Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Diplomatic Appointment - Ambassador to Thailand

Media release

18 August 2010

Today I announce the appointment of Mr James Wise as Australia’s Ambassador to Thailand. Mr Wise replaces Mr Paul Grigson who has been Ambassador since July 2008. Mr Wise will take up his appointment later this month.

Australia has a longstanding and close relationship with Thailand. Formal diplomatic relations were established in 1952 and are today underpinned by a treaty-level Agreement on Bilateral Cooperation.

We are major partners in trade and investment, law enforcement, defence, education and tourism. In recent years we have cooperated closely on regional issues, including counter-terrorism and in addressing people smuggling.

Trade between Thailand and Australia has grown rapidly since the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) came into force in January 2005. Thailand is now Australia’s ninth largest trading partner and second largest in ASEAN, with two way merchandise trade reaching $19 billion in 2009.

Thailand and Australia are also both parties to the Australia-New Zealand-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (ANZFTA). Australian companies are actively pursuing business opportunities in Thailand, including in transport and logistics, tourism, financial services and education.

People-to-people exchanges between our two countries are significant and growing. Thailand is a popular destination for Australian travellers with up to 400,000 Australian tourists travelling to Thailand each year.

Approximately 17,000 Thai students study in Australia, making Australia the preferred destination for Thai students studying abroad.

Reflecting the depth and scope of the bilateral relationship, Australia’s Embassy in Bangkok is one of our largest overseas missions, representing Australia’s interests in Thailand across a wide range of issues.

It provides a variety of services to Australians and Australian businesses, including consular services to the estimated 20,000 Australians present in Thailand at any one time.

Mr Wise is a senior career officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was most recently First Assistant Secretary, Corporate Management Division, a position he has held since March 2007.

Mr Wise has extensive experience within the department and has served overseas as High Commissioner to Malaysia, with earlier postings in Thailand, Russia and Papua New Guinea.

Mr Wise holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with First Class Honours in History from the University of Tasmania. He is married with two adult children.

Mr Grigson is returning to Australia to take up his appointment as Deputy Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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