WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) introduced legislation Thursday to improve U.S. trade relations and economic ties with Mongolia, a democratic nation bordering Russia and China that shares many of the same values and national security priorities as the United States. The Mongolia Third Neighbor Trade Act recognizes Mongolia’s success as a democracy, strategic location; sovereignty; territorial integrity; and ability to pursue an independent foreign policy from its neighbors are of high importance to America’s national security. Congressman Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) and Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-Nev.) have introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
Mongolia produces more than one-third of the world’s raw cashmere. Most of it is exported to China and the United States buys nearly all of its cashmere products from China. The Mongolia Third Neighbor Trade Act will allow for duty-free entry of Mongolian cashmere into the United States for items that do not compete directly with any U.S. products. A stronger bilateral trade relationship would benefit Mongolia and the United States by eliminating the shadow of unfair trade practices by China that likely have hampered the emergence of a Mongolian garment industry.
“Mongolia remains a stable democracy in a sea of authoritarianism, and contributes to U.S. national security goals in Asia and in the Middle East. The Mongolia Third Neighbor Trade Act will facilitate job and economic growth that can help both our countries. I am proud that this bipartisan legislation will make that possible,” said Senator Cardin. “Our bill also will help bring stability, employment and economic empowerment to the women of Mongolia who comprise most of the country’s garment industry.”
“Mongolia is an important friend and ally of the United States in a tenuous corner of the world,” said Senator Sullivan. “The Mongolia Third Neighbor Trade Act not only reaffirms the importance of this bilateral relationship, but also aims to enhance our ties and bolster industry in this growing democracy in the Indo-Pacific.”
Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), as well as Representatives David Price (D-N.C.), James McGovern (D-Mass.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Don Young (R-Alaska) and Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), are original cosponsors of this bill.
“The Mongolia Third-Neighbor Trade Act is not just about imports of cashmere; it is smart policy that supports a strong, independent Mongolia that continues to be a beacon of freedom in the region and a strategic partner of the United States,” said Congressman Ted Yoho. “It is estimated that this simple act will create upwards of 40,000 jobs primarily for women who make up ninety percent of the garment industry in Mongolia. We look forward to this strong bipartisan, bicameral legislation being passed under Speaker Pelosi’s leadership and signed into law by President Trump.”
“This legislation sends a signal that the United States must be a strong partner with Mongolia along its path of democratic and economic development,” said Congresswoman Dina Titus. “By diversifying Mongolia’s economy and boosting local employment opportunities – especially for women – we can help this nation overcome its unique challenges to building a thriving, independent economy.”
The legislation makes a number of findings, authorizes the President of the United States to allow for duty-free imports of Mongolian cashmere while protecting certain U.S.-made products, would allow for the sunset of the agreement after 5 years, and requires periodic progress reporting from the executive branch to Congress.