion of 78 mil­lion peo­ple and a re­cent his­tory of ro­bust eco­nomic ex­pan­sion, Tur­key is an im­mense coun­try of great re­sources. Malta makes up for its diminu­tive size by its ex­cel­lent strate­gic ge­o­graph­i­cal po­si­tion, and mem­ber­ship in the Euro­pean Union and the eu­ro­zone.

Malta’s eco­nomic per­for­mance in the re­cent past has been truly solid. The de­vel­op­ment of a di­ver­si­fied econ­omy, which is re­spond­ing to the chal­lenges of an ever-in­creas­ingly glob­al­ized world, has brought about a record GDP growth of 6.3% in 2015. GDP growth for 2016 is also ex­pected to be ex­tremely en­cour­ag­ing as the Cen­tral Bank fore­casts it to be in the re­gion of 5%. These statis­tics res­onate the hard work of our busi­ness com­mu­nity, and the pro-busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment which Malta en­joys.

The Malta Cham­ber takes a cen­tral role in this sce­nario. With the aim to pro­vide a busi­ness plan to gov­ern­ment, in 2013, the Malta Cham­ber car­ried out a de­tailed study on iden­ti­fy­ing 11 sec­tors where po­ten­tial for growth lies.

The Eco­nomic Vi­sion for Malta for the pe­riod 2014-2020, out­lines a de­tailed plan for eco­nomic growth in these sec­tors which in our re­searched opin­ion are best placed to pros­per in the com­ing years. Some of these sec­tors have al­ready reg­is­tered steady growth in the past years, while oth­ers are ear­marked for im­mi­nent growth. All rec­om­men­da­tions in the doc­u­ment are ad­dressed at mak­ing the nec­es­sary pol­icy changes to al­low for the growth in a num­ber of sec­tors.

I start with the Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices sec­tor which is now a ma­jor force in the coun­try’s econ­omy. Malta has sig­nif­i­cant strengths to of­fer the in­dus­try such as a well-trained, mo­ti­vated work­force, a low-cost en­vi­ron­ment and an open and trans­par­ent yet ad­van­ta­geous tax regime backed up by more than 60 dou­ble tax­a­tion agree­ments. Malta en­joys an ex­cel­lent rep­u­ta­tion in­ter­na­tion­ally in this sec­tor, as it boasts a po­si­tion as an in­ter­na­tional market player fea­tur­ing some of the most com­pe­tent and skilled pro­fes­sion­als in the area, com­par- ing very well to other lead­ing much larger ju­ris­dic­tions.

Other sec­tors, are be­ing iden­ti­fied as sec­tors that are most likely to grow in the com­ing years. The health ser­vices sec­tor in Malta has at­tracted For­eign Di­rect In­vest­ment which is ex­pected to rein­vent al­ready ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture and give rise to health tourism. Build­ing on a long and strong tra­di­tion of ex­cel­lent health care in Malta, this sec­tor is bound to grow as the po­ten­tial is re­mark­able.

Large scale in­vest­ment is also in the pipe­line in the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor in Malta. This sec­tor, also a long­time area of ex­cel­lence in Malta, has only in the past decade opened its doors to in­ter­na­tional stu­dents who were wel­comed to fur­ther their stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Malta. Through an­other pub­lic pri­vate part­ner­ship with gov­ern­ment, we have re­cently es­tab­lished Ed­u­ca­tion Malta with a view to at­tract fur­ther in­vest­ment in this sec­tor and to build an in­ter­na­tional brand for Malta in this field of busi­ness.

Sim­i­larly, we are in the fi­nal process of es­tab­lish­ing ICT Malta – again in part­ner­ship with gov­ern­ment to sup­port Malta-based com­pa­nies to in­ter­na­tion­alise their op­er­a­tions and ex­port their in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty. The lo­cal ICT Sec­tor has ex­pe­ri­enced con­sid­er­able growth in the past years. It has ben­e­fit­ted from be­ing flex­i­ble and dy­namic enough to pre­dict changes in trends, and has proven an abil­ity to re­main in­no­va­tive, in an ev­er­chang­ing in­ter­na­tional sce­nario.

Ladies and Gen­tle­men, all these sec­tors are flour­ish­ing thanks to the de­vel­op­ment of an ex­cel­lent sce­nario which is con­ducive to growth. Our Cham­ber through its of­fi­cials and or­ga­nized in­ter­nal struc­tures, makes it a point to pro­mote the nec­es­sary pol­icy changes in or­der for Malta to re­main com­pet­i­tive on the in­ter­na­tional busi­ness and in­vest­ment scene.

Prime Min­is­ter Yildirim, let me as­sure you that our Cham­ber is com­mit­ted to sus­tain and pro­mote the ex­cel­lent re­la­tions be­tween our two coun­tries. We be­lieve that your ef­fort and that of the Gov­ern­ment of Malta to bring our two na­tions closer and pro­mote busi­ness col­lab­o­ra­tion will un­doubt­edly re­sult in a pros­per­ous fu­ture not only for the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ties but also for the peo­ple of both coun­tries.

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