Blue Wolf Mongolia Countdown: 37 days till liquidation
Rio Tinto Oyu Tolgoi Mine Gets at Least $3 Billion Bank Pledge
March 15 (Bloomberg) Rio Tinto Group (RIO)’s $4 billion project financing to fund the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia has received pledges of at least $3 billion from banks, according to three people familiar with the matter.
The world’s second-largest miner has attracted about 10 banks to commit at least $300 million each, the people said. In Rio Tinto’s request for proposals, lenders were invited to join with pledges of $150 million to $300 million, the people said, asking not to be identified because the details are private.
Rio Tinto is seeking about $2 billion of 12-year loans from banks and a further $2 billion from export credit agencies and international development lenders. The boards of International Finance Corp. and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development granted approval to join the $4 billion project finance deal last month.
The commercial bank debt may be marketed to a wider group of lenders after the deal’s financial close, which is expected in April, the people said today. The banks that have already committed to the deal include Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., BNP Paribas SA, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Credit Agricole SA, ING Groep NV, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., Societe Generale SA and Standard Chartered Plc, they said.
David Luff, a Melbourne-based spokesman for Rio Tinto, declined to comment on the financing.
The bank commitments come amid a tussle for control of the $6.6 billion copper and gold project, landlocked Mongolia’s single biggest investment. At full capacity the mine, which is suffering from cost blowouts, will account for almost a third of the economy. Production is due by end-June.
The Oyu Tolgoi facility, in the South Gobi desert 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Mongolia’s border with China, is controlled by Rio Tinto through its 51 percent stake in Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (TRQ) which holds a 66 percent stake in the project. The Mongolian government owns the remaining 34 percent stake.
President Tsakhia Elbegdorj said Feb. 1 Mongolia should have more control of the mine. London-based Rio Tinto is said to be considering a temporary halt to work as the government demands a greater profit share.
Turquoise Hill predecessor Ivanhoe Mines selected BNP Paribas and Standard Chartered to arrange the financing in July 2010, along with the EBRD, the World Bank’s IFC and Export Development Canada. Export-Import Bank of the U.S., Australia’s Export Finance & Insurance Corp. and the World Bank’s MIGA unit also subsequently joined the deal, according to the IFC’s website.
About half the bank debt will pay an interest rate 2 to 3 percentage points more than benchmark rates and be insured against political risks by the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, people familiar with the matter said last month.
Oyu Tolgoi Shareholders to Meet March 20 on Financing Dispute
March 14 (Bloomberg) Shareholders in Mongolia’s $6.6 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine will reconvene on March 20 to try and resolve disputes that are holding up construction funding, Mongolia’s Minister for Economic Development Nyamjav Batbayar said.
The mine is currently operating on a month-to-month budget with funds from Rio Tinto Group, which owns 66 percent of the project through its Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (TRQ) unit. Mongolia owns the rest. Batbayar identified six issues to be tackled by shareholders, according to a Tuesday report (Mogi: click on English, then try the link again) from the state-owned Montsame News Agency.
Among them is costs. The government alleges that the project has gone 40 percent over budget, while Rio Tinto says the figure is closer to 18 percent. Mongolia says it will only approve the 2013 budget when it sees a finalized feasibility study for phase two of the project.
Mongolia tries to calm fears Rio wrangle will delay giant mine – Reuters, March 14
Oyu Tolgoi: Mongolia tosses ball into Rio's court – MINING.com, March 14
Mongolia says production at Rio’s Oyu Tolgoi mine to start in June
LONDON, March 15 (SHARECAST) - Disagreements between Rio Tinto and the Mongolian government over the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine will not halt a planned June start for commercial production, officials have stressed.
Rio Tinto and Mongolia have been tussling over the future of the world’s largest untapped copper deposit as the mine looks set to increase output.
The two failed to agree on a deal last month after disputing over taxes and rising costs which Mongolia believed would cut into prospective earnings for the impoverished country.
They are now operating under a temporary budget and are due to meet again next week.
"The Mongolian government and the investor both highlight the importance that the production should start on time," Dorjsuren Javkhlanbold, a senior official at Mongolia's mines ministry, told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference.
"We have a joint understanding of what we are going to do. We need to make several clarifications (to) our investment agreement and we are confident the revision will soon be successful."
Mongolia signed an agreement in 2009 with Rio Tinto and Oyu Tolgoi owner Ivanhoe Mines, now named Turquoise Hill Resources.
Under the deal, Mongolia received a 34% stake in the project will be able increase its interest to 50% after the first 30 years of operation.
However, politicians have called on the government to amend the deal over concerns about rising costs impacting its share of profits from the mine.
Rio is the largest single investor in Mongolia. It has already delayed a feasibility study on the second phase of the project, which may cost about $7.0bn, according to analyst estimates.
Shares climbed 1.15% to 3,349p at 10:38 Friday.
BBC Radio: Mongolian mines: Oyu Tolgoi
March 14 (BBC World Service) Business Daily comes from the Gobi desert. Justin Rowlatt visits the huge new copper mine which is helping to power Mongolia to the top of the tables for economic growth. But will every Mongolian benefit from this treasure trove? He meets a nomadic bactrian camel herder, a mongolian rapper, the boss of the mine and the president of the country.
Anglo American steps into Mongolia
Ulaanbaatar, March 15 (Terrence Edwards for bne) As foreign investment in Mongolia falls by the wayside and investors continue jumping ship, the question one has to ask itself as Anglo American arrives on the Mongolian steppe: what does it think it knows that its competitors don't?
The diversified miner opened its representative office in Mongolia in February, which will be headed by a figure well-versed in Mongolian operations and already familiar with the top officials in government. Graeme Hancock, who worked for 15 months as chief operating officer to the government-owned mining firm controlling the Tavan Tolgoi coking coal deposit and before that as chief mining sector specialist for Mongolia to the World Bank, said Anglo is most interested in metallurgical coal and copper assets in Mongolia.
"The timing is interesting," Hancock tells bne. "I think when there was analysis of whether we should establish our presence, it was during the lead-up to the last elections. Then was the announcement of the 'SEFIL' [Strategic Entities Foreign investment Law], but that has not discouraged the company. We will make workable conditions for ourselves."
Indeed, it's as curious as it is intriguing that Anglo should decide to enter now, just as the world's second largest miner Rio Tinto feels the sting of its government partner's capriciousness and after two other major international mining groups have bowed out.
Laws of the land
Much of the international ambivalence towards the mining opportunities in Mongolia stems from what many feel is an increasingly hostile environment for foreign investment. This includes a proposed Minerals Law that companies argue leaves no room for profits, and a vague foreign investment law rushed through the parliament last year that has kept many companies at a standstill. This new law on foreign investment, SEFIL, means government approval is required for investments above 33 per cent in mining assets. Many are unsure how to act for fear of dire consequences, including having their right to operate revoked.
