The Malta Independent 20 November 2017, Monday

Maltese high commission or embassy to open in Sub-Saharan Africa - Abela

Wednesday, 27 September 2017, 18:29 Last update: about 3 months ago

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion Carmelo Abela announced the opening of a Maltese high commission or embassy in Sub-Saharan Africa soon - Malta’s first mission in this African region which will open “a trade gateway to this part of Africa”. The Minister said there are three countries under consideration and the final decision will be announced next month.

During a press conference marking the first 100 days of this legislature and Minister Abela taking up his new brief, the Minister explained that trade promotion was an obvious addition to the Foreign Affairs brief after internationally-respected Finch Ratings upgraded Malta to ‘A+’, “meaning Malta has the right environment to do business”.

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The hard-working and dedicated staff at Maltese embassies and high commissions abroad, including non-resident ambassadors, are building on their solid diplomatic relationships to increase business interactions, the minister said. “This is already helping Malta’s economy become one of the fastest-growing in Europe: GDP growth is expected to increase by 4.6% this year and 4.4% next year”.

The Minister’s first trade mission to Ghana shortly after appointed Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion Minister was successful due to several Maltese companies already starting to work there. “With a trade surplus of €12.3 million, exports rising to €20.7 million, and full diplomatic representation in Malta, Ghana was a natural choice”.

Malta could be the economic gateway into the EU for Ghana through the Economic Partnership Agreement which provides for duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market for an unlimited period for all imports originating in Ghana. “In return, Ghana and other West African countries will liberalise their imports from the EU over a period of up to 20 years”.

A video was launched for the ‘100 days/MaltA+’ campaign, listing the Ministry’s main achievements since Carmelo Abela took over the Ministry. “Even though we have only just started, I believe hitting the ground running is setting the agenda at a fast, but achievable high standard for the next five years”.

The video featured how the Ministry is promoting local businesses going global by rewarding those that particularly excel overseas at the first International Business Awards coming November. The event will be televised and is organised by TradeMalta, now part of MFTP.

 

The Minister spoke about trade and explained that Malta was the third EU country to ratify the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement which came into force on September 21. “This will benefit half a billion workers, consumers, and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic”.

The Minister also mentioned the 33rd session of the Africa-Caribbean Pacific-European Union Parliamentary Assembly which was successfully hosted in Malta, with MPs and MEPs adopting a declaration on climate change.

“We also committed ourselves to the fight against migrant smuggling when we joined eight EU and eight African countries in signing a declaration in Rome aimed at combating migrant smuggling from Libya which will help our Southern Mediterranean neighbourhood”, as was the securing of over €3m in EU Funds for internal security strengthening - from visa services to managing border control capabilities.

Speaking of the post-100 days commitments, Minister Abela promised to “continue making sure the Ministry makes the best possible use of our diplomatic networks to continue building relationships, identifying trade opportunities, showcasing our economy, culture, and enhancing Malta’s reputation overseas, as well as continuing the high-quality traditional foreign affairs work it has always done, from consular to aid”. To meet these objectives, the Ministry needs to invest in human resources, especially training in trade, commercial, and economic diplomacy.

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