Last updated in February 2015
Bilateral relations between Germany and Yemen have traditionally been good and friendly. The Federal Republic of Germany and what was then the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen (North Yemen) established diplomatic relations as early as the 1950s. The Federal Republic of Germany recognised the young Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen) in 1962, immediately after the revolution began there. The German Democratic Republic maintained close relations with socialist South Yemen, which gained independence from British rule in 1967. There is also a certain affinity given the shared experience of reunification in 1990.
Since 2011, Germany – together with other international partners – has actively supported Yemen’s ongoing transition process and democratic renewal. A key element here is the Gulf Cooperation Council’s commitment to ensuring a peaceful and orderly transition of power. The overriding goal of cooperation with Yemen is to promote good governance and respect for human rights by implementing the Gulf Cooperation Council’s transition plan. Even after the seizure of power by the Houthi rebels, Germany stands by the idea of a return to the transition plan. Germany is conducting a number of projects in Yemen aimed at providing advice and building capacities in terms of governance, constitutional matters and public administration.
Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle paid a visit to Yemen in March 2012. Yemeni President Hadi visited Germany in October 2012, meeting with Federal Chancellor Merkel. In addition, the Friends of Yemen conferences held in London on 7 March and 25 September 2013 were also attended by the Federal Foreign Minister.
Yemen records a very large trade deficit with Germany. Yemen’s exports to Germany are insignificant. In 2013, German exports to Yemen were worth EUR 228 million and German imports from there EUR 4.2 million. The principal German exports to Yemen include machinery, complete production plants, motor vehicles, chemical products and electrical goods, iron and iron goods, print products and food industry products. There are currently no known investments of any significance by German companies in Yemen. In March 2005, an amended investment protection accord and a double taxation agreement for the aviation sector were signed. The former has been in force since January 2008, the latter since January 2007.
Yemen is one of the world’s least developed countries (LDC), ranking 154th out of the 185 countries listed in the Human Development Index. More than half the population (14.7 million people) are reliant on humanitarian aid and 10.7 million people (one million of them children) suffer from malnutrition. The biggest challenges to Yemen’s development include the water crisis, the country’s weak education system, systematic discrimination against women, the high population growth rate and the need to improve governance and strengthen government capacities.
Germany has been engaged in development cooperation with Yemen for more than 40 years. Since cooperation began, Germany has pledged more than EUR 1 billion for Yemen’s development, making it one of the country’s largest donors. Development cooperation with Yemen was resumed in March 2012. Some EUR 103 million is being made available for 2014 and 2015.
As part of development cooperation, Germany is assisting Yemen in its political transformation process and its efforts to improve the humanitarian situation there. German development cooperation with Yemen focuses on the water and education sectors. Other key areas of cooperation are reproductive health, sustainable economic development and food security.
Activities in this area focus on supporting and supervising the work of German cultural intermediaries with a presence in the country. Owing to the security situation in Yemen, cultural cooperation measures can at present only be conducted on a very limited scale.
The German House Sanaa & Aden is a private cultural association. It offers German courses and organises a modest number of cultural events. The German House receives support from the Goethe Institute in Cairo. Bilateral cooperation in higer education is supervised by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).