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Monday, January 6, 2014

[Harvard makes case study out of OT, new bill to avoid money laundering "blacklist," and livestock numbers show 10% increase]

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Monday, January 6, 2013

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

Overseas Market

Mogi: looks like it's only available on print as a case study at Harvard. Interestingly, the son of former PM S. Batbold is one of the authors

Rio Tinto and Mining in Mongolia: The Oyu Tolgoi Deposit

Harvard Business School Case Study by Eric Werker, Battushig Batbold, Kelsey Kennedy, Zanna McComish, Shaloo Savla and Nicole Shomair

Abstract

In 2013, Rio Tinto was expected to begin commercial shipments from Oyu Tolgoi, a copper and gold mine in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. Oyu Tolgoi was one of the last great unmined deposits in the world, and, once operations were in full swing, was expected to constitute around a tenth of Rio Tinto's profits and over a quarter of Mongolia's GDP. But the terms of the deal were being threatened by elections in Mongolia and a change in voter sentiment towards the project. With around $6 billion invested, Rio Tinto had to figure out how to make its investment work out. Meanwhile the Mongolian government, facing scorching economic growth rates, had to lead the country through its most significant transformation since the time of Ghengis Khan nine centuries earlier.

Language: English

Format: Print

Citation:

Werker, Eric, Battushig Batbold (Mogi: son of former PM and current MP S. Batbold from MPP), Kelsey Kennedy, Zanna McComish, Shaloo Savla, and Nicole Shomair. "Rio Tinto and Mining in Mongolia: The Oyu Tolgoi Deposit." Harvard Business School Case 714-018, November 2013.

Link to study page

 

Winsway (01733) buys back 6.18m shares for HK$3m

[ET Net News Agency, 2 January 2014] Winsway Coking Coal (01733) said the trustee purchased an aggregate of about 6.18 million shares through on-market purchases for the purposes of the restricted share unit scheme at about HK$3 million, equivalent to HK$0.4853 per share.

The purchased shares represent about 0.1638% of the issued share capital of Winsway.

Winsway said the purchases are to satisfy the share component of those Directors' service contracts that comprise cash and shares. 

Link to article

Link to release

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Local Market

BDSec Daily Market Update, January 3: Top 20 -1.25%, Turnover 31.5 Million

January 3 (BDSec) Mongolia shares fell on Friday, snapping 3-day winning streak. MSE Top 20 index dropped 1.25% to finish at 16,255.70 points. Tavantolgoi (TTL), the second largest component of the benchmark index, lost 6.39% and closed at MNT 5,710. Makh Impex (MMX), which jumped 8.30% at yesterday's session, retreated 6.19% to close at MNT 2,533. Turnover of the day was MNT 31.3 million.

Top Movers

Trading Value Leaders

Close (MNT)

Value (MNT)

APU (APU)

4,100

12,853,500

Baganuur (BAN)

4,600

7,515,500

Darkhan Nekhii (NEH)

11,930

2,482,000

 

 

 

Top Gainers

Close (MNT)

% Change

Material Impex (MIE)

14,010

+10.49%

Darkhan Nekhii (NEH)

11,930

+3.74%

Baganuur (BAN)

4,600

+1.37%

 

 

 

Top Losers

Close (MNT)

% Change

Tavantolgoi (TTL)

5,710

-6.39%

Makh Impex (MMX)

2,533

-6.19%

Telecom Mongolia (MCH)

1,350

-3.57%

Link to update

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Economy

BoM MNT Rates: January 3 Close

 

1/3

1/2

USD

1,693.96

1,678.37

EUR

2,312.42

2,304.57

CNY

279.92

277.37

GBP

2,786.90

2,781.98

RUB

51.14

50.9

December Chart: (Mogi: sorry folks, BoM hadn't added 2014 to the graphs yet)

Link to rates

 

Total outstanding 1-week bills at 1.56 trillion

BoM issues 1-week bills

January 3 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 619.7 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

 

Social Insurance Fund Surpasses Target, Collects 853 Billion in 2013, Increase of ₮1 Billion Over 2012

Ulaanbaatar, January 3 /MONTSAME/ In 2013, a tax income of 852.7 billion togrog has been collected in the Social Insurance Fund, said a Government official on Thursday.

This means the 2013 income plan of the Social Insurance Fund has reached beyond the planned. The amount has seen an increase of one billion compared to 2012.

The same time, a total of 940 billion togrog has been spent for pensions, benefits, fees and medical service expenses of people all around the country. 

