First resident Asean Ambassador
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop recently announced Mr Simon Merrifield's confirmation as Australia's first resident Ambassador to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), following approval of his nomination by ASEAN Foreign Ministers. Mr Merrifield will be based in Jakarta and take up his appointment on 20 September.
Australia's long history of cooperation with ASEAN encompasses trade and investment, security, transnational issues, development cooperation, social policy and people-to-people links through education, tourism and cultural exchange.
The ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA), in force since 2010, is delivering real commercial benefits for Australian exporters and investors. Australia's two-way trade in goods and services with ASEAN countries totalled around A$92 billion in 2012. Australia is also involved with ASEAN in the negotiations for a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which also includes Korea, Japan, China, India and New Zealand.
Mr Merrifield is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Until June 2013 he held the position of DFAT Senior Spokesman and Head of Parliamentary and Media Branch. Mr Merrifield has extensive experience in ASEAN countries having served as Deputy High Commissioner to Malaysia, First Secretary, Jakarta and Second Secretary, Manila. He has lived in South East Asia for a total of 13 years, including three years in Myanmar until 2011.
Mr Merrifield speaks Indonesian and Malay, and is a graduate of the Australian National University's Asian Studies program. He is married with two children.