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

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Media Release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
FA136 / 18 September 2001

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Mexico

I have today announced the appointment of Mr Graeme Wilson as Ambassador for Australia to the United Mexican States with concurrent accreditation to Belize, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.  He will succeed Mr Robert Hamilton who has been Ambassador since August 1997.  Mr Wilson is expected to take up his appointment in January 2002.

Australia and Mexico enjoy long-standing and friendly relations.  Commercial links form the major part of the bilateral relationship, although we cooperate closely on many global issues.  Mexico is an important interlocutor in the disarmament field.  The level of cooperation on international environment issues such as World Heritage, international whaling, climate change, biodiversity and biosafety continues to increase.  Mexico has also been a useful dialogue partner in multilateral trade forums such as the WTO.  APEC, too, is an important issue for the bilateral relationship and, with Mexico to host APEC in 2002, this relationship is set to grow further.

Bilateral trade has continued to grow by more than 30 per cent annually in the past five years.   In 2000-1, two-way trade approached the A$1 billion mark.  There is considerable potential for Australia in the Mexican market due to the size of the economy, its growing integration into the North American market through NAFTA and its important commercial connections into Central and South America. Mexico is also becoming a more attractive destination for Australian investment, especially in the areas of mining and manufacturing.

Australia has good relations with Cuba and the Central American republics of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Belize and we also work with those countries on a number of international issues.

Mr Wilson is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  He was the Department's Chief of Protocol from the end of 1998 until earlier this year.  Mr Wilson also contributed significantly to the review of Australia's South Pacific policy undertaken last year.

Mr Wilson served as Australia's Consul-General to New Caledonia (1995-98).  His other overseas postings were as Second Secretary, then First Secretary in France (1988-92) and as Third Secretary in Vanuatu (1984-85).  In Canberra, Mr Wilson previously worked in the Corporate Management area of the Department as Careers Adviser (1994-95), Director, Staffing Policy and Practices Section (1994) and Head of the Graduate Recruitment Unit (1993).  He also served in the South Pacific Branch of the Department (1986-88).

Born in Melbourne in 1953, Mr Wilson holds an MA (French) from Melbourne University and an MA (International Relations) from the University of Southern California.  He is married to Lisa and they have three children, Laura, Andrew and Matthew.

Media Inquiries: Matt Francis (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500, Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 2534

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