MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER





FA40

DIPLOMATIC APPOINTMENT: CONSUL-GENERAL TO HO CHI MINH CITY

16 May 1997

I have today announced the appointment of Ms Lisa Filipetto as Australia's Consul-General in Ho Chi Minh City in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Ms Filipetto will replace Mr Peter Baxter, who has been Consul-General since November 1994.

Australia's bilateral relationship with Vietnam is expanding at both the government-to-government and commercial levels. Over the past year, there have been a number of ministerial-level visits between the two countries which have served to strengthen the bilateral relationship. Contact at officials level has also been expanding in a range of areas including civil aviation, trade and investment, development assistance, defence and education.

Forging stronger commercial links, including through identifying and promoting opportunities for Australian trade and investment, is a priority for the Australian government in developing the bilateral relationship. Australian merchandise exports to Vietnam have been increasing rapidly in recent years, totalling around $203 million in 1996. Major Australian exports include dairy products, cereals, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications and medical and other equipment. Australia has also figured consistently among the top foreign investors in Vietnam with major investments in telecommunications, banking, building and construction, food processing, petroleum and gas, and legal, financial, education and training services. At the end of 1996, the value of Australian investment projects in Vietnam was around $1 billion with a number of major projects in the pipeline.

The Consulate General in Hi Chi Minh City also provides extensive consular, immigration and visa services.

Ms Filipetto joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1985 and has served in Bandar Seri Begawan and Dublin. Her most recent appointment was Director, Services Trade Section in the Department's Trade Negotiations Division.

Ms Filipetto is a graduate of the Australian National University where she completed degrees in Economics and Arts (Asian Studies). She was born in Sydney in 1962.

Ms Filipetto is expected to take up her appointment in July 1997.