Last updated in March 2013
Bilateral relations between the two countries are very good and founded on close cooperation at both bilateral and multilateral level. Singapore’s constructive role in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), its remarkable stability and its regional significance make it an important partner for German foreign policy. Singapore is held in high regard as a driving force and intermediary in promoting political relations between European and Asian countries.
The quality of bilateral relations has been underlined and enhanced by high-level visits. Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle visited Singapore in February 2013. His programme included talks with Singapore’s Foreign Minister K Shanmugam. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Singapore in June 2011, meeting for talks with, among others, then President Nathan and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited Germany in December 2005. During this visit, the Federal Chancellor and the Prime Minister issued the German-Singaporean Declaration, aimed at stepping up cooperation in the political and economic realms as well as in research, education and culture.
Other important visits: Federal Education and Research Minister Schavan and Federal Economics Minister Brüderle visited Singapore in 2010, the latter to attend the Asia-Pacific Conference of German Business in May 2010. The event was also attended by 770 delegates and several ministers from ASEAN countries. In June and July 2012, Singapore’s President Tony Tan paid a ten-day visit to Germany, holding political talks with the Federal Chancellor and the Federal President and gathering extensive information on Germany as a science and research destination.
There is wide agreement between the two countries on major foreign policy issues such as the need for global peacekeeping based on regional alliances and the war on terrorism. The same applies to foreign trade policy, e.g. the promotion of global free trade, international cooperation and free competition. Germany’s industry and technology are highly regarded in Singapore.
Singapore is Germany’s most important economic partner in the ASEAN area. Institutions such as the Singaporean-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (SGC; since July 2004), the German Centre Singapore (established in 1995), the German Singapore Business Forum (GSBF; eight meetings since its establishment in 1994, the most recent in October 2010) as well as the Economic Development Board (EDB) and International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore) with offices in Frankfurt am Main help to facilitate vigorous economic activity in both directions. More than 1,300 German companies are currently registered in Singapore.
In 2011, Singapore’s exports to Germany were worth EUR 5,01 billion and imports from Germany EUR 7,78 billion, making Germany Singapore’s principal trading partner in the EU for yet another year.
A bilateral cultural accord dates from 1990. There is lively cultural exchange on a private and commercial basis.
The main cultural activities in Singapore are organized by the Goethe Institute, whose events and language courses meet with keen public interest. Major German companies are engaged in local culture sponsoring of their own.
Given Singapore’s efforts to retain its leading position in the world economy through science and high tech, promoting ties among institutions of higher education plays a central role in bilateral relations. There are more than 30 ongoing bilateral cooperation projects between German institutions of higher education on the one hand and the three Singaporean universities on the other. Since 2001, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has run an information centre for course guidance, which uses fairs and information events to promote Germany as a place to study. The German Institute of Science and Technology (GIST-TUM Asia), founded by Munich University of Technology, is the first ‘independent foreign subsidiary’ of a German university. It began operating in July 2002. GIST-TUM Asia has since begun offering bachelor’s and master’s programmes as well as PhD programmes as part of the TUM CREATE research project.
On the initiative of the German Embassy and with the support of the DAAD, German Alumni, a contact organization for former graduates, was set up in February 2007.
In May 2011, the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research in Darmstadt set up the Fraunhofer Project Centre for Interactive Digital Media (IDM@NTU) in cooperation with Singaporean partners.
German ranks third among third foreign languages taught in Singapore, after Japanese and French. The number of German learners has been constant for years at around 1,800 a year.
There has been a German European School in Singapore since 1971, starting with kindergarten and leading to the German university entrance examination (Abitur). It now has some 1,500 pupils, making it the largest German School in South-East Asia. In summer 2005, English-language instruction was introduced, leading to the International Baccalaureat.
Singapore hosted the first Youth Olympic Games in August 2010.
The Friedrich-Ebert Foundation and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation have offices in Singapore.