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Court relinquishes ownership of Lenin Museum from MPP, clears way for Dinosaur Museum
June 13 (news.mn) A primary hearing regarding the ownership of the Lenin museum was held at Chingeltei District Court on Wednesday June 12th. The Primary court made a decision on the ownership of the museum dedicated to the Russian communist revolutionist Lenin.
The Judge panel delivered its decision pointing out that the museum building must be used in accordance with its museum specification not as commercial building. The panel dis-entitled the Mongolian People's Party"s (MPP) ownership who have used the building for commercial use for years.
During Wednesday's hearing the defendant representing MPP failed to appear but the judge panel continued the hearing.
The hearing was postponed several times because the defendant representing MPP failed to arrive at the court. But the judge panel decided not to delay the hearing any longer. The Government decided to use the Lenin museum for the history of dinosaurs to protect, verify, register and promote paleontological findings and cultural heritage to the public after the smuggled Tyrannosaurus (Tarbosaurus) Bataar skeleton was returned back home.
The Lenin museum was built with the State budget on the decision of the Ministry of Culture in 1974.
But after the owner of the building, the Historical Institute of MPRP was abolished, the former MPRP, now MPP, has used the building as a commercial property instead.
Currently there are 200 exhibits in the Paleontological center of the Science and Technology Academy, 90 shows in European Exhibitions, 26 in Asian Exhibitions and 150 in the Natural History museum.
Mogi: PM made a statement on Thursday saying export was delayed upon OT request to June 21
Rio Tinto delays Oyu Tolgoi export start-up from June 14, expects to keep end of June target
June 13 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto is delaying an event to mark first exports from the $6.2 billion Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia, as it awaits final clearance from the government, sources familiar with the situation said on Thursday.
Reuters and traders had been invited to a ceremony on June 14 at the site in Mongolia's South Gobi Desert to witness the first exports from the copper and gold mine to China, but were informed late on Wednesday the trip was off.
Oyu Tolgoi LLC said nothing had changed from previous statements that it was expecting first exports before the end of June. Rio Tinto declined to comment.
Start-up of the mine, the biggest in the country, is being closely watched by other companies and investors in Mongolia, who have been rattled over the past year by new regulations and concerns raised by the government over Oyu Tolgoi.
The opening of Oyu Tolgoi is vital for Mongolia as it is expected to make up a third of the country's economy by 2020.
The mine is also a crucial source of growth for operator Rio Tinto as it aims to ease its dependence on iron ore and cast off small or unprofitable assets.
Rio plans to expand the mine underground, with a final decision expected next year. The expansion hinges on finalizing around $4 billion in project financing, also expected soon.
Rio Tinto's Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd owns 66 percent of the project, while the Mongolian government owns the remainder.
Mongolia's prime minister, Norov Altankhuyag, had planned to attend the event at the mine, a government spokesman said earlier in the week.
A spokesperson for President Taskhia Elbegdorj had said it was unlikely he could attend because of activities related to his re-election campaign.
Elbegdorj, who is seen as more supportive of foreign investment than opposition candidates, is expected to win the poll, scheduled for June 26.
"We're hopeful come the second half of the year people will become a bit more positive on Mongolia," said Sam Spring, chief executive of Kincora Copper, a copper explorer with a project near Oyu Tolgoi.
"Hopefully, Oyu Tolgoi ramping up and the completion of the project financing helps, as does the presidential election."
CORRECTED-Rio Tinto set to start shipping Oyu Tolgoi copper on June 14 – Reuters, June 11
Oyu Tolgoi LLC to commence shipment from 14th of June – Business-Mongolia.com, June 11
Rio Tinto Will Finally Begin Shipments From Crucial Oyu Tolgoi Mine This Week – Trefis via Seeking Alpha, June 12
Petro Matad raises $5m through a share issue to largest shareholder Petrovis
June 12 (StockMarketWire.com) - Petro Matad (AIM:MATD), the parent company of a group concentrating on oil exploration, as well as future development and production, in Mongolia, has raised $5m before expenses.
This has been done through the issue of 90,612,540 ordinary shares of $0.01 each to its largest shareholder, Petrovis Matad.
The new shares have been issued to Petrovis at an issue price of 3.56p per ordinary share.
The net proceeds of the funding, along with the company's existing cash reserves of approximately $2.1m, will enable Petro Matad to undertake field operations during the current 2013 field season.
As previously notified to the market, the company is in the process of conducting a farm-out. The company has had a number of international companies visit the farm-out data room.
It is now closed and Petro Matad is continuing discussions with interested parties. It is anticipated that the company will be in a position to make a further statement on the progress with this transaction during the third quarter.
WOF closed at A$0.057 on Thursday
Wolf Petroleum Directors Adds Stake On-Market
June 13 (Cover Mongolia) Change in Director's Interest Notices filed by Wolf Petroleum Limited (ASX:WOF) revealed Directors Matthew Wood, Brian McMaster, Jason Peterson and George Tumur bought 138,250, 743,250, 500,000 and 59,250 shares for considerations of A$7,603.75, A$40,878.75, A$27,500 and A$3,258.75 respectively.
Xanadu Mines Directors Adds Stake On-Market
June 13 (Cover Mongolia) Change in Director's Interest Notices filed by Xanadu Mines Limited (ASX:XAM) on June 11-12 revealed Directors Darryl Clark and Mark Wheatley bought 40,000 and 200,000 shares for A$3,269 and A$19,600 respectively.
June 9 (CNBC) Peter Akerley, President & CEO of Erdene Resource (TSX:ERD) says upcoming elections in Mongolia will bring about political stability paving the way for investments into the economy.
Modun Resources wins preferred coal briquettes supplier to Mongolian Govt.
June 12 (Proactive Investors) Modun Resources (ASX: MOU) is on the road to commercialising the wholly-owned Nuurst Coal Project in central Mongolia, with the company's subsidiary (Modun Resources LLC) being selected as a preferred supplier of coal briquettes to the Mongolian Government.
Modun was one of four tenderers through the Mongolian National Committee for Air Pollution Reduction which sought domestic and international expressions of interest to establish a new cleaner fuel production facility.
The next step for Modun is that the key terms and conditions of the Product Sale and Purchase Agreement will be negotiated directly with the Mongolian Government, with the briquette plant to have an initial name plate capacity of 200,000 to 250,000 tonnes per annum.
Rick Dalton, managing director for Modun, commented: "Discussions with the Mongolian Government about formalising this arrangement into an off-take agreement for the supply of Nuurst coal briquettes will commence immediately."
Mongola is targeting around October / November 2014 to be using the cleaner coal. The government is committed to reducing pollution as evidenced by the Presidential election campaign where it has become a centerpiece of Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj re-election campaign.
Modun was selected as one of four preferred suppliers as part of the government's 'Clean Air Initiative' to reduce air pollution in Ulaanbaatar.
The company's successful proposal was based on using thermal coal from its Nuurst Project and creating briquettes using a binderless coal briquetting process, which after being independently tested in Australia and Mongolia, have resulted in a substantial increase in energy and decrease in emissions.
This proven technology crushes the raw coal and uses hot gas to dry the coal to extract moisture. The dry coal is then compressed under extreme pressure to bind it together into briquettes. This is a low cost mechanical solution.
This combined with the low costs to run the briquette plant will ensure that Modun can supply a low emission, low cost and high performing product at a competitive price.
The tender process sought domestic and international expressions of interest to establish a new cleaner fuel production facility.
The Resolution passed by the Government Committee instructs the Ministry of Environment and Green Development and the Ulaanbaatar City Mayor's Office to negotiate a Product Sale and Purchase Agreement with Modun for the supply of Modun's Nuurst Project coal briquettes. Negotiations on the terms and conditions of this Agreement will commence immediately.
Ulaanbaatar ranked No.2 of world city pollution list
Ulaanbaatar is the second most polluted city in the world according to the World Health Organisation, following Ahwaz in Iran.
The majority of the pollution in Ulaanbaatar stems from the burning of low grade, high moisture raw coal in the Ger district and local power stations, with the establishment of the National Committee for Air Pollution Reduction (Committee) set-up to specifically focus on the issue.
With Mongolian energy demands continuing to rapidly grow - with energy demand forecast to grow 1000mw to 4000mw in the next 10 years - the county needs to tackle the pollution issue immediately.
Nuurst coal briquettes within the 'Clean Air Guidelines'
Importantly - the emissions produced from Nuurst Project coal briquettes fall within the 'Clean Air Guidelines' required by the government, which enabled Modun to be successful with the tender and become a preferred supplier.
Dalton added, "We have been through an extensive testing process and we are excited to be the only international company selected as a preferred supplier of coal to the Mongolian Government under their Clean Air Initiative."
Modun is the only preferred supplier who owns their coal reserve, which importantly guarantees coal supply for making the briquettes and greater control, while also placing the company in a position to have compelling economics by reducing the coal acquisition costs over its competitors.
The Modun licenced area is large and has room for the briquette plant to be built on site right next to the coal mine, which will further reduce costs and logistics, with the binderless coal briquetting process a proven technology and a very cost effective way of upgrading coal quality
Another plus for the company is that its relationship with Mongolian Government is strong, with Modun hosting two government delegations to Australia to learn about the technology and continue to have discussions at high levels within the government.
This also places Modun in a position to potentially expand the size of the agreement after the first year.
The Nuurst Coal Project has a 478 million Resource of sub-bituminous coal, and is close in infrastructure - including being six kilometres to existing rail.
Mongolia dependent on coal
Mongolia has vast untapped coal resources and is dependent on coal, due to not having large known gas reserves, while only having limited funds to import power from Russia or China - while there is also a reluctance to be dependent on either of these neighbours for their power supply.
Even with the Mongolian Government continuing to look at alternative options for power generation, the majority of their future power needs will be from a coal source, which is why the government is keen to identify a "clean coal" solution.
Modun is positioned to tap this demand.
Over the last few years the government have trialled semi-coke briquettes, however the results have been unsatisfactory from a government point of view, resulting in the Committee seeking expressions of interest to establish a new cleaner coal production facility earlier this year.
Public support for Modun
Modun has received and been encouraged by public support for the company displayed by the Office of the Mongolian President, along with the various representatives of the Mongolian Government in recent weeks.
Dalton added, "we look forward to working with the government to help achieve the objectives of the Clean Air Initiative."
Key terms of the Product Sale and Purchase Agreement
The key terms and conditions of the Product Sale and Purchase Agreement will be negotiated directly with the Mongolian Government.
Modun was provided with the following information that was used to help support its proposal:
- The briquette plant is to have an initial name plate capacity of 200,000 to 250,000 tonnes per annum;
- Total demand for domestic raw coal usage in the Ger District is between 700,000 to 900,000 tonnes per annum; and
- The pricing for domestic briquettes approved by the Committee for last year's winter was between MNT150,000 to MNT170,000 per tonne (approx. $US105 to $US119 per tonne) (source: www.air.president.mn). Pricing for next years and future winters are to be negotiated as part of the Product Sale and Purchase Agreement.
This is a significant achievement for Modun as the only international company selected as a preferred supplier of coal to the Mongolian Government under their Clean Air Initiative.
The differentiating factor for Modun's Nuurst Coal Project over other thermal coal companies within Mongolia is its access to infrastructure - including being six kilometres to existing rail and 35 kilometres from 220kv main power grid, which provides for low CAPEX when compared to other projects.
Another plus is low production operating costs of $US13/tonne, with a 2.3:1 ROM stripping ratio.
This combined with the low costs to run the briquette plant will ensure that Modun can supply a low emission, low cost and high performing product at a competitive price.
The size of Modun's resource also opens up options of export to China as well as any growth in domestic supply.
This is a valuation enhancing win for Modun in the short and medium term.
Mongolia Stock Exchange: new securities law explained
· Mongolia's long-awaited securities law introduces several new concepts into its capital markets, such as depositary receipts, custodian banks and beneficial and nominee shareholders;
· These developments make possible the triple-listing of state-owned coal miner Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi in London, Hong Kong and Mongolia. They also mean that companies with Mongolian assets incorporated overseas can list on the country's stock exchange via Mongolian depositary receipts;
· The new law includes international-standard disclosure requirements;
· Market participants are more optimistic about Mongolia's investment environment following the passage of the Securities Law;
· They predict that the Great Khural, Mongolia's parliament, will soon approve changes to its contentious foreign investment law.
June 13 (IFLR) Mongolia's Securities Markets Law will become effective on January 1 2014. Although the full text has yet to be released, the law introduces provisions that will allow for the highly anticipated triple-listing of state-owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi (ETT).
The Securities Markets Law was finally approved on May 24, after years in the State Khural, Mongolia's parliament. English translations are as-yet unavailable.
Regardless, market participants are excited about the new law's potential impact. It introduces several new concepts to Mongolia's capital markets, including dual-listing provisions which will allow for the triple-listing of state-owned coal miner ETT. It also brings local disclosure and financial statement reporting requirements in line with other emerging markets.
Mongolia Stock Exchange (MSE) deputy chief executive officer and chief regulatory officer, Saruul Ganbaatar, said the new law makes the rules of the games much more transparent and easier to understand.
"The previous law was mostly prohibitive in terms of activities to be carried out in the securities market, whereas the new one introduces more flexibility, which is a necessity for the market to grow," he said.
The Business Council of Mongolia executive director, Jim Dwyer, believed the law was a critical component for companies to tap the capital markets.
Noting the abysmal initial public offering (IPO) volumes in Mongolia in the past two to three years, he believed the country's equity market had not been working, despite the London Stock Exchange's good work in setting up a new platform.
The main changes explained
Ganbaatar said that the new version of the law includes definitions for financial instruments, such as depositary receipts, options and futures, which have become standard financial terms in most advanced and emerging economies.
These sophisticated financial instruments are becoming essential for further development of financial markets, he said.
However, drafting of the necessary regulations pertaining to, inter alia, depositary receipts, custodian banks, and dual listings still need to be finalised before the law becomes effective.
Legal uncertainty remains an issue in Mongolia. However, IFLR has seen a copy of the draft regulations and understands that the depositary receipts regime within the new securities law meets international standards.
The law enables Mongolia-listed companies to issue global depositary receipt (GDR) programmes and companies listed elsewhere to issue Mongolian depositary receipts (MDRs).
The new law also enables ETT to execute its planned triple-listing in Hong Kong, London and Mongolia. In the past, due to differing requirements, a company listed in Mongolia could not dual-list in Hong Kong.
BNY Mellon depositary receipts' vice president, Neil Atkinson, said depositary banks were often at the forefront in developing cross-border investment development in frontier markets.
"We provided comments to Mongolian regulators on the building blocks which will benefit ETT on the road towards its IPO," said Atkinson.
Previously companies that wanted to list in Mongolia had to be Mongolia-incorporated. This significantly limited opportunities for those with significant business in the country but based outside Mongolia, to tap opportunities in the country.
Atkinson said that the depositary receipt rules effectively allowed for MDRs, so companies with assets listed elsewhere would be able to list onshore.
Several Mongolia-based companies are listed on exchanges that target natural resources issuers, such as the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Australia Stock Exchange (Mogi: Australian Securities Exchange to be precise). Mongolian Mining Corporation (MMC) is listed on the Hong Kong Exchange, for example.
"There's a lot of political will for these companies to list in Mongolia and give locals the opportunity to invest," Atkinson said.