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Politics

The State Great Khural of Mongolia in 2013

-Parliament approved 215 laws and regulations in 2013 –

January 3 (UB Post) By December 16, 2013, the State Great Khural, or the Parliament of Mongolia, approved 25 independent laws, discussed and ratified a total of 106 draft amendments, four laws on agreement and treaty verification, 11 laws on annulment, as well as 69 resolutions of the State Great Khural.

The following are the key achievements of Parliament in 2013, in accordance with the Press, Media and Public Communications Department of the Parliament of Mongolia.

1. Strategies for recovering from economic challenges

In regards to the declining economic situation in Mongolia, Speaker of the Parliament Z.Enkhbold issued a resolution announcing an irregular session of Parliament on September 16, 2013, and initiated the discussion and eventual approval of the draft bills on investment and investment funds, as well as the law on bond markets on October 3, 2013. The enforcement of these laws created grounds for the recovery of the economy by creating a pleasant investment environment in Mongolia, providing tax sustainability, treating foreign and domestic investors equally, attracting the investment of entities, organizations and citizens, as well as creating a legal environment for the bond market.

2. Reforms in law enforcement and the justice system continued

Parliament approved the laws on the courts, police service, Takhar service and the laws on protecting victims and witnesses, and the law on legal assistance for the accused with no financial means for defense. The enforcement of these laws resulted in the restructuring of the courts into criminal, citizen and administrative arenas, changing the structure and objectives of law enforcement organizations, adapting to new conditions, and providing safety to witnesses and victims of crimes.

3. Law on monetary savings insurance adopted

During the plenary session meeting of January 10, 2013, the law on monetary savings insurance was adopted. The adoption of the law has played a significant role in increasing the trust of citizens in the banks, expanded the role of the financial broker, created a system to compensate the assets of consumers through a savings insurance fund in case of bankruptcy, decreased the possible financial risks to the state budget, and has the potential to enhance the sustainability of the banking sector for the long term.

4. Business environment promoted

Parliament exempted the customs taxes and value added tax of imported construction materials, including thin layered OSB board, assembled fabrics of wooden construction made in compliance with standards, agricultural projects such as the replanting of forests, gardening, as well as for imported wood, logs, lumber, equipment that is imported to produce products from oil, shale and coal, as well as construction materials for supporting and promoting the business environment.

Moreover, a decision was made to waive taxes for the new, imported trolleybuses and buses, which meet public transportation standards with more than 25 seats and capacity for over 45 passengers.

5. 2014 monetary policy determined

The Parliamentary resolutions on ground directions of the 2014 State Monetary Policy were approved and the state monetary policy was determined. The plenary session meeting of May 31, 2013, approved the law on combating money laundering and terrorism, and legal arrangements were made to combat and prevent crimes related to money laundering and terrorism, improve control systems, and adapt domestic laws and regulations to international treaties and conventions.

6. Socially significant laws and agreements approved

The law on addressing was approved on February 7. According to the law, addresses should be based on geographic sketches, should be approved by the cadastre registration, as well as meeting the administrational and local unit proportions.

Furthermore, a renewed version of the law on mental health was adopted. Accordingly, many issues have been resolved, such as the provision of the rights and security of citizens with mental health challenges, and diminishing the factors that negatively influence mental health. The contracts of Health Projects 4 and 5, implemented by the Asian Development Bank, were ratified.

7. Civil aviation policy approved and border point legal environment enhanced

Parliament has approved the documents on "State policy in the civil aviation sector through 2020". By approving the policy, manageable standards for the numbers of international passengers and regional freight will be created, civil aviation companies will be able to compete at the international level, the number of flights will be increased, and freight rates will be decreased, allowing the intensive development of the trade and tourism sectors.

8. Corrupted budget frozen

Concerning the 2013 performance of the basic indicators of the macro economy, foreign and domestic economic conditions, the price of mineral resource exports and the shortage of mineral resources, Parliament made amendments to the 2013 budget laws of Mongolia.

A factual summary was made of the financial situation and state budget of Mongolia. In approving the laws on the 2014 State Budget, Parliament has frozen a total of 243 investment projects and events financed by state money, which had slowed down or had overrun budget expenses, in order to enhance the spending and concentration of the state budget, increase its benefits, and tighten up its controls and supervision.

The law on the 2014 State Budget was approved, estimating the annual expenditure amount of the 2014 state budget at 5.5 trillion MNT, the investment to be financed by the budget at 1.1 trillion MNT, and the capital to be accumulated in the State Sustainability Fund at 29.7 billion MNT.

