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

Media Release

FA054 - 11 May 2006

Diplomatic Appointment - Ambassador to Portugal

I have today announced the appointment of Luke Williams as Australia's Ambassador to the Portuguese Republic.  He will replace Mr Greg Polson who has been Ambassador since September 2003.  He is expected to take up his appointment in July 2006.

Australia and Portugal share a broad bilateral relationship.  Both countries cooperate closely to support East Timor's long-term stability and prosperity. 

As a member of the EU and NATO, Portugal is a useful cooperative partner for Australia.  Through an Agenda for Cooperation Australia and the EU are working on seven priority areas for cooperation: security and strategic issues;  trade; education and science and technology; transport; environment; development cooperation; and migration and asylum.   Australia is developing closer cooperation with NATO to deal with the challenges presented by new threats to international security such as terrorism.  In this context both Australia and Portugal are contributing to efforts to rebuild Afghanistan.  Australia and Portugal are also active in global anti-proliferation efforts, including through the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).

Total two-way trade amounted to A$215 million in 2004-05.  The balance of trade remains in Portugal's favour, due mainly to cork sales, which accounted for almost half of Australia's total 2004-05 imports from Portugal of A$176 million.  Australian exports to Portugal stood at A$39 million in 2004-05, due largely to medicaments sales, cork manufactures and medical instruments. 

Mr Williams most recently held the position of Director, Staffing Operations Section, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2003-05).  In Canberra he has also held the positions of Director, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos Section (2003), Desk Officer, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos Section (1997-99), Desk Officer, UN and Commonwealth Section (1995-97), Desk Officer, Manufactures Trade Section (1991), and Desk Officer, Central and Southern Africa Section (1990).

Overseas Mr Williams has served as First Secretary, later Counsellor, Australian Embassy, Bangkok (1999-2002), Second Secretary, Australian High Commission, Cape Town (1994-1995) and Third later Second Secretary, Australian Embassy, Pretoria (1991-94).

Mr Williams was born in Melbourne in 1963.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree (Honours) from Monash University and a Master of Arts from Latrobe University.  He is married and has two children.

Media Inquiries: Mr Downer's office 02 6277 7500 - Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555


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