Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Media release

30 July 2008

Diplomatic Appointment - Ambassador to Vietnam

Allaster Cox is to be Australia's new Ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, succeeding Mr Bill Tweddell who has been Ambassador since September 2005. Mr Cox is expected to take up his appointment in September 2008.

This year Australia and Vietnam celebrate the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations by the Whitlam Government. I was particularly pleased to further build on that relationship by visiting Hanoi in early July. The bilateral relationship today is broader and deeper than ever. As Vietnam’s economy continues to grow and it becomes increasingly active in regional and global affairs, Australia is well-positioned to continue the momentum of this productive relationship to the benefit of both nations.

Two-way trade is growing well, doubling in the last five years to over $6 billion in 2007. The investment relationship is healthy, particularly in the financial services and education sectors, and shows significant potential in the mining sector.

Development cooperation remains an important element of the bilateral relationship. Total Official Development Assistance to Vietnam is estimated to reach over $100 million in 2008‑09, making Vietnam our fifth-largest development partner. Australia is pleased to be a partner with Vietnam in the education field with some 10,000 Vietnamese students enrolled in Australian institutions and an estimated 10,000 undertaking Australian courses in Vietnam.

Cooperation between Australia and Vietnam continues to expand in other important areas including policing, health, counter-terrorism, combating transnational crimes such as drug trafficking and trafficking in persons, and developing responses to pandemics such as HIV/AIDS and Avian Influenza. Australia and Vietnam have the opportunity for robust discussions of human rights issues through the regular bilateral Human Rights Dialogue, established in 2001.

Mr Cox was most recently Assistant Secretary, Global Issues Branch in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Overseas, he has served as High Commissioner in Brunei Darussalam (2001-04), Deputy Head of Mission in Kuala Lumpur (1998-2000), First Secretary, later Counsellor in Jakarta (1992-96) and Third, later Second Secretary in Brunei (1988-1990).

In Canberra, Mr Cox was Assistant Secretary, United States Branch (2006-07), Assistant Secretary, Asia, Americas and Trade Branch, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (2004-06), Director, Indonesia Section (1997-98) and Director, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Section (1996-97).

Mr Cox holds Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Economics (Hons) degrees from the University of Sydney. He joined the public service in 1987. Mr Cox is married and has two children. He speaks Indonesian and Malay.

Media inquiries