MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER


FA8

2 February 1998

DIPLOMATIC APPOINTMENT: AMBASSADOR TO THE FEDERATIVE REPUBLIC OF BRAZIL

I have today announced the appointment of Mr Garry Conroy as Australian Ambassador to the Federative Republic of Brazil. Mr Conroy will replace Mr Charles Mott, who has been Ambassador since December 1995.

Brazil is Australia's oldest diplomatic partner and largest trading partner in Latin America, with two-way trade totalling A$683 million in 1996197. While Australia's exports remain dominated by coal, they are now diversifying in response to the opening of the Brazilian economy over recent years.

Brazil's importance as a key economy in South America has been augmented by its membership of the Mercosur free trade area, which comprises Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Through the dialogue process that Australia and New Zealand have embarked on with the Mercosur grouping under the CER-Mercosur framework, Australia and Brazil are actively seeking to explore ways to facilitate and enhance trade between the two countries and regions. In this regard, the first CER-Mercosur business meeting is expected to be held later this year. Mercosur's emergence as the key economic grouping in South America will demand close attention for the trade and investment opportunities it can provide.

Australia and Brazil share a number of trade and foreign policy goals and have worked closely together over many years to advance their mutual interests. This has been most notable in the context of the Cairns Group of agricultural traders, on a range of international security issues, and on international environmental issues.

Mr Conroy joined the then Department of Trade in 1966. He has held a number of senior positions within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade including Assistant Secretary, Central Europe Branch (1989-93) and Assistant Secretary, Executive Branch (1993-95). He served as Ambassador in Copenhagen (1995-97), and is currently Assistant Secretary, Trade Policy Issues and Industrials Branch.

Mr Conroy holds a Bachelor of Economics from the Australian National University and is married with two children.
Mr Conroy is expected to take up his appointment in April 1998.

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