Last updated in March 2018
The Federal Republic of Germany and Cambodia have had diplomatic relations since 1967, although these relations were interrupted between 1969 and 1993. Various events were held in late 2017 to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Germany’s representation at Cambodia’s Supreme National Council (SNC) established in 1992 was converted into a diplomatic mission after the 1993 elections and the restoration of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Cambodia and the German Democratic Republic maintained diplomatic relations from 1969 to 1975 and from 1979 until the reunification of the two German states.
Germany actively supports Cambodia’s development and democratisation process. The cornerstone of relations is the extensive development cooperation between the two countries. In addition, Germany has for many years been funding a mine clearance programme and helping with conservation efforts at the Angkor Wat temple complex, as well as supporting the work of the Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal.
In 2016 German imports from Cambodia (mainly clothing and footwear) totalled approximately 1.357 billion euros, an increase of some 10 percent compared to the previous year. Well-known German buyers of Cambodian textiles and shoes are Adidas, Puma, Deichmann, C&A, Aldi, Lidl and Tchibo. German exports to Cambodia were, at 150 million euros, very modest in comparison, although this represented a substantial increase of nearly 25 percent. Among Germany’s 239 trading partners, Cambodia ranked 57th as a supplier of imports and 109th as a buyer of exports in terms of turnover in 2016.
German businesspeople residing in Cambodia have joined forces to create the German Business Group Cambodia (ADW), which serves as a point of contact for German companies interested in doing business there and provides active assistance to them.
The number of German tourists visiting Cambodia is constantly growing. They numbered approximately 120,000 in 2017.
A bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement between Germany and Cambodia entered into force on 14 April 2002. The agreement is designed, among other things, to protect companies from expropriation without compensation and to secure the free transfer of foreign exchange.
German development policy engagement focuses on regional economic development, strengthening the healthcare system and decentralisation.
The regional economic development programme has improved the living conditions of around one million households in rural areas: increasing income by more than 50 percent and reducing transport costs by some 40 percent. More than 2000 kilometres of roads have been repaired and adapted to the impact of climate change, meaning they can also be used at times of flooding.
The health programme has bettered access to good medical care. Maternal and infant mortality has fallen by more than two thirds. Almost 90 percent of all births are now monitored by healthcare professionals (in 2000, the figure stood at 32 percent). Thanks to German support, poor people now have free access to health services. Work on setting up and extending a system of health insurance for all is progressing.
The decentralisation programme is helping districts and municipalities do their work. A network of municipal offices performs all administrative tasks for the authorities. Now that price lists are in place, the citizens know what public services cost in district administrations.
Germany is also supporting the work of the Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal with projects on reconciliation and mine clearance. Cambodia remains one of the countries most heavily contaminated by landmines and unexploded ordnance.
Several regional projects enhance the Federal Government’s development policy engagement in Cambodia. For example, Germany supported efforts to improve working and social conditions in factories.
In 2017 and 2018, German development policy invested some 37 million euros in improving living conditions in Cambodia.
German cultural policy in Cambodia focuses on supporting the preservation of the country’s cultural heritage, developing the education and higher education sectors, showcasing German culture and promoting the German language.
With funds from the Federal Foreign Office, Cologne University of Applied Sciences’ Restoration and Conservation Institute has for several years been helping preserve the world-famous temples at Angkor Wat – a major internationally acclaimed contribution. This German Apsara Conservation Project (GACP) encompasses the restoration of the Apsara Reliefs in the Angkor Wat temple complex as well as an emergency consolidation programme to preserve natural stone reliefs at other temples in Angkor.
In August 2016, Professor Hans Leisen and his wife, Dr Esther von Plehwe-Leisen, were awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for their long-standing commitment to conservation work at World Heritage sites, in particular the Angkor Wat temple complex. In December 2017, a symposium was held to mark the 20th anniversary of the project.
Since 2008, excavations led by the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) have been under way at the Prohear burial site in Prohear, a village in Prey Veng Province, in cooperation with the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and archaeologists from the Memot Centre for Archaeology in Phnom Penh. Work to document the findings is still underway. From 2013 to 2016, the German-Cambodian Conservation School in Phnom Penh conducted restoration courses for participants from the entire region.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) promotes academic cooperation through the secondment of a long-term German lecturer to Cambodia and by awarding short- and long-term scholarships to Cambodian students. In 2002, a new course in media and communication was established at the Royal University of Phnom Penh with support from the DAAD and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. Each year, the DAAD enables a number of German scholarship holders – from students to university lecturers – to spend time in Cambodia and provides Cambodians with the opportunity to study, teach or pursue research in Germany. The Cambodian-German Cultural Association (KDKG) is registered in both Germany and Cambodia. It runs the Meta House (established in 2007), the ARTplus Foundation and the Language Learning Centre. In early 2017, it acquired the status of a Goethe-Zentrum.
The KDKG has signed memoranda of understanding on cooperation with Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. The KDKG has in the past – in some cases with support from the Goethe-Institut – organised a wide-ranging cultural exchange programme (including film, music and art). The Phnom Penh International Music Festival, which is held every autumn, is regularly organised and supported by the German side.
Germany is supporting the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum which is engaged in the process of coming to terms with the Khmer Rouge past through educational work and research.
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.