Changes that are coming from May.
Cover Mongolia to Commence Paid Subscription Service
My deepest apologies for lack of newswires the past 2 days. I attended the Community of Democracies the last few days and only now catching up on things. Some new developments are missing below, but I will be sure to include it in the next one.
As stated before, I had planned to start the full and cut versions for paid and unpaid subscribers but decided to give it a few days as I haven’t fully notified you leading up to May 1. But I’ll be sure to update you as soon as possible.
Cash at end Q: A$3.6m
Wolf: MARCH 2013 Quarterly Activities Report
April 29, Wolf Petroleum Limited (ASX:WOF) --
Wolf Petroleum makes significant progress in exploration at the Sukhbaatar (SB) block.
Sukhbaatar (SB) block:
• Comprehensive gravity and magnetic geophysical programmes have been successfully completed over more than 23,000 km2.
• Analysis of more than 1,200 rock chip samples.
• Initial results have highlighted five significant sub basins with potential for petroleum sources. Hydrocarbon seepage areas have been identified and a 2D seismic acquisition programme has been approved and is now underway.
Baruun Urt (BU) block:
• Reinterpretation of 330 km of 2D seismic data has identified 20 leads in five sub-basins. This is a fantastic result for the Company and has identified a number of targets for follow up seismic and initial drilling.
• Remote sensing programmes have been completed. A number of priority areas have been identified with high heat flow and oil signature alteration minerals.
Haranga: March 2013 Quarterly Activities Report
April 29, Haranga Resources Limited (ASX:HAR) --
- Highlights -
• All laboratory assays from the 35,000m of diamond core drilling completed during late 2012 at the Selenge Iron Ore Project in Mongolia were completed during the quarter.
• All three drilled prospects were found to contain wide intervals of iron mineralisation from surface.
• Davis Tube Recovery (DTR) tests were recently completed on the new mineralised core samples.
• The magnetite at Selenge achieved a high quality 65-66% Fe concentrate during 2012 metallurgical testing and early results from the 2013 DTR tests show similar average concentrate grades.
• The cumulative Exploration Target* at Selenge is 250-400Mt. An updated JORC resource based is expected in May 2013.
• The Selenge Project is located next to Mongolia’s largest iron ore export mine, which exported 5Mt of concentrate to China in 2012.
• Spot prices for 66% Fe magnetite concentrate in NE China remain over US$150/t.
• In January 2013 the Company raised $6m via a placement to a group of private Mongolian investors.
• At the end of the quarter the Company’s cash position was $7.5m
Improving Mongolian Investment Climate
• On 19 April, the Mongolian government passed an amendment to the Strategic Foreign Investment (SFI) Law that removes the need for overseas private entities acquiring Mongolian mining projects to obtain full parliamentary approval.
• In addition, a new investment law that aims to provide greater stability for all investors is expected to be submitted to parliament.
• These developments are seen as indications that the Government of Mongolia is attempting to significantly improve the investment climate in the country.
Cash at end of Q A$10.3m
Aspire: QUARTERLY REPORT
April 29, Aspire Mining Limited (ASX:AKM) --
• Completed Rail Pre-Feasibility Study Revision along alternative southern alignment connecting Ovoot directly to Erdenet:
o Reduced Rail capital cost estimate to US$1,300 million from US$1,500 million under the original Rail PFS completed in February 2012,
o Additional capital cost savings may be achieved through de-rating the line capacity from 22Mtpa to 10-12Mtpa,
o Potential operating cost savings of US$50 million per annum, and
o New optimal alignment has minimised risk from an environmental, geotechnical and hydrological perspective.
• Completed Coke Oven Testwork on indicative Ovoot coking coal bulk sample:
o Confirmed indicative Ovoot coking coal as a high quality blending coal which can be used to replace hard coking coal in a batch when using lower quality semi-soft coking coal, and
o High value in use demonstrated when using up to 25% indicative Ovoot Project coking coal in blends with semi-soft coking coal and coke breeze (a recycled oven residue).
• Marketing Activities Commenced:
o Market acceptance process has commenced with excellent preliminary market feedback,
o Washed bulk sample now available for customer product assessment, and
o Logistics study confirms Eastern Europe foundry and blast furnace industries as viable markets.
• Mineral Resource Authority of Mongolia approves the Ovoot Project Mongolian Feasibility Study allowing Aspire to now apply for land use permits and complete environmental impact assessments.
• Mongolian Parliament approves changes to the Foreign Investment Law for private foreign direct investments.
• Appointment of Noble Group’s Hannah Badenach as Non-Executive Director.
Cash at hand at end of Q A$666K
Newera: QUARTERLY ACTIVITIES REPORT
April 30 -- Newera Resources Limited (ASX: NRU) is pleased to provide the following report on its activities for the previous quarter:
· Newera released an exploration target of between 66Mt-111Mt of coal at the Shanagan Coal Project in Mongolia.
· International coal consultants Sedgman Limited were engaged to assist with future wash testing and handling of coal samples from exploration activities at the Shanagan Coal Project.
· Ongoing evaluation of new projects across a wide range of commodities.
· Subsequent to the end of the reporting period, the Company announced the potential acquisition of a South Gobi exploration licence prospective for coal to add to its Mongolian asset base and complement its Shanagan Coal Project.
FeOre: MARCH 2013 QUARTERLY REPORT
April 30, FeOre Limited (ASX:FEO) --
Link to report
Mogi: uh-oh or phew?
Focused Capital Corp. Announces Termination of Qualifying Transaction With Mongolia Minerals Corporation
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 29, 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"), announces the termination of the non-binding letter of intent (the "LOI") dated March 6, 2013 between Focused Capital and Mongolia Minerals Corporation ("MMC") for the acquisition of 100% of the common shares of MMC, which was expected to qualify as Focused Capital's "Qualifying Transaction" as defined by Exchange Policy 2.4. Accordingly, the common shares of Focused Capital are scheduled to be reinstated to trading effective the opening May 1, 2013.
About Focused Capital Corp.
Focused Capital, a capital pool company within the meaning of the policies of the Exchange, 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.
Kincora eyes catalysts for positive 2013, licenses “in good standing,” announces full year results
April 30 (Proactive Investors) Kincora Copper (TSX:KCC) hopes 2013 will mark a turnaround in investor sentiment towards it and other firms based in Mongolia.
In its full year 2012 results the firm said it had been hit by global economic contractions as well as uncertainties surrounding Mongolia.
Despite this, the company cut its losses slightly to US$2.4mln from US$2.8mln the previous year.
Kincora has been blighted by ongoing discussions between Rio Tinto and the Mongolian government over the future of the massive Oyu Tolgoi (OT) copper mine.
OT is expected to contribute close to one third of the country’s gross domestic product in the medium term, while investor sentiment across the board regarding Mongolia depends to a large extent on OT’s success.
Disputed issues range from project development and costs, to the operating budget, project financing, management fees and governance.
"The expected resolution of current issues facing Oyu Tolgoi, the largest proposed project financing in the mining industry, and achievement of Stage 1 commercial production by the end of June, is likely to be a very positive catalyst favourably impacting investor sentiment to Mongolia," said chief executive John Rickus.
"This event is scheduled to occur at a time when presidential elections will conclude (June 26th), which will bring to a close a highly uncertain two year political cycle following Parliamentary elections and the subsequent change in Government last year," he added.
The firm added recent correspondence with the Ministry of Mines had confirmed all Kincora's licences were "in good standing".
Other events that could improve investor sentiment included the Mongolian Parliament supporting an amendment to the Foreign Investment Law and a proposed amendment to the securities market law, Kincora said.
Kincora Internal Management Changes
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - April 30, 2013) - Kincora Copper Limited (the "Company", "Kincora") (TSX VENTURE:KCC) is pleased to announce three internal changes to its senior management team:
i. Mr. John Rickus, previously President and Chief Executive Officer, has assumed the position of Chairman.
ii. Mr. Jonathan (Sam) Spring, previously Vice-President of Corporate Development, has been appointed as President and Chief Executive Officer.
iii. Mr. Stephen Fabian, previously Chairman, has become an independent non-executive director.
Commenting on today's announcement, Stephen Fabian, former Chairman and now non-executive director, said:
"Despite significant recent progress having been made delivering upon our stated exploration, development and acquisition strategy, Kincora continues to take measures to strengthen the Company, further reduce overhead and administrative costs, align our strategy with current market conditions and planned internal activities.
In particular, the realignment of roles amongst the existing internal team reflects planned 2013 field season activities and ongoing discussions with potential strategic investors regarding technical and financial synergies.
In August last year, both John and Sam were appointed as senior executives and these announced changes are expected to optimize the board and management teams' valuable technical, commercial and financial markets experience. I look forward to continuing to work with the team in my new capacity."
MGG’s Harris Kupperman speaking at 8th Spring Value Investing Congress in Las Vegas
Rising Stars Will Present Alongside Leading Hedge Fund Managers at First-Ever Las Vegas Congress
LAS VEGAS, NV--(Marketwired - Apr 30, 2013) - Schwartz Tilson Information, Inc. today announced a lineup of five Rising Stars -- talented emerging or low-profile hedge fund managers -- who will speak at the 8th Annual Spring Value Investing Congress, the first in Las Vegas. Added to the Congress as a feature element beginning this spring, the Rising Stars will share the stage with more than 20 of the industry's leading heavyweights on May 6 and 7.
"Serious investors attend the Value Investing Congress year after year to gain access, insights, and new ideas they can't find anywhere else," said John L. Schwartz, M.D., co-founder and chairman of Schwartz Tilson Information. "That's exactly what we had in mind when we added the Rising Stars to our agenda for the first time ever this spring. These five managers, while flying below the radar, have displayed considerable investment prowess and may very well be the names we'll hear again and again in the future."
The full speaker list follows:
· Harris Kupperman, Mongolia Growth Group
CAML: Annual Report 2012
April 25, Central Asia Metals Plc (AIM:CAML) --
• Minerals represent more than 80% of Mongolia’s exports
• Mongolia is the 19th largest country in the World by area
• Mongolia is the most sparsely populated independent country in the World with a population of around 2.75 million people
• GDP per capita in 2012 was estimated at $5,400
• Currently there exists a degree of uncertainty in Mongolia around the proposed new draft mining code and also the laws around foreign ownership of mineral assets
• The Group is currently exploring a copper/gold porphyry target at Alag Bayan license area close to the Oyu Tolgoi deposit in the Southern Gobi
– Extensive exploration drilling totalling 12,500 meters
– Results from the drilling program and other technical studies has been submitted to the Ministry for a 30 year mining licence
• The Group also owns two other projects that are held for sale
– Ereen is a 774,000 ounce JORC compliant gold resource in the Gatsuurt region
– Handgait is a 42,000 tonne JORC compliant molybdenum resource in the north of Mongolia
– The local subsidiary has received a claim in relation to a licence for the Ereen project from a minority shareholder demanding the return of the licence. The Company intends to fully defend the claim.
– Cutfield Freeman & Co have been appointed to sell the assets
Mogi: why can’t local brokers just make it a habit of publishing daily MSE reports on a more consistent basis. The only half-decent semi-consistent one looked like BDSec but apparently they haven’t published anything for the last 2-3 trading days (MSE was closed on Friday) since last Wednesday. Montsame is more consistent than all of you and I’m sure they don’t get paid as much as any of your brokers or analysts. Please don’t blame the 4 day Community of Democracies conference, I beg you! a) it was mostly on the weekend and b) NONE of you were there anyway!
STOCK EXCHANGE NEWS FOR APRIL 30
Ulaanbaatar, April /MONTSAME/ At the Stock Exchange trades on April 30, a total of 141 thousand and 932 shares of 39 JSCs were traded costing MNT 57 million 449 thousand and 934.85.
Rates of 15 shares increased, of 15 shares decreased, of nine were stable.
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 320 billion 439 million 773 thousand and 704. The Index of Top-20 was 13998.97.
Link to article (click English and try link again)
World Bank: Mongolia Economic Update April 2013
April 30 (World Bank) --
In 2012, Mongolia’s economy continued to experience a high growth rate of 12.3 percent. This growth rate was however lower than anticipated as Mongolia saw its coal exports drop significantly due to China’s economic slowdown.
Most noticeably, Mongolia had to finance a large fiscal deficit of 8.4% of GDP, a record in the last 13 years. It is concerning that similar fiscal trends might continue in 2013 with the economy growing at a double-digit rate but also accumulating another large fiscal deficit.
As Mongolia embarks on its largest infrastructure investments ever — which can be in part financed through a first successful sovereign Chinggis bonds issuance — greater attention has to be paid: (i) to preparing those investments rigorously to ensure maximum socioeconomic return and avoid potential wastage of public resources and (ii) to reflecting their financing transparently in the national budget.
Real Sector Development and Prospects
• Mongolian economy grew at a slower pace in 2012 but still maintained double-digit growth. Annual economic growth rate of 2012 decelerated to 12.3 percent from 17.5 percent in 2011.
• The World Bank is revising its baseline growth forecast for 2013 to 13 percent, still one of the highest in the global economy; however significant uncertainty over key growth factors makes the economic outlook highly volatile.
• Inflation has slowed down to 9.8 percent in March 2013, from double-digit inflations in 2012 and early 2013.