9. Inter parliamentary relations expanded

Upon the invitation of the Speaker of Mongolian Parliament, Z.Enkhbold, prominent politicians and parliamentarians of foreign countries conducted official visits to Mongolia, including the Chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, Wu Bangguo; the Chairman of the Danish Parliament Folketinget, Mogens Lykketoft; the President of the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly, Riccardo Migliori; Marshal of the Senate of the Republic of Poland, Bogdan Borusewicz; Vice President of the German Bundestag, Eduard Oswald; the Speaker of Finland, Eero Heiniluoma; Speaker of the National Assembly of South Korea, Kang Chan-hee; and the Vice President of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, Alena Gajdushkova. The Speaker of the Parliament paid an official visit to the United States, Canada, Turkey and also attended the 129th Inter Parliamentary Union Assembly.

10. International level conferences and forums held

Mongolia hosted the VII Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies, which ran from April 26 through 29. A total of 1,215 delegates from 104 countries gathered in Ulaanbaatar to attend the conference. Prime Minister of Thailand Yingluck Shinawatra and the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Chairperson and General Secretary of the National League for Democracy of Myanmar, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, also attended the VII Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies. The conference included thematic sessions on Harnessing Open Governance for Democracy and Supporting Democratic Transition, Education for Democracy, Emerging Democracies in Asia and the Arab World, Democracy and Millennium Development Goals, Corruption and Other Threats to Democracy, and Online Freedom.

Mongolia also organized a forum of Women Parliamentarians of Northeast Asian Countries. The event initiated by Mongolian women MPs, gathered women lawmakers from Russia, North Korea, South Korea and China. They shared views on the topics of "Role of women MPs in advancing peace and prosperity through education" and "Developing network of women MPs of Northeast Asia: World Womens' Conference-2015″.

Link to article

 

Cabinet Meeting: Legal Entity Registration to Become Digital, State Policy on Civil Aviation Approved

January 3 (UB Post) The last governmental meeting of 2013 was held on December 28, 2013. In 2013, the New Government for Changes convened a total of 58 times, and issued 426 resolutions and 202 regulations on behalf of the Prime Minister. The government submitted a total of 62 issues to the Parliament and decided to discuss 18 issues with related standing committees, and to introduce 27 issues to the National Security Council.

New legal bodies to be registered digitally

The government discussed the revised version of the law on legal body registration and other related laws, and reached a decision to submit the laws to the Parliament.

The results of a 2012 survey of private entities showed that the registration of legal bodies should become easier and electronic registration should be conducted. The present legal environment of legal body registration requires 12 types of documents at eight stages, and a total of five days is spent to register a legal body. In 2008, a total of 45 thousand new legal bodies were registered, while in 2013 this figure was doubled. The registration organization is now registering around 220 new legal bodies a day.

If the registration of legal bodies, which is increasing year by year, is conducted electronically, the information exchange systems of state organizations will become paperless, prior records will be transferred to digital format on a large scale, and many fruitful outcomes, such as the E-Fund of legal body registration, will be formed.

With the adoption of the law, registration will be completed within two to three days, and all the document collecting processes will be consolidated in one stage. Certificates of registration will also be sent in electronic format.

Civil aviation state policy through 2020 approved

The government approved the civil aviation action plans of the government through 2020.

According to the policy plans, a total of 28 actions towards 19 goals will be implemented in compliance with the rights and duties of implementing agencies. The actions include joining international treaties, conventions and protocols, creating new legal regulations, tax breaks for the sector, and the granting of related compensation, soft loans and financial aid.

Year of Mongolia-China cultural, arts and humanitarian exchange to be celebrated

Marking the 65th anniversary of Mongolia-China diplomatic relations, the year 2014 will be a year of Mongolia-China cultural, arts and humanitarian exchange, as decided by the government in its last meeting of 2013. Deputy Premier D.Terbishdagva will chair the event organizing committee.

During the official visit of Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag to China, the two countries agreed to observe the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations in a wide range. The two countries intend to organize cultural days and friendly youth competitions, and will broadcast serial TV programs on the memories of many generations of ambassadors. Investment meetings will be held in Beijing and Liaoning Province, and a roundtable meeting of Mongol studies will take place.

Ministries and agencies prepare for 2014 projects

The government assigned duties to its ministries and agencies to make preparations for the new year's projects and measures planned under the state budget.

The relevant drafts, feasibility studies and blueprints of investment projects must be completed by February 1, 2014, said the government.

Prior to the February deadline, the general budget managers of the capital and provinces must submit their project proposals to the Economic Development Ministry. Procurement and construction are to launch by April 1, 2014.