The embassy of Canada, Mongolia's second biggest foreign investor with $5bn worth of investment funnelled mostly into the mining sector, said there was indeed evidence that foreign direct investment (FDI) had fallen since the passage of SEFIL because of the uncertainty it had created, but could not produce any specific figures. The Embassy of the US echoed that sentiment in a 2012 statement on the business climate in the country, saying the law directly contributed to the impression that Mongolia was becoming a "demonstratively riskier place in which to invest and operate."
One of the two other major mining outfits left in Mongolia, Rio Tinto, is now quickly sinking into a quagmire of disagreements over the Oyu Tolgoi copper/gold mine with its joint venture partner, the Mongolian state. The government's list of grievances is long, but for starters includes wanting an explanation from Rio Tinto, the controlling partner in Turquoise Hill Resources which holds 66% of the Oyu Tolgoi mine, for allegedly going $2bn over budget for project development. Since the beginning of the year, Turquoise Hill stock has lost about a quarter of its value as it became clear the relationship with the government is strained and a renegotiation of the investment agreement grows increasingly likely.
The world's largest private coal miner Peabody Energy is enjoying little better treatment from the government. After receiving a formal invitation from the government to prepare the 888m-tonne coal resource West Tsankhi for mining in October, it was announced in February that domestic firm Khishig Arvin would instead be preparing the top soil, putting into question whether or not the government had changed its mind over Peabody's involvement.
Brazil's Vale is currently making a quiet exit from Mongolia as it tries to sell off its remaining coal assets, while BHP Billiton, which once held the rights to develop the Oyu Tolgoi project, left in 2009, similarly without comment.
Observers say the resource-rich nation, which needs to plug holes in the country's finances, will have to make clear signals if it wants to see foreign investors return. Mongolia has hinted it may do that with plans to ease restrictions to SEFIL. Also, Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj, whose office drafted the proposed mining law, announced in February it has decided to pull the bill for further revision and that a new working group to implement changes would be formed.
Back to Anglo, although cautious about revealing his plans so early in the game, Hancock is unfazed by this tough investment climate that has sent other mineral explorers packing. Speculating that the current aggressiveness of the government can be partly put down to attempts to impress voters before the upcoming presidential election in June, Hancock says: "We're seeing a particularly challenging period with the elections and political rhetoric. I'm optimistic that after the elections we'll have a more balanced environment for investment."
"More junior companies might find the environment threatening, but as a major we don't think we'll have the same problems," he concludes.
Voyager: OVERSUBSCRIBED SHARE PLACEMENT
March 15 -- Voyager Resources Limited (the Company, ASX:VOR) is pleased to announce that it has agreed to place 160 million shares at $0.016 per share to raise approximately $2.56 million before costs to clients of Patersons Securities Limited (Patersons), a leading Australian brokerage house. Patersons acted as lead Manager to the Placement.
Funds raised pursuant to the Placement will be used primarily to underpin the Company’s exciting exploration programme at its flagship project at Khul Morit in Mongolia (figure 1).
The Placement, which was strongly oversubscribed, will be completed under the company’s placement capacity as defined under ASX Listing Rule 7.1A and will not require shareholder approval.
The Company looks forward to the next phase of drilling, which should recommence in April 2013.
Rio Tinto publishes details of its US$11.6 billion global tax payments in 2012
March 15 (Rio Tinto) Rio Tinto has published its latest Taxes Paid report which details the US$11.6 billion of taxes the company paid globally in 2012.
The voluntary report shows the details of all individual payments over US$1 million made to governments in the countries where Rio Tinto operates.
Most of the taxes were paid in Australia, with more than US$8.9 billion outlaid to all levels of Australian governments last year. Canada (US$1 billion), United States (US$376 million), Chile (US$331 million), Mongolia (US$280 million), United Kingdom (US$150 million), France (US$140 million) and South Africa (US$130 million) were among other governments to have received significant tax payments during the year.
Corporate income tax was the largest component of Rio Tinto’s tax payments around the world, followed by government royalties and payroll tax.
Rio Tinto chief financial officer Guy Elliott said “Rio Tinto makes significant contributions to public finances in all the countries where we are doing business.
“We believe it is important to disclose this tax information because this level of transparency helps us to retain our licence to operate, promotes government accountability and plays a key role in combating corruption.
“The report demonstrates that effective disclosures can be made by businesses on a voluntary basis and Rio Tinto is committed to maintaining and improving our reporting and transparency of taxes paid around the world.
“Rio Tinto encourages governments to work together to adopt a global approach that establishes consistent disclosure requirements that promotes sound tax governance, accountability and transparency.”
Rio Tinto’s tax payments in Australia reaffirmed its status as the nation’s largest corporate tax payer.
Rio Tinto Australia managing director David Peever said “Rio Tinto is the largest corporate tax payer in Australia and the Taxes Paid report highlights the significant financial contribution the company is making at a national and state level across the country.”
This is the third year that Rio Tinto has published its Taxes Paid report.
Press release: Oyu Tolgoi’s performance recognised as meeting International standards
- ISO 14001 Environment Management and OHSAS 18001 Safety management standards provide foundation for responsible performance and management of risk –
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, March 15 (OT) - Oyu Tolgoi LLC has recently received ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 standards for the quality of its environmental and occupational health and safety management systems.
Oyu Tolgoi has been focused on implementing these since 2010 and in December 2012 were independently audited by Det Norske Veritas and then awarded certification. The two standards are interrelated and allow mining companies to demonstrate their responsible performance.
Oyu Tolgoi LLC President and CEO Cameron McRae said: “In receiving this award, Oyu Tolgoi has been recognised as meeting the very best international standards in these areas. These accomplishments are the result of the efforts of every Oyu Tolgoi employee and contractor. These systems are a significant part of our efforts to reduce risks and constantly improve the company’s performance. They allow us to carefully manage our operations in terms of safety, health and the environment. This recognition shows the growing importance of the environment and safety and every Mongolian can be Proud of this success.”
Oyu Tolgoi’s HSE management system has been developed to meet both Mongolian legislation and the high international standards of Rio Tinto.
Oyu Tolgoi funded university study to improve public awareness on air pollution
March 13 (OT) A new project, using modern technology and academic study will find solutions to improving air quality in Ulaanbaatar. The Mongolian National University, with support from Oyu Tolgoi will use the study to inform the public of the study’s findings. We asked MNU’s Information Technology School professor and project coordinator, S.Lodoisamba about the project.
So this project sounds interesting. Can you give us more details?
