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. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Colombia in February 2019. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visited Colombia as part of his Latin America trip end of April/beginning of May. The new Colombian Foreign Minister, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, visited Berlin in November 2018, when he opened a conference on Colombia at the Federal Foreign Office together with Federal Foreign Minister Maas. 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 amounting to 2.35 billion euros in 2017.
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
In development cooperation, the priority fields of peace development and crisis prevention, as well as of environmental and resource protection, are highly appreciated by the Colombian Government. 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 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 on development cooperation held in November 2018, Germany pledged a total of 535 million euros for new projects – twice the amount earmarked for the preceding two-year period. Besides the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety is engaged in environmental and climate protection projects in the country. 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 institutions which receive public funding from Germany. These organisations range from churches, NGOs and political foundations to organisations that award scholarships and facilitate the secondment of experts. They make an important contribution towards the efforts by civil society to foster peace in Colombia.
Education and culture
Academic relations are close, as demonstrated by the around 3280 Colombians studying at German universities, as well as by over 230 university partnerships, by exchanges of researchers and lecturers and by cooperation under scholarship programmes. The German Academic Exchange Service has an Information Centre in Bogotá, as well as lectors in Cali and Medellín, two long-term lecturers and three German language assistants working in the country. There is 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 opened in October 2010, and the German-Colombian Peace Institute (CAPAZ), which was established in late 2016 and offers research, teaching and political advisory services under one roof. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation), the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science (MPG), the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Leibniz Association and the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres are all active in Colombia. The priority areas of bilateral cooperation include biodiversity, biotechnology, the bioeconomy, marine research and health research. Germany is also providing support in the field 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 and Medellín bring German culture and the German language to Colombia’s provinces.
As one of the six Latin American countries visited by Alexander von Humboldt between 1799 and 1804, Colombia is among the countries in which the Federal Foreign Office is organising events in 2019 to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of this important universal scholar.
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.