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

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Media Release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
FA132 / 5 September 2001

Diplomatic Appointment: Consul-General in Shanghai

I have today announced the appointment of Mr Sam Gerovich as Consul-General for Australia in Shanghai.  Mr Gerovich will succeed Ms Penny Richards who has been Consul-General since February 2001.  He is expected to take up his appointment in January 2002.

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 2000 exceeded $15 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 originate 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.  This year, Shanghai will host the APEC Leaders' Meeting.

Mr Gerovich is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  He has had extensive experience in North Asia including three postings to the Australian Embassy in Beijing.  He was Minister and Deputy Head of Mission in Beijing from 1992-97. From 1997-2001, he was seconded to the private sector to head the Australian Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei.  Mr Gerovich has also served in Hong Kong and in Tokyo.

Born in Shanghai in 1948, Mr Gerovich was educated at the University of Sydney where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours.  He also holds a Certificate of Chinese Studies from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.  He is married and he and his wife Celia have two adult children.

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

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