Last updated in September 2016
Following the suspension of diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Cambodia in 1975, Germany re-established official relations with the Cambodia’s Supreme National Council (SNC) in 1992. After the 1993 elections and the restoration of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Germany’s representation at the SNC was converted into a diplomatic mission.
Cambodia and the German Democratic Republic maintained diplomatic relations from 1969 to 1975 and from 1979 until the reunification of the two German states.
Germany actively supports Cambodia’s development and democratisation process. The cornerstone of 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, as well as supporting the work of the Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal.
In 2015, German imports from Cambodia (mainly garments and footwear) totalled approximately EUR 1.234 billion. Well-known German buyers of Cambodian textiles and shoes are Adidas, Puma, Deichmann, C&A, Aldi, Lidl and Tchibo. The volume of German imports from Cambodia thus grew by more than 20 per cent compared with the previous year. By contrast, German exports to Cambodia were, at EUR 120 million, very modest, although this represented a very substantial increase of nearly 70 per cent. In terms of import-export turnover, Cambodia ranked 75th among Germany’s trading partners in 2015, compared with 76th in 2014.
German businesspeople residing in Cambodia have joined forces to create the German Business Group Cambodia (ADW), which serves as a point of contact for German companies interested in doing business there and provides active assistance to them. In June 2013, the ADW – there is no bilateral chamber of commerce, the German-Thai Chamber of Commerce in Bangkok also being responsible for Cambodia) – was integrated into the European Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham) in Cambodia as Germany’s National Chapter and has two members on EuroCham’s Board of Directors.
The number of German tourists visiting Cambodia is constantly growing. They numbered approximately 84,000 in 2014 and reached around 89,000 in 2015, Germans thus accounting for about two per cent of foreign visitors, well behind tourists from East and Southeast Asia, the United States, France and Australia.
A bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement between Germany and Cambodia entered into force on 14 April 2002. The agreement is designed, among other things, to protect companies from expropriation without compensation and secure the free transfer of foreign exchange.
Cambodia is a partner country of German development cooperation in Southeast Asia. Germany is one of the country’s principal bilateral donors in terms of subsidies, along with Japan, Australia and the United States. German development cooperation is geared to Cambodia’s development strategy (Rectangular Strategy) and, through measures coordinated with the country’s other development partners, is helping Cambodia to attain its Millennium Development Goals, which are based on the global objectives of the United Nations. So far, Germany has made available to Cambodia a total of some EUR 400 million in bilateral government development cooperation since 1993.
German-Cambodian development cooperation focuses on rural development and building a health care system. There are also projects addressing the cross-cutting issues of good governance, human rights and promoting democracy (including the advancement of women’s rights, decentralisation, administrative reform and the setting up of an Audit Office). The German programmes are largely 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 funded by non-governmental organisations such as the Protestant and Catholic churches (Brot für die Welt and Misereor), German Agro Action, the Johanniter Order and Germany’s political foundations. These efforts are complemented by the substantial engagement of private donors.
For the two-year period 2015-2016, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has made new commitments worth some EUR 38 million. Since 1997, Germany has also provided around EUR 1 million annually for humanitarian mine clearance in Cambodia, which is still littered with more land mines and unexploded ordnance than almost any other country in the world.
German cultural policy in Cambodia focuses on supporting the preservation of the country’s cultural heritage, developing the education and higher education sectors, showcasing German culture and promoting the German language.
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 Wat – a major internationally acclaimed contribution. This German Apsara Conservation Project (GACP) encompasses the restoration of the Apsara Reliefs in the Angkor Wat temple complex as well as an emergency consolidation programme to preserve natural stone reliefs at other temples in Angkor. Restoration work on the Preah Ko temple has been completed.
In August 2016, Professor Dr Hans Leisen and his wife, Dr Esther von Plehwe-Leisen, were awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for their long-standing commitment to conservation work at World Heritage sites, in particular the Angkor Wat temple complex.
Since 2008, excavations led by the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) have been under way at the Prohear burial site in Prohear, a village in Prey Veng Province, in cooperation with the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and archaeologists from the Memot Centre for Archaeology in Phnom Penh. In 2013, the German-Cambodian Conservation School opened its restoration workshop in Phnom Penh, which serves the entire Southeast Asian region. The number of applicants is constantly growing.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) promotes academic cooperation through the secondment of a long-term German academic teacher to Cambodia and by awarding short- and long-term scholarships to Cambodian students. In 2002, a new Media and Communication Studies department was established at the Royal University of Phnom Penh with support from the DAAD and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. In 2015, the DAAD enabled a number of German scholarship holders – from students to university lecturers – to spend time studying and researching in Cambodia and provided Cambodians with the opportunity to study, teach or pursue research in Germany.
The Cambodian-German Cultural Association (KDKG) is registered in both Germany and Cambodia. It runs the Meta House (established in 2007), the Art Plus Foundation and the Language Learning Centre. In mid-2016, it acquired the status of a Goethe Centre.
The KDKG has signed memoranda of understanding on cooperation with Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, complementing an agreement signed with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. The KDKG has in the past – in some cases with support from the Goethe Institute – organised a wide-ranging cultural exchange programme (including film, music and art). The Phnom Penh International Music Festival, which is held every autumn, is regularly organised and supported by the German side.
The process of coming to terms with the Khmer Rouge past is being placed on a new educational footing under the new directorship of the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. This successful concept is supported by the German side.