Moving from Labour intensive to value added Malta’s manufacturing sector is proving a successful proposition.
Some years ago manufacturing in Malta was exclusively associated with textiles and low value manufacturing. Today’s manufacturing industry has a different face: qualified employees produce pharmaceuticals, medical devices or electronics in manufacturing laboratories with state-of-the-art technology. An island nation with no natural resources bar its people, Malta has over the last two decades moved away from labour intensive industries towards manufacturing of higher-value-added products, which now form the
Just over 2,890 manufacturing and distribution companies have operations in Malta, employing some 15 per cent of the islands’ labour force. The industry is made up of niche market leaders and hi -tech specialist producers who have built a strong international reputation. Their operations include precision engineering, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and electronics amongst others, all helping the islands becoming a centre of manufacturing excellence in the Mediterranean.
Despite the recession and related problems, the industry has continued to see investment, with Malta Enterprise, the agency charged with promoting and facilitating Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Malta, approving 18 new projects in 2009, six of which were expansions of existing operations and 12 of which were new companies, with a total capital investment of over 84 million euro. These enterprises, together with other investments that were made without the assistance of Malta Enterprise, are spread across a range of sectors including manufacturing (medical devices, printing, electronics, machinery and furniture), maritime, lCT and aviation.
New projects include the Indian pharmaceutical company, Aurobindo Pharma Group, while expansions include cosmetic packaging manufacturer Toly Products, which has pointed out it will invest 16.5 million euro in a new facility and machinery, and Brandstatter, which announced it would be investing 11 million euro in extending their Malta operation and introducing new technologies. This positive push continued into 2010, with, amongst others, Icelandic generic pharmaceuticals producer, Actavis, announcing a 12 million euro expansion of their operations in September 2010.
In addition, a number of support measures co-financed by the European Union were launched over the past few months by Malta Enterprise in order to promote the take-up of research and development, innovation, eBusiness, start-ups, energy and the environment by enterprises. Other support measures, in the form of either tax credits or co-financing grants, include R&D tax credits, credits for industrial research and experimental development, technical feasibility studies, loan of highly qualified personnel and support to innovative clusters.