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Monday, December 16, 2013
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
Newera Resources' executive director Martin Blakeman speaks to Proactive Investors about coal exploration in Mongolia
Monday, December 16, 2013 (Proactive Investors) Newera Resources (ASX: NRU) is focused on coal exploration at the Ulaan Tolgoi JV in Mongolia. The company also has copper interests in Sweden.
Montsame MSE News, December 13: Top 20 -0.05%, Turnover ₮22.8 Million
Ulaanbaatar, December 13 /MONTSAME/ At the Stock Exchange trades held Friday, a total of 31 thousand and 884 shares of 19 JSCs were traded costing MNT 22 million 837 thousand and 217.00.
"Hai Bi Oil" /10 thousand and 100 units/, "Remikon" /8,850 units/, "Moninjbar" /2,750 units/, "Genco tour bureau" /2,681 units/ and "State Department Store" /1,968 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value-"Tavantolgoi" (MNT seven million 394 thousand and 765), "Hai Bi Oil" (MNT three million and 433 thousand), "Uvs chatsargana" (MNT one million 707 thousand and 650), "APU" (MNT one million 570 thousand and 200) and "Talkh chikher" (MNT one million 553 thousand and 150).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 585 billion 095 million 728 thousand and 073. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,389.48, decreasing by MNT 8.34 or 0.05% against the previous day.
"KHANSH INVEST" LLC LICENSE FOR CONDUCTING BROKERAGE AND SECURITIES DEALING SERVICES INVALIDATED
December 9 (MSE) Based on "Law on legal status of Financial Regulatory Commission" article 6.1.3, "Securities market law" article 34.1.4, FRC "Regulation on licensing of professional services in the market" article 2.12, and 8.3.1 the Financial Regulatory Commission invalidated "Khansh invest" LLC's license for brokerage and securities dealing activities by its resolution #483 of December 4, 2013.
The company clients will be transferred to other brokerage firm that conducts professional services in the market with license to broker-dealer related issues and it shall be governed according to the concerning jurisdiction and regulations.
Please click here to view FRC resolution #483
INTERVIEW-Mongolia looks for second chance with foreign investors
December 9 (Reuters) - Saruul Ganbaatar, the deputy head of Mongolia's stock exchange, hopes the country's days of interventionist economic policies are over and new laws ensuring foreign investors' access to the frontier market's industries will bring back sorely needed cash.
In mid-2012, Mongolia rushed into law restrictions on foreign ownership of strategic sectors such as mining, telecommunications and banking. The government hastily created the legislation to block Chinese state-owned Aluminum Corp of China (Chalco) from gaining a controlling stake in Mongolia-focused coal miner SouthGobi Resources.
The deal subsequently fell apart, but as a consequence Ganbaatar said in a recent interview with Reuters, Mongolia suffered a 52 percent year-on-year drop in foreign direct investment.
"It made a lot of politicians and businesses understand that when government did this in a hurry they made a lot of mistakes. And they also understand that they have to correct those mistakes," Ganbaatar said in a recent interview with Reuters.
Ganbaatar, 32, who cut his investment teeth in Chicago's financial houses after graduating from Loyola University, is careful not to over-promise on what the stock market can deliver in 2014 and beyond, in terms of new listings or overall growth.
In October a law was passed easing ownership restrictions for private companies to invest in the strategic industries. A securities markets law coming into effect Jan. 1, 2014 is expected to provide the key ingredient to attract deep pocketed institutional investors such as mutual funds to invest.
"This really is the missing ingredient," said Ganbaatar, who has been traveling the globe, promoting the changes in the laws to global investors for the past two weeks.
Investors seeking to profit from the opening up of Mongolia's economy, especially its vast untapped natural resources, sent the Mongolian Top-20 stock index up nearly 140 percent in 2010 with a further 47 percent gain the next year.
Mining sector strength made Mongolia the fastest growing economy in the world in 2011 with GDP rising 17.5 percent, according to International Monetary Fund data.
The restrictions, now largely rescinded, stymied Mongolia's accumulation of FDI but also sent its fledgling stock market down.
The stock index fell 19 percent in 2012 and year-to-date is down 11.5 percent, although it did start to climb with the newly passed laws. The foreign ownership law took effect Nov. 1.
Despite the market downturn, the IMF predicts Mongolia's economy will grow 11.8 percent in 2013, second only to resource-rich Turkmenistan's 12.2 percent forecast. In 2014, Mongolia's 11.7 percent GDP growth forecast is the best in the world. Global growth overall is projected at 3.6 percent in 2014.
LISTING AND DELISTING
Ganbaatar, who left Mongolia in 1999 to attend college in Chicago, was implored by his father, a former deputy mayor of the capital Ulan Bator, to return home to his country of 2.8 million people.
After many lengthy phone calls he did just that in 2010, returning with experience investing in mortgages, futures and options trading and financial services.
He joined the stock exchange 2-1/2 years ago where he and chief executive officer Altai Khangai are developing the financial architecture to support institutional investors.
On January 1, the new securities markets law will allow Mongolia's commercial banks to offer custodial banking services.
Custodial banks serve as safeguards for a firm or individual's financial assets, playing a critical role in the final settlement of market transactions.
"That would open up the gateway for institutional money to start coming into Mongolia... Hopefully that is in place by the third or fourth quarter of next year" he said.
"We believe that would lead to higher turnover because today's market turnover is really small, $100,000 to $150,000. But once we open up the market to institutional investors and a solid investor base, the numbers can go up 10-fold, 20-fold," Ganbaatar said.
Total market capitalization now is between $900 million and $1 billion.
Don't expect the number of new listings to mushroom. There may instead be a cull of companies. Fifty five to 60 of them, many of which have not traded in years, are being reviewed for potential delisting. There are just over 250 companies on the exchange now.
On new listings, Ganbaatar is cautious, declining to name any specific companies or when they might come to market. He hinted at mining conglomerates, state-owned enterprises, telecommunications and consumer staples.
"There are perhaps two or three (equity) listings by the end of 2014," he said, adding that the goal is to take advantage of the ability to allow companies to dual and cross-list securities on other exchanges in order to increase market liquidity.
What may happen sooner and in greater size is the trading on the stock exchange of government debt denominated in the local currency, the tugrik. Ganbaatar expects this to happen before the end of the second quarter of 2014.
"We strongly believe that. We have already had discussions with the Ministry of Finance," Ganbaatar said.
The Mongolian Stock Exchange, 100 percent state-owned, is perhaps itself a candidate for privatization. It has been in a strategic partnership with the London Stock Exchange for 2-1/2 years. "They have the right of first refusal," he said.
BoM FX Rates: December 13 Close
Total outstanding 1-week bills fall ₮131 billion to ₮1.07 trillion
BoM issues ₮322.2 billion 1-week bills
December 13 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 322.2 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
Foreign currency based license payments no longer allowed from 2014
December 13 /news.mn/ National and foreign entities holding mining and exploration licenses in Mongolia have begun to pay an annual rent to the Mineral Resource Authority of Mongolia.
The Ministry of Finance has prompted these entities and companies, who have mining and exploration licenses, to comply with Mongolian currency law that states that all businesses and agencies must do business in Mongolian tugriks, the official currency. Transactions must not be carried out in foreign denominated or foreign currency based rates. The Mongolian currency law was passed in 2009 by Parliament.
Therefore, the Ministry of Finance has announced that the US dollar or any other foreign currency based rates for special license payments will not allowed as of January 1st, 2014.
Fitch Affirms Mongolia at 'B+'; Revises Outlook to Negative
Fitch Ratings-Hong Kong-13 December 2013: Fitch Ratings has revised the Outlooks on Mongolia's Long-Term Foreign- and Local-Currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) to Negative from Stable and affirmed the IDRs at 'B+'. The Country Ceiling is affirmed at 'B+' and the Short-Term Foreign-Currency IDR at 'B'. The issue ratings on Mongolia's senior unsecured foreign- and local-currency bonds are also affirmed at 'B+'.
KEY RATING DRIVERS
The revision of the Outlook to Mongolia's IDRs to Negative from Stable reflects the following key rating drivers:-
- Macroeconomic policy settings are highly expansionary and Fitch believes this poses a growing threat to Mongolia's economic and financial stability. Fitch estimates Mongolia's government deficit at 12% of GDP in 2013, after taking into account off-budget spending, although the deficit could be smaller depending on the rate of spending towards the end of the year. This has rendered the country's Fiscal Stability Law ineffective as a constraint on policy-making. Bank of Mongolia (BoM) has significantly loosened monetary conditions, fuelling credit growth of 53% in the year to October 2013. Inflation was 10% yoy in October, despite a special BoM-funded price-stabilisation scheme.
