The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
 FORMER MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIA

Media release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
Friday, 18 August 2000
FA92

Diplomatic Appointment: Consul-General in Shanghai

I have today announced the appointment of Ms Penelope Ann Richards as Australia's Consul-General in Shanghai.

Ms Richards will replace Mr David Ambrose, who has been Consul-General since January 1998. She is expected to take up her appointment in February 2001.

Australia's relationship with China is one of our most important, based on shared political, security and economic interests, as well as on rapidly growing commercial and people-to-people links. Bilateral trade and economic ties continue to expand. Two-way trade in 1999 exceeded AUD10 billion, with Australian exports diversifying increasingly into higher value-added manufactures and services.

The Consulate-General in Shanghai plays an important role in developing the relationship in eastern China, particularly in the consular and economic areas. The Municipality of Shanghai plays a central role in China's economy and is a major gateway for foreign trade and investment. Over half of Australia's exports to China enter through the port of Shanghai, China's largest, while it is estimated that more than half of Australia's imports from China come from Shanghai and its surrounding provinces. The city and its hinterland have a combined total population of about 130 million, offering considerable trade and investment opportunities for Australian business. In 2001, Shanghai will host the APEC Leaders' Meeting.

Ms Richards is a career diplomat and joined the then Department of Foreign Affairs in 1982 after graduating from the ANU with a combined degree in Asian Studies and Law. She is currently Minister and Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Beijing.

Ms Richards has previously been posted to Tokyo and Jakarta. In Tokyo, she was responsible for analysis of Japanese domestic politics, foreign policy and social and labour affairs and for assistance with mineral and agricultural resource negotiations. In Jakarta, she served as Minister-Counsellor in charge of political and economic affairs and trade policy.

In Canberra, Ms Richards has worked in the Legal Office and the Resources Branch. In the Legal Office she was responsible for advising on administrative law matters, drafting and interpretation of treaties, trade law, outer space law and law of the sea. In the Resources Branch she had responsibility for negotiating the Department's budget allocation, reporting performance information, financial management training, development of accounting systems and policies, locally engaged staff personnel policies and administration and liaison relating to overseas property.


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