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Diplomatic appointment: Ambassador to Argentina.

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I have today announced the appointment of Peter Hussin as Australian Ambassador to the Argentine Republic, with concurrent accreditation to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay and the Republic of Paraguay.

Mr Hussin will replace Sharyn Minahan who has been Ambassador since September 2000. Mr Hussin is expected to take up his appointment in September 2004.

Australia has an important and expanding relationship with Argentina, based on common political and economic multilateral interests and promising growth in commercial relations. The two countries liaise closely on matters such as international trade policy (especially on agriculture through the Cairns Group, of which Uruguay and Paraguay are also members); international and regional economic cooperation policies; nuclear and disarmament issues; Antarctica; international efforts to address illegal fishing; and international environment policy. This engagement has been enhanced by the additional input provided by Australia’s Council on Australia Latin America Relations (COALAR) which has sponsored visits by prominent Argentines to Australia and provided funding to promote greater awareness of Australia in Latin America and vice versa.

While trade between Australia and Argentina remains relatively modest (around A$280 million annual two-way trade), Australian investors have shown considerable interest in Argentina, with Australia now ranked as one of the largest investors in the country. The successful bid by Argentine company INVAP to construct the replacement research reactor at Lucas Heights has raised the profile of the bilateral relationship.

Australia's trade and economic interests in Uruguay and Paraguay are small, yet Australia has a mutually beneficial dialogue with these countries on a range of regional and international issues, notably in the Cairns Group. Australia looks forward to expanding such cooperative relations with both countries on issues of common interest.

Mr Hussin is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and most recently served as Australian Ambassador to The Netherlands and Permanent Representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Mr Hussin has also served abroad as Deputy Head of Mission in Tokyo (1993-95); Minister and Deputy Permanent Representative to the Australian Mission to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), in Geneva (1988-92); and First Secretary in London (1978-81).

Mr Hussin headed the Trade Negotiations Division, responsible for Australia’s involvement with the WTO and OECD, from 1998-2000. Prior to that he was First Assistant Secretary, Passports, Services and Security Division and Principal Adviser, International Organisations and Legal Division, respectively.

Mr Hussin has considerable experience in trade policy work, having joined the then Department of Trade in 1971. In 1983-84, he worked as Private Secretary to the Minister of Trade. Mr Hussin is married to Muriel and they have three children.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 / 0419 206 890/Julie McDonald (DFAT) 6261 1555

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