Since its accession to the European Union on May, 1st of 2004, Malta has adopted the EU Common External Tariff. Consequently, trade with Malta is totally free from customs duties, provided that the country of origin of the goods is one of the other EU Member States. Nevertheless, textile imports in Malta will undergo customs duties until 2009.
When the country of origin of the goods exported to Malta is not part of the European Union, customs duties are calculated Ad valorem on the CIF value of the goods, in accordance with the Common Customs Tariff (CCT).
Duties for non-European countries are relatively low, notably for manufactured goods (4.2% on average for the general rate), however textile, clothing items (high duties and quota system) and food-processing industry sectors (average duties of a 17.3% and numerous tariff quotas, CAP) still know protective measures.
In order to get exhaustive regulations and customs tariffs rates regarding their products, exporters shall refer to the TARIC code and its database, including all applicable customs duties and all customs trade policy measures for all the goods.
For further information, please consult the information document published by the European Commission about the impact of EU enlargement on customs policy.
The EU "Taric" contains all references to the relevant import and export laws and regulations, including commodity codes for 65,000 products. It can be accessed at: http:/www.europa.eu.int/comm/taxation/_customs/ddsen/home.htm
Imported goods in Malta should be accompanied by the Single Administrative Document (SAD). The supplier's invoice should also be joined for customs clearance.
As part of the "SAFE" standards advocated by the World Customs Organization (WCO), the European Union has set up a new system of import controls, the "Import Control System" (ICS), which aims to secure the flow of goods at the time of their entry into the customs territory of the EU. This control system, part of the Community Program eCustomer, has been in effect since January 1, 2011. Since then, operators are required to pass an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) to the customs of the country of entry, prior to the introduction of goods into the customs territory of the European Union.
Samples can be entered in the country with the same documentation procedure as other goods. For customs clearance, the samples must be accompanied by a commercial invoice stating 'samples without commercial value".
The Maltese consumer was more traditionally focusing on prices and was keen on buying basic products (clothes, food). With the increase in purchasing power within the last twenty years, the consumer shifted his attention towards new needs. However, it should be noted that with the introduction of the Euro currency, the Maltese consumer may feel an increase in prices and may slightly adjust its consuming habits.
Consumer Profile and Purchasing Power
In history, Malta appeared as a nation of "money savers". This tendency is now being contradicted by the realities of the country. Indeed, the Maltese population is consuming more and more. The proportion of consumption dedicated to necessities (food, clothes) fell drastically within the last ten years. On the other hand, the proportion of consumption linked to recreation, entertainment and other services rose significantly. This trend is also linked to the fact that the country is getting modern and economic growth is at a high rate.
Malta does not have any natural resource wealth or any heavy industry: the country thus depends entirely on imports to meet its requirements of basic products, industrial products as well as consumer goods. Though Malta is a small market, it is characterized by the active presence of a multitude of trade companies, often family-run businesses but very competitive towards each other. These companies generally undertake import and distribution of goods at the same time. A few specialist importers also exist and they constantly keep on trying to expand their field of action by extending their product ranges. Retail outlets exist at the national level: a few supermarkets certainly exist and the distribution sector is going through a rapid modernizing phase but large-scale distribution has not yet completely emerged in Malta.
Key industry profiles for Malta are: pharmaceuticals and healthcare (mainly generics ; attractive because of the possibility to develop generic drugs in advance of patent expiry), ICT and electronics (software development), call centers (attractive because of the multilingual workforce), transport and logistics (maritime transport because of the location) and financial services (positive legislation towards the financial sector).