Germany and Malta established diplomatic relations in 1965, shortly after Malta gained independence. Malta has been an EU Member State since 1 May 2004.
The country has a very open market economy. Germany is one of its most important economic and trading partners. Some 60 German companies currently operate in Malta, including many manufacturing companies that serve international markets. At the end of 2017, German direct investment in Malta stood at approximately 13.5 billion euros. In 2018, bilateral trade volume between Malta and Germany increased by around 4% to 440 million euros as regards imports, while Maltese exports to Germany rose by 4.5% to 421 million euros.
The service sector drives growth in the Maltese economy, with financial services, online gambling, information and communications technology, and tourism playing the most important roles. With an unemployment rate of 3.3%, there is virtually full employment in Malta. The country’s ongoing shortage of skilled workers is offset by the recruitment of staff from EU Member States and third countries. The number of employees from outside Malta has grown significantly to 50,000, accounting for almost 30% of all private-sector employees. As a result, the country’s population has risen to 500,000.
Approximately 2.6 million tourists visited Malta in 2018, over 300,000 more than in the previous year. Around 9% of these visitors came from Germany. English-language courses are popular in Malta. There were also a further 633,000 tourists from cruise ships, 15% of whom were from Germany.
The German-Maltese Circle has fostered cultural relations between Malta and Germany since 1962. It offers language classes and organises events such as exhibitions, film screenings and concerts, thus filling the gap caused by the absence of a Goethe-Institut in the country.
There are also a number of joint projects between the University of Malta and the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology with various German educational institutions. Since the 2009/10 winter semester, the Federal Foreign Office has funded a German Chair in Peace and Conflict Prevention at the University of Malta’s Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies (MEDAC).