Remarks by Ambassador Jennifer Zimdahl Galt at the 26th Annual General Meeting of the North America-Mongolia Business Council

As prepared for delivery

AMBASSADOR GALT: Hello! On behalf of the United States Embassy in Mongolia, I thank you for this opportunity to address the 26th annual North America-Mongolia Business Council general meeting, which concludes a year-long commemoration of NAMBC’s 25th anniversary.

I would especially like to thank Steve Saunders and Pamela Slutz for all the work they have put into NAMBC to further North America Mongolia business relationships.

I address you by video as part of today’s panel on “The View from Ottawa, UB and Washington.”

As much as I would have loved to travel to Ottawa, which I imagine is lovely this time of year, I leave that privilege to my colleague, friend and neighbor, Canadian Ambassador to Mongolia Ed Jager who has traveled from UB, and to the Mongolian Ambassador to the United States B. Altangerel who has traveled from Washington, DC.

It is a pleasure to appear with so many distinguished current and former Ambassadors.

As President Obama said in March during his visit to Canada:

… in terms of our interests, our values, how we approach the world, few countries match up the way the United States and Canada do.

And given our work together, … when it comes to the central challenges we face, our two nations are more closely aligned than ever.

The United States and Canada recognize that our collective security and prosperity are inextricably linked to the Asia Pacific region.

That is why we both have sought to strengthen our ties with allies; deepen engagement with emerging powers and partners; prevent conflict; promote democracy and human rights; and increase trade, investment, and economic growth across the region.

Mongolia is one of these partners.

The United States and Canada share an enduring commitment to support Mongolia’s democracy, free market reforms, transparency, and good governance.

My first act as United States Ambassador to Mongolia was to speak at the NAMBC conference in Ulaanbaatar in September 2015.

At that time, I laid out a vision to enhance the U.S.-Mongolia economic relationship and put it at the forefront of our bilateral agenda.

While acknowledging that the Mongolian economy was struggling as a result of adverse market forces and self-inflicted wounds, I expressed optimism that our commercial engagements would expand and that the implementation of the U.S.-Mongolia Transparency Agreement would lead our bilateral economic relationship down the right path.

The agreement sets out the measures that the United States and Mongolia will take to ensure transparent drafting and implementation of policies, legislation, and regulations affecting trade and commercial activities.

Unfortunately, progress on our Transparency Agreement has been slow, but I have no doubt that once implemented, it will improve the investment environment for both domestic and foreign investors.

Our bilateral commercial engagements over the past several months have been more encouraging.

Despite the economic downturn, there are positive signs: several U.S. franchises have opened in Mongolia, and the Oyu Tolgoi project financing, in which the U.S. Export-Import Bank played an important role, was completed in December and formally enacted on May 6.

Ambassador Jager and I had the privilege of joining the Prime Minister and Rio Tinto, Turquoise Hill and OT leadership at the Oyu Tolgoi re-launch ceremony at the mine site on May 7.

At the same time, we understand the Mongolian government’s stated interest in diversifying the Mongolian economy, and we have been working hard to play a role in bringing U.S. resources to non-mining sectors.

This year we have focused on the agricultural sector.

We are not the only ones to see the vast potential of Mongolian agriculture to supply neighboring countries with meat and other animal products.

We have put together a wide variety of technical assistance that will help build the needed Mongolian capacity to develop a significant agricultural export sector.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Department of Defense are looking to sustainably develop veterinary capacity in Mongolia.

And our Army Corps of Engineers and potentially the Millennium Challenge Corporation are looking at addressing issues related to water.

At the same time – and perhaps most importantly – we are telling the story of Mongolia’s agricultural potential to U.S. companies.

These U.S. companies bring services, technology, and investment into Mongolia with the potential to transform the agricultural sector.

Experience demonstrates that it is an innovative and nimble private sector that can and should lead the way, rather than the government, which has the responsibility to create and implement a legal and regulatory environment in which the private sector can prosper.

To that end, we recently hosted a Mongolian agribusiness roundtable on the margins of the Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce annual meeting in Beijing, addressing a packed room with callers from around the world.

The U.S. government convened the event, and the businesses did the rest.

This successful event proved that there is an appetite among U.S. and Mongolian agricultural businesses for deals.

My Embassy, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and NAMBC are now preparing to bring a U.S. trade delegation to Mongolia in June that we hope some of you will join.

This is just the start.

In 2017, when we will celebrate 30 years of U.S.-Mongolia relations, I hope to bring a trade delegation of U.S. companies to look into trade and investment in Mongolia’s renewable energy sector.

By 2019, when Canada and Mongolia celebrate 45 years of relations, I hope to look back on our engagements as having successfully expanded the U.S.-Mongolia economic relationship by increasing trade, diversifying the economy, and helping U.S. companies make major contributions to a rejuvenated Mongolian economy.

Thank you for your attention.

I wish you all a productive and engaging meeting.