President Trump will look to bolster trade with Mongolia, a “pearl between two oyster shells,” when the president of the Asian nation visits the White House on Wednesday.
Senior administration officials said 90 percent of Mongolia’s trade flows through its neighbor, China, yet the administration would like to help it diversify its options by bolstering the U.S. partnership.
As it stands, the U.S. sends Mongolia automobiles and heavy machinery, while Mongolia exports tungsten — a rare metal — and plenty of luxurious cashmere to the states.
Officials said Mr. Trump and Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga may discuss a bipartisan bill from Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida and Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland that would allow Mongolia to ship cashmere to the U.S., duty-free, so it is less reliant on China for trade.
A senior administration described Mongolia as a country that, while nestled between “two authoritarian states” in China and Russia, has managed to maintain a “free and open” society since renouncing communism in 1990.
Officials also noted the Mongolians’ strong relationships with South Korea and Japan — core U.S. allies in the region — and contacts with North Koreans.
In fact, Mongolia has been whispered as a potential site for a third summit between Mr. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Officials declined to comment on those rumors Tuesday, saying there was “nothing planned.”