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Sarantogos Erdenetsogt Q&A: Diplomat using her Australian education to contribute to Mongolia’s foreign policy

Posted: 7 March 2022

Australia Awards alumna and career diplomat Sarantogos Erdenetsogt has been a strong advocate of gender equality and women’s empowerment in Mongolia, most recently in her position as Director-General at the Department of Asia and the Pacific at Mongolia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Sarantogos will soon have the opportunity to advocate further in a different role, having been designated the next Ambassador of Mongolia to South Korea. Her appointment as Ambassador marks a historic milestone in Mongolian diplomacy. Mongolia now has its highest number of female Ambassadors yet: six out of 31 positions.

Sarantogos completed a Master of Applied Economics from the University of Adelaide in 2010, with the support of an Australia Awards Scholarship. In light of International Women’s Day, we interviewed Sarantogos about her relevant experience.

Can you please briefly introduce yourself to our readers, and describe the work you are doing in your field and how it contributes to the development of Mongolia?

“As Director-General of the Department of Asia and the Pacific at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, I oversee the development of bilateral relations and cooperation with countries in Asia and the Pacific.

Mongolia is implementing a multi-pillared foreign policy, and developing friendly relations with Asian countries is one of the priorities for this foreign policy. We have developed strategic partnerships with three of our neighbours in Asia: Japan, India and South Korea. We also have instrumental cooperation and relations with ASEAN countries, as well as countries in Central Asia.

Mongolia has a number of embassies based in Asia and our department works closely with Asian countries through our diplomatic missions abroad. We periodically hold inter-ministerial talks with our colleagues and organise high-level and state visits between Mongolia and these countries in Asia.”

How has your Australia Awards Scholarship contributed to your career? Do you have any current linkages with Australia in your professional field?

“The knowledge and experience I accumulated from my studies in Australia have made a tremendous contribution to my work and career. In particular, the expertise I gained in the field of International Trade and Finance has helped me as we strive to expand our economic ties with countries in Asia. For example, during the official Mongolia–Japan negotiations in 2015 on establishment of the Foreign Trade Agreement, I was serving as an Economic Counsellor at the Mongolian Embassy in Tokyo. The course I did on Trade Negotiations at the University of Adelaide was of great use to me.

In my current position, we often co-organise joint events and seminars with our counterparts on the promotion of economic, trade and investment ties with friendly countries. Both the practical and theoretical knowledge I acquired in the courses of Applied Economics, Environmental Economics, and International Trade and Finance are helping me in my day-to-day work. As our department is in charge of Mongolia–Australia bilateral relations in the Ministry, we have been working closely with our Australian counterparts, both in the Embassy of Australia in Ulaanbaatar and in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

This year, we mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Australia and Mongolia. I am happy to note that Australia is our reliable partner and one of the top investors in Mongolia. Moreover, since the early 1990s, more than 650 Mongolians have obtained quality education in Australia through the Australia Awards Scholarships. We have huge opportunities to expand further cooperation with Australia in areas such as mining, agriculture, tourism and education.”

Finally, as you may be aware, the UN Women theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’. What is your key message to your fellow alumni and others in response to this year’s theme?

“The role and participation of women in social development around the globe is ever growing. Women’s empowerment, gender equality and sustainable development are inseparable from each other and together contribute to a better tomorrow. We should all be aware and conscious of this, and make every effort to ensure gender equality, which is indeed a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. On this occasion, let me congratulate my fellow alumni and wish you success in your future endeavours.”