Foreign Minister Tsend Munkh-Orgil argues globalization wave is 'unstoppable'
TOKYO - Of all the important trends shaping Asia, the rise of the middle class will have the most profound impact, Mongolian Foreign Minister Tsend Munkh-Orgil said on Monday.
Citing an OECD estimate that the middle-class population will surge to 4.9 billion by 2030, from 1.8 billion in 2009, Munkh-Orgil said the figures are "mind-boggling." The change, he said, will have wide-ranging repercussions on politics and globalization.
"It will have a significant impact on every aspect of life for the next 20-30 years in Asia," he told the 23rd International Conference on The Future of Asia, organized by Nikkei Inc. He said the future won't be about cheap labor or resources -- rather, it will be centered on connections and technological innovation.
The 52-year-old said that despite talk of spreading protectionism, Asia will see itself increasingly connected and integrated. "We do not believe globalization will stop or slow down, we believe it is unstoppable."
While describing the wave of political, social and economic changes that have taken place in his nation over the past three decades, Munkh-Orgil said that countries should not try to avoid the risks associated with globalization -- epidemics, terrorism, human trafficking and so on -- by closing their doors.
"We know what happens when nations do that," he said. "Nothing good comes out of it."
Munkh-Orgil said that back in 1990, when the country saw a peaceful democratic revolution, the private sector produced almost nothing. Today, it accounts for 80% of gross domestic product.
In 1990, Mongolia traded with 27 countries worldwide, he said. Now, it trades with 155.
"To say that Mongolia is changing or it has already changed a lot is an understatement," he said. "It's changing so much."
Munkh-Orgil has served as Mongolia's foreign minister since last year. A graduate of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations and Harvard Law School, he also served as foreign minister from 2004 to 2006, and as the nation's minister for justice and home affairs from 2007 to 2008.
ALEXANDER MARTIN, Nikkei staff writer