The Malta Chamber has issued a call for Malta’s Government and Opposition to collaborate for the promotion of an ‘EU Strategic Framework for Islands’.
The business group made the call reacting to the Opposition’s proposal for a fund to mitigate added costs impacting Malta’s potential to trade internationally.
The organisation welcomed the recommendation, together with other proposals making it easier for the Customs Department to do business.
Explaining its backing of the proposal, as well as issuing of its own, The Malta Chamber said it has been “actively working” on the economic implication of island peripherality for close to a decade.
Subsequently, it added, it has “facts in hand” evidencing how being removed from the ‘hub’ of activity of the central European market, as a micro island state, is equivalent to extra costs and loss of competitiveness.
However, despite its welcoming of the Opposition’s proposal, the Chamber’s president Marisa Xuereb called it an “effective pain relief”, rather than a “cure”, considering “the fund compensates for just a fraction of the significant disadvantage being carried by our businesses, reflected into a dire cost for the local economy”.
On a more positive tone, the proposed fund, according to The Malta Chamber chairperson of the Manufacturer’s Economic Group, Brian Muscat and The Malta Chamber chairperson of the Importers, Distributors and Retailers Economic Group, Marcel K. Mifsud, “is an effective first step to bring to the fore a challenge which operators have had to endure for years.”
Additionally, they suggested that the fund should be “complemented with supplementary measures addressing other anti-competitive local costs which have been dragging for years.”
The Chamber observed that sourcing funds from the national budget would alleviate pressures on operators in the value chain. Additionally, given the “larger dimension of compensation” required for the “significant disadvantage”, it added that a case for Malta as an Island Micro Nation-State should be made at EU level.
“At times there are one-size-fits-all policies at EU level which may function imperfectly if such support policies do not allow compensating for various and distinct expressions of EU periphery”, added Ms Xuereb.
“We, therefore, believe that while the Opposition has placed its finger on the right button to address competitiveness, there is much more we should do towards effectively addressing ‘the cure’ of longer travelling times for export, which result into a significant competitive disadvantage for our local industry.”
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