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Monday, November 25, 2013
Cover Mongolia CEO Participates as Panelist at Mongolia Investment Summit Hong Kong
November 23 (Cover Mongolia) Cover Mongolia is pleased to announce that its CEO Munkhdul Badral Bontoi (Mogi) participated at this year's Mongolia Investment Summit HK as a panelist, discussing new investment opportunities in Mongolia's up-and-coming industries outside of mining.
The overall message at the conference has been that of a turnaround in investor sentiment towards Mongolia. Optimism, something we haven't seen in a long while, could be sensed across the Four Seasons Hotel.
The new Investment Law has been very well received by all participants, and expects this to resonate with new investment interest heading in Mongolia's direction. Although the delayed Oyu Tolgoi underground development is still in the back of everyone's mind, the general mood of everyone at the fourth Mongolia Investment Summit in HK has focused on the upward growth trend returning to Mongolia. This mood will be well captured in the news articles that have come out in the days around the summit.
Mogi, highlighting the role information players such as Cover Mongolia can play as bridges between the local and international market's understanding of Mongolia, was a panelist on "Exploring investment prospects in Mongolia's up-and-coming industries" on the 2nd day of the conference, along with other distinguished experts such as Jargalsaikhan "de facto" Dambadarjaa, Batsaihan B. Jamichoi (Mongolia Opportunities Fund), Tuyen D. Nguyen (IFC Resident Representative), Lakshmi Boojoo (EPCRC) and Oyunchimeg Magvan (Deputy Chairperson, MNCCI).
Cover Mongolia would also like to apologize for the lack of newswires this past week, but assures our subscribers that it will catch you up with all that's happened in the coming days.
TRQ closed -4.50% to US$4.24 on Friday, -44.28% YTD
UPDATE 1-Mongolia wants to resolve mine dispute with Rio Tinto by early 2014
* Oyu Tolgoi is key to Mongolia development plans
* Govt eager to push on with expansion
* But dispute with Rio Tinto has put second phase on hold
* Bleak copper markets could cloud project outlook
By David Stanway
BEIJING, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Mongolia hopes the $5 billion expansion of the giant Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine can start next year as it works to resolve a dispute with global miner Rio Tinto, its partner on the project, a government source said.
But Rio Tinto may be reluctant to push on too quickly due to bleak market conditions, the source said, with copper prices down more than 10 percent in 2013 and expected to drop further on a flood of new supplies from South America and Africa.
A Rio Tinto spokesman declined to comment.
Copper shipments from the first phase of project started in June, but Rio Tinto in late July put on hold plans to build an underground mine amid complaints by Mongolia that costs had spiraled out of control and that its interests had not been fully served.
Mongolia, looking to find the revenues to fund ambitious social and infrastructure plans, is keen to press ahead with a project that is set to account for a third of its total economy by 2020 once the underground mine is built. Foreign investors also see the way the government develops Oyu Tolgoi as a key indicator of the country's willingness to do business.
"Our side is committed to starting the second phase as soon as possible and we can agree on certain issues in December or January and plan development," said the source, who is involved in Mongolia's discussions with Rio Tinto but did not want to disclose his name.
"Both sides are working on the updated feasibility study. After that, if both sides agree, there will be no challenges. I hope we can agree early next year."
Rio Tinto has said that it expects the new feasibility study for the second phase of the project to be completed in the first half of 2014.
With Rio's new chief executive Sam Walsh focused on slashing costs, cutting capital spending and paying down $22 billion in debt, there is some question on how soon the company would want to go ahead with the Oyu Tolgoi expansion.
"That is fine - we can understand that, but what we cannot accept is that the Mongolian government is the only reason for the delay ... I hope the market will understand that," the source said.
Oyu Tolgoi is 66 percent-owned by Rio Tinto's Turquoise Hill Resources unit. Rio Tinto is also building and operating the mine, located around 80 kilometres from Mongolia's southern border with China.
Craig Kinnell, Rio Tinto's new representative in Mongolia and the chief executive of the Oyu Tolgoi project, said one of his four priorities would be to prepare the project for future growth, but he gave no timeframe for the expansion.
"I am as expectant as everyone for the day that the issues under discussion will be resolved. But speed is not the measure of success," Kinnell said in his first public speech in the job at a conference in Hong Kong on Tuesday.
Mongolia has complained that costs on the first phase were $2 billion higher than originally planned, and is looking for assurances from Rio that such "investment inflation" will not happen during the second phase, the source said.
He said the overruns would mean it would take longer for the Mongolian government to pay back what it owes on the project, meaning that it would take longer before it started receiving dividends. He said Mongolia also continues to object to Rio Tinto's financing and management costs.
Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi, the government entity that holds Mongolia's 34 percent stake in the project, said in a statement on Tuesday that Mongolia remained fully committed to the project and to the terms of the original 2009 agreement.
Some interpreted the statement as a sign that the government is prepared to be flexible to resolve a deadlock that has forced Rio Tinto to lay off 1,700 staff at the mine.
The 2009 Oyu Tolgoi investment deal was hailed as a symbol of Mongolia's growing engagement with the global economy and its openness to overseas investment, but it has been castigated by nationalist politicians worried that the country was selling off its mineral wealth on the cheap to foreign interests.
Mongolia's previous government submitted a request to Turquoise Hill Resources to amend the agreement. The source said there remained problems with the original deal but changing it was not currently a priority.
Mongolia Says Committed to Resolving Oyu Tolgoi Financing Delays
By Michael Kohn
November 18 (Bloomberg) Mongolia is committed to resolving issues delaying expansion of the $6.6 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine, the government said in a statement after a Rio Tinto Group unit failed to arrange funding for their joint project.
"The Government of Mongolia is flexibly available to prioritize and continue the discussions on terms and conditions of the project financing separate from any other issues," according to a press release issued today by Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC, the state-owned company that holds 34 percent of the mine.
Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (TRQ), the Rio Tinto unit which holds 66 percent of the mine, was unable to obtain long-term project financing for the project due to uncertainty over negotiations with the Mongolian government, the Vancouver-based company said in a statement on November 14.
In order to repay loans that would have been covered by project financing, Turquoise Hill may sell shares to raise as much as $2.4 billion, in an offer to be completed no later than Jan. 15, Rio Tinto (RIO) said.
Rio Tinto, which manages the project through its 51 percent stake in Turquoise Hill, halted development of the mine's underground expansion and laid off about 1,700 workers until discussions with the government on funding and other issues are resolved.
Talks will continue to resolve all issues, Erdenes OT said in the statement, adding that "the timing of shareholder approval and continuation of the underground expansion are dependent on the completion of the feasibility study and therefore not certain."
The feasibility study is expected to be complete in the first half of 2014, Turquoise Hill said in its November 14 press release.
Oyu Tolgoi, located 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of the Chinese border, is forecast to account for about a third of Mongolia's economy when in full operation. The first stage of the mine, which included development of an open pit and concentrator, cost around $6.6 billion. The second phase is expected to cost an additional $5.1 billion.
Khan Update on International Arbitration
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 21, 2013) - Khan Resources Inc. (CNSX:KRI) ("Khan" or the "Company") is pleased to announce that the hearing by an International Arbitration Tribunal slated for November 11 through November 15, 2013 was completed as scheduled. Arguments were heard by the Tribunal from Khan and from the Government of Mongolia on the merits of the case and the damages incurred by Khan due to the illegal expropriation in 2009 of the mining and exploration licenses for the Dornod uranium project in northeastern Mongolia. Khan is seeking damages in the amount of $326 million. The Tribunal has asked for the submission of two post-hearing briefs before rendering their decision. The first post-hearing brief is scheduled for the end of January, 2014 and the second for the end of March, 2014. After receipt of the two briefs, it is expected that the Tribunal will then formulate and render their decision.
Mr. Grant Edey, President and Chief Executive Officer of Khan, commented, "This hearing was the culmination of a long and expensive process. Our case continues to be very robust and we remain confident in a favourable outcome for our shareholders."
975 closed +0.75% to HK$1.35 on Friday, -64.47% YTD
Mongolian Mining's Rating Cut by Moody's on Debt Payment Concern
November 20 (Bloomberg) Mongolian Mining Corp. (975), which sells 42 percent of the nation's coal to China, was downgraded by Moody's Investors Service because of concern it may not be able to pay its debt.
The rating was cut by a level to Caa2, Moody's said today in a statement, the fourth-lowest non-investment grade. The Ulaanbaatar-based company is negotiating waivers and relaxation of its bank covenants, Moody's said.
Miners in Mongolia are under pressure as the nation's coal exports dropped 20 percent in the first nine months of this year and as prices of the commodity declined. Mongolian Mining is seeking to reschedule loan repayments after it reported a first-half loss of $25.2 million, Chief Executive Officer Battsengel Gotov said in August.
"Its cash balance will be insufficient to address debt-servicing requirements" in the second half of 2013 and 2014, Moody's said in the statement.
The company expects to increase cash and reduce debt-servicing requirements next year after a possible loan restructuring and sale of its paved road, Mongolian Mining Chief Financial Officer Ulemj Baskhuu said today in an e-mail reply to questions.
"The coking coal price weakness has impacted the company earnings and liquidity position," Baskhuu said. "However, because of the successful cost cutting measures and improvements in operational efficiencies, we were able to mitigate this impact. With regards to the downgrade, I believe that agency opinion and timing is an independent view."
MMC shares gained 3.1 percent to HK$1.35 at the close of trading in Hong Kong today, before Moody's released its statement. The stock has slumped 64 percent this year, compared with a 4.6 percent gain in the key Hang Seng (2828) index.
"There are some other possible avenues for MMC to enhance its liquidity position in the next 12 months, such as a significant asset divestment, or equity injection, particularly after the relaxation of foreign investment laws in Mongolia," Moody's said. "However, these options may be limited by its low share price and weakened asset valuation."
Auminco Mines was previously a result of a merger with Bold Resources, holder of these Mongolian assets.
Viking Ashanti brings Mongolian coal developer into its fold
PERTH, November 20 (miningweekly.com) – Junior gold developer Viking Ashanti (ASX:VKA) has announced a merger with emerging coal developer Auminco Mines.
Viking would issue more than 129.7-million shares to Auminco shareholders, resulting in that company holding a 59% interest in the enlarged entity, with Viking's current shareholder base retaining a 41% interest.
The gold developer would also undertake a minimal capital raising of A$4.5-million early in 2014, to fund operations, complete internal production feasibility studies, and to make development decisions.
"Viking is delighted with the proposed acquisition of Auminco and its portfolio of high-quality strategically located coal assets in Mongolia, two of which have near-term production potential," said Viking Ashanti chairperson Jack Gardner.
"Mongolia is host to vast coal and mineral wealth and has excellent proximity to Chinese and Russian coal offtake markets, where steel production continues to grow. The achievement of Auminco in gaining quality assets and mining approvals in Mongolia gives Viking excellent prospects of early production and positive cash flow."
Gardner added that combined with Viking Ashanti's Ghanaian gold assets and its management team, the merger augured well for Viking's successful and sustainable growth in the challenging global equities environment.
Auminco's Mongolian projects include five coal projects and one zinc project. The company's flagship asset, the Khonkhor Zag metallurgical coal project, has been the focus of recent exploration, with a resource estimate expected in December.
The merger is subject to a number of conditions, including due diligence by both parties and shareholder and government approval. The merger is also conditional on Viking raising no less than A$4.5-million in equity capital.
MATD up 7.69% to 3.5p, -40.68% YTD
Petro Matad eyeing two drill targets after completing 2D seismic acquisition on Blocks IV, V
November 21 (Proactive Investors) Mongolian oil explorer Petro Matad (LON:MATD) expects to identify at least two drilling locations from its recent 2D seismic acquisition.