In recent years, the government, in close cooperation with international organisations, has been implementing a number of projects aimed at reducing air pollution in Ulaanbaatar. This has cost a lot of money - estimates put it as US$ 47 million in the last three years alone. So far, we haven’t seen any tangible improvements and pollution does not seem to have reduced visibly. Public engagement with this issue is critical to its success. We cannot leave it to the Government and international organisations alone. We need to increase public knowledge about air pollution and ensure that measures are taken to educate people about how we can reduce pollution. Public support is vital. Using modern equipment and scientific study, we need to identify where in Ulaanbaatar the air is most polluted, what makes up the pollution and define the most effective measures to combat it. Therefore MNU has decided to implement, with support from Oyu Tolgoi, a project to measure air pollution using advanced equipment. We will also improve public knowledge and perception using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook.
So will all your findings be communicated to the public through the media?
Yes. The project will disseminate information on air pollution in Ulaanbaatar to the public on a regular basis and encourage our students to improve their knowledge and skills using modern equipment. and engagement in academic research. Funding of the project by Oyu Tolgoi will allow us to draw the public’s attention to this problem and engage people with air pollution reduction efforts. We will deliver regular information on Ulaanbaatar air pollution to people across Mongolia and worldwide. Regular monitoring of pollution will help identify when it increases and when decreases, and find solutions to this problem. Air pollution measurements will be taken at air quality control stations across the state and the city with all the findings informed to the public. This will hopefully prompt individuals and organisations to engage more actively in the efforts to combat air pollution.
UOBKH upgrades Mongolian Mining to "buy," maintains HK$4 target price
[Net News Agency, 13 March 2013] UOB Kay Hian upgraded Mongolian Mining Corporation (MMC)(00975) to "buy" from "hold", and maintained its target price of HK$4.
Due to a price decline, inventory impairment loss and increase in finance cost, MMC booked a net loss of US$2.5m, below market consensus. However, in view of the ongoing price recovery, continued production expansion and increased sales in value-added coal products (high-margin hard coking coal), the research house expects to see a turnaround in 2013. (KL)
Mogi: a RTO
Focused Capital Corp. Announces Proposed Qualifying Transaction With Mongolia Minerals Corporation
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 15, 2013) - Focused Capital Corp. ("Focused Capital") (TSX VENTURE:FLO.P), a capital pool company as defined under Policy 2.4 of the TSX Venture Exchange (the "Exchange"), is pleased to announce that it has entered into a non-binding letter of intent (the "LOI") dated March 6, 2013 and accepted March 14, 2013 for the acquisition of 100% of the common shares of Mongolia Minerals Corporation ("MMC"), a private company incorporated under the laws of Canada.
Pursuant to the terms of the LOI, the parties have agreed to use reasonable commercial efforts to conclude the acquisition not later than June 30, 2013. Completion of the acquisition will be subject to satisfactory completion by each party of due diligence and negotiation of the definitive agreement. The parties expect that the definitive agreement will contain certain conditions precedent, including, completion by MMC of a private placement financing for minimum gross proceeds of $15 million, and the receipt of all necessary regulatory, shareholder and Exchange approvals. The proposed acquisition of MMC, when completed, will be considered to be a reverse take-over for the purposes of the Exchange and will qualify as Focused Capital's "Qualifying Transaction" as defined by Exchange Policy 2.4.
About Mongolia Minerals Corporation
Mongolia Minerals Corporation is a privately-owned coal exploration and development company with mining interests in Mongolia. MMC is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, and is focused on developing its assets in this mining jurisdiction through the knowledge and expertise of its experienced team.
About Focused Capital Corp.
Focused Capital, a capital pool company within the meaning of the policies of the Exchange, was listed on the Exchange on January 11, 2011. Focused Capital does not have any operations and has no assets other than cash. Focused Capital's business is to identify and evaluate businesses and assets with a view to completing a qualifying transaction under the policies of the Exchange.
The common shares of Focused Capital are currently suspended from trading on the Exchange as it was required to complete a Qualifying Transaction within 24 months from the date of its listing on the Exchange. The Exchange has given Focused Capital until April 15, 2013 (90 days) to complete a Qualifying Transaction. Focused Capital will be taking the necessary measures to ensure that if a Qualifying Transaction is not completed April 15, 2013 its shares will be transferred to the NEX board of the Exchange.
Denison Files 2012 Annual Report
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 15, 2013) - Denison Mines Corp. (TSX:DML) (NYSE MKT:DNN) ("Denison" or the "Company") today announced that it has filed its 2012 annual report on Form 40-F with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Denison's Form 40-F, which includes its audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2012, is available on Denison's website at www.denisonmines.com (by clicking on "Investor Relations - Reports & Filings") and on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml. In addition, Denison has filed its Annual Information Form with Canadian regulatory authorities.
THE MICC REPORT
March 15 (MICC) --
Lower Inflation Due to the “Price Stabilisation Programme”?
According to numbers released on Monday by the Bank of Mongolia, the consumer price index was up in February by 11.3 percent from a year earlier (it grew by one percent during the month). This compares favourably with January’s 13 percent, and last year’s 14 percent.
We believe that there are two main reasons for this decline. First, from last year’s GDP numbers, we have seen that Mongolia’s economy is slowing down, despite record government expenditures. This could be lifting some of the inflationary pressures in the economy. Second, this year’s inflation will always compare favourably with last winter’s, when import prices of petroleum increased sharply.
Naturally, the Bank of Mongolia has claimed credit for its Price Stabilisation Programme. Through the programme, companies involved in the supply of (1) petroleum, (2) “commonly-used” imported goods, (3) food products (especially meat and flour), and (4) homes and housing will receive loans at below-market rates or other subsidies. The companies are picked by the relevant Ministries.
We believe that this programme will have little or even a negative effect on inflation in the medium to long-term. Decreasing, not increasing, government spending is a far wiser policy in fighting inflation. Unfortunately, “Price Stabilisation” could easily turn into a programme that rewards special interests and encourages rent-seeking, while having little to do with fighting long-term inflation.
We also believe that the programme raises serious questions on the issue of central bank independence. Last year, we have seen the Parliament and the Cabinet pressure Bank of Mongolia to defend the value of the tugrug against the dollar, as the currency’s depreciation was partly blamed for higher petroleum import prices. It is also far more likely that the initiative for the Price Stabilisation Programme came from the Cabinet rather than Bank of Mongolia.
Lowest Monthly FDI Since 2010
According to preliminary numbers released by the Bank of Mongolia, net direct investment was $165 billion in January, the lowest on record since 2010.
It is also clear from the graph above that, as expected, FDI was at relatively low levels since October 2012, if we judge it by 2011 to 2012 standards.
Rare Earth Metals in Central Asia and Mongolia: A Promising but Paradoxical Agenda
- Japan, Germany, South Korea and the United States are eyeing Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia in the hopes of circumventing China’s growing economic pull in the rare earths arena.
