Last Updated on Thursday, 18 November, 2021 at 2:28 pm by Andre Camilleri
Christopher Cutajar is Permanent Secretary for Foreign and European Affairs
Malta’s foreign policy aims to contribute to the overall national economic strategy and helps realise the vision of a productive, sustainable and inclusive economy that will be carbon neutral by 2050. It is also the role of foreign policy to support jobs, growth and prosperity.
Indeed, the first of three Strategic Goals, which underpins Malta’s Foreign Policy Strategy, launched earlier last week for public consultation, revolves around supporting values, well-being and prosperity of Maltese citizens. Foreign policy is part of a coherent plan to secure our country’s long-term interests in a more competitive and unpredictable world. This means that it cannot be applied in a vacuum.
As a small nation committed to thriving by trading and sharing with the world, we acknowledge that prosperity is to be sought and secured by means of sourcing and expanding international relations. Through economic diplomacy, Malta seeks to create and maintain a positive and favourable business environment. It is crucially important that investors overseas have confidence in Malta as a place to base their business.
On the other hand, overseas markets allow local businesses to grow to a scale that could not happen domestically. Given Malta’s small market, globalisation is not an option but an inevitable necessity. High quality foreign direct investment contributes the capital necessary for economic growth, while overseas investment assists Maltese businesses to obtain greater value from customers overseas.
Equally important is the development and consolidation of long-lasting bilateral relationships, as Malta seeks to actively sustain deep and complex relationships to advance and protect its interests and invest in new efforts. Economic agreements such as Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs) and trade initiatives are also essential to broaden our access to foreign markets. These are crucial tools to enhance Malta’s competitiveness and status as a business centre. Multilateral relationships are also central in this regard, as Malta forms part of a wider set of international rules that support stability and prosperity, such as those set out by international trade bodies like the World Trade Organisation.
The Ministry’s recent visit, led by Evarist Bartolo to a food manufacturing company, was an attestation of our commitment to assist and learn from Maltese businesses. It is encouraging to see that Foster Clark Products Ltd’s total exports amount to more than 90 countries worldwide, in what is a success story of internationalisation. As the Maltese government remains committed to help Malta-based companies expand their activities, as emphasised in the Strategy itself, such visits and continuous engagement are crucial to also understand the issues and obstacles that these companies may face.
Finally, it is essential that Malta effectively addresses money laundering and financing of terrorism risks. Malta has undertaken significant efforts to show its effectiveness in a sustainable manner, successfully enacting related legislation and enhancing cooperation between competent authorities. International cooperation is also key in this regard, as Malta continues to work closely with international partners to achieve the desired results. Here I must mention the success of the first edition of The Malta Workshops, which were held in April, and in which over 2,500 officials from 65 countries and territories, 45 financial authorities and six international institutions participated. This was a prime example of digital diplomacy, a profile which Malta aims to continue developing, using digital technology across its foreign policy work.
As a concluding remark, the crucial role of our diplomats cannot be emphasised enough. In all of this, it is vital that we have embassies and diplomatic missions around the world that act as facilitators, being able to champion Malta and help create a stable and open international environment in which our country can thrive.
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The Foreign Policy Strategy was launched for public consultation and is available online on konsultazzjoni.gov.mt The consultation period closes on Wednesday, 8 December.