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 2022 World Investment Report, FDI inflows to Malta reached USD 4 billion, a slight increase from USD 3.9 billion in the previous year. In the same year, the total stock of FDI was estimated at USD 231 billion, around thirteen times the country’s GDP. The main contributors to total FDI flows in 2021 were financial and insurance activities with a share of 85.9% (NSO). 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 2021, outbound direct investment flows totalled EUR 7.2 billion, while the stock position of direct investment abroad stood at EUR 66.2 billion. According to the latest figures by the National Statistical Office, FDI inflows were estimated to at EUR 2 billion during the first six months of 2022, with financial and insurance activities accounting for 85.3% of the total.

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. On the other hand, the country has a small domestic market, it is heavily reliant on the tourism sector and has sizeable incoming/outgoing financial flows (offshore finance, online gambling industry, citizenship by investment programme). 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. In June 2022, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)
removed Malta from its grey list. Overall, the country ranks 21st out of 132 economies in the 2022 Global Innovation Index and 54th out of 180 in the Corruption Perception Index.

 
Foreign Direct Investment 202020212022
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 3,9214,1164,240
FDI Stock (million USD) 240,950231,499225,185
Number of Greenfield Investments* 71417
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 99236182

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: December 2023