Last updated in September 2013

Political relations

Bilateral relations have traditionally been friendly. They date back to the 19th century. On 1 November 1876, the German Empire signed a friendship treaty with Tonga, which was renewed on 1 June 1977. Diplomatic relations have been maintained since 1 May 1976. The last King of Tonga’s official visit to Germany in 1976 was widely covered in the media. Tonga’s Foreign Minister visited Berlin in June 2006.

In August 2009, Princess Frederica Tuita travelled to Germany at the invitation of the Federal Government. She visited Munich, Berlin and Bonn, where she attended the official opening of the exhibition “James Cook and the Exploration of the Pacific” at the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister Bill Tangi visited Berlin and Potsdam at the invitation of Federal Chancellor Merkel in the run-up to the Copenhagen Conference in late 2009.

Economic relations

Germany’s economic relations with Tonga are not very intensive, though the employment of Tongan seamen on German ships is of some significance. Bilateral trade with Germany is fairly insignificant and no statistics are kept.

Development cooperation

In the past, German support under bilateral development cooperation has included the purchase of ships (the container ship MV Fuakavenga and the inter-island ferry MV Olovaha) and the provision of equipment for a seamen’s training centre.

In 2008, the German Government offered to carry out a debt swap to support a project relevant to the country’s development. Under this agreement, Tonga would use the sum it would otherwise have had to repay to the German Development Bank to fund projects. In January 2009, Tonga proposed using the debt swap to build a causeway connecting the two main islands of the Ha’apai archipelago. The Federal Government agreed to this proposal.

Germany also supports Tonga by conducting microprojects. In recent years, support has focused on the school sector and health-care infrastructure.

Tonga also benefits from Germany’s regional projects. Between 1994 and 2008, Germany supported the Pacific-German Regional Forestry Project, conducted by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) in cooperation with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

In addition, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), as the GTZ has been renamed, conducts a variety of projects in the Pacific island states that also benefit Tonga. The ongoing regional project Adapting to Climate Change in the Pacific Island Region, running from 2009 to 2015 and providing consulting services, is designed to strengthen the capacity for adapting to climate change in the region. EUR 19.2 million in funding is being made available for the duration of the project, which runs until the end of 2015.

In addition, Germany contributes to Tonga’s development through its payments to the EU’s European Development Fund  (EDF), Germany’s share being between 20 and 30 per cent as well as to international organizations.

Cultural cooperation

Under the Just Play programme of the Oceanic Football Confederation (OFC) and the Tonga Football Association (TFA), Germany has provided 350 sets of football equipment, including footballs, boots and shirts, worth EUR 10,000 to promote school sport.

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