The only window in the third direction
Directions where Mongolia shall pursue its foreign policy in the political field are defined in the concept of foreign policy of Mongolia. The priority directions of Mongolia’s foreign policy activity is to maintain friendly, balanced relations with our two neighbors, the second direction is to develop friendly relations with highly developed countries in the West and in the East, and the third direction is to strengthen its position in Asia and secure a constructive participation in the political and economic integration process in the region.
“Within the framework of this objective, greater attention shall be given to Asia and the Pacific region, in particular to North-East and Central Asia. Mongolia shall take an active part in the process of initiating dialogues and negotiations on the issues of strengthening regional security and creating a collective security mechanism. It will strive to become a member of the Asia, Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC). Prerequisites for participating in regional integration shall be created primarily through expanding and promoting bilateral relations with the countries of the region” says the concept of foreign policy of Mongolia.
APEC was established in 1989 with the purpose of promoting free trade and investment and it currently has 21 members. However, it has been many years since APEC announced the moratorium for accepting new members and is not approving membership applications from several countries including Mongolia, India, Pakistan, Laos and Colombia. Like the European Union, APEC member countries have successfully been carrying out their mission to raise living standards and education levels through sustainable economic growth.
Businessmen, tradesmen and investors from APEC member countries are granted a special permit that allows them to travel without visas to the other member countries and they are provided with a special line at airports. Even though the permit is only valid when a passport is present, services such as this one do the private sector a big favor and give huge support to their business in the region.
Established in 1980, and founded by the APEC, the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) is a unique tripartite partnership of private sector, government, universities and research organizations rather than a partnership between governments only. Mongolia joined PECC as an associate member in 1998 and became a full member in Bangkok in 2008. The Mongolian National Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (MONPECC) is a public organisation of representatives from the government, research organizations and private sector. MONPECC attends PECC events through cooperation with Mongolian Embassies in member countries.
MONPECC representatives led by Mrs.Delgermaa Banzragchyn, the Ambassador of Mongolia to Singapore, attended the PECC Standing Committee meeting last month. When Ambassador Mr.Noor, the Executive Director of APEC, was asked when Mongolia could become an APEC member during the SINCPEC (The Singapore National Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation) conference under the theme “APEC Economies: A Paradigm Shift?” he answered that he did not know whether and when APEC would discuss about accepting a new member.
Russian Ambassador Leonid Moiseyev said “Russia currently has the APEC chairmanship and will take over the G8 presidency next year. It is currently preparing to organise the APEC-2012 summit, which will take place in Vladivostok in September this year. In the summit, Russia is going to release a historical statement that will bring substantial influence to regional development. Russia will create a special economic zone that comprises 16 provinces, which takes up 60% of the territory, and Vladivostok will be the capital city of the Far East.” When Mongolian representatives asked him if Russia is planning to privatize its state-owned companies, Ambassador Moiseyev said, “It is a goal of ours”. He also stated that Russia would increase the Trans-Siberian railway capacity and also add six icebreaker ships in the Arctic Ocean.
PECC is still the only window for Mongolian businesses, non-governmental and government organizations to take part in Asia-Pacific economic integration.
As our natural resources attract more investors, Mongolia has the opportunity and the need to enhance its involvement in PECC projects by encouraging participation of Mongolian universities, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, the related government agencies and our private sector.
For example, if Mongolian social security organizations, the pension fund and other related health and employment organizations actively participate in the JANPECC project for improving social care system, which is greatly supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Mongolia will have better chances to become a member of APEC. In the same fashion, we need to actively participate in other projects such as projects on energy, food security, labour migration regulations and water management.
MONPECC now has an opportunity to organize an event in cooperation with national committees of PECC of Australia, Canada and Chile in order to resolve the most pressing problems associated with mining development. Focusing on the mining sector, these countries have successfully developed the other sectors of their economy. Therefore, Mongolia can learn from their example on creating the adequate legal environment for every sector in economy and use their experiences creatively after a careful analysis. If a conference attended by the related organizations from the three parties (government agencies, private sector, research organizations) of these countries is organized in Mongolia, it will have a substantial influence on improving our country’s institutional capability.
As Japan is currently interested in implementing big projects in cooperation with Mongolia to establish a regional energy network using renewable energy sources, the related companies and government organizations in Mongolia have an opportunity to participate in various research works and to prepare their personnel.
The private sector’s active involvement in every direction will ensure our integration to the regional economy. Promises and meetings of our government officials will not simply do it. Therefore, the primary basis for implementing our foreign policy in the political field is economic relations and Mongolia’s private sector has a great deal of interest in it.
We have to make calculations of 20-30 years ahead and we need to start doing something about it immediately. Our two neighbours have already begun building gas pipes, major energy transmission lines and new railway lines that encircle us. We always have to remember that, if we do not manage to have an economic integration with our neighbours, we will not be able to do so with any other country. In order to develop friendly economic relations with our two neighbours, we have to have regional organizations and other international bodies that demand Russia and China treat every country in an equal, fair and non-discriminating way. To do that, Mongolians as well have to play by internationally accepted rules.
Half of the world’s population lives in the Asia-Pacific region producing more than half of the world’s GDP. Today, as Mongolia has an increasing need to be involved in the regional integration, we, having vast opportunities in front of us, need to expand the national committee’s activity and increase its efficiency, and the related organizations have to work creatively in their respective directions.
Mongolia will be connected to the rapidly-growing regional economies only when Mongolia’s foreign relations develop to be clear and active not only within government to government relations but also between non-governmental organizations, research organizations and private sector.
Translated by B.AMAR