Last updated in March 2019
Until German reunification, Cuba’s relations with Germany were shaped, on the one hand, by its close ties with the socialist German Democratic Republic (GDR) and, on the other, by its critical stance towards the Federal Republic of Germany.
Since the visit to Cuba by Germany’s then Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in 2015, relations between the two countries have intensified. Despite major differences of opinion on many issues, including such important aspects as the rule of law and human rights, both sides have an interest in developing their cooperation further.
Economic relations between Cuba and Germany are not very intensive, and German direct investment is low. Germany is represented particularly in the energy and health sectors. Around 250,000 German tourists visit Cuba each year, making them the third largest group of visitors. A German Office to Promote Trade and Investment in Cuba was officially opened in October 2018 to promote bilateral economic relations. Export credit guarantees are available for supporting foreign trade and investment as a result of the German-Cuban debt restructuring agreement concluded in 2000.
In 2018, trade between Germany and Cuba amounted to 279.4 million euros, of which 227.8 million euros were accounted for by German exports to Cuba (machinery, chemical and pharmaceutical products, plastic goods, medical equipment, motor vehicles and replacement parts). Cuban exports to Germany amounted to 51.6 million euros (alcoholic drinks, sugar products, tobacco, fruit and vegetable juices).
At Cuba’s instigation, bilateral development cooperation was discontinued in 2003 and has not been resumed to date.
A number of German NGOs are operating in Cuba, mainly in the energy and water supply sectors as well as in the adult education field. The office of Welthungerhilfe was closed at the request of Cuba in 2016. The German Embassy is working with local partners to support micro-projects.
Culture and education
Despite the lack of a German-Cuban cultural agreement and an independent Goethe-Institut branch in the country, cultural and academic exchange and cooperation in science and research are cornerstones of bilateral relations. Cooperation between higher education institutions is one of the most dynamic spheres of bilateral relations. The German Academic Exchange Service runs a comprehensive personal and project promotion programme and has a lector at the Universidad de La Habana (UH). The 16th edition of the International Summer School in Economics and Management, an event organised by the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the UH, was held in autumn 2018.
There is a privately-run German language learning centre in Havana.
Germany is involved in major international cultural events in Cuba such as the Book Fair and the organisation of German Theatre Weeks, as well as the establishment of a German section at the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema. Also important are the exchange and practical networking between Cuban culture professionals and Germany’s cultural scene, especially in the spheres of theatre, cinema and music. A whole host of events is planned to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Alexander von Humboldt and the 500th anniversary of the founding of the capital Havana in 2019. A permanent exhibition on Alexander von Humboldt will be opened at his newly restored house in Havana.
The estimated 30,000 Cubans who studied or worked in Germany, especially in the former GDR, are a key factor in cultural Exchange.
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.