The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

Media release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
Tuesday, 18 July 2000

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Argentina

I have today announced the appointment of Ms Sharyn Minahan as Australian Ambassador to the Argentine Republic, with concurrent accreditation to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay and the Republic of Paraguay. She is expected to take up her appointment in August 2000.

Ms Minahan replaces Ms Martine Letts, who has been Ambassador since March 1998.

Australia has an important and expanding relationship with Argentina, based on common political and economic multilateral interests, and a promising growth in commercial relations. The two countries liaise closely on such matters as international trade policy (especially on agriculture through the Cairns Group, of which Uruguay and Paraguay are also members), international and regional economic cooperation policies, the role of the UN, international peacekeeping, nuclear and disarmament issues, Antarctica, and international environment policy. The exchanges Australia has with Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay through the CER (Australia and New Zealand)-Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) dialogue process is another example of Australia's increasingly close involvement in the South American region.

While trade between Australia and Argentina remains modest (around A$200 million annual two-way trade), Australian investors have shown considerable interest in Argentina, with Australia now ranked as one of the largest investors in the country. It is hoped that the increase in Australian investor interest will, in due course, flow through to increased levels of bilateral trade (particularly Australian services exports to Argentina). The recent successful bid by Argentine company INVAP to construct the replacement research reactor at Lucas Heights has significantly raised the profile of the bilateral commercial relationship.

Australia's trade and economic interests in Uruguay and Paraguay are small, yet Australia has a mutually beneficial dialogue with these countries on a range of regional and international issues, notably in the Cairns Group of Agricultural Traders. Australia looks forward to expanding such cooperative relations with Paraguay and Uruguay on issues of common interest.

Ms Minahan is a career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She joined the Department in 1975 and has served as Third Secretary in Mexico City (1975) and Santiago de Chile (1976-77), Second and First Secretary in Paris (1982-84), Counsellor in Madrid (1988-92) and Charge d?Affaires in Buenos Aires (Dec 95-Jan 96). Ms Minahan has held positions in the Department as Director in the Canada, Latin America and Caribbean Section (1998-2000) and Trade Liaison Section (1995-98), Executive Officer in Executive Branch (1994) and Corporate Management Division (1985-87). She has worked in the Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (1979-80).

Ms Minahan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with Double Honours, a Graduate Diploma in Public Law and a Graduate Diploma in Counselling. She is fluent in Spanish and French.

Media contacts:

Matt Francis (Ministerial) (02) 6277-7-500
Julie McDonald (Departmental) (02) 6261-1-5.55

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