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Friday, October 24, 2014

[BREAKING: Mongolia parliament approves TT-China railway to be standard gauge]

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- BREAKING NEWS -

Friday, October 24, 2014

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Mogi: parliament by way of votes removed mention of Nariin Sukhait (MAK, SouthGobi, Terra Energy, …) – China and Sainshand – Zamyn-Uud narrow gauge railways from the bill, leaving just two. This is also a step forward for Aspire’s Ovoot as Erdenet – Arts Suuri border port will pass thru Ovoot.

Mongolia Embraces Standard Gauge Railway to Lower Transport Costs

By Michael Kohn

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia’s parliament adopted for the first time a rail gauge compatible with China, to ease transport of its second-biggest export, coal, to its largest customer.

The landlocked nation’s 1900-kilometer (1,200 mile) rail network was built with help from the Soviet Union in the last century, as Mongolia looked westward for markets and political support. Constructing the 240-kilometer railway from the Tavan Tolgoi coal basin using China’s standard gauge will save on transportation costs, and helps draw a line under Mongolia’s historical mistrust of its southern neighbor, now the world’s largest energy consumer.

The Chinese gauge was adopted for two routes to the border with 84 percent of votes in favor, according to the parliament’s website. The passage follows years of discussion.

With this debate now put to rest, investors are likely feeling a sense of relief,” Chris MacDougall, managing director of Ulaanbaatar-based Mongolia Investment Business Group, said in an e-mail.

Winners from the change will include the operator of projects at Tavan Tolgoi, Mongolia’s largest coal deposit with 6.4 billion metric tons of reserves, including Hong Kong-listed Mongolian Mining Corp. and state-owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC.

Track Contract

South Korea’s Samsung C&T Corp. was awarded a $483 million contract in May 2013 to build the tracks. Securing power and building signaling and maintenance depots will increase the costs of the project to $820 million.

In May, Mongolia Railway, the state-owned company overseeing the line, said construction was slated for completion in late 2016, according to Zorig Alimaa, the head of the project department at the time.

Using standard gauge rail instead of the broad gauge used elsewhere in the country will reduce the cost of transporting coal to China by $2 a ton to $4 a ton, Zorig said. Broad gauge adds costs because of the need to unload and reload coal before it reaches China, he said.

Imperial Russia adopted a gauge of 1,524 millimeters in 1842 for military purposes, as a way to slow down an invasion by rail. The gauge was built across the Soviet Union and many of its allies, including Mongolia. Standard gauge, used in China, is 85 millimeters narrower.

In April, a consortium of four companies established the Gashuunsuukhait Railway joint venture, which is planning to build and operate an 18-kilometer standard gauge railway to straddle the Chinese-Mongolian frontier. The 240-kilometer railway from Tavan Tolgoi will connect with this trans-border line. The shorter line didn’t require parliamentary approval.

Link to article

 

MIBG: RAILWAY GAUGE POLICY FINALIZED

October 24 (MIBG) The Mongolian Parliament has approved a decree titled "Measures to Implement Government Policy on Railway Development in Mongolia." The decree was passed with 84% of Members voting in favor. The main take away from this decree is that two railway lines reaching to Mongolia's southern border will employ the Chinese standard gauge. The railway lines that are affected by this decree include the one connecting Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi and Gashuunsukhait, and the one connecting Khuut and Bichigt.

However, the "horizontal railway line" that connects Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi and Sainshand and extends further to Numrug will be built in accordance with the Russian standard (broad) rail gauge.

This result is not overly surprising, President Elbedorj has made his interest in using both gauges known for some time. However, the decision by Government to move forward with specific gauge on these railways is important as it represents the conclusion to an ongoing debate. With the decision on gauge now finalized producers and investors alike can better understand the outlook for the transportation and export of Mongolia's vast mineral resources.

Link to note

 

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Email: info@covermongolia.com
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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

[BREAKING: SGK approves government restructuring bill, slimming cabinet to 13 ministries]

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- BREAKING NEWS -

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

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Mogi: a few changes to names and duties of the merged ministries during parliament debate, which went on into the night yesterday. Ministry of Infrastructure Development (merged from Ministry of Roads & Transportation and Ministry of Construction & Urban Development) changed to Ministry of Roads, Transportation, Construction & Urban Development. Duties of Heavy Industry will transferred from Ministry of Industry & Agriculture to the newly merged Ministry of Geology, Mining & Energy. Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be renamed Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Economic Cooperation, reflecting the expanded role of the ministry and its minister’s title will become Deputy PM and Foreign Affairs Minister.

Now to see what kind of changes to ministers the PM will submit.

Mongolia's parliament endorses gov't restructuring bill

ULAN BATOR, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia's lawmakers on Tuesday approved changes in government structure in a bid to clear up overlapping functions and cut off excess staff.

The parliament passed by 73.9 percent of votes a bill diminishing government ministries from the current 16 to 13, with 11 regulatory agencies and 19 implementing agencies.

According to the bill submitted by Prime Minister Norovyn Altankhuyag, Ministries of Finance and Economic Development will be merged into the Finance Ministry; Ministries of Mining and Energy into the Geology, Mining and Energy Ministry; Ministries of Construction and Urban Development and Road and Transport into the Ministry of Infrastructure Development.

Furthermore, the government will appoint a first deputy prime minister and deputy prime minister.

The bill suggests that the foreign minister be a deputy prime minister and that the foreign minister widen foreign cooperation, strengthen economic relations with its neighbors and other foreign countries, and regulate and coordinate foreign relations and collaboration of all ministries.

In connection with it, the first deputy prime minister will be in charge of current deputy prime minister's duties and responsibilities, according to the bill.

Link to article

 

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6th Floor, NTN Tower
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Email: info@covermongolia.com
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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Canrim Resources: September 2014 Monthly Letter

October 7, Canrim Resources Pte Ltd. --

To the Shareholders of Canrim Resources Pte Ltd.,

September was filled with positives for both Mongolia and Canrim. The economy continued to show signs of improvement and Canrim took full advantage of this to conduct high level meetings with several multinational mining and exploration companies, in addition to meeting with relevant Mongolian officials.

Having previously discussed our proprietary geological database, a main ingredient for achieving success in acquiring and developing actionable minerals projects, we continue to grow this archive and position ourselves for both the submission of license applications and secondary market acquisitions.

MRAM having supposed to begin accepting applications for new license areas during the week of September 25th, they subsequently delayed this process due to a technical glitch in their online and processing systems. We look forward to this issue being resolved for we are fully ready to participate in this process where Canrim will submit applications for multiple licenses.

We also continue to meet with several significant multinational minerals exploration and development companies in both Mongolia and Singapore who are either actively investing in Mongolia or are closely watching the improving investment climate. Such conversations will only accelerate as relationships are built with potential joint venture partners or acquirers, leveraging Canrim’s expertise as a credible, diligent, in-country partner who can contribute licenses and operational expertise, a world-class geological team and co-operate on near term production deals.

Mongolian Economic Update:

1.    September 12: FTSE considers Mongolia for possible inclusion in Frontier Markets Index in 2015;

2.    September 14: First Russia-Mongolia-China meeting held during Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States Summit;

3.    September 22: Mongolian Energy Corporation announces issuance of up to HKD 3.5 billion in debt;

4.    September 25: Sino Construction offers to acquire all ordinary shares of Guildford Coal;

5.    Bank of Mongolia reports second month of increase in FX reserves;

We look forward to updating you again on our progress and developments in Mongolia. If you would like to learn more about Canrim Resources, I encourage you to contact us directly at Canrimresources@gmail.com. Our team will be delighted to speak with you.

Sincerely Yours,

Ranjeet Sundher,

Director and CEO

Canrim Resources Pte Ltd.

About Canrim Resources Pte Ltd.

Canrim Resources Pte Ltd. is a Singapore-incorporated holding company, controlling several subsidiaries established for the purpose of developing minerals-related business activities in Mongolia. With over 50 years management experience in Mongolia’s resource sector, as well as offices in Singapore and Ulaanbaatar, Canrim Resources Pte Ltd. has positioned itself as a strong player in the Mongolian minerals sector, seeking to execute on transactions of minerals licenses in both the primary and secondary markets, in addition to select infrastructure projects. Mongolia remains one of the most under-explored geologically attractive regions in the world and is strategically positioned near to the commodity consuming nations of China, Russia, South Korea and Japan.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

[BREAKING: PM proposes cutting ministries from 16 to 13, current account shows surplus first since ..., FX reserves rise for 2nd month]

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- BREAKING NEWS -

Thursday, October 2, 2014

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Mogi: Deputy PM will become First Deputy PM, Foreign Minister will serve as Deputy PM, moving a step up to oversee foreign trade, foreign investment aspect over all ministries

PM Submits Proposal to Cut Ministries to 13 from 16

October 2 (news.mn) Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag submitted draft laws to make amendments to the law on the structure of government, and the law on formation of the government to Speaker Z.Enkhbold at 11:00 a.m. today.

Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag made a statement about the drafts during a press conference.

The reform government has operated with 16 ministries since its formation. Now the government will merge six ministries under the proposed restructuring plan.

According to the draft law, the Ministry for Roads and Transportation and Ministry for Construction and Urban Development will be merged into an Infrastructure Development Ministry; the Mining Ministry and Energy Ministry into a Ministry of Geology, Mining and Energy; the Economic Development Ministry will be absorbed by the Finance Ministry; and the Invest Mongolia Agency of the Economic Development Ministry will be merged into the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Mongolia. (Mogi: not exactly true, it will remain an agency but overseen by foreign minister now instead of economic development minister)

The government will be restructured with 13 ministries, 11 regulatory agencies and 19 implementing agencies.

Link to article

 

PM Proposes Reducing Number of Ministries from 16 to 13

October 2 (InfoMongolia) On October 02, 2014, Prime Minister of Mongolia N.Altankhuyag submitted a draft bill on amendments to the Law on Government to the Speaker of the State Great Khural (Parliament) Z.Enkhbold.

In his speech at the Opening of 2014 Autumn Plenary Session of the Parliament, Speaker Z.Enkhbold pledged to revise the issue of restructuring in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet despite of agenda sequences.

Accordingly, Premier N.Altankhuyag introduced the draft bill stating, “In order to intensify the development of Mongolian economy, organize Government Action Plan implementations, and provide socio-economic development, it has become necessary to re-consider the government structure by the means of not duplicating the functional roles. Therefore, I propose to unite some Ministries and offer the following suggestions:

-       To unite the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Development, and rename as the Ministry of Finance of Mongolia;

-       To unite the Ministry of Mining and the Ministry of Energy, and rename as the Ministry Geology, Mining and Energy of Mongolia;

-       To unite the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development and the Ministry of Roads and Transportation, rename as the Ministry of Infrastructure Development of Mongolia;

If the draft bill is approved, the Government of Mongolia would functional with 13 Ministries, 11 Regulatory Agencies and 19 Implementing Agencies”.

