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    • FinanceMalta host journalists to grow Malta's finance centre reputation

    • FinanceMalta is strengthening the country's image as a strong European and international financial centre by hosting overseas journalists on an on-going basis to ensure that visibility in the international media is apportioned to the developments taking place domestically.

      These visits also ensure Malta continues to shed its so-called 'off shore' image whilst offering the opportunity for the press and freelance journalists to see and write about, firsthand, the reality of Malta as an emerging, international, finance centre with a sound reputation and a robust legal, fiscal and regulatory framework in place. The fact that these journalists agree to visit Malta - as did the Middle East delegation last April  goes a long way in justifying the success story of this domicile.

      FinanceMalta, the public-private partnership vested with the remit of promoting financial services in the domicile, is already planning to invite sector-specific journalists from the EU -  and eventually Asia and the USA - in line with the organisation's marketing strategy. These visiting journalists get the message that, as a member of the European Union, Malta offers significant advantages to international business as a business domicile with an excellent professional services infrastructure and a respected, well-regulated, legal jurisdiction. Now billed as a credible alternative to Luxembourg or Dublin, the island's flourishing financial sector has been experiencing robust growth in recent years based on a strong desire to provide an optimum operating environment for international business.

      To that end, Malta is ambitiously working to position the jurisdiction as a global centre serving global business. It is currently expanding its connections across the five continents intent on enhancing the number and quality of its 57 double taxation treaties and MoUs with foreign governments and regulators. Another nine are currently being negotiated or ratified across all the major international markets that Malta seeks to do business with. Such is the growth of this sector that it has now become a cornerstone of the economy accounting for approximately 12 per cent of GDP with expectations by the government to deliver 25 per cent of GDP by 2015. As if to confirm this, the sector grew by over 22 per cent last year restating its strong fundamentals and its role as one of Malta's main economic drivers, providing jobs for more than 9,500 people. Malta's single regulator, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA), describes this domicile as a well-diversified financial centre with strong banking, insurance, investment funds and wealth management sectors supported by European Commission compliant legislation and regulation. As a result, a raft of operators has set up their businesses in Malta over recent years.

      These include insurance companies, fund administrators and banks as well as a selection of Fortune 100 companies that have structured financial operations on the island, which include trade finance, intra-group financing, back-office operations, mergers and acquisitions, call centres and insurance companies.

      Malta's growing reputation for stability and security was enhanced during the global financial crisis where Malta experienced a shallow recession compared to its European neighbours. International ratings helped too. Fitch's affirmation in late 2010 of Malta's Country Ceiling as an AAA is a solid enough rating for the euro area.

      More praise came from the Global Financial Services Index published by the City of London in 2008. It ranked Malta in fourth place as the centre most likely to increase in importance in the next few years. The island's banking system, as one sector example, has earned international praise for its robustness and resilience through the financial crisis.

      In fact, the Competitiveness Index 2010-2011 ranked Malta at No.10 for the soundness of its banks and No.11 for financial market development out of 139 countries by the World Economic Forum. In just 15 years the island's banking sector has grown from four retail banks serving the local market into an industry sector with 24 foreign or privately owned credit institutions and 15 financial institutions, and over 200 international banks and financial institutions registering their intention to provide services in or out of Malta.

      courtesy of the Malta Independent - August 2011