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ASEM’s significance to Mongolia

Trans. by B.DULGUUN

Ulaanbaatar will host the 11th ASEM Summit of Heads of State and Government (ASEM11) this summer. The preparation work for the summit and issues surrounding it have made headlines recently in local media. The talk of banning rural area residents from entering Ulaanbaatar during ASEM11 has sparked outrage among social media users, and some have begun to question the significance of the event.
The following information was provided by the government to raise awareness of ASEM and its significance to Mongolia

ASEM’s establishment and scope

Asian and European countries recognized that the two regions needed to strengthen their relations in early 1990, developing a new perspective for the 21st century. The idea of a forum for the heads of East Asian and European governments was initiated by Prime Minister of Singapore Goh Chok Tong at the Third Europe—East Asia Economic Summit on October 1994. Singapore proposed a “Asia-Europe Meeting” (ASEM) with support from France, which occupied the Presidency of the Council of the European Union at the time.
The first ASEM Summit took place in Bangkok, Thailand in March 1996 and was attended by the leaders from 25 countries of Asia and Europe. Now, attendance of country leaders have doubled in the intergovernmental forum for dialogue and cooperation, which fosters political dialogue, reinforces economic cooperation, and promotes collaboration in other areas of mutual interest.
Twenty years after its establishment, ASEM has seen considerable growth and expanded to its current headcount of 53 member states. Today, ASEM has developed into an informal process of dialogue and cooperation, bringing together eight European Union member states, two other European countries, and the European Union with 21 Asian countries, as well as the ASEAN Secretariat. In other words, the number of ASEM members nearly doubled since its establishment. Reportedly, ASEM members represent 60 percent of the world population, make up 50 percent of the world’s GDP and account for 60 percent of the world trade turnover.

ASEM and Mongolia

Mongolia formally joined ASEM in 2008, through approval from ASEM members during the seventh ASEM Summit. Since then, Mongolia has been participating in high-level meetings and conferences at presidential level.
Mongolia earned the right to host ASEM11 during last year’s ASEM10, hosted by Italy. Analysts viewed this as an indication of immense amount of trust placed upon Mongolia by ASEM members. Experts advised considering the organization of ASEM11 as a rare opportunity rather than a burdensome task.
ASEM11, to be held in July this summer, will also mark the 20th anniversary of ASEM. Mongolia’s experience of hosting the Seventh Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies in 2013 and Autumn Meeting of Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in 2015 is expected to be useful for organizing the upcoming summit, as well as prove Mongolia’s capability.

Significance of hosting ASEM Summit in Mongolia 

The fact that Mongolia will be hosting an ASEM Summit in Ulaanbaatar is proof that the nation’s reputation is gradually rising internationally.
It’s common for high level meetings and ideas initiated within the scope of international relations to see results and show their value in the distant future. Even though the significance and results of the upcoming summit and some 10 sub-meetings will not be observed instantaneously, Mongolian experts defined ASEM11’s significance like this:

Political significance: It’s most likely that Mongolia’s international reputation, status and participation will improve after ASEM11. The scale of this year’s summit will be wider and have more participants than previous summits.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes that a small country like Mongolia mustn’t be influenced by mainstreams of developed countries or by their development cycles, but instead, recommends opening its own path through international relations and be active. This will strengthen Mongolia’s status and existence, according to the ministry.
ASEM11 is expected to bring substantial progress for building capacities of international relations and cooperation personnel of Mongolia. Mongolia is located in between Asia and Europe, at the boundary of eastern and western civilization, as well as at the meeting of other influential regions of the world. Gaining experience from hosting ASEM11 will open doors to turn Mongolia into a center where global and regional meetings and conferences are held regularly in the future. There’s a chance that international organizations will open representative offices within the country and this will not only be economically significant but also become an important step for Mongolia’s security and independence.
The Third Neighbor Policy started by the Mongolian government can be improved through ASEM11. Besides China and Russia, representatives from Japan, South Korea and European countries, which are considered to be “third neighbors” of Mongolia, will attend ASEM11. This will be very useful for the implementation of the Third Neighbor Policy, which aims to build close ties with countries other than Mongolia’s immediate neighbors, Russia and China.
Mongolia joined the economic integration of East Asia and Northeast Asia in hopes to be part of the region’s rapid economic growth. It’s possible that the relation and cooperation with Central Asian countries will weaken because of this, but actively participating in ASEM and building a bridge between Central and East Asia will help resolve this issue.

Opportunities to promote Mongolia: Preliminary estimates show that over 1,200 journalists and reporters will come to Ulaanbaatar to attend ASEM11. As thousands of people will watch and read about Mongolia through media outlets, ASEM11 will become a huge opportunity to promote national history, customs, arts and culture more intensely than ever before, and raise awareness of the nation’s development, social and political systems.
Most people around the globe only have a general understanding of Mongolia and know about Mongolia through Chinggis Khaan, the Mongol Empire and mining. Mongolia can create a new perspective of itself and make people realize that Mongolia is actually a developing country through ASEM.

Economic significance: The Asia-Europe Business Forum will take place before ASEM11. During the forum, Mongolian entrepreneurs will get the opportunity to find new business partners, strengthen ties with old partners, and establish short and long-term business contracts. Economists view that the forum will be significant for drawing back foreign investors to Mongolia, redeem credibility among investors, and boost the number of tourists visiting Mongolia.
Successfully hosting ASEM11 will become the foundation for developing the tourism sector to meet global standards. Mongolian airlines, hotels, restaurants, cafes, tourism companies, trade and service centers, and other sectors will be able to profit from ASEM11 as significant amount of cash flow is expected into the nation.
Revenue of hotels will increase as around 5,000 people will stay in Ulaanbaatar during the summit. This will contribute in improving hotel services and quality. The Mongolian government has planned to introduce international standards for infrastructure, borders, customs and national security, as well as a technological reform. The city will get a makeover with the renovation of 13 streets and several other development projects. The ASEM organizing committee also decided to gift souvenirs crafted by domestic small and medium businesses to support domestic production.
Experts believe that people-to-people relations and civil society relations will strengthen during the 10 events related to the ASEM Summit, including the youth forum, farmers’ training, editors’ roundtable, and civil forum. The nation might be facing economic burdens and inconveniences to some extent to host ASEM11 and smaller events, but the nation will benefit much more in the future in terms of politics, economy, society and culture.

Source: “ASEM and Mongolia” brochure published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia

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Posted by on Mar 10 2016. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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