President Obama's Nominee to be Ambassador to Mongolia

Ambassador-Designate Piper A. W. Campbell
Statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington, DC
May 16, 2012

It is an honor to appear before you as President Obama’s nominee to be Ambassador to Mongolia.

I am deeply grateful for the confidence that the President and Secretary Clinton have shown in me, and, if confirmed, I look forward to working closely with this Committee to build on the already strong ties between the United States and Mongolia.

I want to thank Congresswoman Hochul for introducing me. Although my 22 years in the Foreign Service have taken me far from Buffalo, N.Y., my roots there are deep. It seemed fitting for Congresswoman Hochul to be here today as she helped arrange my internship with the great Senator from New York – a former member of this Committee – Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Senator Moynihan's passion for foreign policy was one of the things that shaped my path of service, which has taken me from the Philippines to Iraq, and many places in between.

The other thing that shaped my path has been the support of my family. I would like publicly to express my love and gratitude to my parents, David and Gay Campbell; my siblings Todd, April, and Skip; and my nieces, nephews, and cousins, who are here. They are an intrepid bunch, having visited me at almost every overseas post. Indeed, I am convinced they would have visited me in southern Iraq this past year, if I hadn't consistently told them that Basrah was off-limits.

This is an exciting year for U.S.-Mongolian relations, as we mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations. Over that time, our partnership has grown stronger. One of the most exciting things about working in Mongolia, if I am confirmed, will be that so much of this relationship is about opportunities. Let me try to explain this better by briefly highlighting some of the key areas on which I plan to work, should I be confirmed as the next Ambassador to Mongolia:

Creating opportunities for U.S. businesses in a growing economy: Mongolia's resource-rich economy and significant growth potential have garnered international attention and propelled it to the top ranks of what some call “the frontier markets.” With large reserves of coal, copper, gold, uranium, and other minerals, Mongolia has the potential to double its GDP over the next decade – making it one of the world’s fastest growing economies. U.S. goods exported to Mongolia increased an astonishing 171 percent in 2010 over 2009 levels, and in 2011 they rose above the $300 million mark for the first time. Mongolia continues to chart a growth path for U.S. exports that ranks among the highest of any country in the world.

As Mongolia’s economy continues to expand, there will be more opportunities for U.S. firms. If I am confirmed, our Embassy will actively practice what Secretary Clinton calls “jobs diplomacy”: connecting U.S. industry, small businesses, and state and local governments with the best possible information about opportunities in Mongolia and advocating on their behalf. I would like to see strengthened business ties not only in the mineral sector but also in “downstream” industries as Mongolia’s economy becomes larger and more complex and as interest in U.S. consumer goods grows. I think it is important to note that current U.S. programs in Mongolia – the Millennium Challenge Corporation as well as U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. Department of Agriculture activities and our Trade and Investment Framework Agreement – also are helping Mongolia to diversify its economy, expand economic growth, and promote trade and investment.

Any successful market-based economy must operate with openness and transparency, as well as good governance and accountability – but these attributes are particularly important in a situation of rapid growth, especially when driven by a single sector. Although the physical environments in Iraq and Mongolia are about as different as two countries can be, I believe that my experience working on southern Iraq’s oil sector and dealing with a region experiencing rapid economic change provides excellent preparation in better understanding the issues Mongolia will be confronting and the opportunities rapid growth can provide for Mongolia – as well as for our growing trade and investment relationship. Certainly, in the near term, it would be an important step in the right direction for the Mongolian government to sign the proposed U.S.-Mongolia agreement on transparency in international trade and investment.

Building already excellent international cooperation to mutual advantage: Last summer, this august body passed a resolution recognizing the increasingly prominent role the Government of Mongolia has assumed internationally. Mongolia has participated in the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; it currently chairs the Community of Democracies and will host the next Ministerial Meeting in Ulaanbaatar; and it has been active in international peacekeeping from Afghanistan to Darfur and South Sudan, from the Western Sahara to Chad, in Kosovo, and in Iraq. Mongolia has dispatched over 5,600 peacekeepers to 14 different peacekeeping operations since 2002, and runs a unique Training Center for International Peace Support Operations.

