AMBASSADOR GALT: Good morning. I would like to start out by thanking AmCham and Wagner Asia for bringing us together this morning.
Each of the eight members of the United States Congress joining us today is also a member of the House of Representatives’ Democracy Partnership Commission, a bipartisan body that works to build capacity in the national legislatures of 17 partner countries, including Mongolia’s Parliament, the State Great Hural.
Each of these members of Congress is acutely aware of Mongolia’s strategic value to the United States as a free-market democracy sandwiched between two authoritarian states.
The delegation will meet later today with senior Mongolian government representatives, including President Elbegdorj and Speaker of Parliament Enkhbold, to discuss pragmatic ways the commission could be of further service.
But an AmCham gathering is of course an opportune time to consider how improving the U.S.-Mongolia commercial relationship supports Mongolia’s democracy.
Mongolia has experienced difficult economic times in the past few years.
This downturn has negatively impacted what had been a rapidly growing bilateral commercial relationship, and today there is much room for improvement.
For this reason, I have made reinvigorating the U.S.-Mongolia economic relationship one of my highest priorities as Ambassador.
I have previously laid out to AmCham my four-part agenda for achieving this closer economic relationship: 1) bringing into force the U.S.-Mongolia Transparency Agreement; 2) ensuring that a centerpiece of Mongolia’s economic future, the massive Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine, succeeds; 3) building on recent business successes such as last month’s Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce, which provided the momentum to welcome U.S. companies to Mongolia for an agribusiness trade delegation taking place June 12-15; and 4) educating U.S. companies about business opportunities in Mongolia.
Mongolia has many of the qualities needed to take advantage of business relationships with U.S. and other foreign countries to achieve sustainable long-term economic growth – innovative people, freedom of thought, and an appetite and aptitude to adapt international best practices to Mongolia’s needs.
U.S. businesses have an important role to play in making sure Mongolia’s future is both prosperous and democratic.
U.S. companies offer services, technology, and investment that are needed to help transform Mongolia’s economy.
In brief, I see private U.S. investment in Mongolia as beneficial to the investor (who ideally turns a profit), to the Mongolian people (who gain jobs and wealth), and to the American economy (because wealthier Mongolians can by more American products).
The Mongolian government recognizes the value that U.S. businesses bring: transparency, strong corporate governance, professional development opportunities, and corporate social responsibility.
These are all qualities that will help create a sustainable and transparent business environment in which free enterprises succeed.
However, Mongolia’s two big neighbors are also vying to engage economically with Mongolia. These economic relationships often involve state-owned or affiliated companies operating in non-transparent ways.
Sure, they come with cheap financing, fewer regulations, and less wrangling over contracts, but there is often a steep price to pay for going this route.
I am convinced that U.S. Government efforts – in conjunction with the efforts of U.S. private investors and companies – can and will play a significant part in enhancing Mongolia’s economic vitality, which will in turn help strengthen its democracy and hence its stability.