Fiscal Sector Development and Outlook
• Fiscal balance significantly deteriorated in 2012 with the fiscal deficit climbing to 8.4 percent of GDP, a thirteen-year record level.
• In 2013, the fiscal outlook is likely to follow a similar path; the structural fiscal deficit is likely to reach over 7% of GDP, although the approved budget keeps it at the 2 percent ceiling of the Fiscal Stability Law.
• The fragile fiscal outlook is yet to include two off-budget financing operations —i.e., the Price Stabilization Program and the lending from the Development Bank of Mongolia to socially-motivated projects— and the use of Chinggis bond proceeds. If they were to be accounted for in the budget, it could bring the total fiscal deficit to around 13 percent of GDP.
• The trade balance is likely to remain weak in early 2013 but is expected to improve in the latter half of the year due to strengthened mineral export.
• The rapid slowdown of the FDI inflow is becoming a significant downside risk to the economy.
Monetary and Banking Sector
• Monetary policy has turned accommodative in early 2013 in the wake of slowdown of economic growth in 2012 and slower credit growth.
• Key financial indicators indicate no imminent signs of financial instability.
Challenges Ahead: Toward Sustainable Mineral Revenue Management
• Continuous expansionary and pro-cyclical fiscal policy remains a potential risk to the stable and sustainable growth of the economy.
• The rapid increases in capital expenditures — a thirty-five fold increase over the past decade — also risk undermining the quality of new projects as the public investment management system and the construction sector’s capability to absorb extensive new projects cannot be scaled up quickly.
• A significant challenge at this stage is to build strong consensus to shift the fiscal management paradigm currently focused on “spending fast” toward one on “spending well”.
• “Spending well” implies that mineral resources are spent effectively for the welfare of current and future generations of Mongolia and that some resources are saved as precautionary saving.
EPCRC: MONTHLY MACROECONOMIC OVERVIEW, March 2013
April 2013 (The Economic Policy & Competitiveness Research Centre) --
MAIN INDICATORS: GDP, STATE BUDGET, FOREIGN TRADE, EXCHANGE RATE, INFLATION
The economic growth at constant prices
GDP reached MNT 13.9 trillion or USD 10.0 billion at current prices and MNT 5.4 trillion or USD 3.9 billion at prices of 2005 in the end of 2012, which is up by 25.8% at current prices and 12.3% at prices of 2005 compared to the same period last year.
The real quarterly GDP growth (at 2005 price) of 10.6% is almost 2 times lower than the fourth quarter of 2011.
The budget surplus amounts to MNT 83.6 billion
In the first three months of 2013 the total state budget revenue and expenditure amounts to MNT 1,103.4 and MNT 1,019.7 billion. So that, the budget surplus is MNT 83.6 billion (USD 59.5 million). Compared to the same period last year revenue increased by 5.2%, whereas expenditure decreased by 7.7%. Compared to the previous month, the revenue and expenditure increased by 14.9% and 16.2% respectively, that led to a budget deficit of MNT 149.7 million. The expansion of expenditure was driven by increases in goods and services, interest payments, subsidies and transfers and other lending minus repayments.
The foreign trade deficit is USD 0.4 billion
The total turnover of foreign trade reached USD 2,014.2 million, showing decrease of 13.8% compared to the same period last year. The 7.8% fall in exports and 17.3% fall in imports lead to the deficit of USD 395.8 million. However, compared to the previous month the export and the import level increased by 35% and 26% respectively. In March there are slightly positive changes in exports of bituminous coal, since it's decrease in revenue was only 51% compared to the same period last year, while in February it was 68%.
MNT exchange rate has slightly depreciated against the USD
The monthly average MNT exchange rate against the USD is 1,404 showing a slight decline in value. It depreciated against the USD in nominal terms by 0.8% compared to last month and by 5.3% compared to the same period last year.
In spring season the imports of commodities will start increasing especially in construction sector, so that it leads to increasing demand of foreign currency as well.
Inflation rate decreased to 9.8%
The yearly inflation rate is 9.8%, so that the consumer price index fell to single-digit figures. The year to date inflation rate of 2012 was 7.6% that is high compared to the 3.6% year to date rate of 2013. In March 2013 the rate increased by 0.8% compared to the previous month.
The currency issued in circulation is MNT 7.3 trillion
M2 increased by 19.4% compared to the same period last year and by 0.8% compared to last month as well. M2 reached MNT 7.3 trillion or USD 5.2 billion. The currency issued in circulation increased by 6.1% compared to the same period last year and by 1.8% from last month reaching MNT 688 billion (amounts to 9.4% of the M2).
Monthly deposits remain stable
The total amount of deposits increased by 30% compared to the same period last year, but decreased by 1.5% from last month. It amounts to MNT 4.9 trillion or USD 3.5 billion. Compared to the same period last year, deposits in MNT and foreign currency increased by 24% and 55% respectively. Whereas compared to last month, deposits in MNT and deposits in foreign currency decreased by 0.1% and 5.5% respectively.
Non-performing loans have been decreasing
Loans outstanding reached MNT 7,384 billion or USD 5.3 billion. It increased by 3% compared to last month and by 28% compared to the same period last year. Nonperforming loans increased by 0.9% from last month and decreased by 3.6% from last year amounting to 4.2% of the total amount of loans outstanding. The annual interest rate (weighted average) increased by 1.7 percentage points for loans in MNT and 1.8 percentage points for loans in foreign currency from last year reaching 19.6% and 14.2% respectively.
Ø Mongolian Economic Forum was organized under the theme "Mongolian brend" discussing the current economic issues of the country.
Ø The Government with the collaboration of World Bank organized the international meeting on creating and efficient governance of wealth fund.
Ø Through retail centers in the capital city, in Darkhan province as well as in Erdenet city the prepared meat resources have been distributed to the final customers. This year 14 thousand tons of meat in total are prepared.
Ø Russian "Rosnevti" oil company announced to cut its supply to Mongolia by 25 percent. A Chinese oil company, however, is a potential partner.
Although the budget balance remained slightly positive in the first quarter, in March the state budget deficit was MNT 149.7 million. So that the total budget expenditure exceeded the total budget revenue. The total turnover of foreign trade decreased by 13.8% compared to the same period last year. It was caused by the decrease in the exports of bituminious coal as well as in the imports of cars and trucks, buldozers, and road rollers etc. If this trend continues, the consequences in terms of employment and domestic market will be adverse.
Since the Bank of Mongolia and the Government have started implementing programs for price stabilization the consumer price index fell to single-digit figures. In order to avoid constantly taking such measures, the government should seek to provide financial sources backing the currency by a commodity in the long-term. In other words, the domestic production has to be gradually developed giving the producers the security that the inflation rate remains low, so that the supply of domestic products could increase. On the other hand, the investment concentration on the construction sector that seeks to meet the existing demand of wealthy clients can be reallocated.
Although the prepared meat resources have been sold through retail trade centers the average meat price remains high. One of the main reasons of high prices is that increasing demand of fresh meat can't be covered, since thousands of livestock and domestic animal were lost during the natural winter disaster in 2009/2010 and herders have not yet recovered from this loss.
It seems that there are lack of planning and predictable policies linked to each other. Therefore, some preventing tools from possible risks are needed since the country is largely affected by the volatility of foreign markets and climatic changes.
April 29 (MIBG) MIBG believes that the current economic downturn will act as a sobering lesson to the Mongolian policymakers and will eventually lead to less restriction and political risk for foreign investors in Mongolia. We have previously reported that changes to SEFIL may not be enough and that the Ministry of Economic Development may propose a new investment law to the Parliament during the current Spring Session. While political risk is a priority concern for any investor who may be assessing a Mongolian investment opportunity, we believe that risk will likely decrease as the policymakers as well as the general public of Mongolia experiences adverse effects of protectionist policy. Overall the investment opportunities and growth potential of Mongolia is tremendous, and we believe that there is a window of opportunity that currently exists in Mongolia for any new investor who may be looking to enter the country.
The Minister of Finance Mr. Ulaan has reportedly stated during the parliament session last week that the budget deficit is growing wider with 58% of the Government expenditures being met by its revenues. Decreasing coal imports and falling commodities price is playing the largest role in Government of Mongolia’s 2013 budget. Various taxation revenues will surely be missed on coal export assumptions, the 2013 budget had assumed the domestic coal producers will export 30 million tonnes of coal, of which 10 million tonnes would be washed coal. But in reality the General Customs Agency of Mongolia has reported that during the first 3 months of 2013 total coal export was merely 3.45 million tonnes. During the first 3 months of 2013 Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi’s export was non-existent. As of last week the state owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi announced that they will resume coal exports to Chalco at a slightly higher price of $56 USD per tone and indicated that the company will produce 5 million tonnes in 2013, Mongolia Mining Corp has announced that they will be temporarily suspending its operation at the company’s Ukhaa Khudag coal mine, which will be a heavy blow to the Mongolian economy as Mongolia Mining Corp produced 9.4mt and sold 5.6mt washed and unwashed coal at a price range of $72.9/tonne to $108.4/tonne last year.
Mongolia's Historical and Projected Coal Export and Average Price
The Minister of Finance also announced last week its Composite Leading Indicator (CLI) of the Mongolian economy at the end of the first 3 months of 2013. The Ministry has utilized 2012 4th quarter GDP figures as well as various figures from 1st quarter of 2013 to update the indicator. The CLI is designated to provide early signals of turning points in business cycles and medium term economic activity. Mongolia’s economic cycle had reached its peak in June of 2011 and has been decreasing ever since. The CLI reached down to 98.78 at the end of March 2013, which is a 0.05 unit decrease from the previous month, and currently sits 3.69 units below its 2011 peak. The Ministry has pointed to negative trends in foreign investments, foreign trade activity, issuance of new mortgage loans as a potential factor to the drop in the CLI.
Mongolian CLI & GDP
We have already started to observe that domestic entities in various sectors of the economy are experiencing decreased earnings, which may lead to decreased domestic investment activities and eventually drive down asset and equity prices in the short term. However we believe that the economic slowdown and price depreciation is an opportunity to invest into quality investment opportunities with long term potential.
April 29 (MIBG) Last week we looked at the Chinese real estate sector and the impact that its performance is having and will have on the Mongolian economy. The connection between the two is derived from Mongolian coking coal inputs into Chinese steel production, which is one the largest consumers of steel in the country. Since 2004, Mongolia has been experiencing a period of rapid growth in coal production and exports, particularly to China. The economic and industrial growth that has been experienced in China was the key driver of Mongolia's coal exploration activity over this period. This resulted in the discovery and development of high quality coking coal deposits at Tavan Tolgoi, Ukhaa Khudag, Bortolgoi, Ovoot Tolgoi, Khoshoot and Altai Nuurs.
China is the largest consumer of Mongolian coking coal, with approximately 13% of total coal consumption being employed in the production of steel. Therefore the Chinese steel industry has a determining impact on coal prices at the Chinese and Mongolian border, as well as on a regional basis. More than 400 million tons of coal has been used in the production of steel in 2012. This contributed to total steel production of 716 Mtpa, totaling 46.3% of global production. But compared to 2011 production of 881.3 million tons of steel, the total production has noticeably decreased. The main contribution to this shift has been the overall slowdown of China's economy, which has led to weakened steel prices driven by overcapacity and declining demand.
As mentioned, the construction and real estate industries are the largest consumers of steel, which accounts for 50% of total production. In order to decrease the overcapacity and increase the demand the Government of China is focusing on building 36 million affordable houses. We highlight last week that this move was also aimed at decreasing the average cost of housing as the real estate sector continues to be a form of securitization, driving prices beyond the reach of regular consumers. That said, we believe that even with the Government's support, the consumption and production of steel will drop significantly in the coming years due to the slower economic growth in China. If steel production slows down heavily, this will have adverse effects on Mongolian coking coal exports. Most readers will understand the implications of such a change, but to clarify, more than 40% of the Mongolian GDP comes from coking coal exports and even a slight change in pricing has a noticeable impact domestically.
BoM issues 1-week bills
April 26 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 115 billion at a weighted interest rate of 11.50 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
Mogi: although the spirit of the article right on, the professor used a few factual errors
Mongolia’s Looming Budget Crisis
Dr Nigel Finch is an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney Business School and a member of the Business Council of Mongolia.
April 2013 (Mongolian Economy (Print)) Nobody said that forecasting a national budget is easy. As the economy waxes and wanes the earlier best guess estimates can look less achievable as next year’s budget turns into this year’s actual. Estimating government collections from taxation revenue becomes even trickier when the revenue base is anchored around highly volatile items that are difficult to predict, such as mining. No doubt a fact Australia’s treasurer, Wayne Swan, would attest given the surprise shortfall in Australia’s tax collections from its controversial Minerals resource rent tax (MRRT). A tax that is highly dependent on commodity prices and exchange rates. The upshot of an ambitious tax recipe that relies on volatile and variable items is that it is difficult to predict, and, in Australia’s case, this has resulted in an outcome where a USD 2 billion dollar MRRT shortfall erodes a forecast surplus into an actual deficit.
In the scheme of things, the bullish Australian treasury forecast for receipts of AUD 2 billion for the MRRT are trivial when you consider that total collections for Australia are around AUD 360 billion. Anyway, should the forecast outcome be so inaccurate that the actual number that comes crashing across the finish line is a several billion dollar deficit, the Australian economy should be able to cope with that nasty surprise given its solid reserves and strong credit rating.