The explorer completed the acquisition of 200 kilometres (km) of data on Blocks IV and V in Mongolia on 19 November.
Preliminary analysis confirmed previous interpretation of initial brute stacks of seismic across the prospect area in Block V and subject to further processing should delineate at least two prospective drilling locations for 2014, it said.
In addition, Petro said the initial brute stacks across Block IV indicated an additional trap closure in this area and a further 30 km of seismic would be acquired to confirm this closure as a potential drilling prospect for 2014.
The group has three production sharing contracts with the Government of Mongolia.
Block XX has an area of 10,340 square km in the far eastern part of the country.
Blocks IV and V are located in central Mongolia. Block IV covers approximately 29,000 square km and Block V approximately 21,150 square km.
Guildford: Mongolia Road Construction and Financing Update
November 19 -- Guildford Coal Limited (ASX:GUF) is pleased to announce an update on the construction progress of the 98km haul road connecting the Company's Baruun Noyon Uul (BNU) mine (formerly North Pit) with the China border and coal distribution hub at Ceke:
- Of a current workforce of 630 people, 350 of whom are working on the road;
- Scheduled completion for 15th December with approximately 70% construction complete;
- Good working conditions have allowed the construction program to be delivered under budget.
The mine is currently being prepared for shipments of coal for further batch testing with a number of prospective customers. There has been strong cooperation with the Mongolian authorities on the joint objective of transitioning the mine into production.
A series of photographs from the Company's Mongolia operations follow this update.
Additionally the Company is pleased to announce further details of the new financing arrangements with OCP Asia as advised to the market on 11 November 2013:
- There are USD$10 million convertible notes with convertible note warrants attached at a conversion price of AUD$0.30, which could convert to 35.5mm shares;
- There are USD$55 million amortising notes with detachable warrants at 18.5% of the face value of the amortising notes with a conversion price of AUD$0.17, which could convert to 63.7mm shares;
- The average conversion price is therefore $0.216 which represents a 160% premium to where the stock closed on 8 November 2013, the trading day before the announcement;
- The number of shares that could be converted (and therefore resulting in dilution) is not materially more than the existing terms with OCP Asia that it replaces (given the amortising note plus warrants structure) for the additional funds financed under these arrangements.
ERD closed +8.33% to 13c on Friday, -25.71% YTD
Erdene: Gold, silver finds more than expected at Altan Nar
November 18 (The Chronicle Herald) Erdene Resource Development Corp. (TSX:ERD) of Dartmouth is reporting significant gold and silver results from first-phase trenching at its wholly owned Altan Nar gold-polymetallic project in southwest Mongolia.
"These early results have exceeded our expectations and have allowed us to meet our stated objective of establishing initial targets for open-pit development at Altan Nar, while pending results will allow us to prioritize new areas for the next phase of resource drilling," company president and chief executive officer Peter Akerley said in a news release Monday.
Akerley said results from four of 28 trenches demonstrate the potential for Altan Nar to host multiple, near-surface, gold-polymetallic deposits conducive to open-pit mine development.
Erdene is focused on the acquisition, exploration, and development of base and precious metals in Mongolia, which it characterized as under-explored and highly prospective.
Company stock was trading for 10 cents a share on the TSX Monday afternoon, up a cent from its previous close.
MOU closed flat at 0.5c, -54.55% YTD
Modun Resources study returns US$11.50/t cost at Nuurst coal project
November 18 (Proactive Investors) Modun Resources (ASX: MOU) has submitted a Feasibility Study for the Nuurst thermal coal project in Mongolia that highlights its low production costs – estimated at US$11.50 per tonne of raw coal.
The study by Absolute Mining has identified the potential for a 136.9 million tonne mine producing up to 4.9Mt of raw coal per annum and 500,000 tonnes of dried coal briquettes by year 4.
This will have a mine life of about 30 years while the low production costs reflect the low overall mining ROM strip ratio of 2.4:1.
"The results from the Mongolian feasibility study provides further confidence in the viability of developing the Nuurst Coal Project into a low cost producing mine," managing director Rick Dalton said.
"This study will also be used as a basis for completing the more detailed feasibility work required to secure financing for the development of the Project."
The Mongolian Feasibility Study was submitted to the Mineral Resources Authority of Mongolia (MRAM) for review prior to MRAM mining permit applications to commence mining.
Modun is also working through the requirements to produce an internationally recognised Bankable Feasibility Report, subject to raising appropriate finance.
Key to the success of the Nuurst Project is its strategic location just 6 kilometres away from existing railway infrastructure.
Other major infrastructure in the vicinity includes a 35kV power supply within 6 kilometres of the project, and a 220kV powerline runs around 22 kilometres from the licence boundary.
Nuurst has a JORC Resource of 478Mt and is located 120 kilometres south of the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar, and 600 kilometres by rail from the Chinese border.
Notably, the company had last month received a strong endorsement from the Mongolian government, which signed a Memorandum of Understanding to buy coal briquettes from the project.
The briquettes will provide a higher energy coal supply to meet Mongolian power generation demand that will also reduce pollution.
Mongolia had paid about US$130 per tonne for semi-coking briquettes last year.
The country currently has 865 megawatts of power generation capacity in Ulaanbaatar and forecasts point to a further 300MW required in 10 years.
Modun continues to progress its Nuurst thermal coal project towards development with the Mongolian Feasibility Study highlighting the low US$11.50 per tonne cost to produce raw coal which would provide a significant operating profit margin even at current thermal coal prices.
Besides representing a key step in securing its mining permits, the study also provides the basis for a Bankable Feasibility Study that will allow the company to secure financing for the project.
To top it off, Nuurst has many advantages over other coal projects in the country, including proximity to infrastructure and an agreement to supply coal briquettes to the Mongolian Government.
Mongolia's recent adoption of foreign investment friendly legislation should also open the door for financing by introducing incentives and increasing the confidence for investors to commit to projects or move existing projects into construction and production phases.
These include protection from future tax changes that might negatively impact projects; the formation of a specially appointed Council of non-salaried members; relaxation of the percentage of foreign workforce employed; and provisions protecting against nationalisation of investors' assets.
In summary, Modun has ticked off a large number of boxes required for development and toward gaining project financing at Nuurst including:
- It would provide regular coal supply to existing power stations to tap increased power demand
- Provide a new coal supply for new power stations
- Prime location for a new environmentally friendly power supply, via dried coal binderless briquettes
- Located close to Mongolia's capital Ulaanbaatar and six kilometres from existing infrastructure
- Proven coal reserves
- Low start-up costs
With this, Proactive Investors believes Modun Resources is still flying under the radar for most investors and that there is considerable room for the company's shares to grow beyond $0.006 and its market cap of $5.48 million. There are significant milestones and catalysts ahead.
XAM last traded at 6c on Thursday, -25% YTD
Xanadu Mines Investor Presentation, November 2013
November 18, Xanadu Mines Limited (ASX:XAM) --
DRG closed flat at 3.5c on Friday
Draig Resources: Chairman's Address at AGM
November 25, Draig Resources Limited (ASX:DRG) --
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to this annual general meeting of shareholders of Draig Resources Limited.
My name is Peter Doherty, I am the Executive Chairman of Draig Resources Limited and will be chairing this meeting.
I would now like to make some brief comments as Chairman.
Jarrod Smith, David Meldrum and I became directors of the Company in late November 2012, just prior to the 2012 annual general meeting. In December 2012 Mark Dougan was appointed as the Company's country manager in Mongolia.
In early 2013 the board decided to appoint McElroy Bryan Geological Services Pty Ltd ("McElroy Bryan") to undertake a review of the geological data and to provide ongoing geological advice in relation to the exploration licences in Mongolia.
Two exploration programmes were undertaken during the year: one during the period November to December 2012 and the other during the period May to June 2013. McElroy Bryan was involved in the latter exploration programme. The results, while useful, were disappointing and confirmed that several of the exploration licences were unlikely to host commercially extractable coal deposits. Consequently it was decided that three of the eight exploration licences should be relinquished. One further licence has subsequently been relinquished.
As part of its work, McElroy Bryan undertook detailed analysis of the geological data associated with exploration licence 13879X. In particular, the Inferred Resource was estimated by McElroy Bryan at approximately 10 million tonnes in accordance with JORC 2012. This was significantly less than the previous estimate.
Significant reductions in expenses have occurred since the new board and management team became involved in the Company. These reductions are ongoing.
Unfortunately Mongolia's economy continues to deteriorate and the board remains concerned with Mongolian country risk. It is therefore reluctant to consider any further significant investment in Mongolia until this situation changes.
Compounding this issue are depressed global equity and coal markets.
Your company is in the fortunate position of having a relatively significant amount of cash. The board remains focused on preserving this and is continuing to make decisions which reduce expenditure.
The board is currently evaluating future strategies for the Company. In the meantime, the four remaining exploration licences in Mongolia will continue to be evaluated and explored with the expectation that the optimum value will be realised in the future.
2013 was a difficult year for the Company and the parameters which caused these difficulties continue to prevail. The board is cognisant of the fact that significant change is required in order to increase value for shareholders.
Mongolia Stock Exchange CEO on Bourse's Outlook
Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Altai Khangai, chief executive officer of the Mongolian Stock Exchange, talks about the prospects for the nation's stock market. He speaks with Angie Lau and Rishaad Salamat on Bloomberg Television's "Asia Edge."
Mongolia's Central Bank Predicts Economic Rebound
Oyu Tolgoi Mine Project Is Crucial to Driving Growth
HONG KONG, November 19 (WSJ) Mongolia's economy is set to rebound in 2014, the country's central bank governor said Tuesday, even though foreign investment flows have slowed because of the continuing weakness in coal and copper prices.
Central bank head Naidansuren Zoljargal said gross domestic product could expand as much as 17% next year from around 11% this year. Though the forecast is upbeat, it is well below levels predicted by the World Bank, which in an early November report revised its 2013 Mongolia growth figure to 12.5% from its April prediction of 13%.
"I am pretty confident [this year] it will be around 11ish percent. And for next year we are a bit more optimistic than in 2013," Mr. Naidansuren told The Wall Street Journal in an interview. "I'm pretty sure the  number can go higher than 11%, somewhere between 11% and 17%."
Mongolia's economy expanded 12.2% last year (Mogi: 12.4%) and 17% (Mogi: 17.5%) in 2011, when it topped world growth rankings, according to World Bank data.
A major stimulus will come from a renewed flow of direct foreign investment and particularly an expected agreement with Mongolia's international partner which will launch the second-stage development of the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine, said Mr. Naidansuren.
Oyu Tolgoi is an important piece of the FDI puzzle and "it looks as if it is going to work, it is just a question of the timing. Maybe it is going to come next month, in two months or three months from now, but I am pretty confident that the second phase will happen and that is about $4 billion we are talking about," he said.
Around 90% of the Mongolia's revenues come from mine-product exports. Falling prices for these exports have worsened the balance of payments and slowed the country's growth.
"Oyu Tolgoi is a huge project for the size of the economy we have, it is a $10 billion-a-year economy, so it is going to have a major impact on the GDP," said Mr. Naidansuren, who was in Hong Kong for a Mongolia investment conference. Mongolia's foreign investment slid by 47% in the first eight months of this year from year-earlier levels.
Canada-based Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd, which owns 66% of Oyu Tolgoi, plans a rights issue of $2.4 billion to pay its main shareholder Rio Tinto PLC, after failing to secure financing needed to continue developing the project's huge copper and gold reserves.
Plans to build an underground mine to complement current open-cast mining have been delayed because of disagreements on the scope of the project and financing arrangements.
In a statement Tuesday, Mongolia's state-run Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC, which owns 34% of the project, said it remains fully committed to the open-cast mine and the financing and development of the underground mine, and that the government "is flexibly available to continue the discussions" with Turquoise Hill and Rio Tinto.