The securities law also introduces the concept of custodian banks to the Mongolian market. This is important for the development of both the depositary receipts and collective investment scheme businesses. Like the regulations on depositary receipts, the drafting of the regulations on custodian operations have already begun. IFLR has seen a copy of these proposed rules.
Ganbaatar noted that the term 'custodian bank' did not exist in Mongolia until it was briefly mentioned in the recently-passed Banking Law, and further described in the Securities Markets Law.
He believed operations of custodian banks were essential to the country's attempt to attract pools of funds from overseas, especially from the mutual and pension funds industry. The law creates a legal framework for new custodian services to be provided by local commercial banks in partnership with global custodian banks.
Market participants agreed that this was a key development. Aside from providing a framework for local custodian operations in relation to depositary receipt programmes, introducing the concept of custodian banks allows international investors to enter the country with infrastructure that they're familiar with.
This development also impacts ongoing legislation regarding collective investment schemes. It is intended to attract mutual and pension funds, as they might be required to hold assets through custodian banks.
Further, the securities market legislation includes new provisions for nominal and beneficial owners of shares – another development to attract sophisticated international investors.
Public offering regulations
Investors have previously voiced concerns as to the level of transparency in Mongolia following the passage of the controversial Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law (Sefil) last year. According to Transparency International's 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index, Mongolia is ranked 94th of 176 countries.
In an attempt to address such concerns, the law includes regulations relating to public offerings, and focuses on material information disclosure, operational transparency and corporate governance.
In a Moody's report titled 'Mongolia's New Securities Law is Credit Positive,' analysts in the sovereign risk group noted the law includes well-defined criteria to issue and publicly offer securities, including clauses to reduce risks and improve transparency.
The public offering process should also become easier for issuers. As Ganbaatar explained, economic cycles vary between short- to long-term, and businesses meet their capital needs in line with those cycles by raising additional capital from various funding sources.
In the cases that they raise capital from the public, he added, it is essential that the regulators' resolutions come in a reasonable period of time and thereby facilitate companies' funding objectives.
"One of the important features of this new law is a legal requirement to review public offerings documentation and complete due diligence regulators in a reasonably short period of time," he said.
This should grant issuers more certainty in raising money in public markets - issuers may have previously missed windows of opportunity due to regulatory delays.
Foreign investors have been wary of Mongolia following the passage of the Sefil last May and the uncertainty surrounding potential amendments. They also criticised the proposed draft Minerals Law for supporting resource nationalism. As a result of the legal uncertainty, Mongolia saw foreign investment fall 17% in 2012.
Sentiment may be improving, however. Ganbaatar said the country was willing to correct its previous errors in decision-making and move forward towards better economic conditions.
Ganbaatar said the MSE had overcome technology-related barriers with the introduction of the new Millennium IT system. It had also introduced a new legal framework to support the new infrastructure.
Moody's aforementioned report noted that the new law opens up an alternate financing avenue for Mongolia, as successful IPOs and improved liquidity should shift some of the burden of debt financing.
But a template deal must be completed to revive the country's IPO market.
According to Dwyer, one good IPO enabling the market to see how the listing process, regulatory regime and financial disclosure practice works in practice could prompt 10 to 20 decent-sized Mongolian entities to consider local as well as overseas listings.
He also expected a number of brokerages in the country. Around 100 brokerage licenses have been issued, he said.
As for the long-awaited ETT IPO, more information should be forthcoming once the presidential election takes place on 26 June. ETT has announced that it will not list in 2013, but Mongolian voters – who will receive shares in the company once listed – are likely to demand some progress.
Atkinson said the ETT IPO would help create liquidity on the MSE. Often when a stock is graded locally and a DR programme is added overseas, it increases the volume and liquidity of the stock on both markets, he said.
NatSec MSE Daily Update: Top 20 Flat, Turnover ₮57.1 Million
June 10 (National Securities) Today, the 10th of June, 2013 the MSE TOP-20 index, which seen a nice mini-rally over the last 5 days is up marginally 0.20 point to 14,998.14.
22 stocks were traded with a total value of 57.1 million MNT. The intra-day volumes were down to 55,423 after 70,739 and 90,522 volume days on Thursday and Friday last week.
Olloo (OLL) was the big gainer, +12.5% to 135 MNT. Also Tavan Tolgoi (TTL), which rose over 10% last week, rose by +0.62%. On the other hand, Aduunchuluun (ADL), which was up over the 10% on the last 5 trading days, was down -10.18% to 3,149 MNT. Remicon (RMC) was the most actively traded stock, with 21,052 shares traded and a value of 3.57 million MNT, followed by Khukh Gan (HGN) with 14,835 shares. We expect the market will be relatively stable over the next few days as it takes a small breather.
Please click here to see the detailed news
NatSec MSE Daily Update: Top 20 -2.72%, Turnover ₮28.8 Million
June 11 (National Securities) The MSE TOP-20 index plunged -2.72% to 14,589.60 on a thinner volume of 49,315 shares in 26 JSCs. Values were under half of yesterday's 57.1 million MNT, at 28.8 million MNT.
Khishig Uul (HSK), a B-board stock, jumped +15% to 690 MNT on light trading of 1,703 shares. On decliners side, Tavan Tolgoi (TTL) and Aduunchuluun (ADL) as well as Orkhon Dalai (ORD), declined -14.98% to 3,735 MNT, -14.96% to 2,678 MNT and -13.04% to 1,900 MNT respectively. The volume leader was Hermes Centre (HRM) with 20,000 shares traded at a value of 2.1 million MNT, followed by Remicon (RMC) with 14,958 shares.
Please click here to the detailed news
NatSec MSE Daily Update: Top 20 -1.76%, Turnover ₮80.2 Million
June 12 (National Securities) The 12nd of June, 2013 saw the MSE TOP-20 Index down -1.76% to 14,333.59. 175,636 shares in 26 JSCs were traded with a value of 80.2 million MNT.
A block trade in Bayan-Aldar (VIK), a B-board stock for 143,820 stock accounted for 51.3 million MNT. The stock appreciated +15% to 410.55 MNT. Also one of the top appreciaters was again Khishig-Uul (HSX) which was up +15% two-days running. Material Impex (MIE) dropped -11.11% to 12,000 MNT. Also Hermes Centre (HRM) was again the volume leader, with 18,109 shares with a value of 1.9 milllion MNT. We expect the market will be down marginally but otherwise fairly stable over the next few days.
Please click here to see the detailed news
FMG Mongolia Fund Q2 2013 Report
June 10 (FMG) --
Mongolia to Cut Mortgage Rates to Support Middle Class Growth
June 12 (Bloomberg) Mongolia's central bank plans to cut interest rates on mortgages by almost half to 8 percent from around 15 percent this month, following a new policy approved by the government to ease financial burdens on the middle class.
The new mortgages require a down payment of 10 percent to 30 percent and must be paid back in 20 years, the Bank of Mongolia's Chief Economist Sandagdorj Bold said yesterday in a telephone interview. The loans are valid for apartments smaller than 80 square meters (861 square feet), qualified applicants must have a full-time job, and monthly payments cannot exceed 45 percent of the family income, he said. The policy goes into effect on June 17.
Mongolia is experiencing double-digit and new job opportunities in the and its supply chain are building a middle class that is in need of housing. The strongest demand is in Ulaanbaatar, where half the city residents live in unplanned neighborhoods called "ger districts," which lack infrastructure such as running water and central heating.
"The intended purpose is to support the middle class and support the long-term sustainable economic growth by increasing the savings of the middle class," said Bold, adding that the 8 percent figure is meant to track the Bank of Mongolia's target rate for inflation. "It can vary plus or minus one percent depending on performance of the inflation."
Outstanding loans in Mongolia are 900 billion tugrik ($630 million), said Bold. Certain qualified homeowners can try to refinance their bank loans, if their income falls within a certain level. Bold called the level a "middle-class income," without providing specific figures.
The 14 percent to 16 percent interest rates that home buyers have been willing to carry "shows the real potential of bank lending in the financial market and the capability of lending the mortgage loans," said Bold. "This is the reality of the Mongolian financial system. The market decided the interest rate."
The new lower rates represent "a profound positive on several fronts," Nick Cousyn, chief operating officer at Ulaanbaatar-based brokerage BDSec JSC, wrote in a note to investors. "Fixed housing expense will increase disposable income, which will be spent in the local economy, growing GDP."
Mongolia's may rise 13 percent this year, the said in April. Mongolia, a country of almost 2.9 million people, has some of the world's biggest undeveloped mineral reserves, including Oyu Tolgoi, a copper and gold mine, and Tavan Tolgoi, a coal deposit.
The lower interest rate could help adsorb the increasing number of vacant units outside the city center and will also help to modernize the ger districts, said Cousyn. These neighborhoods, named after the traditional felt-covered yurt used by nomads, are the main source of smoke in winter that has made Ulaanbaatar the world's second-most polluted city, according to the .
"The ger districts will begin to disappear as the government pushes incentives like this, while encouraging builders to begin to develop the ger areas," said Cousyn.
Mongolian Export Revenue Drops 3.3% as Coal Prices Decline
June 12 (Bloomberg) Mineral-rich Mongolia's export income dropped in the first five months of this year as a result of falling coal prices paid by China, the nation's largest trading partner.
Mongolia's exports fell 3.3 percent to $1.64 billion in the first five months of this year from the same period last year, the National Statistics Office said in a release on its website yesterday. The value of coal shipments declined 44 percent to $448.6 million, while volumes dropped 14 percent to 6.33 million tons, according to the statement.
In April, the World Bank cut a forecast for 2013 Mongolian economic growth to 13 percent from 16 percent, citing declines in exports and foreign investment. Economic growth in China, which bought 87 percent of Mongolian exports in five months through May, slowed to 7.7 percent in the first quarter from 7.9 percent in the last three months of 2012.
Imports were $2.47 billion in the period, down 6.8 percent from the same period a year earlier, leaving a trade deficit of $824.7 million, according to the statistics bureau.
The value of gold shipments more than tripled to $126.2 million in the first five months from $38.9 million a year ago, according to the agency. Three tons of gold was exported compared with 0.9 tons a year earlier, the statistics office said.
Mongolia exported 1.79 million barrels of oil during the first five months of the year, up from 1.26 million barrels a year earlier, the statistics office said. The value of the exports rose 33 percent to $169.5 million this year.
Exports of iron ore were 2.32 million tons during the first five months of the year, falling from 2.39 million tons in the same period last year, the statistics office said. The value of the shipments rose 56 percent to $262.4 million from $168.2 million a year ago, according to the agency.
The nation's consumer prices rose 9.7 percent in May from a year earlier and gained 0.3 percent from April, the agency said. The number of registered unemployed fell to 40,500, the statistics office said, a 30 percent decrease from the same period last year.
Coal export income falls 43.4%, volume 12.9% in first 5 months
June 12 (Business-Mongolia.com) National Statistic Committee reported that in the first 5 months of 2013 the coal export is decreased by 12.9% by volume and 43.4% by sales income. The net export of the first 5 months totaled 6.331 million tones. Last year, the first 5 months' sales income from coal was $793.1 million comparing to this year's $448.6 million.
The export volume of coking coal has decreased by 30% in May only, whereas the price decreased by 48.5%. The price is direct impact on the sales income. Mongolia is planning to export 30 million coking coal this year, and as end of May 21% of the plan has been realized.
However, iron ore sales income has increased by 56%. 2.3 million tones of iron ore has been exported as end of May this year earning $262.5 million which is a 56% increase from last year's $168.2 million.
Coking Coal Export Charts 2012 and 2013
BoM issues 1-week bills
June 12 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 350 billion at a weighted interest rate of 11.50 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
Results of GoM Treasury Bill Auction
June 12 (Bank of Mongolia) Regular auction for 52 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 15 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 15 billion /out of 48.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold to the banks at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 10.12%.
BoM holds FX auction
June 13 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on June 13th, 2013 the BOM has sold 20 million USD and 97 million CNY to local commercial banks (Mogi: hiding the rate I see). BOM received MNT Forward agreement offers from domestic commercial banks but BOM refused all the offers.
On June 13th, 2013, The BOM has sold 72 million USD for Swap agreement.
Mogi: 6% growth is like a depression for Mongolia as one friend pointed out, sounds overly, past-the-borderline pessimistic to me. OT commercial production will delay by a "few months?" Huh?
Frontier: Mongolian Economic Outlook Update, June 05. 2013
Frontier has revised its baseline growth forecast for 2013 to 6 percent in May, significantly lower than street estimates. The forecast is based on uncertainty over key growth factors. The downward revision reflects the recent trends of negative export growth and sharply weakening FDI inflow. The ramp-up in mineral production of Oyu Tolgoi mine is expected to lift mineral output significantly starting from this summer. But, the start of the commercial production of OT will delay by a few months and that would have large adverse impact to the economy. The economy may be dragged also because majority of public investment using Chinggis bond proceeds will not start this year. 1st quarter GDP has slowed down to around 7%, slowest growth rate since 4th quarter 2010. We expect 2nd quarter GDP will slow down further to only 2%. The growth rate will pick up substantially after the commercial production of OT starts. But, the 3rd quarter GDP might be almost zero if the commercial production of OT delays and ETT's coal production will not increase so much.
Download full report in PDF format:
MONGOLIA TO HOST THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM IN ULAANBAATAR, SEPTEMBER 2013
June 13 (InfoMongolia) Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia Luvsanvandan BOLD has attended the "World Economic Forum - Japan Meeting 2013" committed to improving the state of the world that took place in Tokyo on June 09-12, 2013.
During his participation, Minister L.Bold met with the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Fumio Kishida, a member of the House of Representatives respectively, where Minister L.Bold conveyed Mongolian President's greeting to the Prime Minister Sh.Abe and noted that Japanese Premier's official visit to Mongolia in March 2013 was significant to strengthen mutual strategically important partnerships between the two countries.
In response, Premier Sh.Abe also mentioned the importance of mutual collaboration and expressed his greetings to the President and Prime Minister of Mongolia, besides underlined his support to start Ulaanbaatar Bilateral Talks on Peace and Security in Northeast Asia. Moreover, he emphasized that the upcoming visit of the Premier of Mongolia N.Altankhuyag to Japan that scheduled in September of this year would be fruitful and affirmed to pay significant attention the visit.
During the meeting between the two Foreign Ministers F.Kishida and L.Bold, parties expressed their satisfactions on progressive implementation of the issues following the visit of the Premier Sh.Abe to Mongolia and in the frames of deepening the strategic partnerships, two sides agreed to establish a Medium Term Program by implementing mutually beneficial "Dynamic" Program, besides to broaden relations in culture, education and humanitarian activities and to cooperate in strengthening regional peace and stable situation.
Moreover, Minister L.Bold met with the founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum Mr. Klaus Martin Schwab, Managing Director and Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum Mr. Borge Brende, the Chairperson of the World Economic Forum Japan Ms. Sadako Ogata, Governor of Tokyo Mr. Naoki Inose, President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Prof. Tanaka Akihiko, Chairman and CEO of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Mr. Hiroyuki Ishige, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Mr. Yoshimasa Hayashi and other representatives of Japan financial institutions to share views on current Mongolia's economy, investment environment issues and opportunities of cooperation.
