Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1958, Germany has supported Nepal’s development, as a reliable partner and friend. It has always appreciated Nepal’s independent foreign policy aimed at ensuring regional balance and cooperation in what could be a potential crisis region. Even during times of political and military turmoil, Germany remained consistently committed to improving the population’s living conditions and to ensuring respect for human rights.
Continuing this tradition, Germany is supporting the Nepalese peace and democratisation process launched in 2006, which, with the efforts for a credible transitional justice process, has entered a concluding phase, but one not yet completed. In addition, Nepal and Germany are together trying to use the experience gained in development cooperation to bolster Nepal’s economic fresh start, which needs a sound foundation in private-sector initiative and legal certainty if the population as a whole is to benefit from development.
The celebrations in 2018/19 to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations underline Nepal’s close, trusting, reliable partnership with Germany as a gateway to Europe. The opening event in May 2018 attended by Foreign Minister Gyawali was followed by a concert by the Stuttgarter Kammerorchester in Kathmandu – on the Roof of the World – on 29 December 2018. The celebrations will end with an exhibition on German-Nepalese relations and on the energy transition in Germany in April 2019. Several smaller concerts and discussion events have rounded off the programme.
The Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Barbara Hendricks, visited Nepal in the spring of 2017, at almost exactly the same time as a delegation from the German Bundestag led by Claudia Roth, Vice-President of the Bundestag. Ms Roth encouraged the Nepalese parliament to take a more self-confident stance on global environmental issues. The Parliamentary Friendship Group for Relations with the States of South Asia visited Nepal in March 2019. Its chairman announced that the Bundestag and the Nepalese parliament would seek closer cooperation. Human rights issues, including the need to focus efforts to come to terms with the past on the concerns of the victims of the civil war (1996-2006), were an important topic in these talks. During their visit to the country in March 2019, the German parliamentarians also looked at ways to promote foreign investment in Nepal.
In recent years Nepalese government ministers have attended major trade fairs in Germany (ITB Berlin, International Green Week). Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi visited Berlin for consultations in July 2018. Visits by the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and the Minister of Federal Affairs are planned for 2019.
Germany is an important market for Nepal, particularly for carpets and textile products. Nepal’s main imports from Germany are machinery and industrial products. In recent years, the bilateral balance of trade has regularly shown a surplus in Nepal’s favour. The annual volume of bilateral trade has remained fairly constant these last few years, at just over 50 million euros. The situation was different in 2015 and 2017, in part due to the import of an aircraft.
An investment protection agreement has been in place since 1986. Founded in 1990, the Nepal German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NGCCI) in Kathmandu promotes bilateral trade Relations.
Nepal is an important partner country of German development cooperation. The aim of cooperation is to support Nepal in its efforts to deal with the aftermath of the civil war and to alleviate poverty there in the long term. German support focuses on the following areas: improving health care, promoting renewable energy (solar and hydroelectric power and biogas) and energy efficiency as well as fostering trade and sustainable economic development. Here, Germany is also currently coordinating international support for stepping up foreign trade.
Following the major earthquakes in Nepal in April and May 2015, the Federal Government made available a total of 35 million euros for humanitarian aid and reconstruction programmes.
Another important element of Germany’s engagement in Nepal was its support for the peace process there, through advisory activities and participation in the Nepal Peace Trust Fund, a funding instrument to finance the agreements reached under the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Accord. Germany has also provided assistance in the form of concrete vocational training and further-education measures for former Maoist rebels, thus making an important contribution to their reintegration into society.
Building democratic structures and protecting and improving the implementation of human rights are important concerns of Germany. The Federal Foreign Office provides support here through various other projects.
The principal implementing organisations of government development cooperation – Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and KfW Entwicklungsbank (KfW development bank) – have their own staff working in Nepal. There are also more than 130 private initiatives and associations from Germany supporting projects and programmes in Nepal, in some cases with public funding.
Beyond its bilateral commitment, Germany also makes a substantial contribution to international organisations’ development assistance for Nepal through contributions and other payments, particularly to the EU and the World Bank.
Culture and science
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation regularly award scholarships, especially for postgraduate courses in areas of particular importance to developing countries. Returning students are now active in various networks and organisations for recipients and alumni. In January 2019. the largest of these, NEGAAS, signed an agreement with the Goethe-Zentrum Kathmandu on expanding cooperation. Language training in the Goethe-Zentrum is to be backed up with student advice services, thus making it more attractive.
The Goethe-Zentrum Kathmandu teaches German as a foreign language within the global Goethe-Institut network. The courses on offer are very popular with young people in Nepal, who are increasingly interested in studying in Germany. In addition, German has been taught at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu for many years, and (as a second foreign language alongside English) at two schools in Kathmandu since 2010 as part of the Schools: Partners for the Future (PASCH) initiative. More than 1000 young people in Nepal are currently learning German, and the number is growing.
Nepal is also a focal point for the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG), which has run over 40 research projects to date.
The South Asia Institute at the University of Heidelberg has a branch office in Kathmandu.
For many years now, and since 2016 in cooperation with the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the Federal Foreign Office has funded projects to restore sites of cultural or religious significance in Nepal and in the former royal cities of Patan and Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley. German archaeologists have also done important research work through their excavations. A cultural agreement between Nepal and Germany was signed in 1992.
German cultural offerings such as guest performances by German music ensembles as well as painting and photo exhibitions are very well received. Deutsche Welle cooperates with several Nepalese radio and television stations and Nepalese journalists are regularly invited to attend information programmes or further-training courses in Germany.
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.