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

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Joint Media Release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer and Australian Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile
26 April 2001

Appointment of World Trade Organisation Ambassador

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, and the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, today announced the appointment of Mr David Spencer as Australian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).  Mr Spencer will replace Dr Geoffrey Raby who has been Ambassador since March 1998.

The WTO was established on 1 January 1995 as the successor organisation to the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and is responsible for the administration of the agreements that govern the multilateral trading system.  One of the WTO's most important functions is to provide a forum for multilateral trade negotiations.  The WTO remains the primary vehicle for Australia to advance its interests in achieving greater market access and secure trading conditions for Australian exporters.  Open markets remain crucial to Australia's economic prosperity and jobs.

Mr Spencer will take up his position a few months before the Fourth WTO Ministerial Conference is held in Qatar in November.  Australia has benefited substantially from successive rounds of multilateral trade negotiations and the Government is strongly committed to the launch of a new market-access focused trade round in Qatar.  Mr Spencer's strong trade policy credentials and his distinguished career in advising Government on trade and investment issues make him well-equipped to further Australia's interests in the WTO.

Mr Spencer is currently Deputy Secretary with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and has also served as First Assistant Secretary, Americas and Europe Division (1997-98), and Special Adviser, Economic and Trade Division (1989-91).

Overseas, Mr Spencer has served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington (1993-96), High Commissioner in Ottawa (1991-93), Senior Trade Commissioner in Hong Kong (1986-89), Counsellor in Tokyo (1980-84) and Counsellor, Australian Delegation to the GATT Multilateral Trade Negotiations in Geneva (1973-78).

Educated at the Australian National University, Mr Spencer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and Economics.  He is married with three children.

 Media inquiries: Matt Francis (Ministerial) 02 62777 500/
Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 2534/

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