Parliament Speaker’s visit highlights US-Mongolia business opportunities
Mongolia’s Speaker of Parliament Gombojavyn Zandanshatar visited the United States from September 17-23 and held meetings with representatives of the US government and the Asia Foundation.
He also met with American business representatives in Silicon Valley and in San Francisco last week, offering policy and regulatory support for doing business and investing in Mongolia.
Coming at a time when Mongolia is looking to exercise and project more political stability, Zandanshatar’s visit highlighted opportunities for companies in certain sectors such as technology, energy and film.
The Speaker's meetings focused on a series of bilateral issues such as democracy, climate change, desertification, renewable energy and free trade with the United States. Building on Mongolia’s status as a U.S. strategic partner, Zandanshatar pushed for passing the Mongolia Third Neighbor Trade Act through Congress, which could help the country to reduce its economic and geostrategic dependency on China.
Zandanshatar’s meetings highlighted opportunities for companies in certain sectors such as tech and film.
On film production, U.S. and international producers can benefit from a 30 percent location incentive scheme for qualifying and accredited film and television productions that take place in Mongolia. An additional 10 percent cultural incentive is also in play if producers showcase Mongolia’s unique culture and heritage.
On tech, the speaker encouraged Silicon Valley to tap into Mongolia’s resources including rare earth elements and lithium to produce advanced technology and manufacture batteries.
Zandanshatar also gave a lecture at Stanford University on Mongolia’s 30-year democratic experience and its challenges along the way.
Sandwiched between Russia and China, Mongolia’s economy is heavily dependent on its two neighbors, which has strained its parliamentary democracy and free market economy.
US and Chinese climate commitments, especially China’s recent pledge to stop building new coal power plants overseas, open fresh opportunities for unlocking Mongolia’s huge renewable energy potential - 2.6 terawatts by some estimates.
Power generation and exports could draw on the solar and wind potential of the country’s massive Gobi Desert, which straddles northeastern China. There might be also an urgent opportunity for transport electrification in Mongolia to reduce dependency on gasoline imports from Russia, which have been disrupted multiple times this year.
The government’s response to Covid has been relatively effective with a high vaccination rate of the total population (66 percent), though total deaths topped more than 1,550 since the start of the pandemic. Covid restrictions have been eased as schools and offices reopened in early September.
Although Mongolia’s 2021 economic growth forecast is lower than originally expected at around 4 percent, its stock market was one of the best performing in the world, with 130 percent returns. (Keep an eye out in upcoming editions of Mongolia Weekly for more on this story.)
As Mongolia aims to expand ties with the United States, alignment of both countries on values is growing, evidenced by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s visit to the country in July.
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