Currently, the Government of Mongolia is functional with 16 Ministries and 31 Regulatory and Implementing Agencies, where two Implementing Agencies were newly established as the Marshal (Takhar) Authority and Invest Mongolia.

Link to article

 

Mongolia’s PM Proposes Thinning Cabinet, Cutting Ministries

By Michael Kohn

Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Altankhuyag Norov proposes to parliament cutting number of ministries, cabinet positions to 13 from 16, according to the government’s website.

* Ministry of Economic Development to be folded into Ministry of Finance

* Ministries of mining, energy to be combined as Ministry of Geology, Mining and Energy

* Ministries of transport, construction to be combined as Ministry of Infrastructure Development

* Additionally, Foreign Affairs minister to also serve as PM’s deputy

(BFW)

 

Mogi: Current Account showed a surplus in August, $125.7m compared to $-152m, first since at least 2012

Mongolia Jan.-Aug. FDI Drops 60% Y/y to $640m: Central Bank

By Michael Kohn

Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia inbound FDI fell to $640.2m from $1.57b yr earlier, central bank says in statement, citing preliminary data for first 8 months of 2014.

* 2014 current account deficit at the end of August $819.7m vs $2.18b yr ago: statement

* Link to central bank statement

(BFW)

 

August FX Reserves +0.84% MoM, -50.07% YoY

October 2 (Bank of Mongolia) The Bank of Mongolia has changed its’ policy regarding official foreign exchange reserves reporting. The statistics will be published with an one-month lag /previously published with three-months lag/ on the first business day of the following month. Policy is in effect since July, 2014

date

Gross Reserves

Monthly, %

YTD, %

YOY, %

2014.8

1360.68

0.84

-39.5

- 50.07

2014.7

1349.3

2.4

-40

-55.2

2014.6

1317.5

-17.9

-41.4

-57.6

2014.5

1604.5

-11.9

-28.6

-52.6

2014.4

1821.7

-6.2

-18.9

-48.1

2014.3

1943.3

-11.5

-13.5

-48.8

2014.2

2195.3

-10.2

-2.3

-45.3

2014.1

2446.3

8.8

8.8

-40.1

2013.12

2248

-2.7

-45.5

-45.5

2013.11

2309.6

-3.3

-44

-13.7

2013.10

2389.2

-10.8

-42.1

-10.7

2013.9

2679.6

-1.7

-35.1

-7.7

2013.8

2725.5

-9.5

-33.9

-0.9

Link to release

 

 

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Email: info@covermongolia.com
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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

[OT banks happy to extend, Friedland confident on OT, Aspire confirms Nuurstei prospect, and MTN boasts record recruitment quarter]

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

Overseas Market

TRQ closed -1.83% to US$3.76 Monday

Lenders expect Rio Tinto to miss Mongolia deadline, but happy to extend once again

By Peter Ker

September 30 (Sydney Morning Herald) Rio Tinto appears unlikely to be ready to push ahead with the second stage of the Oyu Tolgoi mine this week, despite an imminent deadline and improving relations with the Mongolian government.

The majority of lenders toward the $US5.4($6.2) billion second stage have attached a September 30 deadline to their funding commitments, after the initial deadline on March 31 was breached.

The second stage of the giant copper and gold mine has been delayed for more than a year because of numerous disputes between the Mongolian government and Rio's subsidiaries, including a tax dispute and an argument over the construction cost of the project.

But there has been a flurry of activity in recent weeks between the two camps, including a promise by Mongolia to reduce the amount of tax owed by Rio's subsidiaries (Mogi: "promise by Mongolia" is a wrong choice of words), and the publication of a new feasibility study for the mine by Rio.

Mongolian officials have made particularly bullish comments in recent days, with a senior figure in the mining ministry Otgochuluu Chuluuntseren saying over the weekend that a resolution was just days away.

But multiple lenders indicated on Monday they were not expecting a full resolution of the issues in time to meet the September 30 deadline.

Several of the 15 international banks involved in the deal said they would be happy to extend their funding deadlines once again, having been encouraged by the recent improvement in relations between the two camps.

The lenders said they were increasingly confident a deal could be solved by the end of the 2014 calendar year.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which is part of the funding group, confirmed that its deadline was already set at December 31, rather than September 30.

Rio chief executive Sam Walsh has previously likened his company's relationship with Mongolia to a long marriage, and has said he is willing to miss short-term funding deadlines to make sure the terms of the relationship with the developing nation were right.

"We are not about rushing to meet a deadline," he said in March.

If Rio does surprise by resolving all issues before the September 30 deadline, the biggest winner could be the shares of Turquoise Hill Resources, the Canadian subsidiary of Rio that holds Rio's interest in Oyu Tolgoi. 

Shares in Turquoise Hill have surged in recent weeks on the back of the thawing relationship between Rio and Mongolia.

Turquoise shares were fetching $C3.57($3.67) in September, but reached $C4.42 on September 15.

They slipped back to $C4 last week, only to spike again on Saturday morning Australian time to be $C4.26.

Rio's shares, which are far more responsive to the direction of the iron ore price, have fallen sharply over the past two months.

The stock fell another 90 cents on Monday to be fetching $59.21- Rio's lowest share price since late June.

Link to article

 

Robert Friedland confident Rio can mend relationship with Mongolia

By Peter Ker

September 23 (Sydney Morning Herald) Famous mining entrepreneur Robert Friedland says he is confident Rio Tinto can mend its troubled relationship with the Mongolian Government and turn the Oyu Tolgoi project into the world's best copper mine.

A colourful speech to an audience in Melbourne, Mr Friedland likened the process of developing a mine to a painful birth, and expressed confidence that Rio and Mongolia would sort out their differences.

Mr Friedland played a significant role in the development of Oyu Tolgoi, with his company Ivanhoe Mines leading the process until Rio acquired just over half of Ivanhoe in a bid to get control of the mine.

Development of the second stage of Oyu Tolgoi has been delayed for more than a year on the back of multiple disputes between Rio and the Mongolian government, and just this week Rio published a new feasibility study for the $US5.4 billion expansion which found it would cost more and recover copper at slower rates than before.

Funding commitments for the expansion from a syndicate of banks expire on September 30, but despite that pressure, Mr Friedland said Oyu Tolgoi would eventually be delivered.

"I want to express great confidence in the inevitability that all parties at Oyu Tolgoi will continue with the expansion, there is a virtual certainty that the mine will be expanded," he said.

"A truly world class mine is like a woman having a 100 kilogram baby; it is painful, it takes time.

"I believe this will ultimately become the world's best copper and gold mine."

In typically controversial style, Mr Friedland described those who oppose mining projects as "twisted deviants" and said some had become too detached from the supply chains that deliver common objects.

"People have forgotten where things come from, some people don't understand you either grow it, or you mine it if you touch it or use it," he said.

"This is an election year here in the (Victorian) state government on the 29th of November, there is an important election, please vote for the handsome intelligent people that understand where things come from."

While speaking about the trend toward greater scrutiny of the way companies manufacture goods and source labour, Mr Friedland likened the scrutiny to a "rectal examination". 

When describing the strong demand for sulfuric acid from oxide copper mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr Friedland said those operations were "like heroin junkies". 

Since Rio took control of Oyu Tolgoi, Mr Friedland and the Ivanhoe team have focused on the pursuit of copper, zinc, platinum and other metals in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa.

He said the air pollution problems in big cities was a more imminent problem than climate change, and would drive strong demand for cars and power sources that were less polluting, and by extension, minerals like platinum. 

Link to article

 

Aspire Mining: Prospectivity for Coal Confirmed at Nuurstei Coking Coal Project

Highlights

·         Coal intersected in all six (6) exploration holes completed to date;

·         Seven (7) holes from the 2011 Nuurstei exploration programme successfully reopened and geophysically logged;

·         Near surface coal intersected in multiple seam packages. Hole NDH1006 intersected multiple coal occurrences down to 200m including 10.25m from 24.95m and 9.79m of coal from 184.9m;

·         Geological interpretation evolving. Seams have been logged at a relatively steeply dipping average of 50 degrees with continuity between holes along 1.5 kms of strike yet to be established; and

·         Exploration continues in order to identify additional near surface coal along strike.

September 30 -- Mongolian coal explorer Aspire Mining Limited (ASX:AKM, the "Company" or "Aspire") is pleased to report that its 50% owned Ekhgoviin Chuluu Joint Venture ("ECJV") with the Noble Group has successfully intersected coal in all six (6) exploration holes drilled to date at the ECJV's Nuurstei Coking Coal Project ("Nuurstei").

Exploration drilling at Nuurstei commenced earlier this month and is expected to be completed mid-October. This drilling programme at Nuurstei is designed to test resource continuity of coal, and to target near surface coal resources which could support a small road based tucking operation. The work follows on from an earlier exploration programme completed at Nuurstei in 2011.

To date, six holes have been completed, all of which intersected coal seam intervals, some with claystone partings. The thickest intersections so far with apparent thickness of 10.25m from 24.95m and 9.79m from 184.9m occurred in hole NDH1006 (refer Figure 1). Full data can be found in Table 1. The intersection of near surface coal could present the possibility of an open pit minable resource, subject to further work being completed, continuity of coal seams confirmed and sufficient tonnage being identified.

Raw coal quality testing will be required to confirm ash and coking properties. Down hole geophysics from both the re-logging of the 2011 holes and the holes completed so far in the 2014 programme indicate densities in parts of the coal seam intervals, averaging between 1.3 to 1.4, which suggest moderate to low raw ash levels are expected in those coals, indicative of a possible coking coal product.

The Nuurstei Coking Coal Project is 10 kilometres from the provincial capital of Moron and 160kms to the east of the Company's 100% owned Ovoot Coking Coal Project. A sealed road from the nearest railhead at Erdenet through to Moron will be completed in 2015. The Nuurstei project could also become a user of the Northern Rail Line, a new rail development project earmarked for Northern Mongolia which will link through to export markets.

JORC Code, 2012 Edition – Table 1 report template

Link to release

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Local Market

MSE Weekly, September 22-26: Top 20 -0.83%, Turnover 107.5 Million

Ulaanbaatar, September 28 (MONTSAME) Five stock trades were held at Mongolia's Stock Exchange September 22-26 of 2014. In overall, 161 thousand and 908 shares were sold of 42 joint-stock companies totalling MNT 107 million 545 thousand and 411.00.