The CEO of Oyu Tolgoi LCC, Craig Kinnell, speaking at the same conference Tuesday, said that while he wasn't going to comment on progress in talks with the government on developing what could be the world's third-largest copper and gold mine, it "is better to take longer now to get it right."
Mr. Naidansuren noted that Mongolia's currency, the tugrik, has fallen 20% against the dollar so far this year, and while declining to forecast future trends, said this demonstrated how the authorities "are committed to the flexibility of the exchange rate."
A combination of the currency fall and weaker commodity prices seen in the past 20 months had driven the consumer-price index higher, he said.
"Our target number is 8%, we might not reach it but still we will be very close to it. We are near 10% today," which he said was a far better figure than the World Bank and other forecasters had suggested a year ago, when they were predicting an inflation rate of 16% or more.
In its November report, the World Bank said that given recent exchange rate trends and pressures from expansionary macroeconomic policies, "the monetary authorities will likely face increasing difficulties keeping inflation at single-digit levels."
Mongolian central bank forecasts Oyu Tolgoi will spur growth recovery
November 20 (bne) The Mongolian central bank has forecast a strong rebound for the economy in 2014. However, a return to GDP expansion in the high teens depends on agreeing a route to progress the Oyu Tolgoi mine.
Mongolia topped the world growth rankings in 2011 at 17%, driven by foreign direct investment into the mining sector. However, with the country witnessing rising resource nationalism, as has also been seen in several Central Asian peers, GDP expansion dropped to 12.2% last year.
The World Bank estimated earlier this month that 2013 growth will come in at 12.5%, but central bank head Naidansuren Zoljargal suggested the final figure for the year will disappoint. "I am pretty confident [this year] it will be around 11ish percent," he told the Wall Street Journal in an interview.
The official added however that the Central bank of Mongolia hopes to see the economy perk up in 2014 as investors return to work. "[N]ext year we are a bit more optimistic," he said. "I'm pretty sure the  number can go higher than 11%, somewhere between 11% and 17%."
Key will be the second-stage development of the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine, he noted. The huge project did much to dent growth over the last two years as Ulaanbaatar has argued with partner Rio Tinto over investment costs.
However, Naidansuren suggests an agreement is imminent. "It looks as if it is going to work, it is just a question of the timing," he asserts. "Maybe it is going to come next month, in two months or three months from now, but I am pretty confident that the second phase will happen and that is about $4bn we are talking about."
The suggestion of a swift agreement on the second phase appears at odds with recent developments. Turquoise Hill – the unit through which Rio Tinto holds its 66% stake in the mine – announced on November 14 that it had suspended underground work. The government subsequently said little more than that it is ready to continue discussions.
The ongoing delay helped push the World Bank to drop its original forecast of 13% growth for 2013 earlier this month. However, the international institution also warns of downside risks including inflation, higher off-budget spending and a mounting balance of payments deficit.
Mongolia saw a 49% slump in FDI in the first nine months of 2013, mainly due to the introduction of the 2012 Strategic Entities Foreign Investment Law (SEFIL) and uncertainty over the result of the presidential election in June. However, with the re-election of Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and the adoption of changes to the restrictive investment legislation, Mongolia looks likely to see a revival in FDI inflows in 2014.
Elbegdorj campaigned against nationalist challengers by promising to return FDI to previous levels. With both the presidency and parliament settled until 2016 following elections over the past 18 month, the sentiment amongst investors is turning positive once again, reports Finance Asia from the Mongolian Investment Summit held in Hong Kong on November 19.
Mongolia Central Bank Governor on Economy, Policy
Nov. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolian central bank Governor Naidansuren Zoljargal talks about monetary policy, and the nation's economy and currency. Zoljargal also discusses the outlook for the nation's financial system. He speaks in Hong Kong with Rishaad Salamat on Bloomberg Television's "On the Move."
The Challenges Threatening Mongolia's Growth
Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Khan Bank CEO Norihiko Kato discusses the bank's business strategy and challenges threatening Mongolia's economic growth. He speaks with Angie Lau on Bloomberg Television's "First Up."
Cover Mongolia: Total outstanding 1-week bills rise back significantly to ₮1.39 trillion from ₮993 billion (November 20) after a steady fall from record high of ₮1.87 trillion reached in October. Sign of significant jump in excess MNT in banks?
BoM issues ₮714.8 billion 1-week bills
November 22 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 715.8 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
Balance of Payment Report for First 3 Quarters of 2013
November 22 (Bank of Mongolia) Quarterly Balance of Payment (BOP) report alters from the monthly preliminary BOP report (July, August and September) as it is executed using the data from the quarterly report of enterprises, international trade, state budget, the information from the banking system and the balance at the foreign accounts of the Mongolian enterprises.
• Current account deficit stands at US$ 2,595.4 million which is decrease of US$ 46.3 million on a YOY basis. Of which (i) deficit of international trade account of goods decreased by 18 percent to US$ 1,140.1 million; (ii) trade of services deficit increased by 250 percent to US$ 1,003.8 million; (iii) deficit of income account decreased by 15 percent to US$ 557.9 million; and (iv) current transfer declined by 49 percent to US$ 106.3 million.
• Balance of capital and financial accounts showed surplus of US$ 1,215.5 million which is decrease of 58 percent or US$ 1,693.7 million on YOY basis. This is due to i) 52 percent decline of surplus on foreign direct investment from abroad to Mongolia equaling to US$ 1,966.4 million, ii) surplus of portfolio investment decreased by 103 percent or US$ 890.7 million and iii) deficit of other investments decreased by 64 percent or US$ 1,177.0 million compared to a year prior.
BoM holds FX auction: $17.4M at ₮1,746.5, CNY 56M at ₮286.6, $45M Swap Agreements
November 21 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on November 21st, 2013 the BOM has received from local commercial banks bid offers of 49.4 million USD and 96.4 million CNY. BOM has sold 17.4 million USD as closing rate of 1746.50 and 56.0 million CNY as closing rate of 286.60.
On November 21st, 2013, The BOM has received bid offer of USD for Swap agreement from local commercial banks and sold 45.0 million USD by accepting all offer.
GOVERNMENT SECURITIES AUCTION: ₮30 Billion 12-Week Bills at Average 8.52%
November 20 (Bank of Mongolia) Regular auction for 12 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 30 billion MNT and each unit was worth 1 million MNT. Face value of 30 billion /out of 39.5 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold to the banks at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 8.52%.
DLA Piper: With new law, Mongolia opens to investors
By Stewart K. Diana, Battushig Batsuren*
November 21 (DLA Piper) The Great Hural, Mongolia's Parliament, has ratified a new investment law, already in effect since November 1, that dramatically alters the investment landscape in Mongolia.
The new investment law is one of the first steps in reversing the current slowdown of Mongolia's economy and increasing the inflow of foreign direct investment," said Zandaakhuugiin Enkhbold, the Speaker of Parliament.
The Investment Law eliminates current restrictions on private foreign investment, narrows Mongolian government approval requirements for state-owned foreign investment, offers a simpler and more open investment process, establishes a new agency to assist with the process, and provides an array of investment incentives.
A more open landscape
Under the Investment Law, any domestic or foreign investor may invest in any industry or sector without any limitation or government approval, except that any foreign state owned enterprise (SOE) investing in more than 33 percent of an entity in the minerals, communication or financial sectors must obtain approval from the newly established Invest Mongolia Agency. A foreign SOE is defined as an entity of which a foreign sovereign state owns directly or indirectly more than 50 percent.
The Investment Law eliminates the much broader restrictions on private foreign investment in the minerals, communication and financial sectors that previously existed, removes Parliament from the approval process where foreign SOEs are involved, and ends the distinction between foreign and domestic investors.
In addition, any investment tax stabilization agreements made prior to the effective date of the Investment Law will still be valid, and approval by the Invest Mongolia Agency will not apply to changes to share structure of entities in which a foreign SOE already owned a 75 percent or more interest.
Foreign entities doing business in Mongolia
The Investment Law requires that a foreign entity must either be registered as an entity with foreign investment (EFI) or as a representative office to conduct any activity in Mongolia. An EFI is defined as an entity that is incorporated in Mongolia and of which at least 25 percent is owned by a foreign investor whose minimum contribution to the entity is US$100,000. A representative office is defined as an entity that is incorporated in Mongolia solely to operate as a representative office of the foreign entity – it does not have the status to receive revenue from business activity in Mongolia.
All domestic and foreign shareholders of Mongolian corporate entities are required to register with the State Registry in accordance with the relevant laws of Mongolia. The Registration of Legal Entities Law sets out the registration requirements for an EFI, which include submitting an application with by-laws and bank statements and identifying investors. In addition, the Invest Mongolia Agency has the authority to obtain information regarding investors from all relevant government agencies.
Implications for foreign investment: some examples
Some specific examples are useful for appreciating the application of the Investment Law. For example:
Ø Ownership by a foreign SOE (which includes any foreign company which is more than 50 percent owned by a foreign sovereign state directly or indirectly) of 30 percent of a Mongolian company in the minerals, communication or financial sectors will not require Invest Mongolia Agency approval; however, the Mongolian company is an EFI since it is at least 25 percent foreign owned.
Ø In the example above, if the percent ownership is 34 percent, then Invest Mongolia Agency approval will be required, but if the sector is not minerals, communication or financial, then Invest Mongolia Agency approval will not be required. If the percent ownership is less than 25 percent, then the Mongolian company will not be considered an EFI; however, the names of investors will still need to be registered with the State Registry.
Ø A private, foreign individual or company may acquire 100 percent ownership of a Mongolian company with assets in any sector, including minerals, communication or financial, without Invest Mongolia Agency approval. The Mongolian company in this example would be an EFI.
Invest Mongolia Agency – implementing the law, assisting investors
The Investment Law establishes the Invest Mongolia Agency to implement the Investment Law, to issue tax stabilization certificates (Stabilization Certificates) to investors and to make determinations about investments by foreign SOEs. In addition, the Invest Mongolia Agency is mandated to assist investors in planning their investments and to protect investors' interests and rights.
Even though the Invest Mongolia Agency issues the Stabilization Certificates, the ultimate authority to approve such issuance will be a council appointed by the Minister of Economic Development.
When reviewing the application of a foreign SOE for an investment in Mongolia, the Invest Mongolia Agency is required to take into consideration whether the investment is in conflict with national security interests, adversely impacts government revenue or constrains competition.
Stabilization certificates provide certainty on tax rates
Stabilization Certificates provide investors with certainty as to tax rates for a specified period and are issued based on the sector involved and the amount and location of the investment in Mongolia.
The first table below illustrates the scope of Stabilization Certificates for the minerals, heavy industry and infrastructure development sectors (the Investment Law excludes investments in the atomic energy sector, which is governed by the Atomic Energy Law). The second table covers all other sectors.
MINERALS, HEAVY INDUSTRY OR INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT SECTOR
Investment Value (MNT in billions)
Stabilization Timeframe (years)
Invest the Amount within (years)
500 and more
Investment Value (MNT in billions)
Invest the Amount within(years)
200 and more
100 and more
80 and more
60 and more
50 and more
The Invest Mongolia Agency may extend the time period within which the investment must be made by two years, upon an investor's request. Furthermore, the duration of the Stabilization Certificate may be extended by 1.5 times the period identified in the above tables, if:
Ø the investment project plans to produce or manufacture goods for import or export that will contribute to Mongolia's long term sustainable social and economic development. In addition, the planned investment value, based upon a feasibility study, must exceed MNT 500 billion and the project development must be expected to last for more than 3 years.
Ø the investment project produces value added goods for export.
