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

Media Release

FA77 - 15 June 2005

Diplomatic Appointment: High Commissioner to Singapore

I have today announced the appointment of Miles Kupa as Australia's High Commissioner to the Republic of Singapore. Mr Kupa will succeed Gary Quinlan who has been High Commissioner since July 2001. Mr Kupa is expected to take up his appointment in July 2005.

The bilateral relationship with Singapore is one of Australia’s closest and most comprehensive in South East Asia. We share much in common in our international outlook, particularly on security cooperation, trade liberalisation and regional engagement. We have strong commercial links and an active program of high-level government consultations. There are also substantial parliamentary, educational, aviation, defence and tourism links.

Singapore is Australia's largest trade and investment partner in South East Asia, and our eighth-largest trading partner overall. The Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), which came into force on 28 July 2003, has contributed towards a stronger bilateral economic partnership . In 2004, Australian merchandise exports to Singapore were valued at A$3.5 billion (our ninth-largest export market) and our imports from Singapore were valued at A$6.2 billion (our fifth-largest import source). Services are a key part of our exports to Singapore, particularly in education and tourism. Singapore investment in Australia is substantial, recorded at A$ 22.1 billion in 2003, making Singapore the fifth-largest foreign investor in Australia. Australia's investment in Singapore as at 31 December 2003 was A$11.9 billion.

Singapore is also a close strategic partner in our campaign against terrorism, particularly in law enforcement and information exchange . Our defence relationship is one of our most important anywhere, is robust and covers a full range of activities, including high-level policy dialogue, significant combined exercises, personnel exchanges and training. Singapore is one of the Australian Defence Force's most valuable combined exercise partners. Australia and Singapore are both members of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), a joint defence arrangement which also includes Malaysia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Mr Kupa is a senior career diplomat with extensive experience in Southeast Asia. Most recently, he served as Ambassador to Thailand (2000-2004), his third posting to Thailand. He was Ambassador to the Philippines from 1996-99 and has also served in Indonesia as Deputy Head of Mission from 1986-88. He was Ambassador to Iraq from 1983-86. Earlier in his career he also served in Egypt and France.

In Canberra, Mr Kupa has held a range of senior positions, including as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade from 1999-2000 and First Assistant Secretary of the South and South-East Asia Division in the Department from 1993-95. He was Assistant Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Branch of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in 1991 and then head of the Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade from 1991‑93. Along with his overseas assignments, these positions in Canberra have given him considerable expertise on regional and international security, trade policy (the Free Trade Agreement with Thailand was secured during this term as Ambassador there), intelligence matters, as well as management issues.

Mr Kupa was born in Czechoslovakia in 1946. He is a graduate of the University of Melbourne. He speaks Thai, French and Indonesian and is married with one son.

Media inquiries : Ministerial 02 6277 7500, DFAT Media Liaison 02 6261 1555

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