Also, Minister L.Bold exchanged views with these dignitaries to involve participants at large scale by attending in the upcoming "World Economic Forum - Mongolia Meeting 2013" to be organized in Ulaanbaatar in September 2013.
CONFERENCE ON "DARKHAN" INDUSTRIAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL PARK TO RUN JUNE 13-14
Ulaanbaatar, June 10 /MONTSAME/ This conference fully titled "Innovation triangle: local administration-university-production partnership" is expected June 13-14 in Darkhan city, by initiative of S.Ganbaatar MP and with a participation of scientists from S.Korea, USA, Japan, Taipei and Federal Republic of Germany.
The action is to determine what the technological park is, to set up connections between productions. and to receive the scientists' opinions.
Professors of the Mongolian University of Science and Technology (MUST) have run preliminary feasibility study of the technological park. Some MNT 28.2 billion is required for construction of the infrastructure of the Darkhan production and technology park.
The main purpose of the park are to contribute to the local development based on centralized productions of construction material, skin, fur and wooden products. The strategic purpose will be provided by long and short term planning and will pass several development stages.
The park will consist of two parts.
Mongolia signs up Tony Blair as government adviser
June 10 (Voice of Russia) Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair - now a global consultant estimated to be worth £50 million - has signed a deal to advise the Mongolian government. Other countries which pay for Mr Blair's consultancy services include Kazakhstan, Colombia and Kuwait. VoR's Vivienne Nunis reports.
Labour prime minister for 10 years, Mr Blair is believed to have made tens of millions of pounds since he left office in 2007.
The former Prime Minister Tony Blair received warm applause and more than few laughs at his self-deprecating jokes, as he addressed a crowd at Stanford University in May last year.
It's speaking engagements like that one and a string of consultancy deals with foreign governments that have earned Tony Blair an estimated £50m since leaving office.
Mongolia signs him up
His latest deal was struck with the government of Mongolia. Mr Blair signed the contract with the country's leaders during a visit to the capital Ulaanbaatar in March.
The former leader – famous for ending the conflict in Northern Ireland - will be a key negotiator in disputes between the government and mining giant Rio Tinto.
Mr Blair's deal comes in the midst of Mongolia's mining boom, and although it's not clear exactly how much his consulting firm will be paid, it's safe to assume it's not an insignificant figure.
A similar deal with the government of Kazakhstan is believed to be worth £13m.
Also filling Mr Blair's consultancy portfolio, are deals with Colombia, Brazil and Albania – then there's the £1m he was paid for writing a report for the government of Kuwait.
Why do they stump up?
So why do these countries pay so much for the services of Tony Blair?
John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday. He's also written a biography of the former prime minister.
"He brings to them a very good contacts book in that he understands international politics. He knows a lot of world leaders. He knows a lot of important corporate, business leaders and so he can help make the connections that countries like Kazakhstan and Mongolia need and I don't think there's anything sinister or wrong about any of that."
John Rentoul says the governments in those countries have realised good quality governance is crucial in fostering economic development.
"If you don't have the rule of law. If you don't have efficient and effective public services, then it's very difficult to get economic development following."
Mr Blair and his wife Cherie own eight homes in the UK including a townhouse in London's Connaught Square, a mansion in Buckinghamshire, and properties in Bristol and Durham.
But it's not just consultancies earning Tony Blair millions.
Mr Blair is a senior advisor at investment bank JP Morgan. He advises the Swiss insurance firm Zurich Financial Services on climate changes issues and – bizarrely – he also has a consulting role with French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH.
Then there's the lucrative speaker's circuit.
Mr Blair signed to the Washington Speakers Bureau for £500,000
He typically gets paid £250,000 per 90-minute speech.
In 2009, he earned almost £400,000 for two half hour speeches in the Philippines – not bad when you consider that's more than he earned in two years in Downing Street.
So is there an ethical dilemma when it comes to former civil servants, like Mr Blair, earning money from the skills they gained while in public office?
Blair's biographer, John Rentoul, says:
"I accept there is an issue about former politicians trading on knowledge they gained in the public service but generally, people like Tony Blair could've earned a lot more in the private sector. I don't regard his accumulation of wealth as disproportionate or in any way offensive. I think he's always been true to himself in that respect - New Labour was in favour of people making a success of themselves"
John Rentoul highlights Mr Blair's charity work, pointing to the fact the former leader donated all the profits from his memoirs to the Royal British Legion.
How is Blair as Peace Envoy?
Then there's his unpaid work for the international Quartet as Middle East Peace Envoy.
I asked John Rentoul if Mr Blair had achieved very much in that role, which he's held since 2007.
"No, but that's not for the want of trying. Whether the Palestinians and the Israelis are going to negotiate is beyond even his capability I'm afraid."
The Mongolian deal doesn't look to be the last for Tony Blair.
On Sunday night he stopped over in Romania for a dinner with Prime Minister Victor Pontor.
AFCCP warns businesses to use MNT only for transactions
June 12 (news.mn) The Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection last month delivered a notice to every service provider, entity and entrepreneur to use only tugrug or MNT in circulation as currency.
The Authority conducted inspections on the service providers, entities and entrepreneurs in order to oversee if the notices were followed.
O.Magnai, the Chief of the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection said the following:
-It is good news that every transaction has to be made in the national currency tugrug in Mongolia. If there are any violations regarding the rule, a civilian can complain about it to the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumer Protection. We will take measures directly. Some civilians questioned that tax paid in a foreign currency is a violation of the law. According to the law only payment and bill should be paid in the national currency.
So I believe there are no concerns about this.
Every transaction in the automobile business, industries and schools should be in the national currency. It is now possible that any law breakers who conduct a transaction in a foreign currency will be charged.
Dutch double taxation treaties lead to huge revenue losses in developing countries: report
THE HAGUE, June 11 (Xinhua) -- The Netherlands serves as a conduit country for international tax dodging, leading to huge revenue losses in developing countries, a Dutch research agency stated in a report published Tuesday.
According to the report, published by SOMO under the name "Should the Netherlands sign tax treaties with developing countries?", Dutch double taxation treaties (DTA's) lead to huge revenue losses in developing countries because they reduce taxation on passive income.
"This is in contradiction to the Dutch government's policy coherence for development," SOMO said in a statement.
Research showed that out of the 36 researched countries, 28 countries together lose 771 million euros (1,023 million U.S. dollars) on dividend and interest tax income alone every year.
But SOMO thinks that the total revenue loss resulting from Dutch DTAs will be much higher. "This is because tax avoidance through profit shifting with the use of royalties and capital gains are not included in the calculations," the statement said.
"The Dutch government's claim that treaties are beneficial for developing countries is simply not true. This report shows that Dutch tax treaties have a seriously negative impact on poor countries' revenue and that there is no evidence that these tax losses are compensated with an increase in investment as a result of having DTAs," said SOMO researcher Katrin McGauran.
Last year, Mongolia annulled its tax agreement with The Netherlands following claims that the deal allows multinationals to avoid paying tax.
State Secretary of Finance Frans Weekers and a majority of the House recently denied that the Netherlands is a tax haven. According to Weekers, Dutch tax treaties with developing countries have a beneficial effect because they provide more investment.
Link to SOMO press release, June 10
CONSTRUCTION WORK ON NEW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT STARTS
June 13 (InfoMongolia) Over 7 years discussed a new international airport to construct at Khushigt valley in the territory of Sergelen Sum, Tuv Aimag has been finally started its operation on June 12, 2013.
However, the ground breaking ceremony was held last year in April, but construction works to start were delayed and it took a year in order to put into stream the Project by the new Government following the 2012 Parliament Election.
Nevertheless, in the scope of the Action Plans for 2012-2016 by New Government for Changes, one of the biggest projects in Mongolia - new international airport in Tuv Aimag is being continued to implement.
Back in 2008, a soft loan agreement of 28.8 billion JPY with annual 0.2% interest rate for 40 years for constructing a new international airport in Mongolia was established between the Mongolian Government and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. Meantime, the Government of Mongolia announced a tender to select an executive company for the project, but nobody had sent any offers and at the second bid announced in November of 2012 a winner for the project was selected as the "Mitsubishi-Chiyoda" Alliance. When it was ready to implement the project the fund was not sufficient under some circumstances mostly impacted by the currency rate differences.
Hence, following the visit of the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe to Mongolia held in March 2013, it was agreed to invest an additional 17.1 billion Japanese Yen into the project, thereby Government had obliged to start the project from May 01, 2013.
Consequently, the new airport is pledged to be operational by 2016, which is about 54 km south to the capital city of Ulaanbaatar and would able to receive about 3 million passengers per year, where the current Chinggis Khaan International Airport is capable to serve for only 1 million customers per year and has only one-way entrance lift off. Comparably, the new airport enables twoway entrance lift off and landing runways, despite of bad weather conditions, which means operational 24/7 and will be erected to further expandable.
At the ceremony held yesterday, Prime Minister of Mongolia, Government Ministers, Parliament Members, Ambassador of Japan to Mongolia and other officials representing an executive company have attended. Premier N.Altankhuyag noted that the International Airport would be the symbol of cooperation between the Governments of Mongolia and Japan and appreciated all people who are being involved into this project, besides into the flourishing development of Mongolian economy.
Ulaanbaatar to have a subway by 2020, lays first foundation
June 12 (Business-Mongolia.com) It was a dream for many Mongolians especially for the Ulaanbaatar city dwellers to have a subway system. Finally the initiation came from the City Government after many years of research and feasibility study. Foundation was laid yesterday for the first UB Subway from Amgalan to Tolgoit through the Peace Avenue with distance of 17.7 km. The distance between the stations will be 800-1000 meters and it will take about 20-30 minutes to reach from one end to another.
It will be a great step of urban development of the city. The youngest subway in the world is currently the Almaty metro which took 23 years to build after number of disruptions and billions of dollars spent. Comparing to Almaty's inconsistent pebble stone, boulder pebble and boulder soils it is manageable to achieve the 2020 target for Ulaanbaatar.
City authorities believe it will be help to boost the value of real estate in the distant districts and expand the supply chain networks. The subway will not only profit from selling passenger tickets, it will also include ads in the stations and other shops and cafes that will be inside and around the stations. The research showed that it will add 150 thousand jobs as an effect subway being in place.
Initial budget for the subway system is $1.5 billion and JICA will support the 49% of the required investment. Remaining required capital will be budgeted in the state and city government budget.
MOU SIGNED BETWEEN NATIONAL STATISTICAL OFFICE OF MONGOLIA AND STATISTICS KOREA
June 11 (InfoMongolia) A Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of statistics between the National Statistical Office of Mongolia and Statistics Korea was signed by Commissioner of KOSTAT Mr. Park Hyung-soo and Vice Chairman of NSO Mongolia Mr. Baatar ERDENESUREN in Daejeon, Korea during the official visit of the NSO delegation to Statistics Korea on May 27, 2013.
As a result of this visit parties have agreed to continue collaboration in the area of Information Technology and Human Resource Development. Moreover it was agreed to support enhancement the user's statistical knowledge and strengthen the Information training and advocacy center, the newly established unit at the NSO Mongolia.
The two offices are actively cooperating since 2001 and signed cooperation Agreements in 2002 and 2005, respectively. Along with bilateral cooperation, the Statistics Korea was effectively within the MONSTAT project strengthening the statistical system of Mongolia and in collaboration with NSO Mongolia to develop an IT plan and establish the IT network for national statistical system of Mongolia.
Furthermore, under a grant from the Government of the Republic of Korea the two institutions have successfully implemented the MONSIS project on "Statistical Database Management and Service System across the national statistical system of Mongolia" in 2012. Within the framework of this project an online statistical information system was designed and adopted.
UAF Professors Collaborate To Develop Engineering School In Mongolia
June 11 (Alaska Public Media) A group of University of Alaska, Fairbanks Professors will develop an engineering school in Mongolia over the next few years. UAF signed a contract this spring with the American University of Mongolia in that country's capital, where the new school will be based.
A team of seven professors from UAF are developing curriculum and designing classroom space for an engineering school at a newly formed American University of Mongolia.
Rajive Ganguli is heading up the project. He's the chairman of the Mining and Geological Engineering program at UAF.
"For me and my team it is very exciting," says Ganguli. "It is wild to think you're going to engineering school from scratch. So the good things, the stuff we like about the education system here and the stuff we hate, we get to remedy it. So what we will do is review engineering education in some of the top universities and we have our own ideas and we'll steal from the best."
Ganguli says Mongolia and Alaska are natural partners when it comes to mining in the far north.
"I think that our cold climate engineering expertise is very relative to Mongolia and they can benefit from it and so we have academic agreements with Mongolia institute of science technology and with Erdenet Mining Corporation," he said.
There is no federal funding going toward the effort. Ganguli doesn't have a solid dollar amount on what development of the school will cost, but he expects it will be in the tens of millions of dollars. He says nearly all of it will come from private sector mining companies in Mongolia.
"Mining has been booming in Mongolia for a few years," says Ganguli. "Their economy is taking off. They're one of the fastest growing economies in the world at about 17 percent and so when you grow that fast, you need lots of good employees especially in engineering given their investment in infrastructure and mines etcetera."
Officials with American University of Mongolia hope to admit the first engineering students within two years.
MINING MINISTER GANKHUYAG WORKS IN DORNOGOBI
Ulaanbaatar, June 11 /MONTSAME/ The Minister of Mining D.Gankhuyag is working in Dornogobi province after having seen the "Shivee Ovoo" coal mining.
He got au fait with a petroleum plant "Danshin Mongol" in Zuun Bayan and ran a meeting with inhabitants of Sainshand. The people were worried by losses of livestock in Ulaanbadrakh soum saying it is connected with uranium exploration. In response, a chairman of the Nuclear Energy Agency N.tegshbayar said that professional bodies had worked in this soum and determined that the loss has nothing to do with this exploration.
The Minister is being accompanied by N.Tsogtgerel, the Vice minister of industry and agriculture, by Mineral resources authority, Petroleum authority, Nuclear Energy Agency, State Professional Inspection Agency, and the Ministry of Nature, Environment and Green Development.
Despite predictions, Mongolia is proving a persistent, if flawed, democracy.
By Terrence Edwards
June 13 (The Diplomat) Observers say he is a sure thing. His party hopes he is. In what is a three-way competition, Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj will be seeking to retain power in the presidential election scheduled for June 26, keeping his Democratic Party the dominant force in government at least until the next legislative election.
His main rival is Bat-Erdene, of the opposition Mongolian People's Party. But Elbegdorj is the tried and tested candidate whose political career dates back to the country's democratic beginnings, when he helped launch a democratic revolution in 1990. He's been prime minister twice, non-consecutively, and is a proponent of foreign investment to keep the Mongolian economy growing.
"The president has to defend his record of the last four years," says Badral Munkhdul (Mogi: that's me, :D), owner of media group Cover Mongolia.
A mining boom has helped Mongolia achieve tremendous since Elbegdorj took office in 2009. Exports of coal and copper to China have been the chief driver of GDP growth, which clocked in at 17.5 percent in 2011 and reached 12.3 percent in 2012. But the benefits have exacerbated the gap between rich and poor, leaving many resentful of the industry.
"Generally the country as a whole and the population has benefitted from the recent mining boom," explains Munkhdul. "Of course, there is a gap between how much the poor are taking advantage and how the rich are. It's disproportionate."