Investors holding Stabilization Certificates have the right to enjoy any new laws or regulations which contain tax rates that are more beneficial than those specified in the Stabilization Certificate. The taxes and other levies that are subject to stabilization are corporate income taxes, customs duties, value added taxes and mineral royalties.
If the value of an investment exceeds MNT 10 billion, then a feasibility study must be provided, and if the value of an investment is less than MNT 10 billion, then only a business plan must be provided.
Enter into an investment agreement with the Government of Mongolia
The Investment Law provides any entity whose investment will exceed MNT 500 billion with an option to enter into an investment agreement with the Government of Mongolia. An investment agreement may stipulate a longer stabilization period than the set timeframes under the Investment Law. The investment agreement may include all the legal protections stipulated in the Investment Law, as well as other tax stabilization terms and financial incentives.
Investors may enjoy additional incentives
The Investment Law also provides that investors in Mongolia may enjoy a variety of other tax and non-tax benefits from the Government of Mongolia.
Tax benefits may include exemption from taxes, preferential tax treatments, accelerated depreciation and amortization that is deductible from taxable income, carrying forward of losses, and deduction of employee training expenses from taxable income.
Non-tax benefits may include land lease rights, residential permits for international investors and their families, expedited registration process if the investment involves a free economic zone or industrial complex, and financial pledges to investment projects involving innovative technology.
In addition, equipment imported for construction purposes may be exempt from custom duties and value added taxes.
Clarifying regulations to come
It is expected that the Ministry of Economic Development will issue regulations clarifying various aspects of the Investment Law.
To find out more about investing in Mongolia under the new Investment Law, please contact Stewart Diana.
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*Battushig Batsuren provided research and editing assistance for this article. He is a third-year law student at Chicago-Kent College of Law.
Foreign investors turning positive on Mongolia
New regulations on foreign investment and securities, combined with a free election calendar, means things are looking up for Mongolia.
November 19 (FinanceAsia) After two years of relative misery, foreign investors are beginning to feel more optimistic about Mongolia as attention swings back to the business of extracting the country's ample natural resources and away from its extravagant domestic politics.
With Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj re-elected as president this summer and a new parliament chosen a year earlier, there are now no more national elections due until 2016, setting the scene for a recovery in foreign investment, speakers at the Mongolian Investment Summit in Hong Kong said on Tuesday.
"We're optimistic on all Mongolian assets," said James Passin, cofounder of Firebird Management, which has invested more than $100 million in Mongolia. "The country has spent $1.5 billion to $2 billion on elections during the latest cycle, which is like the US spending trillions of dollars. Obviously that has a big effect on the domestic economy, so next year we expect to see a rebuilding of liquidity, which should create the conditions for [a] sustainable inflation of Mongolian asset prices."
Mongolia's total economic output was just $10 billion in 2012 and has averaged less than $5 billion in the past decade, according to the World Bank, making Mongolian democracy perhaps the most expensive in the world relative to the size of its economy.
The government has not always offered investors value for money. Foreign investment has fallen by close to 50% so far in 2013, while the currency and the stock market have both lost 20%.
Some of the weakness has been as a result of global economic conditions — including lower commodity prices and the slowdown in neighbouring China — but the main drag has been domestic, the biggest of which is undoubtedly Rio Tinto's Oyu Tolgoi copper-and gold project.
The mine shipped its first ore in July but the all-important second phase, which will take the work underground where the bulk of metal lies, has stalled amid a dispute with the government, which owns 34% of the project. Talks between Rio Tinto and the government have dragged on for more than a year with no end in sight.
Rio Tinto's new Mongolia head, who also spoke at the conference on Tuesday, had no news on a possible resolution and was reduced to briefing investors on the company's safety record in Mongolia, which he said was excellent.
An investigation into corrupt practises among government mining officials has also led to a moratorium on new exploration licences over the last 18 months and placed a question mark over the licences of existing foreign investors.
All of this has sapped confidence among investors, most of whom are otherwise desperate to take advantage of Mongolia's 10%-plus economic growth.
But the overwhelming message from the assembled speakers at the conference was one of optimism. The government has made some changes to its foreign investment rules and a new securities law takes effect in January, both of which could help to restore confidence and attract much-needed capital.
Oyu Tolgoi alone is estimated to have a final price tag of more than $14 billion while the infrastructure needed to transport Mongolia's natural resources to China will cost even more, which is why it is so important for the government to strike a deal with foreign investors.
Nobody expects an easy ride. Randolph Koppa, president of Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia, variously compared Mongolia to a pack of wild horses racing across the steppe, a double-humped Bactrian camel and even a starfish missing a leg: "Mongolia has strong upward growth but it will not be without its lumps and bumps."
IFC: Mongolian Banks Sign Joint Statement of Commitment for Developing Sustainable Banking Practices in Mongolia
Ulaanbaatar city, November 21, 2013 (IFC) Today, the Mongolian banking sector made a public declaration to jointly promote sustainable banking practices in Mongolia. This is part of on-going efforts of the industry to contribute to economic, green and inclusive development in the country. The public declaration was made through the signing of a joint commitment statement by all the 14 Mongolian commercial banks to introduce a sustainable funding framework in the Mongolian banking and financial systems.
In May 2013, the first Mongolian Sustainable Finance Forum was organized in Ulaanbaatar city. The event brought together all Chief Executives of the commercial banks in Mongolia and international development banks to jointly discuss environmental and social issues that are likely to impact Mongolia's long term development goals. The initiative and program was supported by the Government of Mongolia, Ministry of Environment and Green Development, the Bank of Mongolia and Financial Regulatory Committee (Mogi: Commission) , who were also present. There was a unanimous agreement to cooperate and the matter of being responsible for economic growth and green and inclusive development was given a great significance. All CEOs of the banks present indicated that the Mongolian banking sector had an important role to play in promoting sustainable development in Mongolia through the loans they provide and the projects they finance in the country.
According to the President of the Mongolia Bankers Association, Bold Magvan: "This is an important day for Mongolia. Banks are beginning to realize that they can be agents of change to encourage their clients to invest in projects that minimize damage to the Mongolian environment and protect the wellbeing of its people. The signing of the joint statement of declaration is one more positive step in that direction".
Accordingly, several concrete actions are being planned to enable banks make informed and socio-environmentally friendly business decisions, to introduce internationally accepted sustainable financing standards into banking operations, to develop and implement certain policies and procedures specifically designed for the banking industry. Understanding of banking customers and the general public about the green development and sustainable financing will also be increased.
The initiative to jointly develop the Mongolian Sustainable Finance Initiative was introduced by the Dutch Development Bank (FMO), Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia (TDB), International Finance Corporation (IFC), Mongolian Bankers Association (MBA) and the Banking and Finance Academy (BFA), and the first Mongolian Sustainable Finance Forum was organized in May 2013.
Senior executives of the FMO and IFC partners have shown their support for the important steps the Mongolian banking sector is taking to promote sustainable development. Linda Broekhuizen, Director of Financial Institutions at FMO, mentioned that: "Through this joint commitment statement, Mongolia has shown leadership by taking concrete steps to work together as a banking industry to raise awareness on environmental and social issues and promote sustainable lending and investments".
"IFC has found that sustainable banking enhances risk management and opens up new markets for banks", Tuyen Nguyen, Resident Representative in Mongolia for IFC, a member of the World Bank Group. "We are also working with Mongolian partners to tap into new opportunities such as climate-friendly projects."
The initiative of promoting sustainable finance among banking sectors is also being designed and gradually implemented in countries such as China, Vietnam, Nigeria, Brazil and a few other countries. International standards such as the "Equator Principles" and "International Finance Corporation Performance Standards" continue to be the benchmarks for sustainability and through proper implementation will help to drive environmental and socio-economic development.
Монгол улсын нийгэм, байгаль орчинд ээлтэй тогтвортой санхүүжилтийн бодлогыг хөгжүүлэхийн төлөөх хамтарсан тунхаг бичиг – Монголын Банкны Холбоо, 11-р сарын 22
New IFC Report Urges Mongolian Companies to Improve Corporate Governance
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, November 21, 2013 (IFC) A new report by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, urges Mongolian companies to improve their corporate governance in order to enhance their competitiveness and performance, attract investment, and better contribute to Mongolia's long-term economic growth.
Entitled 'The Corporate Governance Scorecard for Mongolia 2011', the report is an independently produced survey of corporate governance practices in Mongolia. It finds that the average corporate governance score for Mongolia's top 20 listed companies during 2011 was only 27.5%, indicating inadequate implementation of the country's corporate governance rules and regulations.
The report urges businesses to improve in key areas such as protecting the rights of shareholders and stakeholders, improving companies' disclosure, transparency and governance structure, and making boards accountable for company decisions.
"Businesses should raise their awareness of good corporate governance, which paves the way for more investments at lower costs," said Mongolia's Financial Regulatory Commissioner Ganbayar Davaa. "The goal of the scorecard is also for the authorities to identify strengths and weaknesses in the corporate governance framework, leading to further regulatory reforms."
The report reviews the corporate governance practices of the 20 largest companies by market value listed on the Mongolian Stock Exchange as of January 3, 2011, which together represent nearly 90% of the Exchange's total market value. It aims to develop a benchmark of corporate governance practices by examining compliance with local laws and regulations and global best practices.
"Firms with better governance are more profitable than those with poor governance," said Tuyen Nguyen, IFC's resident representative in Mongolia. "We hope the scorecard will encourage more Mongolian firms to follow better corporate governance practices. This will help them with more efficient management, better allocation of resources, and more sustainable value creation, which will eventually contribute to the country's long-term economic growth."
This is the first corporate governance scorecard produced as part of the IFC Mongolia Corporate Governance Project, which was launched in 2009 in cooperation with the Financial Regulatory Commission of Mongolia.
Construction of a paved road from Ulaanbaatar to the Chinese border completed
November 23 (UB Post) The 116 km road connecting Sainshand soum and Zamyn-Uud, at the Mongolia-China border, was opened on November 20. The project was the last project to be completed in a series of road projects linking Ulaanbaatar and Dornogovi Province by paved road.
Prior to the project, paved road was available only between Ulaanbaatar and Choir (in the center of Gobisumber Province). A 176 km road from Choir to Sainshand was constructed and became operational on September 5, 2013.
The project was completed as part of a contract between the government of Mongolia, the Asian Development Bank's Regional Auto Road Development Project, and the Millennium Challenge Account in Mongolia.
By the end of last year, the total length of paved roads in Mongolia was around 3,000 km. The Prime Minister said that the length of hard paved roads increased by 1,800 km this year.
Road from Khamaryn Khiid to Sainshand soum opens
Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag took part in the opening ceremony for the 42 km paved road from Khamaryn Khiid (Temple of the Nose) to Sainshand soum, in the center of Dornogovi province, which officially opened on November 20. The project's construction was funded by the state budget and the final cost reached 17.6 billion MNT. China-based Hengchang Urban Constructions and Mongolia's Zamyn Bitum executed the construction.
The road was built to meet local demands and make it convenient for tourists to travel to Dornogovi, as the province is has become a popular destination for domestic and foreign travelers in recent years. Up to 80 percent of the people visiting the province go for tourism purposes. The most popular tourist attractions in Dornogovi are Khamaryn Khiid, World Energy Center and Khan Bayanzurkh Mountain. The newly built road is expected to contribute significantly to the already flourishing tourism industry in the province.
The Prime Minister said that he is pleased that the new road will lead tourists to the region's landmarks, and he congratulated the road's builders for completing the project on time.
The Governor of Dornogovi Province, P.Gankhuyag, pledged that the province administrators will take measures to maintain and ensure the quality of the roads and build more roads to welcome more tourists.
