Political relations between Germany and Bangladesh are friendly. In 1972, Germany was one of the first European countries to recognise Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan under international law. Bangladesh warmly welcomed German reunification. Germany is not only respected as a longstanding and reliable partner in development cooperation but is also seen as a vital trading partner and an important member of the European Union. Bangladesh keenly observes Germany’s engagement in climate policy and the United Nations.
Bilateral talks focus on improving minimum social standards in the textile industry and on addressing Bangladesh’s democratic development and human rights situation. Since Bangladesh became independent, numerous German non-governmental organisations and church-affiliated aid organisations have, together with their local partners, actively sought to promote the country’s social and economic development. In addition, Germany is providing humanitarian aid to help support the relief efforts for the Rohingya fleeing from Myanmar. Because of this commitment and a vigorous information campaign in Germany and Bangladesh, many people on both sides are favourably disposed towards the other country.
Germany is Bangladesh’s second largest export market after the United States. The volume of bilateral trade is continuously growing, reaching a total of 6.08 billion euros in 2017. Bangladesh exported to Germany goods worth approximately 5.4 billion euros, while its imports from Germany amounted to only around 0.7 billion euros. Textiles account for over 90 percent of German imports from Bangladesh. Other exports to Germany include frozen foods and leather goods. Germany’s main exports to Bangladesh are machinery (55 percent of total exports), chemical products (20 percent) and electrical goods (9 percent). German shipping companies have had ships built in Bangladesh for a number of years now.
German companies are investing in Bangladesh, particularly in the textile, transport, energy, logistics sectors and the building materials industry.
A bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement has been in force since September 1986 and a double taxation agreement since 1993.
Bangladesh is one of the cooperation partners of German development cooperation with which Germany works together closely on the basis of bilateral agreements. Bangladesh and Germany have agreed on the following three priority areas:
• renewable energy and energy efficiency;
• good governance, the rule of law and human rights;
• adapting to climate change in urban areas.
The priority area good governance focuses in particular on improving working conditions and environmental standards in the textile industry. Given the importance of Bangladesh’s export-oriented textile industry, this is a crucial factor in the country’s future development.
In addition, German churches and numerous non-governmental organisations are, along with their local partners, actively seeking to promote the country’s future development in various sectors of society, especially in rural areas.
Bangladesh was classified as a least developed country (LDC) by the United Nations, but will soon attain graduation from LDC Status on the basis of a UN assessment that found the country had made significant development progress. With a GDP per capita of 1602 US dollars (IMF, 2017) in 2017 Bangladesh has already joined the league of lower middle income countries (based on the World Bank’s definition). Since development cooperation began in the 1970s, Germany has provided government funding to the tune of approximately 2.6 billion euros for bilateral development projects in Bangladesh. On top of this, Germany is making available funding through multilateral institutions (the European Union, the Asian Development Bank and United Nations specialised agencies such as the World Bank, the International Labour Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization). Private civil society organisations also receive public funding to implement development projects.
At the most recent intergovernmental negotiations in November 2018, Germany pledged funding worth a total of 285,3 million euros for bilateral projects in Bangladesh.
It made an additional commitment of 83 million euros in 2017 to support renewable energies and energy efficiency.
The Goethe-Institut (GI) in Bangladesh is the first stop for all those in the country who are interested in the German language and German culture. The Goethe-Institut in Dhaka was opened back in 1961, before Bangladesh gained independence. Its language courses continue to be very popular, with a total enrolment of approximately 1500 per year. The Goethe-Institut library offers German literature and information about history and politics. The rooftop café and the auditorium are meeting places and forums for young intellectuals, artists and representatives of civil society. The events organised by the Goethe-Institut range from exhibitions and musical and literary offerings to film festivals and DJ appearances. Since religious extremism flared up in Bangladesh, the Goethe-Institut has had to curtail its programme.
Since January 2010, Bangladeshi teachers have been trained as German teachers under Germany’s Schools: Partners for the Future initiative (PASCH). German instruction has been integrated into the curricula at all five partner schools in Bangladesh and a large number of students have now had their proficiency in German certified.
To promote academic exchange between Germany and Bangladesh, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and other organisations every year award numerous scholarships to Bangladeshi students and young scientists and academics. The DAAD Information Point in Dhaka provides advice on scholarships and studying in Germany. Many Bangladeshi scientists, academics and students have already received part of their training in Germany and more than 250 of them are members of alumni associations and users of the Alumniportal Deutschland network.
For several years now, there has been a steady increase in the number of Bangladeshi students and scientiests applying to study in Germany. Nearly 3000 Bangladeshi students are currently enrolled in German higher education institutions.
This text is intended as a source of basic information. It is regularly updated. No liability can be accepted for the accuracy or completeness of its contents.