Munkhdul believes the Mongolian government has yet to do enough to resolve the disparity. In 2012 (Mogi: 2008), when under the control of the Mongolian People's Party (Mogi: and DP), it tried a quick fix by initiating a . The program, which distributed the equivalent of about $15 a month, proved widely popular. Ironically, say critics, it was also the main culprit for rising inflation, which hurts the poor most. According to the World Bank, annual inflation soared to 14 percent in December 2012.
Elbegdorj's challenger Bat-Erdene is one of a younger breed of politician who has largely campaigned on the strength of his "clean hands," although he has not made any specific charges of corruption against the president. His Mongolian People's Party is the remnant of the communist party that ruled Mongolia for nearly 70 years between 1921 and 1990, and has controlled Mongolia for most of its history as a democracy. The party has seen its influence largely sidelined since being relegated to opposition, and is eager to return to power.
The final challenger, Natsag Udval, is something of a stand-in for the currently incarcerated Nambar Enkhbayar. She has been one of the disgraced former politician's most ardent supporters since his arrest for alleged corruption during his presidency. She also runs on the novelty of being the country's first female candidate for the presidency.
Looking back at Mongolia's last five presidential elections, its vibrant democracy has emerged from unlikely beginnings. The country is sandwiched between two giants that show little regard for democratic values, yet rather than mirror the policies of either China or Russia – each of which has at some point controlled the nation – Mongolia has instead embraced what is now today a functioning, if flawed, democracy.
To buffer the influence of both its neighbors, Mongolia has instituted a third neighbor policy. This foreign policy directive encourages closer relations outside the landlocked country's immediate vicinity with countries such as the United States and Japan. The approach has paid dividends in recent years, with a string of Western leaders – including former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair – visiting the capital Ulaanbaatar.
This unlikely poster-child for democracy has been an active supporter of democracy in other developing nations, too. The most recent example is its hosting of the of the Community of Democracies in late April, where it handed off its role as president of the organization to El Salvador. Mongolia has also earned itself the role of a of the Organization for Security and Democracy in Europe (OSCE). Its troops are active in peacekeeping missions, with 800 currently stationed in South Sudan.
The tremendous feat of transitioning from a one-party state largely under the thumb of Soviet Russia to a full-blown democracy is not one that should be taken lightly. At the time, many observers thought it couldn't last. And indeed, Mongolia after the exit of its largest benefactor, the former USSR, which led to the collapse of a number of social programs, dramatic inflation, and the abandonment of many factories and industries.
But although some feel nostalgic for the support the socialist system offered Mongolian society for nearly seven decades, most still strongly embrace democracy, according to Perenlei Erdenejargal, executive director of the Open Society Forum's office in Mongolia. "Some say there are those who try to own this democracy, but democracy is quite widely accepted," he says. "The Mongols are traditionally very individualistic people, and the nomadic culture always exercises individual freedoms and human rights. Those 70 years were a change, but historically this is how we lived."
However, the road to democracy has not been smooth, and Mongolia has hit its fair share of roadblocks and potholes. The best-known example is the , sparked by suspicions that the recently held parliamentary elections had been fixed by the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party ("Revolutionary" was dropped in 2010). A protest in Sukhbaatar Square, where Government Palace is located, turned violent. Riots lasted two days and resulted in five deaths as well as the torching of the party's headquarters.
Although the Open Society Forum was barred from observing the voting process on election day in 2008, Erdenejargal said there was evidence that there was indeed foul play.
"I think we had serious problems," said Erdenejargal, specifically naming issues with the manual vote counting. She said cash was distributed to make sure voters turned out at one district where they monitored the campaign up until the election and they saw problems with the ballots.
Mongolia has since introduced new voting regulations and measures to prevent voter fraud. For the parliamentary elections last year, the country used electronic voting machines for the first time and it has distributed new identification cards that come with a computer chip to verify a person's identity. The 2012 election also saw the acceptance of ballots from Mongolian citizens living outside the country. Most telling, though, was the successful dispute against three candidates for breaking the election law, which eventually resulted in two of them having their results forfeited.
Erdenejargal is confident this year's election would be uncontroversial. The only uncertainty is whether or not a run-off vote will be needed. Victory requires 50 percent of the electorate plus one vote. But whatever the final tally, for Mongolia an uneventful election is a successful one.
Presidential Election as Test of DP Dominance
June 10 (Julian Dierkes, Mongolia Focus) The upcoming presidential election will be the first occasion for the DP's claims to stand for clean government to be tested in an election campaign since the party's predecessor dominated the 1996-2000 parliament.
This will be the first election that the four highest (constitutionally and de facto) offices in Mongolia are held by the DP: president, prime minister, chairman of parliament, mayor of Ulaanbaatar.
With these offices comes the power of appointments and executive direction for various state institutions.
As Mendee wrote in his argument doubting that a run-off is likely, current DP dominance is the third example of a such dominance by a party in democratic Mongolia after 1996 and 2000. For each case, the winning party went beyond the political transition of the government as prescribed under the 1992 Constitution and other relevant legislation.
Parties politicized government services by appointing party-affilliated officials beyond political posts in each ministry and agency, took over state-owned enterprises such as the airline, railway, mining companies, and increased their influence over the judiciary. This competition over the state bureaucracy, provincial and county offices, and state-owned enterprises were slowed down in 2004 and 2008 because of the relatively balanced election results (no single party became majority).
The DP as Underdog
Throughout its existence (and the history of its predecessors), the DP has portrayed itself as an antithesis to the MPRP/MPP's entanglements with the state bureaucracy. These claims (election shenanigans, use of the bureaucracy for political purposes, etc.) have always had some credibility, simply because of the strength of the MPP, especially in the countryside and of the large number of MPP appointments within the state apparatus.
The DP has thus frequently portrayed itself as an underdog of sorts, fighting against entrenched MPP sympathies within the bureaucracy. Well, it is no longer an underdog, so let's see how it behaves when it is in charge.
Of particular relevance in the upcoming presidential election will be the General Election Commission and the security apparatus.
In the 2012 parliamentary election commission the GEC played a prominent role, not only for its controversial blocking of the candidacy of now-convicted Enkhbayar, but also because it enforced some stricter innovations in the election law with some vigour and managed the election fairly effectively. Important areas of activity were the feasibility check on parties' platforms, the approval of candidates, improvements to voter registration, the deployment of electronic vote counting machines, as well as the post-election procedures for re-counts and the certification of election victories. Some of these areas are less critical in a presidential campaign with only three candidates running and the greater simplicity of candidate approval, monitoring and the actual counting of votes in this set-up.
At the same time, there may be greater expectations of the GEC in terms of is supervision of the media which has come to be seen as increasingly politicized through the purchase or control of media outlets by parties and even individual politicians. Any attempts by the MPRP to bargain with the DP or MPP over the candidacy of N Udval may also attract the scrutiny of the GEC.
The Make-Up of the GEC
5 out of 9 members of the GEC are appointed by the Parliament, 2 by the President, and 2 by the Supreme Court. Only Chairman and Secretary of the GEC are permanent positions. Although the Law of GEC requires these posts to be filled by civil servants, political parties – especially when they are majority in parliament or hold the presidency – appoint their high-profile party members of the GEC.
The GEC includes two of such politicians at the moment: Ch Sodnomtseren, a former MP from the DP (2004-2008) and member of the DP-led cabinet (1999-2000), and B Bilegt, Chief of the Police Department (Mr. Bilegt was appointed when he was working as Chief of the National Security Council Office, which works for the President (Mogi: NSC is headed by the President but is a three member governing council made up of the top 3 positions, president, speaker, and PM) . The remaining members are public servants, without notable party affiliation.
The Security Apparatus
The Police Department and the General Intelligence Agency are two critical parts of the security apparatus for the election. Besides their main tasks, the Police Department maintains safety whereas the General Intelligence Agency ensures security of vote-counting systems and investigates election-related fraud and offenses under the crimes against the state institution statutes.
Logically, any political party and politicians have a strong desire to have influence over these institutions; therefore, both organizations need institutional safeguards from being used by the political parties and to maintain professional integrity.
However, the DP is overriding some of these institutional checks. For the first time, the DP-led government appointed an influential DP member as a head of the Police Department. Although it was an important effort to install civilian oversight over police organizations (just as the DP appointed the first civilian defence minister in 1996), the President awarded the brigadier general rank to this civilian, political party-affiliated chief of the Police.
This certainly undermine the principle of professional merit for police professionals while instigating a desire among police professionals to cultivate connections with political parties for promotion or simply to maintain their posts.
The DP-led government also appointed a party-affiliated official as the Chief of the General Intelligence Agency. Even though the Prime Minister appeared to accept the decision of the Constitutional Court when appointing the current chief for the Deputy Chief's post, he later re-appointed his protege as the Chief of the General Intelligence Agency. The Prime Minister, first, neglected the relevant legislation to keep intelligence appointments out of the parliamentary elections, and second, downplayed the rulings of the Constitutional Court.
A DP Take-Over?
Some might see the decisions on appointments to the GEC and to posts overseeing the security apparatus as the typical efforts of a party to assert control. This assertion of control by the DP would undoubtedly continue if Elbegdorj is re-elected to a second term. The question will be what use the DP will put this control to? Will it be for (personal) enrichment (or awards for party supporters)? Will it be for the manipulation of voters' opportunities to express their views? Will it be as a lingering threat to political opposition? Or, will the DP give these institutions the independence and non-political character that would lend credibility to their claims of the mantle of clean governance.
Presidential Election Campaign Starts in Mongolia
By Mendee Jargalsaikhan
June 10 (Jamestown Foundationa) Three Mongolian political parties with seats in the current parliament have nominated their candidates for the country's sixth presidential election, which is scheduled for June 26, 2013, under the 1992 constitution. After the completion of administrative and legal background checks, the General Election Commission formally recognized the candidates on May 22 (Press Release of the General Election Commission of Mongolia, May 22).
The ruling coalition, led by the Democratic Party (MDP), has rallied behind the incumbent President Tsakhiagyn Elbegdorj, who is vying for his second term, whereas the opposition Mongolian People's Party (MPP) nominated a well-known national wrestling champion, Badnaanyambuugyn Bat-Erdene. The third candidate, Natsagyn Udval, was nominated by the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP)—a political grouping tied to the currently jailed former President Nambaryn Enkhbayar. The position of Mongolian president has both a symbolic (ceremonial) role and also holds "checks and balances" responsibilities in legislative, executive, and judicial affairs of the state.
In addition to ceremonial roles such as summoning the first opening session of the Mongolian parliament—the State Ikh Khural—the president has the right to initiate, veto and to endorse legislative bills, to bring any policy issues to the attention of the parliament, and to dismiss the parliament if it fails to establish a government. The president is also entitled to endorse nominations of the prime minister and cabinet members, to give directives to the head of government in areas of national security, foreign policy, national unity and other related areas, and to introduce a motion of no confidence against the parliament. Presidential power is the most significant with regard to the judiciary. The president is allowed to nominate three out of the nine members of the Constitutional Court, the prosecutor general, as well as the deputy prosecutor to the parliament. The presidency is also constitutionally empowered to appoint or relieve members of the General Council of the Courts, along with judges at all levels (The Constitution of Mongolia, 1992).
Three other domains further increase the president's responsibility. The first is the president's simultaneous position as the head of the National Security Council—the highest consultative body of the government, which discusses issues pertaining to national security matters and includes the speaker of the parliament and prime minister. The President, as the head of this consultative body, can call for its meetings and issues directives to any related government entities. The Office of the National Security Council adds an institutional capacity for the president, as does the requirement that key government officials report to the Council. For example, using this power, the president issued a decree to suspend the issuance and processing of both mining and exploration licenses in 2010, and established a working group to improve the country's mining-related legislation (2013 Mongolia Investment Climate Statement, US Embassy, p. 25).
Second, the president is commander-in-chief of the Mongolian Armed Forces. This includes the right to appoint the chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces (in consultation with the parliament), to maintain control of the Armed Forces during war time and national emergencies, to declare national emergencies and mobilization, and to approve key documents concerning the structure and use of the military forces. The final area of presidential power is foreign policy. As head of state, the president represents Mongolia in the international arena, appoints ambassadors, and recognizes foreign heads of diplomatic missions.
All the major Mongolian parties are in clear competition for this powerful position. The incumbent Elbegdorj's victory would certainly strengthen the MDP's dominance in the national and local governments and would likely result in further collaboration with the presidential office to implement the MDP-led coalition government's political program without considerable resistance. The likelihood of the re-election of the President Elbegdorj is quite high according to his opinion poll ratings as compared to the other two candidates. According to the Sant Maral Foundation's April 2013 political barometer, Elbegdorj was named as "Best president for Mongolia" by 19.2 percent of all respondents, while 79 percent of MDP backers supported him from a list of possible contenders. Elbegdorj's runner-up opponent, Bat-Erdene, received just 2.1 percent support in a general ranking and 14 percent from among the backers of his political party, the MPP (http://www.santmaral.mn/sites/default/files/SMPBE13%20Apr.pdf).
The opposition candidate Bat-Erdene has been a member of parliament since 2004, following his successful national wrestling career as 11-time champion of the Naadam wrestling tournament. He has been a leading voice calling for the protection of the environment and in promoting Mongolian traditional values. A lawyer by profession following his wrestling career, he played a crucial role in passing the Law on Prohibition of Minerals Exploration in Water Basins and Forested Areas (known as The Law with the Long Name) and has strongly advocated its implementation, as well as a re-negotiation of the Oyu Tolgoi copper mining deals with foreign companies (with specific emphasis on environmental protection) (business-mongolia.com, September 18, 2012). Bat-Erdene's victory would change the dynamics of Mongolian politics by reasserting the MPP's influence on the judiciary and providing institutional power to pressure the MDP-dominated parliament and its government.
The third candidate, Udval, is the health minister within the MDP-led coalition government and became quite popular for joining former President Enkhbayar in establishing the MPRP and later for protecting Enkhbayar from corruption-related prosecutions. Enkhbayar was the second-most frequently named option for "Best president for Mongolia" (6.2 percent) after incumbent President Elbegdorj. Udval is the first-ever female candidate for president in Mongolia (http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=4332). Udval will potentially gain some votes mostly from MPP supporters, female voters, and supporters of Enkhbayar, but not enough to threaten the other two candidates.
Mongolian voters will likely not perceive much difference in the stated platforms of the candidates for president. All three have been rallying for justice, government accountability, the preservation of national identity and, most importantly, responsible mining. Nevertheless, the June 26 election will serve as an important exercise in institutional consolidation for this young Asian democracy. And the next president will dictate how stormy or cordial Mongolian politics and the legislative process—and, by extension, Mongolia's business climate—will be over the next several years.
Bat-Erdene Election Platform
June 12 (Julian Dierkes, Brian White) Bat-Erdene's platform begins similarly to by describing challenges facing the country. He does not go as far as Udval in labeling them as "dangers," but the same message is being conveyed about the social and economic conditions in the country. He describes a divided government not meeting the needs of the people, a deteriorating natural environment, stagnant wages and high prices, disappointment in Oyu Tolgoi not living up to its promise, an unfair legal environment, and the lack of broad-based government policy.
