Last updated in October 2012

Political relations

On gaining independence, Kiribati was recognized by Germany under international law. Diplomatic relations were established on 1 July 1980. The German Ambassador in Wellington/New Zealand is also accredited to Kiribati.

Bilateral relations are constantly growing. The employment of numerous Kiribati seamen on German ships means that the people of Kiribati hold Germany in high esteem. A maritime training school was set up there by German shipping companies in 1967. Up to the present day, it is supervised by German experts and provides the basis for the country’s principal source of foreign currency.

In December 2009, Kiribati’s President Tong visited Berlin and Potsdam together with seven other heads of state and government from the South Pacific region.

Economic relations

Germany’s trade relations with Kiribati are relatively insignificant and no statistics are kept.

Of major importance for the economy, however, is the employment of Kiribati seamen on German merchant ships. German shipping companies provide training staff for the maritime training school in the country’s capital and run an employment bureau for Kiribati seamen. More than 1,000 of them currently work for German shipping companies. Their annual remittances amount to more than USD 5 million. Together with the sale of fishing licences, these payments constitute the country’s largest source of foreign exchange earnings.

Germany makes substantial contributions to the country’s development via the EU. 

In bilateral development cooperation, Germany is active in the financing of Technical Cooperation microprojects in Kiribati. In 2011, a total of more than EUR 11,000 was made available to support such projects. They include the construction of a flood protection wall in Rawannawi village on Marakei Island and the provision of kitchen utensils for three secondary schools. In addition, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is conducting various projects in the Pacific States that also benefit Kiribati. The ongoing regional project Adapting to Climate Change in the Pacific Island Region, which runs from 2009 to 2015, is designed to reinforce the capacities for adapting to climate change in the region by providing advisory services. Funding to the tune of EUR 17.2 million is being made available for the entire duration of the project, which continues until the end of 2015.

Germany is also helping to promote Kiribati’s development through its contributions to the EU’s European Development Fund. Priority areas here are in particular health care, but also include agricultural development, alternative energy sources and vocational training.