Government meeting in brief:

-       A decision was made to submit draft amendments to the Parliament to the law on crimes and the law on criminal investigation and punishment. With the adoption of the amendments, illegal monetary assets discovered in bank and financial systems will be sealed and confiscated, and money laundering crimes will be prosecuted.

-       The government decided to support the "Engineering Higher Education" project in the frames of the Mongolia-Japan intergovernmental middle-term cooperation program. The Minister of Education and Sciences will determine demands for degrees in engineering professions based on proposals from ministries, and make an agreement with the Japanese side on the project's financing and phases. The government believes that this project will contribute to preparing skilled engineering and technical experts to construct a metro system in Ulaanbaatar and the international airport in Khoshigt Valley, Tov aimag.

Link to article

 

Amendment to Criminal Law Submitted to Avoid FATF Black List

Ulaanbaatar, January 3 /MONTSAME/ On Thursday, the Minister of Justice Kh.Temuujin MP submitted to the Speaker a draft amendment to the criminal law.

The draft preamble underlines necessities to ensure sustainability of the national banking and financial systems and foreign investments and to refine a legal environment for detecting and freezing illegally-obtained capitals. Moreover, the criminal law is required to be altered together with other laws in accordance with a recommendation given by the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), Mr Temuujin said.

Mongolia has taken broad responsibilities for combating money laundering and financing terrorism because of ratifying the UN Convention against illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances in 2000, the UN Convention against corruption in 2005, and the UN Convention against transnational organized crime in 2008.

The initiator also explained that, if Mongolia does not accomplish the FATF's responsibilities, it will be written in the "Black list", which may result in many problems in the banking and financial relations.  

Link to article

 

Amendment Submitted to Introduce "Smoking Areas" to Tobacco Control Law

Ulaanbaatar, January 3 /MONTSAME/ A parliamentarian O.Baasankhuu Thursday submitted to parliament draft amendments to the laws on tobacco control and on VAT, and a draft resolution of parliament on approving a list of items that will be prohibited from passing the state border.

Our parliament passed the law on tobacco control and it went into force March of last year. This law bans smoking in many areas, partly limits a tobacco trade, but does not say anything about the smoking places allowed. For this reason this draft has a clause about the special spots for smoking, O.Baasankhuu said, adding that such places must be equipped with air conditioning facilities.

In conjunction with submitting this draft, the MP also amended the law on VAT in order to increase the tax for tobacco every two years.

By the draft resolution MrBaasankhuu wants to stop hunting and catching a saker falcon for a financial purpose and to ban its export to foreign countries.

Link to article

 

President's Office Holds Public Discussion on Three "Smart Government" Bills

Ulaanbaatar, January 3 /MONTSAME/ The Office of the President, together with the Citizen Hall Friday organized a transparent account discussion.

Ordinary people and academicians discussed the transparent account project, ahead of submission of three draft laws developed under the "Smart Government" policy to parliament.

The three laws are on transparent account, on entrusting responsibility to public officials and on restricting the State's involvement in running business. 

Link to article

 

512.8 Billion Worth State Procurement Tenders Planned in 2014

Ulaanbaatar, January 3 /MONTSAME/ In accordance with the governmental resolution, the Procurement Policy Department (PPD) will announce tenders for 129 projects and measures to be realized in 2014.

It has been calculated that 512 billion 761 million and 200 thousand togrog will be required to implement the project and measures, and 256 billion 580 million and 180 togrog have already been placed in the 2014 budget.

The PPD intends to make the tenders procedures more transparent by means of an E-tender rule of the general contract on procurement, approved in September of 2013 by order of the Finance Minister.  

Link to article

 

New Law on Border Checkpoints to Create Central Database on Border Crossers

January 3 /infomongolia.com/ At the plenary session of the State Great Khural (Parliament) held on December 26,2013, the bill on Border Checkpoints was approved, which will be effective from April 01, 2014.

In the frameworks of the newly ratified law, the Border Ports Division's directory and function, which is administired by the General Authority for Border Protection, have been authorized by Mongolian Immigration Office and the Office becomes the General Authority for Citizenship and Migration of Mongolia.

Before, Mongolia did not have a specific Law on Border Checkpoints, where borderports' development issue and general policy on staff's social problems were not carried out to date. Moreover, the border ports' any problems or regulations are currently administered under Intergovernmental Protocols established with Russia and China, Law on Border, and Resolutions issued by Mongolian Parliament and Cabinet.

