A time to transform the EU, says Malta Business Bureau

The Malta Business Bureau has launched its high-level Declaration on the Future of Europe during a conference commemorating 25 years since its foundation. The Declaration represents the contribution of the Maltese business community to the EU’s Conference on the Future of Europe through which citizens and stakeholders from across the EU are participating to share their views on the future of the EU.

The MBB Declaration presents several proposals concerning the Single Market, Sustainability, Jobs, and European Democracy that would improve the functioning of the EU for businesses and citizens alike.

“The EU needs transformation. Otherwise, it stagnates and risks losing relevance. This has been acknowledged by the EU institutions with the launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe, and the MBB has answered the call. The Declaration presents a 12-point plan on real issues that affect businesses and citizens every day. The solutions that we propose are concrete and implementable,” MBB President, Alison Mizzi stated.

The MBB Declaration was drawn following a high-level consultation with businesses on four areas representing EU priorities and provide suggestions on further deepening the European Single Market; for an investment driven EU climate strategy that makes the transition to a green economy more achievable for business; increase EU attractiveness for skilled third-country nationals to address skills shortages; and transform the EU legislative process to make it more transparent and inclusive.

MBB CEO, Joe Tanti explained, “This year the MBB is commemorating 25 years of service to Maltese businesses, and we felt it was our duty as a pro-EU organisation to play an active part in this process. In the coming months we will continue engaging with decision-makers to ensure that these proposals made on behalf of Maltese businesses are heard.”

The Declaration on the Future of Europe may be found here.

The Malta Business Bureau is the EU-business advisory office of The Malta Chamber and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. The Malta Business Bureau is a partner of the Enterprise Europe Network.

Nominations open for EY’s Malta Entrepreneur of the Year 2022 Award

Depending on the Covid-19 situation at the time, the local winner will head to Monaco in June 2022 to compete for the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year award, an event that brings together national winners from more than 50 countries.

Previous participants and winners have included trail-blazing entrepreneurs from a wide range of enterprises such as Amazon, Cirque du Soleil and LinkedIn. Past Malta winners include Alfred Pisani from Corinthia Group, Angelo Xuereb from AX Holdings Ltd, David Darmanin of Hotjar Ltd and most recently, Nazzareno Vassallo from Vassallo Group.

When asked about the award, the 2021 winner Nazzareno Vassallo said: “I am honoured and humbled to be chosen for the award. It was a difficult year, but as a Group we managed to go through – mine was a long journey -54 years starting from construction and then diversifying. This success was also the success of the 1,800 employees and I want to dedicate this honour to all of you”.

The EY Rising Star award is also presented to a contender running a high-growth business that is generating excitement in the market. Past winners include David Vella from Altaro Software, Shane Hunter from AquaBioTech Group, Ben Remfrey from Praedium Consulting Malta Ltd and John Winfield from Dr. Juice.

The 4th EY Rising Star, John Winfield, spoke about winning the award: “I am very grateful to receive this award. Dr. Juice is all about passion and connecting with our community and I would like to thank all my family and the Dr. Juice family for making this award, as well as all the achievements made over the last years, possible.”

Ronald Attard, EY Malta’s Country Managing Partner, said: “The past editions of the award have brought to the fore really exceptional local stories and personal journeys which deserve to have a light shone brightly on them. They serve as inspiration for thousands of other aspiring Maltese entrepreneurs and we are certain the 5th celebration of this prestigious global award will deliver some more incredible personalities to compliment an already extremely accomplished list of past winners.”

The award is judged by an independent panel made up of key figures from the business community. To be eligible, nominees must be Maltese or have been operating a company based in Malta for at least two years. Anyone, including employees, company advisers and financiers, can nominate an entrepreneur, with the latter’s consent.

Entrepreneurs may also directly nominate themselves.
The awards are held in conjunction with the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, and the Malta Chamber of SME’s.

For more information and to submit a nomination: www.eoymalta.com.

