CDA Micaller: Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for your warm welcome. And thank you, MASA members, for inviting me to be with you tonight. I’m very pleased to be able to say that this is my third time speaking at MASA’s New Year’s Celebration and it’s always been my pleasure to join you on your special occasion.
Looking back, 2018 has been a banner year for the relationship between the United States and Mongolia. Prime Minister Khurelsukh had meaningful meetings with President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Secretary of State Pompeo.
Out of these meetings came several joint agreements that are taking our bilateral relationship to new heights:
First, the Expanded Comprehensive Partnership will increase people-to-people ties through educational and professional exchanges, with a particular focus in 2019 on youth leadership, what we are calling the U.S.-Mongolia Year of Youth.
Second, the U.S.-Mongolia Economic Roadmap will help bring our two countries closer through trade and investment ties and support for private sector-driven free, fair, and mutually beneficial economic growth.
And third, the new Millennium Challenge Corporation compact will provide $350 million to develop clean, healthy water sources for Ulaanbaatar. It is important to note that this is not a loan, and it is not a debt trap. It is a grant. The only “strings attached” are that the management of the project must be accountable, transparent, and free of corruption. It is also designed and run for Mongolia, by Mongolians.
In fact, Mongolian experts identified that access to clean water could impact economic potential and public health. This investment in Mongolia’s future is the largest single U.S. development grant in Asia this year, and shows how central Mongolia is in U.S. administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy.
The United States has and always will be a Pacific nation. This strategy reaffirms and expands our commitment to this vital region and to this important country.
Through support for free and fair trade, for private sector-led economic growth, for inclusive good governance, and for human rights, we aspire to see a constellation of nations, large and small, that are free, sovereign, secure, and peaceful.
Mongolia is an important partner in this vision because of our shared bedrock values of democracy and open markets. The story of Mongolia shows other emerging democracies that the path of openness is not without some bumps, but does lead to peace and prosperity. And it shows that you have a dependable friend and third neighbor by your side.
Economic development is an important part of our friendship. The United States is proud to have contributed over $600 million in assistance since Mongolia made the courageous decision to let the people have a voice in their own government.
But it is not the only part. In fact, it is you, the members of MASA, who have dedicated your time to building bridges, making friends, volunteering in your communities, and mentoring the next generation, efforts that are the heart of our friendship.
In my service as an American diplomat, I have never seen such a dedicated, capable, and vibrant network of professionals.
2018 was another successful year for MASA. I am proud that our embassy partnered with you on the first ever Alumni Rural Outreach program.
We talked directly with young people in the provinces about the importance of making the most of educational opportunities. The MASA and U.S. Embassy teams reached over 750 students from 35 high schools and youth organizations, and gave media interviews seen by tens of thousands. Well done MASA!
MASA continues to be a small but mighty and growing engine of good ideas that make a difference.
In the State Department Alumni Engagement Innovation fund competition this year, nearly ten percent of all the proposals from across Asia and the Pacific came from the people in this room.
This year’s winning proposal is creating science clubs and training mentors to provide access to STEM education for 180 high school girls in Ulaanbaatar.
So, taking a moment to reflect on what is likely to be my last New Year’s event with you, I am so proud of our longstanding and fruitful partnership. I am proud that we have played a part in your journeys to success.
I’m proud that we are bringing together the greatest minds of our two great nations. And I’m proud that we are continuing to work together to inspire and develop the next generation of talented Mongolians.
Congratulations on a successful 2018, and Happy New Year MASA!