In the scope of law effectiveness, the legal frameworks to develop border crossings are emerged, besides the ports will not only provide transit services, but also an opportunity to establish a business development center is opened. Also, monitoring quality will be improved, affiliated bodies' inter-communication would be strengthened and servicemen's socio-economical guarantee would be also enhanced, officials deem.

The newly to be formed General Authority for Citizenship and Migration of Mongolia is obliged to create a united data base for crossing passengers and vehicles. The Authority in collaboration with Mongolian Diplomatic Offices abroad will assist Mongolian citizens who are traveling overseas, for instance to prevent from violation of their rights and authority. Moreover, to control foreign nationals entering the territory of Mongolia until the departure date.

Link to article

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Business

Livestock population increases 10% reaching 45 million

January 5 (UB Post) At the end of 2013, the livestock population in Mongolia reached over 45 million with a 10.2 percent annual increase, according to the National Statistical Office of Mongolia (NSOM)'s preliminary report of Livestock Census-2013 released on December 31, 2013.

Horse populations rose by 285,000, cattle by 320,700, camel by 15,200, sheep by 1,895,000 and goat by 1,638,000 since 2012.

Sheep made up 44.5 percent of the total livestock population, goat made up 42.6 percent, cattle 6.5 percent, horse 5.8 percent and camels made up 0.7 percent.

Horse, cattle and sheep percentage in the total livestock population rose by 0.1 percent, while camel percentage didn't change.

The livestock population decreased in Orkhon Province by 5,600, and increased in all other provinces by as much as 510,700.

Provinces with the highest increase in livestock population were Uvurkhangai, Arkhangai, Bayankhongor, Tuv, Govi-Altai, Dundogobi, Khentii, Zavkhan, Umnugobi, Sukhbaatar, Khovd, Uvs, Dornogobi, Bayan-Ulgii and Bulgan Provinces, reported the NSOM. 

P.Gankhuyag, senior expert of the Livestock Policy Implementation Regulatory Service of the Ministry of Industry and Agriculture gave more insight about the increase in livestock population. 

 -Though the camel population increased last year, its percentage in the total livestock population hasn't changed according to the report. What is the ministry's plan to increase camel population?

-Seven years ago, the camel population was 150,000 nationwide. But as of December 2013, it has reached 321,000 according to the NSOM. The state has been implementing several projects to increase the camel population by providing incentives for camel wool supply and supporting young herders in camel husbandry.

-Orkhon Province had the lowest population of livestock in 2013. Can you tell us why?

-This province has a small territory, so herders in Orkhon usually graze their livestock at pasture lands in Dashinchilen, Selenge, Bayannuur and Bayan-Agt soums of their neighboring Bulgan Province. The long journey for grazing could've caused the losses in livestock.

-What is the current grazing pasture capacity of Mongolia?

-The total Mongolian grazing pastures can feed over 70 million livestock population.

-How many tons of meat did Mongolia export in 2013?

-As of November 31, 2013, a total of 1,529 tons of meat were exported. From this, horse meat made up 1,470 tons, while the remaining 59 tons were mutton.

-What actions are required to increase livestock-based profit in the future?

-The priority is not the increase of livestock population. We have to improve the quality of livestock-based dairy and meat products. We plan to establish a livestock complex for dairy and meat product manufacturing this year.

Link to article

 

Mongolia 2014: New Information and Cultural Insights Entrepreneurs Need to Start a Business in Mongolia [Kindle Edition]

Derek Sivers (Author), Alex Franquelli (Author)

Book Description

Publication Date: January 1, 2014

Mongolia is a true frontier for the adventurous entrepreneur. It's advancing rapidly in Ulaanbaatar, but it still holds onto its nomadic roots. This division in the culture can cause unique opportunities for foreign entrepreneurs. 

If you've been thinking about starting a business in Mongolia, the Wood Egg Mongolia startup guide will be your go-to reference manual. 

Each year we hire 3 researchers (at least one local and one foreigner who live in Mongolia), a native English-speaking in-country writer, and an editor, to bring you insights from multiple perspectives. 

Our researchers spend over 200 hours interviewing local business people, politicians, and citizens who regular foreigners would never have access to. This is 200+ hours you will save to hit the ground running. (Bonus: When you register your eBook at WoodEgg.com you get access to all of our raw research and interviews.) 