But spare a thought for the treasurer in an fragile economy, one that is less stable and more highly geared to mining than Australia’s. The frontier economy of Mongolia is a fraction of the size of Australia’s and plagued with political stability issues that undermine its ability to govern effectively. Mongolia’s government collects around AUD 3.5 billion to AUD 4 billion in taxes, so on that basis it is no more than 1 percent the size of Australia’s government enterprise, and because of its emerging status it lacks any of the cushioning that exists in more developed economies.
While Mongolia doesn’t have its own MRRT, it doesn’t mean the nation has been spared from inefficient tax policies designed more for their vote winning spin in the electorate than their effectiveness in building a dependable revenue base for the nation.
The source of Mongolia’s tax collection is highly dependent on mineral exploitation with around a third of all tax collected coming from royalties, dividends and corporate income tax from mining operations, and the bulk of this is concentrated into two very large projects: the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine and the Rio Tinto-operated copper and gold mine, Oyu Tolgoi—both of which continue to be mired in controversy. (Mogi: the professor hasn’t heard of Erdenet it seems, the largest taxpayer in Mongolia, or MAK the 3rd largest. OT is only 6th right now)
Tavan Tolgoi is one of the world’s largest untapped coal deposits and is 100 percent owned by the Mongolian government, in addition to being located only a short distance from the Chinese border.
Mongolia’s coal industry accounts for more than half of all exports and over recent years it has fuelled much of Mongolia’s growth, encouraging the government to steam ahead with an expansionary approach to their budgeting. However, a series of problems at the mine are severely threatening the government’s chances of collecting much-needed tax revenue. inexperienced management, inefficient work practices and a culture of corruption have limited production at the mine by 50 percent. Ongoing disputes with China’s Chalco are another unwelcome factor in the mine’s poor performance, which is severely dampening coal export volumes from Mongolia. at the same time, there has been a significant decline in coal prices which further erodes tax collection for the government of Mongolia.
Meanwhile, the nation’s other big mining taxpayer, Oyu Tolgoi, has experienced delays because of political interference attributed to parliamentary and presidential elections. (Mogi: delays? No delays doc, right on schedule)
The Oyu Tolgoi mine is also located in the south near the border of china and will be one of the largest copper and gold mines in the world. production at the mine has yet to commence but already the government and the economy has benefited from the over USD 6.6 billion invested in the construction project to get the first stage of the mine developed.
The Mongolian government owns 34 percent of the mine, with Rio Tinto having a majority stake in the remainder, but a resource-nationalism agenda promoted by the newly elected government (Mogi: oh come on!!! Resource nationalism again? Even you “professor”?) is threatening to delay production as the government demands a greater share of the mine (Mogi: huh? Shame on you Mongolian Economy!) and increased taxation revenue. While this dispute plays out, there is little chance that Mongolia will receive any of the down-stream benefits of continued construction activity at the mine and the dispute is only delaying receipt of future taxation revenue due when the mine goes into full production. (Mogi: presto! The prof is on my naughty list)
With an economy that is highly geared towards mining activity and mineral exports, and with its two major projects in disarray, it is clear that Mongolia is about to face a supreme challenge in managing its national budget. The ambitious 31 percent year-on-year growth for tax collection in the 2013 Mongolian budget looks highly unlikely given the current state of play. and with the long list of election promises to be funded on the expenditure side, it is hard to see government spending slowing without losing votes. the budget crisis that looms for Mongolia is an unfunded deficit that will further destabilise its delicate economy.
Recently Mongolia introduced the Financial Stability Law (FSL), and the 2013 budget is the first government budget to operate under this new legislation. FSL commits the government to prudent financial management by setting the budget deficit to a maximum level of 2 percent of GDP. It’s very likely that this ceiling will be broken and already the World Bank is forecasting a deficit of more than 6 percent of GDP. A blow-out this big doesn’t bode well for the government in demonstrating their credentials as capable financial managers to the electorate and the international investment community.
Mongolia’s looming budget crisis means that the government will be scrambling to find cash to fund its enterprises and the most likely source of those funds will be the USD 1.5 billion proceeds from the “Chinggis” bond it raised in December 2012. While these bonds were intended to fund economically significant infrastructure projects, the bonds may end up being called the “Bait-and-Switch” bonds as the government is forced to divert bond investors’ funds to prop up its failing budget. Such a tactic will likely see the value of these bonds stumble, heightening investor’s sensitivity to Mongolia’s sovereign risk and possibly causing a downgrade in the credit rating.
Given the state of play with some of its largest mining taxpayers, we could see the Mongolian government committing the Chinggis Bond to stopping the budget from haemorrhaging. However, playing this hand means they will limit their ability to lend any material support to the banking sector, which would likely be under severe distress (Mogi: $600m deposit was already made to banks from Chinggis Bonds), faced with a ratings downgrade, in addition to government spending that is beyond what the economy is capable of meeting. Any crisis in the banking system will see a rapid sell off in the Mongolian currency and a hard retreat in asset prices.
While many of Mongolia’s bullish economists have focused their contemplation and rhetoric on how they should brace the economy to one day avoid the future effects of “Dutch disease” (an ironic side-effect of rapid success in resource-rich states), it seems that too few of them have been focussed on the more pragmatic aspects of realistic budget forecasting and prudent government financial management.
Fuel prices to stabilize after measures, says mining ministry
April 26 (UB Post) The Deputy Minister of Mining, O.Erdenebulgan, announced yesterday that fuel prices are likely to stabilize following measures taken by the government to diversify its suppliers of fuel. The announcement came during a regular update on all mining and petroleum related matters. The regular updates are part of the government’s “Transparent Mining Program.”
Mongolia is currently almost entirely dependent on Russia’s Rosneft for its petroleum fuel supply, and the price of fuel in Mongolia fluctuates according to the whim of the company.
According to the Deputy Minister, Mongolia is in discussions with Rosneft to add a clause to their agreement that will ensure that the fuel price charged by Rosneft is based on international market prices.
O.Erdenebulgan also noted at yesterday’s presentation that Mongolia recently began negotiations on contracts to obtain fuel from China, South Korea and Belarus. He said that a fuel supply agreement will be finalized soon between Chinese-owned China Oil and Mongolia’s fuel importers, NIK, Magnai Trade and Shunkhlai. He also said that fuel supply deals may be forthcoming with South Korean companies such as Hyundai, S Oil, and SK.
The price of the fuel supplied by China Oil will depend on the price of the crude oil exported by Mongolia to China, the Deputy Minister said.
Mongolia’s crude oil company is listed under the name of Dachin-33 at the Singapore Stock Exchange (Mogi: huh?). According to Mongolian news website News.mn, the price of 1 ton of oil is currently 700 USD. In January this year, the price was 820 USD.
Ministry of Mining officials said yesterday that there are currently no indications that the price of oil will rise soon, and they expect the price of fuel imported from China to remain stable in the short to medium term. The deputy minister further noted that fuel prices could even decrease by 50 to 60 MNT per liter from next month.
The Deputy Minister also announced that contracts have been made to import European-standard A-92 fuel, which is superior in quality to the A-92 fuel currently imported into Mongolia.
Mongolia to be energy self-sufficient by 2014, says minister
April 29 (UB Post) Minister of Energy M.Sonompil said last week that the ministry is aiming to make Mongolia energy self sufficient by next year and plans to expand energy production further to eventually become an energy exporter. The minister’s comments came during a regular update on the ministry’s current projects and plans. The updates are part of the government’s actions to increase transparency.
Minister M.Sonompil noted that the government has already put in place measures to expand Thermal Power Plant 4 (TPP4) by up to 100 megawatts and to expand TPP 3 by up to 50 megawatts, and said that projects to establish the Amgalan Power Plant and the 450 megawatt TPP 5 will begin this year. He also noted that the Salkhit Wind Farm, with capacity of up to 200 megawatts, will commence operations this year.
The minister also said that, as reported earlier this month, the government is planning to build a 450 megawatt power plant adjacent to the giant Tavan Tolgoi coal mine in southern Mongolia. The plant will power both the Tavan Tolgoi project as well as the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold project. The power plant is expected to cost over 500 million USD, with the initial funding of 50 million USD allocated from the proceeds of the government’s Chinggis Bonds.
The ministry is also planning to expand Western Region Power Plant, Shuren Hydroelectric Power Station, Baganoor Power Plant, and Chailablsan Power Plants, and will construct another new power plant, the Shivee Ovoo Power Plant. The ministry will also continue the Renewable Energy and Rural Electricity Access Program, which supplies portable off-grid solar-powered electricity supply systems for individual gers in remote areas.
Miniser M.Sonompil also reported that the ministry is working to improve the legal framework related to energy cost-cutting bills and the energy master plan, and is planning to amend the renewable energy law.
In 2012, 91.4 percent of total electricity produced came from Mongolia’s thermal power plants, 1.2 percent from hydroelectric generators, 0.48 percent from diesel stations, and 0.1 percent from renewable resouces (solar and wind).
Mongolia currently produces 813 megawatts of electricity domestically but demand is around 850 megawatts. The country imports electricity to meet the gap between supply and demand. Imports made up 7.6 percent of domestic consumption in 2012.
Experts estimate that domestic energy demand is set to increase to 1,500 megawatts by 2020 and 3,000 megawatt by 2025. The International Monetary Fund last year reportedly projected a deficit of over 600 megawatts by 2016.
President Elbegdorj calls for an evaluation system to measure Mongolia’s achievements
April 24 (EPCRC) The annual Mongolia Economic Forum (MEF) was held on March 4 2013 under the theme “A Mongolian Brand”. This theme was deliberately chosen to emphasise the importance of diversifying the economy and expanding export products. Representatives from the Government, business, public organizations, academia and civil society discussed options for development policy and ways to break Mongolia’s dependence on mining. The focus was particularly on promoting the country’s immense sources of livestock products as well as its historical and cultural heritage.
In his opening remarks on the second day of the Forum, President Elbegdorj Tsakhia noted that Mongolia is a democratic country where things are openly discussed and reminded Mongolian people that power rests in their hands. He expressed his believe that the Mongolia Economic Forum, like the Davos Forum, has become a meeting place where the most pressing issues facing the country and development are identified. However, he also suggested that a system of evaluation is needed for long-term policy formulation. The Davos Forum, for example, uses the World Competitiveness Report produced by the World Economic Forum as a measuring tool. “Our work doesn’t run like clockwork as wished, since we have not implemented such a practice yet” he noticed. Noting that state policies have been changed depending on the subjective judgment of ministers and authorities, he appealed to the audience to “introduce an evaluation system that measures the work done”. He argued that for this purpose we must learn to use reports and studies produced by independent and professional research organizations.
In this context, the President Elbegdorj Tsahia introduced the “Mongolia in World Competitiveness” report produced by the Economic Policy and Competitiveness Research Center (EPCRC). In this report Mongolia is compared against 14 other countries according to over 330 criteria, and countries are ranked on the basis of their competitiveness scores obtained. However the President noted that “15 countries competed, but Mongolia remained in the 15th place in the ranking of this year again”, pointing out that political instability and poor infrastructure conditions continues to negatively affect the country’s competitiveness.
This year the EPCRC has also produced the first "Mongolia Provincial Competitiveness Report". This report analyzes the competitiveness of Mongolia’s 21 provinces using a globally-acknowledged research methodology. It analyses not only the growing rural-urban disparities, but also the socio-economic situation of provinces as well. For example, the competitiveness score of Dundgobi is three times lower than that of Orkhon. “It seems as if Mongolia became stunted in terms of development issues”, the President said at the forum, and explained that the development has been mostly centralized in Ulaanbaatar, Erdenet and Umnogobi. Therefore, he pointed out that we should develop rural areas and improve the country’s competitiveness through well-defined development policies based on research and studies.
Thank you to the Mongolia Economic Form NGO for organizing the event.
Mogi: a sign of democracy I’d say to allow these protestors to protest during the conference.
MPRP demonstrates on behalf of ‘political prisoner’
April 29 (UB Post) During the opening session of the VII Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies, members and supporters of Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) held a peaceful demonstration on Sukhbaatar Square with placards proclaiming slogans such as “Mongolia has a political prisoner,” “Human rights are not guaranteed in Mongolia,” and “We still want real democracy.”
The demonstrators explained that the purpose of their demonstration was to highlight that they believe the Chairman of MPRP, former president of Mongolia N.Enkhbayar, is being repressed for political reasons.
N.Enkhbayar was arrested in April 2012 and was found guilty on corruption charges in August and sentenced to four years in prison. Following an appeal in December, the former president’s sentence was reduced to two-and-a-half years.
Mogi: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! “The Doug” is back! Must’ve gotten a fresh care package from Mongolia.
The Battle Continues
April 29 (Doug Schoen, Forbes) It is bad enough that former Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar was unfairly convicted and jailed last summer for four years after being charged with misusing property and government power. And that prior to his conviction he was imprisoned so as to prevent him from standing in last June’s parliamentary elections. (Mogi: the guy is a corrupt crook, simple as that. He is not the only corrupt crook there was and is, I grant you that, but please don’t preach me how a clean guy he was)
Today, Enkhbayar faces an even greater challenge than ever before – his health is deteriorating at a rapid rate and shows no sign of improving (Mogi: by law he must be admitted to the prison hospital, but somehow, illegally or by exception he has been treated at a state hospital). Much like when President Elbegdorj stood in the way of Enkhbayar receiving adequate treatment when he was imprisoned before his conviction over the summer (Mogi: never was there a time he was denied medical treatment in breach of the law), Enkhbayar is once again suffering further pain at the hands of the Mongolian administration.
