1 FOREIGN RELATIONS OF MONGOLIA’S ROAD TRANSPORT SECTOR BROADENING WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/21      2 MONGOLIA EXPRESSES READINESS TO CONTRIBUTE TO STRENGTHENING ASIA-EUROPE COOPERATION WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/21      3 OYU TOLGOI FUNDED 35.1 KM ROAD OPENS IN KHANBOGD WWW.GOGO.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/21      4 POLYMER BITUMEN TO BE DOMESTICALLY PRODUCED WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/21      5 KHURELBAATAR CHIMED: 319 ENTITIES DREW LOANS FROM TWO FUNDS WWW.ZGM.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/21      6 CONSTRUCTION OF TAVANTOLGOI-GASHUUNSUKHAIT ROAD TO BE INTENSIFIED WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      7 OVER 30 MEASURES PLANNED FOR REDUCTION OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      8 MONGOLIA SAYS IT EARNS OVER 169 MLN USD FROM COAL EXPORTS TO CHINA IN JAN WWW.HELLENICSHIPPINGNEWS.COM  PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      9 RUSSIA’S GAZPROM TO START CHINA GAS PIPELINE BY DECEMBER 1 WWW.RT.COM PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      10 MONGOLIA'S FOREIGN TRADE UP 41.6 PCT IN JAN. WWW.XINHUANET.COM PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      УГСАРМАЛ ОРОН СУУЦНЫ ДУЛААЛГАД ЗОРИУЛЖ 12.7 ТЭРБУМ ТӨГРӨГИЙГ УЛСЫН ТӨСВӨӨС ГАРГАХААР БОЛЖЭЭ WWW.IKON.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/21     2018ОНД ЦАГААН БУДАА , ЭЛСЭН ЧИХЭР , ТАХИАНЫ МАХНЫ ИМПОРТ 24-32 ХУВИАР ӨСЖЭЭ WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/21     ДЦС IV: 2018 ОНД НИЙТ АШИГ 4.7 ДАХИН ӨСӨЖ , 4.48 ТЭРБУМ ТӨГРӨГ БОЛСОН WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/21     ТУСГАЙ САНГУУДААС ГАРГАСАН ЗЭЭЛИЙН 100 ОРЧИМ ТЭРБУМ ТӨГРӨГ ХУГАЦАА ХЭТЭРСЭН ӨР БОЛЖЭЭ WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/21     МОНГОЛ УЛСЫН БОРЛУУЛАЛТЫН МЕНЕЖЕРҮҮДИЙН ИНДЕКС СҮҮЛИЙН 12 САРД АНХ УДАА УНАЛТЫН БҮСЭД ШИЛЖИВ WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/21     2018 ОНД ХАМГИЙН ЧИНЭЭЛЭГ БҮЛГИЙН ХЭРЭГЛЭЭ ЯДУУ БҮЛГИЙНХНЭЭС 5.1 ДАХИН ИХ БАЙВ WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/21     ХОВД ГОЛД ОСОЛДСОН 6 НАСТАЙ ХҮҮХДИЙН ЭРЛИЙГ ЗОГСООЛОО WWW.MONTSAME.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/21     ДБНХ-НООС П.ОРХОНЫ БАРИЛДАХ ЭРХИЙГ 4 ЖИЛЭЭР ХАСАВ WWW.MONTSAME.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/21     УУХҮЯ: II САРЫН БАЙДЛААР НИЙТ НУТАГ ДЭВСГЭРИЙН 5.6 ХУВЬД АШИГТ МАЛТМАЛЫН ЛИЦЕНЗ ОЛГОСОН WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/20     300 ОРТОЙ ТӨРӨХ ЭМНЭЛГИЙН БАРИЛГЫН АЖИЛ 80%-Д ХҮРЧ ГУРАВДУГААР САРЫН 1-НЭЭС ДУЛААНД ХОЛБОГДОХООР БОЛЖЭЭ WWW.IKON.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/20    

