The Malta flag – reputation, quality and confidence
Hard work and clear strategic vision pay off
July 13, 2021
5 min read
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Malta has nowadays established itself as one of the leading maritime hubs and service centres in the Mediterranean region. It has developed a very strong regulatory platform that has enabled the Malta flag to become a reputable and internationally recognised ship register which is now one of the largest in the world.
The maritime sector is one of the driving forces of Malta’s economy, as we cannot depend on road transport with respect to imports and exports. Without good maritime links our economy would stifle. We have invested heavily and actively with respect to maritime policy development, both on EU and international levels. Malta’s geographical location, albeit having a number of benefits as it is closely located to one of the major trading routes, also offers a number of challenges, such as the competitive exposure to non-EU member states.
Transport Malta is well aware that Malta has a natural potential to become a centre of maritime excellence in the Mediterranean and over the last years has implemented a number of initiatives to further facilitate this. Malta’s status as an EU member state has further enhanced the country’s attractiveness as a centre for international business in the Euro-Mediterranean region. Internationally, Malta is recognised as a safe and secure place to do business, with high economic, legal, and political stability and a consistent policy on maritime affairs. It boasts a highly qualified and flexible workforce and a proactive business environment. All these key factors have made maritime Malta the ideal location for foreign direct investment and international trade.
In recent years, in close and healthy dialogue with all stakeholders in this important sector for the island, we continued to consolidate the industry with the introduction of further robust legal framework and initiatives to ensure the further sustainable development of the industry. This led to the introduction of major amendments to the laws regulating the shipping sector in order to make it more attractive, such as the amendments to shipping organisations that facilitate the relocation of companies to Malta, and the introduction of tax incentives to qualified maritime personnel thus facilitating the relocation of ship management companies to Malta. This has also proven to be a source for generating more added value jobs to Malta and contributed to the shipping industry generating over 14 per cent of Malta’s GDP.
The Maltese ship register is regulated by a framework of the highest standards based on international and European Union legislation. The Maltese registration system is formulated in such a way as to attract the registration of newer vessels, as opposed to older ones, with the aim of reinforcing its safety record and more environmentally sustainable ships that are more energy efficient and pollute less. Safe ships and clean seas are matters of priority for the Malta flag, a policy that is successfully increasing the number of ships on its register and highlighting Malta as a reputable and quality register.
Throughout the years, the Maltese ship register has maintained a steady growth rate and by the end of 2020 the total gross tons registered was almost that of 85 million, consolidating Malta’s position as the largest flag State in Europe and the sixth largest in the world. This represents a 22 per cent increase over the last four years, which is the largest growth ever registered by the Malta register.
This also means that over six per cent of the world merchant fleet is flying the prestigious eight-pointed cross around the world. These statistics have also confirmed the Malta register as one of the fastest growing registers worldwide.
These positive achievements are a result of continuous hard work both by Transport Malta, the regulator of the shipping industry in Malta, and the industry that has always given its support and full cooperation to the Maltese authorities. There has always been a strong commitment towards establishing a sound, effective, and efficient legal framework addressing safety, security and environmental protection. We have successfully achieved a number of key milestones such as attracting a younger tonnage fleet. We are committed to continue to intensify our efforts both on an international level and EU level for safe, secure, and clean shipping. In addition, Malta has heavily invested in other niche markets becoming, for example, a world leader in the registration of superyachts and passenger ships.
The Malta flag also caters for the distinctive requirements of the yacht and superyacht industry. In fact, it has developed specific legislation to this effect. The Maltese law provides for the registration of yachts and superyachts which are in commercial use as commercially registered yachts or superyachts. Since the end of 2020, there were over 880 superyachts registered under the Malta flag, thus making Malta the world leading register in the yachting industry. It is important to note that during the last four years, Malta registered an increase of 53 per cent in the registration of superyachts.
These statistics are a clear indication of the policy adopted by Malta’s flag administration to focus on quality shipping and ensure that ships with a poor detention or safety and marine pollution record do not operate under the Malta flag. The Maltese authorities maintain that growth must not be at the expense of quality while growth can be attained through quality. During the last four years, despite the growth being registered, Malta ensured to register its best technical performance ever and has established its position as one of the safest Registers in the world.
Merchant shipping has yet again proved that with a clear strategic vision, it has continued to be a very important component of Malta’s maritime and international service industries, therefore vital for the country’s economic well-being.
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