Hon Jodi McKay
Hon John Sidoti
Your Excellency High Commissioner Charles Muscat
Hon Dr Jose’ Herrera
Fellow Maltese and Gozitans
I wish you all a very good morning. It gives me great pleasure to be in Sydney, Australia, as I feel I am among family and friends. My presence here today bears testimony to the long history of mutual friendship we share.
It is also a statement of the importance that Malta gives to the thousands of Maltese and Gozitans, and their descendants, who have made Australia their home.
Although geographically far apart, Malta and Australia have nurtured close relations through the Commonwealth, and through the thousands of Maltese migrants living in Australia. Times have changed.
While Australia has been a land of opportunities, Malta today is providing a myriad of opportunities, not only for the Maltese, but also for foreign investors and workers.
Malta is the fastest growing economy in the European Union, with an all-time low rate in unemployment. In fact, for every three jobs created in Malta, two are being taken up by foreign workers.
Malta has managed to develop a whole variety of industries covering: pharmaceuticals, precision engineering, electronic and automotive components, plastics, medical devices, software development, aviation services, aircraft and yacht repair, a Freeport, which is a state-of-the-art transhipment and logistics Hub, financial services, banking and insurance, iGaming, and alternative energy products and services, amongst others.
While Malta today enjoys the second largest shipping register in the world, we are also developing aircraft registration.
We are proud to say that, due to our formidable and regulated Banking system, Malta has managed to overcome the challenge presented by the financial crisis without mishap.
A fast growing sector of the economy is the Tourism industry, which, over the years, was diversified to embrace educational tourism, through our language schools, and medical tourism, through partnerships with internationally-renowned medical institutions.
During the last years, huge efforts were taken up by the Maltese government to enhance and develop cultural tourism, by an enormous restoration program of our long-standing historical heritage, together with cultural and entertainment activities.
Valletta 2018, when Malta’s capital city will hold the title of European Capital of Culture, will provide an outstanding showcase of Malta’s rich cultural, artistic and historical heritage.
It is surprising that, in spite of Malta’s strong connections with Australia, bilateral trade is so limited, where Malta enjoys strong competitive advantages.
Distance is not a deterrent to improve trade and business relations, as Malta enjoys such strong trade and business relations with many Asian countries.
I am pleased to note that Malta regularly registers trade surpluses with many Asian countries.
Malta’s tax regime is fully in line with European Union legislation, and is very advantageous to investors competing very well with renowned, tax regimes such as Hong Kong.
Malta offers a perfect gateway for European Union markets.
Malta also offers the opportunity for the Maltese and their descendants in Australia …. dual citizenship.
Dual citizenship opens a wide-spectrum of opportunities, not just in Malta, but in all the other Member States of the European Union. In 2017, Malta will be leading the EU Council through the Presidency.
Malta welcomes the recent conclusion of negotiations of the EU-Australia Framework Agreement.
Such an agreement will provide a new impetus for the development of cooperation in areas such as foreign and security policy, development and trade.
There is great possibility of collaboration between Malta and Australia, also, in vocational training and the opening of private educational colleges. This is definitely an area that can be further explored.
Young Maltese descendants are already benefitting from their dual citizenship by furthering their studies in European universities, including the University of Malta.
As we speak, there are over a 100 Maltese students who are following their University studies in Australian Universities.
Speaking from my own experience, last week I was invited by Flinders University to address their international conference on Wellbeing.
I was also invited by the South Australia Health and Medical Research Institute, known as SAHMRI, to join a panel discussion on the ‘The Politics of Wellbeing’.
I could see the enthusiasm of these important institutions to further co-operate and collaborate with the University of Malta and my Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society.
In fact, I have been appointed on the International Advisory Board of this budding institution.
I am pleased to note that we are already approached by Maltese experts in Australia and we are considering a concrete proposal to co-operate in the education sector.
I encourage you, as Maltese Australian entrepreneurs, to exchange ideas with entrepreneurs in Malta, to bring to light the full potential that can be developed by our Maltese Australian connection.
Many businessmen and entrepreneurs in Malta are seeking further away from our shores, business opportunities for new business ventures and to seek new partnerships.
This is truly an exciting time for Malta.
I encourage you:
to think outside the box,
to be innovative,
to be resourceful, and
to take up all potential opportunities, to penetrate the untapped markets that both Malta and Australia have to offer.
I am willing to facilitate with Malta’s institutions, like the Malta Chamber of Commerce and Trade Malta, to see your business endeavours come to fruition in the near future, for the benefit of your enterprises, and for the benefit of both the Maltese and Australian nations.