- Gross government debt is projected at about 50% of GDP at end-2013, against a median of 40% for sovereigns rated in the 'B' category (those rated 'B-', 'B' and 'B+') and the median of 36.4% for the 'BB' category. The Mongolian sovereign's government debt is mainly foreign-currency denominated. The sovereign and a public sector entity, the Development Bank (DBM), have borrowed heavily in international debt capital markets since March 2012, to the tune of USD2,080m or 18% of 2013 GDP. Fitch expects DBM to issue a further USD300m of debt imminently. There is marketable debt maturing in 2017 (USD580m from DBM), 2018 (USD500m) and 2022 (USD1,000m).
- The external finances are weak and deteriorating. The current account balance plus net foreign direct investment (FDI) flows will swing to a projected deficit of 11% in 2013 from a 9.7% surplus in 2012. FDI is estimated to halve in US dollar terms to about USD2.2bn in 2013. Fitch projects net external debt at USD13.5bn or 119% of GDP at end-2013, up from 96% at end-2012 and 70% at end-2011 (although about USD10.2bn of external debt takes the form of intercompany lending, which is likely to be stable).
- External liquidity is weak and projected to deteriorate further. Official foreign reserves are projected at USD2.5bn or 3.1 months of current external payments (CXP) by end-2013, below the medians for 'B' and 'BB' category sovereigns of 3.4 months and 4.4 months respectively. Fitch projects Mongolia's reserves will decline to two months of CXP by 2015 compared with the 'B' category median of around 3.1 months.
- Non-performing loans (NPLs) in the banking system grew 83% in the year to October, outpacing the 53% in credit growth, and taking the NPL/total loan ratio up to 5.3% from 3.7% in June. Government subsidies for mortgages are fuelling house prices, which were up 32% yoy in 3Q13. The 24% depreciation of the Mongolian currency, the tugrik, in the year to date may strain the ability of borrowers to repay the 30% of loans denominated in foreign currency. Savings Bank, the country's fifth-biggest, was declared insolvent in July 2013 after a related entity defaulted on a large exposure.
- Counterbalancing these factors is Mongolia's five-year average real GDP growth of 9.3%, which is far stronger than the 'B' rating category median of 4.1% or the 'BB' median of 3.6%. Some credit fundamentals including the standard of governance and the business climate (as measured by the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business framework) exceed 'B' medians. The country's long-term prospects are bright, underpinned by a generous endowment of natural resources, including coal, copper, gold and rare earths. However, development of its endowment has largely stalled amid disagreements between developers and the authorities. Resolution of these issues could unlock large FDI inflows in 2014. A reform of the Investment Law that took effect on 1 November 2013 may help bring in FDI.
The Negative Outlook reflects the following risk factors that may, individually or collectively, result in a downgrade:
- Further deterioration of Mongolia's external finances - such as a further rise in net external indebtedness, or sustained declines in international reserves.
- A continuation of loose macroeconomic policy settings that leads to an intensification of risks to basic economic and financial stability via pressure on inflation, the trade deficit, bank balance sheets, and the currency.
- Emergence of systemic financial stress such as a run on deposits, a further sharp rise in NPLs, and/or a flight out of the tugrik into foreign currency.
- A further marked increase in sovereign and quasi-sovereign external borrowing that calls into question fundamental foreign-currency solvency.
- A sharp and sustained drop in prices for Mongolia's main commodity exports, in particular copper and coal
The current Outlook is Negative. Consequently, Fitch's sensitivity analysis does not currently anticipate developments with a material likelihood, individually or collectively, of leading to an upgrade. However, future developments that may, individually or collectively, lead to a revision of the Outlook to Stable include:
- Progress in resolving policy, financial and regulatory hurdles to the development of Mongolia's natural resource endowment, in particular the large Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine, that unlocks substantial FDI inflows above Fitch's expectation of USD2bn in 2014.
- Credible and coherent macroeconomic policy-making that increases confidence in Mongolia's basic economic stability.
- Strengthening of Mongolia's buffers against commodity-price volatility, for example through a sustained increase in official reserves, a reduction in the budget deficit in line with the Fiscal Stability Law, and structural budgetary reform to bring spending on budget.
Fitch assumes that Mongolia's key trade and investment partner China does not experience a severe, disruptive slowdown in its growth.
Fitch assumes Mongolia remains basically politically stable and continues to solicit foreign direct investment, and does not resort wholesale to business-unfriendly practices such as expropriation of assets.
EIU: Official estimates clarify extent of oil shale reserves
December 10 (The Economist Intelligence Unit) --
In early December the state news agency, Montsame, reported that the Ministry of Mining had published official estimates putting the country's oil shale reserves at 700bn tonnes.
The latest research from Mongolia's mining ministry gives a clearer picture of oil shale's development potential in the coming years. Although Mongolia has long been known to have substantial oil shale deposits, previous estimates were extrapolated from rudimentary surveys conducted in the 1990s and thus left the actual reserves open to speculation. Plans to develop the industry took shape only in April 2013, when an American company, Genie Energy, signed a five–year deal with the Petroleum Authority of Mongolia to explore oil shale reserves in central Mongolia. Genie also plans to build a US$4bn processing factory in Tuv province, near the existing Oyu Tolgoi mine. According to government projections, the processing plant will generate US$850m of tax revenue annually.
Aside from the economic benefits of the project, domestic fuel sources could help Mongolia to improve its energy security by loosening the country's dependence on its powerful neighbours. At present 90% of Mongolia's oil and related products come from Russia, with most of the remaining amount being imported from China.
Yet the benefits of large-scale oil shale extraction are not as clear as they might seem at first glance. Most importantly, Mongolia's oil shale resources should not be confused with the shale oil phenomenon that is currently sweeping the US. Oil shale (also called kerogen) is more expensive to extract than shale oil and carries greater environmental costs. In particular, oil shale requires a large amount of water to process, which could be a risky proposition in Mongolia, where hydrological resources are already under strain. Although other countries—Estonia in particular—use oil shale as a substitute for coal, extracting liquid fuel from the shale is a complex and relatively untested process. Genie Energy's progress on the project seems more substantial than that of comparable coal liquefaction projects that have faltered in the region. However, environmental, technical and political limitations suggest that Mongolia's overall dependence on foreign fuel will not change significantly in the foreseeable future.
Impact on the forecast
We remain doubtful that oil shale will play a significant role in Mongolia in the next two years, so our economic growth and trade forecasts will remain unchanged.
Gauge dimension: Wide, Narrow, or Both?
By Jargalsaikhan Dambadarjaa
December 15 (UB Post) Since choosing the path of democracy and a market economy, we have built an economy dominated by the extractive industry and our minerals such as coal, copper, gold and iron ore have been exported mostly to a single country.
It is said that an industrial park will be established soon and will start producing steel and cement, which is expected to not only satisfy domestic needs but also be exported to foreign markets. The electric power required for extracting and processing our natural resources will be supplied from several coal power plants to be built. In order to commence all these projects, which require a great amount of funding as well as work to do, it is absolutely mandatory to build a railroad. However, a final decision on what gauge and what route the railroad to transport extracted minerals from Tavan Tolgoi and Oyu Tolgoi deposits will have has still not been made. It makes us question whether the Government of Mongolia actually has geopolitical and geoeconomic policies.
If such policies exist, how come our government cannot decide what size the gauge of the new railroad to be built in Mongolia will have? Is it going to be the broad gauge the Russians use, or the narrow gauge China has (the standard gauge), or both? Which option can bring optimal efficiency, minimal cost and the least risk to our development projects?
Our neighbor in the south is the only purchaser of our mineral products. On the other hand, our northern neighbor supplies their minerals to China (just like we do) and other countries. In order to export our mineral products faster and more efficiently, we need to build a railroad. It will be cheaper if the railroad employs the same gauge used by the buyer.
If we build our new railroad using the broad gauge Russia does, we will need to transship the coal at the Chinese border so that it can be shipped on narrow gauge. Transshipping one ton of coal costs three US dollars, meaning there will be an additional annual cost of 150 million USD if we export 50 million tons of coal a year. Also, coal transshipment greatly pollutes the air and environment. Therefore, some Mongolians prefer to build a narrow gauge railroad to the southern border.
There is another point of view that says it is geopolitically the best option to build on the existing railroad system that employs broad gauge. The third standpoint is that Mongolia must take advantage of its geographical location and become a major hub that will eventually connect two of the world's biggest railroad networks. It is to be accomplished by having a mixed-gauge railroad that is connected to both the 88,000 kilometer-long broad gauge railroad network of Russia and the 70,000 kilometer-long narrow gauge network that belongs to China.
Furthermore, they say that by building a fast and cheap transit route that connects Asia and Europe and allows natural resources from Russia to be shipped to other Asian countries, Mongolia can create the next Panama Canal and earn a great amount of income by collecting payments for providing transshipment service.
Some Mongolians always talk cautiously about the risk of being too dependent on a single market. Obviously, a business with a single buyer faces many risks, such as the buyer trying to reduce and halt their purchase to decrease prices. It is also risky to increase the prices of transit shipment since it allows the railroads to work.
