Last updated in October 2018
Brunei Darussalam sees Germany as an important economic partner, both bilaterally and in the context of the dialogue between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union. The two countries have maintained uninterrupted diplomatic relations since Brunei Darussalam gained independence in 1984. The Federal Republic of Germany opened its embassy there in July 1985 in a ceremony presided over by then Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher. Bilateral ties have been strengthened through a number of high-level visits, such as the visit by Germany’s then Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl to Bandar Seri Begawan in 1997 and the state visit to Germany in 1998 by the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, as well as further visits by the Sultan in 2002 and 2011 and the Crown Prince’s trip to Germany in 2006 to attend the FIFA World Cup.
Germany’s then Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle travelled to Brunei Darussalam in 2012 to attend the ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting. During this trip, he met with, among others, Brunei Darussalam’s then Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Prince Mohamed Bolkiah. The two ministers had previously met at the 2010 ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting in Madrid.
Other bilateral contacts were the talks held between Brunei Darussalam’s then Minister of Health Pehin Dato Adanan and Germany’s then Health Minister Philipp Rösler in Berlin in November 2010 and the visits to Bandar Seri Begawan by German Bundestag delegations in February 2007 and January 2011.
In April 2013, the Federal Ministry of Health signed a memorandum of understanding with Brunei Darussalam’s Ministry of Health focusing on the further training of doctors and nursing staff. In the health care sector, Krankenhaus Nordwest in Frankfurt am Main has since 2010 been successfully assisting Brunei Darussalam in setting up a neurology clinic at the Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC) on the outskirts of the capital city. The cooperation is to be expanded to other areas of medicine. In addition, German universities and the Universiti Brunei Darussalam are collaborating in various fields of research.
In August 2017, ThyssenKrupp signed a contract with the state-owned Brunei Fertilizer Industries for the construction of a plant that produces fertilizer using the country’s natural gas reserves. The undertaking, worth over one billion euros, is currently the largest industrial project being supported by Brunei Darussalam. It forms an important part of the sultanate’s efforts to diversify its economy.
The volume of bilateral trade reached an all-time high of around 346 million euros in 2011, while in 2015 it stood at 151 million euros, with German exports to Brunei Darussalam accounting for 150 million euros of this figure. Bilateral trade in 2017 totalled only 52.3 million euros, of which 51.6 million euros came from German exports. Germany is only indirectly involved in the Brunei Darussalam’s main economic activity – oil and gas production – through the work of scientists and engineers and through the provision of supplies. There are no German firms investing in the sultanate’s oil and gas sector. Given that Germany imports no oil or gas from Brunei Darussalam, which make up of over 90 percent of the country’s exports, German imports from the sultanate are accordingly very small.
It is mainly finished engineering products such as motor vehicles, electrical goods and machinery that are exported directly from Germany to Brunei Darussalam, while German consumer goods are exported to the sultanate via Singapore, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.
Since the summer of 2008, Brunei Darussalam has been sending government scholarship recipients to study in Germany (there are currently 20 such students enrolled at German universities). The Government of Brunei Darussalam also currently offers graduate scholarships to young Germans, enabling them to study at universities in Brunei. At present, there are three German lecturers at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam, teaching biology, history and geology, respectively.
Since 2008, German cruise ships have again been calling at Muara Port near Bandar Seri Begawan.
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