It is clear that unless immediate action is taken Enkhbayar will not survive (Mogi: he himself made it worse by going on hunger strike and is threatening again to hunger strike). The Director of the hospital where he is being treated certified to the Director of the Detention Centre that, upon extensive medical examination, Enkhbayar meets the conditions for the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Justice’s 2002 decree that a convicted individual with life-endangering conditions can be released on medical grounds (Mogi: yeah, this is exactly why this paid PR crony Doug Schoen, who has his own PR firm by the way, most likely paid by Enkhbayar, is pushing this).
The decision to move Enkhbayar to a hospital abroad so that he can receive proper medical treatment is not just one for the medical commission (Mogi: by law a jailed convict has no legal rights to go abroad. I understand the PR disaster his death would cause for Mongolia but is it worth giving him special treatment just for PR sake and disregard the law of the land). Like so many matters in Mongolia, the process must go through the courts which, unfortunately for Enkhbayar, are controlled by President Elbegdorj. Over the past year, we have seen how little concern Elbegdorj has for the rule of law in Mongolia and certainly how little he values Enkhbayar’s health and wellbeing.
There is a deep concern, which I share, that Elbegdorj will drag this process out longer than necessary thereby further endangering Enkhbayar’s chances at receiving the medical attention he needs (Mogi: I’d say it would actually reflect badly PR-wise for Elbegdorj and current DP government actually if he died, so saying he wants Enkhbayar to rot in jail (in hospital actually getting special treatment) sounds more like a PR stunt than an actual concern for Enkhbayar’s health) . What’s more, the Seventh Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies is now underway in Mongolia – the perfect delaying tactic for Elbegdorj (Mogi: and you think him dying during or right after the CD conference is gonna make Elbegdorj look good in the eyes of the international community? Come on!). He has already refused to meet to discuss Enkhbayar’s condition.
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns (Mogi: nope, he is not, State Department only sent an advisor to the Secretary over, something which the US should be ashamed and embarrassed about) is participating in the conference as the US representative. Mr. Burns is well aware of Enkhbayar’s situation: California Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry last week (Mogi: Senator Feinstein’s husband has close ties to Enkhbayar. Look him up. Come on! Why would a California send suddenly become soooo concerned about an ex-president of a small Asian country. I would imagine as a US Senator she has better things to do), cc’ing Mr. Burns, asking him to intervene and do everything in his power to ensure that Enkhbayar receives the treatment he needs.
To be sure, it would be a great tragedy if a man like Enkhbayar, who dedicated his life to building a free and democratic Mongolia (Mogi: LOL!), died on the very week that Mongolia hosts an international conference on democracy (Mogi: HAHAHAHA! It’d actually be a PR disaster for Mongolia of an atomic bomb level, so I’d think it is in the best interests of the ruling party to keep him alive and well).
Once again, it falls on the shoulders of the international community to voice concern over Enkhbayar’s treatment (Mogi: if that happens, once again the west would be intervening in the affairs of a sovereign state). We are now facing the imminent prospect of losing a great figure of democracy (Mogi: oh boy! Great figure of democracy? He was a politician of a party that morphed from the communist party you know), a fate that may be avoided if we can draw enough attention to his condition and level of care. The stakes could not be any higher.
Mongolia to cooperate with International Anti-Corruption Academy
April 29 (UB Post) The Chairman of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Law Sh.Tuvdendorj met yesterday with the Chair of the International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA), Martin Kreutner, to discuss cooperation.
In the meeting Sh.Tuvdendorj expressed Mongolia’s interest in collaborating with the IACA.
Kreutner explained at yesterday’s meeting that the IACA was inaugurated at the conference “From Vision to Reality,” which took place in the Viennese Hofburg in September 2010. The IACA currently has 65 Members, and 45 of which have signed the IACA Agreement.
Kreutner said that the meeting with Sh.Tuvdendorj will pave the way for opportunities to conduct relevant training of Mongolian officials here and also in Vienna.
According to Kreutner, active participation in the Academy activities will open up opportunities for Mongolia to better prevent corruption, to educate the public regarding corruption, and to train specialists to detect corruption crimes. Overall, participation in IACA activities will increase the effectiveness of Mongolian efforts to fight corruption.
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Tavan Tolgoi Pays Chalco Higher Rate on Loan as Coal Resumes
April 26 (Bloomberg) Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi LLC, Mongolia’s largest state-owned coal company (Mogi: maybe by resources but certainly not by sales), agreed to pay a higher interest rate on $186 million due to Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. as part of an accord to resume coal deliveries.
During a standoff between Erdenes TT and Chalco, as the Chinese state company is also known, the Mongolian side failed to repay $86 million of the loan due last month (Mogi: failed to pay in coal not cash), the Ulaanbaatar-based miner said today in an e-mailed response to questions. As a result, the interest on the loan amount has been increased, Erdenes TT said, without specifying the rate.
Erdenes TT restarted coal shipments to Chalco on April 22 after winning a $3 a metric ton price increase from the Chinese buyer, the Mongolian company said. Chalco will pay $56 a ton and Erdenes TT will supply the Chinese company 5 million to 6 million tons this year, the company said.
Exports to Chalco, China’s biggest producer of aluminum, stopped on Jan. 11 due to a lack of funds required to pay the logistics companies involved in the transportation and storage of the coal. The chief executive officer of Erdenes TT, Yaichil Batsuuri, said his company had run into financial trouble and wanted to raise prices and cut shipments, changing the terms of the $250 million contract it signed in July 2011 (Mogi: $350 million actually).
Li Dongguang, head of Chalco’s international trading unit, said he couldn’t confirm details of the debt and interest rate payment and declined to comment further.
Erdenes Tavantolgoi to establish on-site customs for coal exports
April 26 (news.mn) Erdenes Tavantolgoi, the largest state owned mining operator company resumed coal exports to Chalco on Monday after a three month halt.
The mining company spends 56 US dollars for exploration, shipment and supply per ton of coal.
Ya.Batsuuri, CEO of Erdenes Tavantolgoi LLC once noted in a interview with news.mn that the company had no choice but to halt coal shipments to China because Chalco set only 53 US dollars per ton of coal.
After Chalco suggested 56 US dollars per ton of coal so Tavantolgoi resumed coal exports to China.
Erdenes Tavantolgoi signed a coal supply agreement with the Aluminium Corporation of China (Chalco) in July 2011 during the time of the former Government.
But according to the agreement Chalco agreed to pay up to 70 US dollars in spite of any coal price surge. Then coal deliveries halted in January because the price paid for the coal was below the cost of production.
The current Government and Ministry of Mining is still in negotiations with Chalco to ensure compliance with the agreement and with market conditions. But it is still early to say what phase the negotiation is currently in.
Erdenes Tavantolgoi used to deliver coal shipments via Customs control in Tsagaan Khad. However the company has now reached a deal with Chalco to establish an inland customs area at the Tavantolgoi site itself in order to export coal to Gants Mod port on the border of Mongolia and China.
India Globalization Capital Establishes Shipping Hub at the Border of Mongolia and China to deliver iron ore
Bethesda, April 29, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- India Globalization Capital, Inc. (NYSE MKT: IGC) ("IGC" or "the Company") announced the achievement of a further milestone in the execution of its strategic plan. It has established a shipping hub at the border of Mongolia and China to provide iron ore to its customers in China and source raw materials for its beneficiation plants.
The hub is positioned to deliver various grades of iron ore to its customers in China and has begun moving its first test shipment as part of the Company's production ramp up. Iron ore exports from Mongolia were virtually nonexistent in 2008, and have experienced rapid growth since that time. According to Mongolia Asset Management, for the year 2012, Mongolia exported approximately 5.75 million tons of iron ore representing a 61% increase over the previous year.
Ram Mukunda, CEO of India Globalization Capital, said, "The opening of this hub required about 6 months of planning, negotiations and preparation. We are currently moving a test shipment of 300 tons from Mongolia to China. Once successfully delivered in the next week or so, we expect to ramp up to between 8,000 and 12,000 tons a month."
Based in Bethesda, Maryland, India Globalization Capital, Inc. (IGC) is a materials and infrastructure company operating in India and China. We currently supply iron ore to steel companies operating in China. For more information about IGC, please visit IGC's Web site at www.indiaglobalcap.com. For information about Ironman, please visit www.hfironman.net.
Chinese companies help build Mongolian highway to boost trade
ULAN BATOR, April 30 (Xinhua) -- Chinese companies have started construction on a highway from Mongolia's border city of Zamiin-Uud to the East Gobi provincial capital of Sainshand to help boost trade between China and Mongolia.
After the 124-km highway is completed, the entire 660-km highway from Mongolia's capital of Ulan Bator to China's border city of Ereen Hot will be open, Chinese Ambassador Wang Xiaolong said Monday at a ground-breaking ceremony in Zamyn Uud.
China is willing to work with Mongolia to help develop the country's infrastructure, Wang said.
Amarjargal Gansukh, the Mongolian transportation minister, said that his government would support Chinese companies for the construction of the road that will connect China, Mongolia and Russia.
With increasing trade between China and Mongolia in recent years, import and export freight flows from Zamiin-Uud to Ereen Hot has been growing rapidly, As a result, road congestion has become increasingly prominent.
Completion of the highway is expected to improve the efficiency of goods transportation.
Siberian and Mongolian scientists develop smokeless fuel
April 27 (The Voice of Russia) Scientists of Institute of chemistry of solid states of objects and mechanical chemistry Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences and the Institute of chemistry and chemical technology of Academy of Sciences of Mongolia have developed smokeless fuel based on brown coal (lignite).
According to the chairman of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Aseev, the technology provides for the removal of organic substances from coal and the thus formed semi-coke turns into a fuel briquette. He noted that development is very much in demand by the small boilers working on coal. In the papers of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science it is said that the technology has been developed by use of brown coal from Baganur and Tavan-Tolgoy fields of Mongolia.
Mogi: hmmm, where can I find this tyre repair shop? I’d like to help to promoting it
The Prospero Foundation Supports a Tyre Repair Stock Owner in Mongolia
The Prospero Foundation, founded by Ulrik DeBo of DeBondo Capital, is excited to announce that a microloan donation has been made to Ariunzul, a small business owner in Ulaanbaatar, in Mongolia.
Bach, Switzerland (PRWEB) April 28, 2013 --
The Prospero Foundation, founded by Ulrik DeBo of DeBondo Capital, is excited to announce that a microloan donation has been made to Ariunzul, a small business owner in Ulaanbaatar, in Mongolia.
Ariunzul is married with three young children and lives with her family in an old-fashioned Mongolian felt dwelling called a Ger, that can be easily moved for traditional nomads, but in her case is a permanent structure on fenced land they own.
Her and her husband have been running their own tyre repair shop for the past seventeen years, and have accumulated a good reputation with their vast reputation. She plans to use the money from her microloan donation to purchase new equipment such as pumps, tools, wrenches and compressors, to provide an improved service for her current customers, with the hope of expanding her business.
The Prospero Foundation recognizes this hardworking individual, and is proud to help her strive for a better future.
About Micro-lending with The Prospero Foundation
Through partnerships with local lending institutions, the Prospero Foundation contributes capital for the purpose of small business loans to these micro-entrepreneurs in developing nations. Through these partnerships, the Foundation helps small business people such as farmers, shopkeepers, and artisans build their businesses and in turn stimulate economic development in their communities.
About The Prospero Foundation
The Prospero Foundation is a private, international charitable foundation founded by Ulrik DeBo. Mr. DeBo, a lifelong entrepreneur, whose upbringing and eventual success in the finance industry, through his company DeBondo Capital Ltd, gave him the relevant experience and insight required.
The foundation is run by a global network of entrepreneurs, who raise funds privately amongst their business contacts, and choose to invest them using a 'pay-it-forward' philosophy to focus on charitable projects that promise to perpetuate a chain reaction of positive growth opportunities for individuals and local communities for generations to come.
It is a foundation that empowers citizens to help themselves and those around them.
For additional information, please visit http://www.prosperofoundation.org
De Facto: The ‘London Eye’ looking at Mongolia
By Jargalsaikhan Dambadarjaa
April 29 (UB Post) When deciding which country to invest in, those who are from investment banks in London perhaps take a ride on the giant ferris wheel located at the north end of Lambeth Bridge that crosses the River Thames. They look beyond the city to seek investment opportunities. While this huge observation wheel called the London Eye was turning around, the Mongolia Investment Summit took place as it does every year. It was evident to participants that the investors were zooming into the political and economic realities of Mongolia.
London is a place where those who seek foreign investment come. The largest banks in the world lend and borrow huge amounts of money to each other in London, the capital city of the international money market. Libor, the London Interbank Offered Rate, has become a benchmark for short-term interest rates around the world.
Transactions as big as 2 trillion USD (37 percent of forex transactions, BIS Statistics, 2010) and 1.2 trillion USD in interest rate derivatives take place daily in London. Almost half of the world’s financial market (46 percent, 2010) resides here. It is also said that you do not qualify as an international bank if you do not have an office in the City of London or the Canary Wharf. It’s also said you are not an international airline company if you do not fly into Heathrow airport.