Those who are in favor of building a narrow gauge railroad from Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit through Oyu Tolgoi are suggesting that specific conditions need to be agreed upon with the Chinese beforehand. What they propose, is that before making the decision on which gauge to use on the new railroad, an amendment has to be made to the 1955 Mongolia-China dialogue on border railroad to establish four new international gateways. They also say that certain ports at Bohai Sea should be included in the Agreement on the Access to and from the Sea and Transport by Mongolia through Chinese territory.
Furthermore, they insist that preceding conditions must be met by China to allow Mongolia to trade with other countries through the Chinese railroad network, which could start with Kazakhstan to the west.
Another group of people support building a broad gauge railroad to the east of Tavan Tolgoi as agreed with Russia, which will allow connection with Tsagaan Suvarga, Sainshand, Baruun-Urt, Choibalsan, and eventually a seaport through Russian territory. According to them, it is an option that will reduce dependency on a single market by allowing quick shipment of goods to both the north and the south.
Others are more in favor of an option that integrates the two options mentioned above. They propose to build a broad gauge railway to the east of Tavan Tolgoi in order to supply coal to steel plants and construct a narrow gauge railroad to the south to supply end users in China and other countries.
When developing our railroad network, we need to get rid of the monopoly and introduce a regulation that separates the ownership and operation of the trains and the tracks. In the future, railroad companies need to be privatized through the stock exchange and up to 40 percent of their ownership should belong to the public. It will increase efficiency through improved management.
The railroad to the south should be built with investment from China. It should have in-kind repayment conditions where the Chinese could be repaid through the cost of shipment. When making such an arrangement, it can be agreed to apply international rates.
The government does not need to acquire loans to fund these projects. Some say that a policy must be adopted that infrastructure investment is made through concession.
The time has come for Mongolia to hold a trilateral meeting in order to have a clear, common understanding of "the rules of the game" among all stakeholders about using and expanding the railroad that goes through Mongolia to neighboring countries. We must maintain optimal, equal and balanced relationships with each of our neighboring nations because we are a landlocked country bordering only two other countries.
Also, efficient railroad transportation that transits through Mongolia is in the interests of our "third neighbors". Therefore, would not it be the right call to engage them as well? How about the Government of Mongolia holds trilateral and multilateral meetings and discussions?
The public currently does not know anything about such meetings – which specialists are having these discussions and what results have been produced. These discussions need to be taken seriously and make it clear what we want, and what they can and cannot do. We can determine the dimensions of gauges afterwards, can't we?
Such discussions and dialogue could also involve other development projects, such as roads and industrial parks. That way, we can reach many decisions that are mutually beneficial to stakeholders. It will also be more efficient when these development projects are discussed as a whole. If we singlehandedly decide on the gauge dimension without holding multilateral consultations and then force others to accept it, it will just be another impatient, reckless step. We cannot be as directionless and visionless as tumbleweed blowing in the wind.
The Government of Mongolia has been attempting to make amendments and changes after establishing huge agreements that lacked professional capacity and sufficient research. As a result, their partners have been losing trust in them. Furthermore, our government is announcing a competition to promptly allocate the huge loans they acquired without any calculation or designated use. Once again, it makes us question if the government has consistent policy and discipline.
Selling our nonrenewable resources should serve the purpose of creating an economy that is based on knowledge – a renewable resource. In order to achieve this goal, the profit we receive from our mining industry must be high. Our economy will not develop unless we implement these projects that need tens of billions of dollars. However, the most important question is whether we can diversify our economy and improve the livelihoods of people by using the profit created by the mining sector.
Dimensions for geopolitical and geoeconomic policies have to be set before the gauge dimension is determined.
Mogi: government playing mommy and daddy
Government decides tighter control over cyber game centres and internet cafes
December 14 /business-mongolia.com/
Gaming Centres and Internet Cafes
On 13th of December, 2013, the cabinet decided to impose tighter regulation on gaming centres and internet cafes. Currently, over 500 cafes exist in the capital Ulaanbaatar. Customers of these cafes usually play violent games sometimes overnight and use alcohol and smoke while playing. Also, it has been mentioned that under-age customers browse through adult websites which worry parents and teachers. In order to halt these activities the cabinet approved a guideline on "Regulation on Cyber Game Centre Operation". The Minister of Justice Kh.Temuujin will be responsible implementing the guideline.
According to the official press release of the cabinet the main purpose of the guideline is to regulate the operations by imposing new requirements, register these centres, and monitor its operations in order to prevent crime and protect children's rights.
The guideline prohibit internet cafe and gaming centre operating together and in first or ground floors of an apartment. Also, it requires that these centres and cafes should have a security camera inside and outside of the location keeping the record of at least 21 days. The timetable will be 8 pm in summer and 6 pm in winter. The operating staff must have basic knowledge in "information technology" and must be over 20 years old. Also, those who are under 12 years old and also intoxicated people will not be allowed. Servicing with pawning such as documents or other items is also prohibited.
Comment sections of the news websites are full of comments with outraged business owners and customers accusing the government on limiting business activities which will have a negative effect on the economy. Some suggests there are other ways to prevent children spending huge amount of time in these centres. Earlier, this year, the supermarkets were also prohibited working 24 hours. The club and pub hours are also limited with the argument of negative effects in the society among young people.
New year celebrations in public sector
Government agencies and government owned entities are prohibited to hire costly entertainers in their new year celebration parties and greeting cards to other entities are ordered to be electronic to save cost. Purchase of alcoholic drinks by budget fund is also prohibited by the new guideline.
Teachers' day to be celebrated with the World Teachers' Day
Since 1967 National Teachers' Day was celebrated on first Sunday of February. The change came into effect states that it will be celebrated on the same day of World Teachers' Day which 5th of October.
Health of Senior Citizen National Program has been approved
National Statistics Committee reported that Mongolia will have more senior citizens in the coming years. In order to improve health services and prevent from diseases the Health of Senior Citizen National Program has been approved.
Common guideline on information transparency has been approved
In order to increase the transparency of government purchases and bidding process by the government a common guideline on information transparency has been approved by the cabinet. Cabinet members, IAAC, GIA, National IT Park and National Data Centre contributed to draft the guideline.
- In 2014 the government will invest and implement 340 projects with MNT1,359.4 billion.
- In order to improve the competency of national flag carrier MIAT is to be operated by a management team that is professional and internationally known.
Mogi: thought we harvested enough wheat this summer, guess not. Last couple of years I believe we harvested enough to even export
Bill Submitted on Temporarily Exempting Wheat Import from Customs & VAT
Ulaanbaatar, December 13 /MONTSAME/ On Thursday, the Minister of Industry and Agriculture Kh.Battulga submitted to the Speaker a draft law on exemption of a food product from the customs tax and VAT.
The draft initiator says Mongolia needs to import next year up to 100 thousand tons of high quality wheat in order to increase a supply of raw materials for domestic flour factories, to keep a stability of food provision and adequacy, and to form a strategic reserve.
If to import the Russian wheat with customs tax and VAT, the flour prices might lose a stability, he warns and suggests exempting from them 100 thousand tons of this wheat for a period until June 1 of 2014.
In 2013, Mongolia harvested 388.3 thousand tons of grain, of which 369.8 thousand tons are wheat, also 190.1 thousand tons potatoes, 101.9 thousand tons vegetables, 42.6 thousand tons oil plants and 42.2 thousand tons fodder plants.
Consultant to Standard Bank Stopped From Leaving Mongolia
Consultant Blocked in Relation to What He and New Zealand Officials Say Is Fraud Probe by Mongolian Authorities
HONG KONG, December 13 (WSJ) A consultant to Standard Bank Group Ltd has been blocked by Mongolian authorities from leaving the country in relation to what he and New Zealand officials said was a fraud probe by Mongolian authorities.
Mongolian authorities for about two weeks have blocked New Zealand national Christopher Bradley, a consultant to the South African bank, from leaving. In an interview, Mr. Bradley said he was in Mongolia to resolve Standard Bank's outstanding loans to Just Group, a Mongolian meat, fuel and banking company.
Mr. Bradley said the probe involves Just Group and that police had linked him as a suspect because of his role for Standard Bank. He said the decision to block him from leaving the country is "politically motivated."
Just Group didn't respond to requests for comments.
"Standard Bank is cooperating with the Mongolian authorities and therefore believes it inappropriate to comment any further at this stage," a spokesman for Standard Bank said in emailed remarks.
A spokesman for New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Mongolian authorities "have identified him as a suspect in what is both a commercial dispute and a possible criminal investigation." The New Zealand embassy in Beijing—which is accredited to Mongolia—has followed up with the Mongolia Ministry of Foreign Affairs seeking information on the nature of the travel ban and is keeping in touch with Mr. Bradley, the spokesman said.
A spokesman for the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Enhtaivan, said the dispute was a "private sector matter." Enhtaivan—who like some Mongolians uses one name (Mogi: not true)—said Mr. Bradley isn't regarded as being under formal detention but "has no right to leave the country."
Mr. Enhtaivan said Mr. Bradley wouldn't be allowed to leave Mongolia "until the investigation finishes," but didn't disclose details of the probe.
