Last updated in April 2018
Germany and Colombia have long enjoyed friendly and increasingly close relations. German businesses, scientific and academic exchange, cultural institutions and development cooperation all play a part in fostering closer ties between the two countries.
The bilateral exchange of visits is intensive. Germany’s then Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier last visited Colombia in January 2017, while Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos paid a visit to Germany in November 2014. Since April 2015, Tom Koenigs has been serving as Envoy of the Foreign Minister to the Colombian Peace Process.
Economy and development cooperation
Germany is Colombia’s largest trading partner in the European Union, with bilateral trade reaching 3.2 billion euros in 2015.
A number of major German companies have their own production facilities in Colombia.
The most important economic and development cooperation agreements in place between Colombia and Germany are:
- trade agreement of 9 November 1957
- capital protection agreement of 8 April 1962
- various Financial Cooperation agreements since 1965
- Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation on Profits Derived from the Operation of Ships and Aircraft of 10 September 1968
- air transport agreement of 25 November 1968
- Basic Agreement regarding Technical Cooperation of 26 May 1998
- Basic Agreement regarding Financial Cooperation of 12 July 2012
German development cooperation, which is held in high regard by the Colombian Government, focuses on peace development and crisis prevention as well as the protection of the environment and resources. A third priority area, sustainable economic development, was added in 2012. There are plans to expand cooperation in this area in the coming years. Germany is among the countries that have actively supported the peace process with the FARC from the very beginning. This support has taken the form of various technical cooperation measures as well as sector budget funding for peace development – the first of its kind in the world – which provides assistance at both national and regional levels. Bilateral development cooperation includes the provision of subsidies and technical cooperation as well as development loans to finance investments in areas such as renewable energy and water and sanitation. At the intergovernmental negotiations held in September 2016, Germany pledged 252 million euros in assistance. Besides the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety is engaged in environmental and climate protection projects in Colombia. Colombia is a priority country of Germany’s International Climate Initiative.
Another essential element of German development cooperation with Colombia is the very extensive engagement of civil society organisations which receive public funding, ranging from churches, non-governmental organisations and political foundations to organisations that award scholarships and facilitate the secondment of experts. These organisations make a particularly important contribution to strengthening civil society peace work in Colombia.
Education and culture
Academic relations are close, as demonstrated by the approximately 3000 Colombians studying at German universities as well as by university partnerships, by exchanges of researchers and lecturers and by cooperation under scholarship programmes. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) runs its own Information Centre in Bogotá and has lectors in Cali and Medellín, a long-term lecturer in Barranquilla as well as four German language assistants working in the country. There are a growing number of German academics and researchers working at universities and research institutions in Colombia.
The main pillars of academic relations are the Centre of Excellence in Marine Sciences (CEMarin) in Santa Marta, which was officially opened in October 2010, and the German-Colombian Peace Institute (CAPAZ), whose official inaugural event was held on 13 January 2017 in the presence of Germany’s then Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his Colombian counterpart María Ángela Holguín. In cooperation with two Colombian universities and Colombia’s Administrative Department of Science, Technology and Innovation (COLCIENCIAS), the Max Planck Society is setting up research groups on tropical diseases and the sustainable use of biodiversity. The priority areas of bilateral cooperation include biodiversity, biotechnology and bioeconomy as well as marine and health research. Germany is also providing support in the area of vocational training. The German Schools in Barranquilla, Bogotá, Cali and Medellín have been awarded the title Certified School of Excellence Abroad and enjoy an excellent reputation. Another six PASCH schools in Bogotá, Medellín and Barranquilla offer enhanced German instruction.
The Goethe-Institut offers an extensive cultural programme and numerous language courses. The cultural societies in Cartagena, Cali, Medellín and Bucaramanga bring German culture and the German language to Colombia’s provinces.
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.