New US Ambassador keen to promote green technology
Douglas Kmiec, the new US Ambassador to Malta, hopes to encourage American green technology firms to promote business links in Malta.
He told The Times Business: "I will be looking for appropriate, mutually beneficial ways for US companies to contribute to Malta's goal of expanding its research and development capacity and industrial base. In particular, I hope to encourage US green technology firms to look for opportunities to promote business links in Malta."
Prof. Kmiec also said he would like to see more visits by US ships to Malta's Grand Harbour.
"The person-to-person exchange that occurs on these visits provides an important basis for further cooperation and provides a substantial boost to Malta's economy," he said in an interview.
Asked about what areas of the Maltese economy have the most potential to attract American investment, the Ambassador said: "Overall, the ethic of family and community is highly desirable for management and labour alike. The appreciation of the work-family balance is excellent. Malta has calibrated the balance that many in the world economy envy.
"Certainly, there are a number of factors that make Malta an attractive location for US companies: Malta has an educated and hard-working labour force, English is spoken here, tax treatment for investors is relatively favourable, and the laws and regulations affecting business and finance provide a solid foundation for commerce. Malta followed sound financial practices when the rest of the globe went in a different and unfortunate direction."
Prof. Kmiec said he has raised the importance of the ratification of the Double Taxation Agreement between Malta and the United States directly with the Senate.
"While I cannot say when they will vote on it, I believe the agreement will receive the Senate's approval soon and will prove to be another valuable asset to promote trade and investment between our countries," he said.
Asked why he thought not too many America tourists visited Malta, he said thousands of Americans do visit Malta each year, the majority of them as cruise ship passengers.
"As for why we don't see more Americans spending longer periods of time here, I think it has to do with knowledge of the destination, ease of access in terms of transportation, and overall cost - compared to similar alternatives. I will say this: I gained many new friends recently. More than a few Americans told me they were coming to visit when they learned of my appointment," he said.
He said one thing that immediately comes to mind is making sure more Americans are aware of the attractions that Malta has to offer.
"While British tourists, for example, have a long-standing tradition of coming to Malta on holiday, Americans do not. Nor is there the same physical proximity that attracts European tourists. So educating the market is an issue.
"Another consideration is making sure that air and cruise fares to Malta are a competitive and as direct as they can be. If fares to Sicily or Greece - or other destinations in the Mediterranean - are less expensive than fares to Malta, then there will need to be some additional incentive for the average tourist to pick Malta as his destination."
Prof. Kmiec said he looked forward to encouraging US tourism to Malta, "starting with many of my relatives and friends who have promised to visit".