In the 2014 Wood Egg Mongolia startup guide you will learn: 

* What the "work hard party hard" culture means to your business. (Page 31) 

* Although you will always stick out, why it's best to blend into the business community. (Page 63) 

* Where to find short and long term rental properties (including websites). (Page 88) 

* What the lack of long-term planning among the business community means to you. (Page 118) 

* How to navigate the business hierarchy in Mongolia. (Page 128) 

* The biggest advantage foreigners have over locals when conducting business. (Page 152) 

* Why you don't need a local partner to establish a business (and why you might want one). (Page 171) 

* Our top 3 local accountants who work with foreign entrepreneurs. (Page 198) 

* The top recruiting agencies to use if you're looking to find (and keep) top talent in Mongolia. (Page 210) 

* All foreigners must comply with this to open a bank account in Mongolia. (Page 232) 

* The best industries for foreigners with room for growth. (Page 246) 

* Don't spend more than this amount (or break this law) when advertising in Mongolia. (Page 254) 

All of this along with hundreds of other insights. All told you'll get the painstakingly researched answers to over 200 questions (over 250 pages!) about country, culture, life, and business in Mongolia. 

If you're looking to do business in Mongolia you won't find a more complete, up-to-date, guide. 

Link to book page

 

MNCCI Announces List of Exhibitions and Fairs to Be Held in 2014

Ulaanbaatar, January 3 /MONTSAME/ The Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI)  released Friday a calendar of exhibitions and trade fair for 2014 in both Mongolia and abroad.

Accordingly, the very first event will be the "Gates to Asia 2014" fair to run March 11-13 in the National and Exhibition Convention Center in Ulaanbaatar. The MNCCI is the general organizer, the Business Contact LLC will attend it as a co-organizer.

The "SME's Product, Service & Technology 2014" international trade fair will run June 12-16 at  the "Misheel Expo" center. It is to be co-organized by the MNCCI and the UB city Administration. Then, an "Ulaanbaatar Partnership 2014" international trade fair and the "Great Construction 2014" joint exhibition are to take place September 11-15 and in November, respectively. Co-organized by the City's Administration and Mongolia's government, these events will run at the "Misheel Expo". 

Apart from exhibitions and fairs, the MNCCI will co-organize international exhibitions that are scheduled in the USA, Vietnam, China and Chinese Taipei.

The "CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2014" construction equipment, technology and product breakthrough will take place March 4-8 in Las Vegas, USA; the "Hanoi 2014" international exhibition—April 16-19 in Hanoi, Vietnam; "Canton Fair 2014" China import and export fair—on April 15-19 in Guangzhou, China; "Taipei 2014" food tech and pharmaceutical tech exhibition—on June 25-28 in Taipei; and the Northeast Asia investment and trade export—September 6-11 in Changchun, China.  

Link to article

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Ulaanbaatar

Ulaanbaatar welcomes warmest and clearest new year in decades

January 3 (UB Post) Ulaanbaatar has enjoyed the warmest and clearest new year celebrations in decades with an average temperature of a relatively warm minus eight degrees Celsius.

Perhaps the most welcoming sight was the clear air on the morning of the first day of 2014. UB Air Quality, a Facebook group which provides a report on the capital's air conditions every three hours, reported that between 00:00-03:00 and 12:00-15:00 the air pollution rate was "moderate," for the first time in weeks. Since October, the group's reports on air quality have usually fluctuated from, "unhealthy" (24 hour exposure), to "hazardous", to "beyond index."

Many took these extraordinarily clear and warm conditions as a good sign that the year will be an unusual one with many successes. A friend of mine commented that it was like "seeing the capital in HD format."

On New Year's Day, the hottest destination for city dwellers was, as always, Central Square, which was jam-packed with residents, tourists, and visitors from rural areas. The highlight is always the Silver Night of Ulaanbaatar Concert, which this year featured popular and rising stars and groups such as A Sound, The Lemons, Choijoo, Gee, A Cool, and Rec On.

The young stars gave a spectacular performance, and the attendees – who were mostly young people and families with small children – seemed delighted with the evening's events.

The only downside to the performances were the song choices, which were sometimes extremely sad and somber songs, or included inappropriate language for children.

The performance, in my opinion, wasn't the most memorable, or maybe I've seen too many of the same kind. The highlight for me was the good weather. I can't remember a New Year's celebration event held outside when I didn't end up freezing cold from toe to nose. But at this year's event, nobody was burdened by the cold and spectators were able to focus on the events rather than trying to stay warm.
The square was decorated with lights all around and "New Year" trees. Tents were set up in the south-western corner offering hot drinks, food and other merchandise, and the stage for the Silver Night of Ulaanbaatar stood on the west side of the square. The many hundreds of people gathered around the stage to see their favorite performers made it nearly impossible to approach the stage. To my surprise, fires were lit in barrels in many places.

