Monday, July 15, 2024

Celebrating Mongolia’s Rich Culture and Economic Resilience in Washington, DC

Washington, DC – The Inaugural Congressional Mongolian Lunar New Year Celebration (Tsagan Tsaar) took place on February 16, 2024. Hosted by the DEM Foundation, the Tsagan Tsaar Celebration marked the beginning of an annual tradition dedicated to honoring Mongolia’s rich cultural heritage while fostering unity and interest among its community and beyond.

The magnitude of this celebration was evident through the presence of esteemed visiting officials, demonstrating the robust support from congressional, federal, and state entities for the Mongolian community. Notable attendees included CAPAC GD Nisha Ramachandran, Maryland Governor’s First Deputy Christina Poy, and Scott Cunningham, Director of Administration and Member Services, US House of Representatives. 

Addressing the gathering, Mr. Ben de Guzman, Washington DC Mayor’s First Deputy and Director of Asian American Affairs, eloquently emphasized the importance of embracing cultural diversity and inclusivity as fundamental principles of a cohesive society. 

A significant highlight of the celebration was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National ACE. This landmark agreement signifies a critical step towards fostering economic growth and empowerment within the Mongolian and minority small business community. The partnership outlined in the MOU reflects a shared commitment to providing opportunities and support for entrepreneurial endeavors. 

The Inaugural Congressional Mongolian Lunar New Year Celebration transcended mere cultural festivity; it served as a powerful testament to the potential of unity and collaboration in effecting positive change. 

“As it is imperative to showcase to lawmakers the uniqueness of our culture, progress, and challenges for a more inclusive and supportive policy that tangibly translates into a truly thriving society, the DEM (Diversity Empowerment Movement) Foundation organized the Inaugural Congressional Mongolian Lunar New Year.” said Urga Azat, Strategic and Outreach Officer for the DEM Foundation “We want this opportunity to start an ongoing dialogue and build relationships with multiple stakeholders to create understanding and inclusion. We will continuously promote minorities, especially Mongolian culture, and interest in sustainable change.”

Photo courtesy: DEM Foundation

Participants included members of the DMV community and the Mongolian diaspora, including those from Southern Mongolia, Korean, Indian, Chinese, and other communities. 

Photo from DEM Foundation

“It was a wonderful event,” one participant said, “I’ve never had an opportunity to learn about Mongolia or its culture. The event allowed my family and I to further open our horizons and learn some amazing things about Mongolia, especially its beautiful music and dance! We are very much looking forward to more events by the DEM foundation in the future.”

Mongolia Third Neighbor Trade Act

The DEM Foundation’s congressional Tsagan Tsaar celebration occurs at a pivotal juncture, coinciding with a growing interest in Mongolia within the United States, particularly in economic and geopolitical spheres. Situated between Russia and China, Mongolia has embarked on initiatives to broaden its economic engagements, aiming to reduce reliance on its influential neighbors, a pursuit particularly significant since its transition to a democratic nation.

Mongolia’s dependence on Russia and China posed significant risks, especially in the face of geopolitical tensions or economic fluctuations in these countries. 

In this pursuit, the Mongolia Third Neighbor Trade Act (MTNTA) stands out as a pivotal piece of legislation. Enacted in 2012, this act has been crucial in bolstering Mongolia’s economic resilience and expanding its diplomatic horizons. The MTNTA was devised as a strategic move to lessen this reliance by fostering stronger economic ties with countries beyond its immediate borders. Sen. Sullivan reintroduced the bill in November of 2023.  

A statement by the office of Sen. Dan Sullivan read, “Mongolia is an island of democracy in a sea of despotism. As Mongolia’s ‘third neighbor,’ America has an opportunity to bolster a vital element of our partner’s economy, deepen the ties between our two nations, and shield Mongolia against the designs of America’s number one geopolitical adversary, the Chinese Communist Party regime. I hope my colleagues, many of whom speak strongly about the China threat, will support our legislation and back up those strong words with action that demonstrates America’s unflinching commitment to our allies and our resolve to confront this new era of authoritarian aggression.”

In the same statement, Sen. Ben Cardin and Rep. Dina Titus of the Congressional Mongolia Caucus said, “For over three decades, the US and Mongolia have shared a strong commitment to democratic governance, free trade, and stability across the Indo-Pacific region as Third Neighbor partners…Mongolia remains a beacon of democracy in an otherwise authoritarian corner of the world. Our bipartisan bill will facilitate job and economic growth for both countries while also bringing stability and economic empowerment to the women of Mongolia, the backbone of Mongolia’s cashmere industry.”

“Throughout Mongolia’s historic democratic transition, the United States has proudly stood by our ally…Establishing duty free trade from Mongolia to the United States will create a stronger Mongolian economy and benefit American consumers by specifically targeting the Mongolian cashmere industry which produces around 40% of the world’s supply. This bill is yet another way to compete economically with China and boost the strategic Third Neighbor partnership between Mongolia and the United States.”

The act encourages increased trade and investment between Mongolia and countries designated as “third neighbors,” which include the United States, European Union member states, Japan, South Korea, and others. By tapping into markets further afield, Mongolia aims to diversify its export destinations, attract foreign investment, and promote economic growth.

The MTNTA has yielded tangible economic benefits for Mongolia. By broadening its trade partners, Mongolia has reduced its vulnerability to financial shocks from any source. This diversification has been particularly valuable during periods of geopolitical uncertainty or market volatility.

Furthermore, increased trade with third neighbors has facilitated technology transfer, knowledge exchange, and access to capital, fostering innovation and modernization within Mongolia’s economy. As a result, mining, agriculture, and tourism sectors have experienced growth, contributing to overall economic development and job creation.

Further collaborations between Washington and Ulaanbaatar encompass the US-Mongolia Open Skies Agreement, facilitating increased direct flights between the United States and Mongolia. Additionally, the Mineral Security Partnership signals a burgeoning connection between Ulaanbaatar and Western entities, indicative of a strengthening relationship.


Author profile
Se Hoon Kim
Assignment Editor/Senior Correspondent, East and South Asia

Se Hoon Kim is the Assignment Editor and Senior Correspondent, East and South Asia at Global Strat View. He is also a columnist for the Sunday Guardian.

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