Prime Minister inspects progress of development projects in Zamyn-Uud
The government allocated 15 billion MNT to the "New Soum" development project in Zamyn-Uud soum. The project will build new schools, kindergartens, and hospitals, as well as a sports, cultural and population development center. Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag visited the construction site to inspect the progress of the project after the opening ceremonies of the new roads.
Front Gate is constructing the development center at the cost of 5.8 billion MNT. As of Wednesday, the project was at 40 percent completion. Builders told the Prime Minister that the construction work was delayed after two cement mixers stopper functioning due to the cold weather.
Arvis International is building a hospital with 100 beds, and the company said their completion rate is at 50 percent so far. The Prime Minister noted that the government is expecting a high quality hospital, as the state spared no cost by financing four billion MNT. He also noted that hospitals constructed with the same amount of financing must be handed over to the government fully equipped.
Mongolia Opens Paved Road From Capital to China, Montsame Says – Bloomberg News, November 20
Prime Minister reports on road construction projects
November 19 (UB Post) Last Friday, Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag updated on the progress of the road development projects in the provinces during the parliament session.
The prime minister said, "In 2013, 1,824 km of auto road and 900 meters of bridge construction was completed." He also added that the total length of paved roads in Mongolia will near 5,000 km by the end of this year. "By the end of this year, around 1,800 km of road will be paved, adding to the current 3,000 km paved roads."
"This year, road construction to connect Ulaanbaatar to the centers of Bayankhongor, Dundgobi, and Dornogobi provinces was completed on time. The hard-paved road between Zamyn-Uud soum (bordering China) and Ulaanbaatar will be operational within next week. This will enable travelers to cross Mongolia from the Russian border to the Chinese border on hard-paved roads for the first time" he added.
The 629 billion MNT financing for the 1,824 km road construction was financed by the state budget, Development Bank of Mongolia, and several other foreign investors and mining companies.
The prime minister also provided an update on the Street Project during the session. The project aims to reduce traffic congestion and improve the capital city's urban facade. The street project was launched on February 2013, and includes plans for the expansion and construction of 33 intersections in and around the city center, 16 of which have already been completed.
The construction of the 16 intersections employed 5,100 people from 58 companies, according to the prime minister. "Two intersections will be operational shortly, and the construction of the remaining 15 intersections is due next year," said N.Altankhuyag.
He also highlighted that the Street Project is deemed economical and highly effective at improving traffic flow in the city. The prime minister said that the newly built 4-way intersection located in front of Urgoo-1 cinema in Bayangol District as a clear example of the effectiveness of the projects. The Urgoo-1 intersection cost around 1.6 billion MNT.
"According to a study, 33.3 million cars pass through this intersection every year. The average time for a car to drive through the intersection has been reduced to approximately 10.2 seconds, as it has been redesigned into a 4-way intersection. The intersection will save around 2 hours and 20 minutes of each driver. Furthermore, cars driving through will save approximately 1,023 liters of fuel every year," explained the prime minister.
Mongolia to move up food chain
With vast farmlands, the country wants to progress from basic exports to processed foodstuffs and needs foreign funds to get there
November 21 (South China Morning Post) Mongolian agricultural officials envision their organic meat and vegetables being served on Chinese dinner tables and are looking to foreign investors for help in making this a reality.
"Usually, the money coming into Mongolia is for mining. There is never much interest in the agricultural sector … But we see great potential," Duursakh Luvsandorj, a department director at the Ministry of Industry and Agriculture, said on the sidelines of the Hong Kong Mongolia Investment Summit recently.
With additional capital investment, the sector can move from merely exporting raw materials such as milk, cashmere and meat to processing value-added agricultural products as well, Luvsandorj said.
If successful, the shift would allow Mongolia to retain a greater share of revenues and possibly develop food brands with wider international appeal.
According to ministry data, Mongolia has 41 million head of livestock, including sheep, goats and camels, worth US$7.15 billion. The country supplies 21 per cent of the world's unprocessed cashmere.
Only 10 per cent of animal products are processed locally, with the remainder sent to Russia or China. In some cases, the final product is then imported back into Mongolia.
With the right investment, the ministry says, locally sourced and processed hides, cashmere clothing and other animal products, could create an industry worth US$88 billion. Last year, the country received US$3.8 billion in foreign direct investment.
"The ministry wants to focus on the export of organic produce. For centuries, our lifestyle has been natural," Luvsandorj said.
Identifying China, Russia, South Korea and Japan as target markets, he said he believed healthy organic Mongolian foodstuffs would be well received.
One of the world's most sparsely populated countries, Mongolia has over one million square kilometres of available agricultural land and an abundance of minerals.
It is in the early stages of an infrastructure building spree as the government rushes to connect disparate mines and communities and provide adequate housing in its major cities.
According to the ministry, agriculture employs 35 per cent of the workforce, including herders practising traditional nomadic and pastoral farming.
Wedged between Russia and China, the country is well positioned to supply two of the world's fastest-growing economies. The biggest potential market could be China, which has the world's largest population, supplied by a local food industry blighted by health concerns.
"I see the potential but also the challenges," said Henry Lee, director of Quam Capital and co-manager of a Mongolia investment fund.
"Do they have the ability to produce and ship everything? The same infrastructure challenges that affect the mining industry also affect the agricultural industry."
The country is also bedevilled by a harsh climate and severe winter storms called dzud. In 2009-2010 such a storm killed an estimated eight million animals, 17 per cent of the country's livestock, UN reports said.
Upgrading the country's farming sector will require the construction of dairies, animal barns and greenhouses to help overcome the elements.
In some areas, a fragile top soil means that only pastoral herding is appropriate, as overgrazing leads to soil degradation and sandstorms, making it unsuitable for large-scale animal husbandry that benefit from economies of scale.
To encourage investment, the government has announced a series of incentives, including rent-free land leases and tax breaks on construction of agricultural farms and factories and on farming machinery.
Mongolia's new law expected to attract Chinese billions
New investment legislation is expected to result in mainland firms pouring billions of dollars into key railway and highway projects
November 20 (South China Morning Post) Mongolia's new law is expected to encourage billions of dollars of Chinese investments, said speakers at the Mongolia 2013 Investment Summit in Hong Kong yesterday.
Chinese companies were interested in investing in railway and highway projects in Mongolia, said Javkhlanbaatar Sereeter, acting director general of the Invest Mongolia Agency of Mongolia's Ministry of Economic Development. "Chinese companies are very competitive in terms of price. I expect Chinese investment volume will increase in the next two years."
Chinese companies were negotiating to invest in a US$2 billion highway connecting Russia, Mongolia and China, Sereeter said.
Mongolia had planned US$50 billion of mega projects in the next 10 years, said road and transport minister Amarjargal Gansukh. "We are looking for investors in mining, energy and transport infrastructure."
Construction had begun on 1,800 kilometres of railway costing US$5.2 billion, which was one-third of the planned national rail network, Gansukh said.
China was the biggest foreign investor in Mongolia, accounting for 30 per cent of Mongolia's foreign direct investment, said Sereeter.
China accounts for the largest number of foreign-controlled companies in Mongolia, with about 5,000, he said, adding that the country was also the biggest trading partner and export market for Mongolia, whose exports are mostly commodities such as coal.
"I'm sure the new investment law will encourage more Chinese investment in Mongolia, including Chinese state-owned enterprises," said Sereeter.
In October, Mongolia's parliament approved an investment law that ended different rules for domestic and foreign private investors, and lessened government approval requirements.
The law will take effect on January 1. (Mogi: the new investment law is already in effect from November 1, the new securities market law is taking effect from Jan 1)
"The new law will spur more Chinese investment in Mongolia," said Alisher Ali, managing partner of Silk Road Management, an investment firm focusing on frontier markets.
The previous investment law, enacted last year, had a negative impact on Mongolian companies, including those listed in Hong Kong, as it led to uncertainty over foreign ownership of Mongolian assets, Ali said.
The 2012 law was in large part responsible for the failure by Aluminum Corp of China, a Chinese state-owned aluminium producer, to acquire 60 per cent of SouthGobi Resources last year, Ali said. SouthGobi is a Hong Kong-listed firm with coal mines in Mongolia.
The new investment law repealed large chunks of the one in 2012, Ali said. (Mogi: just large chunks? The law immensely improves upon just repealing it, leaves SOEs subject to approval, perhaps that's what he meant)
Meanwhile, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, Mongolia's biggest state-owned coal producer, planned to list in Hong Kong, London and Mongolia in 2015, raising up to US$1 billion, said chief executive Batsuuri Yaichil.
In 2012, the company cancelled plans to raise US$3 billion by listing in Hong Kong, London and Mongolia.
EBRD: MONGOLIA SUPPORTS SMES WITH E-PROCUREMENT
Deputy Prime Minister Terbishdagva to meet with top procurement experts
November 19 (EBRD) On Tuesday, 19 November, international partners announced their intention to work with Mongolia to enhance its new e-Procurement system, which will make public tenders more accessible to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
To address this, key public officials will meet this week to discuss procurement policy at a workshop organized by the European Union (EU), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).
At the event, participants will consider how to adapt international best practices for public procurement. "In Europe, sound public procurement policies lead to more transparency, accountability, and cost savings," explained Matthias Reusing, First Secretary for the EU's Delegation to Mongolia. "This means more effective management of public finance."
"In Georgia, we have found that e-Procurement, simpler procedures, and greater transparency will benefit the SME sector." explained Tato Urjumelashvili, Chairman of the Competition and State Procurement Authority.
"We are fully committed to using international best practices to achieve excellent transparency in our operations across the country," explained Enkhjargal Damdin, Director of the Government Procurement Agency.
The current Government programme requires the Procurement Agency to work towards having all procurement done through the e-Procurement system to reduce opportunities for corruption and the confusion of complex public procurement procedures.
After the event, Deputy Prime Minister Terbishdagva will meet with procurement experts to offer him an overview of which procurement reform options will benefit the SME sector.
"Simplified procedures will create opportunities for SMEs," explained Matthieu Le Blan, the EBRD's Head of Office in Mongolia. "We expect that entrepreneurs will capitalise on these opportunities."
Mongolia to Introduce Nationwide Digital Television System by July 2014
-Digital Television aerials installed at 89 locations across Mongolia-
November 19 (UB Post) Currently, Mongolia uses Analog Television System, but preparation work for integrating a nationwide Digital Television (DTV) System is set to be completed by July 31, 2014. As of November 9, DTV aerials have been installed at 89 soums throughout Mongolia and 48 have started trials.
In short, a DTV will allow all viewers in Mongolia to watch channels with high resolution regardless of their location or television quality. Ghosting of images, interferences from weak signals, and many other issues that degrade the quality of broadcasted images and sound will be erased as DTV only supports reception from complete digital signal, which means it requires a high synchronization of both audio and video broadcasts.
Households using analog television via antennas will be able to directly use the DTV by installing a small converting device to their television sets.
Officials said that the analog to digital convertors are also under trial. The marketing price and supply of the convertors will be approved by the government by the end of this year, according to the managers of the project.
The introduction of a new broadcasting system will not outcast the Analog Television System. Viewers will be able to choose whether to transfer to digital or stay with their former method.
Officials estimate that each convertor device will cost around 25,000 to 50,000 MNT.
Shop Mongolia: New shopping channel starts broadcast
November 20 (UB Post) Shop Mongolia, a world standard shopping television channel, broadcasted its first program on November 19 and started taking requests.
The shopping channel was launched by EGON which was founded by A.Enkh-Amgalan, P.Gerel, G.Oyun and B.Nandintushig, children of the founders of Channel 25, a commercial TV channel.
One of the founders of Channel 25, D.Galsanjargal, said, "Six young people established the first commercial television channel 18 years ago. Now we have witnessed our children doing the same. For the past 18 years we have operated the channel successfully, and managed to unite under one goal and we hope our children will do the same."