- Kazakhstan officially announced its intention to increase the production of rare earth ore to 1,500 tons per year, and works closely with the Federation of German Industries.
- Several Japanese and South Korean companies have shown interest in Kyrgyz rare earths.
- If the exploitation of rare earths appears as a new financial Eldorado for those countries that have them, it raises many environmental issues.
Sebastien Peyrouse, Central Asia Program, The Elliot School of International Affairs, The George Washington University
Mongolia has about 17% of the world reserves of rare earths, with approximately 60 deposits situated in six provinces (Altay, Umnugobi, North Mongolian Hentii, Hangay, Southeast Mongolian, and South Mongolian).23 Four deposits are of particular importance, especially that of Mushgia Khudag in the province of Umnugobi, which reportedly has reserves comparable to those of Bayan-Obo in China’s Inner Mongolia, or 200 million tons of rare earth oxide ore. Currently, most of the exploitation licenses for this mine are held by one of the biggest Mongolian private companies, Mongol Gazar LLC. It will nonetheless be several years before any real production of rare earths begins in Mongolia, since there is still no legal framework to regulate exploitation.
Mongolia hopes to point up its image as an alternative exporter to China and to attract the attention of Japan and Germany. In October 2011, Berlin signed an important agreement with Ulaanbaatar, perceived as a sign of Germany’s will to challenge Chinese domination. The Australian company Black Ridge Mining also signed an agreement that vouchsafes it 80% of the interests in rare earth projects situated in the Tuv province in Central Mongolia. Situated near a railway linking up to the Trans-Siberian, they are assured the possibility of an easy and cheap export on the world market.24
24 “Mongolia’s rare earth attracts international interest,” Voice of Mongolia, March 6, 2012 http://www.vom.mn/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=917:mongolias-rare-earthattracts-international-interest-&catid=34:dailynews&Itemid=53.
Mongolia to improve cross-border port customs clearance
ULAN BATOR, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Mongolian Prime Minister Norov Altanhuyag has called for immediate steps to facilitate customs clearance in cross-border transport.
Altanhuyag said Thursday when inspecting Zamiin-Uud, a border crossing between Mongolia and China, that better customs clearance would promote Mongolian foreign trade.
Zamiin-Uud port suffers heavy burden in cross-border transport, especially after April each year, and at the peak of traffic, cargo delivery is badly delayed by about 20 days, authorities said.
In recent years, port congestion further deteriorated due to enhanced Mongolia-China trade.
To improve the situation, China and Mongolia signed an agreement on building a 1.15-km freight line, with China investing 13 million yuan (2.1 million U.S. dollars).
Construction of the line was completed last December. A railway linking Zamiin-Uud and the Chinese port city Ereen Hot was also built last year.
Architects Benoy behind Mongolia's most luxurious ever development: APIP’s Olympic Residence
March 15 (Global Trader) British architecture and design firm Benoy is increasing its already considerable presence in Asia with a new luxury mixed-use development in the ultra high-growth market of Mongolia.
The Olympic Residence, a high-rise, multi-use complex in the centre of the capital city Ulaanbaatar, will be close to the prestigious embassy district and the central park area. The developer is Asia Pacific Investment Partners.
The project, due for completion next year, will build on Benoy’s growing reputation for innovation, which has seen it pick up awards for Elements in Hong Kong, the Shanghai IFC Mall, Hysan Place in Hong Kong, ION Orchard Singapore, Westfield London and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
Ulaanbaatar is recognised as the cultural, financial and industrial heart of Mongolia, currently one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. The scheme will set a new design standard for contemporary living in Mongolia - upon completion the development is positioned to be the most luxurious property in the country, combining office, retail, restaurant and residential aspects.
Benoy – with design studios in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Mumbai, Newark and London - has been appointed as the interior designers for the entrance lobby, a collection of high-end residential apartments and the exclusive resident’s private leisure club house featuring a private landscaped garden terrace embracing the stunning views of Bogd Khan Mountain.
Simon Blore, Benoy’s managing director said: “The Olympic Residence is yet another milestone for Benoy in Asia, marking our first project in Mongolia. The creation of this stunning mixed-use development further demonstrates the innovative force behind Benoy’s successful expansion across central Asia.”
East Asia’s New Peacemaker: Mongolia?
From provocations coming from North Korea to various island spats, East Asia is rife with hotspots. Could Mongolia play a role?
March 15 (The Diplomat) The past year has heightened some important security landmines in East Asia. There is the usual cycle of “provocation followed by negotiation” by a not-so reformed regime in North Korea. More concerning however is the intractable, diplomatic tussle between Tokyo and Beijing over islands in the East China Sea. Add to this the between the U.S.’ two most important allies in the region – Japan and South Korea – and there appears to be too many problems to be solved by a “rebalance.”
Against this backdrop, there is an underutilized diplomatic asset that could potentially help these quarrels. last month on , and others have alluded to elsewhere, Mongolia could take on an enhanced role in mediating the region’s quarrels. The most obvious situation mentioned is the stalemate between the U.S., Japan and South Korea on one side and North Korea on the other. Economy stressed the potential benefits of Ulaanbaatar’s involvement: “While we wait for Beijing’s foreign policy to coalesce, we might look to Beijing’s north for some help. Mongolian officials have regularly hosted their North Korean counterparts for national security and economic discussions.”
Indeed, Mongolia attaches importance to its relationship with Pyongyang and has gone out of its way to point this out to outside observers. For example, , Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj noted the importance of Mongolia’s bond with the North: “(Mongolia has) a unique relation with North Korea. We have our embassy there, we have governmental line to connect, and every year meetings, and now we are developing an exchange program. And when they (North Koreans) come to Mongolia, they see that there is a different way of living, a different way of governance.”
Critics will argue that Mongolia’s window into North Korea may be merely cosmetic and incapable of producing tangible results. However, there is no debating the fact that Ulaanbaatar is interested in playing this intermediary role.
Mongolia currently holds the Presidency of the Community of Democracies, a global intergovernmental coalition of democratic countries that seek to promote democratic rules and strengthen democratic norms and institutions around the world. While Ulaanbaatar’s term as chair will end in April, this is a position that Elbegdorj’s government has taken great pride in as Mongolia continues to work through its own growing pains on its way to becoming a model democracy in a region that is flush with corruption. Elbegdorj has leveraged Mongolia’s history before its democratic reforms to push for changes in Central Asia. While it is hard to equate this effort with reforms (the region remains one of the in the world (Mogi: but the most improved in 2012)), no one believed that Mongolia would suddenly change decades of ingrained corruption.
