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Malta

Capital City: Valletta
%T:%M %A in Valletta
During the 90s, Malta has known an average 5% annual growth, especially bolstered by huge infrastructure projects such as the construction of the international airport and the island's Freeport. For four years, growth has shrank due to a reversal of the international economic situation. Annual GDP growth rate was indeed -1.7% in 2003, 1.4% in 2004 and 1.5% in 2004. The IMF forecasts a 1.8% growth in 2006. Inflation is under control: the inflation rate is estimated at 2.8% in 2004. The unemployment rate reached 5.6% in 2004.

Agriculture is very little developed on the island, due to climatic and geological hard conditions. The island imports almost the total amount of its food products. Malta does not hold mining nor energy resources, and completely depends on its imports to face its energy needs. The island's economy is oriented to three main activities. First, tourism represents about 25% of Malta's earnings with over 1 million visitors a year. Second, the manufacturing industry mainly composed of SMEs and which accounts for 20% of the GDP (the company STMicroelectronics is the world's third leader of semi-conductors and is also the island's first private exporter). Third, maritime activity is another important source of income in Malta, which possesses the leading merchant fleet in Europe and the fourth largest in the world.

Malta carries out most of its international trade with Europe: 63% of its imports and 42% of its exports are achieved with the European Union. Malta became a member of the European Union on the 1st of May 2004. Malta's top three export partners are the United States, Germany and Singapore. Its top three import partners are Italy, France and the United-Kingdom. Malta mainly imports electrical and electronic components, energy products, machinery and vehicles. 60% of the island's exports are electrical and electronic products.

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