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 (EU).
The two countries have maintained diplomatic relations since Brunei Darussalam gained independence in 1984. 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. The then Minister of Health Pehin Dato Adanan visited the then Federal Minister of Health Philipp Rösler in Berlin in 2010, while delegations from the German Bundestag travelled to Brunei Darussalam in February 2007 and again in January 2011. In 2019, Education Minister Dato Hamza visited Berlin for talks on vocational training, including at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. In January 2021, Brunei took over the Chairmanship of ASEAN for one year.
Bilateral relations are focused on the economic sector. As Germany imports neither oil nor gas from Brunei Darussalam (which account for around 95 percent of all exports from the country), trade is very unbalanced in favour of Germany, that supplies a wide range of industrial goods (motor vehicles, machinery, medical technology and capital goods), as well as services (Lufthansa Technik, Detecon, Dermalog, Lürssen Defence, Allianz). The most important project at present is the construction of a fertiliser plant by ThyssenKrupp.
In the education sphere, efforts to promote Germany as a place to study have little prospect of success given the country’s traditionally very strong focus on the UK and lack of German language courses. On the other hand, the country’s persistent and high level of youth unemployment has awakened Brunei Darussalam’s interest in the German vocational training system.