The Federal Republic of Germany recognised Kiribati under international law when it gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1979. Diplomatic relations were established on 1 July 1980. Germany does not have an embassy in Kiribati but is represented by its Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand.
Kiribati is a member of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security in the United Nations.
Germany is held in high regard by the people of Kiribati, as a large number of sailors from the country work on German ships. They currently number more than 560. Along with the granting of fishing licences, their remittances are the country’s largest source of currency. A Marine Training Centre (MTC) was set up in Kiribati by German shipping companies in 1967 and is still run by experts from Germany. Since its establishment, it has trained over 5000 sailors.
Trade between Germany and Kiribati is very limited. According to Federal Statistical Office figures, Germany’s exports to Kiribati amounted to only 48,000 euro in 2020, while its imports from the country were worth 171,000 euro.
The Federal Republic of Germany funds technical cooperation micro-projects in Kiribati. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH also carries out various projects in the Pacific countries from which Kiribati benefits. The regional project Coping with Climate Change in the Pacific Island Region strengthened capacities for adapting to climate change in the region by providing advisory services between 2009 and 2021. Furthermore, Germany supports development in Kiribati via its contributions to the EU’s European Development Fund (EDF) (from 2021: the EU Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI)). The main focus here is on healthcare, but also on agricultural development, alternative energy sources and vocational training.