Malta’s accession to the EU in 2004 brought significant sector-specific advantages. In financial services for example¸ one of the main reasons for Malta’s attractiveness as a domicile for financial services operators is the pass porting rights firms enjoy to other EU and EEA areas¸ which has led to Malta becoming a magnet for insurance and fund management firms. This growth is reflected in international perception and the 2008 Global Financial Services Index¸ published by the City of London¸ ranked Malta in 4th place as the Centre most likely to increase in importance in the next few years¸ and in 5th place as the Centre where most organisations are likely to begin new operations in the next two to three years. Other areas are showing similar growth. Remote gaming is fast becoming a major revenue earner and employer¸ again driver for the most part by effective regulation and the sector now lists some 300 licensed remote gaming companies operating from Malta¸ up from just 20 in 2005.
The ICT sector is also growing steadily¸ with Malta-based firms enjoying success on an international stage. Malta-developed software is making substantial leaps forward¸ and the new SmartCity project is expected to accelerate that trend. Tourism¸ which had rallied powerfully in 2007 and the first half of 2008¸ was hit by the effects of the international recession which eroded growth in last few months of the year. This meant that the growth seen in 2007 of 11 per cent was not replicated in 2008¸ which finished the year at 3.8 percent growth. 2009 will be challenging for the industry¸ as travel is one of the areas being most hard hit by the recession in Malta’s main European markets¸ and figures for January 2009 show a disappointing 19 per cent drop in arrivals over January 2008. Financial services¸ ICT¸ aviation services and tourism¸ as well as high-end manufacturing are the drivers of Malta’s modern economy¸ and all of them tap into the one resource Malta has to offer: its people.