Malta Trust Foundation teams up with Malta Chamber to launch 'Your Device Your Right' project

More than 5,000 children do not have access to laptops, desktop computers or tablets to be able to do their homework or follow classes online, according to a survey that exposed a digital divide made more acute by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Misco survey carried out this summer showed 11 percent of the 350 families interviewed did not have enough equipment for all their children — equivalent to more than 5,000 children in Malta — a situation that seems to be more prevalent among those sending their children to Church and State schools.

Your Device Your Right, an initiative launched today by the Malta Trust Foundation, is seeking to bridge this divide by distributing second-hand refurbished laptops to students struggling to keep up with their classmates.

However, sourcing these devices is turning out to be a challenge and the project steering committee is making an urgent appeal to businesses and individuals to come forward and donate their old equipment.

“Can you imagine in our days going to school without a pen and paper? Well, this is the reality so many children are facing today because they have no access to a computer or tablet — these are the students who will lag behind,” a committee spokesperson said.

Through a previous agreement signed with the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, its members are also being encouraged to donate used laptops and tablets; an initiative that will double up as an environmental incentive for technological hardware to be recycled.

The steering committee said that through MITA Cares and Vianet, this hardware was then wiped clean, upgraded and refurbished before being passed on to students who have been identified by teachers, and referred by heads of schools as genuinely facing problems.

Your Device Your Right does not solely focus on providing the hardware, but also ensures disadvantaged families have free access to internet and proper training through separate agreements signed today with GO, and TCTC, which is contributing €35,000 worth of free training.

Malta Trust Foundation chair Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca said the study set off alarm bells and exposed the cracks children risked falling into without the proper tools for their education.
“The study showed that the digital divide is very real and the pandemic has pushed this stark reality to the fore. Through Your Device Your Right we aim to address the educational divide and train parents and their children how to operate these devices,” Ms Coleiro Preca said.

Chamber president Marisa Xuereb added that digital literacy was indispensable in today’s world and no child could afford to be left behind.

“The Chamber is a proud partner of the Your Device Your Right campaign. We believe all children matter, which is why we are committed to do our part. I would like to thank all our members who donated digital equipment and urge all businesses to follow suit. Every little bit helps. Your continued support will help close the digital divide, resulting in better work opportunities for the younger generation and a better work force,” she said.

Through a pilot project carried out over the past months, 55 refurbished laptops have already been donated to referred students.

The steering committee is calling on companies and individuals who may not have any used laptops to support Your Device Your Right by donating €350, as this would enable the Foundation to buy a refurbished computer.

Klikk, Bronze Partners of The Chamber, have also contributed towards this project. Click here to learn more. 

You can take your devices to the Malta Trust Foundation located at Maison Notre Dame, St Calcedonius Square, Floriana, Mondays to Fridays between 8am and noon, or by sending an email to info@maltatrustfoundation.org.

HSBC Malta reaffirms commitment to TradeMalta

HSBC Bank Malta has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting TradeMalta and the work it carries out to help Maltese businesses expand into international markets.

This renewed commitment builds on HSBC’s long standing support for TradeMalta, through which the bank has set up an HSBC Room serving as one of the meeting spaces at TradeMalta’s Sliema offices and also sponsored two editions of the Malta International Business Awards, along with a number of other initiatives.

More recently, the bank has supported numerous webinars which TradeMalta has organised throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to help businesses understand ways in which they can internationalise despite the challenges.

Speaking during a recent visit to Trade Malta, Joyce Grech, HSBC Malta’s Head of Commercial Banking, said, “TradeMalta plays a vital role in helping Maltese businesses to internationalise by providing expert advice, training and support. HSBC Malta has always backed TradeMalta in these endeavours and while Covid-19 meant a change of approach, it did not lessen our mutual commitment to helping local companies succeed on the world stage.