CEO of Shop Mongolia, G.Oyun commented, "Shop Mongolia is one more step towards better standard in the history of Mongolian shopping channels. All products that will be sold during the initial stage of the channel were imported from the U.S. and Japan. We also plan to sell high quality national products as well."
Among other shopping channels and programs, Shop Mongolia stands out from the rest with its high quality technology, high definition broadcasts, and a professional team assigned to operated the shopping channel.
Shop Mongolia's scenic design was designed specifically for television shopping. Only highly experienced journalists, editors, directors, and cameramen were selected to work for the channel. The team also include trade managers who are fluent in English, German and Russian, as well as international lawyer.
As consumers seek and value quality in any product they wish to purchase, the team is aiming to sell high quality products for reasonable prices to home shoppers. The channel has already signed official supplier's contracts with manufacturers based in the U.S., Japan, Germany and European countries to distribute goods to Mongolian consumers.
It will not only focus on sales, but also broadcast programs introducing the manufacturing process and ingredient, content and material of many well-known products.
The channel's operation will focus on ensuring consumers' interests while strictly adhering to regulations related to fair competition and sales.
Consumers will be able to return goods if they find it unsatisfactory or faulty in any way.
The founders of the Shop Mongolia noted, "We have studied what makes a successful shopping channels in the U.S., Japan and Germany. To attract consumers, we will do our best to offer only high quality original products by becoming the official distributor of world's most trusted and popular brands."
Authorities stop Richfield Hotel operation due to money laundering case
November 20 (UB Post) A case where a South Korean citizen, Ang Ji Mang allegedly used laundered money from an illegal to gambling house in Korea to build Richfield Hotel in Mongolia was reported by authorities. The hotel's operation has been stopped and suspects are still under investigation, said the police.
The defendant was found guilty by the court for laundering 4.5 million USD from the gambling house. Furthermore, he allegedly transferred his illegal profit to Lee Jae Gung in Mongolia and to build Richfield Hotel near the Bayanburd traffic rotary, according to the police.
Lee Jae Gung was also accused of selling the hotel to a Mongolian citizen on July 2013 fully aware of the illegality of his actions.
Eg River Hydroelectric Power Plant construction approved
November 19 (UB Post) During the regular cabinet meeting on November 14, the construction of a 220 MW hydroelectric power plant at Eg River was discussed and members approved the task group that undertake the project construction.
According to the cabinet, the project's financing for pre-construction works will be allocated from the 50 million USD fund which was earmarked for the 450 MW power plant project adjacent to the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine.
The cabinet instructed the Minister of Energy, M.Sonompil, and Minister of Economic Development, N.Batbayar to collect the required budget for the project's next phases though commercial bank loans and by establishing contracts with domestic and foreign investors. The funding for the hydroelectric power plant construction is set to be approved by next year and the construction is to start immediately afterwards, according to officials.
Once the hydroelectric power plant is operations, Mongolia's central energy system will have a greatly improve and the national energy supply will become much smoother. Most importantly, experts estimate that the hydroelectric plant will enable Mongolia to reduce energy dependency on imports by developing its own energy sources.
The plant is also expected to save around ten million USD per year and Mongolia will be able to make up the cost within ten to 15 years.
Experts from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have been studying ways to establish hydroelectric power plant in Mongolia since 1991. The studies confirmed the profitability of the project and the bank has expressed interest to provide grant-in-aid and soft loans for the pre-feasibility study and designs of the Eg River hydroelectric plant in May, 1991.
In 1991, the government accepted the ADB proposal and made deals for pre-feasibility study and designs. The parties signed a contract of loan and grant-in-aid in April, 1992.
The pre-feasibility study, design and bid documents of the plant were ready by 1994. But the construction of the plant was postponed in 1996 due to conflicts in the project financing.
IMD Executive Opinion Survey for a Special Competitiveness Report 2013 on Mongolia
Welcome to the IMD Executive Opinion Survey for a Special Competitiveness Report Mongolia in World Competitiveness 2013
E.Bat-Uul: Paradox when UB residents litter on Tuul River, while foreign volunteers clean it
November 23 (UB Post) The President of Federal Union of Mongolian Journalists, State Cultural Merit Worker, and journalist B.Galaarid has started running "Galaaridyn Tsag" (Galaarid's Time) program on Molor TV. Below is a translation of his interview with the Ulaanbaatar City Governor, E.Bat-Uul regarding the governor's opinion on various pressing issues in the city and his duties.
- How did you feel about governing a city with a population of a million people at first, and how do you feel now that you are accustomed to your work?
I feel a lot different now. At first, I was quite worried about being appointed as the Ulaanbaatar City Governor, but now I am getting rather immersed into my work. I started to better understand the current situation of the city that I live in after I took up my position. I care about Ulaanbaatar in the same way that a head of a family worries and wishes the best for their family.
- Did your new job come with more issues than you expected?
Yes, it did. Most of the problems were connected to households and social structures, as well as awareness of the city residents. While residents are littering at Tuul River bank, Korean or Japanese volunteers are seen picking up garbage. It is a paradox. Mongolian territory and Tuul River are treasures that Mongolians must be taking care of.
- What actions did you take to change this fact?
I want to raise awareness of the public about the importance of good treatment of the environment. We have conducted several landscaping projects to improve the city's facade. Once we have started planting flowers in public areas, even little children will not want to spoil them. Also, we are replacing corroded and narrow pipelines in Ulaanbaatar that were built in 1960s and 1970s. It is a must project that has to be addressed, or the city runs the risk of freezing as major heating pipelines break in the winter.
- Would citizens agree to move if a new another city is built?
I don't think they will. Ulaanbaatar is not just a mere city, but a gigantic market and economy. The fact that province residents are moving to Ulaanbaatar is not a bad thing. The reason why China's economy is very powerful is due to its dense population.
Market of a populous city develops faster. But the problem for Ulaanbaatar is that a high number of province residents are moving in to the city are burning logs and coal for heating as distribution pipelines cannot meeting demands. Their children are not able to enter schools and kindergartens because there isn't enough, and it is a big concern. But migration to the capital shouldn't be seen as something negative.
- You have issued an ordinance on information transparency in 2012. Why do you give so much credit for it?
Firstly, when ordinances or regulations are newly issued, the public lacks awareness because they weren't informed, big businesses are able to make profit off of it because they are informed. A lot of real estate and lands were privatized without the knowledge of the public. Secondly, residents have to participate in the city management themselves. But without transparency, they are not able to do that. Thirdly, it is dangerous for anyone who is in a higher position to hide information from the press media or citizens as it may cause suspicion or defamation. Misinformation is the most powerful weapon of Mongolian politics and business sectors. But transparency can prevent such misunderstanding.
- You released an ordinance that makes it mandatory for authority figures to inform the public of their orders or decision within 72 hours after its implantation. How do you implement the ordinance?
I made it able for the public to acquire official orders and decisions through the websites of state organizations. If an important decision hasn't been informed on the website, the public will know that the decision wasn't approved.
- Single Window Service was made available since your appointment of governor. How would you evaluate the fulfillment of duties by state bodies?
We have to rely on a good management, instead of good personnel. Every service personnel must think about their function and duty. State services must focus on providing equal service tor all citizens of Mongolia regardless of position or income. We plan to reform structures of service organizations in 2014. By the end of next year, state services will be provided faster without complicated procedures.
- Will this plan work? How certain are you of the results it will bring?
During community times in Mongolia, people lived for the sole purpose of serving their superiors. But we fought for democracy in 1990s which put an end to that system. But bit of that system still remains, even after more than 20 years. Difference between the state back then and now is that state officials can have private businesses and property, which was prohibited during communist times. The state has become an instrument of the greedy to stealing and dupe. At the moment, the democracy we sought is in a disgraceful condition.
- Do you ever regret taking part in the democratic revolution?
I have seen many who fought for democracy, regretting their decisions later, which is a cause for great distress for me. My decision to become the Governor of Ulaanbaatar was directly influenced by this.
Unless we fix it now, democracy in Mongolia is in a fatal condition, like a hospital patient waiting helplessly for his death in bed. A great danger is ahead if we don't change the state into one that serves for the people. We want to plan state budget and use tax funds in collaboration with the people.
- I think it is a good plan to let the people have more say in how the state budget should be spent. What kind of measures are you taking to increase support for this proposal?
We are working with residents in Ulaanbaatar. We listen to opinions on whether to establish a school, bus stop or anything that concerns the public. For instance, we informed the public that the Office of the Ulaanbaatar City Governor (UCGO) has a budget of 200 million MNT for one project and listen to their proposals.
- Hypothetically, what will happen if residents don't want a building that the Ulaanbaatar City Administration wants to construct?
The city administrative organizations are responsible for providing just policies in order to develop the city in the correct fashion. Greek had a government-debt crisis because the people had no say in the state decisions. When the people have no say in state decisions, they only turn into demanding and complaining parties.
- The parliament and government have more power than the city administration. Are there any occasions when your plans is not implemented due to lack of power on the part of your organization?
Conflict is inevitable for even a team with just two members. Conflict means that they are working. Only those who are idle have nothing to say and no conflict.
- The UCGO supports the policy that elementary schools must have their own premises. What will happen if households have already established homes in areas intended for school premises or a company plans to construct an office in the same area?
We will make demands for them to leave the area. If they do not comply, we will have no other option but to force them out of the area.
- Some ger district residents refused to leave areas planned for other development projects. How do you dealing with them?
Initially we weren't able to resolve the matter, but we have talked to residents in similar situations. In the end, they agree to move out voluntarily out of areas designated for development projects because it will benefit them in the long-run. Houses near to a school costs around 40 million MNT and state services are cheaper for them, while others far from schools are valued much less.
- So understanding each other's interests is vital for dealing. Who do you understand better, residents or the authority?
Residents, without a doubt. They don't have any hidden agenda as politicians do. They only focus on improving their living standards.
- Ulaanbaatar road traffic notably improved compared to the recent past. What is your thought on this?
The UCGO is implementing a set of projects to reduce traffic congestion. Vehicle restriction through license plate numbers was implemented without a delay and public transportation vehicles started operating on only the first lanes and others drive on other lanes. A foreigner told me, "If this management was to be implemented in my country, it would have taken at least six months to start." It shows that nothing is impossible if we understand and deal with our residents.
- How long will it be until participation of residents in authority decisions is a regular matter? Can residents make the right choices?
They do, and I can see it. It is the politicians and businessmen who complicate things.
- Did you receive complaints from residents about the demolition of cultural heritages for development projects?
Khan-Uul district residents opposed the decision to demolish the White Gate in the 19th micro-district to make way for road expansions. But after the road project ended, residents were glad that the roads were expanded because it improved traffic flow. After that, residents didn't make as much fuss when the other White Gate near the Chinggis Khaan International Airport was demolished for road expansions as well.
- Do you have any project in mind that you fear you might not be able to complete within your duty period of the Ulaanbaatar City Governor?
The plans for development projects are made thoroughly and they have definite deadlines. For instance, cycling tracks will be build along Tuul and Selbe Rivers, and unpaved areas which cause a great amount of dust in apartment towns will be fixed in 2014.
Illegal construction leaves no room for pedestrians
November 23 (UB Post) The Office of the Ulaanbaatar City Governor's has received a report from residents that an illegal construction is blocking sidewalks which interferes directly with the residents' rights to live in a healthy and safe environment.
The construction started in May 2013, and is located across the road from the Nomin Supermarket in the Sun Road of 13th khoroo of Bayanzurkh district.
T.Erdenetuya, Chief of Supervisory Division at Ulaanbaatar City General Planning Agency reported that the building belongs to Baldan-Ochir.