"Buudain tsatsal" /58 thousand and 037 units/, "E-trans logistics" /35 thousand and 475 units/, "Genco tour bureau" /19 thousand and 943 units/, "Hai Bi Oil" /14 thousand and 636 units/ and "Hermes center" /9,514 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"APU" (MNT 32 million 071 thousand and 308), "Tavantolgoi" (MNT 26 million 705 thousand and 460), "Darkhan nekhii" /MNT eight million 975 thousand and 500/, "Hai Bi Oil" /MNT five million 854 thousand and 400/ and "Buudain tsatsal" (MNT five million 803 thousand and 700).

Link to article

Link to MSE Weekly Trading Report

 

MSE News for September 29: Top 20 -0.14% to 15,799.24, Turnover 10.9 Million

Ulaanbaatar, September 29 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades on Monday, a total of 14 thousand 642 shares of 13 JSCs were traded costing MNT 10 million 911 thousand and 102.00.

"Moninjbar" /9,010 units/, "Remikon" /2,200 units/, "APU" /1,206/, "Merex" /1,100 units/ and "Genco tour bureau" /230 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "APU" (MNT four million 438 thousand and 800), "Moninjbar" (MNT two million 252 thousand and 410), "Gobi" (MNT one million and 600 thousand), "Baganuur" (MNT 777 thousand and 300) and "Makh impex" (MNT654 thousand and 312).

The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 586 billion 433 million 759 thousand and 934. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,799.24, decreasing 21.45 units or 0.14% against the previous day.

Link to article

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Economy

Early morning USD rates: Khan (Non-Cash Buy 1,833 Sell 1,843), TDB (Non-Cash Buy 1,832 Sell 1,843), Golomt (Non-Cash Buy 1,834 Sell 1,843), XacBank (Non-Cash Buy 1,835 Sell 1,845), State Bank (Non-Cash Buy 1,832 Sell 1,843)

BoM MNT Rates: Monday, September 29 Close

 

9/29

9/26

9/25

9/24

9/23

9/22

9/19

USD

1,840.54

1,839.34

1,839.04

1,839.30

1,838.97

1,838.99

1,838.84

EUR

2,333.07

2,344.70

2,338.80

2,365.16

2,364.82

2,364.02

2,370.36

CNY

299.58

300.22

299.44

299.80

299.58

299.58

299.58

GBP

2,988.30

2,998.77

2,998.65

3,013.51

3,001.75

3,004.63

3,028.29

RUB

46.52

47.35

47.93

47.97

47.59

47.61

47.88

September MNT vs USD, CNY Chart:

 

Link to rates

 

Trade Policy Review: Mongolia

September 24 and 26 (WTO) --

The second review of the trade policies and practices of Mongolia takes place on 24 and 26 September 2014. The basis for the review is a report by the WTO Secretariat and a report by the Government of Mongolia.

WTO Secretariat Report:

SUMMARY

1.    Since its previous Trade Policy Review in 2005, Mongolia has continued to maintain a generally open trade regime. Its economy has grown substantially, as has per capita GDP while unemployment has fallen, and the Human Development Index ranking has improved. With large mineral reserves and a big market in neighbouring China, the economy is likely to continue to grow. However, the rate of growth has fluctuated, and will probably continue to fluctuate depending on investments in mineral resources and changes to prices and volumes of exports. Since 2005, real GDP growth has varied from -1.3% in 2009 to 17.5% in 2011. Clearly, managing the fluctuations in investment, exports, and Government revenues is one of the main policy challenges facing the country.

2.    Despite data problems, it is evident that both exports and imports increased substantially during the review period, with exports reaching US$4.4 billion and imports US$6.7 billion in 2012. The importance of minerals to the economy has increased as well; in 2012, over 84% of exports were of minerals, nearly all which went to China.

3.    The authorities are aware of the problems that can arise from dependence on a narrow economic base. The Millennium Development Goals-based Comprehensive National Development Strategy of 2008 states that, while mineral deposits are to be exploited, Mongolia is also pursuing a policy of diversification; the Strategy sets out a number of priority areas, including export-orientated, private sector-led, high technology-driven manufacturing and services such as information and communication, bio- and nano-technology, transit transportation, logistics, financial mediation services, and deeper processing of agricultural products. Particular attention is paid in the Strategy, inter alia, to promote SMEs to produce import substitution products while supporting imports of advanced technologies.

4.    Foreign investment is important to the economy for both the exploitation of minerals and for development of other sectors. However, foreign direct investment declined from 53% of GDP in 2011 to 20% in 2013. To some extent, this was due to the requirements under, and uncertainty about the 2012 Law on the Regulation of Foreign Investment in Business Entities Operating in Sectors of Strategic Importance. To address these concerns and to improve the investment climate, the 2012 Law and the Foreign Investment Law of 1993 were replaced by the Investment Law of 2013 (which applies to both foreign and domestic investment), which simplified investment and registration requirements, and provided greater legal precision to several terms, including the definition of a foreign-invested entity and a foreign government-owned legal entity.

5.    In addition to the new Law on Investment, several other laws were introduced in 2013 which, amongst other things, are intended to improve the investment climate and promote fiscal stabilization including, the Fiscal Stability Law, the Integrated Budget Law, and the Social Welfare Law. These legislative changes, along with the steps taken by the Bank of Mongolia (the central bank) to stabilize the national currency, control inflation, and improve regulation of the commercial banks, should help to improve foreign and domestic investment.

6.    A number of steps have also been taken to improve customs procedures, including a revision of the Customs Law and the Law on Customs Duties and Tariffs of 2008 which, amongst other things, allow for post clearance customs control, as well as the introduction of the Customs Automated Information System allowing for the submission of electronic documents and electronic payments.

7.    In acceding to the WTO in 1997, Mongolia bound all its tariffs, most of them at 20% although the applied rate is, in most cases, much lower. However, for about 60 tariff lines, the applied tariff of 5% is greater than the bound rate of 0%. There are also import bans on several products, including ethyl alcohol, which were adopted on the grounds of health and national security. Furthermore, a variety of products, including breeding animals, are subject to non-automatic licensing for exports and/or imports. Export taxes are applied to a small range of products, although they were removed from raw cashmere in 2009. As part of the efforts to diversify exports, the Development Bank of Mongolia was established in 2011 and provides export finance, including pre- and post-shipment financing, export factoring, export credit guarantees, and export credit insurance.

8.    Mongolia has continued to develop and apply new standards many of which are mandatory technical requirements and, out of a total of over six thousand, less than half are aligned with international standards.

9.    Although the economy is essentially market driven and has been privatised, there were about 100 fully or partially state-owned enterprises involved in many different sectors of the economy. According to the authorities none of these have any special rights or privileges. Between 2005 and 2011, about 90 entities were privatized while several, including the national airline (MIAT) and some power plants had their privatization postponed.

10.  Mongolia's laws on intellectual property rights have also undergone some changes during the period under review, with the Copyright Law and Patent Law revised in 2006, the Law on Trademarks and Geographical Indications amended in 2010, and the Law on Crop Varieties and Seeds amended in 2011. However, enforcement actions, in terms of the number of inspections and other indicators, have declined since 2010 and it is not clear if this was due to better compliance or reduced enforcement.

11.  Although investment and trade in minerals dominate foreign direct investment and exports, agriculture still accounts for one-third of employment and 15% of GDP. The agriculture situation in Mongolia is quite particular with a short growing season and harsh winters and nomadic herding of livestock being the main activity. In response to concerns about import dependence, the Government has introduced several programmes to promote production of some staple products (wheat and potatoes) and, as a result, imports of these have declined. However, it is not clear if these programmes have reduced import dependence as imports of other products, such as rice, have increased. The main exports are cashmere, and hides and skins of sheep and goats.

12.  Compared to the size of the Mongolian economy, the potential of the minerals sector is very large and the total investment in minerals over the past few years and the next few equivalent to several times annual GDP. Unfortunately, data for 2013 were not available at the time of writing. Nevertheless, in 2012 compared to 2004, the quantity of coal, and iron ore that was produced and exported increased considerably while the value of exports increased by even more as prices increased. As production of copper in Oyu Tolgoi increases and a the expansion of the Tovan Tolgoi coal deposit leads to greater production, the value and volume of exports will increase further. However, concerns about unused mining licences led to a moratorium on new exploration licences in 2010 and the moratorium is to remain in effect until a new law on minerals has been adopted.

13.  Mongolia's low population density and harsh climate mean infrastructure projects like electricity, telecommunications, and transport are both important and expensive. There have been considerable investments in each area although more is needed, particularly for road and rail transport.

14.  The banking and finance sector has undergone several upheavals over the past few years. Despite improvements in developing and applying regulations, the State had to take over three banks, in 2008, 2009, and 2013, and their operations have been transferred to the state-owned State Bank of Mongolia. There remain 13 registered commercial banks, which is a lot for the size of the country even if commercial banks account for 95% of total assets in financial companies.

15.  Overall, Mongolia has made considerable progress towards improving living standards and investment and trade in minerals have contributed considerably. However, managing the resource based boom along with the legislative, and institutional challenges it presents, and the investment in infrastructure it requires are the biggest challenges facing the Government. At the same time, the geographical and climatic situation of Mongolia makes these tasks more difficult than in some other countries.

Link to full report

Link to policy report by GoM

Link to review post

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Politics

Premier Works in Umnugovi Aimag

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, September 29 (MONTSAME) The Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag arrived Monday in Umnugovi province to witness several processes and works. 

He intends to get acquainted with a "Tushmel" company's wood and wooden products factory, which was funded by a loan from The Fund for Promoting Small and Medium Enterprises, also  a leather and hard stitch clothing factory of "Khasud Bat" LLC; a construction of asphalt road connecting Dalanzadgad, Bayandalai and Gurvantes soums. He will also visit a vacuum window factory of "Khachig Khairkhan" LLC, an "Erdenes Tavantolgoi" company's mine works; a railroad construction works funded by "Chingis" bonds.

During the working tour, he will run meetings with elders and take part in a live broadcast.

He is being accompanied by the Minister of construction and urban planning Ts.Bayarsaikhan, the defense Minister D.Bat-Erdene, and the Minister of road and transportation A.Gansukh, along others. 

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Business

Tuvshin Ganbold leads Mongolia Talent Network to record quarter!

September 29 -- Mongolia Talent Network are proud to announce a record quarter of performance under the leadership of Recruitment Director and shareholder, Tuvshin Ganbold.

