MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER




FA123
28 OCTOBER 1996

DIPLOMATIC APPOINTMENT: AMBASSADOR TO THE PHILIPPINES


I have today announced the appointment of Mr Miles Kupa as Australian Ambassador to the Republic of the Philippines.

Mr Kupa succeeds Mr Richard Smith who had been Ambassador since April 1994.

The Australia-Philippines relationship is long-standing, friendly and now expanding steadily - in part a result of a welcome new era of political stability and strong economic growth in the Philippines. Levels of trade and investment have more than doubled in the past five years and the commercial relationship has great potential for further growth. Our bilateral trade with the Philippines has grown from $566 million in 1990-91 to $1.33 billion in 1995-96 - an average annual growth rate of over 19 percent. The Philippines is increasingly seen as a more attractive investment destination for Australian business.

Our defence relationship is expanding and Australia is now the single largest provider of training to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Migration has made a major contribution to people-to-people links between our countries. The Filipino community in Australia now numbers between 70,000 and 80,000 first generation members and another 40,000 second generation. Our continuing program of development cooperation underlines Australia's broad commitment to the relationship.

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Australia-Philippines diplomatic relations and there is greater recognition of the increasing worth and depth of our relationship. President Ramos's visit in August last year was the first-ever visit to Australia by an incumbent President of the Philippines and significantly raised the Philippine profile in Australia. The Government values the relationship with the Philippines. The Philippines was the first country visited by Mr Fischer as Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister, a clear demonstration of the new Government's commitment to this key bilateral relationship.

We share with the Philippines a common outlook on many issues and many common interests. We value our cooperation on regional economic and security issues. APEC has been an important area of cooperation this year as the Philippines is the 1996 Chair of APEC and President Ramos will be hosting the APEC Leaders meeting in November. We support strongly the Philippines' leadership in pushing forward the APEC agenda.

Mr Kupa, a senior career officer with wide experience, joined the Department in 1969. He has considerable expertise on the region, having served in the Embassy in Bangkok twice, and in Jakarta as Minister and Deputy Head of Mission, while his most recent appointment in Canberra was as First Assistant Secretary, South and South East Asia Division (1993-95). His other overseas assignments have been in Cairo, Paris and as Ambassador to Iraq (1983-86). Other service in Canberra has included a secondment to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (1991), followed by a period as Senior Adviser to the then Minister for Foreign Affairs (1991-93).

Mr Kupa was born in Czechoslovakia and is a graduate of the University of Melbourne. Aged 49, he is married to Ms Zulaikha Chudori, currently First Secretary in the Australian Embassy in Bangkok.