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Source: The Malta Business Observer
Author: Anton Buttigieg, TradeMalta CEO
TradeMalta is a public-private partnership which was set up in 2014 by the Government of Malta and the Malta Chamber of Commerce to assist Malta-based companies reach international markets. Its mission is to help Malta-based companies to internationalise their business. The company has been providing a number of services to support its mission including supporting businesses that exhibit at international fairs, offering export-focused training programmes, and organising country information seminars and incoming and outgoing trade missions. We also receive regular requests from Malta-based businesses to set up one-to-one introductions with potential international buyers or customers.
In our opinion, Brexit will be a major challenge for Malta-based business that export their goods and services to the United Kingdom. The uncertainty brought about by Brexit has impacted Maltese manufacturers who traditionally have a foothold in the UK market. As a result of Brexit, we have supported companies to extend their reach in new or alternative markets. While this is an exercise that takes time, we have already seen some success on this front.
The challenging geo-political situation in North Africa and the Middle East is another issue of concern for Maltese exporters, as these geographically-close markets have been import/export destinations for products and services originating from Malta. As a result, we are observing the developments carefully and analysing their impact on the export turnover of Malta-based businesses.
Having said that, TradeMalta will keep exploring new markets and we have plans to give Malta-based companies opportunities to visit new and emerging markets which can provide them with further international business.
As previously stated, a significant part of our support goes to companies that exhibit in international fairs, as we understand that visibility at these international events is crucial when trying to build an international brand. Exhibiting in fairs has other advantages, including providing networking opportunities with companies within a specific industry. It also brings businesses in touch with potential buyers and customers. International fairs are becoming more specialised, and we have successfully supported many Malta-based companies to exhibit at these specialised events.
The team also receives regular requests for one-to-one introductions with international contacts and very often we reach to our main shareholders for our support. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion has been very supportive on this front by providing information through Malta’s network of embassies, high commissions and consulates. The Mala Chamber of Commerce is highly supportive too and its international reach with other chambers of commerce is an invaluable tool for companies that want to do business beyond Malta’s shores.
This year, we have already organised several trade visits. In fact, in January we supported business delegations travelling to India and Turkey. At the end of March, we shall be hosting a business delegation from Ghana. That will be followed by an outgoing business mission to Singapore and South Korea. Looking ahead, we are also looking forward to assisting Malta-based companies exhibiting at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai in November. We believe that this is a unique opportunity for Malta-based companies to make inroads in the Chinese market.
By the end of March, we would have also concluded our annual training programme aimed at new exporters. I am proud to say that this programme has gone from strength to strength and has attracted significant interest from the business community.
We are also working on the second edition of the Malta International Business Awards which will be held in mid-November. We shall be launching this event in the coming weeks and we hope that a great number of applicants will submit their proposals this year.