Last updated in October 2018
The Philippines has a population of over 105 million, making it one of the world’s most populous countries. With its democratic constitution, the Philippines is part of the Western community of shared values. Under the Government of President Rodrigo Duterte, however, the country has been increasingly distancing itself from the United States and the European Union.
There are regular political exchanges between Germany and the Philippines at government and parliamentary level.
The multilateral cooperation between Germany and the Philippines in areas such as climate policy and poverty reduction finds continued expression in bilateral relations which focus economic cooperation on related issues. Developments in the Philippine human rights situation are monitored as a part of a critical dialogue on human rights. Official relations between the two countries are complemented by the activities of Germany’s political foundations and broad engagement on the part of German civil Society.
Bilateral trade between Germany and the Philippines totalled 5.6 billion euros in 2017 (2016: 4.8 billion euros). German imports from the Philippines markedly increased to 3.6 billion euros (2016: 2.8 billion euros) and German exports to the Philippines were almost unchanged at 2.0 billion euros. Germany’s largest exports to the Philippines are machinery, electronic goods and foodstuffs. Aircraft as well as chemical and pharmaceutical products also play an important role.
Goods made in Germany enjoy an excellent reputation in the Philippines, but many types of goods are only available in the upper price segment. As a broader middle class emerges in the country’s major cities, long-term market opportunities in the consumer goods sector will improve.
Given the Philippines’ stable macroeconomic environment and high growth rates, there are clear signs of positive developments in economic relations between the two countries. In recent years, German companies making new investments in the IT services sector have outsourced internal business processes to the Philippines or opened their own call centres there. German companies in the maritime, transport and insurance sectors also see the Philippines as a promising future market. In addition, German companies in the industrial manufacturing sector have recently made investments in the Philippines.
The German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI), set up in 2008, was admitted to the network of German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHKs) in 2015. Germany is one of the biggest foreign investors in the country.
Cooperation on development, climate policy and disaster relief
With a per capita GDP of 2900 US dollars (2017), the Philippines is among Southeast Asia’s weakest economies. Around a fifth of the population (more than 20 million people) in the Philippines live below the poverty line; the southern island of Mindanao, where about a third of the population live in poverty, is particularly badly affected.
Germany is a major partner of the Philippines in development cooperation. Peacebuilding and conflict transformation in Mindanao are the key focuses of German-Philippine development cooperation. The Philippines is also a priority country for projects under the German Government’s International Climate Initiative which promotes the development of climate protection strategies, sustainable natural resource management, biodiversity protection and renewable energy promotion. Alongside these programmes agreed by the governments, there are many different private German sponsors carrying out activities financed by the Federal Government, the same holds true for the Catholic and Protestant Churches in Germany and the German political foundations. The Federal Government also regularly finances emergency aid for victims in the Philippines, where regular natural disasters such as tropical storms and earthquakes repeatedly cause humanitarian crises, and it also provides advice on how to improve disaster prevention.
The cultural agreement concluded between Germany and the Philippines in 1983 forms the basis for wide-ranging cooperation based on partnership in the cultural sector.
Cooperation in higher education has been intensified over the past few years through additional cooperation agreements, research projects and academic exchanges. Since summer 2008, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has funded a long-term lectureship in German Studies at the University of the Philippines. Overall, more than 300 Philippine scientists and scholars have received assistance from the DAAD or the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
The activities of the Goethe-Institut in Manila, which was established in 1961, focus on language work (German courses and language training for teachers in the Philippines) and programme work in the areas of film, music, architecture, fine arts and photography. In addition, the Goethe-Institut has since the beginning of 2008 been actively involved in the recruitment of partner schools under the Schools: Partners for the Future initiative (PASCH) and in building and expanding already existing German language teaching institutions into a nationwide network. The German European School Manila (GESM), which was founded in 1980, is a recognised German school abroad leading to an upper secondary level leaving certificate. Since 1992, it has shared the so-called Eurocampus with the Lycée Français de Manille (LFM). The GESM offers a bilingual German-English International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, which is recognised in Germany as a higher education entrance qualification. In the 2008-2009 school year, the GESM introduced an English-language section, which is gradually being expanded. Level 1 of the German Language Certificate (DSD) has been awarded since 2014.
The German Embassy also organises its own events, such as chamber music concerts featuring Philippine and German musicians and provides ongoing support to former scholarship holders, who on their return from Germany form a valuable bridge between the two countries. Numerous German-Philippine friendship associations contribute to cultural exchange. Philippine choirs are always very well received when giving guest performances in Germany and take the top places in competitions.
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.