The police were extremely busy on New Year's Eve, patrolling the city center and managing traffic around the square. Most of the roads and parking spots were closed and reserved for the special public transportation routes for the evening and Silver Night of Ulaanbaatar guests.

All districts in Ulaanbaatar organized their own community New Year's celebrations this year, which was ordered in early December by Mayor E.Bat-Uul.

The New Year is one of the biggest events of the year in Mongolia, but the holidays and festivities haven't ended yet as Tsagaan Sar (Lunar New Year) will be on February 1 this year. Tsagaan Sar can be equated to Christmas, as more or less the same traditions unfold. People rush to buy goods for the feast, and prepare presents for children and adults alike. Families reunite to honor their elders, and welcome the lunar new year.

Link to article

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Diplomacy

Symposium: Mongolian Responses to Globalization

Department for Mongolian and Tibetan Studies, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

January 15-17, 2014, Bonn, Germany

Organizer: Ines Stolpe

The event is designed as a workshop in order to foster lively discussions on issues and topics concerning contemporary Mongolia – including their historical backgrounds. Our primary goal is a productive exchange of ideas. We will focus on: processes of social, economic, political and cultural change within shifting global contexts and horizons, new orientations (partially caused by foreign/new influences), changing normative ideas (including new ideals, neo-traditional tendencies), as well as processes of 'mongolisation'. As framework we will use the multiple and entangled relations between pre-socialist, socialist and post socialist notions of globalisation.

Symposium Website

Link to Mongolia Focus announcement

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Social, Environmental and Other

Wyoming fossil retailer pleads guilty to smuggling dinosaur and other fossils into the US from China and Mongolia

CHEYENNE, Wyo., January 2 (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) — A Wyoming fossil retailer pleaded guilty Thursday to an Information charging conspiracy to smuggle dinosaur and other fossilized bones into the United States from China and Mongolia.

This guilty plea was announced by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Wyoming. This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

John Richard Rolater, 69, pleaded guilty to the charge and also agreed to surrender any and all contraband vertebrate fossils he has, which include the following fossils from China: a saber-toothed cat skull, a Feilongus fossil, an Anchiornis Huxleyi fossil and a Darwinopterus fossil.

As part of the plea agreement, Rolater also agreed to pay a $25,000 fine, and to two years of supervised probation. A formal sentencing date has not yet been set.

Rolater owns and operates two "By Nature Gallery" retail stores in Jackson, Wyo., and Beaver Creek, Colo.

"These fossils had been illegally exported from China and Mongolia, and then illegally imported into the United States," said Kumar C. Kibble, special agent in charge of HSI Denver, which includes Wyoming. "Without the vigilance of Homeland Security Investigations, and our law enforcement partners, wholesale looting of a country's historical and cultural artifacts would be a free-for-all for any profiteer."

This investigation began in June 2012 following a hot-line tip which was forwarded to HSI special agents in Casper, Wyo. The tipster reported that a Tyrannosaurus Bataar fossilized skull being sold by Rolater in his Jackson, Wyo., store was originally from Mongolia. However, immediately after the HSI seizure of a separate Bataar skull was publicized in New York, the Bataar skull displayed in Rolater's Jackson, Wyo., store was removed. HSI special agents obtained a search warrant and discovered the skull June 22, 2012 hidden in a closet of the rented residence of the store's director, which was owned by Rolater.

HSI special agents executed another search warrant at Rolater's Eagle, Colo., residence Aug. 1, 2012. They discovered and seized the following items: a fossilized Gallimimus foot, six computers, two electronic storage devices, a box of business documents from Rolater, and a fossilized juvenile Bataar skull, which was hidden in the crawl space of Rolater's house.

Both China and Mongolia have extensive cultural patrimony laws that specifically protect prehistoric fossils.

During this investigation, HSI seized the following smuggled fossils, which will ultimately be repatriated back to their country of origin:

CHINA ORIGIN:

MONGOLIA ORIGIN:

ITEM

ESTIMATED VALUE

ITEM

ESTIMATED VALUE

Micro-Raptor (4)

$173,000

Bataar Skull (3)

$1,875,000

Dinosaur Eggs (10)

$5,075

Bataar lower leg (1)

$75,000

Keichosaurus (15)

$3,990

Gallimimus foot (1)

$18,750

Sinovenator (2)

$70,000

Protoceratops (1)

$100,000

Anchiormis (1)

$30,000

Gallimimus skeleton (1)

$100,000

HSI plays a leading role in criminal investigations that involve the illegal importation and distribution of cultural property, including the illicit trafficking of cultural property, especially objects that have been reported lost or stolen. The HSI Office of International Affairs, through its 75 attaché offices in 48 countries, works closely with foreign governments to conduct joint investigations, when possible.