Turning back to East Asia, there seems to be an opportunity for Mongolia to bring its diplomacy to the next level. Considering the dearth of policy options on North Korea, a stronger dialogue through Mongolia – even if tacit – should not be dismissed by Washington, Seoul or Tokyo. As Elbegdorj , “Mongolia was 20 some years ago, like a North Korea like society…. Today we are sharing a community of democracy. Today Mongolia is the champion for the global fight for democracy.”
Last year, Japan accepted Mongolia’s offer to serve as an intermediately in the long stalled talks between Tokyo and North Korea . However, much has happened since then. In December 2012, Japan elected a new Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, a more hawkish stance on North Korea. This coupled with Pyongyang’s recent rocket launch and nuclear test has once again scuttled that chance of a meaningful thaw.
But there are other opportunities for dialogue with the North. The moribund Six-Party talks are not going to be resumed anytime soon and the Obama administration should start looking for meaningful alternative approaches. President Obama’s has in practice led to strategic ambiguity and benefitted Kim Jong-un as he builds his credentials as a “military-first” leader.
While regional democracy promotion in Central Asia and its relationship with North Korea are noteworthy, Mongolian diplomacy – while limited in capacity – needs to go the extra step. There are other disputes in the region where Mongolian involvement could yield tangible benefits.
For example, Mongolia could be a useful venue for Japan and Russia to meet A third party will probably not change the calculus of either Tokyo or Moscow, but it has the potential to institutionalize talks and promote sustained discussion. This would avoid the long delays between talks that have become the norm as a result of political statements or actions.
Of course, this is not to advocate for Ulaanbaatar positioning itself to adjudicate every dispute in East Asia. Mongolia will need to pick its battles and should distance itself from such as the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. Nonetheless, there is room – and the need – for Mongolia to initiate a strong diplomatic offensive in East Asia. It is clear that Mongolia covets this role but it will need the requisite support of Washington, Seoul and Tokyo.
Justice Ministry Secretary of State Selected 2013 Young Global Leader
March 15 (Cover Mongolia) Secretary of State of the Ministry of Justice, Ms. Bayartsetseg Jigmiddash, a Harvard Law School graduate, selected World Economic Forum’s 2013 Young Global Leader.
State Formation and Contemporary Mongolia (Video with Dr. Robert Bedeski)
March 14 (Asia Pacific Memo, University of BC) --
Featuring Robert Bedeski – rbedeski [at] uvic.ca
States are a paradox. On the one hand, with a monopoly on the use of force, they provide security, but on the other the formation of the state is often accompanied by violence.
The example of Mongolia is an interesting demonstration of this. Genghis Khan’s unforgiving destruction of enemies shows state formation to be brutal, but this was accompanied by the development of the rule of law and a written language, through which the nation developed.
Contemporary Mongolia is at a tipping point. It retains a multi-party political system, and a relatively free press, but is looking to demand from the Chinese economy as a source of growth. The question looking forward is whether Mongolia will align with Russia or China, or whether it will ally even more closely with “third neighbours”.
Dr. Robert Bedeski is Professor Emeritus and Adjunct Professor in the department of Political Science, The University of Victoria.
Spending Money to Make Money in the Gobi
March 16 (The Mongolist) The World Bank recently published a report analyzing public infrastructure investment in Mongolia (highlights here).1 The authors of the report argue that as the economy grows the challenge of scaling up the country's infrastructure in cost-effective and targeted ways will be a significant determinant in whether Mongolia avoids the dreaded "resource curse." Mongolia's current transport and energy systems are inadequate to meet present, let alone future, needs, dragging down productivity and pushing up costs in every sector of the economy. The report puts in words and graphs what is clearly visible in everyday life, that for a country with jaw-dropping GDP growth there is a serious infrastructure problem.
The authors describe public financing in infrastructure as suffering from a "build-neglect-rebuild" syndrome in which maintenance of current systems is ignored in favor of comparatively more expensive and sometimes unnecessary new construction.2 Budgeting for construction is not well managed, and a startling example of this is that 50-60 percent of capital expenditures occur in the last quarter and 30 percent in the last month of each fiscal year as government agencies try to expend funds on hastily started or incomplete projects to ensure unused funds are not returned the central budget.3 According to the authors, this is part of an overall lack of strategic focus and prioritization towards infrastructure projects in "growth poles," places such as Ulaanbaatar, Orkhon, and Umnugovi where concentrations of population and business activity offer opportunities to leverage capital resources to further fuel economic development. In spite of the importance of these "growth poles," the authors describe them as suffering from relative neglect.4
The authors' critique brings to mind a humorous line from the woefully under watched American television show called "Parks and Recreation." In one episode, a character named Tom Haverford is asked by a friend why his public relations consulting firm went bankrupt after only a few months even though he and his partner had started with 450 thousand dollars in capital. He replies, "People always say you have to spend money to make money. And, we were spending money like crazy. I don't know what went wrong." And, indeed, they were spending money like crazy on things like gift Ipads for visitors, an in-office DJ, and two NBA stars that played one-on-one basketball in the office to keep the firm's image up. Investments in business plans, product development, market research, and competent staff, some of the "growth poles" of good business management, were ignored by Tom and his partner as things they considered only business geeks cared about, leading to the predictable result of bankruptcy.
This all provides a convenient backdrop for a new data widget on this site which lists development projects in Umnugovi province from 2008-2012. It's not immediately obvious from the data that Umnugovi has dramatically changed over the last 4-5 years. The contrast between today and just a few years ago is dramatic. Eleven years ago when I first came to the provincial capital Dalanzadgad, the MIAT (yes, a domestic MIAT flight!) plane I was on landed on a dirt strip masquerading as a runway that today is covered by an expansive sports complex and convention center under construction. The town I currently live in had two vehicles a decade ago. Today the outside of the school gymnasium is lined with a dozen or more cars whenever there is a sports tournament. One early edition of the Lonely Planet guide described Dalanzadgad as a "wind swept, soulless town." Today the province has 10,000 more people than it did a decade ago, and Dalanzadgad has the feel of a boom town in the old American West. You can buy fresh tofu and refried beans at stores in Dalanzadgad, for heaven's sake! This is a changed province.
Umnugovi is identified in the World Bank report as one of the growth poles in the country, and the province does seem to qualify for the label. It has positive population growth and is a net contributor to the national budget, characteristics uncommon to the vast majority of provinces in the country. These are the result of Oyu Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi, of course, attracting people to relatively good paying jobs and providing the provincial government with taxes and fees. There is a palpable sense that Umnugovi is going to prosper greatly in the coming decades.
