It has been two years since the trade tensions erupted and not only captured policymakers’ but also the research community’s attention. Research has quickly zoomed in on understanding trade war rhetoric, tariff implementation, and economic impacts. The first article in the December 2019 issue sheds light on the consequences of the recent trade barriers.
This paper discusses infrastructure gaps vis-à-vis other EU countries that are most striking in road and energy networks, both in quality and quantity. This is reflected in an unparalleled gap in the approximated public capital stock. Long-term GDP benefits from increasing public investment are estimated to be substantial, ranging between 5¼ and 18¼ percent in net present value over 30 years. Malta’s authorities have started to tackle these challenges by upgrading and diversifying the energy system and by launching a comprehensive transport strategy. These efforts go in the right direction and should be implemented in a budget-neutral manner to support a further decline in the public debt-to-GDP ratio. Malta’s fiscal position has improved considerably in recent years, yet further buildup of fiscal buffers is needed against possible adverse macroeconomic conditions. Therefore, reallocating public spending from current to capital expenditure, as well as making public investment more efficient would help boosting infrastructure.
This 2017 Article IV Consultation highlights that Malta’s economic growth remains one of the strongest in Europe, owing to favorable economic conditions and sound policies, which advanced structural reforms and supported the strengthening of private and public balance sheets. Output is estimated to have expanded by 6.8 percent in 2017, accompanied by dynamic job creation, which brought unemployment to a record low. Strong inflows of foreign workers and rising labor force participation kept wage pressures contained in most sectors, thus contributing to low inflation despite a positive output gap. The outlook is favorable, with growth decelerating gradually and converging to about 3 percent over the medium term.