Tuvshin leads a world class team of international Mongolian recruitment consultants in a company with 3 years of proven track record in the market. It's small wonder that, despite the slowdown in the job market, we're consistently delivering for our clients against some of the most challenging and most highly-skilled positions. 

We look forward to seeing Tuvshin lead the team to ever greater heights!

Link to release

 

Procurement Notice: Mongolia CRC - Supply of hardware and software, warranty and training services

September 26 (UK Trade & Investment) The Communications Regulatory Commission (CRC) of Mongolia is looking for the supplier of hardware and software, warranty and training services associated with the Quality of Service Network Benchmarking Measurement (QoSNBM).

Purpose of the CRC is to monitor and evaluate Quality of Service (QoS) and regulate the performance of key services offered by operators, ranging from basic telecom to mobile and Internet access services.

The system should be established in drive test measurement including testing smartphones and benchmarking solutions for the air interface of wireless networks. It shall collect measurement results and geographical coordinates, and these measurement results should provide valuable information for network planning, verification, tuning, optimization and benchmarking purposes.

For more details please contact our team in Mongolia   

Opportunity Type: General Procurement

Response deadline: 24/10/2014

Deadline: 27/10/2014

Link to release

 

Advisor to President Meets Reps of Czech Chamber of Commerce

By B. Khuder

Ulaanbaatar, September 28 (MONTSAME) An advisor to the President on living environment and green development policy L.Erkhembayar Friday received advisors of the Chamber of Commerce of the Czech Republic.

The guests spoke about a green development policy and its achievements and lessons learned. After this the sides shared views on chances to boost the cooperation.

Mr Erkhembayar introduced to the Czech representatives a developmental tendency of Mongolia, a state policy on green development and investments environment in Mongolia. He also underlined that Mongolia is making great efforts to attract foreign investments. 

Link to article

 

Korea-Mongolia Business Forum in Ulaanbaatar for 25th Anniversary of Ties, October 3

September 29 (infomongolia.com) In the frameworks of commemorating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and the Republic of Korea in 2015, the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry is organizing Korea-Mongolia Business Forum in Ulaanbaatar.

The event will be conducted in the scope of promoting and supporting investment into the two countries' Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), besides to invite Korean SMEs willing to invest in Mongolia and the Korean SME Investors Meeting will be held at the Ramada Hotel in Ulaanbaatar on October 03, 2014.

Following business delegates from South Korean entities are expected to participate in the Korea-Mongolia Business Forum led by:

1.    Hurr Hee-young, Department of Business Administration, Hankuk Aviation University (education)

2.    Kwon Taek-soon, Directo of Seongwoo Electrical Co.,Ltd (CCTV, CATV)

3.    Kim Kwang-chul, Itvillage Co.,Ltd (IT)

4.    Kim Chan-pal, Director of Medialife Co.,Ltd (satellite broadcast system design and manufacture)

5.    Kim Hyoung-woon, Director of Chalgomu Co.,Ltd (rubber, silicon production)

6.    Kim Hyoung-tae, Director of GM Farming Co.,Ltd (meat and meat products processing, wholesale)

7.    Nam Seok-jin, Director of NKTwo Co.,Ltd (electrical wiring, water leak detector installation and production)

8.    Moon Yoon-bong, Director of Chamimat Co.,Ltd (Korean food restaurant % chain)

9.    Park Jong-lae, Director of Poscom Co.,Ltd (X-Ray manufactory)

10.  Shin Kyoung-jae, Director of Daewoong CNP Co.,Ltd (stationary, printing)

11.  Shin Dong-shik, Office Director of SME Corporation

12.  Yoon Jee-young, Director of Kumsang Enterprise Co.,Ltd (concrete grinders, diamond tools & manufacturing)

13.  Lee Gil-su, Director of Copy & Rental Solution Co.,Ltd (media equipment sales and rental)

14.  Lee Jae-pil, Director of Seojin Electrical Metal Co.,Ltd (non-ferrous metals, pressure and stretching)

15.  Lee Jong-won, Director of Moah Steel Co.,Ltd (metal and building material production)

16.  Lim Seung-eok, Director of John & Dan Co.,Ltd (freight forwarding services)

17.  Jung Sung-oh, Director of Shinjin Doors Co.,Ltd (fire resistant walls and doors)

18.  Choi An-sob, Ilsan Lake Park (tourism)

19.  Ha Sung-bae, Director of Komaco Co.,Ltd (aircraft cabin lighting and 3D screen printing)

20.  Han Kyoung-youl, representative of Hankuk Aviation University (education)

Mongolia and the Republic of Korea have established the diplomatic relations on March 26, 1990.

Link to article

 

Mongolia lays tracks to boost trade

Recent visits to Mongolia by Chinese Premier Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin have cemented deals that may see the mineral-rich country double trade with its neighbours and achieve a wider market reach for its exports through the overhaul and expansion of its ageing rail network.

A two-day visit by Xi in late August resulted in 26 new trade and cooperation agreements being sealed, among them four targeting improvements and development of the rail sector, with another two pending. China agreed to offer sea ports and railway transport access to Mongolia and help finance a number of projects in medical care, education, railroads and residential community construction, according to media reports.

This visit was followed by talks between Putin and Mongolian President Ts. Elbegdorj in early September. Russia also agreed to step up cooperation in developing Mongolia's transport infrastructure, particularly its railway network.

"Mongolia is located between Russia and China after all. We are big trade and economic partners, and Russia has bilateral trade with China that already has come to $65bn-67bn in 2014. It therefore makes sense to put Mongolia's transport possibilities to greater use than is the case today," Putin said during a press conference in Ulaanbaatar.  

New track to boost domestic and regional trade

Talks with Xi centred on the use of the Trans-Mongolian railway, a national rail network aimed to be 5600 km at completion, as a land route for trade between Asia and Europe with a goal of transporting 100m tonnes of cargo by rail to Europe by 2020.

The expansion of Mongolia's rail connections with China would boost the local economy and open up much of the country for greater development, according to Neil Ashdown, a senior analyst at global information and analytics firm IHS.

"The mineral-rich southern belt of the country is largely unserved by rail infrastructure," Ashdown told German news agency Deutsche Welle in late August. "This has made its mineral exports less competitive – for example, in the absence of rail connections, coal is currently trucked to loading stations, and then to the Chinese border. This process is expensive and time consuming."

Mongolia, which has natural resources worth an estimated $1.3trn, also needs to strengthen the transport links between its various economic hubs, particularly between different mineral basins, according to N. Algaa, executive director of the Mongolia National Mining Association.

"Apart from the transit railway, domestic transportation is important," he said in an interview in August with The UB Post. "If Mongolia doesn't construct a railway, we will never create a stable environment for supplying products," he added.  

Track size matters

A sticking issue, however, is whether Mongolia will retain the Russian broad gauge as its rail track size for the new projects outside the expansion of the Trans-Mongolian line or change to the standard international width used by China. Currently, Mongolia's rail network uses the 1520-mm broad gauge, a legacy of the Soviet era. While this allows for ease of shipment to Russia, it means any cargoes destined for China must be transferred to different wagons at the border.

Both Russia and China have a vested interest in seeing Mongolia's rail network upgraded due to the steadily increasing transit trade between them via Mongolia, which currently represents at least a quarter of total rail freight and provides a significant source of revenue for Mongolia.

China already takes up to 90% of Mongolia's exports, mainly minerals, and ships in 37% of its imports, with bilateral trade valued at $6bn in 2013. During the latest meeting, the two governments pledged to lift this to $10bn by 2020.

The issue of which gauge to use has become a political one, with some members of parliament and the public concerned that aligning the national network with that of China will increase the country's dependence on Beijing, rather than diversifying its trading partners and export routes.

"Xi's visit I think went a long way in easing Mongolia's fear of China dominating Mongolia's economy by opening up its ports and railway. This will no doubt make it easier for Mongolia's parliament to approve standard gauge railway from Tavan Tolgoi to China," economist and editor of CoverMongolia NewsWire, "Mogi" B. Munkhdul, told OBG. (Mogi: guess I'm an economist now, one more addition to a country where everyone's an economist, a political analyst)

Mongolia, however, is not solely focusing its attentions on Russia and China. The longstanding "Third Neighbour" policy aims to increase development, cooperation and maintain national security with the support of not only its two largest neighbours, but also other influential countries.

"Mongolia is now even closer to its third neighbours, having finally gained true access to the seaborne market, via both China and Russia, and by demonstrating its transit potential of connecting Europe and Asia," said Munkhdul.

Link to article

 

Mongolian dairy is looking for partnership

By Philippe Belloir, Chargé de développement chez Entrepreneurs du Monde (Head of Project)

Gumi is a modern small food industry, established in Khishig Undur with French expertise.

We are looking for partnership for our activity in Mongolia.

Link to LinkedIn post

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Ulaanbaatar

Da Khuree car salesmen given October 1 evacuation notice

September 29 (news.mn) The Capital City Governor's Office delivered an notice to Da Khuree import auto sales and parts market vendors to clear the premises by October 1st, but the businessmen of Da Khuree auto market oppose the Capital City Governor's Office decision.

The notice is part of measures being taken to reduce air and soil pollution in the city, and heavy traffic congestion and accidents. Governor and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar E.Bat-Uul issued resolution А/980 in 2013, ordering the relocation of the open-air imported vehicles and parts markets out of the city.

A resolution to build a comprehensive auto sales complex on 130 hectares in Songinokhairkhan district's 32nd khoroo, outside of the city center, was issued in March 2014, following a decision by the Ulaanbaatar City Citizens Representatives Council. The first phase construction of the auto complex is near completion and the imported vehicles and parts markets will be relocated there on October 1st.

Heating, electricity, an automotive diagnostic center, cafeteria and restrooms are now available at the auto complex center.

Link to article

 

M.A.D.: 40K Staircase Renovation – Tserendorj Street

September 28 (M.A.D. Apartments) We are pleased to unveil the very first 40k apartment renovation designed, financed and carried out by M.A.D. This is part of our drive towards corporate shared values of doing well by doing good, benefiting the wider community while contributing towards our own "double bottom line". The staircase renovation project will encompass 15 staircases (all within the 40k's around the state department store) and be carried out over the next 12 months. We hope that renovating those spaces, which are often in very poor conditions will enhance the life of all of its residents as well as contribute towards the preservation of Ulaanbaatar's heritage building.

