Last updated in September 2016
Brunei views Germany as an important economic partner, both bilaterally and in the context of the dialogue between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union. The two countries have maintained uninterrupted diplomatic relations since Brunei gained independence in 1984. The German Embassy there was opened in July 1985 by then Federal Foreign Minister Genscher. The Federal Chancellor’s visit to Bandar Seri Begawan in 1997 and the Sultan’s official visit to Germany in 1998, together with further visits by the Sultan in 2002 and 2011 and the Crown Prince’s trip to Germany in 2006 to attend the FIFA World Cup, have helped strengthen relations between the two countries.
Then Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle travelled to Brunei to attend the ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting in 2012. During this trip, he met with his Brunei counterpart Prince Bolkiah, among others. The two ministers had previously met at the 2010 ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting in Madrid.
Other recent contacts were the talks between Brunei’s Minister of Health Pehin Dato Adanan and then Federal Health Minister Rösler in Berlin in November 2010 and the visits to Bandar Seri Begawan by German Bundestag delegations in February 2007 and January 2011.
In April 2013, the Federal Ministry of Health signed a memorandum of understanding with Brunei’s Ministry of Health focusing on the further training of doctors and nursing staff. In the health care sector, the North-West Hospital in Frankfurt am Main has, since 2010, been providing successful support to Brunei in setting up a neurology clinic at the Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC) in Darussalam. The cooperation is currently being expanded to cover other areas of medicine (the training and further training of doctors and nursing staff), as is research cooperation between German universities and the Universiti Brunei Darussalam.
The volume of bilateral trade reached an all-time high in 2011, at approximately EUR 346 million. In 2015, it stood at EUR 151 million, with German exports to Brunei accounting for EUR 150 million of this figure. German involvement in the Sultanate’s principal economic activity – oil and gas production – is indirect, through scientists and engineers. No German companies or investors are involved.
Germany’s main direct exports to Brunei are finished engineering products such as motor vehicles, electrical goods and machinery. By contrast, German consumer goods are exported to Brunei via Singapore, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.
Since the summer of 2008, the Sultanate has been sending government-supported students to study in Germany (there are currently 20 of them enrolled at German universities). Brunei’s government currently offers graduate scholarships to young Germans, too, enabling them to study at universities in Brunei. At present, there are two German lecturers at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam, teaching biology and history, as well as a guest lecturer who teaches social sciences.
Since 2008, German cruise ships, too, have again been calling regularly at Muara Port near Bandar Seri Begawan.