Relations between Timor-Leste and Germany are cordial. Since the UN Transitional Administration of 1999, Timor-Leste has received extensive assistance (approximately 67 million euro) from Germany for nation-building. After achieving independence on 20 May 2002, Timor-Leste was recognised by Germany under international law. A German Honorary Consul is located in Dili.
German development cooperation focused on peace and security, the maritime transport sector and the creation of economic prospects through training and jobs. Two passenger and freight ferries that were built with German funding 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 instigated by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, a decision was taken to end public bilateral development cooperation with Timor-Leste. The remaining ongoing projects were concluded in early 2023 and handed over to partners in Timor-Leste. Development cooperation continues through non‑state, European and multilateral channels, in particular through the churches, the EU and global initiatives such as the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF).
Bilateral trade reached a volume of 8.6 million euro in 2022, more than three times the volume 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).
Since 2007, Germany has invited a number of journalists from Timor-Leste to attend further education seminars in Germany and Indonesia. Students from Timor-Leste have been invited to study in Germany on German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarships ever since 2002.
The Dili International Film Festival is held annually and usually includes one German contribution.