The platform is divided into eight sections categorized by "responsibilities" the president has to the country. These are: 1. promote national unity, 2. lead a fair society, 3. promote correct economic policies, 4. implement policies that protect the environment and shore up the national wealth equally and fairly, 5. make the law and courts equally and fairly serve the people, 6. stabilize government employees' working conditions to provide the people equal and fair services, 7. maintain balanced and friendly foreign relations, and 8. adhere to democracy and elevate the national character.
Within each section he outlines specific policy positions. There is significant , but there are areas in which the platform is distinct. Under section three, for example, Bat-Erdene emphasizes support for agriculture and animal husbandry. Elbegdorj also outlines policies to support domestic industries but in much broader terms. Udval is more concerned with the social safety net and work conditions.
Section four includes a promise to more aggressively manage environmental and mining policies. He supports reexamining all mining licenses and debating which projects benefit the country's development (and presumably eliminating those that don't) and establishing tough government control over those projects. Oyu Tolgoi is mentioned directly under its own policy position in this section with a call to improve the investment agreement to make it more profitable and balanced. Tavan Tolgoi is conspicuously absent in the any of the policies areas. Udval does include Tavan Tolgoi along with Oyu Tolgoi in areas concerning large strategic deposits, and Elbegdorj does not mention any of the large projects by name, only referring to the mining industry in general terms.
His choice of words is interesting with some policies in section two. Instead of saying "I support policy X," he says "I support examining policy X." Examples are reducing the cost of public transportation for the poor in Ulaanbaatar, reducing the costs of higher education, and creating services to support ex-military personnel. The way these issues are presented gives the impression of wanting to strike a populist chord without actually committing to any of them. Given the president's limited ability to implement specific policies one could argue that most positions taken in the platforms are empty promises, so equivocal statements with a positive tone stand out against the other unequivocal positions the president has little real power to implement.
Social Media and Changes
Both, as well as his display logos for Facebook and YouTube very prominently. They also include a Twitter feed. Interestingly, this feed displays messages from Bat-Erdene (fairly sparse), as well as messages that are tweeted at him or mention him. When I about this post, for example, my tweet showed up immediately on Bat-Erdene's feed. Such an unfiltered stream means that – surprisingly – criticism as well as praise and random mentions show up on the campaign webpage.
Most of the images on the website show Bat-Erdene among large crowds of people, though they don't particularly seem to play up his wrestling past or any claims to traditional values.
2013 Presidential Candidates: Foreign Policy Proposals
June 12 (Julian Dierkes, Mongolia Focus) With the election right around the corner, we thought it would be helpful to offer a brief comparison of the foreign policy proposals from the three candidates. Since setting foreign policy measures is one of the primary roles of the president as head of state, it is not only a pertinent topic, but one which the candidates can directly effect, should they choose.
(All information from official Mongolian-language action plans as found on official websites or Mongolian news sites, if I incorrectly translated anything, please do let me know).
For other posts on the respective platforms see
· Elebgdorj (forthcoming)
Incumbent President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj's action plan saves his foreign policy plans for the last of its 5 sections. The proposal is primarily concerned with Mongolia's international image, probably in response to some notable scandals lately, including the money laundering issue, and perhaps even the one-sided reporting on Enkhbayar's arrest last year.
The header to section 5 says that special attention will be paid to Mongolia's international reputation, as well as the development of policies that strengthen the country's security, independence, and autonomy. The predictable statements of developing multilateral and bilateral relations (5.1), and cooperating with neighbors and other countries (5.2) are referenced. Attention will be paid to Mongolia's participation in the regional economy, infrastructure, and security apparatuses (5.3). Specific reference is made to Asia, the Pacific, and Europe (5.5), perhaps setting the parameters of Mongolia's main geographic focus. He states that Mongolia is committed to strengthening human rights, rule of law, and transparency throughout the Asian continent, with specific attention to Northeast Asia (5.6), which further supports Mongolia's identity as a Northeast Asian country, as opposed to Central Asian. Foreign and Domestic policy cross paths with reference to Mongolia's cooperation with internationally backed health initiatives including those against alcoholism (5.8). Section 5.9 and 5.10 support the development of Mongolian studies internationally, although I am bit confused as to how exactly this would be done, and would suggest that it is in large part a concession to more nationalist-leaning voters. Section 5.12 is related, with a proposal to increase Mongolian participation in the in global arts and culture, as well as sports.
Candidate for the MPP, B. Bat-Erdene, makes significantly less focus on foreign policy issues. While foreign policy will undoubtedly be central to Mongolia's economic, environmental, and physical security, the section of the action plan devoted specifically to foreign policy is significantly shorter than Elbegdorj's proposal. He titles the section "It is the president's responsibility to (to ensure) balanced and friendly foreign relations".
The obligatory statement that government policy will continue Mongolia's valued peaceful relations is first on the agenda (7.1). Mongolia's dignity in the international community will be strengthened (7.2). He seems to place additional emphasis on relations with Mongolia's neighbors by devoting a separate subsection to the issue (7.3), but he is still devoted to furthering Mongolia's "third neighbor policy" (7.4). He calls for an integrated government foreign policy (7.5), which I find really odd, since Mongolia's foreign policy has always seemed centralized and united. Like Elbegdorj, he also makes reference to supporting Mongolians abroad, which is likely in reaction to recent incidents against Mongolian citizens in China, but aimed at increasing voter participation in the Mongolian ex-pat community.
N. Udval, candidate for the MPRP, presents an action plan that differs significantly from the rest of the competition. As we saw in the 2012 Parliamentary elections, the MPRP is a largely reactionary party, and seeks broad reforms throughout the country coupled with a decidedly non-subtle appeal for resource nationalization. Foreign policy is covered in number 4 of her 5 action pillars. The MPRP showed an interesting play on numbers in 2012 by using the phrase шударга ёс (justice) coalition, while also presenting 9 candidates (ёс also being the Mongolian word for nine and numerologically significant as 3×3). This year, the party presents 5 policy pillars each with 5 subsections (organization a social scientist is happy to see, I dare say!). Oddly enough the section is not even labeled foreign policy/relations, but rather "Ways of protecting and strengthening national independence and the economy".
She gets off to a classic enough start calling the enrichment of friendly relations with Russia and China as well as the expansion of the third neighbor policy (4.1). After that, however, the proposals become more specific and interesting than the broad proposals of the other two candidates. The next proposal (4.2) makes specific reference to the importance of access to international markets for landlocked countries, and that she will strive to enhance international cooperation on this front. Subsection 4.3 declares that foreign investment must be helpful and fair to the country, as well as stating that domestic investors should have the upper hand. This is pretty striking and rather odd, considering the still limited avenues available for domestic investors. Subsection 4.4 proposes the implementation of Mongolian majority ownership for strategic mineral resources, such as Oyu Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi. 4.5 calls for refurbishing rail and road links from Mongolia to Europe and Asia. This is certainly an important consideration and goes hand in hand with 4.2; however, I am unsure what effect this might have on rail links from OT into China/Russia, considering differing rail gauges and Russian joint-ownership of the Mongolian railway system.
Looking at these summaries and combining information from other posts on this blog, three important points come up.
1) None of these proposals are particularly revolutionary when it comes to the basic tenants of Mongolian foreign policy. All three support continued good relations with Russia and China, balanced by support to the «third neighbor policy». No serious political party can possibly seek to upset relations with Russia or China as the country's top economic partners, but no one wants to see a Mongolia economically or politically dominated by either or both neighors, necessiting the continued engagement of outside powers, regional and global.
2) By this I mean that for the most part the limited changes proposed seem to be aimed more at attracting voters with vague statements that change is necessary rather than meaningful policy measures. B. Bat-Erdene's proposal calls for more consistency in policy measures, but I have yet to see any evidence of disjointed policy making from Ulaanbaatar. Rather this seems aimed at dicrediting Elbegdorj's policies. N. Udval does make reference to some radical proposals (such as the nationalization of stategic resources and the role of domestic investors) that would change the Mongolian landscape significantly, but I can't see anyway that as president she or her party could effectively implement such measures. The MPRP is in coalition with the DP for the time being, so nationalization is off the table, although some re-negotiation might be a possibility. The role of domestic investment is still limited in a country where the per capita GDP is just over $5,000. Rather, she seems keen to capitalize on the MPRP voter base, which has included a more nationalist-leaning segment of the population since its creation last year.
3) The status-quo DP and MPP are making far more moderate proposals than the MPRP, and while international investors might be worried about her proposals, it certainly does add a strong new voice to the political arena. Her approach is decidedly different, and the move for infrastructal integration and policies to mitigate the country's landlocked status are laudable (although her role in these policies as president is limited). The MPRP got slightly over 20% of the vote last year, which is significant as a third party. I would certainly like to see some counter proposals by other thrid parties, such as the Social Democrats or the Civil Will, Green Party. While they might not want to waste resources on a campaign they cannot hope to win, new voices and action plans can certianly contribute to Mongolia's political development.
Mongolian lawmaker says bribery allegations politically motivated
ULAN BATOR, June 11 (Xinhua) -- A Mongolian lawmaker on Tuesday denied allegations of demanding bribes for the construction of a building, saying he was accused for political reasons.
Yondon Otgonbayar, the former minister of education, culture and science, allegedly demanded 230 million tugrug (160,000 U.S. dollars) to approve the commissioning of a building in Mongolia's capital, the National Police Investigative Department said Monday.
A Mongolian citizen complained to police in March that the bribery demand was one fourth of the total budget for the building, and that Otgonbayar was behind a group of people that beat him and took his car.
During the investigation, police also found that Otgonbayar's wife, O.Erdenesolongo, had 26 accounts in four banks and had made a number of large monetary transactions. She has been arrested and is under investigation for sources of the transactions.
Otgonbayar denied the allegations, saying he and his family was attacked by President Tsakhia Elbegdorj, who is seeking re-election to a second term and is using a fight against graft as his main election agenda.
Otgonbayar is a lawmaker from the opposition Mongolian People's Party (MPP). The MPP says police and anti-corruption bodies controlled by ruling party members deliberately target opposition party members.
"I'm hearing about these things for the first time. I'm ready to go to the police investigation department for questioning." Otgonbayar said.
Former Education Minister's wife released on bail
June 13 (news.mn) The wife of Yo.Otgonbayar the former Minister of Education, Culture and Science, O.Erdenesolongo, walked out on bail after six days in custody on her family"s request on Tuesday June 11th.
The former Education Minister`s wife is a suspect in a case involving a large sum of money being laundered.
The former Education Minister, MP Yo.Otgonbayar, is upset about his wife being jailed with criminals accused of murder so on Monday he delivered a request to the State Investigation Department to investigate her after bail.
The State Investigation Department received the request and submitted it to the Prosecutor.
The State Investigation Department revealed that O.Erdenesolongo was a holder of a total of 21 bank accounts in Zoos bank, Golomt bank, the Trade and Development bank and Ulaanbaatar bank during the investigation over the accusation of the former Education Minister`s wife.
It was revealed that the suspect O.Erdenesolongo was the holder these bank accounts where 323 million US dollars has been withdrawn and 13.9 billion MNT placed into the accounts over the period of 2009-2013.
But the suspect claims that she was not aware of such a large sum of money.
INTERPOL SECRETARY-GENERAL ARRIVES
Ulaanbaatar, June 13 /MONTSAME/ The Secretary-General of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) Mr Ronald Kenneth Noble arrived Thursday in Mongolia with a visit.
The same day, the Minister of Justice Kh.Temuujin met with Mr Noble.
The Minister thanked Mr Noble for visiting Mongolia, and added that it has coincided with submitting of to parliament a bill on investigation service which aims to reform the legal sector and to combat new types of crimes.
Mongolia does not have proper experience in preventing and combating illegal trade of drugs, human trafficking, money laundering and related to cultural heritage crimes, he said. For this reason Mongolia wants to study international experience and to take technical assistance in order to fight these crimes, he said.
In response, Mr Noble promised to help our country in reforming the legal sphere and in dealing with crimes, including corruption.
The dignitaries agreed to jointly implement a project on controlling documents of Mongolians and foreign citizens who pass the state border and on fighting the human trafficking. Mr Noble also said that will send to Mongolia experts so that they hold trainings for our investigators and policemen.
Over 300 foreign observers from 32 countries granted permits for election
June 11 (news.mn) The Mongolian Presidential Election is being observed carefully by foreign analysts.
Currently over 300 observers from 32 countries including Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Canada and France have been granted certificates for short term observation during the election of the President. According to a report issued by a spokesperson of the General Election Commission these foreign analysts will visit electoral districts in the cities and aimags and observe the printing process of ballot papers and programming of the voting machines.
The foreign observers are interested to know about the realization of democracy in Mongolia, the legal environment surrounding the election and the newly introduced automatic voting machines.
Observers who have been granted certificates announced that they will not only focus on the preparation process for the election and candidates` and parties participation. They will also observe advertisements, voter activeness and analyze the situation accurately as external parties to give professional views and conclusion.
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TDB AND SMBC JOIN FORCES TO CREATE TDB LEASING COMPANY TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL LEASING SERVICES
June 12 (InfoMongolia) A subsidiary company of Japanese Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, MG Leasing Corporation and TDB Capital, a subsidiary company of Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia have established a Corporate Alliance Agreement to launch a new company under TDB Leasing on June 11, 2013.
The Corporate Alliance Signing Ceremony took place at the TDBM building, where President and CEO of MG Leasing Corporation Shigemasa Sonobe and CEO of TDBM Balbar MEDREE have inked the document.
Following the ceremony, MG Leasing Corporation President Sonobe said, "We are happy to have an opportunity to share our experience on financial services including leasing and installment payments with TDBM. We believe the newly established TDB Leasing Company would contribute greatly to the demand of Mongolia's growing financial leasing service".
On the other hand, TDBM CEO B.Medree noted, "We are forming the TDB Leasing Company on the grounds of long term of reliable cooperation with the MG Leasing Corporation. Most mining machinery and supplies are imported from Japan, hence a trusted company to provide with financial leasing services is the most needed today".
Mongolia Rises 2 Spots to 7th in A.T. Kearney's 2013 Global Retail Development Index
Global Retailers: Cautiously Aggressive or Aggressively Cautious?
June 12 (A.T. Kearney) Retailers are taking a step back from rapid expansion strategies as they move into developing markets.
A.T. Kearney's Global Retail Development Index™ (GRDI) has guided global retailers with their strategic investments for more than a dozen years, and the 2013 Index reflects some important changes to the retail environment. But one thing hasn't changed: As developed markets face flat or anemic growth, developing markets remain important sources of growth. The 12th annual edition of the GRDI finds many opportunities for retailers seeking to grow and expand in fast-growing developing markets big and small.
Of course, there's nothing easy about a global expansion strategy in retail. Every market has unique challenges that require unique strategies for success. And this year's GRDI finds several examples of countries where global retailers are taking a step back from the aggressive expansion of the not-too-distant past in favor of more cautious strategies. For example, as retailers confront challenges in China, many are scaling back plans for new stores and choosing sites more carefully. In some regions, such as Latin America and Central Asia, more retailers are opening in smaller countries to hone their regional strategies before entering larger markets.
