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

Media Release

FA54 - 28 May 2003

Diplomatic Appointment - Ambassador to Spain

I have today announced the appointment of Ms Susan Tanner as Australia's Ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain, with concurrent accreditation to the Principality of Andorra.

She will replace Mr Tim George who has been Ambassador since July 2000. She is expected to take up her appointment in August 2003.

Australia and Spain enjoy a close, cooperative and steadily expanding relationship with growing trade, cultural, sporting and scientific contacts and well-developed people-to-people links. The countries share similar views on many global issues including human rights, security and disarmament and arms control. Spain's increasingly important role internationally, including in the EU, makes it a valuable partner and interlocutor for Australia on a range of regional, multilateral and international issues. The Spanish Government's determination to develop its ties with our region, evident in its Asia Pacific Plan launched in October 2000, has created scope for deeper collaboration between Australia and Spain. In January 2001 and again in January-February 2002, I visited Spain for bilateral meetings with the Spanish Government and EU Presidency consultations.

The Spanish economy is the fifth largest in the European Union and the eighth largest in the OECD. During the past five years, the Spanish economy has experienced one of the strongest rates of GDP growth in the European Union and Spain has become one of the world's leading foreign investors. For Australian business, Spain offers the attractions of a large, diverse and industrialised Eurozone economy with an advantageous cost structure compared to many of its European neighbours. Bilateral two-way trade totalled $1.6 billion last year and there is considerable potential for further growth. While coal continues to be our principal export, worth $263 million last year, our exports now include elaborately transformed manufactures such as lightweight fast ferries, machinery and integrated circuits, and educational services. Reforms undertaken by the Spanish Government in recent years have created a welcoming environment for foreign investment and opened up new and exciting opportunities in Spain for Australian companies.

Ms Tanner is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was most recently Assistant Secretary, Market Development and Business Liaison Branch in the Trade Development Division. Other positions she has held include Assistant Secretary, Europe Branch (2000-02), and Assistant Secretary, Staff Planning and Development Branch (1996-97).

Overseas, Ms Tanner has served as Ambassador to Chile, concurrently accredited to Peru and Bolivia (1997-99). She also served as First Secretary, later Counsellor, Santiago de Chile (1988-91), Second Secretary, Washington (1979-82), and Third Secretary, Brasília (1975-77).

Educated at Flinders University, Ms Tanner holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in European Languages with First Class Honours. She is married with two children.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) +61 02 6277 7500 / Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555