Malta has few natural resources besides limestone. Agriculture is limited by the rocky nature of the islands, and most food must be imported. Industrial raw materials are lacking and also must be imported. Until 1964, the dominant factor in the economy was the presence of British military forces; with the withdrawal of UK military personnel by 1979, the dockyards were converted to commercial use. Malta's economy now relies on light industry, tourism, and other service industries, in addition to shipbuilding, maintenance, and repairs. The government holds shares in a variety of enterprises, including joint ventures. A stock exchange opened in 1992.
In 2001 GNP per capita (purchasing power parity) was $15,000. That same year, GDP real growth was estimated at 4%. Agriculture contributed 2.8% to GDP, industry amounted to 25.5%, while services were 71.7%. Malta has an association agreement with the EU, and the government hopes to be included in the among the new entrants admitted 2003–2005.