Seeking opportunities abroad

Our role is to support Malta-based businesses achieve growth in other markets, Anton Buttigieg, chief executive officer, Trade Malta, says.

Anton ButtigiegAnton Buttigieg

While the domestic market generates a healthy demand, there are still limitations. For a business that is doing well and wants to expand, the Maltese market could be too small and could stifle growth. The way forward would be for a business to explore other European and international markets. This, however, is not as straightforward as it sounds. Expanding to other markets requires time, research, and a substantial budget.

“It is our role to promote Malta-based businesses abroad and to help them achieve internationalisation,” Anton Buttigieg, chief executive officer, Trade Malta, says.

Recently set up, Trade Malta is a public private partnership between the Government of Malta and the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and is solely responsible for the promotion of trade and internationalisation of Malta-based businesses.

“The local economy is very diversified and businesses based locally have several competitive advantages,” Buttigieg says. “This naturally creates the right platform to expand to other markets.

“Malta has a lot to offer to other countries. Sectors which are doing especially well and which we could help replicate the same model in other countries include ICT, training and education, value added manufacturing, food and beverage, construction and building management systems.

“Trade Malta offers guidance and support to locally based companies that want to make the most of international opportunities, through a suite of services,” Buttigieg says.

“Our support can take various forms. Businesses who take internationalisation seriously would already have carried out market research and would have an idea which international market they would want to target. However, they might be encountering administrative or bureaucratic issues. We can assist them by sourcing contacts and opening doors. We also rely on government-to-government relations through Malta’s network of embassies and consulates. We can also involve private individuals who already have good knowledge of a particular market and are willing to support our cause

“Our approach is a collaborative one. In fact, we liaise with other agencies and entities. This also helps us in delivering a coherent message: that Maltese businesses can compete on an international level and that the country is open for business.”

In the few months since it has been set up, Trade Malta has already made significant inroads.

“We recently organised a trade mission to Algeria which was led by the Prime Minister. More than 300 Algerian companies attended our business forum and had the opportunity to network with our business delegation during various B2B sessions. Algeria is an interesting market and we plan to explore the country further in the near future. Moreover, they see us as a gateway to Europe, and as a country who has successfully diversified its economy.

“In the coming months, we plan to pursue the same path by helping businesses to exhibit at international fairs and by delivering training on export and internationali- sation skills. We will also be organising information seminars on specific markets.

“By helping locally based businesses to achieve international growth, we will be increasing export revenue and employment,” Buttigieg says. “It’s a positive multiplier effect which will continue to enhance the current business confidence that Malta is enjoying.”

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