MDRC

President's speech

OPENING REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

I would like to begin by extending a warm welcome to all guests and delegates here today and to thank you for attending the third Ulaanbaatar Forum for East Asia, which has been organized in co-operation with the president’s Office of Mongolia and the Mongolian Development Research Center.

Since assuming my position in June, I have established extensive goals for the future of Mongolia’s involvement in Northeast Asian cooperation and I am happy to be able to discuss these goals today.  This year we will be discussing international relations, finance and tourism issues of regional-wide importance within Mongolia.  I am confident that this meeting will contribute to a deeper understanding of the problems and challenges that Northeast Asian countries are facing during this uncertain period of economic crisis.

The first half of the 21st century has been characterized by increasing globalization and information technology with concerns of environmental degradation, global warming, new global epidemic diseases such as AIDS and the swine flu, refugees, illegal migration and threats of global terrorism.

Over the last twenty years, ever since the democratic-transition began, Mongolia has made tremendous progress in its Asian agenda of foreign policies.  Bilateral relations with neighboring Asian countries have developed intensively.  The frameworks of the Mongolian Foreign Policy Concepts, as well as relations with major Asian countries, have continuously been expanding.  In 1998 Mongolia concluded the Comprehensive Partnership Agreement with Japan, the Good Neighborhood Partnership with the People’s Republic of China in 2003, the Partnership of Good Neighborhood, Friendship and Cooperation agreement with South Korea in 2006, the Strategic Partnership with the Russian Federation in 2006, and the Comprehensive Partnership Agreement with the United States in 2004.  These agreements have substantially improved relationships with the countries involved.

Although bilateral relationships with Asian-Pacific countries have been developing with vision and immense progress, we are not yet satisfied with our level of integration into a range of dynamically expanding regional multilateral institutions.

Regional cooperation is vital for a landlocked country like Mongolia, which relies on importing most of its consumer goods and where export products revolve around mainly the mining industry.

Taking advantage of our geographical location, we want to build a highway and railway connecting Northeast Asia and Europe through our territory placing us at a strategically important crossroad for fuel and gas flows.  Our rich mineral resources are just as advantageous and we would like to use them as a means to further our participation in regional integration.

Mongolia’s accession as a full status participant to the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 1998, as an associate member to the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) in 2000, as a member of the Asian Cooperation Dialogue in 2004, and as a participant of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in 2006, have strengthened our country’s influence within the region.  These also provide opportunities for involvement into beneficial trade, economic and cultural projects and programs implemented by those multilateral organizations.

In order to have active participation in building an East Asian Community, we need support from ASEAN members and we must become a dialogue partner with the organization. Progress is being made. In July 2005, as approved by the Mongolian Parliament, Mongolia signed the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.  In the future, Mongolia will work to develop extensive trade and economic relationships with countries in the region, establish a dialogue partnership with ASEAN countries as well as take other necessary measures to further our camaraderie.

Since our accession as an associate member to PECC in 2000, we are making efforts to join the Asian-Pacific Economic Council (APEC).  Our country repeatedly expresses support for APEC’s objectives and principles, as well as our interest in further cooperation, leading to membership through bilateral channels and the APEC Secretariat.  Mongolia has been a member in a working group focused on foreign trade promotion, energy, tourism and transportation holding, however, the status of a guest country.  This status needs to change into a permanent one.

In the future, our hope is to focus our efforts not only in the Northeast Asian community, but to also contribute to the process of building an East Asian Community and to increase our participation in multilateral cooperation mechanisms in East Asia and ASEAN countries.

Research organizations in East Asia are exploring possibilities to establish an East Asian Free Trade Area (FTA) and are developing a program for this purpose.  We are pleased that China, South Korea and Japan are preparing to open FTAs with ASEAN countries as it will open a wide opportunity for the development of regional trade and investment.

It is clear that there is a need for a multilateral mechanism in East Asia that will significantly improve the regional cooperation.  Currently, new processes and structures of regional cooperation, such as ASEAN+3, ASEAN+6 and the East Asia Summit, are passing through development stages.  They are structured around the 10 members of ASEAN and the three most influential countries of East Asia: China, Japan and South Korea.

Additionally, we believe the initiatives to build new multilateral methods in East Asia, such as the establishment of an East Asian Community, will serve as a means to convert the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue into a permanent strategy to strengthen regional security.  These initiatives can be implemented and no doubt will contribute to regional security, cooperation and integration, although it will take time and a mutual understanding before this can be achieved.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Now, I wish to highlight some Mongolian initiatives on regional cooperation that need support from you, your countries and international organizations alike.  These issues will be further addressed at this Forum.

1.    Last year, based on the Millenium Development Goals, The Great Hural endorsed the National Comprehensive plan of Development until 2021.  The 2021 plan contains long-term development goals and implementation tools that could be realized with support from the international community, regional countries as well as their respective business entities or investors.  For Mongolia, FDI is not only an accelerator of economic progress and development, but also an opportunity to be involved in regional integration, which will bring new technologies and new management and service methods.

2.    In the next stage of Mongolian development, which will extend until 2015, we aim to develop using our comparative advantages such as natural resources and agricultural raw materials.  For this purpose, there is a need to adapt progressive technologies from developed countries and we anticipate that regional countries will support us.  In addition, the need for human resource development and skilled labor will be raised.

3.    The importance of knowledge and education, especially, the power of science and technology is a priority for ensuring economic growth and alleviating poverty.  This should be supported by every sector of government, all academia, and business leaders.  Thus, the task to establish a national innovation system is set up as one of the primary goals of our international development strategy.

4.    The Eastern (Dornod) Mongolia project has more than bilateral importance.  The project can accelerate multilateral cooperation in Northeast Asia, and especially if we involve the DPRK.  The Eastern province is a rather populated area where it is convenient to grow livestock and cultivate plants.  This region also has mining potential.

5.    We are all aware that climate is changing rapidly in the world.  Due to these drastic global changes, Mongolia has become a victim to increased desertification.  Unfortunately, we cannot resolve this problem ourselves.  We are, therefore, proposing to organize a high-level dialogue on climate change issues in Northeast Asia.

6.    Mongolia has intent to establish a regional energy cooperation mechanism in Northeast Asia.  This mechanism could become the basis for regional integrated energy policies.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I have set out my thoughts on Northeast Asian cooperation prospects and Mongolian development strategies with its possibilities for regional cooperation and integration.

I would like to conclude my statements by highlighting the point that we are all living in the same region, which means our destinies are interconnected.  We, therefore, have to collaboratively combine our ideas, efforts and strategies for any positive regional-wide outcome to take place.  And this is the purpose for this Forum here, today.

I wish you all success and thank you greatly for your attention and interest.

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