The attractiveness of Malta to foreign investors has waned over the past year, falling from a high of 87% to 78% according to EY’s 2017 Attractiveness survey, which measures investor sentiment among Malta’s top business leaders. The two trends most affecting investor confidence were regulatory, legal, political transparency and skills shortages. On the positive side, Malta is ranking high as a start-up location with iGaming now leading the charge as the islands most important growth sector.
Time to Think without the Box
The survey was undertaken in March and April of 2017, Ronald Attard, EY Country Managing Partner, pointed out during his opening speech. “Today’s conference is taking place under a heavy and very dark cloud. Justifiably, the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia has brought the nation to a halt,” he said. “Capturing the imagination of the world media, we are now being portrayed in the worst possible light,” he said. While EY considered cancelling the conference in the light of the recent events, the firm took the decision move ahead and send a message that Malta is safe and peaceful place. “Our Malta is here to stay. And this conference is our small but loud confirmation that this is so.” Attard also added that the 2017 conference theme “Thinking without the box: Disruption, technology and FDI”, is now relevant more than ever.” If there ever was a time for this country to think without the box, this is certainly it. We need to turn this moment of darkness into a ray of light on our future.”
The EY poll also found that 61% of current investors have plans to expand their operations in the coming year. iGaming (76%), tourism and leisure (61%) and financial services (45%) have been identified as top three sectors that will drive Malta forward. Malta’s corporate tax system, its social climate and its telecoms infrastructure were highlighted as top reasons for the country’s attractiveness. The flexibility of labour legislation, transport and logistics infrastructure as well as the R&D and innovation environment were being seen as areas for improvement. A talent shortage and a mismatch between skills and jobs are the main concerns of investors, with only 38% of survey respondents indicating that they are able to find people with the right skills from the local labour market.