The allegedly illegal construction was commenced despite urban planning and construction laws. The agency delivered the official order no.35 of Ulaanbaatar City General Architect to the construction guard Ayush, demanding immediate cease of operation.
However, the contractors still resumed operation although the agency claims that they don't have the necessary permit for construction, land ownership certificate, or registration at the Ulaanbaatar urban management plan.
State Specialized Inspection Agency (SSIA) said it will take legal actions if the contractors do not comply with the given orders.
Myanmar, Mongolia issue joint statement on bilateral relations
November 21 (Xinhua) Myanmar and Mongolia issued a joint statement Thursday as Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj ended his three-day state visit to Myanmar.
Presidents of both countries underlined that the first ever visit by a head of state of Mongolia marked the opening of a new chapter in Myanmar-Mongolia relations and laid down solid foundation for further strengthening the traditionally friendly bilateral relationship and cooperation.
Elbegdorj expressed Mongolia's willingness to support and assist Myanmar's wide ranging aspiration in democratization, rule of law and protection of human rights, the statement said.
On Myanmar's upcoming chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2014, Mongolia hoped that ASEAN- Mongolia cooperation, particularly in the framework of ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), will be strengthening during Myanmar's chairmanship.
Both sides vow to expand mutually beneficial cooperation in trade, mining, tourism, culture and economy.
The two presidents agreed to promote the exchange of visits at all levels to identify potential areas of bilateral cooperation.
They reaffirmed the importance of active bilateral cooperation at the regional and international levels and under ASEAN principle, Myanmar will consider Mongolia's interest to become a dialogue partner of ASEAN and to join the East Asia Summit.
The Mongolian president extended an invitation to his Myanmar counterpart U Thein Sein to visit Mongolia which was accepted by the latter.
During Elbegdorj's three-day state visit, Myanmar and Mongolia signed an agreement on mutual visa exemption for holders of diplomatic and special passports.
During his visit, Elbegdorj also met opposition leader and parliamentarian Aung San Suu Kyi in the capital and addressed a Myanmar-Mongolia business forum in Yangon. He also delivered a speech at the Yangon University on Mongolia's reform.
Elbegdorj was the first Mongolian leader to have visited Myanmar ever since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1956.
Joint Statement between the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and Mongolia – President's Office, Republic of the Union of Myanmar, November 21
President Elbegdorj's Office Releases:
Mongolian president arrives Myanmar on state visit – Xinhua, November 18
Myanmar, Mongolia sign mutual visa exemption agreement – Xinhua, November 19
Myanmar invites Mongolia to make investment in country – Xinhua, November 21
Mongolian employers, Myanmar chambers of commerce find common ground on investment – Eleven Myanmar, November 22
Suu Kyi meets Mongolian president
NAY PYI TAW, November 20 (Eleven Myanmar) Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with a visiting delegation from Mongolia, led by President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, in the nation's capital yesterday.
The Mongolian delegation was also comprised of the foreign affairs minister, the finance minister and government officials. Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy and chairperson of Lower House's Rule of Law and Stability Committee, attended the meeting with 15 parliamentarians from her party.
MP Win Htein, who attended the meeting, quoted the Mongolian president as saying that his country had to struggle for independence from the Soviet Union and became a democracy after adopting a constitution and holding elections. His country has guaranteed freedom of the press and recognizes Suu Kyi's democracy movement, he said, quoting the Mongolian president's speech.
For her part, the NLD leader said that Myanmar could learn from Mongolia, adding that while in the past it was extremely difficult to carry out political activities in Myanmar, politicians still have to struggle even now, said Win Htein.
The Mongolian president, extending an invitation to the government and parliamentarians from Myanmar to visit his country, said he was encouraged by the fact that the two governments have agreed to visa-free travel between them.
Suu Kyi visited Mongolia earlier this year and met the Mongolian president, a former journalist.
Viet Nam, Mongolia pledge to work harder to boost relations
November 22 (Viet Nam Net) President Truong Tan Sang and Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdoji have stressed the need to boost bilateral economic and trade ties to aid development in both countries.
Following an official State welcome ceremony for the Mongolian President in Ha Noi yesterday (Nov 21), the leaders agreed to forge defence and security cooperation through co-ordinated personnel training and crime prevention.
President Sang urged for favourable policies to enable an increase in Vietnamese investment and accelerate trade and investment partnerships in Mongolia. Responding to the call, the Mongolian President welcomed Vietnamese businesses to invest in the nation's oil and gas and mining sector.
The two sides agreed to maintain co-operation between all levels of government and assist friendship organisations in both countries to expand their suite of joint projects.
The leaders also vowed to build on cultural exchanges between both countries, and co-operation in the education sector. Further support would also be given to Vietnamese and Mongolian nationals in both countries, they said.
Looking ahead to 2014, the two leaders also said Viet Nam and Mongolia would work closely to organise celebrations for the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties.
Sang praised Mongolia's national development achievements, and thanked the President for supporting Viet Nam in the country's past struggle for reunification.
They also emphasised the need to maintain peace, stability, maritime freedom, safety and security in the East Sea, affirming their support for the settlement of disputes in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the early formation of a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).
Following talks, the leaders witnessed the signing of four co-operation agreements and discussed the outcomes with reporters.
On the same day, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung also met with the Mongolian President, saying the President's visit would help elevate bilateral ties to a higher.
Dung proposed organising sessions of the Inter-Governmental Committee to continue working on measures to boost co-operation between the two countries and organise the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Viet Nam and Mongolia next year.
Highlighting the potential for boosting commercial and investment activities, Dung applauded the Mongolian business delegation for accompanying the President to Viet Nam to research investment and business opportunities.
He urged the two sides to continue boosting co-operation in the fields of national defence, culture and education.
Meanwhile, the Mongolian President urged the Vietnamese Government to assist relevant ministries and agencies in implementing agreements signed between the two sides during this visit.
He affirmed that Mongolia would always welcome Vietnamese businesses to the country to invest and capitalise on business opportunities.
Later the same day, Viet Nam and Mongolia issued a joint statement, agreeing on measures to strengthen co-operation and important regional and international issues.
The two countries applauded the mutual recognition of market statuses in an effort to boost bilateral economic and trade ties.
The Mongolian side welcomed Vietnamese businesses to invest in the nation's oil and minerals sector.
The two sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the two Foreign Ministries, an agreement on crime prevention, a Memorandum of Understanding on defence co-operation and a Memorandum of Understanding on oil and gas partnership.
Vietnam, Mongolia issue joint statement
Vietnam and Mongolia have issued a joint statement on the occasion of Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj's State visit to Vietnam from November 21-24.
The two sides agreed on major measures to further strengthen bilateral friendship and cooperation, as well as cooperation in regional and international issues of mutual concern.
They affirmed their hope to continue the fine relations in all fields based on the signed Vietnam-Mongolia Cooperation and Friendship Treaty.
They were unanimous in intensifying exchanges and ties in defence-security and crime prevention.
The two countries applauded the mutual recognition of their full market economy status, helping to boost bilateral economic and trade ties.
The Mongolian side welcomed Vietnamese businesses to invest in oil and mineral exploitation in the country.
Meanwhile, the Vietnamese side is willing to support Mongolia in expanding and strengthening its relationship with other ASEAN countries and back the country's bid to join the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum when it admits new member.
Vietnam and Mongolia stressed the need to maintain peace, stability, maritime freedom and safety in the East Sea, and affirmed support for solving all disputes by peaceful means, refraining from the use of force and respecting international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the East Sea and promptly reaching a Code of Conduct (COC) in the East Sea.
They highly valued the Mongolian President's official visit to Vietnam, agreeing that it was a milestone in the two countries' traditional relations.
On this occasion, Vietnam and Mongolia signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the two Foreign Ministries, an agreement on crime prevention, a Memorandum of Understanding on defence cooperation and a Memorandum of Understanding on oil and gas partnership.
Vietnam, Mongolia promote legislative ties – Xinhua, November 22
Vietnam, Mongolia to boost bilateral ties – Xinhua, November 21
President's Office Releases:
Elbegdorj To Make First State Visit To Singapore as President
SINGAPORE, Nov 23 (Bernama) -- The President of Mongolia, Tsakhia Elbegdorj, will be visiting Singapore from Sunday to Wednesday at the invitation of President Tony Tan Keng Yam.
In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said this will be Elbegdorj's first State Visit to Singapore as President.
During his visit, Elbegdorj will make a courtesy call on Tan and meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana.
The Singapore president will also host a State Banquet in honour of Elbegdorj.
In addition, the statement said Elbegdorj will visit Singapore institutions to learn about Singapore environmental policies and promote business ties.
THE CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE PRESIDENT OF MONGOLIA IS PARTICIPATING IN THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM'S SUMMIT ON THE GLOBAL AGENDA
November 18 (President.mn) The world's biggest brainstorming exercise of thought leaders and experts on the most urgent global issues opened today in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The Chief of Staff of the President of Mongolia Mr.Tsagaan Puntsag is among the international experts participating in the World Economic Forum's Sixth Summit on the Global Agenda hosted by the government of the United Arab Emirates. The purpose of the Summit is to tap the knowledge and experience of Council Members and other participants to generate insights, ideas and effective and sustainable action plans to address the main risks on the global agenda.
There are 86 Global Agenda Councils.
Mr.Tsagaan is the member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Responsible Mineral Resources Management. The development of mineral resources is a key driver of global economic growth and provides unparalleled opportunities for resource-rich countries.
The importance of creating a responsible approach to mineral development has never been clearer. While the role of mining in economic development is increasingly recognized, there is still debate over how mining should be conducted and a general lack of trust between stakeholders. For a number of years, the World Economic Forum and the Council have been leading the "Responsible Mineral Development Initiative" (RMDI), which is examining stakeholder engagement and how the extractive industry can create shared value, and recently published the Responsible Mineral Development Initiative 2013 report.
Council Members also helped design the concept of "mineral value management and presented their key findings at the private RMDI meeting at the Annual Meeting 2013 in Davos and at other meetings, including two of the largest mining conferences in the world.
Five More Projects To Be Implemented In Mongolia Under Japanese Government Programme
ULAANBAATAR (Mongolia), Nov 21 (Bernama) -- Japanese Ambassador to Mongolia, Takenori Shimizu on Wednesday approved five projects to be implemented here under Japanese government financing, Mongolia's MONTSAME news agency reported.
The five new projects are in addition to the existing ten projects that have been implemented here under "Grassroots-Human Security Grant Aid" programme by the Government of Japan.
The projects include capital repairs in schools in Biger, Bayanhongor, Devshil, Saikhan, and school for children with hearing disability in the city's Sukhbaatar district.
According to MONTSAME, Japan plans to provide a grant of US$507,000 (RM1.62 million) for the new projects.
The "Grant Assistance for Grassroots Projects (GGP)" is a scheme aim to support projects proposed by various bodies such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and local government authorities.
The GGP programme provides non-refundable financial assistance to NGOs, hospitals, primary schools, research institutes and other non-profit associations, to help implement their development projects.
The availability of GGP funding in each eligible country provides the Japanese Official Development Assistance with new means of cooperation that has a direct impact on the well-being of the communities.
Russia to Hold Separate Drills with China, Mongolia in 2014
VLADIVOSTOK, November 23 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian military will hold next year major joint exercises with China and, separately, Mongolia, a spokesman for Russia's Eastern Military District said Saturday.
Russia's Pacific Fleet will participate in the Vigilant Eagle-2014 drill with the Chinese Navy, the spokesman said.
Separately, Russian mechanized infantry will train together with Chinese troops in China as part of the "Peace Mission" anti-terrorist exercise. The "Peace Missions" are held since 2005.
