Malta country brief
Australia and Malta enjoy a strong bilateral relationship. Australia established an immigration presence in Malta in the 1950s and opened its High Commission in 1967. Malta has a High Commission in Canberra (established in 1964) and Consulates-General in Sydney and Melbourne. Honorary Consulates have also been established in Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia. At the international level, Australia and Malta have a number of common interests, particularly relating to their membership of the Commonwealth and the United Nations.
People-to-people links are at the heart of our relationship with Malta. The first Maltese-born people arrived in Australia as convicts in 1810, followed by the first free settlers in 1838. The peak period of migration to Australia occurred in the 1950s and 1960s. The 2021 Census recorded 198,989 people in Australia with Maltese ancestry and 35, 413 people who were born in Malta, totalling 234,402. This represents the largest Maltese diaspora in the world.
Malta played a significant role in the First World War, with around 800 Maltese directly supporting the Gallipoli campaign. The many thousands of sick and wounded allied servicemen who were evacuated to, and treated in, Malta led to the country becoming known as 'The Nurse of the Mediterranean'. Australian servicemen were also involved in the defence of Malta during the Second World War.
There are 229 Australians and 79 New Zealanders buried on the island: 276 ANZACs from WWI and 32 from WWII
ANZAC Day has been commemorated in Malta since 1916. The annual ceremony is open to the public, and usually held at Pieta Military cemetery. Visitors to Malta can follow the 'ANZAC Experience in Malta' Self-Guided Tours.
Since accession to the EU in 2004 and the Eurozone in 2008, Malta has devoted considerable energy to developing its relations with EU institutions and with EU member states. Malta held the Presidency of the Council of the EU for the first time in 2017.
Malta has a long-standing, active commitment to multilateralism and supports international cooperation, notably through the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the EU and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Malta has been elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for a two year term from January 2023 – December 2024.
Economic diplomacy and outlook
Australia continues to seek opportunities to promote Australian business and raise awareness of potential benefits of increased trade between Australia and Europe, including Malta. This work has intensified since the launch of the Australia-EU trade agreement negotiations in June 2018.
More information about the Australia-EU FTA.
Trade and investment
Trade with Malta is modest, due to a combination of distance and the small size of the Maltese market. In 2020-21, two-way goods and services trade was valued at $118.8 million. Imports from Malta were valued at $88.8 million and mainly comprised services, medical instruments, medicaments, specialised machinery and parts. Exports from Australia were valued at $30 million and mainly comprised services, cereal preparations, education-related travel and margarine. The stock of Australian investment in Malta was valued at $45 million.
Opportunities may exist for Australian exporters and investors in areas such as EU-funded infrastructure projects, joint ventures with Maltese partners accessing third country markets in the resources sector and the services sectors, particularly fintech and i-gaming. Malta may also offer opportunities for Australian expertise in environmental and water resource management, and in emerging technologies for water and energy supply.
Malta's business landscape consists of a consumer market of over 520,000 people, including foreign workers, and a vibrant services sector especially in tourism and IT. Favourable operating costs, low corporate taxes, and a highly-educated, English-speaking, low-cost workforce, offer incentives to foreign investors and make the services sector the prime driver of economic growth in Malta. Malta also regulated the use of blockchain and cryptocurrencies in 2018.
Financial and ICT services, especially on-line gaming, have increased in importance as Malta's regulatory and taxation environment attracts offshore business. The air services industry is a growth area and an international free port operates successfully as a central Mediterranean trans-shipment hub, making Malta a leading centre for container and freight shipment. Commercial opportunities for Australian goods (for example wine) are available but subject to strong price competition due to the proximity of European suppliers.
- Malta visitors to Australia (ending 30 June 2022)
- Australian resident returns from Malta (ending 30 June 2022)
- Australian residents born in Malta (2021 census)
- People with Maltese ancestry in Australia (2021 Census)
- 198 989
- Malta student arrivals in Australia (ending 30 June 2022)
- Working holiday arrivals (ending 30 June 2022)
- 2015: Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull visited Malta for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting
- 2012: Senator the Hon Bob Carr, Minister for Foreign Affairs
- 2009: The Hon Stephen Smith MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs
- 2008: Their Excellencies Ms Quentin Bryce AC and Mr Michael Bryce AM AE. This was the first ever State Visit to Malta by an Australian Governor-General.
- 2018: Prime Minister Dr Joseph Muscat and Mr Carmelo Abela, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion, visited Australia for bilateral meetings and to attend the opening of the Commonwealth Games
- 2016: HE Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta
- 2011: HE Dr George Abela, President of Malta
- 2010: Dr Joseph Muscat, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party
- 2009: HE Dr Edward Fenech Adami, President of Malta, visited Australia as a Guest of Government accompanied by Dr Tonio Borg, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs.
- Australia and Malta have bilateral agreements in place covering immigration (1970), double taxation (1985), health services (1988), social security (1991 and revised in 2004), working holidays (1996) and air services (1996).
Australian High Commission in Malta
See Smartraveller for Information on travelling to Malta.