Malta, a crossroads between Europe
and Africa and at the southern tip of the European
continent, is a melting pot of civilisations in the
heart of the Mediterranean.
Malta boosts a rich legacy from its
centuries-old history, from megalithic temples –unique
in the world- to its capital Valletta, a jewel of
baroque architecture, and its massive fortifications
which witnessed the bravery of the Maltese people
over the centuries. Again, in 1942, the courage and
endurance of the Maltese people was recognised when
the United Kingdom awarded to Malta the George Cross
in 1942, which is now an integral part of the national
Malta has also a long tradition of
hospitality. One of the most famous "guests" of the
archipelago was the apostle Paul – the future
St. Paul – who was shipwrecked on Malta in AD
Natural resources are nearly non-existent,
except for its famous golden stone (globigerina),
and rivers are absent. Nevertheless farmers succeed
to produce a wide variety of products in their small
terraced fields. They even export part of their crop.
Bee-keeping industry, already renowned in ancient
times, is still flourishing.
Still, Malta is not only an island
in the sun and an open-air museum in the Mediterranean,
it is also an island looking towards the future. Apart
the tourism and manufacturing industries by now firmly
established, Malta is currently developing its service
economy and it also aims to become a hub for communications
in the Mediterranean. For this purpose, Malta has
a winning card - its human resources - a flexible
labour force easily adaptable to new circumstances
and having the great advantage to being multi-lingual.
The budget deficit rose from 4% of
GDP in 1995 to over 11% in 1998 due to structural
imbalances. The trend has now reversed: 6.7% in 1999
and 6.6% in 2000. The public debt experienced an increase
but growth is slowing down and reached 60.6% of GDP
The share of imports and exports in
GDP are increasing significantly. The export base
of the economy is concentrated in a few sectors, mainly
in electronics, machinery and transport equipment
(which generated about 75% of total exports in the
first half of 2001).
Malta is well integrated in terms of
trade with the European Union. The latter accounted
for around 33% of Malta’s exports and 60% of
its imports in 2000.
The Association Agreement
The Association Agreement between the
EU and Malta entered into force in 1971. It constitutes
the legal framework for EU-Malta relations and provides
for the creation of a customs union in two five-years
stages (although this objective has not yet been achieved).