London is a place where investment decisions are made based on careful analysis of opportunities and risks. International banks, their lawyers, consulting firms, foreign and domestic companies operating in Mongolia, representatives from the government and executives of the central and commercial banks regularly have this summit in this city. This proves that a lot of foreign investments are being made in Mongolia and there is still more room and opportunities for investment in the future.
Although the population is not even three million, Mongolia has a territory as vast as Western Europe. We have ten mineral deposits – resource potential of which have yet to be tested- worth 1.3 trillion USD at the current prices. Also, it is worth mentioning that Mongolia has so far developed a geological map for only one fourth of its territory. Everyone at the summit acknowledged that there is an opportunity for Mongolia to have an absolute advantage by supplying coal and copper from the nearest location to the expanding economies of China and Russia.
Furthermore, it was noted that Mongolia is a democratic country where the central government supports businesses and is planning to establish a Sovereign Wealth Fund to be utilized when needed. Also, the participants agreed that Mongolia has a legal environment that protects properties and imposes relatively softer terms and conditions regarding taxes and, despite some occasional faults, the government has a good policy direction overall.
Many of the participants were quoting the results from an economic outlook produced by the IMF that projected Mongolia’s economy to grow from 7 billion USD to 24 billion USD in 2011-2020 and GDP per capita to reach 8,300 USD in 2016.
An interesting point was raised by R.Koppa, President of the Trade and Development Bank, that a total of USD 68 billion is needed to develop Mongolia in the near future. He said that 20 billion USD of it will be spent in the mining sector, 12 billion in infrastructure, 8 billion in urban development, 2 billion in agriculture, 20 billion in trade and industry, 2 billion in environmental protection, 2 billion in social development and 2 billion in finance. He also pointed out that 14 billion USD will be raised from FDI, 18 billion from internal sources, 6 billion from government bonds, 16 billion from international capital markets, 12 billion from international financial organizations and the rest, 2 billion USD, from donor countries.
Kh.Altai, CEO of the Mongolian Stock Exchange, said that technical and workforce requirements needed for raising capital from international markets have all been fulfilled as a result of cooperation between the Mongolian Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange. He also mentioned that the required legal conditions will be met as soon as the new securities law is passed. Graham Marshall from the Bank of New York, Mellon said that, if the new securities law is passed, custodianship will be made possible and Mongolian companies will be able to raise capital by trading a certain proportion of its securities on the London Stock Exchange through depository receipts.
Many people at the summit said that they expect the new securities law to be the key to raising the capital needed for development, restoring the domestic capital market and introducing market principles that are fair, open and efficient.
Neil Ashdown, an Asia Pacific Specialist from HIS, said that, although the government of Mongolia is perfectly committed to implementing large development projects, they face two types of risks: a budget problem and geopolitics play. A company specialized in preparing reports associated with political risks says that these two types of risks are likely to emerge when there is more political competition.
Ashdown went on saying that it is likely Mongolian politics could become unstable. He said that it is too early to say that there is a stable political environment because of factors that contribute to instability such as elections, changeable government and economic difficulties.
When meeting with representatives from companies that are preparing to invest in Mongolia, they mentioned that every press agency closely watches Mongolia and said that the Mongolian government’s policy is neither stable nor long-term and laws are changed too often due to emotional decisions based on insufficient research. They were illustrating their point with the example of the foreign investment law from last year which created uncertainty and misunderstanding among foreign investors. This law later changed to regulate only foreign state-owned companies.
It is true that corruption is spreading due to insufficient supervision on large government properties. The brightest example is that political loans were acquired through three state-owned companies and led them to the brink of bankruptcy. It is an undeniable fact that political parties acquired 350 million USD through Tavantolgoi, 250 million USD through Oyu Tolgoi and 90 million USD through Erdenet and spent this money on their election campaigns.
Despite the fact that our government is getting bigger and prices of coal exports are falling down as well as its sales, which comprises 40 percent of our total state budget revenue, the ruling political party is still reluctant to cut its spending. On top of that, the opposition party is demanding to increase everyone’s salaries. It was inevitable that Moody’s degraded the credit ratings of Mongolian banks.
Instead of weighing economic outcomes of a big project first and looking at political consequences afterwards, the government is prioritizing the politics, not the economics. For example, the participants of the summit were talking about the need to look at the most economically efficient options first when discussing the railway gauges.
Next turnaround of the Ferris wheel
One of the speakers at the summit said that Mongolia seemed very extraordinary and unconventional because it had a Louis Vuitton store, but not a McDonald’s. At this summit, Mongolia listened to the opinions of foreign investors, their banks and lawyers. Cameron McRae, President and CEO of Oyu Tolgoi LLC, the company which is implementing the largest project in Mongolia, summed up what was discussed at the summit in a few words. He said that the three most needed things were; immediate stability of the legal environment that supports investment, successful project financing and the guarantee of the sanctity of contracts.
Many factors such as the presidential elections, trending populism and patriotism, China’s weakening demand for coal, cheaper coal prices, positive changes from strategic investments, the draft mining law, sales of Chinggis bond and the international attention on Mongolia will all have their own impacts on our economy before the next summit comes the following year.
All the participants must not forget that Mongolia will spend another year of development and will need to experience a significant improvement in the living standards of our people by the time the “London eye” looks at us again next year.
Note: It was evident that the staff of the Embassy of Mongolia in London were hardworking and capable people. This is based on the fact that they were showing great effort in giving presentations and engaging with different stakeholders, despite the absence of their senior officials.
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Palmer Prize Awarded to Mongolia’s Suren Badral, Honoring Diplomats for Advancing Democracy
The Community of Democracies Ministerial, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia April 29
Three diplomats were recognized at the Ulaanbaatar Ministerial of the Community of Democracies for their work in advancing democracy with the second biennial Mark Palmer Prize. The award named for a former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, were presented at a ceremony at the Ulaanbaatar Ministerial. They have gone to diplomats from Mongolia and Sweden. In addition, an award has been made posthumously to a diplomat from the United States. The Mark Palmer Prize is the first award an international body has honored diplomats for their contributions to the cause of democracy and human rights.
Mark Palmer, for whom the prize is named, is noted for strongly supporting Hungarian democratic activists prior to the fall of Communism. He also played a key role in conceiving the Community of Democracies and the National Endowment for Democracy. When asked to reflect on the significance of the award in his name, Ambassador Mark Palmer commented: “I hope this Prize will help make a dictator-free world a central objective of the democracies’ diplomacy.” In addition to the recipients of the Prize given in his name, Mark Palmer himself was remembered and honored by the Council for a Community of Democracies (CCD) and the nongovernmental International Steering Committee of the Community of Democracies after his passing in January of this year.
Ambassador Palmer observed that during the transition to democracy in East/Central Europe neither he nor his counterparts had clear guidance from their capitals on how to relate to the emerging democrats at the Cold War’s end. As a result, Palmer launched A Diplomat’s Handbook for Democracy Development Support (www.diplomatshandbook.org); a project directed by retired Canadian Ambassador Jeremy Kinsman which has been adopted by the Community of Democracies.
The Handbook, widely consulted in recent years by diplomats of many democracies, seeks to fill a vacuum by providing a tool kit of ideas of how diplomats can relate to democracy activists and civil society to assist with democratic transitions. It also presents case studies of how diplomats from many nations have worked to encourage, support and advance democracy.
This marks the second time the Palmer Prize has been awarded by CCD on behalf of the nongovernmental International Steering Committee of the Community of Democracies. It is intended to identify diplomats who exemplify the new dimension in diplomacy reflected in the Handbook. The Palmer Prize is made possible by the Sándor Demján Foundation.
The recipients of the award are:
Suren Badral, Mongolian Ambassador-at-Large, who has served as the Coordinator for the Mongolian Presidency of the Community of Democracies since 2011. Ambassador Badral worked tirelessly to support the efforts to promote democracy education, the highest priority of the Mongolian Chairmanship.
His efforts resulted in the adoption of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on Education for Democracy. Ambassador Badral initiated the process of bringing the Resolution to members of the UN, who adopted it by consensus on November 28, 2012. CD member states and civil society praised the adoption of the Resolution as a historic achievement for the CD and a legacy of the Mongolian Chairmanship.
ULAANBAATAR DECLARATION: COMMUNITY OF DEMOCRACIES’ ATTAINMENTS AND GLOBAL CHALLENGES
April 30 (cdmongolia.mn) --
We the Participants of the Seventh Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, on 29th April 2013;
Reaffirming our unwavering commitment and adherence to the purposes and principles of the Warsaw Declaration of 27 June 2000 establishing the Community of Democracies and subsequent Ministerial decisions of the Community of Democracies,
Reiterating our obligations under the United Nations Charter and our common allegiance to the principles and spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, as appropriate, other relevant international instruments,
Reaffirming that democracy, development and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing,
Reiterating also our conviction that democracy is the best known form of government to promote and protect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law for all, and to strengthen peace as well as to promote prosperity,
Recognizing that human rights, democracy and the rule of law are strengthened when States work to eliminate discrimination of any kind and strive to ensure the full participation of women on equal terms with men, in all spheres of political, social and economic life,
Stressing the importance of ensuring that government is transparent, responsive, effective and accountable to the people, and that everyone tangibly benefits from free and open societies that embrace democratic institutions, respect for the individual, tolerance of diversity, pluralism, and the rule of law,
Reaffirming the important role played by individual citizens, civil society in decision making and policy formulation, and in improving the quality, legitimacy, and effectiveness of democracies,
Expressing appreciation for the positive democratic trends in many parts of the world since the Vilnius Ministerial Conference held in 2011, including an increasing number of free and fair elections,
Welcoming the growing respect for democratic values in many parts of the world, including the initial steps taken in Northern Africa and the Middle East as well as the beginnings of political transition in Myanmar,
Noting with concern, however, the decline in the promotion and protection of social and political rights and civil liberties as well as the restrictions placed on individuals and civil society and the freedoms of expression, association, religion and belief in some countries
Expressing concern for the people of Mali who have been excluded from the democratic development of their country through the use of force, and reiterating the Community of Democracies’ resolve to support the return to a pluralistic and stable democracy governed by rule of law in Mali through inclusive national dialogue and long-term reconciliation,
Acknowledging the important role of the United Nations as well as regional and non- governmental organizations in democratic development, and other initiatives past and present that support and promote democracy and democratic values throughout the world,
Mindful of the role of international cooperation in promoting the goals set forth in the Warsaw Declaration and other international documents and commitments, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and convinced that in this field the Community of Democracies can play an important role in such cooperation and exchange of experience as well as through the provision of peer support,
Recalling that equality between men and women and the protection and promotion of women’s rights are an integral part of human rights and a fundamental criterion of democracy,
Have adopted the following:
1. We reaffirm our resolve to advance democracy in our countries and worldwide, helping bridge the gap between principles and practice and, to that end, to cooperate in an open, inclusive and transparent manner with relevant national and international stakeholders within our respective countries as well as among ourselves and other international stakeholders.
2. We reaffirm our continued commitment to the CD reform process, initiated under the Lithuanian Presidency and welcome the institutional reforms of the CD advanced under Mongolia’s Presidency, as decided by the Vilnius Ministerial Conference in 2011, including the establishment of the first Governing Council and Executive Committee, the appointment of the Community’s first Secretary-General and the institutionalization of its Permanent Secretariat. These basic institutional structures are contributing to the development of the CD into a dynamic coalition able to take real action to strengthen democracy and civil society worldwide.
3. We commend the concrete actions undertaken by the Presidency in promoting education for democracy, and will work together to promote the full and meaningful implementation of the United Nations General Assembly resolution A/RES/67/18 on Education for Democracy, which would contribute to the strengthening of democratic society and institutions, the realization of human rights and the achievement of the MDGs. Further, we commend to the attention of all CD member states the action plan contained in the International Steering Committee’s Charlottesville Declaration on Creating a Culture of Democracy through Education (CCD).
4. We applaud the concrete actions taken by the Community’s working groups since the Vilnius Ministerial Conference in support of the Community of Democracies’ objectives, including:
- Enabling and protecting civil society by coordinating diplomatic action to prevent and address the adoption of laws and regulations that unduly restrict the work of civil society;
- Establishing the Leadership Engaged in New Democracies (LEND) Network and its Working Group – a digital platform for sharing best practices, peer-to-peer exchanges, and information on reform and the rule of law with those leaders guiding democratic transitions;
- Streamlining the activities of the Working Group on Education for Democracy to focus on practical actions, such as organizing international seminars, developing curriculum framework, establishing a new digital library of democracy education curricula and materials.