Events

Name organizer Where
“Doing business with Mongolia”, “UK Investors show” бизнес хөтөлбөр March 27-April 02. 2019 ЛОНДОН ХОТ, ИХ БРИТАНИ Mongolian Business Database London UK
SYMPOSIUM ON GLOBAL MARKETS Nationalism and Protectionism: The United States in the International Arena June 17-18, 2019 The Center for American and International Law Plano, Texas, USA The Center for American and International Law (CAILAW) Plano Texas June 17-18 2019
"Open to Export" ICC WTO International business award ICC WTO London

NEWS

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Number of South Korean visa applications increase by 130 percent www.news.mn

South Korea has eased multiple-entry visa rules for Mongolia. Mr. Gil Kang Moug, Consul General of South Korea held a press conference on Tuesday regarding the new visa rules for Mongolians. Nearly 1000 South Korean citizens have received multiple-entry visas to Mongolia whilst 37,000 Mongolians obtained South Korean multiple-entry visas.

Over 60,000 Mongolians applied for South Korean visas in 2016 and 130,000 in 2017. During the first seven months of 2018, nearly 88,000 Mongolians applied for South Korean visas; this represents an increase of 130 percent on previous years.

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US coal exports sure victims of Hurricane Florence — WoodMac www.mining.com

As Hurricane Florence — a monster Category 2 storm — takes aim at southeastern United States, one of the country’s most important coal export hubs has halted operations due to looming damage to ships and infrastructure, analysts at Wood Mackenzie said Thursday.

The National Hurricane Centre said in an advisory note there was a danger of “life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline”, particularly in North and South Carolina – south of Virginia’s three main coal export terminals at Hampton Roads.

While Hampton Roads may avoid a direct hit, there has already been an impact at the coal ports, the Scottish research and consultancy group said in a note.

While the actual impact and damage of Florence have yet to be felt, any significant delay to metallurgical coal exports will put upward pressure on prices.
Most ships in port or queued awaiting loading have moved to deeper water. Loadings have stopped and may not resume for several days. The already high current vessel line-up, which is in the mid-teens, will likely increase by the time shipping resumes, the analysts expect.

The Hampton Roads region has a total capacity to ship 82 Mtpa via three major ports: Lamberts Point (40 Mtpa), Pier IX (22 Mtpa) and Dominion Terminal Associates (20 Mtpa). Lamberts Point is owned by the NS railway and has no ground storage area. Dominion Terminal Associates is owned jointly by Contura Energy (65%) and Arch Coal (35%). Pier IX is owned by Kinder Morgan.

According to WoodMac, any impact to Atlantic supply would be more significant for metallurgical coal than for thermal coal.

Metallurgical coal exports from April to June period from Hampton Roads averaged 2.9 Mt a month, so a week delay would mean 0.74 Mt of coal shipments stuck at port.

Thermal coal exports averaged 0.6 Mt per month for the same period, or 0.15 Mt per week. “With vessel queues averaging in the mid-teens recently and rail service struggling to keep up with deliveries, it is questionable that the ports would be able to quickly make up any loss,” the analysts said.

The projected inland track into the Southern Appalachians may also hit metallurgical coal production in Alabama.
They noted that the projected inland track into the Southern Appalachians could also interfere with metallurgical coal production in Alabama.

“Should the storm make landfall closer to the main ports, major delays in coal loadings would be expected due to power outages and regional flooding,” they warned.

While the actual impact and damage of Florence have yet to be felt, any significant delay to metallurgical coal exports will put upward pressure on price in a market that is already supported with very high prices, the experts said.

Flooding could also affect regional power plants, as it happened in 2016, when Hurricane Matthew flooded cooling ponds at Duke Energy's Lee coal plant.

Another concern is the fate of unlined coal ash pits in the Carolinas and Virginia. Duke and Dominion Energy still have several unlined coal ash facilities along the coast and inland that leave communities vulnerable to potential flooding or leaks from the sites.