He referred requests for further information to the foreign cooperation department in Mongolia's Ministry of Justice, where calls went unanswered. An official in the office of Mongolia's president referred questions to state prosecutors, who weren't able to provide an official for comment.
The loans to Just Group helped to fund a supply of diesel to state-backed Erdenet Mining Corp. and to Ulan Bator Railway, Mr. Bradley said.
He was in the country to seek repayment on the loans through Erdenet, which had acted as an effective guarantee and was also seeking recourse to UB Railway, he said.
A person at Erdenet hung up the phone in response to questions on Friday, while calls to UB Railway went unanswered.
"I can walk around Ulaanbaatar but I am not free to go home to my family," Mr. Bradley said in a telephone interview. He added that he is staying at the five-star Kempinski Hotel Khan Palace in Ulaanbaatar, "so in terms of physical conditions, I'm comfortable." He said it was with a group of Standard Bank employees that was allowed to leave.
Mr. Bradley, who said he has been traveling to Mongolia for nine years on a monthly basis, said he had been sharing information with the police about the company's loans to Just Group before he was blocked from leaving.
Mr. Bradley isn't the first foreign executive to be detained by the Mongolia government in connection with its probes. Last year, an Australian lawyer working for Rio Tinto PLC-controlled coal miner SouthGobi Resources Ltd., Sarah Armstrong, was similarly held in October last year in the country as part of a corruption probe. SouthGobi said in December last year Ms. Armstrong was no longer a suspect in the investigations and was free to resume traveling.
Justin Kapla, president of SouthGobi's subsidiary SouthGobi Sands LLC and a U.S. citizen (Mogi: no longer SouthGobi Sands president), was detained under similar conditions late last year also as part of a corruption probe and remains under detention, according to a person familiar with the situation. Mr. Kapla couldn't immediately be reached for comment. A spokesman for Mongolia's Foreign Ministry didn't pick up his phone late Friday.
As it grapples with managing the economic growth stemming from its largely untapped mineral wealth, Ulaanbaatar has sometimes come into conflict into foreign companies with a stake in the country's mining business.
Earlier this year, Mongolia fell out with Rio Tinto over fundraising projects for the country's $6.2 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine, which Rio owns. The mining project has been mired in years of spats over matters including how to maximize returns and the ratio of foreigners in its workforce.
Mongolia's government has in the past also sought to block Chinese state-owned companies from entering sectors Ulaanbaatar deems "strategic," including altering its laws to stop SouthGobi Resources from selling a controlling stake to Aluminum Corp. of China last year.
A veteran of banking in trouble spots including Sierra Leone, Mr. Bradley said he has been a consultant to the firm for nine years and previously worked for the bank full time.
"In Mongolia, these were the best relations I've ever had in my career," he said.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed NZ man stopped from leaving Mongolia
December 14 (Newstalk ZB) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed a New Zealand man is being stopped from leaving Mongolia as part of a fraud investigation.
Fifty year-old Christopher Bradley from Hokitika is part of a group working there for South Africa's Standard Bank Group.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says suspects in criminal investigations in Mongolia aren't allowed to leave the country while the investigation is underway.
The New Zealand Embassy in Beijing has followed up with Mongolia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs seeking information on the nature of the travel ban on Mr Bradley.
Mogi: it isn't and shouldn't be, but carrying a loaded rifle into a government building, and even worse, accidentally firing it IS, no?
Protesting mining pollution shouldn't be a crime
Tell Mongolian authorities to ensure a fair and transparent trial
Last month, a group of Mongolian community activists led by Tsetsegee Munkhbayar, recipient of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2007, were arrested outside the Mongolian Parliament.
They were protesting proposals to abolish rules that would protect the country's waterways from decades of destruction from irresponsible gold mining. If Parliament does abolish these regulations, the Onggi River ecosystem, among others, could be destroyed.
The rules exist in large part thanks to Munkhbayar's tireless work to educate herdsmen about mining impacts, and to increase citizens' voices in their government.
Now Munkhbayar awaits trial - but protesting pollution shouldn't be a crime.
TAKE ACTION: Make sure Mongolian officials know the world is watching; ensure a fair and transparent trial!
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For more information:
· Goldman Environmental Prize Tsetsegee Munkbaya
· Goldman Environmental Prize The Goldman Prize Calls for a Fair and Transparent Trial for Tsetsegee Munkhbayar
· National Geographic Tsetsegee Munkbaya
Asgat silver deposit will be developed
December 14 /business-mongolia.com/ Mongolia – 51% and Russia – 49% joint venture Mongolrostsvetmet LLC held a board meeting and discussed possibilities of forming a joint venture dedicated on developing Asgat silver and copper deposit which is located in north western part of the country 1800 km from the capital Ulaanbaatar. It has total average ore reserve of 23.1 million tons and estimated 246 million oz of silver. Sides have agreed that it will be an economically viable project. Also, this summer, paved road was built making the deposit more accessible.
Members of the board decided the it is time to develop a fully operational mine and form a joint venture with state owned Erdenes MGL LLC and Rostec owning 51% and 49% respectively. Sides also have agreed to form a working group to implement the decision.
MINING MINISTRY TO COOPERATE WITH ASSOCIATION OF FLUORSPAR EXPLORERS
Ulaanbaatar, December 11 /MONTSAME/ The Ministry of Mining Wednesday established a memorandum of mutual understanding with the Association of Fluorspar Explorers (AFE).
The sides intend to cooperate in augmenting the country's export of fluorspar and its revenue, developing transparent and responsible mining, improving a qualities and standards of fluorspar metallurgy and flotation concentrate, and in increasing the production output of the mineral's ore enrichment.
It is considered that this document will also help work out a national programme on fluorspar, exploit the country's mineral resources and raw materials, increase a volume of productions by intensifying research works and their competitiveness at international market. It is also important for introducing latest hi tech in the country and for running joint trainings with foreign NGOs, the Ministry says.
Mongolian media fails miserably when standards are put to the test
December 13 (Alexandra Hoegberg) A couple of days ago, Lhagva Erdene, a fellow JMSC alumn and former classmate of mine, posted on Facebook that he and his Mongolian TV station, Mongol TV, decided to do a reality check on the state of the nation's journalism by offering to pay nine of Mongolia's major media houses to run a story.
Unbeknownst to the news outlets the story was fake, and unfortunately for them they didn't bother to get the facts straight before running it.
"[A]fter nine phone calls, nine emails and nine bank transactions of roughly 4,000 USD today by 3 pm every single one ran the story word to word," Lhagva, the Executive Producer of Mongol TV's News Department, wrote on Facebook.
The fake story claims that McDonald's will come to Mongolia with McMutton meals and goat milkshakes, and Lhagva approached the media outlets claiming to be the public relations manager for the made-up company Wholesome Foods Mongolia.
"I chose to put so many ridiculous hints inside the story for any journalist to fact check, but they didn't. All they asked from me was 'How will you pay for it?'," Lhagva wrote. Among other things, the fake article quoted an imaginary McDonald's Asia Region Manager referred to as Mr. P. Rank.
Mongol TV's news consultant Jeppe Nybroe came up with the prank after finding out that Mongolian media outlets run stories for money, something which Lhagva told me is "very common practice".
The nine media outlets that were targeted were three online news portals, news.mn, gogo.mn and olloo.mn, the three prominent free-air TV stations TV5, EAGLE TV and the national public broadcaster MNB, as well as Mongolia's three biggest daily newspapers Udriin Sonin, Unuudur and Zuunii medee, Lhagva said.
When asked what the purpose of this media experiment was, he explained: "We showed that the news is corrupted. We showed that they don't check facts. If journalism is corrupted then the basis of our democracy is questionable."
As could be expected, the embarrassed media houses didn't react in kind. "I am getting a lot of heat from the media houses now," Lhagva said on the day the fake story ran, when Mongol TV started confronting the news services.
"One of the daily papers, Zuunii medee, has said: 'You guys are journalists. Why are you doing this? This is unethical.' One of the news website said: 'Yes we ran it, but the paying party is responsible for what they produce'," Lhagva said.
After Mongol TV ran a report on their findings, Jeppe Nybroe wrote on Facebook: "Corrupted journalism is a public secret in Mongolia, but it's not something Mongolian media report on. Mongol TV decided to reveal and document the corrupted system of 'paid journalism'. Now it's out in the open – now the standards and ethics of journalism is intensely discussed – how to improve news journalism in Mongolia is on the public agenda."
"McDonald's in Mongolia" was Misleading News
December 13 /infomongolia.com/ Two days ago it was reported at most TVs, newspapers and websites including InfoMongolia.com that the McDonald's Corporation is to open its chain store in Ulaanbaatar.
Unfortunately, it was fake news and on behalf of the InfoMongolia, we apologize our valuable readers for such incorporate sharing. In the meantime, we tried to verify the source of news, even contacted via phone with a representative of Wholesome Foods Mongolia, who affirmed that the store would open and the first location out of eight planned would be launched near Chinggis Square. Despite of that commercial post "McDonald's in Mongolia" was published on the first page of daily newspapers considered most subscribed such as "Unuudur" and "Udriin Sonin".
