Malta Insights

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by Ci Consulta


Malta records second-highest employment growth in EU

Malta was one of only ten EU states to register an increase in employment in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the previous quarter. Eurostat data shows that Malta registered a growth of 1.3 percent, second only to Lithuania at 1.6 percent and ahead of Croatia with 1.0 percent.

Overall, the EU registered a decrease of 0.1 percent, the first decline since 2013. The biggest dips were observed in Spain (-1.0%) and Bulgaria (-0.9%) while Portugal, Slovakia and Sweden saw their employment fall by 0.5 percent.

Compared with the same period last year, however, EU employment increased by 0.4 percent with a total 209.1 million people in employment across the bloc.

Meanwhile, GDP in the EU fell by 3.2 percent from Q4 2019 to Q1 2020, registering the sharpest decrease since 1995. Compared with the first quarter in 2019, GDP also decline by 2.6 percent. Decreases in the euro area were more pronounced, slipping by 3.6 percent from the previous quarter and by 3.1 from a year before.

Four EU countries still registered an increase from the fourth quarter of 2019: Ireland (+1.2%), Bulgaria and Romania (+0.3%), and Sweden (+0.1%). France and Italy suffered the biggest decreases (both -5.3%) followed by Spain and Slovakia (both -5.2%).

GDP in Malta fell by 2.3 percent compared with the previous quarter but grew by 0.7 percent from the same period in 2019.


Trade deficit narrows in April

Imports and exports decreased between March and April, reducing the trade deficit by €90.8 million to close at €139.4 million. Figures by the National Statistics Office for the fourth month this year show that Malta registered a decline of €146 million in imports driven mainly by a fall of 96 million in machinery and transport equipment.

Meanwhile, a decrease of €30.5 million in exports and mineral fuels and of €18 million in machinery and transport equipment were the main agents behind a general drop of €55 million in exported goods.

Just over half of imports in April came from EU members, accounting to €192 million – a drop from €230 million in the same month last year. Exports to the EU27 also fell from €159 million in April 2019 to €79 million in 2020.

Exports to Asia and Africa increased by €19 million and €10 million, respectively, compared with last year. Imports from Asia registered a €17 million decrease, but they rose by €29 from Africa. The trade of balance with North and Central America went from a surplus of €6 million in April 2019 to €0.2 million this year.


Local film productions make €99,000 at the box office in 2019

Maltese film productions attracted just under 14,000 cinemagoers in 2019 registering a total €99,000 gross box office. Data by the National Statistics Office shows that there were 14 local productions last year, totalling a combined 650 screenings.

Nine in every ten of films watched at cinema theatres were produced in the US, while 1.9 percent were made in Malta. By the end of 2019, cinemas registered almost 750,000 admissions generating a total gross box office topping €5 million.

Of the 409 film titles screened, ‘The Lion King’, ‘Aladdin’, and ‘Joker’ were the most popular attracting nearly a quarter of all cinemagoers between them.

The favourite genre among film enthusiasts was non-animated fiction, attracting 72 percent of all admissions and projecting 238 different titles. Animation films were the second-most popular, accounting to 26 percent of ticket sales, but Live/Encore screenings were second-highest in terms of releases, with 65 productions.

There are six operating cinemas in Malta with a combined 28 screens and a total seating capacity of 5,700. Eleven of the screens are set up for 3D productions, which accounted to 18 percent of all admissions last year.


Highest emissions from transport in a decade

Emissions of greenhouse gases reached more than 2,190 kilotonnes net in 2018 according to the latest Greenhouse Gas Inventory data published by the National Statistics Office. CO2 emissions increased by 1.3 percent from 2017 and by 12.4 percent from 2016. Compared with 2008, however, 2018 registered a decrease in emissions of 28 percent.

The biggest contributors to COwere energy industries, creating just under 700 kilotonnes of emissions, and transportation, generating just over 660 kilotonnes. While emissions from energy industries fell by 2.7 percent from the previous year and achieved the second-lowest net CO2 for the sector in ten years, greenhouse gas emissions produced by transport jumped by 4.4 percent from 2017 and registered the highest total for a decade.

The rise in mobility-related emissions coincides with an increase in road, air, and sea transportation in the year under review. The number of licensed vehicles grew from 372,000 in 2017 to 385,500 in 2018, reflecting an increase in all vehicle types except garage-hire minibuses and self-drive motorcycles. Passenger cars increased by almost three percent to surpass 300,000 in 2018. Figures by Transport Malta show that the number went up to more than 307,000 in 2019.

More than 380,000 vehicles on the roads in 2018 were powered either by petrol of diesel engines, increasing from the previous year by 3.1 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively. Nevertheless, alternative powertrain technologies enjoyed a sharp rise as licenses for hybrid cars jumped by 66 percent and licenses for electric vehicles by 138 percent. Data for 2019 shows that there was a sustained increase across all four engine types: 237,000 petrol cars (+2.3%), 154,000 diesels (+3.0%), 2,200 hybrids (+52.7%), and 2,300 electrics (+147.6%).

Departing passenger flights in 2018 went up 14 percent from the year before to more 23,500. Data by Malta International Airport shows that the figure continued its upward trend in 2019, reaching over 25,000 outbound passenger flights.

Sea transport between Malta and Gozo also rose between 2017 and 2018, resulting in more than one thousand added trips year-on-year to reach 23,619. Ferry crossings, then, increased exponentially in 2019, exceeding 27,600.

The number of cruise liner calls decreased by 32 in 2018 compared with the previous year. In fact, at 310, there were fewer calls than even 2017. The dip was reversed in 2019, however, registering the highest figure of in five years, at 359 cruise liner calls.


Industrial production index reaches lowest score in a year

Industrial production registered a drop for the third consecutive month in April, decreasing by 3.8 percent from March. Seasonally adjust figures by the National Statistics Office show that the index of total production fell to 100.4, a drop of 3.0 percent compared with the same month last year. In fact, results for April are the lowest over the twelve-month period.

Declines were reported across all main industrial groupings, but the biggest changes were registered in the production of capital goods and energy, falling by 13.2 percent and 8.0 percent, respectively. Intermediate goods decreased by 2.2 percent and consumer goods by 2.1 percent.

Compared with April 2019, the variation in the production of capital goods was even more marked, dropping by 18.7 percent. Intermediate goods slipped by 1.5 percent, but increases were recorded in consumer goods (+2.4%) and energy production (+3.4%).

The index of industrial production is a main indicator for economic development and is used to pinpoint changes in trends at an early stage.