As prepared for delivery
AMBASSADOR GALT: Good evening, everyone. Thank you for joining us and welcome to my residence.
I want to thank the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary Santillo, and the delegates of the U.S. Agribusiness Exploratory Trade Delegation for joining us on this gorgeous evening for the first – and I assure you not the last – official U.S trade delegation to Mongolia in the all-important agricultural sector.
I would also like to thank the American Chamber of Commerce Mongolia and Nomadic Expeditions for their sponsorship of this visit, and members of the Business Council Mongolia for being here with us.
The range of U.S. government and private sector engagement with the Mongolian agricultural sector is on full display today.
Our two governments are continuing to work together to enhance Mongolia’s capacity to monitor and improve the health of its plants and animals both to benefit Mongolian consumers and to help make Mongolian agricultural products more exportable.
[“1] I am especially pleased that Dr. Muralidhar Bandla, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Regional Manager for Asia & Pacific, has joined the delegation.
Dr. Bandla is well-known to many of our government of Mongolia colleagues and, I suspect, to many of our U.S. delegates as well.
He is uniquely qualified to engage with you on possible next steps for enhancing Mongolia’s plant and animal health protocols.
The Government of Mongolia, under the guidance of Minister Burmaa and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, knows that the time is ripe to develop Mongolia’s agricultural potential.
The Government of Mongolia recognizes that Mongolia’s agricultural sector has tremendous competitive advantages in its land mass, proximity to Asian markets, world’s lowest population density, well over 300 days of sunshine per year and very long summer days.
These advantages make development of Mongolia’s agricultural sector key to diversifying the country’s economy to avoid overdependence on the extractive industry.
But how to exploit these advantages – how to transform them from imagined to real?
Mongolia’s nomadic traditions and vast landscape have of course for centuries made herding a cornerstone of the Mongolian economy.
But, Mongolians have for decades been moving in very large numbers from the steppe to the cities to the point where today many visitors are surprised to learn that low-population-density Mongolia is among the most urbanized countries in the world.
This fact translates into even more of the Mongolian land mass becoming available for uses other than herding, including other agricultural uses[“2] .
In brief, Mongolia is wide open to win/win commercial arrangements in the agricultural sector that favor the adoption of business practices and technologies presented by innovative and highly competitive U.S. private sector companies.
But although the rewards of a vital and vibrant agricultural sector shine bright, everyone here knows that there are challenges to be overcome along the way.
It is my hope that this trade delegation’s visit will mark the beginning of a broad and dynamic free market engagement between the United States and Mongolia that will contribute to Mongolia’s economic diversification and vitality.
I invite you to mark this important moment with a toast. Here’s to the incubation of partnerships that will put the Mongolian agriculture sector on the path to becoming a world leader.
Thank you and enjoy the evening.