JOINT RELEASE

Minister for Foreign Affairs

Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Trade


FA164

23 December 1997

APPOINTMENT OF WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION AMBASSADOR

 

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Mr Tim Fischer, today announced the appointment of Dr Geoff Raby as Australian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Dr Raby will replace Mr Ted Delofski who has been appointed Australian Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The WTO was established on 1 January 1995 as the successor organisation to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and is responsible for the administration of the agreements which govern the multilateral trading system. The Australian Mission to the WTO, located in Geneva, is responsible for the representation of Australia's interests in that organisation.

Since the establishment of the WTO, Australia's WTO Mission in Geneva has played a key role in the achievement of Australia's trade policy goals. Agreements negotiated during the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations significantly expanded the reach of the multilateral trading system so that it now encompasses trade in services and intellectual property as well as in goods. Over the past year major agreements have been negotiated in the important areas of information technology, telecommunications and financial services.

The WTO is a dynamic and growing organisation. Over 30 countries are currently negotiating to join the organisation which underlines the importance attached to a credible and enforceable multilateral trading system. At a time of turbulence and uncertainty in international financial markets and increased global economic interdependence this rules-based system is essential to Australia's economic growth and sustained prosperity.

Trade is a major factor in the creation of decent jobs in Australia. The multilateral trading system provides stable and predictable rules through which Australian businesses can expand market access. It is also the main means of settling trade disputes between countries.

Dr Raby has been the First Assistant Secretary, Trade Negotiations and Organisations Division since January 1995. Prior to that he served in the Trade Directorate at the OECD Paris (1993 - 1995). He founded the Department's East Asia Analytical Unit in 1991 and until 1993 was Assistant Secretary and Head of the Unit. He took up that assignment after having served for five years at the Australian Embassy in Beijing, holding the positions of First Secretary (Economics) and then Counsellor (Economics). Before joining the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1986, he was Senior Analyst at the Office of National Assessments.

Dr Raby has Honours, Masters and PhD degrees in Economics from La Trobe University. He is married.

Dr Raby is expected to take up his appointment in January 1998.