M57

8 June 1995

DIPLOMATIC APPOINTMENT: AMBASSADOR TO CHILE

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Gareth Evans, today announced the appointment of Mr Ken Berry as Australian Ambassador to the Republic of Chile, with non-resident accreditation to Peru and Bolivia. He succeeds Mr Matthew Peek who has been Ambassador since September 1991.

Relations between Australia and Chile have expanded rapidly in recent years, with two-way trade growing by 66 per cent since 1992 to $164 million. More than 30 Australian companies now have offices in Chile, with realised Australian investment currently standing at $780 million. During a visit to Australia in November 1994, President Frei and Prime Minister Keating agreed that Australia could serve as a gateway for Chile's growing interests in the East Asian region, just as Chile could be a gateway for Australian commercial activities in Latin America. Chile became a full member of APEC at that time.

Chile and Australia share other important international interests including continued promotion of fair agricultural trade through membership of the Cairns Group, and our mutual interest in environmental protection through such mechanisms as the Antarctic Treaty and the recently formed Valdivia Group of southern hemisphere countries.

Australia's relations with Peru and Bolivia have also increased significantly in recent years, as economic and other reforms in both countries have attracted the interest of major Australian companies. Peru has long been a favoured Australian tourist destination, and like Australia, is also a member of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council and Pacific Basin Economic Council.

Mr Berry, aged 45, is a career officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He joined the then Department of Foreign Affairs in 1974 and has served in Manila, Algiers, Nairobi, Lusaka and Brasilia. In 1990 he was legal adviser to the Cambodia Task Force, and in April 1991 became Director of the APEC Section. He served in that position until June 1992 when he joined Senator Evans' personal staff as an Adviser, becoming Senior Adviser in August 1994. He is currently on a special assignment, writing a book on Australia's peace initiative on Cambodia. He speaks Spanish, Portuguese and French.

Mr Berry is expected to take up his appointment in January 1996, following a period as Chargé d'Affaires in the Australian Embassy to Venezuela, which has non-resident accreditation to Colombia and Ecuador.

CANBERRA