Malta and India maintain diplomatic relations. With the economic rise of India Malta opened a High Commission in New Delhi in 2007; The present Maltese High Commissioner in New Delhi is H.E. John Aquilina and Ms Alberta Borg is second secretary. Malta also has Honorary Consulates in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.
India is represented in Malta through its embassy in Tripoli and an honorary consul Mr Johann J. Cuschieri at the Indian Consulate in St Venera, Malta. Both countries are full members of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The political relations between the nations of Malta and India stretch back many years even before the two became independent nations. In 1878, the British controlled Indian government dispatched 7000 Indian troops to the island of Malta.
Throughout World War II, the British used Malta as hub to bring Indian troops to and from the Atlantic. India was one of the first countries to recognize the independence of Malta in 1964. India established diplomatic relationship with Malta in 1965. A High Commission of India was opened in Malta in 1993 but was later closed in 2002.
India and Malta exchanged presidential visits in 1990 and 1992. Malta opened a High Commission in New Delhi in 2007. Malta also has a Consulate in Chennai, Kolkata and in Mumbai. India is represented in Malta through its embassy in Tripoli (Libya) and an honorary consul Mr Johann J. Cuschieri in St Venera. According to a United Nations trade agreement, the two nations will meet at least once annually to discuss economic, industrial, scientific and technological trade as well as other relationship issues.
In a speech to the Maltese Parliament, Foreign Minister Dr. Michael Frendo mentioned that he wanted to make India a focus area in Malta's foreign policy. Frendo visited India in March 2005. The six-day visit was the first high level visit after a gap of 13 years, when the then President Ċensu Tabone visited India.
The Maltese government encourages Indian business firms to set up business in Malta. In order to attract Indian businesses Malta has offered various incentives to Indian companies. Malta has also signed a bilateral trade agreement with the Indian government, for the avoidance of double taxation. A global Indian pharmaceutical company Aurobindo Pharma Ltd has invested Euro 16 million and set up a manufacturing plant in Hal Far, Malta that gives employment to 120 local workers. Bilateral trade between India and Malta witnessed a phenomenal growth. During April–November 2012 period India’s exports to Malta had reached US$ 265.26 million whereas imports from Malta have been US$22.96 million. The main items of India’s exports to Malta are marine products, drugs, pharmaceutical & fine chemicals, inorganic/organic/agro chemicals, manufactures of metals, transport equipment's, and other commodities. The main items of India’s imports from Malta are pulp and waste paper, metal scraps, organic chemicals, medicinal & pharmaceutical products, electronic goods.
According to a United Nations treaty both nations decided to establish stronger cultural ties. The two agreed to honor each other's cultural heritage and promote cultural ties in each other's countries.
In year 2007, there were around 200 Non-Resident Indians living in Malta. The number of Maltese living in India is unknown. Malta has a well-established traders community of Indian descent, that traces its roots to migration of Sindhi traders starting around 1887. On the partition of India by the British in 1947, Sindh was given to Muslim dominated Pakistan thus many Hindus in Sindh province fled and went to whichever country that was willing to take them that included Malta. While both countries were under British rule, Malta served as a convenient trading node for exporting silk and curios from India and Far East to places around the Mediterranean and South America. However following India's independence, and due to strict immigration laws in Malta, not a single Indian is said to have emigrated to Malta between 1952 and 1985. The traders of Indian descent in Malta belong to the Sindhi community and are locally known as l-Indjani ("the Indians"). The community continues to maintain Indian traditions in Malta, such as organizing Diwali celebrations and other Hindu festivals. Though once isolated, it is now some what integrated into Maltese society and regarded as a local minority. Indians living in Malta keep a low profile in Maltese society. Hinduism is not recognized as a religion in Malta and there are no Hindu Temples. Also Hindu cremations are not allowed and Hindu deceased are often buried. Maltese have been going to India with the arrival of British in Malta in 1800 AD. Some of the Maltese who joined the British Army were posted in India. There is a plaque at Upper Barraka Gardens in the Maltese capital Valletta in memory of Rinaldo Sceberras a Maltese Captain who was killed in battle at Ferozeshah in India on 21st December 1845. Maltese missionaries followed Maltese soldiers to India and the first recorded arrival of Maltese missionaries is to Kolkata in 1924 AD. With the strict visa rules coming into force in India Maltese missionaries entry into India is now very restricted. There are several Maltese residents in India supported by the Maltese Consulate in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata that provide Consular service to them. Maltese firms like Malta Enterprises have a presence in India.
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