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Half a century of diplomatic relations with Bangladesh

In 1972 Germany was one of the first countries in Europe to recognise the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

In 1972 Germany was one of the first countries in Europe to recognise the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, © German Embassy Dhaka

04.02.2022 - Article

In 1972 Germany was one of the first countries in Europe to recognise the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. Today relations focus on cooperation to overcome the effects of climate change, ways to ensure sustainable economic growth, and stability in the Region.

On 4 February 1972, the then Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Dhaka sent a Note Verbale to the Foreign Ministry of the fledgling republic, which had declared independence from Pakistan eleven months earlier. The Note said that Germany recognised the People’s Republic of Bangladesh as a state and proposed the establishment of diplomatic relations. The German Democratic Republic had established diplomatic relations with Bangladesh just under a fortnight before. So Germany was one of the first countries to recognise Bangladesh’s independence. Over the ensuing five decades, wide‑ranging, amicable relations have evolved. In a region developing at tremendous speed, Bangladesh is today an important economic and political partner for Germany.

Cooperation on tackling the effects of climate change and on climate change mitigation

With more than 164 million inhabitants, Bangladesh is the world’s eighth most populous country, in an area just half the size of Germany. This makes it the most densely settled country in the world. But Bangladesh is also increasingly having to fight the effects of climate change. 10% of the country lies no more than a metre above sea level, and around 25 million people live in the coastal areas, their livelihoods at risk owing to flooding, monsoons and salinisation. German development cooperation with Bangladesh, which has been in place for 50 years, focuses on adaptation to the impacts of climate change and climate change mitigation measures. Bangladesh is also one of the pilot countries where the Federal Foreign Office is successfully supporting early‑warning and risk‑prevention measures for natural disasters.

Shared responsibility for sustainability and social standards

Even during the COVID‑19 pandemic, this up‑and‑coming country’s economy is still growing apace; the poverty rate has halved since 2000. Bangladesh’s economic success derives first and foremost from its textile industry, which accounts for 10% of GDP and 80% of export revenue. As the second‑largest importer of products from Bangladesh, Germany is a major economic partner for the country. However, this also means that the German business sector shares responsibility with the governments of the two countries for upholding fundamental social and environmental standards in manufacturing. This is why Germany pursues a close dialogue with Bangladesh at bilateral level, too, with the aim of supporting the country in these endeavours.

Regional stability

Despite its high population density, Bangladesh nonetheless took in more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar in 2017. The refugees’ situation remains extremely difficult. Cox’s Bazar in southern Bangladesh is the biggest refugee camp in the world, home to some 700,000 people. Germany is helping Bangladesh to meet this challenge, for example by making available humanitarian assistance and development cooperation funds.

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