In fact, in addition to supporting TradeMalta, HSBC Malta has also made €250 million available through its International Business Fund specifically to help Maltese businesses go international. Around half of these funds are still available.”

Anton Buttigieg, CEO at TradeMalta, said, “As the world economy begins to adjust to the new realities created by the pandemic, new opportunities are also emerging. As it has always done, TradeMalta is here to support Maltese companies looking to make the most of the opportunities available, anywhere in the world.

Thanks also to our partners, including HSBC Malta, we have been able to continue offering our services over the past months and are now fully geared up to provide all the advice, training and incentives that companies with international ambition need.”

TradeMalta is a public-private partnership between the Government of Malta and The Malta Chamber, dedicated to helping Malta-based businesses go international.

With this in mind, it offers a range of services including specialised training programmes in international business development and marketing as well as administering a number of incentive schemes and internationalisation programmes. More information is available at https://www.trademalta.org/

HSBC Malta offers a range of solutions for customers wishing to internationalise their business. More details can be found on www.business.hsbc.com.mt

TradeMalta relaunches Global Growth programme

Malta’s trade promotion organisation TradeMalta is once again launching its popular Global Growth programme designed for companies with export experience. This programme aims to offer support to exporters with a clear vision of which markets they want to target in the coming year, and how they want to do it.

To apply, companies have to submit their internationalisation business development plan for the forthcoming calendar year and outline which country/countries they will be targeting.

Successful companies will be selected according to how clear and realistic the plan submitted in the application is.

TradeMalta has indicated a capping of Eur 10,000 in maximum refunds per company for this particular programme in 2022, but this figure may vary depending on the quality of the applications received, and the overall take-up of Global Growth and other TradeMalta programmes.

Successful applicants may claim refunds throughout 2022 for eligible expenses. Eligible expenses include:

• Travel to visit clients, tradeshows or other relevant travel.
• Design, development and translation of packaging material for export purposes.
• Flight cost for visiting clients.
• SEO and web-site translation for target markets.
• Engaging business development partners in target markets.
• All expenses must be related to the objectives which the company has outlined in the export plan submitted with the application.

Application and further information about the Global Growth programme can be found here.

The deadline for applications is 19th November 2021.

Positive Proposals but need for a Long Term, Sustainable Fiscal Vision

The Malta Chamber welcomes the fact that several of the measures it proposed were taken on board by the Leader of Opposition in his response to last week’s Budget. The most notable were the establishment of a specialised due diligence unit accessible to professionals such as accountants and lawyers and the reduction of VAT rate for all restaurant sales and hotel services to 7% to assist the Tourism sector.

The Malta Chamber is particularly concerned with the Leader of Opposition’s statement on the extension of VAT exemptions up to €60,000 declared revenue, particularly in view of new EU VAT simplification rules that will come into effect as of January 2025 whereby all EU SMEs which do not surpass the local thresholds will be allowed to benefit from the same exemptions as local traders and businesses.

The Malta Chamber insists on the importance of a prudent approach in terms of budgetary proposal financing. It is crucial that in the weeks and months to come, the two main political parties do not enter into populist discourse. Any unsustainable measures that are proposed will ultimately be borne by the taxpayer and will render any deficit and debt targets unattainable.

The Malta Chamber calls for a mature discussion in the run-up to the next election and calls for political consensus in addressing fiscal targets and restoration of our international reputation, which is adversely impacting our attractiveness for foreign direct investment.

HSBC Malta supports TradeMalta’s internationalisation programme

Trade Malta, the public-private partnership between the Government of Malta and The Malta Chamber dedicated to helping Maltese business internationalise, is launching an enhanced version of its Global Growth Programme. In this endeavour, TradeMalta will be supported by its strategic partner, HSBC Bank Malta.

The Global Growth Programme is chiefly aimed at businesses which already have some international experience and are now looking to expand further. In 2022, selected companies will be eligible for co-funding of up to 50% of approved expenses towards their international growth, subject to a capping of €10,000. The deadline for applications for funding is 19th November 2021.

