Malta is an archipelago comprising the islands of Malta, Comino, Comminotto, Gozo, and Filfia, and is located in the central Mediterranean between Europe and North Africa, off the coast of Italy. Malta does not share land borders with any countries.
Malta’s population is estimated at 417,000, making it the smallest and most densely populated member of the European Union (EU). It is also a Schengen country. Malta has limited freshwater supplies, produces a mere 20% of its food needs, and its energy needs are dependent on imported fuel. Its population is ageing, and its infrastructure needs improving. Modernising its economy is a way off being realised, especially issues regarding productivity and workforce participation. Malta has nevertheless benefited from high employment, low inflation and consistent GDP growth.
The financial crisis saw Malta quickly recover after a downward slide. Major export destinations are Germany, Singapore and France while imports are mainly from Italy, the UK and France. The nation’s manufacturing industry services both the export and domestic markets. The pharmaceutical sector is experiencing growth with new companies choosing Malta to develop generic drugs for export to the EU in due course.
Foreign investment is buoyed by tax arrangements and favourable accommodation and operating costs, a low-cost workforce which is highly-educated and English-speaking. Malta’s services sector is the prime driver of economic growth nationally. Financial and ICT services have become increasingly important with offshore business and financial houses attracted by the regulatory environment. The air services industry has enjoyed growth. Malta’s international free port is a successful central Mediterranean transhipment hub, allowing it to become a leading centre for freight and container shipment.
Malta’s tourism sector employs one-third of the population directly or indirectly, with most tourists arriving from the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and France.
Malta’s 7000 years of history can be enjoyed against the unique backdrop of the awesome scenery and architecture of the islands. Honey-coloured stone juxtaposes the deepest of Mediterranean blues as its mysterious prehistory is discovered, the footsteps of St. Paul retraced, and proof of the Knights of St. John defending Christendom appreciated. Malta has history, beaches, cruises, nightlife and history neatly packages in a group of paradise-like islands.
Anzac Day has been commemorated in Malta since 1916, with a service held every year since 1979 at the Pietà Military Cemetery where most of ANZAC war graves are. ‘ANZAC Experience in Malta’ is a series of four self-guided tours to the main sites associated with ANZAC personnel. The tours show where wounded ANZACs were entertained, hospitalised and where they convalesced. The final resting places can be visited of those who lost their lives while serving in Malta.
Malta is a Schengen country and a member of the European Union, which means nationals from approximately 62 nations who enjoy the benefits of the visa liberation policy only require a valid passport to enter its borders. These nationals who don’t require a Schengen visa will be impacted by the implementation of ETIAS.
The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) authorisation will be valid for 3 years or until the passport is applies to expires. It has been implemented to curb terrorism and uncontrolled immigration issues in Europe, by identifying potential risks before they even reach the borders. Applicants will apply for authorisation online and receive electronic authorisation within minutes.
Australia established an immigration presence in Malta in the 1950s and opened its High Commission in 1967. Malta established a High Commission in Canberra in 1964 and Consulates-General in Sydney and Melbourne. Australia and Malta share international interests relating particularly to their membership of the Commonwealth.
Maltese forces were involved in the 1915 Gallipoli campaign, and Australian servicemen wounded at Gallipoli were hospitalised in Malta, which was known as the “nurse of the Mediterranean”. Australians defended Malta during World War II, and Australian war graves can be found in Malta, including those of ANZACs.
Australia’s assisted-passage migration agreement with Malta in 1948 subsidised over 63,000 Maltese migrants to travel to Australia. Migration peaked in the 1950s and 60s with the Malta-born population in Australia declining and ageing ever since. Most Maltese in Australia have been resident for over 15 years while 70% plus are Australian citizens.
The two countries have bilateral agreements covering immigration, double taxation, health services, social security, working holidays and air services. Trade with Malta is modest, for many reasons notwithstanding size and distance. Australian exports to Malta comprise margarine, cheese and curd while Malta exports include medical and veterinary instruments, medicaments and pig-iron. Export and investment opportunities for Australians lie in EU-funded infrastructure projects and joint ventures in the resources and services sectors accessing third country markets.
Further potential opportunities are in environmental and water resource management and related equipment for water and energy supply, reticulation and waste management.
Australia has the largest Maltese community outside of Malta with 163,988 Australians claiming Maltese ancestry and 43,700 Australian Malta-born residents.
Australians wanting to visit Malta need only a valid passport at present, thanks to the visa liberation policy. Once ETIAS is rolled out in 2021, Australians will have to apply online using ETIAS to get pre-authorisation to travel to Malta.