Economic and Political Overview

flag Malta Malta: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response


Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Malta is considered a high-income country and an innovation-driven economy. Thanks to its sound financial foundations, large infrastructure projects and buoyant domestic demand, the country emerged from the euro area crisis better than most EU Member States, registering one of the highest real GDP growth rates in recent years. Nevertheless, Malta’s economy relies heavily on the tourism sector and international trade, thus it was severely affected by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions that followed. After rebounding strongly in 2021, the country’s economy showed strong growth in both private and public consumption, as well as in the tourism sector, reaching an estimated overall growth rate of 6.6% in 2022. Due to the weaker performance expected by Malta’s trading partners, GDP growth is set to decelerate to 3.3% in 2023 before slightly increasing to 3.6% the following year (IMF).

Malta’s public finances have been significantly consolidated in recent years, with the government budget turning positive. However, in the last few years, national authorities had to deploy a series of measures to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and high energy and food prices (including raises in the weekly cost of living adjustment and pensions and child allowances, one-off payments to the most vulnerable, and tax refund cheques). Fitch Ratings estimates energy and food subsidies to amount to EUR 396 million by the end-2022 (2.4% of GDP) and EUR 605 million (3.5% of GDP) in 2023, partially offset by stronger-than-expected revenue growth, contributing to budget deficits of 6% and 4.9% of GDP, respectively (IMF). After decreasing from above 70% to around 50% in five years, the debt-to-GDP ratio increased to 57% in 2022 and is expected to follow an upward trend over the forecast horizon (58.2% and 58.4% in 2023 and 2024, respectively). Inflation reached 5.9% in 2022, despite energy prices being kept at the 2020 level by government intervention, and is set to remain elevated this year (at 4.6%) due to continuing pressures in food, transport, and imported goods prices.

Unemployment in Malta continues to be among the lowest in the EU, with a continuous decrease in unemployment for all age groups and categories in recent years. In 2022, unemployment stood at 3.2% (from 3.5% one year earlier), with projections for a marginal increase over the forecast horizon (to around 3.4% by 2024). Increasingly, EU and non-EU European migrants are relocating to Malta for employment, though wages have remained low compared to other European countries. Nevertheless, 20.3% of the Maltese population was at risk of poverty and social exclusion in 2021, according to the latest data by Eurostat. Overall, the country’s GDP per capita (PPP) was estimated at USD 56,338 in 2022 by the IMF, 4.4% above the EU average.

Main Indicators 202020212022 (E)2023 (E)2024 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 15.0317.7617.7819.4120.51
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -8.611.
GDP per Capita (USD) 29,21734,40334,12736,99038,905
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -5.7-6.5-5.6-5.0-3.8
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 52.955.155.856.957.1
Inflation Rate (%)
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force)
Current Account (billions USD) 0.690.760.120.340.35
Current Account (in % of GDP)

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

Malta, the smallest economy in the Euro-zone, has one of the most skilled and less expensive, flexible and multilingual labour forces in Europe. Its economy is highly industrialised and service-based, while the agricultural sector only represents 0.4% of the GDP and employs around 1% of the workforce (World Bank, latest data available). According to the latest Census of Agriculture, in the period 2010-2020, the number of agricultural holdings decreased by 14.8%, to 10,449 (of which 41.4% produce solely for their own consumption). Malta produces less than a quarter of its food needs and has limited freshwater supplies and scarce energy sources; the main crops being potatoes, green peppers, grapes, cauliflower, tomatoes, wheat, barley, and citrus. According to the latest figures from Eurostat, the agricultural sector output at constant prices registered an estimated year-on-year contraction of 2.3% in 2022.

The industrial sector employs 19% of the workforce and represents 12.8% of the GDP. Malta does not have any mineral or energy reserves and is thus completely dependent on imports in this field. Its economy is primarily based on manufacturing, especially microchips and pharmaceutical products. The World Bank estimates that the manufacturing sector accounts for more than 7% of GDP.

