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


Media Release

21 December 2006

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Sweden

I have today announced the appointment of Howard Brown as Australia's Ambassador to Sweden with concurrent accreditation to Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania. Mr Brown will replace Richard Rowe, who has been Ambassador since January 2003.  He is expected to take up his appointment in March 2007.

Australia and Sweden share a strong and constructive relationship based on cooperation on issues such as combatting terrorism, countering nuclear proliferation, human rights, trade liberalisation and the environment.  Our countries also share a commitment to the United Nations and to international peacekeeping efforts, including in Afghanistan.  Australia and Sweden enjoy solid trade and investment links with bilateral trade valued at $2.8 billion in 2005-06.  Swedish investment in Australia is  significant - $1.9 billion in 2005 – reflecting the presence of many Swedish multinationals in Australia such as Ericsson, Atlas Copco, Saab, Volvo and Ikea.  Australian investment in Sweden has also risen by 7.5 per cent over the last two years and our educational services trade with Sweden is growing.  Over 2,000 Swedish students studied in Australia in 2005.

Australia works closely with Finland in many areas of mutual interest, including disarmament and arms control, international security and peacekeeping, and in many United Nations bodies.  Australia welcomed the instrumental role which former Finnish President Ahtisari played in negotiating the Aceh Peace Agreement.  I discussed many of our common approaches to these issues during my visit to Finland in September 2006.  Finnish migrants have contributed significantly to Australia’s social, economic and cultural development.  Australia’s trade with Finland is notable, with two-way merchandise trade in 2005-06 valued at $1.6 billion and substantial Finnish investment in Australia in areas such as nickel and copper mining.

Australia’s relations with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have developed well over the past decade.  All three countries acceded to the European Union in 2004 and their positive economic growth is encouraging.  We look forward to building on the small but expanding bilateral trade and investment relationships with all three countries.  As with Sweden and Finland, migrants from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have contributed significantly to Australia’s development.

Mr Brown was most recently Australia’s Ambassador to Iraq.  He joined the Department of External Affairs in 1969 and has served in Tokyo, Ankara, Dhaka, Bonn, Tehran and Port Moresby.  His other overseas assignments include High Commissioner to Pakistan (2000-03); High Commissioner to Cyprus (1998-2000); High Commissioner to Nigeria (1993-97) and High Commissioner to Tonga (1990-93).

Mr Brown has an arts degree with first class honours from the University of Queensland. 

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

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