Today, this fact is booming throughout all televisions, daily papers and other social medias, trying to find out what was the reason to stream such faking news involving the world known food industry, McDonald's.
Nevertheless, it was proved that "Mongol TV HD" television is a source of the news, the TV staff, who represented Wholesome Foods Mongolia asked other TVs, newspapers and websites to broadcast and post the commercial advertisement by paying 200.000 MNT to newspapers and 500.000 MNT to televisions each.
By acting so, the "Mongol TV" television aimed to broadcast a TV program themed on "How much would cost to stream fakenews?" and during its "Rush Hour" broadcasted evening on December 12th, the TV tried to explain that Mongolian journalism is under bribery, anyone who pays money can advertise whatever he is willing, and the other part who agrees to post or broadcast, did not verify the truth of the source.
However it looks like a black PR practiced by "Mongol TV", but the TV is now criticized by others, who were "victims" and forwarding its explanations that due to relevant laws, the truth of any advertisement or promotional material is fully responsible by advertiser, and they have a right to sue the "Mongol TV" for compensation. Also, the TV is breaching the journalism ethics and standards by spreading false information and misleading, and in its investigative journalism, the TV misused the world known McDonald's brand name.
On its official website, McDonald's say it has not set a firm date for the development of McDonald's restaurants in Mongolia.
ADB's Assistance to Bring Improvements to Ulaanbaatar's Ger Areas
MANILA, PHILIPPINES, December 13 (ADB) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide $163.7 million for the building of better roads, installation of more effective water supply and sewerage systems, and the provision of heating services in Ulaanbaatar to help upgrade basic urban infrastructure and services in in peri-urban areas of Ulaanbaatar, also known as ger areas, where a majority of the city's poor residents live.
"This program will support Ulaanbaatar in creating a network of well-developed subcenters to provide jobs, housing, and economic opportunities, as well as a sustainable living environment, for the residents," said Diwesh Sharan, Director of Urban and Social Sectors Division at ADB's East Asia Department.
Living conditions in ger areas can be harsh. The lack of long-term planning, infrastructure investment, and land use regulation have resulted in haphazard development, limited availability of space for public facilities, poor access to services, polluted environment, reduced livelihood opportunities, and unsafe neighborhoods. With recent rapid economic growth, the population in the ger areas has also grown to an estimated 800,000 people, representing 60% of Ulaanbaatar, or 30% of the country's population.
Improving the infrastructure within ger area subcenters and connecting them to the city core is critical for inclusive growth and for greater movement of people and goods.
The project aims to improve access to water, sanitation, and heating services by 2024 for around 50% of the population in the project areas and will contribute to reduce to reduce the incidence of waterborne diseases will by 50%, and air pollution in Ulaanbaatar by 30%.
The program will be sourced from the concessional Asian Development Fund and the ordinary capital resources and disbursed in three tranches over nine years. The first tranche will be cofinanced by the Urban Environmental Infrastructure Fund under the Urban Financing Partnership Facility administered by ADB. The other tranches will be financed by other ADB Trust Funds and development partners.
U.S. Treasury Seeks to Assist Mongolia in Fighting Terrorist Financing, Money Laundering
Ulaanbaatar, December 13 /MONTSAME/ The Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Bold Thursday received Mr Daniel L. Glaser, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes in the Department of Treasury of the United States, in the State House.
The dignitaries underlined an importance of combating financial crimes in frames of the bilateral and multilateral cooperation, and then affirmed a mutual willingness to continue this collaboration.
The USA have been fighting against financial crimes such as money laundering and organized crimes and others, Mr Glaser noted said his country wants to help Mongolia create a legal environment for preventing these crimes.
The same day, Mr Glaser held meetings with the Vice Minister of Justice, with the parliamentary Standing committee on economics, and with authorities of several commercial banks.
United States expresses Its Readiness to Cooperate and Assist Mongolia in Legal Sector – InfoMongolia, December 13
Visas, Medicine, Education: Feeling Chinese Soft Power in Mongolia
By Jargalsaikhan Mendee - mendee [at] alumni.ubc.ca
December 13 (Asia Pacific Memo) China has been gradually increasing its soft power in neighbouring Mongolia, from offers of visa-free travel to access to its medical facilities, and most recently, growing educational opportunities in China for Mongolians. These policies have gone far in diminishing deep-seated anti-Chinese sentiment among Mongolians, feelings hardened during the era of Sino-Soviet tensions between 1960 and 1986, even as they have contributed to growing Chinese influence over its neighbor.
The travel patterns of Mongolians have changed dramatically since the Sino-Soviet and Sino-Mongolia rapprochements of the late 1980s, following which the Soviet Union imposed visa requirements on Mongolians (which have persisted under the Russian government), while China offered Mongolians 30-day visa-free travel.
These visa-free travel arrangements have benefitted Mongolians in a number of tangible ways, including allowing Mongolians to access foreign embassies not represented in Ulaanbaatar and facilitating the import of scarce goods from China. Like the Chinese traders currently shuttling goods to Pyongyang, Mongolian shuttle traders operating in China have helped meet consumer needs in Ulaanbaatar.
Another effective use of Chinese soft power has been the preferential access granted Mongolians to Chinese medical facilities. As the public health system continues to struggle in Mongolia, Chinese medical facilities have become very beneficial for those Mongolians with urgent medical needs. Because of cost, distance, visa hurdles, and linguistic challenges, very few Mongolians can seek medical services in South Korea, Japan, Thailand, and the United States, making Chinese medical facilities very attractive.
Chinese educational assistance to Mongolia is also on the rise. During the Mongolian Prime Minister's visit to Beijing this October, China promised to increase annual scholarship numbers for Mongolians from 400 to 1000 over the next five years. Despite historical anti-Chinese sentiments among Mongolians, Chinese schools are becoming the choice of many young Mongolians. As such, the number of Chinese private schools in Ulaanbaatar is also on the rise. With China's imminent rise as an economic powerhouse and its proximity to Mongolia, education may become the most effective form of Chinese soft power in the coming years.
On one hand, Chinese visa exemption policies, access to its medical facilities, and educational assistance are contributing to mutual understanding and good neighbourly relations between Mongolia and China, but on the other, Mongolians may find themselves increasingly dependent on Chinese infrastructure and lured into a China-centred orbit.
Jargalsaikhan Mendee is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia, and an Institute of Asian Research Fellow, 2013. He has also authored Memo #11, Memo #87, Memo #161, Memo #169, Memo #200, & Memo #249.
By J. Berkshire Miller
December 13 (International Relations and Security Network) If asked how China, the United States, Japan and other Asian countries might engage with each other more constructively, it is doubtful that the first word that would come to mind would be "Mongolia." And if then asked what mechanism Mongolia would use to further mutual comity and understanding, it is unlikely that 'Khaan Quest' would be mentioned. Yet there are compelling reasons to justify both answers. Military-to-military diplomacy is an important form of statecraft and its utility in Asia remains obvious.
This past summer marked the 10th anniversary of the Mongolian Armed Forces' Khaan Quest exercises, which among other activities brings militaries from around the world to share their best practices in multinational peacekeeping operations (PKO). This focus may at first appear narrow, but for three reasons the impact of Khaan Quest is potentially positive and significant.
Reason #1: Khaan Quest has symbolic value in a historically fractured and suspicious region. Indeed, it is a symbol, in the words of Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj, of "mutual respect among nations . . . and a vivid example of how countries can collaborate despite differences in forms of government, social and economic systems."
Reason #2: Because of the experience gained in Khaan Quest, Mongolia may come to play an increasingly important role in peacekeeping in Asia and beyond. In fact, its growing expertise may yet result in the country becoming a regional hub for PKO training. That this is a worthy goal goes without saying, but it's not the only one. This year, Ulan Bator concluded its presidency of the Community of Democracies (CD), a global coalition of states that promotes democratic rules, norms and institutions around the world. With Mongolia on the way to becoming a democracy in a region still rife with authoritarianism, President Elbegdorj's government not only took great pride in holding the presidency, it also leveraged it to push for democratic reforms elsewhere in Central Asia. The peacekeeping expertise that Ulan Bator has acquired as a result of Khaan Quest was (and remains) part of this push for greater political freedom throughout the neighborhood.
Reason #3: Khaan Quest could also provide the United States and Japan with opportunities to leverage Mongolia's unique status as a safe venue for security-centered dialogue in the region, and thereby pursue incremental forms of engagement with China (in particular, the People's Liberation Army) and North Korea.
That Mongolia is able to provide this 'safe space' mechanism should not be dismissed in a part of the world that is burdened with multiple territorial disputes, maritime standoffs in the East and South China Seas, sustained North Korean belligerence, rapid Chinese military modernization, and a fractured bilateral relationship between the United States' two most important regional allies – Japan and South Korea. In this roiling context, Khaan Quest is one of the few opportunities that these states have to work together, share best practices, and pursue military-to-military confidence-building measures – all of which make this vehicle for military-to-military diplomacy an important determinant of regional cooperation, just as China's possible involvement in the US-led Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercises should also not be dismissed as mere window dressing.
