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Country Reports

Malta Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced on 1 December 2019 that he would resign as prime minister and head of the Labour Party in January 2020. His decision followed developments in the police investigation into journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder. Muscat's former Chief of Staff Keith Schembri was detained by police over suspected links to Yorgen Fenech, a prominent businessman charged by prosecutors with Caruana Galizia's murder. Early elections are likely to be held in early 2020.Malta's attractive tax regime, involving considerable tax exemptions and incentives for investment, is a major pull factor, particularly for financial services. Although Malta has long been accused of failing to take serious action against high-level cases of money laundering, anti-money laundering (AML) provisions have been tightened under pressure from the European Commission. The ease with which foreign companies are able to register subsidiaries and qualify for low tax rates has also come under EU scrutiny.According to the November forecast, we project Maltese GDP growth to slow from 6.7% in 2018 to 3.8% in 2019 and 3.6% in 2020, mirroring more difficult growth conditions across the Eurozone. Malta continues to enjoy broadly solid GDP developments, but the slower rate of growth reflects less supportive developments from inbound tourism. Importantly, the growth in the number of foreign visitors and their spend in Malta slowed notably during 2019, and is expected to lose further momentum in 2020. Although EU membership provides the basis for sustained growth and investment, Maltese GDP growth continues to face the challenges of its small domestic market and distance from other EU markets. The main obstacles for foreign firms operating in Malta are likely to remain inefficient bureaucracy and bribery and corruption. Organised crime on the island is involved in the trafficking of drugs, people and fuel, as well as money laundering through the online gambling sector.
Last update: December 6, 2019

Operational Outlook

One of the government's main policy priorities is likely to be a much-needed revamp of the country's transport infrastructure, including upgrades to roads, tunnels, and bridges. An undersea tunnel to the island of Gozo is also being planned. Malta has an efficient labour force with a large English-speaking contingent. Labour costs are still relatively low compared with other EU member states. A relatively inefficient bureaucracy and corruption continue to pose operational obstacles to foreign and domestic investment. The Maltese have frequently opposed market liberalisation programmes introduced by the government, with trade unions staging protests against privatisation efforts.

Last update: December 5, 2019

Terrorism

Moderate

Malta’s outlying nature and proximity to Islamic State elements in Libya makes it a likely transit destination for militants crossing the Mediterranean to reach mainland Europe. The consolidation of the Islamic State in Libya also raises the threat of attacks on maritime targets in Malta’s vicinity, such as cruise liners. Yet terrorism risks on the island itself remain very low. The suicide bomb attack at the Maltese-Libyan-owned Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli, in January 2015, was not directed at Malta in terms of target choice.

Last update: December 4, 2019

Crime

The security environment is generally favourable to foreign investment. Petty crime can be a problem in urban areas, but crime specifically targeting tourists is rare. Malta’s location in the heart of the Mediterranean makes it a small-scale transit country for smuggling of both drugs and people. Malta has experienced 20 targeted improvised explosive device (IED) attacks since 2010, mostly related to criminal feuds. Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was investigating suspected high-level corruption in Malta, was killed by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) in October 2017 and the investigation is still ongoing.

Last update: December 6, 2019

War Risks

The main risk involves search and seizure of vessels by the navy while it conducts counter-narcotic and counter-terrorism operations; a maritime territorial dispute exists with Libya, especially over oil claims, but is highly unlikely to turn violent, especially given the current domestic instability in Libya.

Last update: December 4, 2019

Social Stability

Low

Malta's unionised labour force occasionally initiates large strike action, often in response to the government's privatisation efforts. Strikes are almost always short-lived, lasting no more than one day, and carry only low risks of property damage. Anti-government protests can attract up to several thousands of people in central Valletta and tend to remain mostly peaceful.

Last update: December 6, 2019

Health Risk

Very high

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission and over nine months of age. If indicated on epidemiologic grounds, infants under nine months of age are subject to isolation or surveillance if coming from an area with risk of YFV transmission. No certificate of yellow fever vaccination is required for travelers having transited through an airport located in a country with risk of YFV transmission.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

Malta has a Mediterranean climate, with hot and dry summers tempered by ocean breezes. Winters are mild and sunny. Temperatures can reach up to 40°C in July and August and usually hover around 15°C in the winter months. The country experiences a relatively rainy season between November and February, but annual levels of precipitation are generally low.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +356
Police: 112
Fire Dept.: 112
Ambulance: 112

Electricity

Voltage: 240 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019