Remarks at the International Scientific Conference on 35 years of Mongolia-United States Cooperation

DECEMBER 12, 2022

Good morning! Thank you to State Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia Ankhbayar, Bank of Mongolia’s President Mr. Lkhagvasuren, and AmCham Mongolia’s Vice Chairman Gary Biondo, as well as friends and guests for coming. I would like to recognize the efforts of Money, Finance, and Wealth magazine and the American Chamber of Commerce to bring us all together, and the Bank of Mongolia for hosting us.

The U.S.-Mongolia relationship has made great strides over the past 35 years. That is evident in the expansion of relations in recent years, with a visit to Washington by then-Prime Minister Khurelsukh in 2018, resulting in the establishment of our Strategic Partnership in 2019. There is a great deal to celebrate as we mark this 35th anniversary of our diplomatic ties, and the United States is truly proud to be one of Mongolia’s “Third Neighbors.”

Our relationship with Mongolia is important for many reasons. Most importantly, Americans and Mongolians share the same values: a belief in democracy, human rights, free and fair private sector growth, and the sovereignty of nations. We appreciate Mongolia’s role as a model of democracy in this region. The United States is committed to partnering with Mongolia as it strengthens its democratic institutions and diversifies its economy. Mongolia, in turn, has reinforced democracy throughout the world, its hosting of a Community of Democracies conference in 2013 as one prominent example.

We also celebrated two anniversaries in 2021 that were emblematic of the strength of our relationship: the 30-year anniversary of both Peace Corps and of USAID in Mongolia. Since 1991, more than 1,400 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Mongolia, touching lives in every province. Over those same thirty years, Mongolia’s democracy, legal system, health sector, and business climate also have benefitted from USAID programs.

The 35 years of our relationship have seen cooperation in other areas as well. We appreciate the strong ties our two militaries have developed and congratulate Mongolia on 20 years of UN peacekeeping operations. The U.S. military has worked closely with the Mongolian armed forces to provide training, equipment, and facilities to support Mongolian troops on UN peacekeeping missions.

As you know, another prominent area of cooperation has been with the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). We are currently in a second compact – a $462 million project – to improve Ulaanbaatar’s water system. I was proud to be at the signing ceremony in Washington, D.C. in 2018. This project will bring new jobs to Mongolia and increase the capital city’s water supply by 80%, supporting economic growth and clean water for generations to come.

And of course, economic cooperation and mutual prosperity – our focus today – are key to our 35 years of diplomatic ties. Part of that cooperation has involved working together to strengthen Mongolia’s free-market economy and tackle investment climate challenges. Overcoming those challenges will create the conditions to attract more investors. Later in the day, you will hear from my embassy colleagues about what we think would help Mongolia attract more investment. But i would like to highlight some key ideas now.

The business community has praised Mongolia’s commitment to improve current legislation, and we too applaud this commitment. An effective, transparent legislative process, much like the one offered by our bilateral transparency agreement, would engage affected parties as legislation is being deliberated to ensure the business community’s input is considered. 

Fair and predictable legal systems will go a long way towards attracting and sustaining businesses, allowing them to thrive and providing prosperity to Mongolia’s people. This is a matter of political will – the will to make tough decisions; to guide legislation transparently; to implement laws fairly; and to hold all parties to accountable.  

The past 35 years have seen impressive cooperation in a remarkably broad range of areas and we are optimistic about the bright future of U.S.-Mongolia relations. Which brings me to my last point. What does the future hold for us? In the next 35 years of our relationship, we hope to see the shared values that have brought us together this far continue to flourish. We see a Mongolia that stands tall among democracies, a model for others in the region to emulate; a Mongolia that not only upholds the fundamental rights of its people, but also champions the rights of all people on the global stage; a Mongolia with a robust, diverse economy where investors come in confidence and aspiring young entrepreneurs know their innovation and hard work will be rewarded; a resource rich Mongolia that provides for the world, not just for its neighbors; a Mongolia that stands for the sovereign equality of nations, even though surrounded by those who do not. In essence, we see in Mongolia a kindred spirit in the global community of democracies, and the united states is proud to stand with you as you forge a future that delivers on the hopes and aspirations of your people. 

Thank you again for inviting me to speak to you all today.  This is truly an important occasion that solidifies the ideas and the creativity to spur a U.S.-Mongolia relationship that works for both our peoples.  I wish you continued success in your endeavors and look forward to seeing the fruits of your labor.  

Thank you and my best wishes for a more prosperous and energetic 2023 for the United States and Mongolia.