Of course, caveats are in order here. The Khaan Quest program, even if it is well established and formalized, is not a replacement for meaningful bilateral dialogue with China and others. Neither will it reverse the mutual mistrust that exists between Washington and Beijing overnight. That said, China's participation in this annual gathering of militaries provides a genuine opportunity to boost US-Chinese strategic relations, particularly if Khaan Quest builds upon the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue now occurring between both states.
But this specific example of military-to-military diplomacy is not just about improving relations between the United States and China. Mongolia also continues to act as an honest broker between other states and North Korea, thanks to its long-standing diplomatic ties with Pyongyang. In this respect, Ulan Bator has repeatedly offered to serve as a venue for the Six Party talks as well as negotiations between Japan and North Korea over the long-standing abductions issue. (Indeed, Mongolia has already made a positive contribution to Japan-North Korea relations. In November 2012, it hosted the first set of official talks between Japan and North Korea since 2008. While the discussions, which were initiated by President Elbegdorj, did not result in any breakthroughs, they nevertheless created a sense of cautious optimism among Japanese and North Korean officials.) These specific initiatives, it needs to be restated, could also be aided and abetted by the Khaan Quest process.
In closing, such military-to-military contacts can provide an effective means for Mongolia to lower the political temperature in Asia. They are not, however, sufficient unto themselves. Ulan Bator does need to take steps beyond Khaan Quest if it wants to expand its diplomatic presence and credibility across the region. One possible step would be to upgrade the Mongolian diplomatic corps so that it can then support an ad-hoc regional organization devoted to peacekeeping. Taking this step would be a challenge considering the country's lack of resources and the push-pull factors that would likely come from Russia and China. However, the impediments could be ameliorated with a robust communication strategy that clearly outlines the goals of Mongolia's efforts to improve stability in its neighborhood, and thereby brandishes its diplomatic credentials in the process.
J. Berkshire Miller is an international affairs professional focused on security, defense and intelligence issues in Northeast Asia. He is also a non-resident Sasakawa Peace Foundation Fellow at the Pacific Forum CSIS. This blog, which has its roots in the WSD-Handa Global Opinion Leaders Summit held in Tokyo on September 6th, 2013, is part of an on-going partnership between the Pacific Forum CSIS and the International Relations and Security Network (ISN).
Kuwaiti-Mongolian scientific center to be turned over to environment ministry
KUWAIT, Dec 14 (KUNA) -- Kuwaiti Ambassador to Mongolia Khalid Al-Fadhli has met with Mongolian Minister of Environment and Green Development Sanjaasuren Oyun to discuss turning over the the Kuwaiti-Mongolian scientific center to the Ministry of Environment and Green Development.
Kuwait Embassy in Mongolia said in a statement received by Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) on Saturday, that during the meeting held in the capital Ulan Bator, the two sides discussed procedures to turn over the center which was recently built as part of scientific cooperation between Kuwait and Mongolia.
Al-Fadhli expressed the greetings of the Minister of Amiri Diwan Affairs Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to Oyun, inviting her to visit Kuwait soon.
The minister on her part, sent her greetings to Sheikh Nasser welcoming his invitation to visit the country.
Kuwait Ambassador meets Mongolian FM
KUWAIT, Dec 13 (KUNA) -- Kuwait Ambassador to Mongolia Khaled Yiteem Al-Fadhli met on Friday with Minister of Foreign Affairs Luvsanvandan Bold at the parliament in the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator.
Talks between the two men highlighted a number of political issues, such as the joint ministerial committee and Kuwait's role in Mongolia's developmental projects.
During the meeting, the Kuwaiti ambassador conveyed greetings of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah to his Mongolian counterpart, congratulating him on the upcoming new year, wishing the best of health and prosperity to the Mongolian President and people.
For his part, the Mongolian minister also conveyed his greetings to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti government and people.
Deputy FM Gives Exequatur to Honorary Consul of Brazil to Mongolia
Ulaanbaatar, December 13 /MONTSAME/ The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia D.Gankhuyag Thursday handed over an exequatur to the Honorary Consul of Brazil to Mongolia Z.Khulan.
He wished Mr Khulan successes in fostering the relations between Mongolia and Brazil in politics, economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres.
Present at the event was also the Director of the Consular Department of the Foreign Affairs Ministry Sh.Sukhbaatar.
Remarks by Foreign Minister L.Bold at Gala Dinner in Honor of Diplomatic Corpus in Ulaanbaatar
December 13 /infomongolia.com/ On December 12, 2013, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a Gala Dinner for representatives of foreign diplomatic offices in Mongolia on the occasion of the coming New Year, the event took place at the Best Western Premier of Tuushin Hotel in Ulaanbaatar.
Here below Remarks by Foreign Minister L.Bold at Gala Dinner in Honor of Diplomatic Corpus in Ulaanbaatar sourced from the Ministry press release.
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I warmly welcome you at tonight's dinner on the occasion of the coming New Year. Tonight's dinner offers a fitting occasion to sum up some of the highlights of Mongolia's foreign policy over the passing year.
The 2013 was a very fruitful year for us, as a lot of our efforts succeeded. This would not have been possible without your continued support. Thank you very much.
The passing year saw yet another round of free and fair Presidential elections in Mongolia. It was the first ever Presidential elections where the Mongolians residing abroad could vote in person at diplomatic missions.
Despite some substantial issues, Mongolia's economy enjoyed yet another year of high growth - 11.5 percent as of the first 3 quarters. We are still confronted with many challenges. But what is important is that we are taking prompt measures to address them.
We have taken some very bold measures to reinvigorate Mongolia's status as one of the frontier markets for investment opportunities. Our Parliament passed a new Investment Law, which provides a stable, business-friendly environment for investment.
Let me now turn to the foreign policy.
This year, we continued to develop and strengthen our relations with our foreign partners around the world. We have established diplomatic relations with 11 countries, making the total number of UN Member States with whom we have diplomatic relations to 176.
Our Parliament has officially approved expanding our diplomatic presence abroad. We are going to open Embassies in Indonesia and Brazil and reopen our Embassy in Afghanistan. We are also going to open Consulates in Istanbul, Turkey, Bishkek, the Kyrgyz Republic, Hailar, China, and Busan, ROK.
Ladies and gentlemen,
2013 was a very busy, yet fulfilling year. We have been honored to receive a record number of high-level visits. The list is both long and impressive.
Just within this year, we have received 2 Heads of States (President of Poland, Governor General of Canada), 3 Vice Presidents (Costa Rica, Nigeria, South Africa), 7 Parliament leaders, 4 Heads of Government (Belarus, Japan, Thailand and Turkey), 4 Deputy Prime Ministers (Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Thailand), 13 Foreign Ministers (Angola, France, Hungary, Indonesia, Kyrgyz Republic, Lithuania, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Serbia, Sweden, Timor-Leste and UK), as well as the President of the UN General Assembly, Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva, President of the European Commission, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President, OSCE Secretary General and many other foreign dignitaries.
Our President paid state visits to the DPRK, Myanmar, Poland, Singapore and Viet Nam, and participated in the UN General Assembly, World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, 13th Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States, Mongolia-Hong Kong Business Forum and the World in 2014 Gala Dinner held by the "Economist" in Hong Kong and Singapore. He also visited our peacekeepers in South Sudan.
The Speaker of the Parliament paid official visits to Canada, Turkey and US, and participated in the Boao Forum for Asia.
Our Prime Minister paid official visits to China and Japan.
As a Foreign Minister, I have paid bilateral visits to Azerbaijan, France, India, Japan, Kuwait and Serbia. I have attended the UN General Assembly, Human Rights Council, UNESCO General Conference and Disarmament Conference sessions, as well as the 5th UN Alliance of Civilizations Global Forum, Munich Security Conference, OSCE, NATO, ASEAN Regional Forum and APEC Ministerial Meetings, the 2nd session of the Assembly of Parties to the International Anti-Corruption Academy, and the World Economic Forum meetings in Baku, Moscow and Tokyo. All together I've had working meetings with Foreign Ministers form over than 50 countries.
These visits and meetings attests to our growing relationship with our immediate and third neighbors.
One of the significant achievements this year was the signing of a Cooperation and Partnership Agreement with the EU, and an Agreement on Transparency in Matters Related to International Trade and Investment with the United States.
Let me now turn to the highlights of multilateral cooperation.
This year's highlight was, of course, the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies, which we hosted along with its Parliamentary Forum, Youth Forum, Civil Society Forum and Corporate Democracy Forum.
The Ulaanbaatar Conference was attended by around 1,100 delegates from over 100 countries. Among them were several Heads of State and Government, Deputy Prime Ministers and many Foreign Ministers, as well as Nobel Peace Laureates Ms.Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Ms. Tawakkol Karman.
