Honourable Dean Allison, esteemed representatives, honourable members of Parliament, we are very honoured to be present and to give this presentation to the hearing of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs about the relations between Mongolia and Canada, particularly focused on the relationship between the two countries on the issue of public service.
Very recently, Prime Minister Sükhbaatar Batbold Batbold visited Canada and had a very fruitful discussion with Canadian officials, including the Canadian Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper.
The purpose of the visit was very simple. We believe that Canada can serve as a role model for Mongolia in many respects, not only because Canada is very similar to Mongolia in terms of its climatic conditions, but is a big country. We also have a sparsely populated country, and we have a lot of focus on mining and a lot of focus on agriculture, but also, we share common values. Both of us are democratic countries. We are situated in the heart of Asia, but we share the same values as Canada.
Why we believe that Canada can really serve as a role model is not only because we share the similarities in climate as well as political values, it's mostly because we believe that because of the natural resources we possess, the way that we can use these natural resources wisely depends solely on the structure and the system of governance we have.
There are many countries around the world that possess mineral resources. There are countries that have used them wisely, and there are countries that have used them not so wisely. Looking at the example of Canada, we believe there is a potential that in a few years down the road we can become similar to Canada, not only in respect of the usage of mineral resources, but in terms of the quality of services that we provide to our people and in terms of the quality of government services that we provide to the people.
There are many things that we can do. There are many things that we are doing together with Canada now in trying to make sure that we're working together in many areas. Very recently, one of those areas is the civil service. During the visit by our Prime Minister, a memorandum of understanding was signed by the Civil Service Council of Mongolia and Canada's Public Service Commission.
Why we believe it's very important right now is that we are 20 years into a transition to a democracy right now. In 1990, we had a peaceful transition. Since then, we are confident that we have been able to establish the main principles of a democratic society in Mongolia. Values such as human rights values, freedoms, political freedoms, and freedom of speech, not only have all those values been enshrined in our constitution and relevant laws, I think they have become the values of the Mongolian people.
What we believe to be of critical importance in the next 20 years of our development is that now, with the establishment of the values and principles of democracy in our society, we have to look very closely at the procedures and processes. Democracy is a process. When the public service is not efficient, there is a tendency towards an increase in corruption. When the public service is not efficient, there is a feeling among the wider public that the government and the state are looking not after the interests of the people, but after the interests of narrow segments of the society.
We believe that the next major item that we have to look at for the next 20 years and now in development is to make sure that democracy as a process is established in Mongolia very firmly. In this, the public service is of critical importance. Canada is very famous for its high quality of public service; Canada is very famous for recruiting the best and brightest into its public service. Also, Canada is very famous for its public services provided to the people of Canada.
We have introduced certain reforms. Fifteen years ago, the civil service commission had been established in Mongolia. I think we believe that now the time is ripe for reform for Mongolia's civil service commission.
The head of our civil service commission will talk more about this in a moment in his speech, but I would like to say that this is only one of the areas where we're looking for cooperation with Canada.
We believe that there is a huge area of cooperation that is waiting for us. Canada is the second largest foreign investor in Mongolia, particularly in the mining sector. There are a lot of Canadian companies working in Mongolia. There is huge potential for trade, of course, and that's why we are currently working on the foreign investment protection agreement, the conclusion of its negotiations, and we are looking forward to starting the process of preparing ourselves for the free trade agreement negotiations.
We are looking forward to working together very closely on many issues of standardization, not only in setting high standards for the civil service, but also in other areas of government work, particularly in the areas of agriculture and of roads and transportation--infrastructure in general.
I would like to express again our gratitude to the Parliament of Canada for organizing this important hearing on behalf of the Mongolian government. I hope that after this very successful visit that the Prime Minister had to Canada, we will have Canadian visitors coming to Mongolia. I hope that this hearing will contribute a lot to enhancing our relationship between our two countries. Thank you.