Last updated in October 2017
Germany has had diplomatic relations with Tunisia since its independence in 1956. The German Government has been supporting Tunisia’s political and economic transformation through intensive cooperation since the democratisation process began in 2011. The two Governments have decided to establish a broad-based Transformation Partnership and a regular political dialogue at state secretary level. The last such dialogue meeting took place in Tunis in 2016, and the next meeting at this level is scheduled for 2018 in Berlin.
Numerous political visits in both directions testify to Germany’s good and intensive relations with Tunisia since the democratisation process began. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel most recently travelled to Tunis in 2017, on which occasion she held talks with President Mohamed Beji Caid Essebsi and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and also gave a speech to the Tunisian Parliament. Prime Minister Chahed had previously visited Berlin. Germany’s then Federal President Joachim Gauck made an official visit to Tunisia in 2015. That same year, Tunisian President Essebsi participated in the G7 Summit in Elmau as a special guest and in 2017 took part in the G20 Africa Partnership conference in Hamburg. Many meetings have also taken place at ministerial and civil service level.
The German Bundestag’s engagement includes organising a regular exchange of visits at the political level and providing advice and support to Tunisia’s parliamentary administration, as well as conducting the International Parliamentary Scholarships (IPS) programme for the purpose of consolidating the country’s democratic political culture. All six German political foundations have their own offices in Tunis, and in cooperation with various Tunisian partners are implementing advisory and dialogue projects that promote democracy, the rule of law, administrative reform, the market economy and social dialogue, as well as critical scientific research, media development and civil society. Among the German Länder, the Free State of Bavaria in particular maintains close relations with Tunisia owing to the jointly developed Action Plan 2015-2018.
Economic relations between Germany and Tunisia are close. Since the Tunisian revolution, both countries have shown keen interest and considerable initiative in further stepping up relations. Germany is Tunisia’s third largest trading partner and foreign investor, after France and Italy. According to figures from the German-Tunisian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, some 250 – mostly export-oriented – German companies are currently active in Tunisia. They employ a total local workforce of 55,000 and have invested more than 350 million euros in the country.
Germany’s main exports to Tunisia are textiles (semi-finished products), electronic goods, machinery, motor vehicles, chemical products and food industry products as well as iron and iron goods. Germany’s main imports from Tunisia are finished textile products, electrical components, car parts (especially wiring), leather goods, crude oil, food industry products, fuels, lubricating oils and carpets.
In development cooperation, too, Germany is one of Tunisia’s principal bilateral partners. As a consequence of the revolution, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has increased its funding, from 37.5 million euros in 2010 to 290 million euros in 2016. Since development cooperation began in the 1960s, Tunisia has received funding worth more than 1.5 billion euros from Germany. Cooperation focuses on environmental protection and resource conservation, water, sustainable economic development, renewable energy and employment promotion. Tunisia also benefits from the special initiative for the stabilisation and development of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with which German development cooperation is helping to improve living conditions and promote political participation and social justice in the MENA region. A measure of particular importance is the conversion of a total of 60 million euros of Tunisian debt into support for development projects. Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) is overseeing the implementation of this measure until 2020. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), KfW, Germany’s political foundations and the Deutsche Welle Akademie have a total of more than 160 staff in Tunisia to implement local development projects.
As part of the Transformation Partnership with Tunisia, well over 100 projects (worth a total of more than 75 million euros) have been supported in the country since 2012. These measures, which are to be continued in the coming years, focus on areas including fostering good governance and the rule of law, employment and dual vocational training as well as civil society and professional media.
Culture and education
Central elements of German-Tunisian cultural cooperation are the scholarships awarded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) as well as German language courses and cultural events. The Goethe-Institut has been operating in Tunis for almost 60 years.
There are nearly 40,000 students learning German as their third foreign language at secondary schools in Tunisia. In spring 2014, the Goethe-Institut concluded an agreement with the Tunisian Ministry of Education to promote the teaching of German. The agreement covers further training measures and the provision of teaching material and consulting services. The Goethe-Institut also oversees the Federal Foreign Office’s Schools: Partners for the Future initiative (PASCH), which has recruited five partner schools in Tunisia. The DAAD has a total of four lectors/language assistants working at three universities in Tunis and Gabes to promote German teaching. Since June 1992, Radio Tunis Chaîne Internationale (RTCI) has been broadcasting a daily one-hour programme in German.
The Rome branch of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) has earned great respect over the past four decades for its excavations at Carthage and Chimtou. Since 2000, finds from the Mahdia shipwreck, which were restored in Germany, have been on show at the National Bardo Museum in Tunis. In recent years, the DAI has conducted major cultural preservation projects in Chimtou (Roman imperial cult temple) and Carthage with Federal Foreign Office funding.
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.