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Amazon chief Jeff Bezos gives $2bn to help the homeless www.bbc.com

Amazon chief Jeff Bezos is putting $2bn (£1.5bn) into a charitable fund he has established to help the homeless and set up a new network of schools.

The world's richest man announced the move in a tweet, saying the charity would be called the Day One Fund.

Mr Bezos - reportedly worth more than $164bn - has faced criticism for not doing more philanthropic work.

And US Senator Bernie Sanders has criticised working conditions in Amazon warehouses.

Mr Bezos asked on Twitter last year for suggestions on how he might use his personal fortune, which this year has soared due to Amazon's surging share price and US tax cuts.

He said on Thursday that the "Bezos Day One Fund" will contribute to "existing nonprofits that help homeless families" and also fund "a network of new, nonprofit, tier-one preschools in low-income communities".

The fund will be split between Day 1 Families Fund and Day 1 Academies Fund.

"The Day 1 Families Fund will issue annual leadership awards to organizations and civic groups doing compassionate, needle-moving work to provide shelter and hunger support to address the immediate needs of young families," Mr Bezos said in a tweet.

The Day 1 Academies Fund will launch and operate a network of high-quality, full-scholarship, Montessori-inspired pre-schools in low-income and underserved communities, he said. "We will build an organization to directly operate these schools," he added.

Earlier this month Amazon, which Mr Bezos founded in 1994, became only the second stock market company to be valued at $1tn. Apple reached that milestone a few weeks earlier.

Despite the huge amount of money being given, it is far less than the philanthropy of other billionaires such as Microsoft's Bill Gates, who has donated tens of billions to his foundation, and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, who has pledged to donate 99% of his shares in the social media giant to an organization focused on public good.

The $2bn also falls short of the "giving pledge" initiative launched by Mr Gates and billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who have encouraged wealthy individuals to pledge half their fortunes for philanthropy.

Mr Bezos, who operates the Blue Origin space rocket project and who owns the Washington Post newspaper, has given donations to a scheme to help the children of immigrants, cancer research, and Princeton University.

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Eastern Economic Forum brings $42 billion in deals to Russia www.rt.com

A total of 175 deals worth 2.9 trillion rubles (US$42.07 billion) were inked during the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev.
“These are not the final figures,” he said when announcing the results of the fourth annual EEF, which took place from September 11 to 13.

Trutnev, who is also the Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District, noted the deals which were signed at previous forums, saying that in 2015 “the figure was 1.3 trillion rubles ($18.86 billion) while last year it rose to 2.5 trillion rubles ($36.27 billion).”

Among the deals agreed to was the establishment of a mining and industrial enterprise based in the Baimsky ore area in Chukotka. Asian investment GenFund will participate in Far East projects of Russian agroholding Rusagro and Nakhodka fertilizer plant.

According to the official, the important deals also include deliveries of 100 SSJ-100 aircraft to Aeroflot, and the construction of a terminal for Novatek LNG transshipment at Bechevinskaya Bay in Kamchatka.

“Within the framework of the forum 100 business events were held,” Trutnev said, noting that more than 6,000 delegates and 1,300 media representatives participated in the event.

The Eastern Economic Forum is an international forum held each year since 2015 to encourage foreign investment in the Russian Far East.

The theme of this year’s event – The Far East: Expanding the Range of Possibilities – reflects aspirations to see Russia more closely integrated into the economic network of the Asia-Pacific region.

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Mongolia relationship valued, president says www.chinadaily.com.cn

China and Mongolia should develop bilateral ties in the right direction from a strategic and long-term perspective, understand and respect each other's core interests and deepen mutual trust, President Xi Jinping said when meeting with Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga in Vladivostok, Russia, on Wednesday.

