Malta Stock Exchange
The economy of Malta is based almost entirely on manufacturing electronics and textiles, foreign trade and tourism. Malta’s dry-docks are state owned and employ as many as 3,800 people due to tourism. During the year 1999, a record of over a million tourists visited the island. Malta is ranked as part of the less affluent European Union countries with a GDP per capita of US$19,900.
Up until the 1800s, Malta didn’t have many industries other than tobacco, cotton and the shipyards industry. The island’s economy prospered at times of war because of its strategic location and its dockyard. In the late 1800’s Malta’s economy prospered with the opening of the Suez Canal, which allowed for a massive increase in the number of ships that could enter into the port. This gave the Mediterranean Sea a new title of being the “world highway of trade” making Malta the practical stop off for ships to collect needed supplies of coal and other items before making their way to the Far East and the Indian Ocean.
Having few indigenous raw materials and not much of a domestic market, Malta had to focus its economic development on labor-intensive exports and the promotion of tourism. In fact since the mid-1980’s, the expansion of these two activities has been the main influence for the growth of the Maltese economy. Tourism produces 35% of the GDP, with the island attracting over 1.2 million visitors in 2000.
There is strong manufacturing base for products like pharmaceuticals and electronics that are considered high value-added products, with the manufacturing sector alone having 250 foreign-owned, export-oriented enterprises. The Fiscal policy is now directing its attention to bringing down the budget deficit. The total exports of Malta were $1.8 billion in 1998, which included manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment. That same year imports were $2.7 billion and this included machinery and manufactured goods, transport equipment; food, tobacco and beverages.The Malta Stock Exchange continues to play an integral role in the country’s economy.