Mongolia-U.S. relations: One of the most underrated partnerships


It has been exactly nine years since former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Mongolia. Mr. Biden’s visit to the only functioning democracy in the entire Eurasia signaled strong moral support from the US. To mark the importance of his historic visit, Mongolians gifted a horse to Mr. Biden whom he called “Celtic.” It was an auspicious choice because Mr. Biden recently also picked Celtic as his new Secret Service codename.

During his visit, Mr. Biden remarked that Mongolia is “an emerging leader in the worldwide democratic movement and a close friend and partner of the United States.” In this time of global democratic recession, the role of Mongolia is becoming more important than ever. As the only steadfast democracy in the entire region, Mongolia still serves as a proof that democracy can flourish in this part of the world.

Mongolians know that democracy does not come cheaply. Starting from 2003, over 17,000 Mongolian military personnel have served in Afghanistan and other global hotspots alongside with the US and NATO forces. Through risking their lives, our soldiers have proved Mongolia’s commitment to global peacekeeping and counterterrorism. Throughout these deployments Mongolian military personnel have improved their interoperability with the US and other international forces for peacekeeping missions.

When the Trump Administration invited President Battulga to Washington for a historic visit in July 2019, our bilateral relations was elevated to the strategic partnership level. Both Democrats and Republicans have warmly welcomed us on the Capitol Hill. This was proof that our two countries have grown stronger and closer based on common strategic interests, shared democratic values, and principles of sovereignty. Achieving tangible results from this partnership should be the priority of both our nations’ leaders.

In our partnership, one area that is still lagging behind is economic cooperation. Acknowledging the importance of progress in this area, last year, a bipartisan bill Mongolia Third Neighbor Trade Act was introduced both in the House and in the Senate. If passed, this bill will grant Mongolian cashmere duty-free access to the US.

Valued for their extraordinary softness and warmth, Mongolian cashmere is produced from goats that graze in high altitude and do not exist in the US. Mongolia produces over 50% of the global raw cashmere, and the industry overwhelmingly employs women. The products of these women’s hard work and craftsmanship will finally reach American consumers—only cheaper and more ethical this time.

Mongolians were delighted that the Mongolia Third Neighbor Trade Act bill had one of the highest numbers of cosponsors in the Congress in 2020. We hope that as soon as the global Covid-19 pandemic is taken under control, the Congress will pass this bill.

Despite its dire economic conditions, Mongolia has recently donated $1 million worth of PPE to the US to support its fight against Covid-19. This is an affirmation that both our nations will support each other with our best abilities.

Whatever the outcome of the upcoming election, we hope that Mr. Biden will get to visit Mongolia again soon—the birthplace of another Celtic.

Enkhbold Zandaakhuu
Enkhbold Zandaakhuu
Enkhbold Zandaakhuu was Speaker of the State Great Khural, the Parliament of Mongolia, from 2012 to 2016. During the historic August 2011 visit of then Vice President Joe Biden to Mongolia, he was a member of parliament serving as Chairman of the Standing Committee on Security and Foreign Policy. He recently retired as Chief of Staff to the President of Mongolia.


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