Link to release

 

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Diplomacy

CAREC chooses Azerbaijan, Mongolia as workshop organizers for economic operators

By Maksim Tsurkov

Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept.29 (TREND) Azerbaijan and Mongolia will hold workshops on risk management within the framework of preparation of the program for participants of foreign trade activities of the participating countries of CAREC (Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation), the State Customs Committee (SCC) said Sept.29 on its website.

Agreement to hold workshops in these countries for authorized economic operators was reached during the XIII session of the Customs Cooperation Committee within the framework of CAREC, which was held Sept. 22-23 in Cholpon-Ata (Kyrgyzystan).

These [the organization of workshops] and other activities are envisaged within the framework of Aid for Trade program in 2014-2015.

The meeting of the Customs Cooperation Committee was attended by delegations of customs services in Afghanistan, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, as well as Azerbaijani delegation headed by Deputy Chairman of the State Customs Committee Rza Gasanguliev.

Issues of implementation of joint customs control, coordination at border management were discussed at the round table, held under the chairmanship of Gasanguliyev.

The issue of joining the member countries of CAREC to the updated version of the International Convention "On the unification and simplification of customs procedures" was discussed during the meeting.

It was also decided to hold the next meeting of the Committee of the Customs Cooperation in Mongolia.

The CAREC program established in 1997 is a partnership of 10 countries- Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and 6 multilateral institutions: ADB, European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, International Monetary Fund, Islamic Development Bank, UN Development program and World Bank.

After joining the CAREC program in 2002 Azerbaijan has invested around $3 billion in program projects. Azerbaijan has allocated around $6 billion for the development of the transport corridor within CAREC. The East West highway reconstruction by Azerbaijan within the CAREC program has transformed the country into a more effective corridor between Caspian and Black seas, which contributed to the promotion of trade between Europe and Asia.

Link to article

 

Mongolia, Canada Nuclear Agencies Sign MOU at IAEA General Conference

By B. Khuder

Ulaanbaatar, September 29 (MONTSAME) A delegation headed by N.Tegshbayar, a chairman of the Atomic Energy Agency of Mongolia (AEA), has taken part in the 58th Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference, which ran September 22-26 in Vienna of Austria.

Mr Tegshbayar met with Mr Michael Binder, the president of Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), on September 24 to sign a mutual understanding memorandum on a cooperation in nuclear waste and information exchange.

Mr Tegshbayar also attended a general debate to express a position of Mongolia. He underlined a vital role of the IAEA in exploiting nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, in ensuring nuclear safety and in protection and strengthening of the international cooperation. He also said Mongolia wants to actively cooperate with the IAEA and its member-states in fortifying the national, regional and international potential and in improving the safety and protection regime.

Another meeting was run with authorities of the IAEA Technical Cooperation Department, at which the sides discussed ongoing projects and programmes. Mr Tegshbayar granted the IAEA a draft Country Program Framework which will be co-implemented with the IAEA in 2015-2020.

Link to article

 

US, Mongolia Defense Institutes Discuss Cooperation

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, September 29 (MONTSAME) Director of Department of Public Administration and Management in the Defense Ministry D.Munkh-Ochir received Monday the scholars from Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) of the United States Pacific Command (PACOM).

The scholars are visiting Mongolia to attend an "Unprecedented Security Issues" conference, co-organized by the PACOM and our Ministry of Defense.

At the meeting, the sides discussed ways of launching cooperation between Mongolian Academic Institute of Defense and Management Academy of Defense and the APCSS, as well as fields of further collaboration.

Mongolia wants to engage its state servants in the APCSS's annual trainings for public and local administration officers on security and military strategy. Mr Munkh-Ochir is one of the alumni of the APCSS.

Link to article

 

Seoul education chief's trip to Mongolia stirs controversy back home

September 30 (The Dong-A Ilbo) It has turned out that sightseeing was included in Seoul Education Chief Cho Hee-yeon's seven-day business trip to Mongolia from Aug. 28 to Sep. 3. It was when tensions were mounting as parents staged a large protest in front of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education against his policy to abolish the autonomous private schools.

Cho went to Mongolia with his entourage of four people, according to the education office's report on the visit to the Ulan Bator city government in 2014, which was obtained by the Dong-A Ilbo. The purpose of the visit was to seek ways to increase educational exchanges between the capitals of Korea and Mongolia.

The problem was the schedule. After his arrival in Mongolia on Aug. 28, Cho carried out his business schedule on Aug. 29, Sep. 1 and Sep. 2. But on weekend, his schedule was about cultural exploration such as sightseeing, which is not related to the purpose of his business trip.

Back then in Seoul, the parents whose children are attending autonomous private schools were demanding an interview with the chief and the education office's employees were struggling to assuage them. It would have been difficult for Cho to arrange official meetings in Mongolia on the weekend. Nevertheless, some point out that the education cheif should have rearranged the schedule of his trip since the invitation was made two months earlier on July 7,and the elite school issue grew serious at that time.

Link to article

 

President's Advisor Meets Reps of South Korea's "New Village" Movement

By B. Khuder

Ulaanbaatar, September 28 (MONTSAME) An advisor to the President L.Erkhembayar met Friday with Shim Yong Chung, a head of South Korea's "New Village" movement, and K.Marina, a chairwoman of Mongolia's "New Village" NGO and deputy president of the East Asia's same movement.

Mr Shim mentioned that he is visiting Mongolia on occasion of the 10th anniversary of the New Village Movement in Mongolia and to share experiences of the movement. The New Village Movement was a political initiative launched April 22 of 1970 by South Korean president Park Chung Hee to modernize the rural economy. The idea was based on the S.Korean traditional communalism called Hyang-yak and Doorae, which provided the rules for self-governing and cooperation in traditional Korean communities. The movement initially sought to rectify the growing disparity of the standard of living between the nation's urban centres, which were rapidly industrializing, and the small villages, which continued to be mired in poverty. Diligence, self-help and collaboration were the slogans to encourage community members to participate in the development process. The early stage of the movement focused on improving the basic living conditions and environments whereas later projects concentrated on building rural infrastructure and increasing community income.

Mr Erkhembayar spoke about the 10-year works of the Mongolian "New Village" NGO in localities and appreciated a success in implementing top experiences of South Korea with a harmony with the Mongolian features. He said Mongolia will fully support activities of the movement.

Link to article

 

Xi and Putin in Ulaanbaatar: Mongolia's Balancing Act

By Alicia J. Campi

September 25 (The Jamestown Foundation) Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to Mongolia on August 21–22 signaled closer trilateral economic cooperation between China, Russia and Mongolia on their shared vision of a new Silk Road economic corridor. However, this positive forward momentum must be placed in the context of what happened in Ulaanbaatar and Dushanbe in the subsequent three weeks. During this same time Mongolia sought to balance its closer ties to Beijing and Moscow by reassuring its major investment partners, Japan and South Korea, that its outreach to China and Russia would not endanger their political and economic cooperation.

Building a "New Silk Road" Through Mongolia

Commentary on Xi's trip by the Chinese and Mongolian governments was overwhelmingly positive, with the focus on the Chinese president's vision of elevating bilateral ties to an invigorated strategic partnership. Xinhua cited unnamed officials and experts who called the results of the trip "fruitful" in two ways: First, the visit had "great practical significance to the further development of bilateral relations," and second, it infused new vigor into Northeast Asian regional development as the embodiment of the philosophy of "'amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness' in China's diplomacy with its neighbors" (Xinhua, August 23). Mongolia's state-run Montsame news agency noted Xi's trip was "praised as a historic visit that will lead bilateral relations and cooperation between Mongolia and China to a new level, and expand and define strategic perspectives from both parties" (Montsame, August 22). This public messaging suggests both sides are eager to improve relations during Xi's term.

China and Mongolia signed a series of 26 economic agreements, including a Joint Declaration on Relations, which set a bilateral trade target of $10 billion by 2020 (up from $6.2 billion in 2013). Xi proposed a "three-in-one" cooperation model, integrating mineral resources, infrastructure construction and financial cooperation (China Daily, August 22). China agreed to provide Mongolia $260 million in aid within three years for major economic projects and to grant a soft loan worth $162.7 million. However, these agreements have so many conditions that it is possible that Mongolia will never see much of the money—making them rather empty political gestures. The Bank of Mongolia and Bank of China agreed to increase their currency swap exchange from 10 billion RMB ($1.6 billion) to 15 billion RMB ($2.4 billion), which will help provide foreign currency to Mongolia's domestic market and support repayment in the foreign currency market. Six Chinese seaports, including Tianjin and Dalian, were designated to facilitate Mongolian exports to overseas markets, providing Mongolia easier access to Asian maritime shipping routes. China agreed to border crossing cooperation and to allow Mongolia access to rail capacity within China, while Mongolia opened four new ports (Shiveekhuren, Bichigt, Gashuunsukhait and Nomrog) for rail transport. The two countries established new tariffs and volume limits for Mongolian cargo on Chinese railroads, and China also granted Mongolia a 40-percent discount on current transportation tariffs. A key breakthrough was the agreement that two-thirds of Mongolian goods transported on Chinese rails will be sold in China and one-third will be for third-country export via Chinese seaports. This would answer complaints from third countries that they cannot receive Mongolian exports through the bottleneck of China's Tianjin port and allow the Mongols to increase trade with these partners. Most of these agreements are subject to ratification by the Mongolian parliament.

Mongolian Reaction

Mongolian officialdom and media were generally pragmatic, if not positive, in their assessment of Xi's visit. Mongolian President Tsalkhiin Elbegdorj, after his private meeting with Xi, asserted, "We have to strengthen our good neighbors' relations" (Montsame, August 22). Mongolian Deputy Prime Minister Dendev Terbishdagva, who also co-chairs the Mongolia-China intergovernmental commission, said he was impressed by Xi's parliamentary speech (Xinhua, August 23). Ulziibayar Ganzorig, President of the Mongolian Financial Markets Association, told Mongolian Eagle TV that, "the visit has clearly sent a message to the world that Mongolia is not dependent upon a single company called Rio Tinto and the country can continue to work with China in many ways" (M.A.D. Mongolian Newswire, September 3). Presidential adviser Bat-Erdene Batbayar emphasized Xi's pledge to respect Mongolia's chosen development model and expected that Chinese purchases of Mongolian goods would garner the attention of international investors (UBPost, September 2).

