Last updated in November 2017
Historically, the close ties between Germany and Mongolia are rooted in the special relationship that existed between the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Mongolian People’s Republic.
Since its democratic rebirth in 1990, Mongolia has developed a close partnership with the reunified Germany, one that encompasses all areas of political, economic and social life.
The Mongolian Government regards Germany as its leading partner in the European Union. The two countries jointly promote democracy and human rights in the international arena, particularly within the United Nations. The close cooperation also includes a shared commitment to security engagement in Afghanistan.
The great importance attached to bilateral relations between Germany and Mongolia is reflected in the frequency of reciprocal high-level visits.
To mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, Germany’s then Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Mongolia in 2014.
In 2015, Mongolia’s then President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and Chairman of the Mongolian Parliament Miyegombo Enkhbold travelled to Germany. In October of that year, Germany’s then Federal President Joachim Gauck paid a state visit to Mongolia.
Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the ASEM Summit in the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator in 2016. During her stay in Mongolia, Federal Chancellor Merkel also held talks with then President Elbegdorj. It was her second trip to the country as Federal Chancellor.
Germany is, along with the United Kingdom, Mongolia’s largest trading partner in the European Union. Though the volume of bilateral trade is modest, Germany records a significant structural export surplus. In 2016, Germany imported goods worth 13.8 million euros from Mongolia and exported goods worth approximately 100 million euros to the country. Mongolia’s total foreign trade with EU countries in 2016 was worth 381 million euros, with EU imports from Mongolia amounting to 67 million euros and EU exports to Mongolia 313 million euros.
German exports to Mongolia can be broken down as follows: machinery (25.2%), food (16.8%), chemical products (15.1%), motor vehicles and vehicle parts (7.1%), textiles and garments (4.4%), measurement and control technology (4.2%) and other goods (27.2%). In 2015, German imports from Mongolia consisted of raw materials (71.6%), textiles and garments (18.3%), metal goods (1.1%) and other goods (9.9%).
Mongolia ranks 146th among suppliers of German imports and 124th among buyers of German exports. (All economic figures in this section are from Germany Trade and Invest.)
The raw materials agreement between Germany and Mongolia, signed in 2011, establishes a partnership in the raw materials, industrial and technology sectors aimed at securing raw materials supply and processing capacity in both countries. The creation of a value-added chain in Mongolia was designed to increased revenue and productivity, thus helping to ensure sustainable economic and social development in the country.
German development cooperation has been supporting the country for 25 years. An agreement on technical cooperation was concluded with Mongolia as early as 1992, shortly after the beginning of the country’s political and economic transition. Germany is, along with Japan, the Republic of Korea and above all China, one of Mongolia’s biggest bilateral donors, and is by far the largest donor in the European Union. From 1992 to 2016, Germany pledged a total of just under 400 million euros for financial and technical cooperation. This is not only a reflection of the good and friendly relations between the two countries, but also an acknowledgement of Mongolia’s achievements in terms of democratisation and economic transformation.
With its capacity-building measures, German development cooperation is making an important contribution to stabilising Mongolia’s economic situation, promoting environmentally compatible growth and reducing poverty. Since 2011, Germany and Mongolia have been working together in the following three priority areas:
Promotion of sustainable resource management: The aim is to promote resources-based, inclusive economic growth and increase the transparency of the raw materials sector. The Integrated Raw Materials Initiative (IRMI) is linking efforts to promote good governance with measures aimed at strengthening corporate accountability, while also supporting regional development in mining districts. The IRMI is complemented by vocational training measures conducted in close cooperation with the private sector that seek to help in particular young people into long-term employment. The German-Mongolian Institute for Resources and Technology (GMIT), which commenced teaching in September 2014, will graduate its first class of students in 2018.
Biodiversity: German development cooperation is providing technical advisory services on the conservation and sustainable use of Mongolia’s forests, thus making an important contribution to the preservation of biological diversity and the fight against climate change. In addition, conservation areas are being supported under financial cooperation. This helps in a significant way to preserve Mongolia’s unique ecosystems and to improve the living conditions of people who live from and with nature.
Energy efficiency: Rehabilitation measures for existing grids and power plants are being implemented to reduce energy losses and emissions. At the same time, policymakers are being advised on energy efficiency and renewables and pilot projects on energy efficiency improvements for buildings are underway.
The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung have offices in Ulan Bator and are making important contributions to consolidating Mongolia’s democratic structures.
Cultural relations and education
As a result of the close ties with the GDR, some 30,000 Mongolians still have a good command of the German language and are familiar with Germany. Given the size of Mongolia’s population, German enjoys a unique status in East Asia. There are currently three German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) lectors working at Mongolian universities, and there is one expert providing advisory services on German as a subject at Mongolian schools. In addition, there are many Mongolian teachers providing German lessons at schools, universities and non-formal institutions. The Goethe-Institut (GI) has maintained a liaison office in Ulan Bator since 2008 and this office has since become a fully-fledged institute. At present, there is also a DAAD long-term lecturer working at the German-Mongolian Institute for Resources and Technology.
Since 2014, the DW Akademie (DWA) has been deepening its cooperation with the Press Institute of Mongolia (PIM) and supporting the Media Council of Mongolia (MCM). The MCM was established in early January 2015 as a result of the third German-Mongolian Media Dialogue, which took place in 2013. In addition, Professor Michael Haller’s standard work for journalists, “Recherchieren: ein Handbuch für Journalisten” (Researching: A Handbook for Journalists), was published in Mongolian and a further-education programme was launched at the PIM.
The DAAD, in cooperation with other German cultural intermediaries such as the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA), the Goethe-Institut and the Academic Evaluation Centres (APS), participates in the International Education Exhibition in Ulan Bator to provide information to Mongolian school leavers and students on opportunities to study in Germany.
In 2014, the two countries celebrated the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with a wide range of events spread throughout the year. The large number and diversity of these events were further testimony to the level and intensity of bilateral exchange, especially in the areas of education, culture and research.
Since signing an agreement in 1998, the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), the University of Bonn and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences (MAS) have been conducting joint excavations in the ancient capital of Karakorum as part of the Mongolian-German Karakorum Expedition. The German and Mongolian Heads of State have served as patrons since 2000.
The DAI opened a research office in Ulan Bator in August 2007. In the same year, the second long-term cooperation project was launched between the DAI and the MAS. The Mongolian-German Orkhon Expedition is seeking to explore important sites in the Orkhon Valley, one of the major centres of the Mongol Empire. Current research is focusing on the ancient Uyghur capital of Karabalghasun. The Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2004.
Over the past 20 years, archaeology has emerged as a major focus of bilateral research cooperation. Since 2008, the Gerda Henkel Foundation, a Düsseldorf-based private organisation, has also been supporting bilateral projects in the areas of archaeology and culture. Numerous national and international exhibitions, conferences and publications testify to the success of this cooperation.
A ceremony was held in May 2016 to inaugurate the “Great Hall of Karakorum”, the DAI’s cultural preservation project at the site of the ancient capital of the Mongols, – Genghis Khan’s descendants from the 13th century. The excavation and conservation of this large temple complex, which formed part of the ancient capital of Karakorum, marks the first time that major results of joint Mongolian-German archaeological research have been permanently exhibited to an interested public at the historical site.
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.