Germany and Timor‑Leste: Bilateral relations
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 focused on promoting peace and security, in particular by helping create economic prospects through training and jobs. Since independence, Timor-Leste has received pledges totalling around 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 cooperated here above all in the maritime transport sector. Two German-funded passenger and freight ferries have been in operation between Dili, the island of Atauro and the coastal exclave of Oecusse since 2020 and 2021, respectively. These provide the country’s principal and most affordable domestic maritime connections today.
As part of the BMZ 2030 reform process developed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, a decision was taken to end bilateral, state-level development cooperation with Timor-Leste. Ongoing projects were concluded as planned and handed over to partners in Timor-Leste.
Bilateral trade volume in 2022 was nine million euro, more than three times higher than in 2021 (2.64 million euro); exports from Timor-Leste to Germany (almost exclusively coffee) totalled 4.2 million euro in 2022 while imports from Germany amounted to 4.4 million euro that year (primarily medical and pharmaceutical products).
In view of the difficult training conditions for many of Timor-Leste’s journalists, Germany has invited a number of them to attend further education seminars in Germany and Indonesia since 2007. 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 held annually and usually includes one German contribution.