5. We also welcome other activities by the Community, including:
- Organizing the International Women’s Leadership Forum in Ulaanbaatar in July 2012;
- Convening of the first informal Asia-Pacific Ministerial meeting in Ulaanbaatar on 28 April 2013 at which the Ministers decided to regularly hold such a meeting at the margin of the CD Ministerial Conferences;
- Launching an Asian network for democracy to consolidate regional civil society activities and strengthening democratic gains in Asia;
- Promoting regional and country-to-country dialogue, cooperation and exchange of experiences in democratic development;
- Continued meetings of the UN Democracy Caucus that addressed issues such as democracy education, the rule of law, and democracy support;
- Successfully implementing the first round of the Democracy Partnership Challenge Task Forces for Tunisia and Moldova;
- Initiating the process to apply for an observer status with the United Nations General Assembly;
- Recognition of the Parliamentary Forum for Democracy, established under the Lithuanian Presidency, as an affiliated body of the Community of Democracies;
- Holding the first meeting of a Group of Friends of the Community of Democracies in Bamako with the aim of supporting Mali’s return to democratic order;
- Establishing an Ad Hoc Group for Myanmar to support that country’s transition towards democracy;
- Supporting effective cooperation with civil society to improve the transparency, accountability, legitimacy and performance of democratic governments.
6. We welcome the concrete and practical outcomes of the fora of the five pillars of the CD, namely, parliamentary, civil society, women, youth and the corporate fora, held in Ulaanbaatar on 27-28 April, which addressed the challenges and opportunities in promoting and consolidating democratic reforms, including means of harnessing open governance for democracy, and addressing the issues of more effectively fighting against corruption. These fora also provided an opportunity to share experiences and chart further cooperative measures, including related to tackling the issues of open government, transparency, democratic governance and support for emerging democracies. Their input to this Ministerial conference, annexed to this declaration, is greatly appreciated and lays the basis for further concrete actions of the CD in cooperation with its pillars.
7. We resolve to further increase and strengthen the activities of the Community of Democracies in support of greater democratic governance in our countries as well as in promoting and protecting democratic values in countries where democracy faces challenges.
To this end we:
- Support the activities of the pillars of the CD in promoting transparent and accountable democratic governance; in addressing, where necessary, the challenges to such governance and promoting human rights and freedom;
- Work together to emphasize human rights, fundamental freedoms and democratic governance as integral parts of inclusive development and the eradication of extreme poverty as the international community works to formulate the post-2015 development framework;
- Provide support to countries undergoing transitions to democracy to facilitate the emergence of democratic societies defined by good governance, protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as respect for rule of law as stated in the resolution 19/35 of the United Nations Human Rights Council;
- Support and defend an enabling environment for civil society, including through the adoption of legislation that does not put undue restrictions on civil society, in all nations;
- Resolve to protect and promote freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, religion and belief and provide support to those whose rights are being denied or infringed upon; emphasizing that human rights including freedom of expression apply online as well as offline;
- Improve international observations of elections so as to ensure the transparent and genuine expression of the will of people and, if needed, offer recommendations for improving the integrity and effectiveness of electoral and related processes without interfering in the election processes;
- Support the strengthened role of the Community of Democracies at the United Nations by:
· Encouraging the UN Democracy Caucus to take a leading role in supporting the goals of the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Community of Democracies Warsaw Declaration, in the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and other relevant UN bodies;
· Supporting the work of the UN special mechanisms on issues relating to democracy and human rights, particularly the UN Special Rapporteurs on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the situation of human rights defenders;
· Developing closer cooperation with the United Nations Development Program, the United Nations Democracy Fund, other relevant UN bodies and the UN Alliance of Civilizations.
- Promote the goals of empowering of women and their full participation in all spheres of political, social and economic life as well as fighting gender-based violence;
- Promote further cooperation and coordination of efforts between the Community of Democracies and international and regional organizations, and initiatives such as the Open Government Partnership;
- Redouble our efforts to include civil society views in all aspects of the Community of Democracies, to provide support to the nongovernmental International Steering Committee, and to support civil society in all countries in the world.
- Explore the benefits of transforming the Community of Democracies towards a fully-fledged international organization.
8. We welcome the new Presidency of El Salvador and express our commitment to support and assist El Salvador in leading multi-stakeholder efforts to protect, strengthen and advance democracy and democratic values in our countries and beyond.
9. We congratulate Mongolia on its outstanding leadership of the Community of Democracies and its efforts to advance democracy and democratic values in the Asia-Pacific region and around the world. We also express words of gratitude to Mongolia for the successful hosting of the VII Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies in Ulaanbaatar.
Suu Kyi attends Mongolian summit – Burma News International, April 29:
UN chief: Member States must strengthen democracy, preserve fundamental freedoms – UN News Centre, April 29
2013 Community Of Democracies Ministerial, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia April 27-29, 2013 – U.S. Department of State, April 30
Deputy Secretary William J. Burns’ Remarks at the Community of Democracies Ministerial – U.S. Department of State, April 29
Hijran Huseynova participated in Conference of the Community of Democracies – Armenia.Az, April 30
Mrkic: Visit To Mongolia Chance To Explain Essence Of Agreement – in Serbia, April 29
Nigeria: Vice President Sambo Arrives Mongolia for CoD Meeting – AllAfrica, April 28
Kyrgyz and Norwegian foreign ministers call on Mongolia’s president – UB Post, April 29
Mogi: a move that also aims to help Banpu’s operations in Mongolia, Hunnu Coal
Thai PM signs three trade MoUs, wants investment protection agreement with Mongolia
April 29 (Bangkok Post) Thailand has signed three agreements with Mongolia aimed at boosting trade and investment between the two countries, while also offering support for Mongolia to join the Cobra Gold military exercises.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra kicked off her three-day official visit to Mongolia yesterday.
She is the first Thai leader to visit the landlocked country that spreads across parts of Central and East Asia.
Ms Yingluck and her Mongolian counterpart Norovyn Altankhuyag signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to set up a dialogue aimed at increasing trade and investment cooperation.
Another MoU involved building cooperation between Mongolia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Thailand's Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking.
The agreements aim to increase economic cooperation and ease investment conditions between the countries.
The leaders also signed an agreement to boost cooperation on science and technology including biotechnology, food, pharmaceuticals, electronics and computers.
The leaders held a discussion in full chamber at Mongolia's State Palace in the capital Ulan Bator before signing the MoUs.
Mr Altankhuyag said Ms Yingluck's visit will help to foster closer ties.
Prime Minister's Office secretary-general, Suranand Vejjajiva, said Thailand supported Mongolia's willingness to fully participate in the Cobra Gold multinational military exercise in Thailand, pending the support of other participants.
Mongolia takes part in Cobra Gold as an observer.
Mr Suranand said the government is also ready to sign the Agreement for the Promotion and Protection of Investment with Mongolia. The deal would double trade between the two nations within the next three years, he said. Two-way trade last year with Mongolia was worth US$13.69 million (400 million baht).
Thailand premier visits Mongolia in attempt to bolster trade relations – The China Post, April 29
Historic Visit Opens Door To Expanded Mongolia-Thailand Ties – Bernama, April 30
Bilateral business forum set to broaden Mongolia-Czech cooperation
April 28 (UB Post) The Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) announced this week that it will convene a bilateral Mongolia and Czech Republic Business Conference on April 29 and 30.
Jointly organized by the MNCCI and the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Mongolia, the event aims to broaden economic cooperation between Mongolia and the Czech Republic.
Delegates from both countries from wide range of fields, including construction, railways, automobiles, aircraft, equipment, beverages, meat, dairy products, agriculture, chemical products, insurance, and transport will participate in the event.
Hungary eases visa conditions for Mongolian visitors
April 29 (UB Post) The Minister of State and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Hungary Zsolt Nemeth informed Mongolia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs L.Bold this weekend that the visa conditions for Mongolian visitors to Hungary will be eased.
The new visa arrangement will be in force from May this year and Mongolians will be able to apply for visas for Hungary at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Ulaanbaatar.
Minister L.Bold received Minister Zsolt Nemeth on Sunday to exchange views on bilateral and multilateral relations and collaboration. The meeting took place in the frame of Minister Zsolt Nemeth’s visit to Mongolia to attend the VII Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies (CD).
Zsolt Nemeth expressed Hungary’s interest in bolstering its relationship with Mongolia. He also congratulated Mongolia on its successful presidency of the CD and Mongolia’s contribution towards expanding the CD’s operations.
Canada: How to leverage a growing relationship with Mongolia
April 25 (Julian Dierkes, Embassy News) The foreign minister’s parliamentary secretary heads there this week. Canada should set up an active bilateral aid program and find ways to encourage people-to-people exchange with the Asian country.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Foreign Minister Deepak Obhrai is heading to Ulaanbaatar to attend the ministerial conference of the Community of Democracies in the year that Canada and Mongolia are celebrating 40 years of diplomatic relations.
In Mongolia he will find is a vibrant democracy with all the turmoil and party shenanigans that democracy brings with it. He should take particular note of Mongolia’s efforts in coming to terms with its mineral wealth and recognize the productive role that Canada can play in these efforts.
Mongolia is an ideal candidate for the Conservative desire to pursue its values through diplomacy, commercial relations, and reformulated international development assistance. Setting up an active bilateral aid program as well as finding ways to encourage people-to-people exchange will leverage a growing relationship.
This summer, Mongolia will hold its sixth democratic presidential election likely pitting incumbent President Ts Elbegdorj against an as-of-yet-unnamed candidate nominated by the opposition Mongolian People’s Party. This presidential election will follow on last year’s parliamentary election that brought about a peaceful transition from an MPP minority government (Mogi: MPP had majority actually) to a Democratic Party-led coalition government under Prime Minister N Altankhuyag.
Earlier this year, Mongolia’s political rights score in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World report moved from 2 to 1, the highest mark. How many developing resource economies are there out there for whom these statements would hold? Mongolia is certainly the only member in the club of post-state socialist democracies in Asia.
Given the Harper government’s focuses on democratic values, free trade, and Canada’s role as a resource power, there are few countries that offer more attractive characteristics. This is especially true with recent announcements of a refocus for Canadian development assistance. If such assistance is to be integrated into broader foreign policy objectives and if co-operation with (mining) companies and concentration on resource development is to be the focus, Mongolia again emerges as an attractive partner.
Mongolia has long been one of the rare countries in the world where Canada figures very prominently as an investor. Following massive Chinese investments, Canadian investments come second largely through the involvement of Vancouver-based Turquoise Hill Resources, which is a by-now-junior partner to Rio Tinto (Mogi: junior? No, owned by Rio Tinto it should say) in the massive Oyu Tolgoi mine project. This commercial link is one of the factors that led the Harper government to establish an embassy in Mongolia in 2009 at a time when it has been cutting the Foreign Affairs budget on all other fronts.
Bilateral aid program deserves more attention
So far, Canadian engagement with Mongolia is limited to a few specific projects supported through various CIDA funds. But the development of a modest bilateral aid program for Mongolia has long been rumoured and a CIDA officer has been stationed at the Canadian Embassy in Ulaanbaatar since last fall. This bilateral aid program should be announced and should be focused on drawing on Canadian experience in wrestling with the environmental and social challenges that resource projects produce in remote communities.
Commercial relations can be further enhanced through long-term assistance in building a stable and equitable regulatory regime that sees sustainable benefits accrue to Mongolians. This is probably more urgent than the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement that has been under (stalled) negotiation since 2009. Such efforts also need to acknowledge that the past actions of some mining investors in Mongolia have tarnished Canada’s image.
Finally, an active engagement with Mongolia needs more support for people-to-people exchanges. There are fewer than 1,000 Mongolians living in Canada and vice-versa (Mogi: can’t believe there are that many Canadians in Mongolia). Student exchanges, but also community links between cities in regions that face similar climatic challenges to Mongolia would support growing intergovernmental links.
It is time for Mr. Obhrai to take a good look around Mongolia, note the opportunities, and for the government to develop a fresh and expanded approach to engaging this emerging resource nation.
Julian Dierkes is an associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s Institute of Asian Research. His Twitter handle is @jdierkes.
Mongolia to help Japan reinvent itself
By Tirthankar Mukherjee
April 25 (Mongolian Mining Journal) Some four years ago, President Elbegdorj visited India, a country that does not make too many blips on the Mongolian political/economic radar. Some eyebrows somewhere must have been raised at his choice of that country for his first foreign trip as President, and the President’s Office – or some other related authority – soon issued a clarification of the media announcement – arguably not just tactless, but also insensitive and maybe even offensive to the host country – that it was not a personal choice, or a choice of any significance; the present president was being forced to go through with plans arranged by his predecessor.
There was no such speculation or denial when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Mongolia last month. It had a focus, clearly articulated, with The Asahi Shimbun saying, “Abe chose Mongolia over other potential nations to visit such as Malaysia and Micronesia, although diplomats were concerned that visiting a nation neighbouring China would be too ‘provocative’.” Other Japanese newspapers reported Abe decided on the visit after Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Chief Cabinet Secretary during Abe’s first term, had stressed the strategic importance of Mongolia. Shiozaki, now acting/deputy chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Policy Research Council, visited Mongolia in early March carrying a personal letter from Abe to its leaders. After returning to Japan, he met Abe, calling on him to visit the country by pointing it out on a map before him. “Japan should think strategically, and the prime minister himself had better make a visit,” The Yomiuri Shimbun quoted him as saying. “Mongolia is an important country,” Abe apparently replied. “I’ll strongly consider a visit.”
Abe said on his return to Tokyo that Japan “attaches importance to relations with countries which share the same values such as the rule of law and basic human rights”. Abe and Elbegdorj also agreed to launch a trilateral framework consisting of Japan, Mongolia and the United States for policy discussions. Japanese media have been unanimous in seeing the visit as a move by Abe intended to check the growing influence of China in the region. Indeed, The Japan Times has said, “China is nervously watching the deepening of ties between Japan and Mongolia.”