China has always greatly valued its ties with Mongolia and will strengthen exchanges and cooperation and keep pushing for better and faster development of the ties, in line with the principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness and according to the policy of forging friendship and partnership with its neighbors, Xi said.

In addition, China respects the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Mongolia as well as the path of development that the Mongolian people choose for themselves, he said at the meeting on the sidelines of the fourth Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia.

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Corruption in Mongolia: A Problem for Youth www.asiafoundation.org

The year 2007, according to traditional astrology, was the Year of the Golden Pig. It was believed that good fortune would come to families who gave birth during this auspicious time. Regardless of the role that astrology may have played, Mongolia’s annual birth rate grew from 50,000 in 2007 to nearly 90,000 in 2014, and Mongolia today is one of the youngest nations in the world, with young people age 14–34 comprising 35 percent of the population.

So, what does this mean? First, it means there is a pressing need for more kindergartens, more schools, and more jobs, demands that the country is striving to meet. But more importantly, this cohort of young people will have a dominant role in charting Mongolia’s course through the perilous social and economic challenges it faces today, including the nation’s high levels of corruption.

The Asia Foundation’s annual Survey on Perceptions and Knowledge of Corruption (SPEAK) shows clear cause for concern about the experiences shaping the outlook of this critical youth demographic. The research shows that most of Mongolia’s petty bribery takes place in public services such as health and education. In a multiyear average, at least a quarter of those who said they had paid a bribe reported that it was to teachers.

The hard fact is that many young people in Mongolia are growing up and being educated in an environment of corrupt and unethical behavior. The Foundation’s 2016 survey Transparency, Ethics, and Corruption in the Education Sector found that nearly 40 percent of parents had given small bribes to teachers in return for favors such as better treatment, preferred admission to better schools or classes, and higher grades. Alarmingly, when parents were asked about the results of these payments, 78 percent of those who wanted higher grades for their children said the payment or gift had achieved the desired result

When asked if this culture of bribery should be tolerated in the future, 92 percent of parents said no. But when asked if the situation was likely to change, they were pessimistic: 40 percent predicted it would worsen, and 30 percent said it would remain the same.

Low teacher salaries and limited funding for public schools are often cited as the cause of or excuse for this corruption and for not aggressively tackling the problem. But the cost of corruption is more than just the money paid by parents: it’s exposing young people to these practices, which affects their ethical worldview. It is the students who often handle the money in these transactions—they know the purpose of these payments and that they are benefiting from them.

It is not difficult to imagine how young people raised in such an environment might act when they make decisions relating to corruption in the future. According to last year’s SPEAK survey, zero tolerance of corruption is considerably less common among youth than among older age groups. For example, only 28 percent of those age 25–29 say they would not pay a bribe, compared to 51 percent of those 50–59 and 53 percent of those over 60 (figure 2).

So, how can we prevent our children and young adults from succumbing to this culture of corruption? What strategy or methodology should we follow to educate youth? Can we, and they, change the course of development towards a fair and just society in 10 or 20 years? These are the critical questions that Mongolian educational institutions, civil society organizations, and government agencies are trying to answer. The Asia Foundation’s Mongolia office has been engaged in anticorruption activities in the education sector since 2010, and with generous support from the Canadian government we launched a wider intervention campaign for secondary schools and colleges in 2016 as part of our 10-year-old governance and anticorruption program.

Under this initiative, several NGOs and local education authorities are conducting trainings and public-awareness events for hundreds of teachers and thousands of students at 130-plus public secondary schools and 60 colleges and universities in Mongolia’s capital city, Ulaanbaatar. At the same time, local NGOs are helping school administrations improve the transparency and accountability of their finances through active school-reform projects.

Despite years of work, clear signs of improvement in the corrupt culture of the education sector are yet to be seen. But educators and activists say these anticorruption efforts must continue to ensure long-term success.

