FA 18


25 March 1997


I have today announced the appointment of Mr Bob Cotton as Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia.

Mr Cotton will replace Mr Bill Farmer, who has returned to Australia to take up an appointment as a Deputy Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Australia and Malaysia enjoy a close and long-standing bilateral relationship which is becoming more productive, diverse and mutually baneficial. Since the Howard Government came to power, real progress has been made, and there is a determination on both sides to sustain that momentum.

Australia's relationship with Malaysia is distinguished by close people-to-people links, historical ties and common interests. Over 120,000 Malaysians have been educated in Australia, and with recent reforms to Malaysia's education sector, Australians will now have more opportunities to study in Malaysia.

Malaysia is Australia's twelfth largest trading partner. Total trade amounts to around $A3.9 billion and two-way investment around $A3.2 billion. To give the economic relationship added impetus, the Government inaugurated Ministerial-level Joint Trade Committee (JTC) talks in Canberra last year. Another major achievement was the initialling last year of the Australia-Malaysia agreement on Trade and Economic Co-operation. This new trade agreement provides a forward looking mechanism which reflectsthe growing importance and diversity of the bilateral trade and investment relationship.

Australia and Malaysia are engaged in sign)ficant cooperation and dialogue on major regional and global economic, political and security issues. Our extensive defence cooperation encompasses valued bilateral links as well as cooperation through the Five Powers Defence Arrangement.

This already substantial and diverse relationship will become more important as Malaysia moves towards Dr Mahathir's 2020 Vision.

Mr Cotton is a senior career diplomat, with previous posting experience in Malaysia. He joined the then Department of External Affairs in 1967 and served in Pretoria and Tokyo early in his career. He participated in the Interchange scheme with BHP in 1979. From 1983 to 1985, he was Deputy High Commissioner in the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur. From 1986 to 1988, he was High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. From 1988 to 1991 he was Ambassador to Fiji and High Commissioner to Tuvalu. From 1991 to 1992, he was Assistant Secretary, International Organisations Branch. From May to December 1992, he was First Assistant Secretary, South Pacific, Africa and Middle East Division. Most recently, from 1993 to 1997, he was First Assistant Secretary, Corporate Management Division in Canberra.

Mr Cotton is a graduate of the University of Sydney and the University of Colorado, US.

Mr Cotton is expected to take up his appointment in April 1997.