The Ulaanbaatar Conference was underpinned by Aung San Suu Kyi's famous quote "Sometimes I think that a parody of democracy could be more dangerous than a blatant dictatorship, because that gives people an opportunity to avoid doing anything about it".
Mongolia's 2-year Presidency of the CoD left an enduring legacy, such as the UN General Assembly resolution on democracy education and the significant reform of the CoD to make it more inclusive and thereby increase its impact.
This year, Mongolia has established its first assistance fund - International Cooperation Fund (IFC) to help emerging young democracies. We have already started several projects under the Fund. As President Ts.Elbegdorj said, "This is not about teaching other countries. We have a lot to learn ourselves". It is just about sharing our experience in democratic transition with emerging democracies.
Another highlight is our joint project with the World Economic Forum to develop a set of scenarios for Mongolia's future economic development. As part of the project, Mongolia and the World Economic Forum organized a Strategic Dialogue on the Future of Mongolia in September this year. This high-level meeting brought together Mongolia's leadership and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum Professor Klaus Schwab, as well as over 160 representatives from government and the private sector from many countries, as well as international organizations.
The Ulaanbaatar roundtable has sent a clear message to the international community that Mongolia is open for business and is an investment-friendly country.
The final scenarios report will be discussed by the exclusive participants of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos next January.
I am happy to note that there has also been great progress in our multilateral cultural policy. This year, UNESCO included Mongolian Kanjur sutra written with 9 precious stones in the Memory of the World Register. Furthermore, the Mongolian calligraphy and the Traditional craftsmanship of the Mongol Ger and its associated customs were inscribed on the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Mongolia continues its active regional agenda. There has been a step forward in our efforts to join APEC, when I had the honor to observe the APEC Ministerial Meeting in Bali in October this year as a guest of this year's Chair - Indonesia. We look forward to further successfully cooperate with 2014 Chair country - PR of China.
Supporting efforts to strengthen strategic stability and develop security cooperation in Northeast Asia is another important foreign policy priority for Mongolia. Our President came up with an Initiative for "Ulaanbaatar Dialogue on Northeast Asian Security" to promote confidence building in Northeast Asia through which we will ensure security. In framework of this Initiative, Northeast Asian Women Parliamentarians Forum has successfully been held last November in Ulaanbaatar.
We are organizing a workshop on the Ulaanbaatar Initiative together with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation on December 19,2013.
As you can see, 2013 was a very fruitful year for Mongolia's foreign policy.
We have a number of strategic goals for next year. I would like to highlight some of them, namely:
1. Ensure that protecting the rights of our nationals abroad is truly at the forefront of Mongolia's foreign policy;
2. Strengthen our strategic partnership with our two immediate neighbors - China and Russia;
3. Strengthen our position in the UN, and gain UN Member States' support for our candidature at the 2015 UN Human Rights Council elections and the 2022 Security Council elections;
4. Bring Mongolia's economic foreign policy to a new quality level;
5. Intensify our efforts to join APEC, as well as become a dialogue partner of ASEAN and join the East Asia Summit process;
6. Promote the Ulaanbaatar Initiative on Northeast Asia as a tool that could help build confidence and develop multilateral security cooperation among countries of this sub-region;
7. Reinforce our participation in the OSCE and strengthen our cooperation with the European Union, as well as enhance our engagement with other regional organizations and institutions.
Excellencies, I am honored to propose this toast to our joint achievements in the passing year and even better cooperation in the coming New Year.
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Regional Meeting on Combating Desertification and Land Degradation to Take Place in Ulaanbaatar
December 13 /infomongolia.com/ A Network meeting on combating desertification and land degradation in North-EastAsia will take place at Khaan Palace Hotel in Ulaanbaatar that is aimed to broadenits activity and discuss Regional Master Plan for the Prevention and Control of Dust and Sandstorms to implement next year on December 16-17, 2013.
The primary members of the network are Mongolia, China and South Korea established in 2011, and at this year's event 23 delegates from 11 countries representing China, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, South Korea, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan will attend the meeting, where the Regional Coordinator of Asia-Pacific Regional Coordination Unit of UNCCD Secretariat, Mr. Yang Youlin is also will be participating.
The network mainly focuses on trans-boundary cooperation to prevent and control dust and sandstorms in North-East Asia.
According to UN North-East Asian Sub-regional Program survey conducted in Mongolia, the 41.3% of total territory is Gobi desert and arid zone, 90% of pasture land is vulnerable to desertification and land degradation, and the ongoing climate changes have negative effects on the fragile ecosystems.
Fulbright Foreign Student Alumna Introduces First Seeing-Eye Dog to Mongolia
(The Fullbright Program) As a student in Mongolia, Uyanga Erdenbold did not have the same opportunity to read books as her fellow students did until she reached college. This is because Uyanga was diagnosed with retinoid dispegmentosa when she was a child, and she lost her sight over time. Her schools and local libraries did not offer books in Braille or audio format, so Uyanga had to rely on others to read to her. Despite these obstacles, she graduated from a well-known university in Mongolia with top honors.
"Not all blind people in Mongolia are as fortunate [as I was]." Uyanga said. "Because of the challenges, many have given up studying, even though they have equal intellectual ability."
Most of the challenges Uyanga faced in her education related to reading and finding information. Confronted daily with the lack of availability of reading material for blind people, Uyanga developed a special interest in the ability of libraries to serve their local communities.
"I was always dependent on others to help me," Uyanga said. "I felt I had little control over my time. I typically had to rely on the assistance of others to read materials to me, which I then typed into Braille. For all my life as a student, I dreamed of one day sitting in a library reading room and finding the materials I needed on my own."
This motivation led her to apply for the Fulbright Foreign Student Program.
In 2007, Uyanga was awarded a Fulbright grant to study at Louisiana State University's School of Library and Information Science in Baton Rouge, where she had access to many new resources.
"I received audio books from the U.S. Library of Congress' National Library Services for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. This service [brought] the world of literature to me. I [enjoyed] it so much that sometimes I [stayed] up late at night to catch up with my school work," Uyanga said.
For Uyanga, however, the most important step she would take toward independence would not be found in a book but instead through a Labrador dog named Gladys.
Gladys is the guide dog that Uyanga received during her time in Louisiana. The two trained together with an instructor and soon formed an unbreakable bond of trust. From there, Uyanga began to experience independence as never before.
"Gladys not only guides me through physical obstacles, but she also guides me through the emotional barriers and difficulties of life. I cannot imagine how it would be without her. She is as much a part of me as my legs or my hands," Uyanga said.
It is no surprise, then, that after receiving her Masters in Library and Information Science, Uyanga took Gladys back home to Mongolia with her. There, Gladys has become a superstar in her own right as the first trained seeing-eye dog in Mongolia. Life for Gladys is very different in Mongolia, where there are no guide dogs or instructors. Of particular difficulty, there are no laws regulating the rights of guide dogs and users to have access to public places, such as shops, schools, hospitals, restaurants, or public transportation.
"At first, nobody had any idea what kind of a dog she was. They all thought I was a weird person who put a 'handle' on my dog for attention. [Women and children] would scream and jump away when they saw Gladys walking near them or approaching them. They would leave the elevator if we got on with them," Uyanga said.
It was through Uyanga and her success, however, that Gladys began to win over public opinion. Following her grant, Uyanga obtained a position working for the U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar - the sort of prestigious position that, according to Uyanga, is typically very difficult for a blind person to attain in Mongolia. As a result, she started receiving unsolicited requests for TV and newspaper interviews. It was through these public appearances that Mongolians began to fall in love with Gladys.
"After a few newspaper interviews and TV appearances, people started to recognize Gladys on the street and started to be much more friendly. Some restaurants and coffee shops allowed us in and most children came to know Gladys by name," Uyanga explained. "Now, when we walk on the street, people tend to know that I'm a blind person and that Gladys is a guide dog helping me. When we run into children at our apartment complex, mothers don't pull their children away, but tell them not to be afraid of Gladys, and that she is a good and working dog."
"Things are slowly changing, and I came to realize that I myself need to reach out and educate the public about service animals. I am starting to see that once they see what she means to me, Mongolians can be as understanding as anybody else. Although there are many places we are still not allowed in and many people who still think Gladys should be left outside doors. We have a long ways to go, but I think we have made the start. Now it is a matter of reinforcing it."
Uyanga will continue to move forward to educate the Mongolian public about the usefulness and companionship of service animals. She cannot forget how much her experience in the United States has changed her.
"I found the real me, not defined by my disability, in the United States. When you give someone the opportunity to not be restricted by their disabilities or differences, the actual individual emerges from behind the disability. I didn't feel 'disabled' in America, sometimes I even forgot about it. I stopped building my life and my dreams to accommodate my disability, something I have always done in the past. Rather, I started building my life and dreams around me as an individual and let my disability accommodate them."
Child Protection Website Launches
Ulaanbaatar, December 13 /MONTSAME/ The National Authority for Children, in partnership with the Police and World Vision International in Mongolia launched a child protection website on Thursday.
