Joe Biden has won the US election. So what does that mean for US-Mongolia relations?
Ewen Levick | Editor
After several long, long days, Joe Biden has finally won the US election and is set to become the next president of the United States.
Major networks, including the Associated Press and the BBC, forecast that Biden has won Pennsylvania, taking him over the 270 electoral college votes needed to win.
So what will that mean for Mongolia?
The short answer is, not much.
US relations with Mongolia will likely continue on their current trajectory. The US will continue to be a part of Mongolia’s Third Neighbour policy, and the Third Neighbour Trade Act, which would allow tax-free imports of Mongolian cashmere and textiles, is still in play.
It’s impossible to forecast whether a Biden administration will make the act more likely to jump the remaining hurdles, although Biden appears more open to expanding trade relations than Trump.
Biden also visited Mongolia, unlike Trump.
One of the main questions is what Biden will do about China. Experts seem to agree that he can’t (and won’t) return to the gentler relations of the Obama years: the US is now firmly locked into a competition with China across all the different arms of state power.
But no matter what he chooses to do, there are open questions about whether America has the energy or willpower to contain China’s rise. So regardless of who sits in the White House, Mongolia will need to strengthen relations with other countries like Japan and India to ensure its own security.
One of the biggest differences between Biden and Trump is their approach to climate change. Biden is more likely to put more pressure on coal-exporting countries to lower their emissions.
He’s pledged to re-join the Paris agreement ‘on day one’ of his presidency.
And Biden has previously referred to Mongolia’s coal as the ‘dirtiest in the world’ in a reference to Chinese trade practices that he said he would confront.
If his administration does pressure Mongolia over its coal exports to China, it should quickly pass the Third Neighbour act and invest money into alternative projects in Mongolia, particularly renewable energy, to help diversify the Mongolian economy.
This would also present a massive opportunity for companies with experience in this market - Mongolia is estimated to have enough renewable energy potential to power all of northeast Asia.
We also have to keep an eye on the bigger picture here. Mongolia’s average temperature has already climbed more than 2 degrees since 1940.
This is killing off grasslands, causing Mongolian livestock to get thinner and thinner, and making dzuds worse and more frequent.
A Biden presidency will work towards limiting the planet’s rising temperatures, which is the most significant issue facing Mongolia over the coming decades.
There's something else happening too. Trump is still refusing to accept the results of the election and hand over power. If he continues on this path, he could end up being physically removed from the White House.
This could set a dangerous example for Mongolia.
Surveys have shown that Mongolians strongly support Trump (see below Gallup's survey), favour strongman rule and believe that the country is at the crossroads of democracy and dictatorship.
So if Trump tries to take the US towards dictatorship, we’re left with an even bigger question: will Mongolian politicians follow his lead?
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