Malta is looking to attract more investment from the pharmaceutical industry in the USA, pushing its business-friendly environment.

A symposium was held in New York City last week by the Embassy of Malta and Malta Enterprise, the government's arm for trade and investment promotion. John Mizzi, who works for both bodies, said the island has a competitive edge in attracting US drugmakers "because we have a fully trained, English-speaking labour pool and a pharmaceuticals curriculum at the University of Malta".

Mark Rosenbaum, general manager at Watson Pharmaceuticals' Malta manufacturing facility, also spoke about the attractions of the country, noting that his firm's operation there "is a big financial success". He said that "corporate tax is very competitive, effectively amounting to just 5% which in some cases can be lowered even to zero". Mr Rosenbaum went on to say that "Malta is far lower risk than operating in Asia, where language and culture can be a problem. It's a win-win situation".

Malta Enterprises notes that the island's generics sector is just over five years old, yet already employs well over 500 people and exports products worth over 200 million euros. It claims that companies are attracted primarily by a legal framework that allows the development of generics in advance of patent expiry, "a well-stocked pool of qualified personnel, a modern infrastructure, EU membership and direct access to markets in mainland Europe and North Africa".