Q: The textile sector is at present one of the most popular in Malta for Chinese investors. What is the nature of this interest?
A: Malta offers Chinese textiles firms the chance to do some of their higher value-added business in Malta and then export into Europe. This is for functions like design, which require a high level of knowledge and a proximity to the client.
Q: Do you see this model working in other sectors?
A: We are looking at the possibility of Chinese firms hiving off certain value-added operations to Malta with a view to accessing the European market. The past few years have been dominated by EU membership, but now we are focusing more on China and have established a permanent presence there.
Q: What particular sectors are you focusing on?
A: There are a number of sectors. These include high-end electronics, where certain levels of assembly can take place in Malta, and pharmaceuticals, because Malta has very facilitative legislation with regard to stockpiling generic drugs ahead of patent expiry. On a more general level, we also want Malta to become a hub for Chinese products, which can be showcased across Europe.
Q: What incentives are offered to inbound investors?
A: We offer tax credits, industrial space, marketing and also our networks in Europe, through which we can offer market access and matchmaking with other investors. This comes in addition to our favorable location and costs, our skilled, English mother-tongue workforce, and our EU membership, which provides credibility and certainty in terms of quality and regulation.
Q: The government has identified seven key sectors for development. What is the thinking here?
A: We are already well-established in these sectors. For example, we have become very strong in pharmaceuticals and information technology. The goal is to become a center for excellence in the Mediterranean.
Q: An increasing number of Chinese students are coming to Malta. What is the attraction?
A: China put Malta on the approved destinations list eight years ago and this resulted in a lot of students coming over. They are learning English but also studying for British degree, many of which are conferred by the University of London. The cost is about one-third of what it is in the UK.