The GRDI ranks the top 30 developing countries for retail investment based on several macroeconomic and retail-specific variables (see appendix: About the Global Retail Development Index on page 25). The study is unique because it not only identifies the markets that are most successful today, but also focuses on those that offer the most potential. Some markets are flourishing and exciting, and some, frankly, are challenging for strategic retailers. Figure 1 highlights the top 30 countries in the rankings. This year's GRDI also includes the fourth Retail Apparel Index; the E-Commerce Index, which was unveiled last year, will be published later this year.
The 2013 GRDI Findings
South America is blossoming as Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay take the top three spots in the Index. Peru, Panama, and Mexico also shine, but some other markets, such as Venezuela, Argentina, and Bolivia, have room for improvement.
The BRIC markets (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) remain the magnificent monsters for global retailers—huge, attractive markets—but their paths have diverged. Whereas the BRIC countries were in unison in their growth 12 years ago—when the BRIC concept was first conceived by British economist Jim O'Neill—now each is following different paths to the future (see sidebar: Is the BRIC Crumbling?).
Sub-Saharan Africa continues to build momentum, with Botswana and Namibia in the rankings and a few other nations on the cusp. Considering that by 2100, five of the 12 most populous countries in the world will be in Africa, there is no doubt that this continent is a dramatic retail opportunity—for those that can navigate the business and political risks.
Once again, some new markets on the rise may surprise even the most seasoned retail veterans. The strong rankings for "little gems"—small-population countries with unique characteristics of wealth and consumer focus—remain a main theme of the GRDI. This year's gems include Uruguay (3rd in the rankings), Mongolia (7th), Georgia (8th), and Armenia (10th), among others. For luxury retailers, these are newfound hubs. For general retailers, they can be the beginning of a regional strategy.
Mongolia: A strengthening economy. Mongolia (7th) boasts Asia's fastest-growing economy, thanks to copper and coal mining. As the retail sector grows, the demand for an educated workforce is growing, so the focus is on training, education, and ensuring that enough resources are available.
Retail in Mongolia is evolving rapidly. Due to its relatively small population and size, specialty retailers are slow to move in, but large retailers have not been shy. There are an estimated 60 supermarkets and hypermarkets and 2,500 local operations as of 2012, and those numbers are growing. Carrefour opened its first hypermarket in early 2013, and KFC is planning four stores in 2013.
The Central Tower in capital city Ulan Bator hosts Louis Vuitton, Zegna, Hugo Boss, Mont Blanc, and Apple, among other brands. Burberry, already in Central Tower, plans a new store in Mongolia's first Shangri-La Hotel, slated for completion in 2013. The Village @ Nukht will open in 2013 and become one of Mongolia's largest retail and office spaces.
Local food chains Nomin, Orgil, Sansar, and Bosa and department store Sky continue to dominate; they bring in outside influences by importing many of their goods.
Political developments are worth monitoring, and the risk of inflation has also been a concern, although it has slowed down in 2013 from the double-digit rates of 2012. With only 2.8 million people—40 percent of whom work in agriculture—immigrants may be the next source for retail employees. Foreign retailers will have to keep an eye on any additional limitations and delays in importing goods into Mongolia.
MTN: Employer of the Year 2012 Results
June 13 (Mongolia Talent Network) Employees throughout Mongolia have had a chance to vote for their employers as Employer of the Year via an online survey. Almost 1,500 individuals have registered their views, representing 272 companies. The respondents segmented as follows:
~ Even breakdown between the genders: 54% female, 47% male
~ Good spread across experience levels: 0-2 years (37%), 2-5 years (28%), 5-10 years (23%), and 10+ years (12%)
The Top Employers were determined by a combination of number of votes and strength of agreement with the following statement: 'My Employer Deserves to be Employer of the Year'. This was calculated as follows:
Points were allocated per respondent based on their individual response
~ +2 points per respondent to 'Strongly Agree' with the statement
~ +1 point per respondent to 'Agree' with the statement
~ 0 points for respondents who 'Neither Agree nor Disagree' with the statement
~ -1 point per respondent to 'Disagree' with the statement
~ -2 points per respondent to 'Strongly Disagree' with the statement
These points were totalled by company to give a final 'score' for the organisation
Golomt Bank was voted as Top Employer 2012 driven by positivity of response but also overwhelming level of participation from Golomt Bank Employees. Employees were particularly positive about the company's people management, in addition team & company atmosphere and promotion and advancement also emerged strongly.
Despite the recent challenges experienced by the company it appears that staff engagement remains high and employees are supporting the company as a great place to work.
Golomt Bank's HR Director, had this to say about the company culture and employee strategy:
"I think our employees are so motivated because working in this company allows them to develop in their professional fields, in a good work environment, with long term stability and a fair chance of promotion and advancement, earning fair salary and bonuses, and with good community strategy. We care about our staff and benefits can include loans with less interest, shares/bonds in our company (long term staff), good retirement fund etc."
Wagner Asia also received extremely strong feedback from their employees with both a high number of votes but also the positivity of the response. One of the key strength's highlighted by employees was the Training & Development the company provided as well as a sense amongst employees that they received a Fair Deal in terms of the wage they earned.
The HR Director who created the Training & Development program had the following advice:
"Our people are the life blood of our business and we've always prioritised developing talent and providing opportunities to grow and develop within our organisation. Historically our strength was primarily our technical training, but in 2011 we conducted a full needs assessment and developed a much broader training plan, which was implemented throughout 2012. We've seen the benefits of this in both business performance and staff motivation. In good times or in bad this will remain a key part of our organisation."
Xac Bank also performed extremely strongly both in terms of breadth of response but also strength of response and are therefore recognised in the Top 3. The particular areas of strength reported for Xac Bank were Giving Something Back (CSR) and Leadership and Vision. We spoke with the President of Xac Bank to understand how they achieved this and he had the following to say:
"I believe that the reason for success is a good teamwork. Therefore we always try to create a team of responsible and talented individuals and work as a team. We always know that our company is made to serve the people and we work towards the best interest of the people. Each staff in our team deeply understands the company's vision and responsibility, by knowing that they feel the importance of their job in the company's development and work hard responsibly."
Since this is the first year of the Top Employer survey, the Top 10 was driven to some extent by the companies that most actively promoted the survey amongst their employees. If we look instead at average score, companies like Energy Resources, Ernst & Young, and United Projects Corporation join the front runners. We hope that with even wider participation next year we can make the results even more meaningful.
Former MIAT directors sentenced up to 14 years for money-laundering
June 12 (news.mn) The results of the trial for the former directors of MIAT, which lasted for two days, were delivered today on June 12th at detention center 461. The suspects heard the charges for fraud involving large sums of money and the laundering of money under the false cover of a War Risk Insurance.
The judge panel discussed the case of the MIAT money laundering and sentenced the suspects for fraud involving a great amount of money under the cover of a War Risk Insurance and using a false offshore insurance bank account and money laundering. The former director of MIAT B.Erdenebileg was sentenced to 14 years and one month, B.Bat-Erdene to 12 years and two months, Ts.Orkhon to 11 years, former vice director Ch.Khorolsuren to 13 years and one month, Ch,Khorolsuren`s brother, former director of Mongolian Airlines Group, Ch.Suuritogtokh to 10 years and one month and former director of branch 6 of Golomt bank, G.Saranchimeg to 11 years and one month.
The Judge panel sentenced six of seven suspects believed to be involved in the money laundering case but separated the file for the former accountant of MIAT, N.Gantumur, from the case. The attorney of N.Gantumur failed to appear at the trial because of personal reasons so the judge panel will conduct the hearing separately.
The Court ordered the seized offenders confiscated properties to be put into State custody.
The Ulaanbaatar City Prosecutor Office charged the offenders based on the offense of violating others' right to own through fraudulent means following Article 150.3. of the Criminal Code, committing money laundering through an organized group gaining an exceptionally large amount of income according to Article 166.3. of the Criminal Code and the offence of violating the regulation on banking according to Article 156.3.3 of the Criminal Code of Mongolia.
The court ordered the cancellation of charges against other suspects allegedly involved in the case including former director of MIAT, Ts.Orkhon`s wife Tsetsegmaa and Erdenebileg`s brother Mandakhbayar because no evidence was provided by the prosecutor for an accusation of a criminal charge.
Besides D.Sugar, former Chairman of the State Property Committee, a member of the Constitutional Court, S.Batkhishig and former civil servant of the Committee, N.Galt who allegedly established the false insurance company in Japan are under investigation regarding the case.
India Globalization Capital Completes Test Delivery of Iron Ore from Mongolia to China
Bethesda, June 11, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- India Globalization Capital, Inc. (NYSE MKT: IGC) announced the achievement of a milestone in the execution of its strategic plan. IGC has completed a test shipment of 300 tons of iron ore from Mongolia to China. As previously reported, the Company established a shipping hub at the border of Mongolia and China to provide iron ore to its customers in China and source raw materials.
Ram Mukunda, CEO of IGC, said, "Importing from Mongolia has important strategic value. Our beneficiation plants process low-grade ore into high-grade ore. It has been our plan to diversify the source of raw materials, from India and Mongolia, to include grades of ore that are of substantially better quality than our reserves. This test delivery has been a big step for IGC in delivering on the opportunities before us."
Mr. Mukunda spoke of the comparative benefits of IGC's strategy for its anticipated Mongolian reserves. He continued, "On our mine sites in Inner Mongolia, we have reserves that are 2 or 3% Fe content, which is processed into 66% Fe ore using a dry magnetic separation process and a wet magnetic separation process. The 66% high-grade ore is then sold to steel mills. 70 truckloads of raw material are required to produce two truckloads of higher-grade iron using the dry separation process, and the two truckloads of higher-grade ore are subsequently processed through the wet separators to produce the end product of one truckload of 66% high-grade ore. This process is profitable at higher levels of iron ore pricing. But both Mongolian and Indian ore have a base level of 40% to 50% Fe content, and in order to process these for use in steel mills, we employ just the wet separator and thus achieve considerable cost savings in producing the desired product. To illustrate, 1.3 truckloads of this type of ore can be used to produce one truckload of 66% high-grade ore. Overall, this is higher margin production and is profitable even at lower sale prices."
Mr. Mukunda concluded, "We are pleased to have successfully established the logistics and supply chain of importing from Mongolia. We expect to finalize purchase and sale agreements in the very near future. Further, with iron ore prices currently depressed, we are diligently working on finalizing our acquisition strategy that can potentially add significant iron ore assets to our portfolio at a discounted cost in anticipation of a projected global rebound."
Mogi: an anti-oil shale activist, skeptical of Genie Oil & Gas' oil-shale deal in Mongolia
Mongolia, Canada, Israel & the United States
Colonialism, Mining and Oil Shale: Don't Let the Genie Out of the Bottle
by MACDONALD STAINSBY
Ulan Bator, June 12 (CounterPunch): When you get out of the plane and enter the Chinngis Khan Airport (Mogi: Chinggis Khaan Airport) just outside of Ulan Bator, you quickly realize that Mongolia is a former Soviet Republic. An incredibly drab and oddly out of date international airport, the walls of the customs area have peeling paint and general disorganization as you struggle to figure out where any line up for customs begins and ends. You can see the stone faced bureaucrats and soldiers in seemingly dated uniforms standing around while you're getting ready to show off the required prearranged visa. After you stumble your way through that mess, you get to the conveyor belt that jams with luggage bags that are apparently much larger now on average than when it was first constructed. The feeling of being in a time warp lasts– right up until you step outside for the first time.
Immediately upon getting outside, in the dark and on a chilly night reminiscent of northern Canada despite the date being in the middle of May, I was confronted by a man from my home province of British Columbia, Canada. Skipping the usual opening conversation about the ongoing hockey playoffs I normally attempt with ex-pats carrying the same passport as I, he told me immediately that he was working for one of the large mining companies.
"Eight weeks on, two weeks off," he explained. I thought I was talking to a tar sands employee from Newfoundland in a weird shock to my senses. "I don't care much about being here, it's all about the money." This would essentially set the tone of how I would interact with Canadians and Australians who cover the city of UB, many but certainly not all working at the simply giant Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine. In the days since I returned from Mongolia, the mine has been given the go-ahead for full operations– on a mine site roughly the size of Manhattan.
What isn't the size of Manhattan is Ulan Bator, the capital city and home to over half the population of the vast territory of Mongolia. It's population is officially slightly more than 1.7 million (Mogi: 1.2-1.3m), out of less than 3 million in the entire country. An average sized city, the capital shows the signs of shock brought on by the influx of the mining on the skyline alone. Construction of modern office towers, often next to block concrete cookie cutters from the Soviet era, ring the horizon in a truly imposing fashion. Cranes are everywhere. In all directions one can see the gold rush atmosphere, that– and I cannot believe I'm writing this– makes Fort McMurray, Canada, the home city of the tar sands rush, seem tame by comparison.
The numbers bear it out. With over 2 dozen major mining operations led by Canadian companies, Canada is the second largest trading partner of Mongolia, behind China and ahead of Russia, Australia, Japan and everyone else. This is definitely not because of the tourism sector, nor shared values from winter, hockey and democracy– it's about the fact Canada hosts more mine headquarters than anyone in the world, and no country is accepting them in faster to operate than Mongolia.
What is dangerous to all mining operations in terms of impacts on the land and life apply more strongly to Mongolia than most locations. Mongolia has a severe problem with water; most traditional herders, despite being nomadic throughout the year, have relied historically on very small surface water levels and heavily off wells to very deep underground aquifers.
In all areas where there is some level of mining activity, which is to say the entire country, water levels have dropped, dramatically. The question becomes one of degree.
If one assumes that mining companies from foreign locations now call the shots in Mongolia, I'd say that was a very safe assumption. If one realizes that Oyu Tolgoi itself commences commercial production basically now, and that the total of GDP for the entire country coming from OT will become a little more than a third of the entire economy, then we can safely posit that Rio Tinto and Ivanhoe are to Mongolia as Saudi Aramco is to Saudi Arabia (If Saudi Aramco was not owned by Saudis). This is the size of OT in a country with over 25 Canadian mining companies, several oil companies and multiple dozen Chinese mining companies, a country where every powerline one sees outside of UB is heading for a mine– hovering over small towns (sums) but not connecting to them.
I did not head to Mongolia on an investigation of mining, however, though it happens to anyone by default by simply being in a city where English is rapidly becoming more common than Russian, despite 70 years in the Soviet orbit.
I headed to Mongolia in order to see what was up with the recently publicized oil shale industry. This is oil shale such as kerogen shale, the stuff that isn't fracked, but would be mined or extracted in the ground (in-situ) in a manner much like the famous Canadian tar sands. Mongolia apparently has a lot of the kerogen-bearing rock, in the two main types, and in April, 2013 Genie Energy announced a deal they struck with the Petroleum Authority of Mongolia [PAM].
The flashers went off in my mind upon hearing that the proposed experimental, non-commercially operating technology developed in the United States and almost under way in an area some 12 kilometres from Jerusalem on pastoral vineyard lands that religious folks will tell you was where David slew Goliath. Why would Genie– upon whose board sit Rupert Murdoch, Howard Jonas, Dick Cheney, Michael Steinhardt, Lord Jacobs Rothschild and others– want to come to Mongolia? These open Zionists and militarists have made clear their goal is to make Israel an oil superpower– They even hired Israel "Relik" Shafir, a pilot who flew the sorties attacking the Osirak Nuclear Reactor in Iraq back in 1981– to be their CEO. He publicly likes to reference his time in the Israeli air force as having taught him the importance of energy self-sufficiency.
