Last updated in February 2014
Following the suspension of diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Cambodia in 1969, Germany re-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.
Cambodia and the German Democratic Republic maintained diplomatic relations from 1969 to 1975 and from 1979 until the reunification of the two German states.
Bilateral relations are friendly and 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.
In 2012, German imports from Cambodia (mainly garments and footwear) totalled EUR 667.3 million – an increase of approximately EUR 150 million, or 30 per cent, compared with the previous year. This made Germany the third largest market for Cambodian goods worldwide in 2012, after the United States and Canada. German exports to Cambodia in 2012 were worth EUR 44.8 million, an increase of nearly 39 per cent compared with the previous year.
The number of German tourists visiting Cambodia grew from 72,537 in 2012 to 81,651 in 2013. Germans thus account for some 2 per cent of foreign visitors, well behind tourists from East and South-East 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 South-East Asia, Germany being one of the country’s principal bilateral donors. German development cooperation is geared to Cambodia’s development 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 EUR 303 million in bilateral government development cooperation.
German-Cambodian development cooperation focuses on rural development and the health care sector. 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, Malteser International and Germany’s political foundations. These efforts are complemented by the significant engagement of private sponsors.
For the two-year period 2013/2014, the Federal Government has made commitments worth some EUR 47 million. 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.
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 encompasses the restoration of the Preah Ko temple and the Apsara Reliefs in the Angkor Wat temple complex as well as emergency measures to preserve other endangered cultural assets.
Since 2008, excavations led by the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) 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. In 2013, the German-Cambodian Conservation School was opened at the Memot Centre in Phnom Penh as a restoration workshop serving the entire South-East 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.
A growing number of concerts and exhibitions by German artists and screenings of German films are being organised in Phnom Penh, some of them with the support of the Goethe Institute. German artists regularly perform at the Phnom Penh International Music Festival, which is held every autumn. The cultural institutions Art Plus and Meta House, which were established in early 2007, receive support from the German Embassy and the Goethe Institute in organising German cultural programmes.
The Cambodian-German Cultural Association (KDKG), which was founded in Berlin in 2012, also helps support these institutions. Art Plus, Meta House and the Goethe Institute’s language mediator have been under one roof since June 2010, sharing the premises of the German-Cambodian Cultural Center.