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Germany and Cambodia - Bilateral Relations

05.12.2017 - Article

The Federal Republic of Germany established official relations with the Cambodia’s Supreme National Council (SNC) in 1992. After the 1993 elections, Germany’s representation at the SNC was converted into a diplomatic mission. Diplomatic relations had been suspended in 1969.

In the intervening years, from 1969 to 1975 and from 1979 until the reunification of Germany, Cambodia maintained diplomatic relations with the GDR. Relations are friendly and Germany actively supports Cambodia in its development and democratization process. The cornerstone of bilateral relations is the extensive development cooperation between the two countries. In addition, Germany has for many years been funding a mine clearance programme and helping with conservation efforts at the Angkor Wat temple complex.

Economic Relations

In 2010, the number of German tourists visiting Cambodia increased to 62,864, compared with some 60,000 in 2009. In 2010, as in previous years, Germans accounted for only a small portion of the foreign visitors to Cambodia, Germany ranking thirteenth after Vietnam, South Korea, China, Japan, the USA, France, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Australia, Taiwan, Malaysia and Laos.

In 2010, German imports from Cambodia (almost exclusively textiles and footwear) totalled EUR 384.8 million, an increase of EUR 100 million or 35 per cent compared with the previous year. This makes Germany the third largest market for Cambodian goods worldwide, after the USA and Singapore. In the same period, Germany exported to Cambodia goods worth EUR 26 million. The total volume of exports thus grew by 80 per cent compared with the previous year.

The German Business Group Cambodia (ADW) has offered a point of contact for German companies in Cambodia since March 2002. The ADW assists German companies in doing business in Cambodia, offering practical tips and detailed analyses of the business and investment climate there as well as maintaining continuous contact with government representatives. In addition, a meeting of the Government-Private Sector Forum is held every six months, attended by Prime Minister Hun Sen, the relevant line ministers, business associations and some 300 company representatives. The Forum is organized by the Council for the Development of Cambodia. A bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement between Germany and Cambodia entered into force on 14 April 2002. One purpose of the agreement is to protect companies from expropriation without compensation and secure the free transfer of foreign exchange.

In March 2010, ASEAN member countries, China, Japan and South Korea founded the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization. The initiative is something like a regional liquidity mechanism that provides member countries with funding at short notice if they have balance of payments difficulties. Experts believe that this multilateral agreement is helping to integrate Southeast Asian financial markets and open them up to foreign Investment.

Development Cooperation

Cambodia is a partner country of German development cooperation in Southeast Asia, Germany being one of the biggest bilateral donors. German development cooperation is geared to Cambodia’s development strategy and, through measures coordinated with all the country’s development partners, is helping Cambodia to attain its Millennium Development Goals, based on the global goals of the United Nations. So far, Cambodia has been pledged a total of EUR 261 million in bilateral government development cooperation.

Bilateral development cooperation focuses on rural development and health care. There are also projects addressing the cross-cutting issues of good governance, human rights and promoting democracy (including the advancement of women’s rights, decentralization, administrative reform and the setting up of an Audit Office). The German programmes are mainly implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the KfW Development Bank. Features of Germany’s government-funded development cooperation are long-term commitment, lasting contributions to the establishment of well-functioning institutions and close cooperation with Cambodian partners. Other projects are sponsored by non-governmental organizations such as the Protestant Church (EED), the Catholic Church (Misereor), German Agro Action, Malteser International and Germany’s political foundations. These efforts are complemented by the engagement of private sponsors.

At the most recent intergovernmental negotiations with Cambodia, held in Phnom Penh in October 2009, the Federal Government pledged some EUR 34 million over a period of two years. In March 2010, Federal Development Minister Dirk Niebel signed a Financial Cooperation agreement worth EUR 19 million in Phnom Penh. Germany’s contributions focus on the above-mentioned priority areas, helping to develop rural areas particularly affected by poverty and establishing a comprehensive health care system. However, important structural measures are also aimed at more equitable and transparent land distribution, decentralization and the establishment of local democratic participation mechanisms and improving women’s access to justice. Since 1997, Germany has also provided around EUR 1 million annually for humanitarian mine clearance in Cambodia, which is littered with more land mines and unexploded ordnance than almost any other country in the world.

For 2009, bilateral and multilateral donors have promised funds totalling nearly USD 1.1 billion to combat poverty and rebuild the government and social infrastructure largely destroyed during the rule of the Khmer Rouge (1975-1979). The direct share of the EU member states and the European Commission in this support amounts to over 25 per cent (USD 256 million). Besides its bilateral assistance, the German Federal Government also makes a substantial contribution to the multilateral activities of numerous United Nations agencies, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and the EU Commission.

Since 2007, comprehensive information on German development cooperation activities in Cambodia and the agencies involved has been available on the Internet portal hier.

Cultural relations

With funds from the Federal Foreign Office, Cologne University of Applied Sciences’ Restoration and Conservation Institute has for several years been helping preserve the world famous temples at Angkor Vat, a major contribution that enjoys international esteem. This German Apsara Conservation Project encompasses the restoration of the Preah Ko temple and the Apsara Reliefs in the Angkor Vat temple as well as emergency measures to preserve other endangered cultural assets.

From mid-December 2006 to mid-July 2007, the exhibition Angkor – Cambodia’s Divine Heritage, featuring original sculptures from Siam Reap and the Phnom Penh National Museum, was held at the Art and Exhibition Hall in Bonn and in the Martin Gropius Building in Berlin. The exhibition was officially opened in Bonn by Federal President Köhler and King Sihamoni.

Since 2008, German-led excavations have been under way in Prohear, a village in Prey Veng Province, in cooperation with the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and the Memot Centre for Archaeology. A Federal Foreign Office-funded publication on the subject by Dr. Andreas Reinecke, head of the excavations in Prohear, has been available since late 2009. An exhibition of the excavation findings opened at the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh in November 2010.

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) promotes the university sector through long- and short-term secondments of German academic teachers to Cambodia and by helping Cambodians obtain long-term and short-term scholarships for study in Germany. In 2002, aMedia and Communication Studies department was established at the Royal University of Phnom Penh with support from the DAAD and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The Cambodian national paralympic volleyball team has been supported for several years through short-term secondments of coaches by the German Olympic Committee and donations of sports equipment.

Concerts and exhibitions by German artists and screenings of German films are being increasingly held in Phnom Penh, some of them with the support of the Goethe Institute.

Events scheduled for 2011 include a concert by the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra in October and the 8th International Music Festival in November.

The cultural institutions Art Plus and Meta House, which were set up in early 2007, receive assistance from the German Embassy and the Goethe Institute in organizing German cultural programmes.

Since June 2010, Art Plus, Meta House and the Goethe Institute’s language mediator have been under one roof, sharing the premises of the German-Cambodian Cultural Centre.

Additional content

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German Development Cooperation with the Royal Government of Cambodia