Infantry troops from the republic of Buryatia in Russian Siberia will also hold the Selenga exercise (Mogi: Selenge) with the Mongolian army, organized annually since 2008.
The exact dates for all next year's joint drills will be set up at military conferences also in 2014, the spokesman said.
Russia and China are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a Eurasian mutual security bloc that also includes Mongolia as an observer.
Mongolian defense minister meets with Wang Guanzhong
ULAN BATOR, November 15 (ChinaMil) -- Dashdembereliin Bat-Erdene, Mongolian defense minister, met with Wang Guanzhong, the visiting deputy chief of general staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), on November 14, 2013 at Mongolia's State Palace.
Bat-Erdene said that Mongolia and China share bilateral friendship. Leaders of the two countries met with each other many times this year, pointing out the development direction of the relations between the two countries and the two militaries in the new historical period. The Mongolian side takes Mongolia-China strategic partnership as one of the priorities of its foreign relations, and is willing to further deepen exchanges and cooperation in various fields between the two countries and the two militaries, so as to benefit the people of the two countries.
Wang Guanzhong said that Mongolia is a good neighbor and a good partner of China. The Chinese side attaches great importance to further developing the relations between the two countries and the two militaries, and is willing to make joint efforts with the Mongolian side to comply with the consensus reached by leaders of the two countries, strengthen strategic communication and coordination and deepen pragmatic exchanges and cooperation at a new historical starting point, so as to constantly push forward the relations between the two countries and the two militaries to a new high.
Wang Guanzhong came to visit Mongolia and attend the seventh defense and security consultation between Chinese and Mongolian defense ministries at the invitation of M. Borbaatar, state secretary of the Mongolian Ministry of Defense. During the tour, WangGuanzhong also met with Tserendejidiin Byambajav, chief of general staff of the Mongolian Armed Forces, and visited such military organizations as the Defense University of Mongolia and the comprehensive training center.
EU's Barroso Concludes Mongolia Visit
November 18 (RTT News) European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso concluded his landmark visit to Mongolia after holding talks with the nation's top ranking officials, the European bloc said in a press statement Monday.
Barroso had visited Mongolia on Sunday on the invitation of Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, the President of Mongolia. It was the first visit by a European Commission President to Mongolia.
The European Commission had said in a statement before the visit that Barroso's trip to the Asian nation was aimed at providing fresh impetus to EU- Mongolia bilateral relations. He had had talks with President Elbegdorj and Prime Minister Noroviin Altankhuyag during his one-day visit.
A joint statement issued after the talks said the leaders agreed that 2013 has been an important year in the development of EU-Mongolia relations with the signature of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in April and the high-level exchanges. They also discussed progress achieved so far in such areas as trade, development cooperation, agriculture, research and innovation and political dialogue.
Barroso praised Mongolia for successful Chairmanship of the Community of Democracies (CD) for 2011-2013. Both sides reaffirmed that they shared common values - rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights.
"The Mongolian side underlined that an EU presence in Ulaanbaatar would give fresh impetus to expanding bilateral relations. Both sides recognized that such a presence is desirable and pledged to cooperate closely to create the necessary conditions," the statement read.
Before ending his historic visit, Barroso extended an invitation to Mongolian leaders to visit Brussels in 2014 on the occasion of 25th anniversary of the EU-Mongolia relations.
EC President Barroso's Speech at Opening of EU Film Festival
Black Box Theatre, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 17 November 2013 (European Union) --
Ladies and gentleman,
It is both an honour and a pleasure to take part in this celebration of European cinema in Mongolia.
The great Mexican writer, Nobel Prize laureate and diplomat, Octavio Paz wrote that "any culture is born in mixing, in interaction, in confrontation. Conversely it is in isolation that civilization dies."
This is why cultural events, such as this Festival, which enable these direct exchanges and a direct dialogue between different ways of looking at reality, are so important.
Culture is about the meanings we ascribe to the world. And, each culture describes the world in a different way. Thus, it is vital to find ways to engage with each other and to learn from each other.
It is very important that artists and citizens in general can create and express themselves in freedom. One of the films you will see this evening, "Citizen Havel", is about the man who became a leader of the so-called Velvet Revolution in then Czechoslovakia, that was started by student demonstration this very day 24 years ago, on 17 November 1989. This quest for freedom inspired the Mongolian democratic movement which began with the demonstration led by S. Zorig on December 10 of the same year. Since then, Mongolia has chosen the path of democracy and the path of freedom. Its cultural and artistic creation has also greatly benefited.
As President of the European Commission, I also take great pride in the quality and variety of European cinema. The programme of this year's film festival showcases the diversity of cultures in the EU: films from many different countries, in a great variety of languages, yet all distinctly European.
European cinema is the image of Europe – an image worth cherishing, developing and promoting. That is why for the past 20 years the European Union has supported European cinema through the MEDIA programme, helping to bring many inspiring films to the screen, including more than a dozen Oscar and Palme d'Or winners.
With MEDIA Mundus we have gone one step further - to explore the opportunities of global co-operation in the audio-visual sector. We believe that cooperation is the way to go, both for the development of our cultural and creative sectors and for the promotion of cultural exchange.
I am very proud that some of the most successful Mongolian productions by Director Byambasuren Davaa, "The story of the weeping camel" and "The cave of the yellow dog" were co-productions between Mongolia and Germany and have benefitted from support from the Media programme.
With our future "Creative Europe" Programme from 2014 on, we want to continue supporting cultural and audio-visual cooperation with our partners, notably Mongolia. [Cultural operators from third countries will now have easier access to cooperation with Europe in the field of culture up to 30% of eligible costs can be spent in third countries].
Cinema speaks a universal language. It has meaning and relevance for all people, regardless of their national, cultural or social backgrounds. Films bring diversity to the fore, while also underscoring the values, the feelings and the longings that we all share as human beings. I hope that next year, when we celebrate the 25th anniversary of EU-Mongolian relations, a similar event can be organised in Brussels with Mongolian movies for a European public.
I thank you all for being here with us tonight, and I wish you a wonderful screening. Let the magic begin!
Middle Banner 7 (600 pixels wide)
American Center for Mongolian Studies Annual Service Survey
Mongolia state radio broadcaster gets new playout software
November 21 (Asia Radio Today) Mongolia's state-funded broadcaster has ordered new audio automation systems from French software house NETIA.
Mongolian National Broadcaster will use NETIA's Radio-Assist suite in its studios.
The software will be installed with the help of local partner Career Mart.
Daria Globus, NETIA sales representative for Eastern Europe, Russia, and CIS countries said: "Equipped with tools that simplify and streamline operations, NETIA's automation software will provide MNB Radio with a straightforward and scalable solution for file-based production."
"By enabling a high degree of efficiency across the broadcast workflow, Radio-Assist also will give MNB Radio greater flexibility in providing listeners with quality radio programming."
UN REDD Program to assist national forest monitoring
November 23 (UB Post) Developing countries across the world are joining under The United Nations Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD Program) to implement REDD-based strategies and activities to protect the health of the locals. Mongolia joined the initiative in 2011. To receive financial aid from the program, the Ministry of Environment and Green Development (MEGD) introduced a plan to adopt a national forest monitoring system.
B.Otgonsuren, Regulatory Division on Forest Protection of MEGD, gave a some details about the program.
- How will the UN REDD Program financing benefit Mongolia?
A project of the highest importance that we have planned to conduct, as part of UN REDD Program in 2014, is a survey covering all forested areas in Mongolia. It will be used for determining the forest reserve of the country. We are discussing ways to study forests' reserve change and determine the causes of deforestation, degradation and growth by introducing a permanent monitoring system. Financing is crucial for increasing green areas, rehabilitation, reducing deforestation caused by careless logging.
- What is required for Mongolia to receive the financing?
It will solely depend on how well we formulate our plan and project. First of all, we need to complete our project design and preparatory operations. After that, we will be one step closer to receive the financing.
Protect Mongolian Rivers from Mining!
Guest Blog by Eugene Simonov, Coordinator, Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition
November 20 (International Rivers) The Mongolian Law "to prohibit mineral exploration and mining operations at headwaters of rivers, water protection zones and forested areas" – known by the population as the "Law with Long Name" – was drafted and promoted by representatives of local communities severely affected by gold mining. This unique legislation is now threatened by amendments proposed by the Ministry of Mining and many defenders of the law have been jailed.
Mongolia faces rapid industrialization fueled by foreign investment in mineral extraction. This threatens Mongolia's pristine environment and nomadic traditions. One of the activists trying to prevent the destruction of Mongolian nature is Tsetsegee Munkhbayar, founder of the United Movements for Mongolian Rivers and Lakes (UMMRL). In 2007 Munkhbayar was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for having successfully pressured 35 of 37 mining operations working in Mongolia's Onggi River Basin. However, new companies have received new licenses to develop the same protected areas. Soon it became obvious to river activists that they cannot win all local battles against destruction unless special national legislation is passed to protect the most vulnerable areas.
The Law with Long Name was designed to protect up to 25% of Mongolian natural ecosystems from destruction by mining, which are essential safeguards as the country undergoes a mining boom. Legislation protects the most vulnerable areas associated with water resources. The Law also aims to reduce conflict between miners and indigenous communities of herders.
The Parliament was slow to review the draft and the law was on the brink of being scrapped, but UMMRL organized a hunger strike in front of the Parliament House which triggered the law's adoption in July 2009. Then the UMMRL cooperated with the government and helped to delineate actual protection zones and negotiate them with local populations.
The Law was adopted but not implemented because of government inefficiency and huge opposition by international mining companies and foreign diplomacy. Clashes between herder communities and mining companies continued. In May 2011 to demand law implementation, UMMRL organized an occupation of the Ulan Baatar Central Square by nomadic camp (see Wake up, Mongolians!). In October 2011 the Supreme Court heard the case "Mukhbayar vs. Government of Mongolia" and ordered the government to enforce a ban on mining in river and forest areas. After that the government finally started real implementation of the law. The first batch of licenses were revoked, protection zones approved, environmental damage from mining evaluated, etc. The law became the "greatest achievement of the Mongolian government in environmental protection" as reported by Mongolian officials in many international meetings.
However, by summer 2013 the Government undertook several unwise decisions that made foreign investments decrease causing Mongolia's annual economic growth to fall from 17 to 11%. Gold reserves also were running out. Gold miners promised to replenish the reserves if the Law with Long Name was weakened. The Government of Mongolia has proposed to change implementation rules for the law so that the old licensees in the protected areas can continue mining and prospecting. The Mongolian Parliament now has to decide whether to change the Implementation Rules for this law, and by doing so cancel protection of rivers and forest from irresponsible mining. This could immediately result in the opening of more than 1,300 sites to mining and prospective operations and lead to the drastic reduction in legally protected river valleys by more than 20,000 square kilometers. The basin of the Selenge River – a main tributary of Lake Baikal – would once again become an arena for rampant placer gold mining.
This past summer the Mongolian environmental movement submitted many requests to top officials to discuss proposed changes, but there was no reply. On the morning of September 16, 2013 before the Special session of Parliament that gathered to change the law, Munkhbayar brought a petition to the Parliament House. There he and his friends were arrested for carrying guns (which was done to demonstrate that they have a "serious cause" – a type of action that most of us do not find appropriate). Since then eight people have been detained and will likely be sentenced for "threatening public stability" and serve many years in jail. The remaining activists are being continuously harassed by police. The media received an order not to publish anything protecting the law, and government media has continuously accused the environmental movement of being unpatriotic.
Due to clear public opposition the law has not been overturned! With your help, it can stay undamaged. Please sign the petition of the United Movements for Mongolian Rivers and Lakes (UMMRL) to the Mongolian parliament today!
Munkhdul Badral Bontoi
Founder & CEO
Mobile: +976 9999 6779
P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.