Last updated in Oktober 2017
Political relations between Malaysia and Germany are based principally on the two countries’ intensive economic relations. Germany sees Malaysia as an important and stable partner in Southeast Asia and a leading member of ASEAN, and also as a moderate representative of the Islamic world. Germany acknowledges Malaysia’s role within the United Nations and its conciliatory regional stability policy.
Federal Chancellor Merkel met with the current Malaysian Prime Minister Najib (in office since April 2009) on the sidelines of the Washington Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010 and at the ASEM summits in September 201 in Brussels and in October 2014 in Milan. She held talks with Prime Minister Najib most recently during his visit to Germany on 27 September 2016. Former Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier met with his Malaysian counterpart Anifah most recently in June 2015 in Berlin.
Economic relations between Germany and Malaysia have for many years been very close and are an essential element in the good relationship between the two countries. The visit to Kuala Lumpur by Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy Zypries in October 2015 helped further cement economic relations between the two countries.
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.
The principal economic accords between the two countries are the agreement on investment promotion and protection (1960), the air transport agreement (1968), the double taxation agreement (2010) and, at regional level, the cooperation agreement between the European Community and ASEAN (1980). The EU and Malaysia commenced negotiations on a free trade agreement in 2010.
Malaysia – along with Singapore – has for many years been Germany’s principal trading partner among the ASEAN countries. In 2016, bilateral trade was worth EUR 12.3 billion.
Germany’s principal imports from Malaysia are electrical and electronic goods, machinery, instruments and technical devices, edible and industrial oils and fats, rubber products as well as chemical products. Its main exports to Malaysia are electrical and electronic goods, machinery, motor vehicles, optical and pharmaceutical products.
Malaysia is a destination for foreign direct investment, which are largely attracted by a favourable investment climate while at the same time ensuring a technology transfer that is acting as an economic stimulus. This applies in particular to German industry.
A total of more than 350 German companies have a direct presence in Malaysia, many of them operating production plants and exporting the goods manufactured there worldwide. Malaysia is also being increasingly used by German companies as a regional hub for Southeast Asia and beyond.
Thanks to Malaysia’s positive economic development, the Federal Government has now ended development cooperation proper with the country. The last commitments under Technical Cooperation were made in 1999. Major Technical Cooperation projects in dual vocational training, rainforest protection and air pollution control have been successfully concluded.
Malaysia continues, however, to be an important partner of Germany in regional and trilateral development cooperation projects, including measures to build efficient institutions within ASEAN.
Cultural cooperation between the two countries focuses on education and language work. Nearly 650 people are enrolled in Goethe Institute Malaysia’s language courses. The Malaysian-German Society in Penang also offers German language courses. In addition, German is taught at 50 secondary schools in Malaysia. Two state universities offer bachelor’s programmes in German as a foreign language. Besides an academic teacher seconded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), there are numerous teachers of German as a foreign language working at various universities and colleges in Malaysia.
In higher education, more than 90 cooperation agreements exist between German and Malaysian universities and universities of applied sciences. There are nearly 1,000 young Malaysians – many of them on Malaysian government scholarships – studying at German universities, mainly technical and engineering subjects. In addition, there are an increasing 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.
Cooperation in the area of vocational training is becoming increasingly important. In the Malaysian government’s 11th Malaysia Plan, a basic strategy blueprint, the German concept of “Meister” (master craftsperson) is explicitly named as a role model for a Malaysian Meister. The German dual vocational training model, which was implemented for the first time for two professions in summer 2014 under the auspices of the bilateral chamber of commerce, is actively supported by a number of major German companies and has since been further expanded. The partners in this pilot project are the German-Malaysian Institute (GMI), which was set up with substantial support from what was then the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) – now the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) – in 1991 and the Penang Skills Development Center. The GMI offers practical and theoretical vocational training courses under one roof for currently almost 3,000 graduates.
The German School Kuala Lumpur, which has been run as an all-day school with integrated kindergarten since 2008, has offered the German International Abitur examination since 2009. It was awarded the title Excellent German School Abroad again in 2015.
Some of Germany’s political foundations support socio-cultural as well as education- and media-oriented projects in Malaysia. The Konrad Adenauer Foundation has its own office in Kuala Lumpur.
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.