Examining the project data closely, however, does produce some surprises that seem in keeping with the World Bank's troubling critique. For example, according the provincial government approximately MNT 96.6 billion (USD 69 million)5 was allocated from 2008 to 2012 towards infrastructure and equipment projects such as improving schools, hospitals, and government buildings, laying roads, constructing water systems, and purchasing official vehicles. This works out to about MNT 1.7 million (USD 1,212) per person over that period.6 Consider this amount in comparison to the MNT 106 billion (USD 75 million) that in 2011 alone Umnugovi contributed to the central budget from local revenue.7 Or, consider it in relation to Tavan Tolgoi which burned through approximately three and half times more money from July 2011 to January 2013 selling coal to the Chinese aluminium company Chalco for a loss.8 Then consider it against the initial investment in Oyu Tolgoi. If you assume a total expenditure of USD 6.2 billion over the last 3.5 years, then USD 69 million works out to approximately 15 days worth of expenditures for the mine. Or, a little more than the amount spent by the government per person over 4 years (USD 1,212) every 30 seconds!
Those comparisons make it look like a relatively small amount, and it arguably is. Yet, taken from another perspective, expenditures in 2012 were seven times greater than in 2008 with MNT 34.5 billion (USD 24.6 million) spent on projects last year. The World Bank report also includes an examination of the construction sector's capacity to meet demand for infrastructure projects, and the conclusion drawn is that it does not currently have anywhere near the capacity required, which leads into arguments about changing immigration policy and opening projects to international bidding that I won't go into here. The main point is that even if the government gained a strong strategic focus with clear priorities, there would still be a problem of meeting real construction demand. This makes the need for prioritization particularly acute.
The increase in spending in Umnugovi over the last four years has had a noticeable impact as described above. In the town I live, it is easy to spot some of the projects this money has paid for such as a new school dormitory, renovations to the kindergarten, and three greenhouses for growing vegetables. Yet, life is still hard here from a public infrastructure point of view. There are few graded dirt roads, and even fewer paved roads. Electricity is flowing for now, but over the last decade it has given the impression of being off more than on. And, the "luxury" of clean running water still seems decades away. It is easy to pity entrepreneurs and innovators struggling against a very hard environment for commerce.
Much of the benefit of the mines in the region still comes at an individual level from relatively good paying mining jobs and government salaries paid for by increased tax revenue rather than indirectly from investments in public infrastructure. As the authors of the World Bank report argue, this is something that needs to change to avoid the "resource curse." Or, as the lesson of Tom Haverford teaches, you have to do more than just spend money to make money. You have to spend it on the right things and make sure you have the right mix of business geekiness to make it all work.
You can play with the Gobi Budget 2008-2012 data widget here.
1. "Mongolia: Improving Public Investments to Meet the Challenge of Scaling Up Infrastructure", World Bank, http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2013/02/12/000442464_20130212140847/Rendered/PDF/749440REVISED00ic0Investment0Report.pdf, 2013, (accessed March 14, 2013).
2. Ibid, pg. 57.
3. Ibid, pg. 11.
4. Ibid, pg. 30.
5. Exchange rate of 1400MNT/USD used throughout.
6. (MNT 1.7 million)/person = (MNT 96.6 billion)/(56,930 people) - population data from 2010 census.
7. From the 2013 National Budget, pg. 16.
8. 3.6 = (USD 250 million)/(USD 69 million) from loan agreement referred to here: "Chalco Urges Erdenes TT to Honor Terms of Coal-Supply Accord", Bloomberg News, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-22/chalco-urges-erdenes-tt-to-honor-terms-of-coal-supply-accord.html, January 22, 2013.
MONGOLIA IMMIGRATION AGENCY TO HOST A MEETING ON “CITIZENSHIP, VISA AND RESIDENCE PERMIT”
March 13 (InfoMongolia) Mongolian Immigration Agency, Government's Implementing Agency is hosting a meeting to give comprehensive information on "Citizenship of Mongolian Nationals, Visa and the Residence Permit" to be organized between 10:40 am and 12:40 pm at the Cultural Palace in Khan-Uul District of Ulaanbaatar on March 20, 2013.
According to the Law of Mongolia on Citizenship adopted on June 05, 1995, which is currently effective, here is below some Articles from the Law were brought for your consideration.
Law of Mongolia on Citizenship
Article 4. Inacceptance of Dual Citizenship
1. Mongolian citizens shall not be allowed to hold citizenship of more than one foreign nation at the same time;
2. If a foreigner wishes to acquire Mongolian citizenship, he or she shall be required to have lost citizenship of the relevant nation. If legislation of relevant nation provides for loss of its citizenship on acquisition of citizenship of another nation, then cessation of citizenship may not be required.
Article 7. Mongolian Citizenship of a Child
1. A child born when both parents were Mongolian citizens shall be Mongolian national irrespective of birth within the territory of Mongolia or outside it;
2. A child born on the territory of Mongolia from parents either one of whom is a Mongolian citizen and another is a foreign citizen, shall be considered as a Mongolian citizen. In case, when a child is born on the territory of a foreign country, his or her citizenship shall be determined on the basis of a written agreement between the parents;
3. A child born when one of parents was a Mongolian citizen and the other was a stateless person shall be Mongolian citizen irrespective of place of birth;
4. A child who is within the territory of Mongolia whose parents are not identified shall be Mongolian citizen;
5. A child who born from stateless parents permanently residing in the territory of Mongolia may have Mongolian citizenship, after reaching the age of 16, if he or she will to do so;
6. A Mongolian citizen who is adopted by a stateless person and who has not reached the age of 16 shall remain to be a Mongolian citizen.
Article 8. Acquisition of Mongolian Citizenship
A foreign citizen or a stateless person may acquire Mongolian citizenship in accordance with legislation.
Article 9. Conditions for Acquiring Mongolian Citizenship
1. The following conditions shall be met in order to acquire Mongolian citizenship:
1) One shall have the suitable living capability and resources,
2) One shall have the proper knowledge of Mongolian customs and official language of the State, and being permanently resided in Mongolia for the term of up to 5 years before the date of application for citizenship issues,
3) Other specific criteria as defined by the State Administrative Central body in charge of Mongolian citizenship on the basis of the state policy within the scope of provisions (1) and (2) of this paragraph,
4) One must not maliciously commit any crime within the period of time mentioned in (2) of this paragraph,
5) One's relationship with foreign countries, after acquiring Mongolian citizenship, must not prejudice to reputation and interest of Mongolia; As amended on December 07, 2000.
2. The conditions provided for in paragraph 1 of this Article shall not be applicable to a case when a decision on acquisition of Mongolian citizenship is to be granted with respect to a minor person applying for a restitution of Mongolian citizenship on the grounds provided for in Article 14 of this Law;
3. The President of Mongolia may, without any regard to the conditions prescribed in (1), (2) of the paragraph 1 of this article, grant Mongolian citizenship to foreign citizens who have done a honor for Mongolia, have had a profession or an experience that are much needed in Mongolia, and have done or able to make an exceptional success in any field of science;
4. The Government shall approve Regulations for determination of the criteria prescribed in paragraph 1 of this article.
Article 11. Cessation of Mongolian Citizenship
A Mongolian citizen may upon his or her own request to withdraw his or her citizenship in accordance with procedure established by this Law.
