Michael Ashcroft, former Conservative deputy chairman and prominent backer of the Leave campaign during the referendum, said British companies who need access to the EU should move to Malta after Brexit.
Writing on the website ConservativeHome, he said: “As a hard-nosed, self-made businessman, I believe that Malta represents the best destination for ambitious UK firms that must have a post-Brexit presence in the EU.
“Some UK firms have understandably decided, particularly in a period of uncertainty, that they will need a base in the EU in future, with Paris, Frankfurt and other large European cities the favoured locations for many such companies in a post-Brexit era that begins in March next year.”
“At first glance, Malta might not seem a natural rival to such well-established financial centres. However, from what I have seen at first-hand from my regular visits to the island, Malta can match, or even better, other European countries in terms of what the island can offer to UK firms and its employees.”
Malta is a small island that lies south of Italy in the Mediterranean and has a population of 436,000. It gained its independence from the UK in 1964, and became a member of the EU in 2004, adopting the euro as its official currency four years later. English is one of the country’s two official languages, alongside Maltese. Furthermore, legislative, judicial and company documents are available in English and, in a court of law, it is the English version that prevails.
The economy has rarely, if ever, been in better shape. Last year saw an extremely healthy 6.6% growth in GDP. Malta’s unemployment rate is incredibly low: officially 3.5% but, in reality, virtually everyone who wants to work and is able to work can find a job. Inflation is at just 1.6% and Malta recently recorded its first trade surplus for more than three decades.
Malta has a diverse, open market economy. The four key pillars of its economy are tourism, manufacturing, financial services and Internet gambling. However, aviation, maritime, technology, pharmaceutical and a variety of other business all have a notable presence on the island.
Many foreign firms have been attracted to Malta by its advantageous tax system, both for companies and their workers, as well as the island’s relatively cheap costs in comparison to major European cities.
Furthermore, Malta offers a wonderful quality of life, with its rich history and its Mediterranean climate. It also boasts good education and health systems, plus excellent flight connections to many European countries and beyond (more than 80 destinations in all) are other positives that the island can boast. In 2016 Malta was ranked as the world’s second best place for foreigners to live by a wide-ranging global industry survey.
Yet, arguably the key to the country’s economic prosperity is the solution-solving attitude and solid work ethic of its business leaders and workforce. Malta has no worthwhile natural resources (other than the sun and the sea) and, as a result, its lawmakers and regulators realised some time ago that for the country to be successful it had to be forward thinking and innovative.
Dr Joseph Muscat, the current Prime Minister, said his government was embarking on a path whereby UK firms will “co-locate”, rather than “re-locate” to Malta. “Our attitude is that we do not want to tell UK firms: ‘leave the UK and come to Malta’. We don’t think that is realistic and we are not going to be antagonistic, with a predatory agenda. Instead we want to be seen as part of the solution to a potential problem when it comes to Brexit.”
Over the past two or three decades Malta has taken calculated risks in that it has embraced new areas of international business on a regular basis, and many have been very successful. Malta is currently enthusiastic about ‘blockchain’, the cryptographically enhanced decentralised digital ledger technology.
In June, the Maltese Parliament approved three bills at second reading – the Virtual Financial Assets Act, the Innovative Technology Arrangements & Service Act and the Malta Digital Innovation Authority Act – to establish a legal framework for initial coin offerings (ICOs), exchanges and innovative technologies.
The legislation is designed to provide investor protection and legal certainty to investors and operators for the setting up of crypto-currency operations in Malta, as well as to provide for legal recognition and regulation.
In short, Malta is in the EU but also has a close association with the UK. Malta has a constructive attitude and offers arguably the leanest, pro-business jurisdiction in Europe. For more information on how to establish a company in Malta.