Malta set to become a leading global maritime centre

Samuel Desmoulin | 24 Oct 2013

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Malta set to become a leading global maritime centre

 

Introduction

Malta is currently the largest flag in the EU and has undoubtedly the potential to become a leading maritime centre in the world. The last Monaco Yacht Show 2013 further reinforced this position as Malta’s ever-increasing presence in worldwide superyacht industry and its popularity as a Mediterranean yachting destination were recognised. The Maltese flag is now considered as a reputable flag of choice for superyachts owners. Today, approximately 500 professionals work directly in the maritime industry or in sectors which depend on it. Those include refit and repair, registration, finance, legal and corporate services, marine surveyors, service agents, management companies, chandlery, supplies companies and yacht brokers.  The purpose of this article is to look into the main reasons which explain why Mala is set to become a leading global maritime centre.

1. Natural harbours and strong maritime tradition

Located in the heart of the Mediterranean, the Islands of Malta have played a key role in the history of the Mediterranean Sea. Being at crossroads of shipping routes linking Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East has enabled Malta to become a maritime nation with centuries of tradition. Furthermore, the island’s coastline is indented with natural harbours and established ports, which creates potential to welcome many more yachts and associated services.

2. Political stability, efficient legislative framework, and excellent reputation

Malta is a republic and a full Member State of the EU. Its government is democratically elected with a 5 year mandate. The country enjoys political stability, having witnessed so far an alternation between the Centre Right Nationalist Party and the Centre Left. The island also boasts a robust legislative framework (achieved through the ratification of most of the International Maritime Organisation International Conventions), as well as a respected flag (supported by an efficient administration, and marine engineers and maritime lawyers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in case of emergency).

3. Wise policy and regulation

Policy and regulation have also been developed wisely.  From the very first days in office, the Government of Malta expressed a clear intention to continue improving the yachting sector. In July 2013, Malta established the National Integrated Maritime Strategy Committee whose objective is to develop, monitor and evaluate the implementation process of a national integrated maritime policy. Initiatives to support further growth of the superyacht industry in Malta have already been taken by the clarifications to the VAT treatment of short-term yacht charters and the launching of a Global Residence Programme.

The Government is also firmly committed to ensuring that yacht owners view Malta as a highly respectable jurisdiction in fields which are equally important to them such as corporate, legal and financial services. It is devoted to reducing bureaucracy and red tape, whilst maintaining the balance between safety of shipowners and protection of the environment, in accordance with the international conventions by which the country is bound.

4. Modern infrastructures and facilities

It is crucial to understand that the maritime industry requires modern infrastructure and facilities including good air connections, state-of-the-art telecoms and high-speed broad band and satellite communications. To ensure that this is the case, the authorities are constantly identifying zones that can be transformed and developed, through projects like ‘Port il-Kbir’ (Grand Harbour). Earlier this year, the Government issued invitations for expressions of interest for the development of a maritime hub on the site of the former shipbuilding yard, which were also widely responded to by both current service providers as well as newcomers into the industry.

5. Maritime training of excellence

Malta is committed to becoming a centre of excellence for the training of seafarers working on-board superyachts, with the possibility of creating a maritime academy with internationally-recognised accreditations.  Currently, there already exist a maritime training centre which prepares seafarers to international standards, ranging from the basic seafaring qualifications to those of Chief Mate and Master Mariner.  The Superyachting industry has slightly different needs and this development would thus ensure that those opting for a career on superyachts receive all the specific training to enable them to succeed.

Conclusion

The Maltese superyacht industry has all the necessary skills in place to build upon an already impressive maritime history and cater for some of the world’s largest yachts. There is absolutely no doubt this relatively small island will soon become a hot spot for superyachts in the Mediterranean. Its ideal geographical location and climate only serves to enhance this. The challenge now is to build and expand upon it, together with the private sector, in order to promote the niche that will surely contribute towards developing Malta as a renowned leading maritime centre in the world.


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