ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Indonesia renews support for Mongolia's Apec bid
Publication Date : 05-10-2013
Indonesia has issued fresh support for Mongolia’s proposal to become the 22nd member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum amid few signs that the proposal will reach consensus in the coming years.
Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, after meeting with his Mongolian counterpart, Luvsanvandan Bold, on the sidelines of the Apec Ministerial Meeting in Nusa Dua Bali on Friday, said that Mongolia met the criteria to become an Apec member.
“Mongolia is an economy that can make a big contribution to Apec. The thing is, there is no consensus yet,” Marty said.
Bold’s presence in Bali is at the invitation of the Indonesian government, a move seen by some as helping to promote Mongolia’s proposal and increase its leverage in the eyes of other Apec members.
If Mongolia’s bid to join Apec is successful, it will become the first land-locked country to join the bloc of 21 Pacific-rim economies.
Mineral-rich Mongolia has a relatively small economy. With about 22.4 per cent of its population living on less than US$1.25 a day, and its per capita gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011 at $3,100, Mongolia is ranked as a lower to middle income economy by the World Bank.
But The Economist newspaper predicted that it would be the fastest-growing country in 2013 with 18.1 per cent growth, thanks to a boom in its mining sector, particularly copper and coal, which accounts for about 21.8 per cent of its GDP.
Mongolia, along with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Macau, Laos, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Ecuador, are among a dozen countries seeking Apec membership.
Mongolia passed a law on Friday aimed at reviving foreign investment by easing restrictions on investors in key sectors, such as mining, and by providing greater certainty on the taxes they had to pay, Reuters reported.
The new regulation, which is due to come into effect on November 1, replaces two laws, one of which imposed restrictions on foreign investments in strategic sectors.
Marty and Bold also discussed human rights and democracy.
“Indonesia is the founder of the Bali Democracy Forum, while Mongolia currently serves as chair of the Community of Democracies. We are both concerned about democracy and human rights,” Marty said.
The Community of Democracies is an intergovernmental organisation, established in 2000, which aims to strengthen democratic principles worldwide by providing support to emerging democracies and civil society.
The two foreign ministers also discussed Mongolia’s plan to open an embassy in Jakarta, and the possibility that Indonesia may do the same in Ulan Bator, Marty said.
Last year, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono visited Ulan Bator and met with President Tsakhia Elbergdorj. At that time, Yudhoyono also expressed Indonesia’s support for Mongolia to become part of the Apec as well as the East Asia Summit.