The maritime sector is one of the driving forces of Malta’s economy, since we cannot depend on road transport for imports and exports. Without good maritime links, our economy would stifle. It is thus paramount that we maintain and enhance our connectivity with the rest of the world, not only through port access but also through effective and efficient port services which are an integral part of the economic and social cohesion of the island.
The challenges are several. Physically the biggest challenge is of course, port capacity. Both the sea- going ships trading internationally and the domestic fleet have been growing steadily in size, numbers and speed. Thus the demand for more berths and mooring areas.
Another challenge, or opportunity, is information technology including cyber security and the creation of seamless data flows. Shipping is a 24/7 business that has developed the just-in-time concept and an attitude to work in real time. We need to work hand-in-hand with all stakeholders to have an effective national single window that reduces the administrative burden in reporting and documentation.
Malta’s geographical location, albeit having various benefits, as it is closely located to one of the major trading routes, also offers a number of challenges such as exposure to non-EU member states competition. We have invested heavily and actively in maritime policy development both at EU and at the international level. We strive to take full advantage of funding opportunities provided in the context of the current EU financial perspectives, in particular, through the Connecting Europe Facility and the European structural funds, with the aim of ensuring better connections to mainland Europe and to establish long-distance intra-EU passengers. Government is well aware that Malta has a natural potential to become a centre of maritime excellence in the Mediterranean and has implemented a number of initiatives to make this happen.
Malta, as an EU member state, is more attractive as a centre for international business in the EuroMediterranean region. Internationally Malta is recognised as a safe and secure place to do business, it is low risk, has high economic, legal and political stability. It boasts a highly-qualified and flexible workforce and a proactive business environment.
All these key factors have made Maritime Malta the ideal location for foreign direct investment and international trade. The maritime industry in Malta plays an important role in Malta’s modern dynamic economy. Its contribution to economic activity has also been increasing over the past years and prospects for the future are healthy. Malta has today established itself as a quality maritime jurisdiction in which leading players in the sector are increasingly showing their confidence.
Throughout the years, the Maltese Ship Register has maintained a steady growth rate and by the end of August 2018, the total gross tons registered was almost 77 million, consolidating Malta’s position as the leading flag State in Europe and the sixth largest in the world.
These positive achievements are a result of continuous hard work both by Transport Malta, the regulator of the shipping industry in Malta and the industry that has always given its support and full cooperation to the Maltese authorities. T
He Malta flag also caters for the distinctive requirements of the yacht and superyacht industry. In fact it has developed specific legislation to this effect. Maltese law provides for the registration of yachts and superyachts.
Nowadays, there are over 750 superyachts registered under the Malta flag, making Malta one of the world leaders in the yachting industry. We look towards the future with confidence. The competitive position of maritime Malta continues to be at a high level, as we maintain an active role in all International maritime fora and the EU. With systematic work, the implementation of proactive actions and measures, the close and mutually beneficial dialogue between the government, the industry and all our social partners, the Maltese maritime sector will continue to expand and develop as a quality-oriented and competitive maritime centre. The cooperation and contribution of all industry stakeholders remain invaluable pillars in what we have achieved and the future achievements of the years to come.
By Joe Bugeja