Relations between Timor-Leste and Germany are cordial. Since the UN Transitional Administration of 1999, Timor-Leste has received extensive assistance from Germany for nation-building. After achieving independence on 20 May 2002, Timor-Leste was recognised by Germany under international law.
German development cooperation focuses on promoting peace and security, in particular by helping create economic prospects through training and jobs. Since Timor-Leste gained its independence, Germany has pledged some 67 million euro.
Building transport infrastructure to connect rural regions with the country’s capital and coastal areas remains a key prerequisite for the country’s future development. Germany and Timor-Leste are cooperating here above all in the maritime transport sector. Up until December 2020, when it had to be taken out of service due to an engine failure, the German-funded passenger and freight ferry Berlin Nakroma was the country’s principal and most affordable domestic maritime connection. A replacement ferry was subsequently chartered and currently connects the capital Dili with Atauro Island and Oecusse District, an enclave in Indonesian territory.
A second ferry project to improve maritime connections is currently under way.
As part of the “BMZ 2030” reform process developed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, a decision was taken to phase out bilateral state development cooperation with Timor-Leste. Ongoing projects will be concluded as planned and handed over to partners in Timor-Leste by the end of 2023 at the latest.
Bilateral trade between Germany and Timor-Leste was very low in 2020 with a volume of 927,000 euro: Timor-Leste’s exports to Germany (mainly coffee) totalled 645,000 euro compared to imports from Germany worth 282,000 euro.
In view of the poor training conditions for many of Timor-Leste’s journalists, Germany has since 2007 invited several of them to attend further-education seminars in Germany and Indonesia. Since 2002, a large number of students from Timor-Leste (who were, however, enrolled in universities in Indonesia) have been invited to study in Germany on German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarships.
The Dili International Film Festival is being held again this year and will include one German contribution.