The Asia Foundation’s Survey on Perception and Knowledge of Corruption (SPEAK) is conducted in partnership with Sant Maral Foundation. The survey, which uses random sampling methodology, has been conducted for the last 10 years. The Foundation’s 2016 survey Transparency, Ethics, and Corruption in the Education Sector was conducted in partnership with a local survey firm Statistical Institute for Consulting and Analysis.

Bayanmunkh Ariunbold is a governance project manager for The Asia Foundation in Mongolia. He can be reached at bayanmunkh.ariunbold@asiafoundation.org. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and not those of The Asia Foundation.

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President meets Putin and Xi: Gas pipeline cooperation affirmed www.zgm.mn

President of Mongolia Battulga Khaltmaa, yesterday, met with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum, which will conclude today. One key topic at both meetings was the establishment of natural gas pipes, to which the two leaders agreed. During the meeting with his Russian counterpart, President Battulga mentioned his previous proposal on renewing the 1993 Agreement on Friendly Relations and Cooperation between Mongolia and Russia and establishing it without a defined term, and discussed the spendings of Russian RUB 100 billion soft loan on the reform of the Ulaanbaatar Railway Joint Venture and in energy sector and deepening the cooperation between the National Security Councils of the two countries, as well as adopting a revised cooperation plan. President Battulga also said that Mongolia was studying the possibility of accessing a port in the Far East, while making certain proposals, including establishing a joint working group to intensify the implementation of the Trilateral Economic Corridor program.

Furthermore, he made a proposal to cooperate on the establishment of the Northeast Asian super grid for energy and handed over an economic feasibility study related to the proposal and the projects to the Russian President. Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized his satisfaction with the positive indicators in all areas of bilateral cooperation and economic growth in recent years and expressed interest to further intensify bilateral cooperation in agriculture, railway, and defense sectors. He then reiterated his support for the proposal of President Battulga on building the natural gas pipes between Russia and China via Mongolia. President Vladimir Putin said that the RUB 100 billion soft loan to Mongolia, which is currently under negotiations, can be used on the reform of the Ulaanbaatar Railway Joint Venture and a thermal power plant. The sides agreed to jointly celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Khalkha River Battle next year and organize a joint exhibition, produce a feature film and a documentary, and publish a book in the margins of the anniversary. Moreover, President Battulga invited President Vladimir Putin to pay a visit to Mongolia with the purpose of celebrating the anniversary together.

As for the bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart, President Battulga requested President Xi Jinping to support certain matters, including the establishment of the Northeast Asian Supergrid, construction of gas pipes cooperation on ranking the projects within the Mongolia-Russia-China Economic Corridor program, and value-added export of agricultural products. Also, President Battulga proposed to establish a joint working group to build a highway connecting Zamyn-Uud with Altanbulag. President Xi Jinping expressed his readiness to cooperate on complex reform of the comprehensive strategic partnership relations between the two countries, increasing bilateral trade turnover to USD 10 billion by 2020, railway construction, development of process manufacturing, and regional peace and security. President Xi Jinping supported the joint implementation of President Battulga’s proposals. Moreover, President Xi Jinping reaffirmed the invitation for President Battulga to make a state visit to China and attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in the first quarter of 2019. The Chinese side informed that it had accepted and will support a proposal on export of agricultural products from Mongolia to China, made by President Battulga during their last meeting in Qingdao.

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Mongolia issues commemorative coin marking ties with China www.xinhuanet.com

ULAN BATOR, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia's central bank issued a silver coin on Wednesday commemorating the friendship between Mongolia and China.

The commemorative coin is rectangular in shape and features two Mongolian and two Chinese children holding hands against a background of the countries' most famous landmarks. The front side of the coin reads, "Friendship Between Mongolia and China."

"The Bank of Mongolia issued the silver coin to mark the upcoming 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and China next year," the bank's spokesperson Ariun Dagva told Xinhua.

The 20,000 tugriks (8 U.S. dollars) coin is available at the Treasury Fund of the central bank at a cost of 500,000 tugriks (201 U.S. dollars) per piece.

