Relations between the two countries have traditionally been friendly, as attested by the Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Trade, which was concluded over 135 years ago. However, the coup in Madagascar in 2009 and the severe political and economic crisis that endured until 2013 caused Germany to briefly suspend its development cooperation. This was resumed in 2014.
Following the country’s return to democracy, economic growth recovered to a relatively modest level. The economy continued to grow again in 2018, by 5.8%. However, population growth was also high (2.7 to 3%), which almost offset this progress. Madagascar is interested in increased activity by international investors and is also keen to enhance economic relations with Germany. At present, Germany is the third-largest importer of products from Madagascar (worth 286.9 million euros in 2018). Exports to Madagascar were minimal (only 39.5 million euros in 2018). The volume of foreign trade has on the whole been rising in the past years.
At least 75% (or as much as 90% according to other sources) of the Malagasy population live below the poverty line, and every second child is malnourished. 87% of the population have no access to electricity. Development cooperation, which had traditionally enjoyed high priority, was thus resumed once the last crisis was over. Bilateral cooperation in the field of environmental protection is focused on the preservation of Madagascar’s unique biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources in the energy and agricultural sectors. Germany is the third-largest bilateral donor and the biggest donor in the environmental sector, and also supports decentralisation and anti-corruption efforts. Bilateral development cooperation funds totalling 29.6 million euros were made available for the year 2018.
Cultural relations with Madagascar are nurtured by the work of the Goethe-Zentrum – the Cercle Germano-Malagasy (CGM) – whilst also being maintained through academic contacts. With approximately 900 pupils learning German, the CGM helps spread the German language and has for decades been the organiser of a wide range of events and a recognised and highly regarded player in Madagascar’s cultural life – particularly that of the capital Antananarivo – and an important complement to the still strong French influence on the country’s culture.