Yet another massive blunder

The worrying tale of the Opposition spokespersons on economic matters

In their first attempt in the new year to issue a statement on an economic issue, three Opposition spokespersons, namely Ivan Castillo, Albert Buttigieg and Beppe Fenech Adami, confirmed the worrying trend that Opposition spokespersons always show a complete misunderstanding of the areas they are appointed to shadow.

The Opposition spokespersons said that NSO statistics on international trade indicate major economic policy shortcomings on the part of the Government because, in November 2023, Malta registered a trade imbalance, or a difference between exported goods and imported goods, of €187.4 million.

Now anyone who has ever taken economics or business studies as a subject knows that one of the very first lessons about the Maltese economy is that our country has a trade imbalance when it comes to the import and export of goods, but that this is then compensated by the fact that our country exports more services than it imports. In simple words our country imports things like oil, raw materials, and machinery, and then pays for them by exporting mostly tourism and gaming, not by exporting an equivalent value of manufactured goods.

While most thirteen-year-old business students in Malta know this basic fact, the three Opposition speakers have no clue about it, so much so that they are worried that our country had a trade imbalance in November. If they had ever bothered to look at any published statistics on the issue, ( https://www.centralbankmalta.org/site/Subscriber%20Categories/External/foreign_trade.xls?rnd=20240111170118&revcount=8794 ) they would have noticed that, in the whole history of Malta, there was not even one month when our country ever managed to have a greater amount of goods exports than its imports of goods.

For the three Opposition spokespersons, a trade imbalance  of €187.4 million last November is a shocking matter and an indication of great concern for our economy. If they had bothered to do a simple calculation, they would have realised that the average trade balance during the month of November for the last ten years was in fact €184.1 million. This means that last year’s result was absolutely normal. But, then again, in their erroneous analysis, they attributed last November’s trade imbalance to problems in the Red Sea, even though this situation developed about a month later than the period for which the international trade data were compiled!

The Opposition’s statement might have been made to deflect attention from Malta’s excellent economic performance, as attested by the fact that both Moody’s and the European Commission put Malta at the top of the list when it comes to this year’s economic growth forecasts.

Just a few days later, Bernard Grech decided it was time to reshuffle his shadow cabinet, possibly to try to remedy the complete lack of trust most have in his economic team. Honestly it will take much more than a reshuffle to get the situation right. The Nationalist Party needs nothing short of a miracle in this area. 

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