Well, not all Israelis and others have gone along with the plan, and the chief concern has been the destruction of water and land via an unproven process. With local groups and some environmental NGO's together, legal challenges have not stopped the development of this oil shale deposit, but the costs– economic and political– have gone up, and the process has been slowed down.
In the meantime, head researcher for the project, Harold Vinegar, is retired from a career as a researcher for Shell in the United States. He has taken the job, despite retirement, with Genie in Israel (through Israel Energy Initiatives originally) after making Aliyah, and connects his decades of work mostly in Colorado on oil shale production that has never been allowed beyond experimental by the American Department of the Interior. He has stated (as have almost all the board members) he believes that doing so is the guarantor of Israeli national security.
The technology, if applied, has been promoted as safe to water tables. But you can be the judge; the essential component to this idea that is even more deadly to the climate than tar sands operations of any type, is the extension of long, heating coils that would be inserted into the deposit hundreds of meters into the ground. This would then use a local power source (and in Mongolia, that would be coal) to basically cook the ground at 650 degrees F. This would last many months, some estimates are of 15 of them. Then kerogen, which is not oil, starts to "bleed" out of the rock, like condensation on a cold glass of water on a hot day.
Then all of the other extremes of tar sands and other oil shale facilities are needed– the plant and upgraders, transport to a refinery that can handle the product (if no such place exists in Mongolia now or in the future, then the kerogen pre-crude product must be exported– so any talk of reducing imports is a farce). However, the Genie facility– with unproven technology, let us repeat– would operate only 60km's or so from UB. With that being the case, one wonders if Genie has come to Mongolia as a round about way to demonstrate the viability of their Israeli project, which in turn could help their hand in opening up the largest single oil deposit in the world?
The Green River Formation is the most well known of the oil shale basins in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. Conservative estimates are that if it were given the go-ahead for development then that would be a deposit with over 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil. Almost five times that of Canada's tar sands. And at a higher environmental and climate cost as well.
When one considers who is leading the company it seems highly probable that Genie's very existence is ideological, given the public positions of many on the board regarding oil, climate change, Zionism and militarism, never mind American revelationist Christianity tied to tales of Armageddon and Israel.
Mongolia is clearly under the domination of resource extraction on a level few countries have ever suffered through. Even with all the money flowing in, the bottom half of the country sees only the rise in prices with a rising currency, and have a harder time with the land and securing basic goods than ever.
So is Genie trying to use Mongolia as a laboratory for the worst form of the worst form of extreme oil extraction left on the planet? Would that be to hand off the shaleball to Genie in Israel, to destroy the climate while trying to make a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement irrelevant? If Israel commercially can produce their estimated over 200 billion barrels of oil shale, that would be economically the single greatest apartheid wall for the BDS movement to scale. And even then, God's work is not done. At this point it is time to take this tech developed in Colorado in the first place, back home. Some of the driest parts of the American west, where water is already at threat from climate change that hasn't been fed oil shale carbon on a large scale yet.
Macdonald Stainsby is an anti-tar sands and social justice activist, freelance writer and professional hitchhiker looking for a ride to the better world, currently based in Vancouver, Canada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
MONGOLIA-ITALY BUSINESS MEETING SCHEDULED TO TAKE PLACE IN ULAANBAATAR ON JUNE 17
June 13 (InfoMongolia) Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) in association with Italian Chamber of Commerce is organizing a Mongolia-Italy Business Meeting at the convention center of the MNCCI on June 17, 2013.
In the frames of organizing the event, business representatives from both parties will meet to introduce their industry in infrastructure, construction, environment, woven manufacture and decoration fields.
At the meeting Mongolian side will be chaired by MNCCI Vice Chairwoman Magvan OYUNCHIMEG and the other part by President Italian-Mongolian Chamber of Commerce Mr. Michele DE GASPERIS.
In May 2013, Mongolia-Italy Business Forum was organized by MNCCI and Mongolia-Italy Business Council in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, where over 40 Italian and Mongolian companies have attended to advertise their products. Italian entities expressed to cooperate with its Mongolian partners in pharmaceutical, construction, renewable energy, tourism, trade, auto cars, furniture and mining sector.
Two years ago in October 2011, Mongolia-Italy Business Forum was also organized but in Milan, where during his official visit to Italy, Mongolian President Ts.Elbegdorj attended the Forum delivering opening remarks. The business forum was co-organized by the Foreign Investment and Foreign Trade Agency of Mongolia (FIFTA), the Italian Industrial Association, the "Assolombarda" organization of Lombardy region, the "Promos" agency of the Milan's Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Italy-Mongolia Business Council, and the Stock Exchange of Italy. Then over 50 Italian businesses with operations in industrial machinery, coal industry, metal industry, mining, international trade, investment and finance sectors and over 20 Mongolian enterprises and agencies participated in this business forum.
Milk farmers demonstrate over unfair milk prices
June 10 (news.mn) The Mongolian Milk Farmers Union called a demonstration in peaceful manner at Sukhbaatar Square at 10.00 am today, June 10th.
Over 500 demonstrators representing 5000 farmers were expected to attend the demonstration.
The Mongolian Milk farmers Union claim that milk producers give them less than market price for their milk supply. They demand that the Government give support to milk farmers to increase domestic diary production and halt the import of powdered milk. They also call citizens to use national dairy products instead of powdered milk.
It is estimated that almost 80 percent of dairy products sold in Ulaanbaatar City are made from powdered milk and only 20 percent is made from locally produced dairy and cow's milk.
According to the Ministry of Health guide, there should be 430g milk per capita in Mongolia. But currently there is only 100 g of milk per capita in Ulaanbaatar City. Therefore the Mongolian Milk Farmers union has called for the demonstration.
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Japan, Mongolia agree to cooperate over N. Korea's abductions and deepen economic cooperation
June 11 (Kyodo News) Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his Mongolian counterpart Luvsanvandan Bold agreed Tuesday to cooperate in dealing with North Korea, including its abductions of Japanese nationals decades ago, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.
Mongolia hosted talks between senior diplomats of Japan and North Korea on the thorny bilateral issue in the capital Ulan Bator last November.
In a separate meeting in Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Bold confirmed plans to deepen economic cooperation between the two countries, with Abe saying he hopes Mongolian Prime Minister Norov Altankhuyag will visit Japan soon, possibly in fall, to advance economic exchanges, according to a participant.
The two sides also agreed to work together to build a "strategic partnership," following Abe's trip to Mongolia in March, during which he agreed with Mongolian leaders to advance cooperation on mineral resource development and the environment.
Mongolia borders China and maintains diplomatic relations with North Korea, with which Japan does not have diplomatic ties, due partly to the abduction issue.
With the whereabouts of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s still unclear, Abe has vowed to resolve the long-standing issue while he is prime minister, and bring back all abductees.
India, Mongolia engage in joint military exercises for UN peacekeeping
Malaysia Sun (ANI) Tuesday 11th June, 2013
In an effort to develop international cooperation and joint training for UN peacekeeping missions, the Indian Army is participating in a joint exercise with its Mongolian counterpart from June 10 to 24.
The Indian Army is represented by 28 personnel, who are participating in several joint counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations, in Mongolia.
Codenamed 'Nomadic Elephant -2013', the exercise will focus specially on the needs of peacekeeping missions under the UN flag and will help in increasing the coordination and understanding between troops of the two nations.
Defence cooperation and relations between India and Mongolia have seen a steady growth over the last decade with the first joint exercise in 2004. For the last few years, the joint drills are being held every year. In 2012, the joint training was held at Belgaum, in Karnataka.
Mongolia, Germany To Intensify Defence Cooperation
ULAANBAATAR (Mongolia), June 13 (Bernama) -- Mongolia and Germany have agreed to boost bilateral relations and cooperation in the defence sector especially in peacekeeping operations and military training and exercise, Mongolia's MONTSAME news agency reported.
The two countries reached this agreement at the 10th consultative defence ministry meeting held in Germany on June 10.
Both countries shared views on defence ties and cooperation, which have been intensively developed in the framework of bilateral comprehensive partnership relationship.
They also expressed satisfaction with the joint services of Mongolian and German peacekeepers in Afghanistan since 2009.
Since the establishment of the military diplomatic relations 20 years ago, bilateral relations have also been developing in the political and economic sectors.
Mongolia wants to strengthen economic, political ties with Finland
ULAN BATOR, June 11 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia wants to strengthen its economic and political relationship with Finland, Parliament Speaker Zandaakhuu Enkhbold said Monday.
Mongolia also wants to learn from Finland in the fields of education and science, Enkhbold said during a meeting with his Finnish counterpart, Eero Heinaluoma, the Mongolian parliament's media office reported.
Enkhbold called on Finland to create opportunities for Mongolian youth to study in the Northern European country.
The speaker, meanwhile, hailed the good relationship between the parliaments of the two countries, and noted that Heinaluoma's visit coincided with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Finland.
Heinaluoma, for his part, said Finland expects to cooperate with Mongolia in the areas of mining and agriculture.
Appeal hearing for cops convicted of Altantuya's murder postponed to June 24
PUTRAJAYA, June 10 (The Malaysian Insider) — The Court of Appeal today postponed to June 24 the appeal hearing of two policemen convicted of murdering Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006 owing to the need for court documents to be produced to back up the additional grounds of appeal.
The hearing of Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar's appeal against a 2009 Shah Alam High Court decision was originally set to run for three days from today.
When met outside the courtroom, Sirul Azhar's lawyer Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin explained that the court found it necessary to view a 2008 court application by Karpal Singh to call up a few witnesses including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and to recall former private investigator P. Balasubramaniam over the latter's two conflicting statutory declarations.
Kamarul told reporters that Karpal's application, which is relevant to the fresh grounds that he was seeking to introduce, was not included in the Court of Appeal's note of proceedings.
"But as part of the consideration of that ground is a very important piece of evidence and that is the evidence of the application by Karpal Singh in the Shah Alam High Court during the trial before the close of the prosecutor's case.
"That notes of proceeding where the High Court of Shah Alam heard Mr Karpal Singh's application... are not now part of this court as part of the rekod rayuan (record of appeal).
"So the Court of Appeal thinks it is necessary in the interest of justice for them to look at this document to decide on the appeal... That is the reason why the court has postponed this matter," Kamarul said.
Karpal was then holding a watching brief for Altantuya's family and the Mongolian government. Kamarul had told the court today that the Shah Alam High Court had heard and dismissed Karpal's application on July 23, 2008.
"We are given 10 days to file in new grounds of appeal," Kamarul said, adding that the judges allowed the application for additional grounds of appeal for his client.
Kamarul Hisham confirmed that the Azilah had not filed a similar application and was not a party to Sirul Azhar's application.
Azilah is represented by Datuk Hazman Ahmad.
The Court of Appeal's three-man panel is led by Datuk Seri Mohamed Apandi Ali. The two other judges are Datuk Linton Albert and Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.
Mohamed noted that the lawyers for Sirul Azhar had yet to submit their written submission.
Earlier in court, lead prosecutor Deputy Solicitor-General II Datuk Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah explained that Karpal's application was a separate application from this trial and it was not included in the court's notes of proceedings.
The appeal will now be heard for three days starting from June 24.
On April 9, 2009, Sirul Azhar and Azilah were convicted and sentenced to death by the Shah Alam High Court for the murder of Altantuya at Mukim Bukit Raja, Shah Alam between October 19 and 20, 2006.
The duo, who were then with the Bukit Aman Special Action Squad (UTK), had previously been charged under section 149 of the Penal Code, which carries the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.
On October 31, 2008, the same court acquitted former political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda of abetting them in the murder, following the prosecution's failure to establish a prima facie case against him.
Foreign Policy Roundup: May 26-June 8, 2013
June 11 (Brandon Miliate, Mongolia Focus) Here is the 2nd installment of our new bi-weekly series, the Foreign Policy Roundups. In every roundup, I offer a very brief 1-2 sentence summary of foreign policy news, with a link to the original article. Most of the articles are from Mongolian-language sources. As a non-native Mongolian speaker, I welcome comments on any mistakes, especially if I incorrectly translated ministry names or other governmental institutions. I am still tinkering with the formatting, but trust that the new layout is a big step forward.
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Mongolia spends $0.3 per tourist on promotion, world average $5.25
June 11 (UB Post) Mongolia is known among travelers as the land of nomads, birthplace of the great general and emperor, Chinggis Khaan, and land of many histories, dating all the way back to the Paleolithic Age. It is home to hospitable, gracious and meat-loving herders who cherish their land, animals and culture in all its natural beauty. Mongolia is, no doubt, a place designed for travelers and adventure seekers, with unspoiled nature, deep dark caves, tall, icy mountains, clean lakes, beautiful scenery and plentiful wildlife.
Despite all of these natural endowments, Mongolia's travel and tourism sector has lagged behind others. The sector has never been noticed by the government until now, and not many are prepared to consider the sector for investment, due to its seasonal quality.
So far, Mongolia has managed to develop a small tourism sector that has lots of potential for profit. The sector has managed to grow through the support of the public sector and a growing focus on branding the country's historic and untouched land.
National Statistical Office data shows that Mongolia's number of arriving tourists has increased steadily from 411,640 in 2008 and 2009, to 460,360 in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, the number of tourists reached 467,000, according to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
The tourism sector's contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the nation is overshadowed by the industrial and mining sectors. The direct contribution of the sector to the GDP was estimated to be around three to four percent (342 billion MNT) in 2011, which includes tourist spending on hotels, restaurants, tickets and other leisure services. The world average for GDP contributions from the tourism sector is 5.12 percent. So, Mongolia's numbers are still lagging behind, despite the growth it has experienced.
The main challenges for the tourism sector are the short three month-long tourist season (from June to August), and the lack of infrastructure related to travel routes across the country. Add to this, the consistent neglect by the government to promote the country's travel attractions and marketing strategies, it isn't hard to see why a sector with such potential is suffering.
According to the Mongolian Tourism Association, overall government spending on marketing has been under 518,000 USD per year. The World Tourism Organization's report of 176 destinations in 2011, showed that Mongolian promotional spending per tourist totaled a mere 0.3 USD while the world average is 5.25 USD.
During the Economic Forum of Mongolia (Mogi: Mongolia Economic Forum) earlier this year, which focused on establishing a Mongolian brand to diversify the economy and decrease its reliance on mining, the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Ts.Oyungerel, said that the government is aiming to develop "special interest tourism" over the next four years, specifically tours related to history, Buddhism, wildlife, nomadic lifestyle, sports, adventures and dinosaurs.
She said the government is increasingly focused on dinosaur fossil and archaeological recoveries, after the recovery of the smuggled Tyrannosaurus Bataar, which was auctioned in New York City, USA for over one million USD.
According to Ts.Oyungerel, Mongolia has a large amount of dinosaur skeletons and fossils, enough to fill five or six museums. "Since the discovery of dinosaur eggs in the Gobi Desert by Roy Chapman Andrews some 90 years ago, the Gobi has been known to possess one of the largest collections of dinosaur fossils worldwide. International expeditions take place annually to search for dinosaur fossils among the desert's sandstone buttes and wind-blown dunes. Thanks to a century old research by paleontologists we currently have a magnificent herd of giant dinosaurs that are waiting to be displayed in museums," she said.
