Mongolia and USA declare strategic partnership

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President Kh.Battulga visited the White House on July 31 to meet US President Donald Trump for trade talks, particularly the Mongolia Third Neighbor Trade Act.

The two state heads shook hands and had a small talk before going into the Oval Office for a private meeting, which lasted around 40 minutes.

Trump administration officials said that it wants to explore ways to support Mongolia’s economic and trade diversification efforts as Mongolia is heavily dependent on China. Around 90 percent of Mongolia’s trade must go through China.

Kh.Battulga and Trump also covered cooperation in defense and security matters, among other issues.

This was the first visit of a Mongolian president to the USA since 2011.

Trump names gift horse ‘Victory’

Before entering the White House, President Trump told President Kh.Battulga said that he’d settled on the name “Victory” for the horse the Mongolian government symbolically gifted to his son, Barron, last month.

“Thank you very much for the horse,” Trump told him, suggesting he'd seen a picture of the “beautiful” Mongolian horse as he moved to the Oval Office for a meeting. 

Thirteen-year-old Barron hasn't actually taken possession of the small-breed Mongolian horse gifted as a symbol of the two nations’ friendship. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted a photo of the horse, and confirmed it would remain in Mongolia.

Native horses were gifted to visiting dignitaries as a symbol of the country since the time of Chinggis Khaan. Former Vice President Joe Biden and former Defense secretaries Donald Rumsfeld and Chuck Hagel were gifted horses in the past.

Official talks begin

The Mongolian delegation led by President Kh.Battulga sat down with the Trump administration on Wednesday afternoon.

The Mongolian side was represented by President Kh.Battulga, Member of Parliament and Minister of Foreign Relations D.Tsogtbaatar, Head of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Policy, Education, Culture and Science D.Oyunkhorol, MP Z.Narantuya, Secretary of the National Security Council A.Gansukh, and Chief of Staff of the President’s Office Z.Enkhbold.

The US side consisted of President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, National Security Advisor John R. Bolton, White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and Administrator of the US Agency for International Development Mark Green.

At the beginning of the meeting, Trump noted that he had an “amazing” talk about Mongolia's cashmere production and promised to take up the issue with concerned parties.

US Representative Ted Yoho introduced the Mongolia Third Neighbor Trade Act in the US House of Representatives on April 10 this year. Regarding this issue, President Kh.Battulga expressed, once again, his full support for the bill, which will grant Mongolian cashmere duty-free access to the USA, creating great potential for growth in Mongolia’s cashmere and textile industry, upon adoption. He believes that this will increase trade turnover between Mongolia and the USA and diversify the economy.

The two countries are working closely in defense, cultural and humanitarian fields, but we need to pay special attention to raising trade turnover and economic cooperation, the Mongolian president told President Trump.

Heating up the discussion, the two sides decided to engage in more talks for economic partnership and released a declaration for a strategic partnership.

Vice President Mike Pence also expressed his gratitude to Mongolia's continuous participation in peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan.

Mongolia and USA declare strategic partnership

President Kh.Battulga and Donald Trump declared a strategic partnership for the two countries during the visit. 

The shared desires for the bilateral ties were identified as follows:

  • Intensify cooperation as strong democracies based on the rule of law through safeguarding and promoting democratic values and human rights, including the freedoms of religion or belief, expression, including internet and media freedom, assembly, and association; anti-corruption and fiscal transparency; and youth and emerging leader development;
  • Cooperate in promoting national security and stability across the Indo-Pacific region so that all nations, secure in their sovereignty, are able to pursue economic growth consistent with international law and principles of fair competition;
  • Deepen national security and law-enforcement ties through collaboration on bilateral and multilateral security, judicial, and law-enforcement efforts in the region and to strengthen cooperation in multilateral engagements such as peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, and disaster preparedness and relief operations;
  • Expand trade and investment relations on a fair and reciprocal basis, support private sector-led growth, fully implement the US-Mongolia Transparency Agreement, promote women’s entrepreneurship, and continue to explore support for infrastructure under the new Development Finance Corporation with the new tools provided under the BUILD Act;
  • Strengthen border security, prevent illegal transshipment and trafficking, expand cooperation on civil aviation safety and oversight, and efficiently facilitate legitimate travel between Mongolia and the United States;
  • Increase cooperation in addressing transnational threats such as terrorism, human trafficking, drug trafficking, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, cyberattacks, transnational organized crime, pandemics, and other emerging non-traditional security threats;
  • Continue to develop an environment in which civil society, social media, and free and independent media can flourish;
  • Maintain high-level official dialogues, encourage bilateral exchanges at all levels of government, and further develop people-to-people exchanges to deepen engagement on issues of mutual interest and concern.

US businesses encouraged to come to Mongolia

On Thursday morning, President Kh.Battulga gave insights about Mongolia to US entrepreneurs and investors interested in entering the Mongolian market.

Entrepreneurs intently asked about Mongolia’s economic and investment environment and were able to openly inquire about other concerns they had. American entrepreneurs and investors said they are eager to start a business in Mongolia or make an investment now that a strategic partnership has been declared between the two countries.

The president told participants that there are abundant opportunities to invest and run a business in Mongolia, particularly in agriculture, technology, health and mining sectors. He urged them to take special note of the agricultural processing sector in the country.

Representatives from the US Department of State, Department of Commerce, Millennium Challenge Corporation, World Bank, Monsoon Blockchain, Woods Capital Partners, Rio Tinto, and Boeing attended the meeting.

Mongolians in USA concerned about offshore accounts

Next, the Mongolian president received 180 representatives of Mongolians living and studying in the USA.

At present, over 30,000 Mongolians are scattered across more than 200 cities in the USA. To be more specific, 8,000 Mongolians are living in Chicago, 6,000 are in Washington DC, 4,000 are in San Francisco, 2,000 are in Los Angeles, and around 1,500 are residing in Seattle. 

Mongolians reportedly run 58 associations and NGOs in the USA.

At the beginning of the meeting, the president briefed the attendants about his meeting with US President Donald Trump and encouraged them to openly share their concerns and challenges they face in the USA.

The most commonly brought up issue was offshore accounts and availability of jobs in Mongolia.

President Kh.Battulga responded that he will work to allow money from offshore accounts to enter the country and promised to increase jobs by stimulating industrialization. He believes this will also curb the gap between the rich and the poor.

Dulguun Bayarsaikhan