Last updated in August 2015
Bilateral relations between Germany and Yemen have traditionally been good and friendly. The Federal Republic of Germany began diplomatic relations with what was then the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen (North Yemen) back in the early 1950s. Immediately after the revolution there began in 1962, the Federal Republic recognised the new Yemen Arab Republic, as North Yemen now called itself. The German Democratic Republic maintained close relations with the socialist South Yemen, which gained its independence from the UK in 1967. There is also a certain affinity based on the two countries’ shared experience of reunification in 1990.
Since 2011, Germany has actively supported Yemen’s transition process and radical democratisation in cooperation with other international partners. A key element here has been the Gulf Cooperation Council’s commitment to ensuring a peaceful and orderly hand-over of power. Since armed hostilities broke out in Yemen in March 2015, between the legitimate government under President Hadi and the Houthi rebels, Germany and its international partners have been pushing for an end to the violence and a return to a political process which is inclusive of all political groups. The overriding political goal of cooperation with Yemen is as ever to promote good governance and respect for human rights by implementing the Gulf Cooperation Council’s transition plan. Ongoing political development continues to be founded on the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference which came to an end in January 2014.
Yemen records a very large trade deficit with Germany. Yemen’s exports to Germany are insignificant. In 2013, German exports to Yemen were worth 227 million euros while German imports from there amounted to 4.2 million. 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.
Germany’s principal exports to Yemen include machinery, complete production plants, motor vehicles, chemical products and electrical goods, iron and iron goods, printed materials and food industry products. There is currently no known instance of significant investment by German companies in Yemen. Since March 2015, commercial exchange of goods has largely ground to a halt as a result of armed hostilities.
Yemen is one of the world’s least developed countries (LDC), ranking 154th out of the 185 countries listed in the Human Development Index. 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 governmental capabilities.
In the sphere of development cooperation, Germany has been active in Yemen for more than 40 years. Since cooperation began, Germany has pledged more than 1 billion euros for Yemen’s development, making it one of the country’s largest donors.
The humanitarian situation has again deteriorated dramatically since armed hostilities broke out in Yemen in late March 2015. On 1 July 2015, the United Nations declared the situation in Yemen a Level 3 Emergency, the highest level on the UN scale. Eighty percent of the population – 21.1 million people – depend on humanitarian assistance; ten percent are malnourished. Humanitarian access is limited. The United Nations estimates that more than 1.3 million people are internally displaced. The Federal Foreign Office has so far made 6.3 million euros available for humanitarian aid in 2015. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development is providing around 26 million euros to support the World Food Programme in Yemen in 2015.
Germany’s cultural relations with Yemen previously focused on the activities of the German Archaeological Institute and the promotion of German as a language to learn. At the moment, cultural relations measures cannot be undertaken because of the security situation.