Northeast Asia Regional Forum Concludes in Mongolia, Economic Cooperation Trumpeted

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ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, Mar. 25 – Government ministers and business leaders from Northeast Asia came together with the United Nations Development Program for the 10th meeting of the Greater Tumen Initiative Consultative Commission, held in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar on March 24 and March 25.

The Greater Tumen Initiative is an intergovernmental cooperation mechanism in Northeast Asia supported by the United Nations Development Project and the five member nations of China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea and Russia.

The meeting, which also included the third meeting of the GTI Business Advisory Council and the second GTI Investment Forum, was a combination of ministerial-level meetings between the countries of China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, advisory council meetings of local and international business leaders, and an investment forum focused on increasing awareness and investment in the Greater Tumen region.

With the financial crisis a major concern, the meeting began March 24 with a ministerial sessions focused on boosting regional cooperation for economic growth and sustainable development in Northeast Asia. Following this, a joint session bringing together the high-level government officials and the GTI Business Advisory Council, a group of private sector business leaders, met for the first time to create a public-private dialogue on investment in Northeast Asia. Discussions focused on transportation, tourism, energy, investment and the environment and led to the promulgation of the Ulaanbaatar Declaration.

The declaration moved forward initiatives that had been created in 2008 at the ninth Consultative Conference and the participating governments agreed to hold local development forums in conjunction with future conferences.

The 10th meeting also produced a new institutional structure, the GTI Transport Board. The board’s purpose is to support economic cooperation among the member nations through “proper transport infrastructure and logistical networks.”

The third meeting of the GTI Business Advisory Council took place on the sidelines of the conference on March 24. The meeting cemented the desire to pursue meaningful public-private partnerships in Northeast Asia. To support this, the BAC released an investment guide as part of their ongoing efforts to introduce the region to a larger audience.

The Greater Tumen Initiative Second Investment Forum, also held in conjunction with the conference, took place on March 25 and included four group sessions.

Sessions one and two focused on investment opportunities in Northeast China and the general business outlook for the GTI Region, while sessions three and four looked and energy and transportation corridors. According to the Tumen Secretariat, over 140 government representatives, business leaders, international organizations and academics participated in the forum.

Commenting on the success of the two-day meeting, Amir Dossal, the executive director of the U.N. Office for Partnerships, said that there was a real desire to “create a partnership between the private and public sectors.”

Speaking prior to the meetings in a GTI press release, Nataliya Yacheistova, the director of the Tumen Secretariat, said that the meeting was “expected to give a strong boost to regional economic cooperation” and would “assist in attracting foreign investment to Northeast Asia.”

Several key barriers to trade and the inflow of foreign investment were raised during the conference Yacheistova said, citing “technical barriers to regional trade” as being “the most important concern which we heard [during the meeting].”

The creation of the transportation and trade facilitation working group is seen as an important a step towards improving these transnational issues.

The GTI was established in 1995 by the five member countries of China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea and Russia. Since its establishment, it has functioned as a unique intergovernmental platform for economic cooperation in Northeast Asia. The complete meeting documentation including presentation slides from all the two-day event can be found on the Greater Tumen Initiative’s website. The Greater Tumen Initiative Investment Guide is also available downloadable. For permission to use or distribute information contained within the guide, please contact the Tumen Secretariat.