Politics always plays a part in international bilateral relations, but the present visit was certainly more about Mongolia as “a valued energy source” than just “a strategic neighbour”. Abe himself was forthcoming about this, when he underscored the importance of bilateral relations, particularly from the standpoint of guaranteeing Japanese energy security, at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Altankhuyag. “We want to bolster ties with Mongolia with the objective of creating a good makeup of various energy sources,” he said. “Mongolia is an energy giant, and both countries can create a win-win relationship, with Japan’s technological prowess.”
The two leaders pledged to accelerate talks toward the establishment of an economic partnership agreement. Under the “Erch” (a Mongolian word meaning vitality) initiative, Japan will encourage its private sector to invest in the development of the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine as well as rare earths and other minerals. Altankhuyag said that Mongolia will try to ensure a long-term stable supply of coal for Japan. There are too many bridges to cross before these go beyond statements of intent, but it is clear that Japan is serious about exploiting Mongolian natural resources to be able to maintain its technological pre-eminence, now under threat from several directions.
How Japan, a pretty average Asian feudal state until the middle of the 19th century, got to be where it is, is a fascinating study. The journey and the dream began 160 years ago, in 1853, when Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry steamed into the Tokyo bay with four steamships. The Japanese had never seen a steamship, made of steel, painted black all over, with a funnel belching smoke. The dragons in their lore had come alive. The Japanese decided to take no notice of the foreign devils, but Perry was willing to wait, and wait. After nine months, he left with a treaty which permitted American ships to enter two ports.
Thus began Japan’s discovery of the West. It imported mechanical spinning and weaving machinery, and became a major textile exporter. It learnt to use Western ships and arms, invaded China and created an empire in Mongolia and Korea. By the early 20th century, Japan was the only industrialised country in Asia. That raised its ambition to be an imperial and expansionist power, an adventure that ultimately led to the atomic annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese surrendered, and U.S. forces occupied Japan for seven years.
Japan has never formally admitted to the atrocities it committed during its days of ruthless expansionism, but has abandoned any plans to bring out power from the barrel of a gun, choosing instead a pacific route to supremacy. It rebuilt its industry, concentrating this time on steel, engineering and automobiles. It became better at engineering than the veterans of Europe and the USA, and offered equipment at lower prices. As its exports zoomed, it accumulated big payments surpluses, which it invested all over the world.
After a few decades, however, Japan found a better imitator in China than it itself had been of the West. China started making Japanese machinery at much lower cost. Since China did not follow capitalist rules, it was no use asking it to pay royalties. So the Japanese closed down their factories and sent them to China, becoming the biggest investors in China. China became the world’s biggest manufacturing exporter, and Japanese companies earned good dividends from the business. As long as the Japanese could go on developing new technology, the Chinese continued to value their connection.
Soon the Chinese were tired to be second to the Japanese. It was only a matter of time before they started making up their own technology. Another problem for Japan was that their big companies could grow fatter on profits from China, but they could not create jobs for young Japanese at home. Japan has always had very low unemployment, because its big business saw it as its duty to give jobs. The Japanese have seen the Chinese beat them in competition in one activity after another. They ask themselves: what will the Japanese of the next generation do to maintain their prosperity?
And they have come up with a very interesting answer: they would like Japan to become the technological capital of the world. The Japanese have been good at technology for a long time: they imitated others up to a point, and then they became good at making up their own as well. But now they do not aim to be the world’s best innovators. They see that as an uncertain game, in which the Chinese now excel, while the Americans continue to have the best universities and research outfits. Instead of trying to beat everyone else and to make Japanese technology the world’s best, the Japanese have decided to invite the world’s best innovators to come and settle down in Japan. They thus hope to make Japan the world’s technology hub.
There is space for eminence in today’s world, but the scope for pre-eminence is shrinking. If Japan wants to reinvent itself and get out of a deflation-ridden and unimaginative economic rut, it needs uninterrupted energy, and this is why Abe came to Mongolia.
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Queensland signs high-level tech deal with Mongolian college
April 27 (The Morning Bulletin) CENTRAL Queensland TAFE is strengthening its international ties with the signing of a new memorandum of understanding with the director of Mongolia's Gobisumber Polytechnics College this week.
Representatives from the college are touring Central Queensland region and TAFE facilities.
The contingent first visited CQ TAFE last year after the prime ministers of Australia and Mongolia signed an agreement in 2011 to implement a "twinning project", wherein CQ TAFE would share its knowledge of strategic planning, management and campus operations.
First Mongolian nominated to UN racial equality committee
April 26 (UB Post) The State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice of Mongolia, Bayartsetseg Jigmiddash, has become the first Mongolian to be nominated for the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
The CERD is composed of 18 independent experts who have high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights. The terms of nine members of the committee expire on January 19, 2014.
On June 3, 2013, the 25th Meeting of States Parties, which will bring together representatives of 175 member countries, will take place in New York to elect nine new committee members to replace the outgoing members. The CERD members will be elected, through a secret ballot, for a term of four years.
Most current committee members are lawyers, scientists, researchers, professors, diplomats and members of civil society who have contributed to human rights activities.
J.Bayartsetseg was formerly the Legal Policy Advisor to the President of Mongolia, in which role she spearheaded the country’s first comprehensive judicial reform, while guaranteeing political, economic, and legal security for the judiciary.
Tsogtbaatar Damdin: Why the World Should Help Mongolia Save Its Endangered Gobi Bear
In late 2012 Mongolia's Ministry of Environment and Green Development designated 2013 as The Year of Protecting the Gobi Bear, a critically endangered native species whose extant population was most recently numbered at 22. Mongolia prohibited Gobi Bear hunting as far back as 1953, but more recently environmental degradation of its habitat has been cited as a major reason for its decline.
To address this issue, and to frame it in terms laymen around the world can understand, Asia Blog welcomes Damdin Tsogtbaatar, Mongolia's former Minister for Nature, Environment and Tourism and former State Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to explain what's at stake in the survival of this extraordinary mammal.
April 26 (Asia Society) The first impression one gets upon hearing about the Gobi Desert is one of endless, lifeless terrain sizzling with heat and buffetted by sandstorms. The reality is far from that, however. The Mongolian Gobi nurtures a few rare animals — like the wild Bactrian Camel, the Przewalski's Horse, the saiga antelope, and the snow leopard — whose populations range from the hundreds to only a few thousand. But judged by the risk of extinction, none of them matches the Gobi Bear (Ursus arctos gobiensis), which the locals call Mazaalai.
Mention of an endangered bear inevitably evokes thoughts of the cuddly panda first. Not many people would realize, however, that pandas outnumber the Mazaalai by something like 60 to 70 times. There are only 22 Mazaalais left in the whole world; nevertheless, a survey of "Top Ten Endangered Animals" lists on various international green websites doesn't turn up the Gobi Bear, although only a handful of the species that are listed (e.g., the Giant Galapagos Tortoise) could challenge the Mazaalai in terms of rarity.
Why, one may ask. First, the animal is understudied. The final genetic determination as to whether the bear is a species or a subspecies hasn't yet been reached. So far, analysis of its hair DNA suggests that the Mazaalai is related to the Himalayan Brown Bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus). Also, the concern voiced by 2.8 million Mongolians about their rare bear, unlike the concerns of the two billion about the panda, simply dissipates in a global chorus of seven billion.
We should remember that even if Gobi Bears are proven to be a subspecies of brown bear, none of the latter are fit to live in the Gobi. (No bear, regardless of its relation to the Mazaalai, can naturally adapt to the desert.) Hence, it should be protected regardless of whether it is a subspecies, for many subspecies (the Black and White Rhinoceros and Amur Leopard, for instance) are listed in the international top ten lists.
The Mazaalai is indeed different from other bears. If the forest bears' habitat varies between 12-15 square kilometers, the habitat of the Mazaalai ranges between 650-1200 square kilometers. In contrast with other bears, the Mazaalai is almost non-carnivorous: less than ten percent of its diet consists of insects and reptiles, with the rest comprised of plants, roots and berries. Lastly, the Mazaalais are smaller than their "brothers," weighing 70-140 kg.
At the same time, many characteristics make them bears as well. Their morphology is similar — and they hibernate in winter, for instance.
In short, it took nature thousands of years of evolution to produce this wonder of the Gobi. If we put that extended time into a 24-hour time frame, then this animal, given its population drop and ever-worsening habitat, is arguably now facing the final seconds of its countdown to extinction.
It doesn't have to be that way, however. Relevant examples are right there in Mongolia. In the 1960s, when the Przewalski's horse went missing in Mongolia, only around 12 heads were left in European zoos. From that number we were able to breed the current number of the horses, whose wild population in Mongolia only exceeded 200.
Therefore, with respect to Mazaalai, I would say there's hope — if we care. This animal is the heritage of the whole of humanity — and therefore shouldn't be left to the mercy of only the Mongolian state budget, whose top priority, given the significant poverty in the country, lies in increasing people's incomes. Therefore, over the last 20 years the government rarely put aside per annum a conservation budget exceeding (in U.S. dollar terms) $5000.00. Only in 2005 did it allocate funds worth approximately US$140,000. However, the lack of adequate subsequent financing made those investments inefficient. Only this year is the government allocating roughly US$200,000, and the odds are that it can't maintain such a sum permanently.
Bearing this constraint in mind, the international green caucus, along with Mongolia, should join hands in saving the animal. Although some U.S. and Canadian bear research institutions have supported Mongolia, however, their means were not unlimited. And besides being a sustainable source of co-financing, the knowledge and expertise of the broader international scientific community is of great importance.
Concerted action now can reverse the Mazaalai's "final countdown" into a countdown to end the ignorance about it. Such a reversal would be a tribute to the thousands of (sub)species that went extinct because of us. Saving the Mazaalai will mean that we are not helplessly regretting the mistakes of our past or indifferently shrugging off the issue, but that we are learning from them and aspiring to become better, less destructive beings.
Mongolian media delegation visits exile Tibetan community
Dharamshala, April 26 (The Tibet Post International) - A group of Mongolian media delegation is currently on a visit to the Tibetan community in Himalyan town of Dharamshala. The visit was organised by the Office of Tibet for East Asia based in Tokyo and Telo Rinpoche, the spiritual head of Kalmykia republic.
The delegation comprised representatives from Mongolian TV and radio services and newspapers arrived in Dharamshala, on April 24, according to the Central Tibetan Administion (CTA).
They visited the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPIE) today and met Speaker Penpa Tsering. The Speaker briefed them about the democratisation of the Tibetan community in exile and the functions of the Tibetan Parliament.
The delegation also visited the Department of Information & International Relations (DIIR). Mr Tashi Phuntsok, secretary of DIIR offered them greetings from the Central Tibetan Administration for visiting Dharamsala.
'Tibet and Mongolia shared centuries old historical ties when their powerful empires held sway across Asia, including China,' Mr Tashi told the delegation while briefing about the evolution and functions of CTA.
Both Tibet and Mongolia have faced political vicissitudes, he said adding, but the political situation will change. He said the Mongolian students studying in Tibetan religious, cultural and educational institutions in exile symbolises the continuation of the hundreds of old priest-patron relationship between Tibet and Mongolia.
He explained the delegation the CTA came into being following China's invasion of Tibet in 1950 and the coming into the exile of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and over 85,000 Tibetans in 1959.
Secretary Tashi also said CTA aims to restore freedom in Tibet and rehabilitate Tibetan refugees in exile. He said Tibetan seek to restore freedom in Tibet through its commitment to democracy and non-violence and engaging in dialogue with the Chinese government to resolve the issue of Tibet within the framework of China's constitution.
The rehabilitation includes promoting education among the exile population, building a firm culture of democracy, and paving the way for self-reliance in the Tibetan community, he said.
'The Tibetan administration has evolved into a complete democratic institution on a par with the international standard with the devolution of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's political responsibility to the democratically-elected Tibetan leadership in 2011,' further added.
He said Tibetan people's truthful and non-violent struggle for freedom and dignity will eventually succeed, adding that the world trends have proved that.
Mr Tashi on behalf of the CTA appealed to the media delegation to let the Mongolian people know about the issue of Tibet.
They also met Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, the elected leader of the Tibetan and political successor to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and DIIR Kalon Dicki Chhoyang on 25 April.
The delegation will visit Tibetan educational, religious and cultural institutions in Dharamshala after an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on 26 April.
Mongolian parliament discusses LGBT human rights
April 26 (Gay Star News) 'A historic moment for the Mongolian LGBT community,' says Otgonbaatar Tsedendemberel
The rights of LGBT Mongolians were discussed in parliament for the first time in the former Soviet country on Wednesday (24 April).
The Standing Committee of Legal Affairs discussed a report submitted by the National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia (NHRCM) about several groups of people who lack human rights in the country, including LGBT people.
'This is the first time that the Mongolian Parliament is discussing the LGBT rights issues and in this sense it is a historic moment for the Mongolian LGBT community,' Otgonbaatar Tsedendemberel, executive director of Mongolia LGBT Centre, told Gay Star News.
'However, this also showed that there is no common understanding and acceptance of the LGBT community of Mongolia at the parliament level, despite it claims to have professed democratic values and human rights principles.'
A couple of MPs giggled when the chair of the committee spelled out what LGBT stands for and one MP, O Baasankhuu said the report from Mongolian LGBT Centre was just full of people who wanted society's pity.
