Last updated in September 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.
German-Cambodian relations are friendly. 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 2013, German imports from Cambodia (mainly garments and footwear) totalled approximately EUR 836 million. 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 grew by EUR 168.76 million, or 25.29 per cent, compared with the previous year. In 2012, Germany ranked third, along with Canada, among the largest markets for Cambodian goods worldwide, after the United States and the United Kingdom.
In 2013, German exports to Cambodia were worth EUR 56.56 million, an increase of 26 per cent compared with the previous year. In terms of import-export turnover, Cambodia ranked 80th among Germany’s trading partners in 2013.
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 2011, the European Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (EUROCHAM) was opened in Phnom Penh. It was co-founded by the ADW the French Chambre de Commerce Franco-Cambodgienne" (CCFC) and the British Business Association of Cambodia (BBAC).
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 is one of the country’s principal bilateral donors, ranking fourth after Japan, China 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 EUR 303 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, 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 Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has made new 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 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 higher education sector, showcasing German culture as well as 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.
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 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. In 2013, the DAAD enabled 29 German scholarship holders – from students to university lecturers – to spend time studying and researching in Cambodia and provided 32 Cambodians with the opportunity to study, teach or pursue research in Germany.
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 Foundation 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. The Art Plus Foundation, the Meta House and the Goethe Institute’s language mediator have been working under one roof since June 2010, sharing the premises of the German-Cambodian Cultural Center.