Applicants will be selected following a competitive adjudication process which will focus on factors such as feasibility, chances of success, local job-creation potential, and the company’s preparedness to internationalise further.

The scheme will support selected companies with visiting potential clients abroad, attending fairs and conferences, producing international marketing material, developing and optimising websites, carrying out international market research and hosting potential client visits to Malta.

Anton Buttigieg, Chief Executive Officer at Trade Malta, said:

“I am delighted that we are re-launching our Global Growth Programme as part of our effort to support Malta-based businesses to expand overseas.This year, we will be offering an enhanced version of our popular programme by targeting exporters who already have experience in internationalisation, together with those who have clear export plans in hand. I am confident that the Global Growth Programme will enable them to take their export journey to the next level and increase further their international business development.”

Joyce Grech, Head of Commercial Banking at HSBC Malta, said: “HSBC’s international connectivity and invaluable market insight have, over the years, been instrumental in supporting hundreds of Maltese businesses in their international ambitions.

The bank has also launched initiatives such as the HSBC International Business Fund, specifically created to provide financial support to companies looking to expand internationally. Through our strategic partnership with TradeMalta we have continued to strengthen this support despite the challenges created by the pandemic.

As the global economy now looks forward, we remain committed to helping Maltese businesses grow and thrive internationally.”

The eligibility criteria to participate and the detailed adjudication criteria are available at www.trademalta.org

John A. Huber re-elected Director of EUROCHAMBRES

During the General Assembly held on 15th October, John A. Huber was re-elected to the Board of Directors of EUROCHAMBRES. He was also elected to the organisation’s Budgetary Committee.
Established in 1958, EUROCHAMBRES represents over 20 million businesses in Europe employing over 120 million people, 93% of which are SMEs. The organization has 46 members made of national associations of chambers of commerce and industry and transnational chamber organisations. It also has a European network of 1700 regional and local chambers.

“I am privileged to be re-confirmed as a member of the EUROCHAMBRES Board of Directors and Budgetary Committee. These are difficult times for the economy, and we need to ensure the business competitiveness remains high on the EU agenda to ensure a swift recovery. As a Director I will continue ensuring that the priorities of Maltese businesses are well reflected at European level.”

John A. Huber is the Managing Consultant at John Huber and Associates, and previously served as President as well as Vice President of the Malta Business Bureau.

The Malta Chamber and Malta Business Bureau congratulate Mr. Huber on his re-election and wish him another successful mandate.

During the meeting, the General Assembly elected Mr. Luc Frieden from the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce as the new President of EUROCHAMBRES for the next two years.

A response to the proposed Bill to legalise recreational cannabis

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry has noted the lack of significant improvement on the original white paper on the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use that was published earlier this year.

In spite of the recommendations which The Malta Chamber published in its response to the public consultation last May, government has not given due consideration to the issues raised, particularly those related to health and safety at the workplace as well as the right of employers to apply a zero-tolerance approach to the use of cannabis at the workplace.

This has resulted in an ambiguous bill which lacks the necessary safeguards to curtail the potential negative social and economic impact that this legislation may bring. Mental and physiological health should remain the priority in the government’s proposed recreational cannabis reform.

The Malta Chamber notes that the bill which has been tabled does not provide the necessary detail to allow for the assessment of the associated public health risks.

Whilst there is some room for a responsible Cannabis Authority to pose reasonable requirements on the quality and safety of the legalised product, safety should be a foremost consideration for government, and minimum acceptable standards should be included in the original bill.

Should this bill pass into law unamended it will allow the legalisation of cannabis products without having catered for the legal and safe supply of cannabis products through a well-regulated market.

The Malta Chamber calls on the government and opposition to amend the bill to ensure that the resulting legislation is guided by a well-researched and evidence-based plan to procure cannabis seeds with safe THC levels and cannabis products free of harmful substances for home growers and members of cannabis organisations.