MPs from the socially liberal Democratic Party, of which there 12 on the committee, asked how many LGBT people there are in Mongolia and how many have 'registered' at the LGBT Centre.
The committee decided to hold another session on the issue next week.
It is a year of firsts for LGBT rights in Mongolia this year. Mongolia LGBT Centre are planning the first ever Mongolia Pride for September.
Michelle Borok: I Am A Mongol Now
April 29 (Seeking Asian Female Documentary) I wasn’t particularly good at dating. I don’t think I got enough practical training with pretend boyfriends in grade school. I can’t even remember my first date. I took on my first domestic partnership at 20. I moved from Memphis to Minneapolis, and spent two years playing house. Within a year I was shacked up with a new guy, and we played house for about seven years. I thought it was the closest I’d ever get to marriage. We moved cross-country together, got a second dog together, had a joint auto insurance policy, bought a house together, and fought a lot. It seemed like marriage enough to not have to make it official, and when it was over, I was convinced I’d never enter into another long term social contract ever again.
After we split up, I went on a bit of a dating rampage. I imagined I had fallen in love once or twice, had a few one-night stands and took on a few “boyfriends,” all the while taking stock of what worked and what didn’t. It was systematic and predatory. About 90 percent of the time, the men were the prey. I offered up disclaimers about intimacy and had to apologize for being “emotionally unavailable” and “cold” when things didn’t work out.
I had no idea what I wanted, but I knew I didn’t want more of the same.
Different has always been my normal. I’m the child of an interracial relationship that was complicated. My mother met my biological father in Korea in 1975. I was born out of wedlock (strike 1). My father was a 2nd generation Portuguese-American living in Korea, doing contracted work for the US military there (strike 2). My mother was from an affluent, well-connected family (strike 3) and not prone to blindly following the rules. Back then, mixed-race kids living in Korea were all thought to be (and many were) the children of wanton women canoodling with US soldiers on the peninsula, to get better access to Pringles and Spam from the commissary, and maybe even end up with an American husband. Regardless of my mother’s circumstances and social standing, living in Korea, I was still going to be a perpetual outsider, and judged by small-minded people. It’s only a little different in Korea now, but back then, growing up half-Korean in Seoul would have been rough-going.
My mom wasn’t keen on my growing up in an atmosphere of prejudice, and when she met my adoptive father, she knew she had found the best person on the planet to raise me as his daughter. After they were married, I moved to the US, where I lived up until last year.
It began in 2010, which I dubbed “The Year of Men.” In my search for something different, I promised myself that 2010 was going to be the year I bagged an Asian.
I’m the Asian girl that never had a problem being attracted to Asian guys, but had a problem with them being attracted to me. I had all kinds of crushes on scrawny, bowl-cut, nerdy Asian boys, as well as the strapping and popular ones. I don’t know what good it would do now to speculate why they weren’t asking me out – in fact I’m not sure that’s ever a good thing for women to waste their time on. We get bombarded daily with messages that tell us we aren’t skinny/pretty/young/demure/rich/cultured enough to be considered desirable. Society has that covered – no need to do any heavy lifting of our own.
But yeah, Asian guys didn’t dig me, so I dated everyone else instead. I didn’t have a preference for white guys, but I came across plenty that had a “preference” for Asian women. Some were disappointed with me being “only” half-Asian. I can safely say that I never entered into serious relationships with anyone with Yellow Fever, but I did have less-than-serious relations with some of the afflicted.
In 2010 I went to Mongolia for my first solo vacation ever. I fell in love with the country after just a couple of days in its less than loveable capital, Ulaanbaatar. The people on the street looked more like me than any other place I’d ever been to, and I don’t even look that Mongolian. I saw a place that was a juxtaposition of East and West, was in a constant state of flux – despite being rooted in ancient cultural traditions, and things just made sense to me. It was exhilarating. The men were also crazy hot. I was crushing on every stranger on the street, from high school boys to leathery old men who looked like they had given up their lives on the steppes and reluctantly migrated to the city. My best friend joined me for the last half of the trip. After a two hour drive out of the capital with an incredibly handsome Mongolian driver who just smiled when I giggled at how hot he was the two of us went on a 7-day trek with a translator and a nomadic herdsman who spoke no English.
The nomad ended up being my first Asian.
Two years later, the incredibly handsome driver became my husband.
I moved to Mongolia early last year, after a second trip here in 2011. My now-husband was my driver again, and he talked instead of just smiling when I giggled. We had the longest long-distance relationship I had ever had, and had to have a third party present to translate for us. We’ve been married for a year, and now have a daughter. I have a massive family of in-laws that I adore, and while I miss my friends and family terribly, my life here is fulfilling in ways I never imagined.
I wanted something different, and I found it.
Maybe I should have been diligently pursuing Asian men all along, but I think the missing ingredient was the Mongolian man.
I knew that in the field I had been playing, I was dating men I could emotionally dominate. I kept telling my gal pals, I needed a partner in crime. I needed a man’s man who wasn’t a bro. I needed to steer clear of depressed guys who looked up to me for the wrong reasons. It seemed hopeless until I stumbled upon Mongolia.
Mongolian men have their own brand of machismo that I adore in a really primal way. It stems from Chinggis Khaan (better, but inaccurately known as Genghis Khan) and his legacy of fearlessness, conquest, and sovereignty. The modern Mongolian man is a lot brawnier than the Asian American boys I grew up with, and he can feel threatened by outsiders, but doesn’t lose sight of his pathological dedication to representing the mythology of his roots. Perhaps 70 years of Soviet governance and its related cultural isolation (on top of geographic isolation) kept them sheltered from the negative stereotypes of the Long Duck Dong Asian male. Maybe it’s just unbeatable Chinggis spirit. Either way, I’m glad they were spared for a little while.
Of course, there’s a dark side to Mongolian machismo. Domestic violence is generations away from being dealt with in a way that the Western world would find suitable. Women here commiserate about the tendencies of their brawny, brazen men to get silverback gorilla about gender roles. Despite generations of Mongolian women leading households, workplaces, and academia, there are still far too few women in government, and too many glass ceilings.
But back to me… Realistically, the actual missing ingredient I spent my single life searching for was the specific Mongolian man that I met and fell in love with. Reaching a point in my life where my priorities finally fell in line with my heart also helped considerably. Race and ethnicity really had nothing to do with the final outcome, unless you factor in the role that they played in getting me here. I spent most of my life accepting that my racial identity mattered to others, and thereby letting it matter to me.
Now I’m a truly a foreigner again. My race doesn’t complicate matters, but my limited language skills and national identity do. It’s a whole new host of relationship challenges. I have to bridge cultural barriers every day. I have to justify the American way of doing things and make compromises with the Mongolian way. My husband’s friends see me as “the American wife,” not the Korean-Portuguese wife. My American-ness is exotic, not the fact that I grew up eating kimchi with every meal. Restaurants with American menus are suggested by friends and in-laws (not Korean ones) in their efforts to make a connection and make me feel more at home in their environment. Somehow the assumptions made are all more acceptable than the assumptions made back home. The efforts are sincere and practical, worlds apart from the white guy who grew up in a Midwestern suburb trying to prove he’s got his finger on the pulse of Asia just to get laid.
Or maybe they’re the same and I’m just too blissed out on life to get self-righteous about it. I’m still trying to figure it out. Get back to me in another 36 years.
Mogi: using a land they stole to steal our culture as well. Can you really blame us now?
Mongolian saddle submitted as Chinese cultural heritage
April 30 (UB Post) Some time ago it became known that Chinese officials intended to inscribe the Mongolian national music instrument, the morin khuur (horse-headed fiddle), and the national art of singing, khuumii (throat singing), as Chinese cultural heritage on the Intangible Cultural Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). After some debate, Mongolia was able to have these items inscribed on the UNESCO list as Mongolian heritage. Recently however, the issue was raised once again when it became known that China has included the Mongolian national horse saddle on a list of cultural heritage of Inner Mongolia, China.
We spoke with the Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism of Mongolia, Ts.Oyungerel, to get further information on the matter.
-What actions is the ministry is taking on the matter regarding China intending to inscribe the Mongolian national saddle as Inner Mongolian cultural heritage?
-We met with the UNESCO officials a few times and discussed solutions for managing cases in which wealthy countries inscribe their neighboring countries’ cultural heritage to the UNESCO list under their countries’ names.
The officials told us about a UNESCO study conducted over 20 years on the matter. It found that some countries in southern Africa hadn’t inscribed any of their cultural heritage to the UNESCO list, but wealthy neighboring countries had taken advantage of it and had the heritage inscribed under their countries’ names, in great numbers. The study also showed that China has inscribed on the UNESCO list, as its own, the cultural heritage of many of its neighboring countries. Based on the findings of the study, UNESCO changed its rules.
Accordingly, any country willing to inscribe an item of intangible heritage shall now only be able to inscribe one heritage item per year and it must be only its own national heritage. In 2008 China submitted to UNESCO a list of heritage items to inscribe on the UNESCO heritage list over the following 10 years. The Mongolian national saddle was on this list. The list included over 40 items of cultural heritage to be inscribed under Inner Mongolia’s name, and it even included the Mongolian Naadam Celebration of “Three Manly Sports,” which is inscribed as Mongolian intangible cultural heritage. In such ways, many items of Mongolian national heritage are submitted to UNESCO under other countries’ names.
-Then can we understand that China cannot inscribe, as China’s cultural heritage, the Mongolian national saddle?
-China needs 40 years to complete inscribing the heritage on its list. They can’t inscribe the Mongolian saddle in 2013. China will have to choose whether to inscribe its own heritage first or foreign heritage. As UNESCO has changed its rules to prevent countries from inscribing other countries’ heritage, awareness is growing in countries such as Mongolia and southern African countries that many of their national cultural heritage items have been tentatively inscribed in the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list under foreign countries’ names. UNESCO officials have advised us to fully exercise our rights and try our best to inscribe our national heritage before other countries do so.
We are protected by the UNESCO revised rules. Before the amendment, wealthy countries used to establish universities to study foreign heritage. After this they submitted as many as 30 to 40 cultural heritage items to UNESCO, even if those items originated from other countries.
But, at the same time, submission of items to UNESCO, including work such as translating the heritage material into the six official languages of UNESCO, costs a lot, and we also lack professional officials to work on this matter. We must submit to UNESCO a list of Mongolian intangible cultural heritage to be inscribed on the UNESCO list in the next 10 years. If Mongolia and China have any of the same heritage items on their lists, the two countries must sign an agreement. We will also have to explain to UNESCO that the saddle is a part of Mongolian national handicraft art to prevent the saddle being inscribed under the name of Inner Mongolia. Therefore, I will work closely with experts of the Cultural Heritage Division of the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism (MCST) from May onwards.
The process of having intangible heritage inscribed on the UNESCO list has two stages. First, you submit your heritage list [prepared by your country] and after that you advance the next stage of having the heritage inscribed in the UNESCO list. We are thinking of submitting to UNESCO a list including many items of Mongolian national heritage, and are planning to formulate the list soon. We are receiving proposals from the public regarding what heritage must definitely be included in this preliminary list to be sent to UNESCO.
-What is the significance of receiving proposals from citizens?
-We have to understand the inscribing requirements of UNESCO cultural heritage. Any submission of cultural heritage to UNESCO must not be based on a government’s proposal towards its citizens, but on the reverse. The submission can be sent if any citizen proposes to the government that it submit a specific item of cultural heritage to UNESCO on behalf of Mongolia. For instance, if a citizen claims “I make horse saddles and it has been a long tradition of my family, which dates back to my ancestors’ period” and proposes that we submit the saddle to the UNESCO list, it will be much easier to have them inscribed.
Therefore, I am calling on those people who revere our national art of making horse saddles in a unique and distinct manner, and who sincerely wish to inscribe it [the saddle] on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List to urgently submit their requests to the Mongolian government.
-How many items of national cultural heritage of Mongolia have been inscribed on the list?
-In total, 11 heritage items have been inscribed including, khuumii, the Mongolian reed pipe, the folk long song, the morin khuur, etc.
When Mongolia proposed inscribing Burkhan Khaldun Mountain as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the UNESCO officials refused it on the basis that “the Mongolian government seems to issue a lot of orders to protect various places. But they are of no significance if the country’s citizens are unwilling to protect them too.”
I want to say that though the government is expected to work diligently to inscribe our heritage on the list, it is our citizens who must take the greatest share in inscribing our heritage, with pure devotion. The willingness of citizens to inscribe the saddle is the most important step in inscribing it. We need to provide proof to UNESCO that Mongolians make saddles and that many Mongolians currently use them as well.
-What heritage from Mongolia is set to be inscribed in the UNESCO list in 2013?
-We submitted a material to inscribe the Mongolian national calligraphy [script] in the UNESCO list. We are not sure the UNESCO will inscribe it yet, as it must pass many criteria to be inscribed.
Nomin Jagdardorj Wins US National High School Journalism Award
April 27 (Journalism Education Association) --
Rock Bridge High School
Mogi: Now I hate you more than ever BSB!
Backstreet Boys Removes Mongolia from Tour Schedule
April 30 (Cover Mongolia) Apparently Backstreet Boys decided to break the heart of all Mongolian women ages 30-40.
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