Political relations between Malaysia and Germany are principally based on the two countries’ intensive economic relations. Germany sees Malaysia as an important and stable partner in Southeast Asia, a leading member of ASEAN and a moderate representative of the Islamic world.
Economic ties between Germany and Malaysia have been very close for many years. Joint bodies and institutions include the Malaysian-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the German-Malaysian Institute (both established in 1991), which is engaged in vocational training.
For many years, Malaysia – along with Singapore – has been Germany’s principal trading partner among the ASEAN countries. In 2018, bilateral trade was worth 14.1 billion euros.
Malaysia attracts foreign direct investment thanks to its favourable investment climate. At the same time, investment ensures technology transfer, which in turn boosts the economy. In total, a good 400 German companies are based in Malaysia, many of which run production plants and export the goods they manufacture there worldwide. Malaysia is also increasingly being used by German companies as a regional hub for Southeast Asia and beyond.
Cultural cooperation focuses on education and language classes, including via the Goethe-Institut Malaysia and a German Academic Exchange Service lector. In addition, German is taught at 50 secondary schools in Malaysia.
In higher education, there are over 90 cooperation agreements between German and Malaysian universities and universities of applied sciences. Over 1,000 young Malaysians – many of them on Malaysian government scholarships – are studying at German universities. There is also a growing number of double degree programmes leading to degrees that are recognised in both Germany and Malaysia. This has also led to an increase in the number of German guest students in Malaysia.
Some of Germany’s political foundations support socio-cultural, educational and media projects in Malaysia. The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung has its own office in Kuala Lumpur.