Article 17. Allowing of cessation of Mongolian Citizenship by a Child on cessation of Mongolian citizenship by both parents or any of them
In case of cessation of Mongolian citizenship by one of parents their child under 16 years of age may be allowed to cease Mongolian citizenship on request of his/her parents upon their mutual written agreement.
Article 19. Powers of the President of Mongolia
The President of Mongolia within his or her full powers shall decide on the following matters:
1) to grant Mongolian citizenship to foreign citizens and stateless persons;
2) to allow to cease Mongolian citizenship;
3) to restore Mongolian citizenship.
Abe To Visit Mongolia At Month's End
TOKYO, March 15 (Nikkei)--Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has decided to visit Mongolia on March 30 and March 31, government sources said Thursday.
This will mark the first trip to that country by a Japanese prime minister since Junichiro Koizumi went in August 2006. Abe will seek Mongolian cooperation on developing mineral resources, including rare metals, as well as on the Senkaku Islands dispute.
Yasuhisa Shiozaki, who is close to Abe and serves as acting chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's Policy Research Council, hand-delivered a letter by Abe calling for a strategic partnership to Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj earlier this month. Elbegdorj requested that Abe visit Mongolia within the year.
V INTERGOVERNMENTAL MEETING BETWEEN AUSTRIA AND MONGOLIA WILL BE ORGANIZED IN ULAANBAATAR IN SUMMER OF 2013
March 13 (InfoMongolia) In the scope of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Austria and Mongolia that marks in 2013, the Austria-Mongolia Business Forum was organized by Mongolian Embassy in Vienna, Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) and the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber in Vienna on March 11, 2013.
At the event Mongolian delegation comprised over 10 authorities from entities and Ministries of Economic Development, Energy, Environment and Green Development as well as Mongolian University of Science and Technology led by MNCCI Deputy Chairman Ts.Yansanjav have attended the Forum, whereas from Austrian part over 80 representatives from companies interested and some running its businesses in Mongolia have taken part.
The opening remarks were presented by Richard Schenz, Vice-President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber and Gunaajav BATJARGAL, Ambassador of Mongolia to the Republic of Austria. In their speeches they underlined that the Forum would contribute to enhance the mutual trade between the countries and boost commercial economic relationship.
Also, Ambassador G.Batjargal delivered a speech on current Mongolia’s economy, its tendency and Government’s policy on increasing investments, where Director General of the Department of Innovation and PPP affiliated the Ministry of Economic Development S.Bekhbat introduced on Mongolia’s economics situation and opportunity to invest. Besides, Director of Policy and Planning, Ministry of Environment and Green Development N.Dugersuren and Director of Foreign Relations Department, Ministry of Energy Ts.Munkhbayar have presented their speeches that attracted much attention.
Austrian Commercial Counselor Dr. Oskar Andesner resident in Beijing introduced on Austria-Mongolia commercial partnership and emphasized that the Forum held in Austria was a part of preparations of the V Intergovernmental Meeting between Governments of Mongolia and Austria to be organized in Ulaanbaatar in upcoming summer of this year.
Previously, Austria-Mongolia Business Forum was organized in Vienna in 2011 and in Ulaanbaatar in 2012 respectively.
COMMERCIAL DAYS OF EU IN MONGOLIA, MARCH 21-22
March 13 (InfoMongolia) On March 21-22, 2013, Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) in association with the European Union (EU) is organizing a workshop themed “Commercial Days of EU in Mongolia” that aimed to promote Mongolian products to export on the market of European Union, increase its diversification and as well as support from EU.
The opening remarks on “Tendency of EU Foreign Trade and Mongolia” will be delivered by Mr. Roberto CECUTTI, First Secretary of Delegation of the European Union to China and Mongolia, Trade and Investment Section. Also, Ms. Ines Escudero Sanchez, Export Helpdesk coordinator European Commission, DG Trade will give a panel presentation on new Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), she will explain its main objectives such as focus preferences on those most in need, enhance GSP+, make the system more transparent and predictable.
Moreover, introductions will be held on projects being implemented by European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and EU, and discussions on Mongolia’s Small and Medium Entrepreneurs’ macro and micro levels, and how to support these entities
Sanjay Singh addresses India-Mongolia dialogue
New Delhi, Mar 14 (IBNS) Keynote address by Sanjay Singh, Secretary (East) at the 2nd India-Mongolia IDSA-ISS Bilateral Dialogue:
Dr Arvind Gupta, Director General, IDSA,
Dr. D. Ganbat, Director, Institute for Strategic Studies, Ulaanbataar,
H. E. Ambassador Bayaraa,
Distinguished scholars and friends,
I am truly delighted to be here this morning for the second round of the IDSA-ISS Dialogue.
The theme you have chosen for today's discussions, "Emerging International Strategic Dynamics”, is both extremely interesting and of great topical relevance. The international strategic landscape is evolving faster and in more complex ways than ever. This is particularly true of Asia. In our own ways India and Mongolia are agents of some of the changes that are taking place. We are also impacted directly by fast moving developments in our near and extended neighbourhood. This Dialogue is thus also timely and important for both our countries.
India and Mongolia have extremely warm and friendly relations, both at the inter-governmental level and also in terms of cultural and people to people exchanges. I have always sensed great warmth and cordiality in my interactions with Mongolian officials and leaders and I am sure that my Mongolian colleagues will agree that the reverse is equally true.
Over the past few years, we have imparted greater content and strategic orientation to our Comprehensive Partnership through institutionalised cooperation on foreign policy, defence and security issues in addition to our economic and technical cooperation. The priority that both countries place on our bilateral relationship is underlined by the regular high-level exchanges that have taken place in recent years, including the state visit of the President of India to Mongolia in July 2011 and that of the President of Mongolia to India in September 2009. This was in fact President Elbegdorj's first visit abroad after taking office as President. In January 2013, we were glad to receive Mongolian Foreign Minister Lu Bold and in the coming week we will be holding the next round of the Ministerial Bilateral Joint Committee in Delhi. This is thus a very active and dynamic bilateral partnership. Equally importantly, there is clear commitment on the part of our leaders to take this relationship forward.