Malta has put a lot of hard work into promoting its services and succeeded to become one of the main service centres in the Mediterranean region. Nowadays, the tertiary sector represents 77.7% of the GDP and employs 80% of the workforce. The financial sector is the most important, managing assets equivalent to more than 500% of GDP and contributing about 15% of public revenues. Malta was the first EU state to regulate the online gaming industry and has become a significant iGaming hub in the region: the sector generated an estimated EUR 1 billion of gross value added in 2021 (EY). The tourism sector is the economic engine of the country, and its direct contribution to GDP (around 15%) is among the highest in the EU. The sector was strongly affected by the COVID-19 crisis but has been recovering in 2022 when the total tourism expenditure reached almost EUR 2.3 billion (2.3 times higher than the previous year, although still 17% below the 2019 level – data NSO). The national banking system comprises 24 banks, only three of which are Maltese majority-owned; as such, around 62% of the banking sector’s total assets of around EUR 40.4 billion are foreign-owned. There are six core domestic banks, whose assets (just below EUR 26 billion) represent 200.6% of Malta’s GDP (data EBF).

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 1.0 18.9 80.1
Value Added (in % of GDP) 0.4 12.8 77.7
Value Added (Annual % Change) 0.5 n/a n/a

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


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Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Euro (EUR) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


Find out all the exchange rates daily on our service Currency Converter.

Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.


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Foreign Trade in Figures

Centrally located in the Mediterranean, Malta has for a long time portrayed itself as a bridge between Europe and North Africa. Its economy relies heavily on foreign trade, principally with Europe. International trade represents 288% of the GDP (World Bank, latest data available), one of the highest ratios in the world. Malta mainly exports mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (30.5%), machinery and transport equipment (27.4%), and chemical products (12.7%); importing mostly machinery and transport equipment (37.7%), mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials (27%), chemicals (9.8%), and food (8.6% - data NSO, 2022).

The country’s main trading partners are Germany (11.2%), France (5.2%), Italy and the UK (3.2 each%); whereas the main import origins are Italy (19.5%), France (5.7%), Spain (4.8%), the United Kingdom and Germany (4.4% each - data NSO, 2022). Overall, the EU accounts for 50.9% of total exports and 32.4% of imports.

Malta has a structural trade deficit in terms of merchandise: in 2021, the country exported USD 3.1 billion worth of goods, importing USD 6.6 billion. Malta, however, is a service hub and thus a net commercial services exporter: in 2021 the island exported USD 18.1 billion worth of services (+14.4% y-o-y), importing USD 14.7 billion (+11.1% - data WTO). In the same year, the overall trade balance for goods and services was estimated to be positive by the World Bank, at 13.8% of GDP (up from 12.8% one year earlier). According to the latest figures from the NSO, in 2022 total exports of goods stood at EUR 4.5 billion (+26.4% y-o-y), vis-à-vis USD 9.2 billion of imports (+38.7% y-o-y).

Foreign Trade Indicators 20172018201920202021
Imports of Goods (million USD) 5,8096,7697,0725,2236,656
Exports of Goods (million USD) 2,5163,1923,0072,6803,111
Imports of Services (million USD) 9,69412,33512,79413,20714,680
Exports of Services (million USD) 13,69816,37016,84715,81618,095
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 8.7-0.47.0-3.89.0
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 136.1127.8129.2139.3136.9
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 154.7145.2146.1152.2150.7
Trade Balance (million USD) -1,661-1,746-1,852-1,515-2,819
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 2,3682,3832,1951,198749
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 290.8273.0275.3291.5287.7

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data


Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
Germany 13.1%
Italy 9.2%
France 5.8%
Japan 5.5%
Singapore 4.4%
See More Countries 62.1%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
Italy 22.3%
Canada 6.7%
France 6.7%
Spain 6.0%
Germany 5.4%
See More Countries 53.0%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data


Main Products

3.2 bn USD of products exported in 2021
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 15.3%
Electronic integrated circuits; parts thereofElectronic integrated circuits; parts thereof 15.1%
Unused postage, revenue or similar stamps of...Unused postage, revenue or similar stamps of current or new issue in the country in which they have, or will have, a recognised face value; stamp-impressed paper; banknotes; cheque forms; stock, share or bond certificates and similar documents of title 9.7%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 9.4%
Tricycles, scooters, pedal cars and similar...Tricycles, scooters, pedal cars and similar wheeled toys; dolls' carriages; dolls; other toys; reduced-size "scale" recreational models, working or not; puzzles of all kinds 5.1%
See More Products 45.5%
7.1 bn USD of products imported in 2021
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 14.1%
Powered aircraft "e.g. helicopters and aeroplanes...Powered aircraft "e.g. helicopters and aeroplanes"; spacecraft, incl. satellites, and suborbital and spacecraft launch vehicles 13.0%
Yachts and other vessels for pleasure or sports;...Yachts and other vessels for pleasure or sports; rowing boats and canoes 7.9%
Electronic integrated circuits; parts thereofElectronic integrated circuits; parts thereof 5.9%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 4.9%
See More Products 54.3%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data


To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.


Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: George VELLA (since 4 April 2019)
Prime Minister: Robert ABELA (since 13 January 2020)
Next Election Dates
Presidential: April 2024
House of Representatives: 2027
Main Political Parties
Since World War II, the political culture in Malta has been chiefly dominated by a two-party system. These two political parties are:

- Malta Labour Party (MLP): centre-left, social democratic party
- Nationalist Party (PN): centre-right, Christian democratic party

Other parties that took part in the latest elections include the AD+PD, a centrist political party, formed by the merger of the two most prominent third parties, the green Democratic Alternative (AD) and the social liberal Democratic Party (PD); the Eurofederalist and progressive pan-European Volt Malta; the far-right, Christian political party ABBA; and the right-wing populist, conservative People's Party.
Type of State
Republic based on parliamentary democracy.
Executive Power
The President is the chief of state and is elected by the parliament for a five-year term. The Prime Minister is the head of the government and enjoys the executive powers which include the implementation of law and running the day-to-day affairs of the country. The leader of the majority party or majority coalition is appointed as Prime Minister by the President to serve a five-year term. The Cabinet is appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Legislative Power
The legislature is unicameral. The parliament consists of the House of Representatives having a minimum of 65 seats (79 for the 2022-2027 legislature); its members are elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve five-year terms. In case a political party wins an absolute majority of votes but does not have a majority of seats, then that party is given additional seats to ensure a parliamentary majority. President can dissolve the parliament on the advice of the Prime Minister or alternatively parliament can dismiss a government by passing a no-confidence motion.

Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:

Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Political Freedom:

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House


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COVID-19 Country Response

COVID-19 epidemic evolution

To find out about the latest status of the COVID-19 pandemic evolution and the most up-to-date statistics on the COVID-19 disease in Malta, please visit the website of the Ministry of Health, which provides figures regarding age and gender distribution. For the international outlook you can consult the latest situation reports published by the World Health Organisation as well as the global daily statistics on the coronavirus pandemic evolution including data on confirmed cases and deaths by country.

Sanitary measures

To find out about the latest public health situation in Malta and the current sanitary measures in vigour, please consult the the official portal, including the up-to-date information on the containment measures put in place and public health recommendations. Further info can be found on the website of the Ministry of Health.

Travel restrictions

The COVID-19 situation, including the spread of new variants, evolves rapidly and differs from country to country. All travelers need to pay close attention to the conditions at their destination before traveling. Regularly updated information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related travel restrictions in place including entry regulations, flight bans, test requirements and quarantine is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
It is also highly recommended to consult COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on the daily basis by IATA.
The US government website of Centers of Disease Control and Prevention provides COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination.

The UK Foreign travel advice also provides travelling abroad advice for all countries, including the latest information on coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings.

Import & export restrictions

Following the measures taken by the European Commission, an export license is required to export personal protective equipment outside of the European Union.
For a general overview of trade restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Malta on the
International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.

Economic recovery plan

To know about the economic measures taken by the Maltese government to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the national economy, please visit the website of the government’s agency Malta Enterprise. For information on social security benefits, refer to the website The website of the Commissioner for Revenue provides details concerning the “Covid Wage Supplement Scheme”; while the portal of the Malta Development Bank provides info on the “Guarantee scheme”.
The information on the EU’s economic response to COVID-19 and the actions to minimise the fallout on the EU member states’ economies of the COVID-19 outbreak is available on the websiteof
the European Council.
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) taken by the Maltese government to limit the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Malta in the
IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.

Support plan for businesses

For the information on the local business support schemes and taxation measures established by the Maltese authorities to help businesses to deal with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic on their activity, please consult the website of the government’s agency Malta Enterprise. An overview of the measures is available on the dedicated page by Deloitte.
For a general overview of international SME support policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak refer to the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.

Support plan for exporters

For updated information on specific initiatives and support programs for businesses put in place by the Maltese government following the COVID-19 epidemic outbreak, please consult the website Malta Enterprise.
The European Commission adopted a
Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the COVID-19 outbreak, which enables short-term export credit insurance to be provided by the member States where needed.


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Latest Update: May 2023