Today I announce the appointment of Ms Julianne Cowley as Australia’s next Consul-General in Ho Chi Minh City.

Australia and Vietnam enjoy a dynamic relationship, underpinned by strong community ties. The elevation of Australia-Vietnam relations to a Strategic Partnership in March 2018 reflects our shared regional strategic interests and deepening economic engagement across trade, investment and development. Vietnam is Australia’s 15th largest trading partner, with two-way trade reaching $12.8 billion in 2017. Ho Chi Minh City is an important regional economic, trade and commercial hub. It is the gateway to the southern region of the country, an area with strong and growing people-to-people and business links with Australia.

The recently completed Cao Lanh Bridge — Australia’s largest aid investment in mainland Southeast Asia ($160m, 2011-18) — is expected to provide better economic opportunities for an estimated five million people in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.

Ms Cowley is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and was most recently Assistant Secretary, Health Policy Branch. She has previously served as Assistant Secretary, Staff and Welfare Development Branch, DFAT; Assistant Director General, People Policy and Planning Branch AusAID; Assistant Director General Security Branch, AusAID; and Departmental Liaison Officer, Office of the Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance.

Ms Cowley holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern Queensland; a Bachelor of Communication and a Graduate Diploma in Education from the University of Canberra.

I thank outgoing Consul-General Ms Karen Lanyon for her contributions to advancing Australia’s interests in Ho Chi Minh City since 2016.

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