The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP


Media Release

FA13 / 29 January 2002

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Brazil

I have today announced the appointment of Mr John Sullivan as Australian Ambassador to the Federative Republic of Brazil.   Mr Sullivan will replace Mr Garry Conroy, who has been Ambassador since May 1998, and is expected to take up his appointment in May 2002.

Brazil is Australia's oldest diplomatic partner and largest trading partner in Latin America, with two-way trade totalling A$1.19 billion in 2001-02.  While Australia's exports remain dominated by coal, they are now diversifying well in response to the opening of the Brazilian economy over recent years. The second largest export after coal, for example, is passenger motor vehicles.  Australian businesses are active in a variety of sectors in Brazil including processed foods, financial services, infrastructure, construction, entertainment and telecommunications.  Brazil is also the largest source of foreign students for Australian education institutions in Latin America.  Australian investment remains strongest in the mining and resources sector.

Brazil's importance as the largest economy in Latin America has been augmented by its membership of the Mercosur free trade area (comprising Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) and increasingly by the move towards a Free Trade Area of the Americas arrangement.   Through the CER-Mercosur framework and through increased bilateral contact, Australia and Brazil are actively seeking to explore ways to facilitate and enhance trade between the two countries and regions.

Australia and Brazil share a number of trade and foreign policy goals and have worked closely together over many years to advance their mutual interests.  This has been most notable in the context of the Cairns Group of agricultural traders, on a range of international security issues and on international environmental issues.  As a Lusophone country, Brazil has cooperated closely with Australia in East Timor.

Mr Sullivan is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and has served in Colombo, Saigon, Brasilia, Port Moresby, Athens and Bonn.  In addition, he served as Australian High Commissioner in Nicosia (1994-97).

In2000-2001 Mr Sullivan was Assistant Secretary, Nuclear Policy Branch, and in1999-2000 Assistant Secretary, Locally Engaged Staff Management Review Project.  He has also served as Director in Africa Section (1998-99), Overseas Resources Section (1992-94), West Europe Section (1990-91), Multilateral Disarmament Section (1983-86), Japan Section (1979-80), Papua New Guinea Section (1978-79) and Cultural Exchanges Section (1975-76).  Mr Sullivan was Head of Protocol (1970) and State Director in the Victorian Office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (1997-98).

Mr Sullivan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Queensland, a Graduate Diploma of Applied Economics from the University of Canberra, a Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Management from Griffith University and a Master of Public Policy degree from Deakin University.

Born in Queensland in 1946, Mr Sullivan is married with two children.


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