Despite the positive messaging by both sides, Xi appeared to cause some controversy during his visit. The Chinese media played up the fact that Xi made a rare stand-alone state visit to Mongolia and was granted the privilege of addressing a special session of the Mongolian parliament, which was called back from its summer recess (Xinhua, August 21; China Daily, August 23). In parliament, he reassured Mongols that, "We will respect Mongolia's independence, sovereignty, immunity and its chosen path according to the China-Mongolia Friendship and Cooperation Treaty…Bilateral strategic partnership relations between the two countries will be maintained whatever changes come in international relations" (Montsame, August 22). However, the Chinese and Mongolian state-run press made no mention of the nearly universal grimaces on the faces of the listening parliamentarians and high-ranking officials or the lack of applause, which were caught by China's CCTV cameras but not Mongol TV coverage. This negative reaction may have been due to Xi's opening recital of a famous Mongolian nationalist poem, "My Native Land," in which he incongruously said, "This is my native land. The lovely country. My Mongolia." After Xi's speech, Mongolian blogs erupted with criticism of this strange gesture, which seemed to overwhelm Xi's attempted outreach to the Mongolian public through the release of an article to the major Mongolian newspapers, timed to coincide with his arrival. In this article, Xi noted that visiting Mongolia was more like visiting one's relatives and "China hopes that both countries can push cooperation on building inter-connecting railways and roads, [as well as] the development of mines and processing" (?n??d?r, Odriin Sonin, August 21).

Back-to-Back Visits Suggest Coordination

Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Mongolia on September 3 suggests China and Russia coordinated the timing of their visits. According to discussions with Mongolian diplomats, the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MMFA) worked all spring to schedule Xi's and Putin's visits. Putin's timing was locked into the 75th anniversary of the Soviet-Mongolian victory over a Japanese invasion force in late August 1939. While the Mongols in March originally wanted Xi to visit in early August to avoid overlapping with Putin, the MMFA said publicly in June that Xi and Putin had agreed to meet in Mongolia in late August for a "trilateral summit" (see also China Brief, July 11; Author's interviews, Ulaanbaatar, March 12–14). This change in timing was likely discussed in Shanghai during May meetings between Xi and Putin at the Fourth Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (see China Brief, July 31). However, the Russians retreated from this idea seemingly because Putin decided to package his Mongolia visit into a several-day swing through the Russian Far East.

The five transportation-related Sino-Mongolian agreements signed during Xi's visit suggest his willingness to cooperate with Russia on their separate rail projects (see also China Brief, January 24). Mongolian policymakers believe that while Putin was in China, he agreed to not oppose Chinese proposals for deeper investment and economic ties with Mongolia in exchange for China's support for Russian plans on modernizing and developing rail links with Mongolia (Author's interviews, Ulaanbaatar, August 7–8). When comparing these rail agreements to those signed with Russia ten days later, a pattern of trilateral cooperation is evident. Mongolia has been seeking to become an international transportation hub and diversify its customers for mineral exports. This concept meshes with Xi and Putin's plans for a new Silk Road rail artery across Eurasia. Several of the rail projects covered in the Russo-Mongolian agreements directly impact Sino-Russian rail cooperation. This includes electrification and construction of a second track for the 1,100-kilometer (684-mile) rail from Mongolia's northern border with Russia through the planned Sainshand minerals processing industrial zone in the Gobi to Zamyn Uud on the Chinese border. The cooperation also includes potentially exploring development of a western Mongolian railway line joining Russia and China for Russian exports to China, India and Pakistan, as well as researching the possibility of using the 230-kilometer (143-mile) Choibalsan-Erentsav eastern railway to transit via Bichigt to China (see Eurasian Daily Monitor, September 12).

Mongolia Reassures "Third Neighbors"

Mongolia also sought to balance its increased cooperation with China and Russia by reassuring its democratic partners and foreign investors. After Xi's and Putin's trips were announced in July, President Elbegdorj met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo to sign an economic partnership agreement (EPA) and discuss security and regional issues (Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, July 22). Afterwards, while Xi was in Ulaanbaatar, a delegation from the Japanese-Mongolian Friendship Group of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party visited the Mongolian parliament. Parliament Speaker Zandaakhu Enkhbold told them that "developing cooperation and friendly relations with Japan is one of the major goals of the foreign policy of Mongolia and it places high priority on developing strategic partnership relations with 'Third neighbor'—Japan" (Mongolian Parliament, August 20). The day Xi arrived, Mongolia announced that South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se would travel to Ulaanbaatar on August 26–27. During his visit the next week, Yun met with Elbegdorj, Mongolian Prime Minister Norov Altankhuyag and Foreign Minister Lu Bold and explained that South Korea welcomed cooperation with Mongolia in the rail and sea transport sectors and in economic and investment collaboration (see also China Brief, March 30; InfoMongolia, August 26).

Follow up Meeting at SCO Signals Closer Trilateral Cooperation

China and Russia's deepening relationship, especially regarding Mongolia and greater Eurasia, was reaffirmed at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Dushanbe on September 11–12. Xi stated that China's Silk Road Economic Belt initiative could be coordinated with Russia's transcontinental rail plan and Mongolia's Prairie Road program to build a China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor. He asked the three sides to achieve this goal by strengthening traffic interconnectivity, facilitating cargo clearance and transportation and studying the feasibility of building a transnational power grid (The Mongol Messenger, September 19; Mongolian President's Office, September 11). At the SCO meeting, President Elbegdorj announced there would be a meeting in Ulaanbaatar on implementing the Railway Transit Transportation agreements just signed among the three governments and a working group established to study opportunities to stretch the "Western Corridor of Natural Gas," Elbegdorj's concept for linking Central Asia's natural gas fields to China and South Korea, through Mongolia (Mongolian President's Office, September 11).

Prior to the opening of the SCO, Xi and Putin held trilateral talks with Elbegdorj to discuss his proposal to hold an official trilateral summit every three years in Ulaanbaatar. Elbegdorj trumpeted the historical significance of his discussions with the two others as "unique in terms of content and format of the summit in that it was held for the first time in the history of the three countries, except for a three-partite meeting held almost a century ago at the level of vice foreign ministers" (The Mongol Messenger, September 19). Xi and Putin both indicated interest in this idea but each proposed other possible venues and timing. Putin stated that: "Things discussed at this meeting create the appropriate mechanism to discuss and resolve the largest projects to be implemented by us in the future, and we agreed to promote our cooperation in this regard" (The Mongol Messenger, September 19).

Xi's trip to Mongolia and offer to the Mongols to participate in his "China Dream" initiative was seen in Mongolia as a positive attempt to polish China's image as a peaceful and generous neighbor interested in working to improve economic and political relations with Mongolia and in the entire Northeast Asian region. The Xi summit, followed by the Putin summit and Dushanbe trilateral summit, raised the profile of President Elbegdorj, who has been increasingly criticized for the drop in his nation's growth rate from 12.3 percent in 2012 to 7.4 percent in the first quarter of 2014 a precipitous falloff in foreign investment. The plethora of agreements with both China and Russia to improve Eurasian transportation connections through Mongolia also could benefit "third neighbors," especially Japan and South Korea, and meet Mongolia's goal to diversify its trade partners. Yet, it is not clear that closer Sino-Russian-Mongolian economic and political ties will reassure Mongolia's restless foreign investor community.

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Social, Environmental and Other

Mongolian Football Federation Announces Elections on November 11

September 29 (infomongolia.com) The IV Regular Session of Mongolian Football Federation (MFF) will be held on November 11, 2014, which takes place once in four years.

This upcoming meeting is considered to be significant, because new President and Members of Board will be elected by nominating new Secretary General and Executive Director of MFF.

According to current prognosis, the following candidates have promoted their names:

1. B.Ganbold, incumbent MFA President

2. T.Lkhagvadorj, Board Chairman of Wolf Petroleum Limited

3. E.Amarsaikhan, Director of "2050" NGO

4. B.Medree, CEO of Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia

5. G.Gankhuu, member of Ulaanbaatar City Citizens' Representatives Khural

6. A.Ganbaatar, Vice President of MFA, advisor to the President of Mongolia

Link to article

 

Used sanitary pad found in Mongolian athletes' meal at Asian Games

September 29 (news.mn) The 17th Asian Games continues in Incheon, South Korea. The Head of the Mongolian National Team at the Asian Games, B.Bat-Erdene, and Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee of Mongolia J.Otgotsagaan held a press conference their athletes' successes, the organization of the Asiad, and several unexpected  issues faced by athletes.

In a disappointing and unpleasant moment for the Mongolian team, a dirty sanitary pad was found in the Mongolian national judo athletes' meal at the athletes village. B.Bat-Erdene and J.Otgotsagaan commented on the issue, confirming that the meal for the Mongolian judokas had been tampered with.

B.Bat-Erdene told reporters, "It is confirmed that something dirty was put into the Mongolian national judo athletes' food while the athletes were in the training hall, just before their event. We documented the incident and informed the related officials in charge of the Asian Games, and other complaints emerged during the Asian Games, which were submitted in a note via the South Korean Embassy to the organizing committee of the Asian Games. The organizing committee of the Asian Games apologized for the incident, and the incident is currently under investigation."  

Mongolian national team is participating with components of 223 athletes at the Asian Games 23 sports events. Mongolian national team took part with 220 athletes in the Asian Games Guangzhou in 2010. The first of Mongolian team arrived in the Asian Games athletes village on September 13th.

The Mongolian national team, currently ranked in 9th place out of 45 countries on the medal table, has grabbed a total of 18 medals, including 4 gold, 4 silver and 10 bronze medals, at the Asian Games as of today, September 29th.

The Head of Mongolian National Team at the Asian Games Incheon B.Bat-Erdene emphasized that the team's 4 gold medals are a big success at the Asian Games. He stressed that the Mongolian national basketball team has proven it can compete in international competitions with the success at Incheon.

 "The Mongolian fencing team participated in its first Asian Games. Newly developed athletes in Mongolia have seen new success. Mongolian athletes also proved that Mongolian team sports players can succeed in international competition. The Mongolian national basketball team was selected for the first time for the quarter final. This is a big accomplishment for team sports and Mongolian basketball fans. The Mongolian national basketball team could prove its unity, and strong principles at the games."

During the Asian Games there was also an incident with the Mongolian national flag displayed upside down. The organizing committee corrected the fault following a complaint by Mongolia.

Link to article

 

Both National Basketball Teams of Mongolia to Compete for 7th Places at Asian Games

Ulaanbaatar, September 29 (MONTSAME) Both men and women national basketball teams of Mongolia will play for 7th  places in the 17th Asian Games continuing in Inchoen, South Korea.

The men team was eliminated from the "G" group at the quarterfinal round, then competed in the classification round on Monday. At the fifth place games, Mongolia was defeated by Qatar 78:87. On October 1, they will compete with Philippines for the 7th place.