The United States and the Government of Mongolia share a common interest in promoting peace and stability. I have spent much of my career representing the United States in international fora and focusing on conflict situations. If confirmed, I will welcome the opportunity to work with Mongolian officials to advance our shared interests in these globally important areas. As one concrete example: In March of this year, Mongolia’s Partnership Plan with NATO was approved, which will allow for greater cooperation and assistance to make Mongolia’s military compatible with those of NATO Allies. Mongolia already has a history of operating with NATO forces in Afghanistan, a history that demonstrates its commitment to global responsibility and security.

Mongolia’s “decision for democracy” in the 1990’s was a truly remarkable development: Through its competing political parties, transparent and peaceful elections, and respect for human rights, Mongolia can serve as a positive role model for other countries in the region and beyond. A quarter of a century ago, Mongolia’s contacts with the outside world were limited. Mongolia’s progress over the last twenty-plus years provides an important and timely illustration of the value and importance of democratic systems. Mongolia recognizes the value of engagement with the United States and others in a “Third Neighbor Policy”, while also acknowledging the importance of maintaining good relations with its two immediate neighbors, Russia and China.

The United States has been a consistent and supportive partner in Mongolia’s journey to democracy. While this journey has included a number of difficult challenges, I believe that Mongolia’s tremendous economic potential and increased participation in multilateral fora bring enormous opportunities for further strengthening its democracy and ensuring that all of Mongolia’s citizens have a role to play in this journey. As Mongolia looks forward to two important elections – parliamentary elections in June 2012 and a presidential election in 2013 – we will continue our robust engagement with Mongolia on advancing its democracy, strengthening the rule of law, combating corruption, and developing its civil society. If confirmed, I will support and increase these efforts.

U.S.-Mongolian people-to-people engagement: Our current Ambassador in Mongolia has unearthed documents that seem to show that the first U.S. citizen visited Mongolia 150 years ago. Although I cannot claim that U.S.-Mongolian people-to-people engagement flourished without interruption from that point, the past decade has seen a tremendous growth in U.S. interest in Mongolia (which was ranked last year by National Geographic as one of the top 20 places to visit), as well as Mongolian interest in the United States. I understand that two-way travel by Mongolians and Americans alike keeps the Embassy’s consular section busy. The visa workload has been growing steadily over the last five years. We have facilitated educational and cultural exchange travel, giving qualified Mongolians the opportunity to experience the United States and its people. This supports our bilateral relationship and the many areas of mutual interest I already described. I believe that U.S. support, both governmental and private, of Mongolia’s cultural heritage sites, media sector, and amazing environment also is linked to increased U.S. interest – and to all the new associations our ever-more interconnected world engenders. If confirmed, I also would be delighted to serve in a country that hosts a vibrant Peace Corps program. Our Peace Corps volunteers are among the best grass-roots ambassadors for the United States and its values, and in Mongolia they are having a major and lasting effect.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, it would be the highest honor for me to serve our country as the U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia. I joined the Foreign Service 22 years ago, coming in with a certificate in Asian studies from Georgetown University and a fascination with the region. Secretary Clinton recently predicted that the world's strategic and economic center of gravity in the 21st century will be the Asia-Pacific region. She framed one of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade as locking in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise — in this region. I welcome the opportunity to be on the front lines of that challenge. If confirmed, I will lead a diplomatic mission of approximately two hundred U.S. and Mongolian employees, representing seven agencies. I will do my very best to ensure that all members of that community and their families have the leadership, security, and support they need to get their jobs done and to engage on behalf of the United States to work with, and benefit from, the growth and dynamism so apparent in the Asian region.

Thank you for considering my nomination. I look forward to your questions.