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

Media Release

12 October 2007

Diplomatic Appointment - Ambassador to Brazil

Mr Neil Mules AO is to be Australia’s new Ambassador to the Federative Republic of Brazil. He will replace Mr Peter Heyward, who has been Ambassador since July 2005. Mr Mules is expected to take up his appointment in January 2008.

Australia and Brazil established diplomatic relations in 1945 and share a long history of close cooperation. Brazil is Australia’s largest trading partner in South America, with two-way merchandise trade exceeding A$1.7 billion in 2006. Coal is Australia’s main export to Brazil and there is significant Australian investment in Brazil’s mining, agribusiness and finance sectors. Brazil, in turn, is increasing its investment in Australia and is now Australia’s largest source of foreign students from Latin America. Over 10,000 Brazilian nationals enrolled in Australian educational institutions in 2006 – more than double the number in 2004. Both countries are working to strengthen and expand their scientific and technical cooperation and expect to convene their first Ministerial level Bilateral Trade and Investment Commission meeting in 2008.

Brazil and Australia work closely together, as members of the Cairns Group and in the WTO, for agricultural trade liberalisation and a successful conclusion to the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations. Australia and Brazil share a number of foreign and trade policy goals including a commitment to UN reform and to cooperation on climate change and environmental protection.

Brazil is a strong proponent of regional development and integration in South America. It is a key member of the South American Community of Nations and of Mercosur – the region’s premier trading bloc. Australia and Brazil are also members of the Forum on East Asia – Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC), which aims to increase mutual understanding, political dialogue and cooperation between these two regions.

Mr Mules is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is currently Australia’s Ambassador to the United Mexican States. He served as Head of the Australian Representative Office in Baghdad prior to being appointed as Australian Ambassador to Iraq in June 2004. Mr Mules has also served as Deputy Head of Mission in Jakarta (2002-03); Counsellor in Hanoi (1996-98); Counsellor in Jakarta (1992-95); First Secretary in Harare (1988-90); First Secretary in Ankara (1985-88); and Third Secretary then later Second Secretary in Brasilia (1981-84).

In Canberra, Mr Mules was First Assistant Secretary, Diplomatic Security, Property and Information Management Division (2000); Assistant Secretary, Maritime South East Asia Branch (1998-2000); Director, Conditions of Service Section (1991-92); and Desk Officer, Refugees, Immigration and Asylum Section (1984-85).

Mr Mules holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Flinders University. He was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia in April 2004 for his outstanding service as Australia’s representative in Iraq.

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

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