Bishop: Today I announce the appointment of Mr Jean-Bernard Carrasco as Australia’s next Ambassador to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR).

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This year, Australia and Laos mark 65 years of diplomatic ties. Our relationship is underpinned by close people-to-people ties, strong business links and extensive development cooperation.

Australian investment, particularly in mining and mining services, has played a substantial role in supporting Laos’ strong economic growth in the past two decades. We are one of Laos’ largest bilateral aid donors, and will provide over $42 million in development assistance in 2017-18. Our aid program is improving access to basic education for disadvantaged girls and boys, strengthening human resources through scholarships, and building stronger trade capabilities and a more competitive private sector.

Our strong people-to-people links are built on the more than 12,000 people in Australia who identify as having Lao ancestry. We are increasing our education links with over 700 Lao people having studied in Australia under the Australia Awards since 2007. More than 190 young Australians will have travelled to Laos to study under the New Colombo Plan by the end of 2018.

Mr Carrasco, a senior career officer with DFAT, was most recently Assistant Secretary, South‑East Asia Strategies Branch. He has also served as Assistant Director-General, Climate Change and Environment Branch, AusAID; and Senior Adviser to the Minister Assisting the Minister for Climate Change. He has previously worked overseas as Minister Counsellor at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta.

Mr Carrasco holds a Graduate Diploma of Environmental Science from the Australian National University and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Sydney.

I thank outgoing Ambassador John Williams for his contributions to advancing Australia’s interests in Lao PDR since 2014.

Source: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website – www.dfat.gov.au