As noted above, the Gobi is extraordinary well-endowed in fossil and dinosaur bones, including the first dinosaur eggs ever found, but also mineral resources. At the moment, dozens of mining companies are operating in the Gobi desert, including the biggest ever project in Mongolia, Oyu Tolgoi and the giant Tavan Tolgoi coking coal project. These mining developments could be blowing up historically precious fossils and bones of dinosaurs and archaeological artifacts, with their careless digging and underground explosives.
Minister Ts.Oyugerel said, "The increasing presence of developers and miners in the Gobi Desert requires the attention of conservationists and tourists to preserve its natural heritage."
Currently, Mongolians, particularly residents of Ulaanbaatar, are too eager for big mining developers to start digging, so they can benefit from it as well. But underground wealth isn't freely dug up to become the paper in our wallets and the bread on our tables. Its price is high, and irrevocable. The conditions of our living environment and the Earth's history can be lost with careless digging. And our greedy eyes might get us into trouble that isn't obvious to the eye, but is lethal and permanent.
MONGOLIA BECOMES MEMBER OF THE GLOBAL GREEN GROWTH INSTITUTE
June 11 (InfoMongolia) The Minister for Nature, Environment and Green Development of Mongolia Sanjaasuren OYUN is participating at the Global Green Growth Summit 2013, an annual event on the international aspects of green growth, which is ongoing in Inchon city of the Republic of Korea on June 10-11, 2013.
The Global Green Growth Summit 2013, organized by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), is focused on "The Future of Green Growth: Finance, Innovation and Policy", where over 500 representatives of the Governments, NGOs and private entities are attending.
At the 2013 Summit, Minister S.Oyun delivered key notes themed on "International Experiences on Green Growth and Summary" and "Mongolia's Government Green Policy and Ways to Implement", where Ms. Oyun underlined Mongolia's national characteristics on green policy, advantages and disadvantages.
During her meeting with the GGGI Council Chair and former Prime Minister of Denmark Lars Lokke Rasmussen, Minister S.Oyun signed an Agreement of becoming the GGGI member representing the Government of Mongolia. Also, she was interviewed by Korean Arirang TV and Korea JoongAng Daily paper reporters.
Global Green Growth Institute
GGGI is a new kind of international organization - interdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder and driven by the needs of emerging and developing countries. It has been established by several forward-thinking governments to maximize the opportunity for "bottom up" (i.e., country- and business-led) progress on climate change and other environmental challenges within core economic policy and business strategies. The Institute is designed to be an open, global platform to support experimentation and collective learning by developing countries seeking to leapfrog the resource-intensive and environmentally unsustainable model of industrial development pioneered by advanced economies in an earlier era.
How sharing equipment helps gold miners use mercury-free processing in Mongolia
June 13 (TreeHugger) While visiting Mongolia with the , I observed the changes to the environment, business community and culture as this nation experiences rapid growth and development. One of the concerns is the use of mercury in small-scale artisan gold mining. Here's how a new model of processing is helping address this environmentally-damaging practice.
This is one of the main buildings of a small-scale gold processing facility that utilizes a mercury-free process. And while it looks rough, the work being done here has an important impact on the health of Mongolia's people and the environment.
In many ways, the biggest story in Mongolia right now is the story of mining. As China rapidly develops, , as well. The biggest mine -- the mine in the Gobi Desert -- gets much of the media attention, but it is the small-scale mines that are creating one of the biggest problems, which is their use of mercury.
This facility offers an alternative, by creating a space where miners have access to expensive equipment to process their own ore and see their work come to fruition in a single day.
Above are bags of gold ore pulled from mine shafts by independent miners that have brought it to this facility to process and turn into gold that can be sold. Here it is crushed, washed and filtered until a very fine gold dust is collected.
It is this piece of equipment, the shaker table, that allows the miners to avoid using mercury. Gold miners have used mercury because it is simple and effective, but it causes damage on a global scale when it is burned and enters the atmosphere. This facility provides water, electricity and the equipment itself which is shared among the 700 - 1000 miners that process their gold here.
In many places, miners will use mercury to create an amalgam with the tiny bits of gold, which is then separated from the mercury by burning, releasing toxic mercury into the atmosphere, air and water supply. In 2008, Mongolia outlawed the use of mercury in gold processing. The use of mercury at small-scale mines is the largest emitter of mercury into the environment.
The model of this facility allows miners to process their own ore, which is empowering, because instead of selling their unprocessed ore for a flat rate, they are able to see the output and earn as much money as there is gold in their ore. This is important to the miners who take pride in their ability to find the best ore. When they are only selling raw ore to a processing plant, they can feel unfulfilled or that they may be getting cheated out of the value of the gold they've mined.
Despite the ban on using mercury, researchers estimate there is still 11 tons of mercury emitted into the atmosphere here every year, so more funding and education is needed to give miners a way to get their gold to the market without resorting to the use of harmful mercury.
This facility, one of four in Mongolia, organizes miners who pay to use the machinery to process their gold in a safe, mercury-free way. With an estimated 100,000 small-scale miners in Mongolia, small projects like this are an important step in helping support this work, while ensuring it happens with the least amount environmental damage.
World Day to Combat Desertification: Mongolia
June 11 (news.mn) The Worldwide Day to Combat Desertification has been observed on June 17th since 1995 to promote public awareness relating to international cooperation to combat desertification and the effects of drought.
Mongolia is vulnerable to desertification due to its geographic position, climate conditions and ecosystem where humidity is very low and in dry regions.
Almost 90 percent of the total territory of Mongolia is newly at risk of desertification while 44.7 percent is already severely affected by desertification.
Over 700,000 square km of the affected area is in the Gobi Desert and plain areas in Mongolia.
Over the past decade, drought affected an extended area of 3.4 percent, in the worse affected areas it extended 5.4 percent, and in severely affected areas desertification extended 1.8 percent. The bad news is more than 50 percent of these affected areas are in Dundgovi, Dornogovi, Uvurkhangai and Umnugovi aimag, areas that are alreadt severely affected by desertification.
This is less to do with natural factors or climate change but more to do with human development.
It is estimated that over 70 percent of 126.6 million hectares of grassland was destroyed to be replaced by green crop plants. Other factors of desertification related to human activities are also explained through the domination of goats in dominated livestock. The goats hooves damage the soil and eat roots of plants. Also haloxylon, a genus of shrubs or small trees in the Gobi Desert that curbs the sand movement, has been reduced greatly through cutting.
Mongolia embarks on clean energy future with first wind farm
June 11 (TreeHugger) For centuries, the typical image of Mongolia has been nomadic herders on horseback living in yurts or gers. This century, however, . Balancing their traditional culture with this modern technological development will be an ongoing objective, but as of this month, Mongolia is taking an important step towards its vision of a clean energy future with the launch of the first wind farm in the country.
While in Mongolia for last week's , I visited the , which, when it goes online this month, will be Mongolia's first wind power project. After experiencing the wind in that area, it was clear why the locals call it "windy mountain" and why political and business leaders see so bright a future for Mongolia's clean energy.
Mongolia is so windy and has such harsh winters, in fact, that the turbines at Salkhit were built specifically to be "Mongolia-proof" so they could survive the strong winds and winter freeze. Each blade is ~120 feet and the tower and blade combined are 384 ft. However, because Mongolia's roads are still so bad, the turbines had to be transported directly over the steppe! It took three months for the pieces to arrive from China, where they were manufactured.
Each turbine has a capacity to produce 1.6 megawatts. The whole project can produce 50 MW and 168.5 million kilowatt hours. Annually, the company estimates, it will save 122,000 tons of coal, keep 180,000 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere and save 1.6 million tons of water.
Salkhit will be the first new power generating project connected to Mongolia's energy grid in 30 years. It is also the first privately-owned power plant in the country. Both of these points are significant because Mongolia currently gets 96% of its energy from coal, which is contributing to the that is still so important to Mongolian culture in the form of increased desertification, decreased precipitation and depleted grasslands.
President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Prime Minister Norovyn Altankhuyag and Minister of the Environment and Green Development Sanjaasürengiin Oyuun all see foreign and domestic investment in Mongolia's clean energy resources as a way to decrease climate change-inducing carbon emissions while also helping protect the Mongolian culture that makes the country so unique.
As we drove up to the Salkhit site, I was stuck by the site of herders on horseback working giant herds of sheep, goat and cattle beneath the turbines and transmission lines already stretching across the steppe and grasslands. It was an interesting contrast of the ancient lifestyle still in practice today and the latest in the modern energy technology that is so important to our current time.
This project is still just one of what will need to be many wind and solar power projects in order for Mongolia to realize its vision of becoming a net exporter of energy to neighbors in China and Russia. Every journey has a beginning, and it was great to see Mongolia taking this important first step.
By Alessandro R. Demaio
June 11 (The Conversation) A few weeks back, at the World Health Assembly, World Bank President Dr Jim Kim said the world is at a crossroads when it comes to health. A defining moment in history, from which our future trajectory will be decided.
Not many nations better embody this concept, than Mongolia.
Here this week to make a short film focusing on young, inspiring health change-makers working to address the leading cause of death (which might surprise you, is heart disease) I can see Mongolia is at a serious, but exciting moment in history.
In the midst of a mining boom, with economic growth eclipsing most nations, Mongolia is in the middle of rapid economic, social, cultural and health transitions. Once a small town, its capital Ulaanbaatar is one of the fastest growing urban centres in the world and now accounts for more than 60% of the nation's 2.8 million population. (Mogi: I think the last count put 1.2 million in UB, so little less than half)
A bustling city overflowing with cars, their drivers not so long ago would have been on horseback.
As a foreigner, one senses the excitement of the potential opportunities which lay ahead for this landlocked nation. Having done my PhD here over the last years, I have seen the city literally transform. Sky-scrapers and high-rises where there were gers just a few years ago. Traffic jams and footpaths where there were neither less than a decade earlier.
The cost of living is rising rapidly, but so is the standard of living.
Speaking to two young Mongolian doctors, they explain the optimism held by the young generations. "As money floods in, so do opportunities for Mongolians. We are able to travel abroad to study, greater work opportunities and if the money is spent well – a promising future for our nation."
Byambaa and Nara are both Mongolian born and raised. They lived through transition to a free-market economy after the collapse of the Soviet Union, they have seen their capital city double in size and their national infant mortality halve in the last 20 years.
They have such inspiration and vision for their country and its people. Part of a new generation determined to capitalise on the abundant natural resources of their nation, they're committed to seeing change that affords all Mongolians greater opportunity and prosperity.
But they also acknowledge Mongolia faces big challenges – one such example is from the quickly rising burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) including heart disease, diabetes, mental illness and cancers.
We are here making a short film about one of these young doctors. Through her story, NCDFREE hopes to show the world that heart disease is not just a challenge faced by rich countries – and that many Low and Middle-Income Countries are facing a difficult double burden. NCDs and an unfinished agenda of maternal and child health challenges, infectious diseases and more.
A filmographic call for attention, action and investment toward this misunderstood global health issue.
But also, crucially, we will show that a young generation exists that is serious about changing the situation. Bringing health and health equity for their populations. Paving the way for a healthier future.
Profiling these motivated young people and capturing their narratives, including Byamba who has dedicated her life to becoming a cardiologist (in a country not linked with cardiovascular disease in the minds of many), we hope to rally global societal and political support for these young people, their quest and this neglected group of largely preventable diseases.
Inspired and inspiring young change-makers, they represent a global challenge, but also an untapped resource of vision and commitment.
Mongolia may be at a crossroads, but these young leaders promise to steward this nation to a healthy future.
It's an exciting time.
To follow our trip more closely this week, head to the NCDFREE Facebook page.
Connect with Sandro on Twitter via @SandroDemaio.
Audio: Mongolia film a call to action on non-communicable disease
June 13 (Radio Australia) From yurts to skyscrapers, horseback to automobile, Mongolia is at an exciting moment in its history.
But in the midst of unbridled growth and a mining boom, Mongolians acknowledge they face big challenges.
A view shared by many, but also that of Australian doctor, Alessandro Demaio.
He's currently in Mongolia, making a short film with NCD Free - a global social movement against Non Communicable Diseases like diabetes and heart disease which he founded with his brother.
Presenter: Richard Ewart
Speaker: Dr Alessandro Demaio, Co-founder of NCD FREE
Edinburgh Tattoo crowds to see Mongolian military musicians perform Genghis Khan story
Around 70 performers will use music, song and dance to tell the story of the ruthless invader and military tactician, and his blood-soaked campaigns.
June 13 (Daily Record) GENGHIS Khan is to march on the capital in a major coup for the producers of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
The musicians of the Mongolian armed forces have been lined up to make their first ever visit to Britain.
And we can reveal their performance on the castle esplanade in August will be based on the life of the 13th century warrior who rose from humble roots to conquer parts of central Asia and China.
Around 70 performers will use music, song and dance to tell the story of the ruthless invader and military tactician, and his blood-soaked campaigns.
Rehearsals are well under way for the six-minute spectacular portraying the conquests of the leader whose name is revered in Mongolia and central Asia.
Tattoo producer Brigadier David Allfrey said yesterday he was excited about it.
He said: "Genghis Khan was an uncompromising man who grew up in an uncompromising place and, notwithstanding the popular image, when you visit Mongolia you can't help but be drawn into the magic of the story.
"He was an extraordinary soldier by any standards, and as a military strategist he was frankly without compare."
Brigadier Allfrey went to Mongolia in February as part of a global talent-spotting mission for the Tattoo which has seen him visit 24 countries in as many months and cover every continent except Antarctica.
He saw the band, enjoyed the spectacle of the Mongolians' traditional horsehair banners, and held talks with defence, foreign affairs and business chiefs to outline the benefits and potential global exposure they would enjoy from a slot at the Tattoo.
He said: "We are now very much looking forward to seeing how their performance has developed between February and August."
Among the Mongolian military musicians taking part in the show will be traditional throat singers, who can produce two or more distinct pitches at the same time.
Brigadier Allfrey said: "It's incredible – something which sounds as if it should not come from a human being. It's half-way between a yodel and a bath emptying."
But most of all the Tattoo chief is looking forward to bringing to Edinburgh a little bit of a country which intrigued him.
He said: "My four-day visit in February was the most marvellous experience.
"It is one of these places where you land and your pulse instantly quickens.
"To get there you fly over miles and miles of steppe, and when I went there it was swathed in snow and it went on forever.
"You land at Ulan Bator airport and you find yourself in an arrivals hall filled with tough-looking people, then you step outside and the temperature is minus 34.
"In the middle of this landscape grew up a man we know as Genghis Khan who created an extraordinary nation and a military culture that dominated that part of the world for many, many years."
David Scott, the Honorary Consul for Mongolia in Scotland, said the performance would mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Britain and Mongolia.
He said: "I know it will be very interesting, and that Mongolians will be coming up from London in droves to see it."
David added: "I saw the Tattoo last year and it was spectacular, but I think this year will top it."
Genghis Khan, who died in 1227, came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia and he was also responsible for founding the Mongol Empire.
In just 25 years, his horsemen conquered a larger area and greater population than the Romans did in four centuries.
Mogi Munkhdul Badral Bontoi
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