The Federal Republic of Germany recognised the Republic of Kiribati under international law when the island nation gained independence. The two countries established diplomatic relations on 1 July 1980. The German Ambassador in Wellington, New Zealand, is also accredited to Kiribati.
Bilateral relations are constantly expanding. The people of Kiribati hold Germany in high regard because of the employment of numerous Kiribati seafarers on German ships. A Marine Training Centre (MTC) was set up in the country by German shipping companies in 1967. Up to the present day, it is managed by German experts and constitutes an important source of foreign exchange. The 50th anniversary of the seafarer training programme, in which the Hamburg Süd shipping line plays an instrumental role, was celebrated in July 2017.
Bilateral trade between the two countries is relatively modest. According to Federal Statistical Office figures, Germany’s exports to Kiribati in 2016 totalled 49,000 euros and its imports from Kiribati 53,000 euros. This puts Kiribati in 228th place among Germany’s export partners and in 208th place among its import partners.
A factor of major importance for the country’s economy is the employment of Kiribati seafarers on German merchant ships, as mentioned above. German shipping companies provide training staff for the Marine Training Centre in the capital city and also run an employment bureau for Kiribati seafarers. More than 5000 of them work for German shipping companies. Their annual remittances amount to approximately five million US dollars. Together with the sale of fishing licences, these money transfers constitute the country’s largest source of foreign exchange Revenue.
In bilateral development cooperation, Germany is active in the financing of technical cooperation microprojects in Kiribati. These include constructing a flood protection wall in Rawannawi Village on Marakei Island, increasing the holdings of the Marine Training Centre’s library, equipping a school on Abemama atoll with desks, and providing kitchen utensils for three secondary schools. In addition, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is conducting various projects in the Pacific island states that also benefit Kiribati. One example is the regional project entitled “Coping with climate change in the Pacific island region”, which is strengthening the region’s capacity to adapt to climate change by providing advisory services. Another GIZ project, which is designed to improve the management of marine and coastal biodiversity and runs until the end of 2018, is being conducted in a number of Pacific island countries including Kiribati. Germany also helps to promote Kiribati’s development through its contributions to the European Development Fund (EDF). Priority areas here include mainly health care, but also agricultural development, alternative energy sources and vocational training.
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.