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DBRS upgrades Malta; Moody’s raises outlook to positive

DBRS Ratings upgraded the Republic of Malta's long-term foreign and local currency issuer ratings to A (high) from A and short-term foreign and local currency issuer rating to R-1 (middle) from R-1 (low), citing the country's improving public debt situation.

The trend on all the country's ratings was revised to stable from positive.

The rating agency said Malta's debt-to-GDP ratio is now expected to fall to 41.2% of GDP by 2022, down 7% from previous forecasts.

Malta's membership in the Eurozone also supports the rating, according to DBRS, which said the membership "ensures reliable access to European markets, fosters strong and credible macroeconomic policies and makes available financial facilities from European institutions."

Moody's, in its rating action, revised Malta's A3 rating outlook to positive from stable, citing the country's improving fiscal condition and robust growth prospects.

The rating agency said Malta's general government balance shifted to a surplus of 1.1% of GDP in 2016 from a deficit of 1.1% of GDP in 2015, while the surplus in 2017 is expected to be 1.5% of GDP.

"Real GDP is expected to expand by 5.7% and 4.6% in 2018 and 2019, respectively, exceeding both the average for euro area countries and A-rated peers, supported by solid, albeit moderating, private consumption growth and still strong performance of the external sector," Moody's added.