MEDIA RELEASE
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS - ALEXANDER DOWNER

26 April 2000

DIPLOMATIC APPOINTMENT: AMBASSADOR TO BELGIUM

I have today announced the appointment to Brussels of Ms Joanna Hewitt as Chief of the Australian Mission to the European Union, and as Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, with non-resident accreditation to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Ms Hewitt will replace Mr Donald Kenyon, who has held these responsibilities since February 1997.

Australia has a strong and broadening relationship with the European Union (EU). Our links are longstanding and include some of our most vital economic interests and a wide and richly diverse range of cultural and people-to-people ties. The EU is Australia's largest trading partner and our major source of foreign investment including direct foreign investment.

Australia enjoys constructive relations with Belgium and Luxembourg. We share similar approaches to many international issues, including arms control, disarmament and Antarctica. Belgium and Luxembourg are members of the Australia Group on Chemical Weapons. The Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union (BLEU) is Australia's eighth most important source of total investment (BLEU direct and portfolio investment in Australia totalled A$10.9 billion in 1997-98) and the third largest EU investor in Australia. Two-way trade between Australia and the BLEU is also substantial, reaching A$1.8 billion in 1999.

Ms Hewitt has been Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade since February 1996, and Ambassador for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) since April 1998. Ms Hewitt was Minister (Agriculture and Energy) with the Australian Delegation to the OECD in 1992 before being appointed as Head of Division for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries in the OECD Secretariat in Paris, a position she held for three years.

Ms Hewitt has held a variety of senior positions in Canberra throughout her career, including in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Primary Industries and Energy, the Department of Industry, Technology and Commerce, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Office of National Assessments.

Ms Hewitt was born in Western Australia in 1949. She holds a Bachelor of Economics degree (First Class Honours) from the University of Western Australia and a Master of Science Degree in Economics from the London School of Economics.


Media contacts:
(Ministerial) Innes Willox (02) 6277-7500
(Departmental) Matt Francis/Julie McDonald (02) 6261-1555

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