Since 1972, the Bank of Mongolia has been issuing gold, silver and bronze coins depicting the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, endangered animals, Olympic athletes and other well known figures as well as historical events or anniversaries.

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Across China: Vegetables cross China-Mongolia border www.xinhuanet.com

HOHHOT, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- At dusk, 32-year-old driver Bideryar from Mongolia drove his refrigerated truck to pick up vegetables in Erenhot, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the largest port along the China-Mongolia border.

"Vegetables from China have brought more choices to our dinner table, and changed our eating habits," he said. "I mainly ate meat in the past, but now, I also eat vegetables imported from China. I am healthier."

Bideryar's sister is a vegetable wholesaler in Ulan Bator, capital of Mongolia. His sister usually sends the list of vegetables needed to the salesman in Erenhot via Wechat and will be notified when the vegetables are ready, upon which Bideryar will leave Ulan Bator for Erenhot.

With a population of about three million people, Mongolia mainly relies on China for vegetables. "In Mongolia, some people have never even seen some of the vegetables from China, but more and more Mongolians are willing to try them," said Gyiya from Mongolia.

Ganerdeni, 37, has been a driver running between Ulan Bator and Erenhot for 17 years. "I work for many vegetable wholesalers, and the need for vegetables from China in Ulan Bator is far from being met," he said.

Every day, ten to twenty refrigerated trucks will depart from Ulan Bator and return early in the morning two days later. The fresh vegetables from China will appear on supermarket shelves at night in Ulan Bator, he said.

"But five years ago, a two-way trip would take three to four days due to the shabby dirt road. But now, with a new road built, a one-way trip only takes eight hours," he said.

Additionally, customs time for fruits and vegetables was shortened last year and made a priority to speed up the process. "It takes only several minutes for a truck carrying fruits or vegetables to be cleared by customs," said Zhang Hongwei with Erenhot customs.

Haogang fruit and vegetable import and export company is the largest export company of its kind between China and Mongolia. It works with over 40 supermarkets and vegetable markets in Mongolia, and exports more than 100,000 tonnes of vegetables and fruits to Mongolia every year.

According to Erenhot customs, 69,000 tonnes of vegetables were exported in 2017, up 20.6 percent year-on-year.

"In the past, they just bought what we sold, mainly potatoes, onions and cabbages, but now, we sell what they order," Zhao Long, general manager of the company, 49, who has been working in the trade for more than 20 years.

One of the purchase orders from Mongolia lists 51 kinds of vegetables, 19 kinds of fruits, six kinds of fungi and two spices. "Each listing also has a photo, so if we don't know what something is, the picture can help us figure it out," he said. "For example, we get celery from Shandong, cabbages from Fujian, and onions from Yunnan."

The company has built a base of more than 70 hectares in a village in Erenhot to plant products based on the orders from Mongolia. Other companies in Erenhot are also developing e-commerce to make it possible for customers in Mongolia to receive fresh vegetables they have ordered the same day.

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Cashmere from Mongolia: One Way to Smooth Out Washington’s Partisan Divide? www.globalatlanta.com

Washington is increasingly seen as a toxic place, providing few opportunities for politicians on opposite sides of the aisle to talk and work with each other. Even foreign policy, an area once offering considerable scope for consensus and cooperation, has become fractured and controversial.

Against this backdrop, there is one unlikely area of international interest and concern which offers unexpected opportunities for Congressional bi-partisanship: Mongolia.

During the early 1990s, when Mongolia emerged from the shadow of the Soviet Union to transform itself into a democracy as well as a free-market economy, Democrats and Republicans joined hands to offer Mongolia encouragement and support.

At the time, it was thought that a democratic and economically successful Mongolia would offer hope to other countries in Asia and beyond. Remarkably, Mongolia actively participated in and later chaired the Community of Democracies. At the same time, it registered a tenfold increase in GDP between 2001 (when I first served as a foreign service officer in Mongolia) and 2013 (when I completed my final diplomatic assignment as U.S. ambassador to Mongolia), dramatic economic growth that was mostly fueled by its mineral wealth.