The women team will face Thailand. Our team was defeated by India at the classification round after having been beaten by S.Koreans at quarter-finals. The game for the 7th place will take place October 1. 

Link to article

 

ACMS: This Month in Mongolian Studies - September 2014

This is a monthly listing of selected academic activities and resources related to Mongolia. This list is based on information the ACMS has received and is presented as a service to its members. If you would like to submit information to be included in next month's issue please contact the ACMS at info@mongoliacenter.org and/or the editor, Marissa Smith, atmsmith@mongoliacenter.org.

This publication is supported in part by memberships.  Please consider becoming a member of the ACMS, or renewing your membership by visiting our website at mongoliacenter.org. Thank you!

In this Issue:

Upcoming ACMS Sponsored Programs and Events
New Books Acquired for the ACMS Library
Calls for Papers, Conferences and Workshops
Position Openings
Research Fellowships, Scholarships and Grants
Resources
Other News and Events
Recent Publications

Upcoming ACMS Sponsored Programs and Events

Speaker Series

The Speaker Series are formal presentations given by leading academics, experts and community leaders on a wide variety of topics related to Mongolia. Each session has a 30-45 minute formal lecture followed by a 30 minute Q&A session. All presentations are held in the American Corner presentation room of the Natsagdorj Library in Ulaanbaatar. We invite all researchers visiting Mongolia and who are interested in presenting to contact us at their earliest convenience.

September 9th Speaker Series – Amalia Rubin, "Returning Spirits and the Revival of Shamanism in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia"

Since the end of the socialist period, both Buddhism and Shamanism, the two traditional faiths of Mongolia, have undergone a great revival in the now-democratic Republic of Mongolia.  With newly open borders and friendly visa policies, the country has also been flooded with Christian missionaries, eager to convert the post-soviet nations.  As the three faiths have struggled to claim the souls of the first generation with religious freedom, Shamanism, despite its often-dubious standing and lack of historical official support, is reviving at an unprecedented speed. Furthermore, with nearly half of the Mongolian population residing in Ulaanbaatar, the traditionally countryside practice of Shamanism is now taking roots in a capital city.  Drawing on fieldwork and literature, we will discuss 21st century shamanism in Ulaanbaatar and what it means to be a shaman in a city of nearly one and a half million people.

Amalia Rubin was an ACMS summer research fellow and is a Master's Degree  Candidate at the University of Washington, Jackson School of International Studies. Youtube video of presentation available

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I realised what it was like to be a Mongol

What does the word Mongol mean to you?

(STRONG IDENTITY: Author Uuganaa Ramsay grew up in Mongolia before coming to the UK and settling in Scotland. Picture: Martin Shields)

September 29 (Herald Scotland) For Uuganaa Ramsay it means everything. It's who she is. What she is. It's a marker of her ethnicity, her nationality, her sense of self. Others have a different take.

In October 2011, the comedian Ricky Gervais tweeted photographs of himself pulling silly faces, adding the words "two Mongs don't make a right".

Is that funny? Ramsay didn't think so. She can still recall the shock she felt when she read that casually racist, disablist remark. Because it hit her where she lived. And not only because of her Mongolian origins. In 2010 she had lost her three-month-old son, Billy, born with Down's Syndrome. So she knew, all too well, that words can cut just as deeply as the sharpest knives.

Fortunately, she has words of her own to say. You can find them in her memoir, entitled Mongol, published earlier this year. It is an account of her life growing up in Mongolia framed by an honest and painfully sad account of Billy's short life and death in Scotland.

"The original idea came after Billy, our son, passed away," she tells me as we sit in a cafe in Kilmarnock talking about her decision to write the book in the first place. "I wanted ... I guess ... to make him live on."

That desire is at the very tender heart of Mongol. But the book is more than that. It's also a window into another world, one all too few of us know of on this side of the world. And that ignorance can be a problem.

Ramsay lives in Troon these days, with her Scottish husband Richard and her three children. She's a careers advisor in a school in Kilmarnock and works at the Skills Development Scotland centre in the town too. The latter is where I'm due to meet her. When I get there I manage to confuse everyone by saying I'm here to meet "Oogana", pronouncing the name with a hard G. The people finally twig that I mean "Oona".

"Oona" is not long off a plane from Mongolia this afternoon. She's been visiting her parents while working on a Radio 4 documentary she is to present later this year. Her book has opened a few doors for her.

And, if we listen, for those of us who know little about Mongolia. There are quite a few who fall into that category. She's had people tell her they thought it was a made-up place.

Ramsay, who's now 37, enjoyed a nomadic childhood in rural Mongolia living in a one-roomed yurt - or a ger as Mongolians call them - surrounded by animals. "It's so close to nature," she says of her life there. "When they slaughter a sheep or a cow they are using everything, except the animal's breath. There is no waste. Even the dung is used for fuel."

That was then of course. Today, she points out her parents have internet connection and a mobile signal. "I was getting text messages" she says of her recent visit. Still, one of the pleasures of her book is its privileged glimpse into a very different way of life. Ramsay grew up in a Communist country where marmot meat was a delicacy and she'd often drink her mother's urine for medicine. Which prompts the question that's been worrying me since I read Mongol. Did you drink it hot or cold, Uuganaa? "As soon as." What would be the Scottish equivalent to this, I wonder? "A hot toddy. My husband made it when I wasn't feeling well. That was quite interesting." I think she is being polite there.

She says writing the book made her realise how much she had been shaped by where she comes from. "I guess I found my identity in some ways. It made me realise what it was like to be a Mongol."

She talks of the trip home she has just returned from. When she was young she couldn't wait to get away. "But there with my parents I felt a contentment. The fire was on, the door was open and I could see the landscape and I felt 'this is freedom'. For a few moments I felt that peacefulness."

But home is now in Scotland, and has been for most of the 21st century. She moved to the UK in 2001 after meeting her husband Richard the year before while studying English in London. They moved north to be nearer Richard's recently widowed mother and the country has made its mark on her. You can hear it in her accent.

Before coming here the only vision she had of Scotland was of a man in a kilt standing beside Edinburgh Castle - a picture she'd seen in one of her English language books, What she found here, she says, is a warm, friendly people who insist you need to eat chips with your fish.

She can see many similarities between Mongolia and Scotland, in people's values for one thing. "Very family oriented. I think Scottish people are very caring about the elderly and their families and that touched me."

Ah yes, family. Ramsay's son Billy, her third child, was born in 2009 with Down's Syndrome and, it soon emerged, a hole in the heart. Either diagnosis would have been devastating on its own. One doctor told Billy's mother that "it may not be obvious that William has Down's because of your ethnic background."

Naturally the comment horrified her. "It's very difficult because the doctor said it with good intentions and that's the problem. It's embedded inside."

The "It" in question is the persistent use of the word Mongol in the UK as offensive slang for stupidity. It has, unfortunately, a long history. John Langdon Down, the man who discovered Down's Syndrome in the 1860s used the word Mongolism to describe it because he believed there were similar physical characteristics between people with Down's Syndrome and people from Mongolia.

The description was used for the next century and it wasn't until Mongolia joined the World Health Organisation in the early 1960s that they made a request for WHO to stop using the term in relation to Down's Syndrome.

That they did but the term persisted in schoolyards and, even now it seems, the vocabulary of middle-aged comedians.

"I was disappointed with Ricky Gervais," Ramsay says when I bring his Twitter message up. "I felt like I was being bullied, looked down on. That was against civility, against race."

She's met many Mongolians who have been made uncomfortably aware of how the word for their ethnicity and nationality is being used as a casual term of abuse.

I wonder, though, if this is a problem that will die out with my generation, when the language of seventies schoolyards disappears with those of us who were around to hear it? She thinks not. Because it's the language of 21st century schoolyards too, she says. "Remember, these people are grandparents now talking to the younger children. The problem with the younger generation is that they use it as a derogatory term.

"I got a phone call from Liverpool. This youth worker asked me to talk to these six-to-13-year-old girls because they kept saying the word Mongol without realising. They don't know the history of the word. They're just being fashionable. I don't blame them. It's about raising awareness."

That's why she is now writing her book in her original language, encouraged by Mongolia's culture and environment ministers and Mongolian associations around the world keen to then translate it into other languages, to raise awareness in the countries in which they live and work.

Her family, she says, are both Scots and Mongols. She's both too herself now. So how does she reflect on the place she comes from. "Mongolia is still considered a developing country. When I was growing up the west was this big civilised world. But now when I look back I don't think everything is measured by the money in your wallet or how many rooms you've got in your house or how big your car is. There's more to life."

Life has taught her that. It's been at times a hard lesson.

Mongol is published by Saraband, priced £8.99. Uuganaa Ramsay is appearing at the Wigtown Book Festival on Sunday October 5 at 3pm.

Link to article

 

Kickstarter Campaign: Bringing the world to Mongolia, one child at a time

by Claudia Flisi

I need to hire an authentic Mongolian artist to illustrate my children's book, "Mori of Mongolia: the horse who wanted a name."

Kids – like adults -- read books with good stories. Unlike adults, however, kids need good pictures along with the stories. So when an author submits a manuscript to a publishing house or to an agent, it's a good idea to send along a few storyboard sketches in addition. (If the writer is also an artist, he or she submits illustrations as well as the text). This helps the publisher or agent visualize the final product . . . though a publishing house usually makes its own choice about the final illustrator for the children's stories it publishes. 

My situation is different. Although I do not have a history as a children's book author,  I am an established writer whose articles have appeared in the International New York Times, the late Newsweek, The Economist Intelligence Unit, and the Los Angeles Times, among many others. My work is well-regarded and has garnered some awards.

A while ago I spent several weeks horseback riding in Mongolia. The geopolitical history of the country struck me; Mongolia is the Poland of Central Asia, with China and Russia see-sawing back and forth across the steppes as they wrestle for supremacy in this region. Mongolia has a very small population but an inordinately important position on the Asian continent. Right after my trip I tried to establish a scholarship for a Mongolian student to study international relations at the graduate level. I was only partly successful (more about that) and decided there must be another way to help the West understand Mongolia and vice-versa.

My approach is via a children's story integrating Mongolian culture and values in a narrative about horses and children. The idea is NOT to be preachy or lesson-driven, but to deliver a tale well-told that -- incidentally --makes an exotic faraway country seem less strange and foreign. "Mori of Mongolia: the horse who wanted a name" was born. {Sticklers of grammar may object that the title should be, "the horse THAT wanted a name", but animal rights folks (of whom I am one) would disagree.}  I know several artists and illustrators willing to fire off a few storyboard sketches on spec. So far so good.