The new child welfare information getaway (www.boroldoi.mn), expected to connect child welfare and related professional to comprehensive information to help protect children and strengthen families, has two parts--open and closed.
At the opening ceremony of the website at the Criminal Police Department in Ulaanbaatar on Thursday, it was understood that the National Authority for Children together with the Police will be responsible for administration and information flow of the website, featuring the latest on related topics such as preventing and responding to child abuse and neglect, promoting child and family well-being, and raising public awareness.
Mongolia Documentary: From the Heart of Asia - By, Linh Vien Thai -
September 15 (Grinning Studios) --
Flexible artist in Mongolia
The contortionist Lhagva-Ochir is in shape to position his country internationally. He performs with Mongolian art in the Ulaanbataar circus. Because of this, he trains every day.
By Uuganaa Ramsay
'A gripping read that will touch your heart... an enthralling tale, beautifully written. Moving and uplifting.' --Sheila Grant, NewBooks Magazine. 'Extremely interesting... emotionally engaging.' --Stuart Kelly. 'An interesting narrative of considerable cultural insight and cross-cultural value.' --Colin Nicholson. 'Thought-provoking insight... honest and heart-wrenching.' --Penny Green, Down's Heart Group.
"Exteremely interesting…emotionally engaging" (Stuart Kelly). Uuganaa is a Mongol living in Britain, far from the world she grew up in: as a nomadic herder she lived in a yurt, eating marmot meat, distilling vodka from goat's yoghurt and learning about Comrade Lenin. When her new-born son Billy is diagnosed with Down's Syndrome, she finds herself facing bigotry and taboo as well as heartbreak. In this powerful memoir, Uuganaa skilfully interweaves the extraordinary story of her own childhood in Mongolia with the sadly short life of Billy, who becomes a symbol of union and disunion, cultures and complexity, stigma and superstition – and inspires Uuganaa to challenge prejudice. Mongol is the touching story of one woman's transformation from outsider to fearless champion of love, respect and tolerance. It's a moving tribute by a remarkable woman to her beloved baby son, testifying to his lasting impact on a sometimes imperfect world.
IWAM delivers warmth this winter
By Michelle Borok, December 9, 2013
December 14 (UB Post) Last Thursday, members of the International Women's Association of Mongolia (IWAM) delivered timely donations to new mothers and children living in Darkhan. The gifts delivered were meant to make this winter a little warmer for those with less than others.
Led by IWAM's Head of Programs, Sue Durrant, members Gemma Theuerkauf, Elaine Tromans, and Julie Veloo made the trip up to Darkhan to hand-deliver donations gathered by IWAM from supporters in Australia, Canada and Mongolia. The delivery to Darkhan followed similar events coordinated in Ulaanbaatar for the Children of the Peak. IWAM is an organization for women of all nationalities to come together, socialize, and do charitable work in Mongolia. For twenty years, the organization has raised funds to help vulnerable women and children in Mongolia.
Their first stop was a health clinic on the edge of Old Darkhan, where 34 mothers from the city's ger districts, the surrounding countryside and nearby soums filled a classroom to meet the women of IWAM. With Julie Veloo providing an introduction in Mongolian, the women distributed essentials that had been collected for the mother's newborns. Diapers, swaddle cloths, bibs, onesies and more were bundled together for distribution in thick baby blankets. The newborns, some just weeks old, stayed swaddled and sleeping as their mothers checked to see how the hand-knit sweaters and beanies handed out by the IWAM members and nurses at the clinic would fit their fast growing babies.
The makings of the "baby bundles" were funded by donations, and the materials gathered by IWAM members and assembled for distribution in Ulaanbaatar and Darkhan. They are part of an ongoing project by IWAM and will continue to be made throughout the year. Vice President of the Veloo Foundation, Julie Veloo said, "I like the fact that the people at home, who donated money or goodies for this to happen, are the real heroes." The knit hats and sweaters given to the new mothers were knitted by three grandmothers in Campbell River, B.C. Canada, and sent to Mongolia by Lorie Leitz, a board member of the Veloo Foundation.
Following the visit to the health clinic, the IWAM members dropped in on the Shonhoodoi Circus School, a local non-profit organization led by trainer Battsetseg and her husband. The women of IWAM had brought donated jackets and clothes for the children, but were first surprised with a performance by them.
The Shonhoodoi Circus School has a new home in the Darkhan Children's Park, in the former location of a Korean Baptist church. At the school, local children from the ger district and Darkhan's orphanage are able to come for training and practice in the circus arts. The children range in age from five to sixteen, and work diligently to hone their skills in contortion, juggling, acrobatics and bicycle tricks. The training gives the children goals to focus on outside the challenges they face at home, instills a sense of discipline and self-confidence, and for the most talented students, it offers a creative and unique career opportunity for the future.
The performance for the IWAM ladies was a warm-up for a formal performance by the school on December 22. The children were eager to show off their talents, with the steady guidance of their trainers and encouragement from their visiting audience. Following their surprise performance, the children tried on their new jackets and helped each other select new clothes provided by their visitors.
In addition to the facility the school has been allowed access to by city officials, which includes a small gym, changing room and space for practice and performance, the school has been promised funding from the Darkhan Governor's Office to purchase equipment and the means to expand their outreach. Local businesses have also pledged to provide hot meals for the children in the program. Battsetseg and her husband look forward to offering the children training with them more opportunities for development, and to be an afterschool home to more children in the city. The supportive visit by the women of IWAM was a greatly appreciated part of the start of a new future for the school.
Mongolia's mini zoo makes an appearance in Darkhan
By MICHELLE BOROK, December 2, 2013
December 14 (UB Post) Darkhan residents had a busy weekend at Zaluuchuud Theatre. Starting on Friday, Mongolia's mini zoo made a three day appearance at the city's theatre with 40 animals, and on Sunday evening, the weekend came to a more glamorous close with a concert by Mongolian diva, Sarantuya and special guest musicians.
Mongolia's mini zoo was once located in Buddha Park in Ulaanbaatar. Prior to its location in Zaisan, it was located in Central Stadium. Last Spring, the UB Post featured an interview with the zoo's founder, L.Sainbat, as he was hoping to open his zoo for the summer. At the time of the interview, the zoo was facing eviction and asking for government support to maintain their facilities and continue operations.
The zoo was unable to make a permanent home in Zaisan, but L.Sainbat continues to take his animals around the country to share with provinces that rarely see many of these species of birds, mammals and reptiles up close.
The mini zoo is a combination of domesticated and wild animals. Most of the wild animals are indigenous species that L.Sainbat was able to rescue, or were brought to him with injuries for rehabilitation. They have been rehabilitated, but are no longer able to survive in the wild, and now travel with the zoo to educate visitors and give them an up close look at the unique wildlife that Mongolia is home to. The domesticated animals are mostly pets that were abandoned.
When the zoo isn't on the road, the animals live with keepers in Darkhan-Uul and Umnugovi provinces, and in Yarmag in Ulaanbaatar. Finding a permanent home for the zoo's animals remains a challenge, due to the financial burden of building a facility that can provide year-round accommodations for the wide variety of animals and grounds suitably located for attracting a steady stream of visitors.
The cost of admission has remained 2,500 MNT for adults and 2,000 MNT for children, and the opportunity to purchase photo souvenirs taken with the zoo's Golden Eagle and reindeer was also available. The proceeds from the zoo go back into the costs for feeding and keeping the animals.
The zoo was set up in a second floor hallway of the theatre, and saw a constant stream of visitors once local schools had closed for the day. The first two animals on display were the Golden Eagle and a very friendly reindeer – both indigenous to Mongolia. As promised, over 40 animals were on view. Uncommonly bred domesticated ducks, turkeys and guinea hens were on view, as were wild pheasants. The domesticated rabbits sharing the display area with the ducks were friendly, and eager to meet visitors, as were the guinea pigs, and white kittens. Even these animals, more familiar as pets, were crowd-pleasers for both younger and older visitors. Each animal's enclosure had a placard that gave the name of the animal in Mongolian and English, and some information about its species.
Behind a small fence that kept visitors from being able to reach in and touch them, in the corner of the theatre's long hallway, were two adult wolves lazily watching the crowd. L.Sainbat says one of the wolves was purchased from someone who had raised it to slaughter for its fur and meat, and the other was rescued from a dog fight. While raised in captivity, the wolves are still wild, but unfit to survive on their own if they were released into their native habitats in the northern forest or the Gobi.
The zoo features several native raptors, including its Golden Eagle, a Cinereous Vulture, and Black Eared Kite. Small birds, including quail, lovebirds, cockatiels and doves were also popular, as well as a pair of peacocks. The zoo's collection of reptiles and its tarantula also drew a curious crowd.
The children and adults of Darkhan were captivated by the zoo, many wishing it had a permanent home for regular visitation. L.Sainbat has been working as a children's educator since 2002. Hopefully he is able to continue his work, inspiring curiosity about the natural world to people throughout the country.
Munkhdul Badral Bontoi
Founder & CEO
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