International experience can help Mongolia choose its future path: U.S. Ambassador

"Mongolia will determine the choices it makes about its own future, but international experience, both good and bad, can also be helpful and offer useful and important insights as Mongolia learns from both the successes and failures of others." This was said by U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia Jonathan Addleton at a public forum organized earlier this month by the Educational Advising and Resource Center in Dalanzagad, capital of Mongolia"s South Gobi province.

Ambassador Addleton noted much change since his last visit to the province in 2001. "At that time," he said, "I was country director for USAID [United States Agency for International Development] and we were involved in a number of programs including the Gobi Initiative, the establishment of the XacBank, and the revitalization of the Khan Bank." Today "the mining sector in particular looms large and presents tremendous opportunities as well as enormous challenges".

One of those challenges is environmental protection. "That includes the preservation of not only the rangeland, but also the water beneath it and the blue sky above it," he said. "It is also important to maintain not only the natural environment but also the cultural integrity of the Gobi, maintaining and even strengthening the traditions that help define communities and bring them together."

Another challenge is to ensure that the South Gobi economy is not one dimensional, relying only on mining to the exclusion of everything else. Rather, other elements of the economy – including trade, tourism, cashmere and the production of goods and services – also remain essential.

Good governance is also important to the region"s development. This refers, among other things, to the quality of the various institutions that help manage and shape change. "As international experience suggests," said Ambassador Addleton, "these key institutions need to be fair, open, transparent, and display integrity."


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