The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
FORMER MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

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Media Release

FA141 - 2 October 2002

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Sweden

Today I announce the appointment of Richard Rowe as Australia's Ambassador to Sweden with concurrent accreditation to Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania.

Mr Rowe will replace Stephen Brady, who has been Ambassador since December 1998. He is expected to take up his appointment in January 2003.

Australia enjoys warm and friendly relations with Sweden. Our two countries have long-standing trade and investment links and a history of like-minded cooperation on a wide range of international issues. These include disarmament and arms control, human rights and support for the multilateral trading system. Australia and Sweden are both strong supporters of the United Nations system and have collaborated in that forum across many issues of mutual interest. The bilateral trade and investment relationship is important to both countries, with Swedish companies providing many jobs in Australia through their investments. Sweden is Australia's 25th largest trading partner. In 2001-02, Australia's two-way merchandise trade with Sweden was valued at $1.8 billion.

Australia similarly enjoys warm and friendly relations with Finland, a country which Australia also regards as like-minded across a broad range of international issues. Australia works closely with Finland in many areas of mutual interest, including disarmament and arms control, the environment, and in many United Nations bodies. Finnish migrants, like their Swedish counterparts, have contributed significantly to Australia's social, economic and cultural development, especially over the past 50 years. Australia's trade with Finland is significant, with two-way merchandise trade in 2001-02 valued at one billion dollars.

Australia's relations with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have developed rapidly and constructively over the past decade. While bilateral trade and investment remain small, they can be expected to develop as these countries move towards membership of the European Union in the near future. As with Sweden and Finland, migrants from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have contributed significantly to Australia's development. The local communities in Australia of all five countries are highly valued and respected, and constitute a vital and productive element in Australia's relations with each.

Mr Rowe is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is currently the Department's Senior Legal Adviser. He has served as Minister and Deputy Permanent Representative, Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations, New York (1992-97); Consul-General in New Caledonia (1990-92); Counsellor and Deputy Head of the Australian Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva (1983-87); First Secretary in London (1977-80); First Secretary in Hanoi (1975-77); and Third and Second Secretary, Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations, New York (1970-73).

Mr Rowe has been an Australian representative at numerous international conferences including, since 1998, as Head of the Australian Delegation to the International Criminal Court negotiations.

Educated at the Hutchins School and the University of Tasmania, Mr Rowe holds a Bachelor of Laws degree and is admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Tasmania. He is married with two children.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) +61 02 6277 7500 / Julie McDonald (Departmental) +61 02 6261 1555


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