Congress actively supported Mongolia’s early success. However, as this interest abated, the Congressional Mongolian Caucus also began to languish — though there are signs that this is beginning to change, as evidenced by the Mongolia Third Neighbor Trade Act, recently introduced into the House by Rep. Ted Yoho, a Republican from Gainesville, Fla.

This new bill offers an especially positive way forward, explicitly acknowledging as it does that fact that the United States is one of the “pillars” of Mongolia’s “Third Neighbor” foreign policy.

Among other things, this policy recognizes that Mongolia as a land-locked country must maintain correct relations with its two powerful immediate neighbors — Russia and China — while also seeking to “balance” these challenging relationships by forging positive ties with third countries.
The fact that cashmere — a luxury product combed from the soft underbelly of cashmere goats after harsh winters such as those experienced in Mongolia where temperatures routinely plunge to 40 degrees below zero — serves as an economic lifeline to tens of thousands of rural Mongolian herders adds to its importance.

Indeed, given that livestock outnumbers Mongolia’s human population by 20 to one, cashmere and other animal fibers make an especially valuable contribution to Mongolia’s economic success in terms of both employment and income at a time when it desperately needs a boost.

While Mongolia trails only China as a global source of raw cashmere, it loses out economically because of its inability to turn that raw cashmere into finished products such as high quality sweaters and suits before exporting it.

As currently written, the Third Neighbor Trade Act provides a five year window for the duty-free entry of Mongolian wool products into the United States, setting the stage for a revival and expansion of the Mongolian wool industry — yak wool, camel wool and cashmere wool.

Successful passage of the Third Neighbor Trade Act would provide a huge incentive for Mongolia to diversify its economy and develop its domestic industry based on a variety of animal fibers, none of which compete directly with American products.

Pioneering new American firms such as the Naadam Co., founded by two young American entrepreneurs who vacationed in Mongolia and returned to the United States hugely impressed with what they saw, are well positioned to spearhead this effort.

Bypassing China, it could export finished products directly to the United States, strengthening the US partnership with a country that has also chosen the path of democracy. Moreover, it ensures that the United States can be supportive in ways that neither threaten U.S. jobs nor involve taxpayer dollars for foreign aid.

Other elements of Congress have endorsed the wisdom of this approach. Indeed, while the Mongolia Third Neighbor bill was formally introduced by a conservative Republican from Florida, it has also garnered support from an unlikely and eclectic range of other congressional groupings including the Black Caucus, Freedom Caucus and Progressive Caucus.

Not surprisingly, the bi-partisan Mongolian Caucus — co-chaired by Rep. Dina Titus (a Democrat from Nevada) and Rep. Don Young (a Republican from Alaska) — also strongly supports this bill.

Hopefully, the Congressional delegation from Georgia will also see merit in this pioneering initiative that benefits both Mongolia and the United States. In particular, Georgia’s two senators are well positioned to assist in this effort once it moves to the Senate — Sen. Johnny Isakson is a leader within the Foreign Relations Committee and Sen. David Perdue plays a key role in the Armed Services Committee.

Both committees and both houses of Congress should welcome and support this legislation which reflects bi-partisanship at its best while also advancing U.S. interests in a seemingly remote yet important part of the world, one which helps diversify Mongolia’s economy, strengthens Mongolian independence and advances U.S. diplomatic partnerships in a part of the world that strategically truly matters.

Jonathan Addleton served as US Ambassador to Mongolia during 2009-2012. A retired Foreign Service Officer, he teaches at Mercer University in Macon, Ga.; serves as Executive Director of the American Center for Mongolian Studies; and authored Mongolia and the United States: A Diplomatic History (Hong Kong University Press, 2013).

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