The smallest of the European Union’s member states, Malta is now emerging as one of the fastest growing financial services centres in the world. Smart, ambitious and sharply focused, Malta has transformed itself from British colony to independent EU member state in just four decades, and is now determined to meet the challenges of today’s economic turmoil head-on.
Already globally recognised as a front-runner in the provision of ICT services in the Mediterranean region, this tiny island nation on the southern –most confines of the European Union is aiming for excellence in a knowledge-driven future. As many of the world’s leading economies struggle with the effects of the global financial crisis, the fact that Malta’s financial systems have so far remained largely uncontaminated has shone a new spotlight on the island’s potential to expand significantly as an international financial centre.
The world Economic Forum’s Competitiveness Index 2008-2009 has ranked Malta 34th (out of 134 countries) for financial market sophistication, with a banking system that is the 10th soundest in the world, while the Global Financial Services Index, published by the City of London in March 2008, ranks Malta in 4th as the Centre most likely to increase in importance in the next few years, and in 5th place as the Centre where most organisations are likely to begin new operations in the next two to three years.
The island’s economy, though inevitably impacted by the global economic recession, is nonetheless expected to register growth of one per cent in 2009. This comes after a period of accelerated growth across the economy, with GDP growth of 3.8 per cent in 2007. In 2008, though reaching an average GDP growth of 3.2 per cent in the first half of the year, Malta’s economy grew by just 1.6 percent for the whole year. However, Malta is one of only nine EU countries for whom growth is predicted in 2009 and while the island’s high exposure to external influences indicates that the challenges to Malta’s economic progress will intensify through 2009, the Maltese government is optimistic that with vigilance and caution, the island’s recently diversified economy can sustain sufficient growth to cushion the island from the worst of the effects.
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