New DEFAT secretary to boost Indo-Oz relations

Foreign Minister Bob Carr has congratulated Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Mr Peter Varghese AO, on his appointment as Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Senator Carr said Mr Varghese knows India, and the region, extremely well.

“His appointment will help generate further momentum in Australia’s growing relationship with India and position Australia to meet the challenges and opportunities of the Asian century,” Senator Carr said.

“Australia recognises the growing importance of India in the world, and we are a strong supporter of increased Indian participation.

“We work very closely together in the East Asia Summit process, the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation and the United Nations.”

Mr Varghese has been High Commissioner to India since August 2009.

“I look forward to taking up the position and to leading DFAT at a time when the economic centre of gravity is shifting to the Indo-Pacific region,” Mr Varghese said.

There are an estimated 450,000 persons of Indian descent living in Australia, and over 37,000 Indian students studying in Australia.

India was Australia’s second largest overseas student source country in 2012.

The bilateral relationship with India is expanding rapidly.

Trade has grown from around A$3.3 billion in 2000 to over A$20.3 billion in 2011.

Tourism is growing and Indian firms are increasingly investing in Australia, particularly in the resources and energy sectors.

Mr Varghese previously served as High Commissioner to Malaysia. He was born in Kenya to Indian parents and emigrated to Australia as a child.

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