But a Western illustrator has no knowledge of gers, dels, toortsogs and gingos. They don't know what the Daaga looks like, or how a stallion's mane is braided for Naadam. Only a Mongolian artist understands these things. When I was in Mongolia I had identified a few painters who might be appropriate, such as Monkhor Erdenebayar, but none speaks English. I then contacted London galleries specializing in Central Asian artists and also Mongolian embassies in London and Rome. Here the response was promising, but the first question was always, "How much will you pay?"

This is where you and Kickstarter come in. With your help I can hire a talented Mongolian artist to illustrate my book. Not only will authentic illustrations make the text more attractive to publishers, they might also encourage Mongolian government agencies and tourist boards to promote the book. There are several benefits for Mongolia:

1.    the book would be a focal point for encouraging travel to the country

2.    the book could be a springboard for discussion between the children who read it (or have it read to them, in the case of younger readers) and parents or teachers

3.    all profits from the sale of this book will be used for the creation of two scholarships for Mongolian students at US-based graduate schools, one for international relations (the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies, aka SAIS) and the other for veterinary science (Cornell).   Why these schools?  Because they are independently ranked as the best in the US in their respective fields.  Yes, I am a SAIS alumna but that was not determinant.  

Let me emphasize: I am not launching this project to make money for myself. My hope is that Mori's story will delight readers above all . . . AND will generate profits to finance two such scholarships. In a country as small in population as Mongolia (2.8 million), just one well-educated diplomat and one Western-trained veterinarian will make a discernible difference. Year on year, the dividends will be huge.

Financial transparency

The $10,500 goal will be spent as follows:

-       $500 for Kickstarter's fee  

-       $8,000 for the services of an illustrator. The artist will hopefully cost less, but there will be agents and/or gallery commissions to be paid, plus translation fees

-       $800 for the services of an independent accountant to oversee the management and disbursement of funds received, including the proper allocation of profits to create two scholarship funds

-       $500 for miscellaneous costs such as credit card fees, envelopes for mailing books, long-distance phone calls (it's expensive to call Mongolia!), tech support to generate progress reports between now and 2020, and office supplies

-       $700 as a buffer for unforeseen expenses. If not needed, this money will go directly to the scholarship funds.

Link to campaign

 

Lee University's Rumschlag Spends Summer in Mongolia Digging Ancient Artifacts

September 29 (The Chattanoogan) Lee University senior Sam Rumschlag is a few months shy of obtaining his bachelor's degree in anthropology, yet he spent his summer brushing the dirt from ancient artifacts in Mongolia and Italy alongside world-class archaeologists from premier universities.

"The anthropology faculty at Lee University feels that Sam has had excellent preparation to go to the next level of archaeology since working with archaeologists from Yale, Cornell, and European universities," said Dr. Murl Dirksen, professor of anthropology and sociology at Lee. "He not only is a skilled archaeologist but is also a brilliant scholar. We are very proud of Sam." 

In June, Mr. Rumschlag worked in Mongolia on Yale University's archaeology research team. The Taravagtai Valley Project, located in the Bulgan Aimag Province of north-central Mongolia, has been running for five years and is the first work ever done in the region by an American university with published results in English. The project represents the first work done in the region since the Cold War when Russian research ceased. 

The importance of the project rests in the long-term goal of establishing a definitive chronology of the north-central Mongolian region. The project would like to document all cultural sites within the valley to aid in the development of a timeline for the region. The team's work will help to form an understanding of the religious practices in the region, which will serve to construct context for future research in the area. In addition, the project will make it feasible for other smaller teams to continue the excavations in the area and further add to the knowledge of the area's history. 

"I operate under the belief that every human culture on earth represents just one facet of the rich, vibrant mosaic that is the human narrative," said Mr. Rumschlag.  "When a culture dissolves, assimilates, or is destroyed, a piece of the human mosaic is lost.  As an archaeologist, my job is to put the mosaic back together.  In order to recover and reassemble the lost pieces, we have to be willing to step outside our own cultural contexts and try to think about life in the way that our predecessors would have. On the Taravagtai Valley Project, that is what we are trying to do." 

During this season, Mr. Rumschlag and the rest of the team specifically investigated Bronze Age ritual and religious sites in the hope of increasing understanding of pre-Mongol religious beliefs and activities. The team excavated five "khirigsuurs," a specific type of stone structural complex, which typically consist of a central stone mound surrounded by a rectangular fence of surface stones. Most khirigsuurs feature satellite mounds, which vary in size from 1-1.5 meters in diameter, on the south, north, and west sides just outside the stone surface fence. 

The excavation team specifically focused on satellite features containing horse sacrifices. Carbon-14 dating is being done on the remains to determine age, and tests are being run to determine if anything organic was placed in the pit along with the horses. There are hundreds of khirigsuurs in the Taravagtai Valley alone, so it is suspected that they were built specifically for the highly-ritualized sacrifices. 

Many of the khirigsuurs have religious significance to the locals, particularly the Buddhists, so the team was not permitted to dig in some sites. 

During the field season, the crew lived in tents in the valley bottom, collecting and filtering water from a local river. They primarily subsisted on sheep, root vegetables, and dairy products, all purchased locally. 

In July, after the Taravagtai Valley Project, Mr. Rumschlag participated in the Apolline Project investigating the understudied countryside surrounding Mt. Vesuvius. The project is run by St. John's College of Oxford University. 

The investigation is focused on the window between major eruptions of Mt. Vesuvius, from 79-472 A.D. Before 79, small rural farms were the rule in the rich agricultural lands of Campania, a region in southern Italy, but after 79 and until the next major eruption in 472, there was a shift from small, independent farms to massive agricultural estates owned by patricians and members of the Senatorial class in Rome. 

"Although it is popularly believed that the ruins around Pompeii have been thoroughly investigated, there are an astonishing amount of unanswered questions surrounding them," said Mr. Rumschlag. "The Campanian countryside, in particular, represents an archaeological gold mine, and the Apolline Project is hoping to use these uninvestigated ruins to answer nagging questions about the recovery period following the 79 A.D. eruption and the subsequent reconstruction of the Roman cultural landscape that the recovery entailed." 

The site where Mr. Rumschlag and the rest of the team worked was an estate featuring a luxurious villa and bath complex. Just outside the bath, the team discovered three infants buried in amphorae, which are clay wine jars. It is currently unknown why the infants were buried in this particular location, but samples have been sent for Carbon-14 dating to determine when exactly they were buried. It is suspected that two of the infants were twins, and DNA tests will confirm or refute the hypothesis. 

"The experiences with the Taravagtai and Apolline project teams were significant in that they afforded me the chance to put all my previous work (in North America) in perspective and allowed me to gain an even better appreciation for the human condition in regions outside my own," said Mr. Rumschlag. "The most meaningful part for me was the interaction with people from vastly different cultural backgrounds. One learns to appreciate the diversity of viewpoints encountered while abroad and to consider ideas to which they would have otherwise never been exposed." 

Mr. Rumschlag, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, has previously worked sites including the Unicoi Turnpike site in Tellico Plains, Tenn., the Eagle Rock Shelter site in Delta, Colo., and the U.S. Forest Service Fort Armistead site near Coker Creek, Tenn. He has also worked locally at the Green Shadow Lake site and the Fort Hill Historic Cemetery site. 

On Lee's campus Mr. Rumschlag works as a tutor, is involved in the archaeological cataloguing and curation facilities, and has been a teaching assistant in the Cultural Anthropology class with Dirksen. In addition, Mr. Rumschlag works in the archives at the Five Points Museum in downtown Cleveland. 

Mr. Rumschlag is particularly interested in the archaeology of Inner Asian cultures as well as Classical Archaeology, though he usually works on pre-contact and contact period Eastern Woodlands sites when working closer to home. He is currently applying to graduate schools and intends to become a professional field archaeologist. 

"Archaeology is a unifying force in our increasingly chaotic and divided world," said Mr. Rumschlag. "Even on the most basic excavation, people who are necessarily from vastly different backgrounds come together and have no choice but to overcome their differences, establish common ground, and work together towards a common objective." 

Link to article

 

Mogi: time forgot? Ummm, whatever sells I guess

New adventures in wild West Mongolia – The land that time forgot

One of the only motorbike tour operators to offer guided rides in Mongolia, Extreme Bike Tours will take experienced and licensed riders – and also pillion passengers with no riding experience – on adventure tours through the country's remote 'wild west' in April and May next year.

September 29 (Travel Daily News) One of the world's last destinations untouched by mass tourism, Mongolia, will host Extreme Bike Tours' first expeditions into the country in 2015. 

One of the only motorbike tour operators to offer guided rides in Mongolia, Extreme Bike Tours will take experienced and licensed riders – and also pillion passengers with no riding experience – on adventure tours through the country's remote 'wild west' in April and May next year, with guests using classic Royal Enfield 500cc bullet motorbikes to explore the region. 

Two 15-day tours will start in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar on April 27 and May 25, 2015, with riders and pillion passengers then taken to western Mongolia - a vast, rugged and rarely visited region of nomadic herders, gold prospectors, tiny outposts and cultures frozen in time. 

"Western Mongolia is one of the world's last true frontiers - a far-flung land of stunning scenery, fascinating culture and daring adventure that few foreigners get to experience," says self-confessed adrenalin junkie and former Englishman, Zander Combe, who owns Extreme Bike Tours, which is based in India. "A lot of planning has gone into our new Mongolian tours to ensure they offer our guests the trip of a lifetime in a land that time forgot," Zander adds. 

Riding between the frontier towns of Uliastai and Ulgii, the all-inclusive, off-the-beaten-track tours will see riders eat around campfires and sleep in traditional Mongolian yurts at 'ger' camps along the route which stretches through the Gobi Desert and the Altai Mountains. Along the way, riders can meet traditional Kazakh eagle hunters who ride horses and train golden eagles to hunt fox and hare. 

The two 15-day expeditions are available from US$5850 for licensed riders and US$4950 for pillion passengers riding behind friends or crew or in support vehicles. Fares include connecting domestic flights within Mongolia, hotel accommodation at the start and end of the tour in Ulaanbaatar, ger camp accommodation on the road, all meals, use of new Royal Enfield 500cc bullet motorbikes and fuel. Flights from Australia to Mongolia are extra. 

Featured on TV's 'Top Gear' program, in 2011, Extreme Bike Tours is one of the world's leading motorcycle tour companies and also offers itineraries to the Himalayas, Tibet, Bhutan, Rajasthan and southern India. Up to 80 per cent of riders are from Australia and New Zealand.

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