That dollar amount reflects a 12.3% advance compared to $2.85 billion five years earlier in 2017.
Year over year, Maltese export sales increased by 19.6% from $2.67 billion during 2020.
Applying a continental lens, over half (55.1%) of Malta’s exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 28.1% were sold to importers in Asia. Malta shipped another 9.7% worth of goods to Africa.
Lesser percentages went to buyers in North America (5.7%), Latin America (1.3%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania (0.2%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
Malta’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 25 of Malta’s top trading partners. That is, countries that imported the most Maltese shipments by dollar value during 2021. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Maltese exports.
- Germany: US$418.1 million (13.1% of Malta’s total exports)
- Italy: $293.4 million (9.2%)
- France: $185 million (5.8%)
- Japan: $176.3 million (5.5%)
- Singapore: $141.7 million (4.4%)
- Hong Kong: $131.2 million (4.1%)
- United States: $129.3 million (4%)
- United Kingdom: $125.9 million (3.9%)
- Greece: $84 million (2.6%)
- Hungary: $77.6 million (2.4%)
- China: $74.4 million (2.3%)
- South Korea: $63.1 million (2%)
- Poland: $61.8 million (1.9%)
- Bulgaria: $61 million (1.9%)
- Philippines: $60.9 million (1.9%)
- Netherlands: $55.5 million (1.7%)
- Sudan: $54.6 million (1.7%)
- Libya: $48.5 million (1.5%)
- Spain: $44.2 million (1.4%)
- India: $42.6 million (1.3%)
- Ireland: $41.9 million (1.3%)
- Turkey: $38.6 million (1.2%)
- Tunisia: $36.8 million (1.2%)
- Switzerland: $36.4 million (1.1%)
- Ghana: $31.9 million (1%)
Almost four-fifths (78.6%) of total Maltese exports in 2021 were delivered to the above Maltese trade partners.
Among Malta’s top customers, four posted triple-digit gains from 2020 to 2021 namely Greece (up 503.6%), Bulgaria (up 457.7%), United Kingdom (up 143.9%) and Switzerland (up 113.3%).
Other major gainers include South Korea (up 67.8%), Turkey (up 63%), Italy (up 60.3%), mainland China (up 57.9%) then India (up 53.4%).
Four of Malta’s top trade partners shrank their import purchases from Malta year over year by double-digit declines. These were Libya (down -30.4%), France (down -23%) and Hong Kong (down -13.4%).
Countries Causing Malta’s Largest Trade Deficits
Overall, Malta incurred a -$3.9 billion trade deficit during 2021, expanding by 51.2% from -$2.6 billion in 2020.
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit. It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
Malta incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries.
- United Kingdom: -US$1.4 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2021)
- Italy: -$1.3 billion
- Canada: -$450.3 million
- Spain: -$378.1 million
- China: -$287.6 million
- France: -$286.2 million
- Netherlands: -$283.6 million
- Turkey: -$250.7 million
- Ireland: -$238.5 million
- United Kingdom: -$221.9 million
Among Malta’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Maltese deficits with Ireland (up 274.4%), Canada (up 203.7%) and the United Kingdom (up 172.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Malta’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Malta to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Countries Generating Malta’s Best Trade Surpluses
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
Malta generated the highest trade surpluses with the following countries.
- Hong Kong: US$114.1 million (country-specific trade surplus in 2021)
- Japan: $90 million
- Singapore: $88.7 million
- Hungary: $64.4 million
- Sudan: $54.6 million
- Germany: $38.9 million
- Bulgaria: $37.8 million
- Libya: $32.6 million
- Ghana: $31.8 million
- United States: $29.7 million
Among Malta’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Malta’s surpluses with the United States of America (up 133.6%), Sudan (up 50.6%) and Ghana (up 32.5%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
In addition, Malta reversed a -$7.9 million deficit trading with Bulgaria in 2020 to post a $37.8 million surplus for 2021.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Malta’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Malta to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing Maltese Trading Partners
Given how small Malta is, it should come as no surprise that not one Maltese corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia does list Maltese companies that engage in international trade. Selected examples are shown below:
- Air Malta plc (airliner)
- Emmanuel Delicata (wine)
- Simonds Farsons Cisk plc (beverages including beer)
See also Malta’s Top 10 Exports, Germany’s Top Trading Partners, Italy’s Top Trading Partners, France’s Top Trading Partners and Japan’s Top Trading Partners
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Europe: Malta. Accessed on August 6, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on August 6, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on August 6, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on August 6, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Malta. Accessed on August 6, 2021
Wikipedia, Malta. Accessed on August 6, 2021