D.Davaasuren: Dawn of the new phase of the relationship between Mongolia and the united states of America
Mr. Davaasuren Damdinsuren, former State secretary of the ministry of foreign affairs of Mongolia
-Within commemorating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and the United States, the two sides have organized various events throughout the year and have recently organized a closing ceremony at the onset of the 31st anniversary. Could you please illuminate our readers more on this?
-Thank you. At the outset, allow me to send my warm greetings to the readers of your magazine. Indeed, the two sides have organized many events. All these events truly illustrated how the people-topeople ties between our nations are expanding. In a broad-spectrum, the people-to-people relations, as well as, cultural cooperation play an important role in expanding the bilateral relations between nations. For instance, with the view of promoting Mongolian ethnic arts, a Mongolian ethnic ballad group “Khusugtun” toured across the major cities of the U.S, presenting their music pieces in one of the most reputable theatres of America. Also, one of the Compass D.Davaasuren: Dawn of the new phase of the relationship between Mongolia and the united states of America “Big Five” orchestras of the U.S, the Philadelphia symphonic orchestra, played a performance for the first time in Mongolia. It was delighted to hear from them that classical art in Mongolia is developed at a high level. In order to create a friendly atmosphere among children and young people of both countries, as well as, building a sense of love and harmony towards the environment and the mother earth, a children’s drawing contest under the theme of “Environment” was organized both in Mongolia and in the U.S. An exhibition comprised of selected best drawings of 30 Mongolian and 30 American children was also held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Today our citizens, specifically the Mongolian youth are participating in many US Government programs, initiatives, and projects such as the Fulbright, FLEX, and LEAD. In fact, over 10 thousand Mongolian citizens have studied in the U.S. since the 1990s, and during the same time period, more than 1,300 volunteers from the U.S. have worked in Mongolia. Their contributions to the bilateral relations are immeasurable. As a continuation of these links, the two sides have agreed to start preparations to declare 2019 as a “Mongolia – US youth year”, which is a Mongolian initiative.
-Recently, Mongolia and the U.S. have held political consultations in Ulaanbaatar. A good number of representatives from several departments and agencies of the U.S. were involved. What was the highlight of this year’s consultative meeting?
-Not long after our countries have established the diplomatic relations, the two sides saw a need of having the consultative mechanism, where both sides could extensively discuss and exchange views on matters of bilateral relations. Accordingly, the first ever consultations were held in 1999 on the sidelines of an international event in Bangkok. Since then, the political consultations have been held alternately in Ulaanbaatar and Washington D.C. on an annual basis. The 12th round of Annual Bilateral Consultations was held on January 20th, 2018 in Ulaanbaatar. Traditionally, during the meeting, the two sides exchange views on broad aspects of bilateral relations and cooperation, evaluate the achievements of a previous year, and codetermine the objectives for the next year. The scope of the discussions has been expanding from year to year. Approximately 60 representatives of relevant ministries, agencies from both sides have attended this year’s consultative meeting, illustrating the broadness of our bilateral relationship. The two parties evaluated the results of the 11th meeting that was held in Washington D.C. in 2016. We could see that a number of important and planned measures have been implemented. For instance, last year Mongolia presented its economic situation and asked the U.S. to leverage Mongolia’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund. The US side very well received our economic situation. And with the support of U.S. Government, today Mongolia implements the IMF’s “Extended Fund Facility” program. The US Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Board of Directors has re-selected Mongolia as a Second compact development eligible country. A $10 million project to support Mongolian meat export capability is being implemented. The first ever energy policy dialogue between our countries was held in 2017. Mongolia was recently included in the “H2” visa program. The youth exchange programs such as “LEAD Mongolia” and “FLEX” have been successfully implemented. The two sides noted the significance of increasing trade and economic cooperation, particularly in terms of attracting U.S investments in Mongolia and expanding cooperation in the areas of agriculture and energy. The two sides also discussed the options of organizing the next round of Economic Policy Dialogue and Trade and Investment Framework Agreement talks.
-Everyone is talking about the inclusion of Mongolia in the “H2” visa program.
-On January 18th, 2018, the US Department of Homeland Security officially announced that Mongolia was enlisted as the H-2 visa eligible country. This is the first time that Mongolia has been entered in the list of countries eligible for the H-2A and H-2B type visa holders. This is a result of our request made during the last consultative meeting held in Washington D.C in 2016 and a close collaboration. These types of visas allow American companies to temporarily employ foreign workers.
The H-2A visa is used for seasonal agricultural jobs, and the H-2B visa is used for nonagricultural jobs. The US Embassy in Ulaanbaatar is expected to commence issuing the H2 class visas starting from March 1st, 2018.
Currently, Mongolian side is working closely with the US Embassy in Mongolia on detailing the procedures related to registration and bridging the H2 visa applicants with the US employers. Once this will become clear, we will publically inform about the detailed procedures. Until then, we are concerned that our public will be misled and be deceived by the misinformation circling around the social network. Therefore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working closely with the Embassy of the U.S. in providing a step-by-step accurate information to our public.
-What levels of relationship have Mongolia and the U.S. reached in the past? What would you highlight to our readers in terms of the future objectives?
-The U.S. has an important place in the third neighbor policy of Mongolia. Today, the bilateral relations are expanding in many fields. There is a high level of political trust between our countries. The people-to-people links between the two countries are expanding year by year. We define our partnership with the U.S. as a comprehensive partnership. In the long run, we are committed to reaching a level of a strategic partnership. In general, the objectives of our bilateral cooperation are declared in the joint declarations and communiqués that are announced during the bilateral high-level visits. For instance, we define our relationship as “… a new era of cooperation and comprehensive partnership between the two democratic countries based on shared values and common strategic interests”, “… longstanding friendship and excellent relations based on shared values and common interests”; and work together to implement them. To start with, we need to expand our economic relationship. The US side fully supports our goal of diversifying the economy. We exchanged views on expanding the bilateral cooperation in the fields of agriculture and renewable energy. We believe there are plenty of opportunities. The legal basis has also been set up. There are over 30 agreements that regulate the relations between Mongolia and the U.S. The Transparency Agreement, one of the latest ones, entered into force on March 20, 2017. In the near future, we are working closely to sign the Second Compact agreement with the US Millennium Challenge Corporation. I would like to highlight that the $350 million grant, which will be spent to increase the bulk water supply in Ulaanbaatar, is a generous investment made by the American people for the people of Mongolia, as well as the future wellbeing of Mongolia. The American side is paying a particular attention to the strengthening of Mongolia’s border control and customs infrastructures, capabilities of combating money laundering and financing of terrorism; and collaborates closely in strengthening our economy, banking and financial infrastructures and capacity building. In brief, using the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, the parties have evaluated bilateral successes, affirmed the achievements; and put the foundations in codetermining the common objectives and goals for decades to come.
PS:Special edition dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and the United States (February 2018)