Speech by the Hon. Minister Carmelo Abela

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion

of the Republic of Malta

19 June 2018, Tel Aviv, Israel

​Minister Hanegbi, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure and honour to address this official inauguration of the Israel-Malta Chamber of Commerce, in the presence of all of you attending this meaningful event.

In particular, I would like to thank the Minister for Regional Cooperation, His Excellency Tzachi Hanegbi, for his presence.

A word of appreciation also goes to our Ambassador to Israel, Her Excellency Cecilia Attard-Pirotta, and to the Ambassador of Israel to Malta, His Excellency Eyal Sela.

The birth of this new Chamber of Commerce provides us with a new vehicle for cooperation that demonstrates a clear will and commitment to take bilateral trade relations between Malta and Israel to another level.

Amongst other things, this crucial initiative will serve to increase the flow of information relating to business opportunities, improve collaboration in terms of marketing, and facilitate participation in promotional events such as trade shows and conferences.

Malta attributes great value to the role played by chambers of commerce, not only for the economic activity that they generate in the country where they are based, but also for their role in building bridges between countries.

Indeed, this is attested by the close cooperation that my Ministry maintains with the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, as well as with Trade Malta and Malta Enterprise (representatives of which are with us here tonight) in furthering our commercial cooperation with other countries.

Since establishing their diplomatic relations in 1965, Malta and Israel have signed several agreements in a bid to strengthen cooperation in, most notably, areas such as education, health, tourism, research, and technology. During the third session of the Malta-Israel Political Consultation held in Malta last month, bilateral and multilateral issues, as well as regional developments, were given particular attention.

On the same subject, October 2013 marked the beginning of a new phase in bilateral relations between our countries, with the first visit of a Maltese Prime Minister to Israel.

The visit by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who was accompanied by my predecessor, former Minister George Vella, and by the former Tourism Minister, was followed by several visits by other Maltese Ministers to Israel.

Last December, I had the pleasure of visiting Israel for the first time myself. During that visit, I had the opportunity of holding official talks with Prime Minister Netanyahu; with Deputy Minister for Diplomacy, Michael Oren; and with the Member of the Knesset, Tzipi Livni. Today, this positive dialogue was renewed as I once again had the pleasure of holding a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Additionally, our current visit marks two other important milestones in the relations between Malta and Israel. Firstly, a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Water Sector was signed this morning; this is expected to lead to further bilateral collaboration in the exchange of expertise in water technology.

Secondly, a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between the Ministry for Education and Employment and Yad Vashem will be signed tomorrow in Jerusalem. Malta looks forward to keeping this momentum going over the coming months to consolidate our relations with Israel.

Minister, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

There has never been a better time to consider Malta as a business partner as now. Malta’s Gross Domestic Product grew by no less than 6.6 per cent in real terms in 2017, with growth expected to remain high in 2018. This growth was mainly generated by an increase in investment in a variety of sectors.

Malta has, by way of example, gained a strong reputation in advanced manufacturing, encompassing mostly precision engineering, pharmaceuticals, and miscellaneous edible products.

The manufacturing sector is supported by Malta’s increasing proficiency in terms of research and development, particularly in advanced pharmaceutical research and business development. A Life Sciences Centre supports knowledge-based companies in this respect.

An impressive level of growth in the tourism sector has also been registered. This owes to the fact that Malta presents a comprehensive and diverse package that caters for both leisure and business tourism. I am pleased to note the ongoing efforts to improve tourism flows between Malta and Israel, including the decision taken by Air Malta in April last year to commence direct flights three times a week to Tel Aviv, which have now been increased to five.

In addition, Malta has established itself as a leading centre in financial services. Our regulatory framework is robust enough to ensure the highest standards of probity and transparency.

In terms of logistics and connectivity, it is worth noting that Malta has earned its reputation as a centre of excellence for the maintenance and servicing of aircraft. Global names in the industry, which include Lufthansa Technik and EasyJet, are testimony of Malta’s prominent competence in this sector.

I would like to conclude by expressing my appreciation towards the sterling work undertaken by Malta’s Ambassador to Israel, Her Excellency Cecilia Attard-Pirotta; the President Designate of the Israel-Malta Chamber of Commerce, Mr Shmuel Ben-Tovim; and all the founding members involved in the establishment of the Chamber.

The active participation of the commercial stakeholders of our countries at this launch attests to our will to seek further common ground in our commercial relations.

I am confident that entrepreneurs from Malta and Israel will make good use of this new mechanism to explore opportunities for cooperation between them to meet their needs and ambitions.

Thank you.

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