Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Media release

30 July 2008

Diplomatic Appointment - High Commissioner to Singapore

Mr Doug Chester is to be Australia’s new High Commissioner to the Republic of Singapore. Mr Chester is expected to take up his appointment in October 2008, succeeding Mr Miles Kupa who has been High Commissioner since July 2005.

Australia’s bilateral relationship with Singapore is one of our closest and most comprehensive in South-East Asia. Many common interests and strong people-to-people links underpin an active program of high-level government consultations, and substantial parliamentary, education, defence and tourism links.

Singapore is also one of Australia’s closest strategic partners in the region. Together with Malaysia, New Zealand and the UK, Australia and Singapore are both members of the Five Power Defence Arrangements which is a valuable component of the regional security architecture and the only one with an operational dimension. Australia and Singapore are both active participants in regional security mechanisms such as the annual International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Asia Security Conference (Shangri-La Dialogue) and the ASEAN Regional Forum. Singapore and Australia also work closely together in the East Asia Summit which was established in 2005 as a forum for strategic dialogue and action by leaders on key challenges facing the region.

Singapore was the second country with which Australia negotiated a free trade agreement. Since the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) came into force on 28 July 2003, Australian exports to Singapore have grown by an average of 7 percent a year with the services component growing by an average of 10 percent. Services are a key part of our trade with Singapore, particularly education, business and tourism services. Total two-way goods and services trade was valued at $22.4 billion in 2007, making Singapore Australia’s largest trading partner in South-East Asia, and our fifth-largest trading partner over all.

Since 2003, Mr Chester has been a Deputy Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was concurrently Australia’s Ambassador for APEC during 2005. He has served overseas as High Commissioner in Brunei from 1999 to 2000 and Counsellor in Washington from 1994 to 1996. In Canberra, Mr Chester was First Assistant Secretary, Corporate Management Division from 2001 to 2003 and Assistant Secretary, Staffing Branch from 1997 to 1999.

As Deputy Secretary he has had responsibility for Australia’s bilateral relations with South East Asia, South Asia, Americas, Europe, as well as responsibility for corporate, security, information technology and property management and the Australian Passports Office.

Mr Chester was educated at the Australian National University and was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree (with Honours). He is married to Lyn and has one son and one daughter.

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