Allow me to now make a few general observations about recent international dynamics from a strategic perspective. Speaking in very broad terms, there has been a shift in economic power from the West to the East. We are moving from a situation of Western dominance to a scenario where Asian countries, as well as some major developing countries such as Brazil will play an increasingly greater role even as the US, Russia and major European powers remain crucial international actors. Overall, given the current trends, there is little disagreement in strategic circles that this is the Asian moment, if not as is widely claimed, that this will be an 'Asian century'.
At the same time, several Asian countries are experiencing significant political change, ranging from peaceful political transitions to a violent overthrow of regimes, the implications of which are yet to be fully understood. Asia also has several relatively younger nation-states, some of them just over two decades old as fully independent countries. Also, the pace of political and economic changes in Asia varies widely. The issues and challenges that countries face are also radically different as one moves across Asia. There has understandably been a lot of focus on developments in the Pacific, especially in the seas around China. At the same time, the prospect of a major and imminent shift in Afghanistan could pose even more significant challenges for Asian security over the immediate future.
Paradoxically, even as regional cooperation frameworks have multiplied across the world, and in Asia, there have been serious question marks about the idea of regional cooperation. In Europe for instance, efforts to proceed towards greater political unity have been impeded by multiple crises linked in many ways to attempts to forge greater economic and financial integration. In Asia, where we have several regional frameworks, some of which have been working reasonably well, efforts to bring about greater and broader regional cooperation have to absorb these lessons.
Thus, while it is clear that while this will in many ways be an Asian century, it is far from self-evident as to what sort of century this will be for Asia, India or Mongolia.
From a strategic perspective, the terms of engagement, of competition and conflict, have shifted. Of course, this is a dynamic reality. While it would be hasty to state that conventional conflict does not pose a very serious threat to peace and security, there are fewer and fewer open conflicts between states. At the same time, newer kinds of conflict are here to stay, such as proxy wars and terrorism, as well as new arenas for competition and conflict, over markets and resources or over cyberspace. All of these require new analytical perspectives and newer tools in the policy toolkit.
For India, clearly our immediate neighbourhood in South Asia will remain a key priority even as we engage with a larger Asian reality. The major changes underway in the SAARC countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka will continue to engage a large part of our attention. At the same time, China is also our neighbour. Even as we move forward in our bilateral partnership with China, we cannot remain disengaged with the larger strategic context involving China or even the US' pivot to Asia. As we recognise China’s growing presence, we also feel the need to engage with them and our other partners about the content and terms of that presence. This is an area on which both India and Mongolia can have a useful exchange. I am sure this Seminar will generate some interesting insights in this regard.
India is in the centre of Asia, especially if we were to look at the way Asia is placed in relation to the oceans. On our easst we have Australia, Southeast Asia and the ASEAN countries leading up to Japan and the Pacific. We have the vast Indian Ocean with all its significance for trade and energy security at the centre. If we move westwards, we have Iran and the mineral rich countries of the Gulf and West Asia. Above us, we have China and Central Asia. India has a policy of steady engagement across Asia, and we seek a future of cooperative structures that will promote economic interactions as well as ensure a peaceful context for our continued economic development. Our efforts will thus continue to focus on addressing issues through diplomacy and dialogue, and to bring together what appear to be competing or conflicting interests and perspectives.
Similarly, if we were to consider Mongolia's position on a map, in many ways you are also at the heart of the Asian landmass. We are both developing countries wedded to democracy. It is thus not at all surprising that in many ways both our countries have a balanced orientation emphasizing peace and stability. This is a natural impulse engendered by our geographical position. Both our countries have foreign policies that try and seek to establish a larger, harmonious yet pluralist whole out of the diversity that confronts us. This is also in keeping with our shared Buddhist heritage of the middle path.
I wish the discussions today all success and look forward to hearing about your conclusions.
Mongolia one of 10 most unfriendly nations for tourists
The least-friendly nations for tourists named. 140 nations analysed in World Economic Forum report
March 14 (M.A.D.) The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013 rated 140 countries according to their attractiveness and ability to develop their travel and tourism industries. It used a combination of data from publicly available sources, international travel and tourism institutions and experts.
The report examined the "attitude of a population toward foreign visitors", with a score of one being very unwelcome and seven very welcome. Bolivia was ranked the least tourist-friendly nation in the world, at 140th place it received a score of 4.1. It was closely followed in the unfriendly states by Venezuela, the Russian Federation, Kuwait, Pakistan, the Slovak Republic, Bulgaria, Latvia and Iran.
Mongolia ranked sligohtly better at 131st place with a rating of 5.5 but is still on the bottom 10 of all nations worldwide !
However, all African, Central Asian and Asian countries listed on the report achieved higher scores than Mongolia.
And tourists wanting the warmest welcoming should head to Iceland, New Zealand or Morocco, with both sitting in the top position with a value of 6.8.
Mongolia ranked 99th overall for tourism competitiveness – up two spots since the previous study in 2011. But Mongolia has yet a lot of challenges to overcome (mainly in environment, infrastructure and human resources). As for the attitude of the Mongolian population toward foreign visitors, it is without saying that Mongolian Nazis or other nationalists beating for fun and randomly tourists on the streets of Ulaanbaatar is definitly not helping the welcome feeling !
The dataset includes both survey data from the World Economic Forum's annual Executive Opinion Survey and quantitative data from publicly available sources, international organisations, and tourism institutions and experts (IATA, the IUCN, the UNWTO, WTTC, UNCTAD, and UNESCO). The survey is carried out among chief executive officers and top business leaders in all economies covered by World Economic Forum research.
Mongolian Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (Rank out of 140 & Score out of 7)
2013 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index ............................ 99 ......3.6
2011 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index ............................101 ......3.6
2009 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index ...........................105 ......3.5
T&T regulatory framework .........................................................91 ......4.3
Policy rules and regulations .......................................................79 ......4.4
Environmental sustainability ....................................................137 ......3.2
Safety and security .....................................................................64 ......4.9
Health and hygiene ...................................................................67 ......4.8
Prioritization of Travel & Tourism .............................................100 ......3.9
Business environment and infrastructure ...................................107 ......3.0
Air transport infrastructure ........................................................71 ......2.9
Ground transport infrastructure.................................................135 ......2.4
Tourism infrastructure .............................................................116 ......2.0
ICT infrastructure .....................................................................94 ......2.6
Price competitiveness in the T&T industry ...................................36 ......4.9
T&T human, cultural, and natural resources ................................90 ......3.7
Human resources ......................................................................91 ......4.7
Education and training ..............................................................91 ......4.4
Availability of qualified labor .....................................................84 ......4.9
Affinity for Travel & Tourism ....................................................100 ......4.3
Natural resources ......................................................................85 ......3.3
Cultural resources......................................................................66 ......2.5
The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013: Reducing Barriers to Economic Growth and Job Creation – World Economic Forum, March 2013
Mogi Munkhdul Badral Bontoi
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