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Visit to Brazil and Chile.



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The Hon Stephen Smith MP AUSTRALIAN MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Media Release

24 August, 2009

Visit to Brazil and Chile

I leave Australia today, Monday 24 August, to visit Brazil on Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 August and Chile on Wednesday 26 and Thursday 27 August.

This will be my first bilateral visit to each of these important Latin American countries, following my visits to Mexico and Peru at the time of the APEC Ministerial Meetings in November 2008.

It also follows on from the visits to Australia last year of Brazilian Foreign Minister Amorim and then Chilean Foreign Minister Foxley.

My visit underlines the Government’s strong commitment to enhancing Australia’s relations with Latin America.

Brazil was ranked by the IMF in 2008 as the world’s tenth largest economy and it is Australia’s largest trading partner in Latin America. Total two-way merchandise trade exceeded A$2.5 billion in 2008-09. Brazil is the largest source of students coming to Australia from Latin America. There were over 16,000 Brazilians student enrolments in Australian educational institutions in the year to December 2008.

Australia’s relationship with Chile, our third largest trading partner in Latin America, is strong and getting stronger. Two-way merchandise goods and services trade last financial year exceeded $A1.2billion. The Australia-Chile Free Trade Agreement entered into force on 6 March 2009. Increasing numbers of Chileans are now studying at universities and TAFEs in Australia, under the extensive Bicentennial Scholarship program funded by Chile’s Government.

In Brasilia I will discuss with my Brazilian counterpart, External Affairs Minister Celso Amorim, the development of a Plan of Action for an Enhanced Partnership between Australia and Brazil and how we can cooperate to meet key global challenges in forums where Brazil is an increasingly influential player, particularly the UN, the WTO and the G20.

In Santiago de Chile I am looking forward to meeting Chile’s new Foreign Minister, Mr Mariano Fernandez. We will discuss how we can build on the trade and investment relationship we have, to deepen and expand it, particularly in educational, science and agricultural fields.

Media inquiries: Mr Smith's office 02 6277 7500 - Departmental Media Liaison 02 6261 1555