Last updated in March 2013
Bilateral relations are close and amicable. Germany and Nepal established diplomatic relations in 1958. Since the ten-year civil war ended in late 2006, Germany has actively supported the peace and democratization process in Nepal. Of particular importance here is the two countries’ collaboration in development cooperation, trade and in the cultural, academic and scientific sectors.
Since the resolution of the country’s armed conflict, high-level visits have again become more frequent. Former Nepalese Foreign Minister Yadav visited Germany for talks in March 2009. The most recent visit by the Nepalese side was that by Commerce and Supplies Minister Lekh Raj Bhatt in early March 2012. Other Nepalese government ministers have also attended major trade fairs in Germany (International Tourism Exchange, International Green Week).
On the German side, members of the German Bundestag travelled to Nepal again for the first time in 2011. In early 2012, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Bundestag Member Gudrun Kopp visited Nepal. In June 2012, German Bundestag Vice-President Otto Solms paid a visit to the country, accompanied by other Bundestag members.
The most recent visit to Nepal was that by a delegation of German Bundestag members belonging to the SPD parliamentary group in February 2013, at the invitation of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The three Bundestag members Holger Ortel (SPD), Johannes Pflug (SPD) and Karin Evers-Meyer (SPD) met with a number of Nepalese officials, including the leaders of the eight prinicpal political parties, as well as with Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha and Home Affairs Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachchadar.
Germany is an important market for Nepal, particularly for carpets and textile products. Nepal’s main imports from Germany are machinery and industrial products. In recent years, the bilateral balance of trade has regularly shown a surplus in Nepal’s favour. The annual volume of bilateral trade has remained fairly constant over the last few years, at around EUR 50 million.
An investment protection agreement has been in place since October 1986. Founded in 1990, the Nepal German Chamberof Commerceand Industry(NGCCI) in Kathmandu promotes bilateral trade relations.
Nepal is an important partner country of German development cooperation, which aims to support Nepal in its efforts to alleviate poverty there in the long term. German support focuses on the following areas: improving health care, developing renewable energy (solar and hydroelectric power and biogas), promoting local self-government (until 2014) as well as trade and sustainable economic development.
In addition, since 2010 Germany has been coordinating international support for implementing Nepal’s strategy to step up foreign trade. Germany also supports the peace process in Nepal through advisory activities and participates in the Nepal Peace Trust Fund, a funding instrument to build and strengthen Nepal’s peace process based on the agreements reached under the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Accord. Germany also provides assistance in the form of concrete vocational training and further-education measures for former Maoist rebels, thus making an important contribution to their reintegration into society.
The principal implementing agencies of government development cooperation engaged in this work – the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the KfW Development Bank – have their own staff working in Nepal. There are also more than 120 private initiatives and associations from Germany supporting projects and programmes in Nepal, in some cases with public funding.
Beyond its bilateral commitment, Germany also makes a substantial contribution to international organizations’ – in particular the EU’s – development assistance for Nepal through membership fees and other financial payments.
With a number of other projects, the Federal Foreign Office is helping to protect and improve the enforcement of human rights.
Of Germany’s political foundations, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation has its own office in Kathmandu. Other political foundations work together with Nepalese partners under their regional programmes for South Asia.
Cultural preservation and exchange
For many years now, the Federal Foreign Office has funded projects to restore sites of cultural or religious significance in Nepal and in the former royal cities of Patan and Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley. German archaeologists have also done important research work through their excavations. A cultural agreement between Nepal and Germany was signed in 1992.
The Kathmandu Goethe Centre teaches German as a foreign language. The courses it offers are very popular with young Nepalese, who are also increasingly interested in studying in Germany. In addition, German has been taught for many years at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu and, since 2010, also as second foreign language at two schools in Kathmandu under the ‘Schools: Partners for the Future’ initiative (PASCH). There are currently a total of more than 1,000 young Nepalese learning German, a number that is trending upwards.
Also very well received are German cultural offerings such as guest performances by German music ensembles, most recently that by the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra. German broadcaster Deutsche Welle cooperates with several Nepalese radio and television stations and Nepalese journalists are regularly invited to attend information programmes or further-training courses in Germany.
These offerings are complemented by the commitment of several friendship associations to promoting cultural exchange between Nepal and Germany.
Scientific and academic exchange
Nepal is also a priority country of the German Research Foundation (DFG), with more than 40 research projects so far. In addition, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) regularly awards scholarships, particularly in postgraduate programmes of special relevance to developing countries. Students returning home from Germany have since established a number of alumni organizations and networks of former scholarship holders.
Heidelberg University’s South Asia Institute has its own local office in the country, the Nepal Research Center. Its activities include a major project to microfilm and catalogue Tibetan and Newari historical documents, just one of its outstanding efforts to help preserve Nepal’s cultural heritage.