Malta - Country Commercial Guide
Investment Climate Statement
Last published date:

The U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statements provide information on the business climates of more than 170 economies and are prepared by economic officers stationed in embassies and posts around the world.  They analyze a variety of economies that are or could be markets for U.S. businesses.

Topics include Openness to Investment, Legal and Regulatory systems, Dispute Resolution, Intellectual Property Rights, Transparency, Performance Requirements, State-Owned Enterprises, Responsible Business Conduct, and Corruption.

These statements highlight persistent barriers to further U.S. investment.  Addressing these barriers would expand high-quality, private sector-led investment in infrastructure, further women’s economic empowerment, and facilitate a healthy business environment for the digital economy. 

Executive Summary

The Republic of Malta is a small, strategically located country 60 miles south of Sicily and 180 miles north of Libya, astride some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. A politically stable parliamentary republic with a free press, Malta is considered a safe, secure, and welcoming environment for American investors to do business.

Malta joined the European Union in 2004, the Schengen visa system in 2007, and the Eurozone in 2008. With a population of about 493,500 and a total area of only 122 square miles, it is the EU’s smallest country in geographic size. The economy is based on services, primarily shipping, banking, and financial services, professional, scientific, and technical activities, online gaming, and tourism. Manufacturing also plays a small but important role. Maltese and English are the official languages.

Given its central location in one of the world’s busiest trading regions, as well as its relatively small economy, Malta recognizes the important contribution that international trade and investment can provide to the generation of national wealth.

Malta registered GDP growth rate was one of the fastest within the European Union over the past decade. In 2019, real GDP growth reached the high rate of 4.4 percent. Malta’s unemployment rate stood at 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019. Thanks to its robust economic growth for much of the years in the last decade, the country is facing the current crises brought about by COVID-19 from a position of economic and fiscal strength.

The top three credit rating agencies rank Malta extremely well and predict the economic impact of the coronavirus will be less pronounced on the Maltese economy when compared to other EU neighboring countries. The current sovereign credit ratings are A-/A-2 with a stable outlook (S&P); A2 with a stable outlook (Moody’s); and A+ with a stable outlook (Fitch).

In 2013, the Government of Malta established the Individual Investor Program (IIP), which provides citizenship by naturalization to people (and their dependents) who are contributors to an individual investor program and who pay a fee of €650,000 (with an additional €25,000 for spouses or dependents under age 18 or €50,000 for dependents over age 18). IIP conditions include a €350,000 minimum for purchasing immovable property, or a €16,000 per year minimum for leasing immovable property (which must be retained for at least five years), and a €150,000 minimum for investment in stocks, bonds, or debentures.

To access the ICS, visit the U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statement website.