HSI's specially trained investigators, assigned to both domestic and international offices, partner with governments, agencies and experts to protect cultural antiquities. They also provide cultural property investigative training to law enforcement partners for crimes involving stolen property and art, and how to best enforce the law to recover these items when they emerge in the marketplace.

Since 2007, more than 7,150 artifacts have been returned to 26 countries, including paintings from France, Germany, Poland and Austria, 15th to 18th century manuscripts from Italy and Peru, as well as cultural artifacts from China, Cambodia and Iraq.

Link to release

 

Mongolia sees highest number of births in 23 years, announces 2014 as year to support maternal health

January 3 /news.mn/ The Ministry of Health held an opening ceremony on Thursday announcing 2014 as the year to support maternal and children"s health. The ceremony was attended by medical officials from provincial health departments, state hospitals and specialists in charge of maternal and children`s health at health centers as well as executives of the Ministry of Health. 

In the first 11 months of this year 73,075 women gave birth and 73,445 new babies were born. The year 2013 saw the highest birth rate in 23 years compared to 1990 when 73,209 women gave birth. The National Statistics Committee has observed that  2013 marks the height of population growth in Mongolia. 

The mortality rate is down to 5.9 percent and the maternal mortality ratio 5.9 (pro mille). Child mortality, also known as under-5 mortality, ratio was 0.9 (pro mille) in 2013. 

Mongolia has undertaken a big step completing the Millennium Development Target 4 to reduce by two-thirds the under-five mortality ratio and Target 5A to reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio, between 1990 and 2015. The Ministry of Health aims to keep it stabilized and to further reduce the under-five mortality and maternal mortality ratios to the lower level of Asia Pacific countries. 

Nationwide the child and maternity mortality ratio has been reduced but the ratio is still higher in remote regions and provinces of Mongolia. The main contributing factors to the varying ratios are lack of association between social sectors to secure maternal and child health, inequality of medical services in remote regions and the lateness of medical services and emergency services due to domestic migration. Report shows that the maternal and child mortality ratio is higher in western and central regions.

There is an expectation of reform to the health sector among communities in Mongolia. More prompt and qualified medical services are required. But the issue of maternal and children's health is considered the most serious problem in the Health sector. 

Therefore the Ministry of Health has announced 2014 to be the year to support maternal and child health.

Link to article

 

Human Rights Commission Launches 24-Hour Hotline

Ulaanbaatar, January 3 /MONTSAME/ The National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia Wednesday announced its launching of a human rights hotline.

Through the 7000 0222 line, the Commission is to monitor and to react promptly to human right emergencies. The hotline directly connects the victims and witnesses of human rights violations and their relatives to the staffers responsible for complaints and to related inspections in the Commission.

Connecting to the 24 hours open hotline, callers can receive legal consultations on the matter and report any urgent complaints on human rights violations and other forms of abuse.

Before the launching of the hotline, a team led by a Commission member P.Oyunchimeg visited eastern provinces of Dornod and Sukhbaatar to run training sessions on fighting against human trafficking, discrimination, and sexual harassment in labor relations for employees of the provinces' Court Decision Implementation Agencies. 

Link to article

 

Mongolia: Development Operational Plan 2014

January 3 (International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies) --

1. Executive Summary

Mongolia has experienced a series of rapid social changes which are the result of a combination of socio-political, economic factors and natural disasters. The displacement and relocation of a large percentage of the country's population to the capital city – Ulaanbaatar – has put immense pressure on existing public services, and in some respects, could lead to significant social challenges for the nation as a whole within the next decade or so. The exponential economic growth driven by the mining industry, coupled with an immature social policy framework and a weak safety net, is resulting in a widening social gap which has the potential to lead to a possible social crisis if not addressed. To date, large numbers of people who appear not to have benefited from the current mining ventures are relocating in urban areas particularly in the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar.

Against this social background, the Mongolian Red Cross Society (MRCS) continues to strive to deliver services which are relevant and sustainable in an effort to address the challenges faced by the population and actively seeks to continually improve its organizational capacities to address emerging issues. To that effect the International Federation Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Mongolia country office supports the MRCS to implement their Strategy 2011-2015 and assist with the alignment of their activities with Strategy 2020.

The IFRC's Mongolia country office has been successfully supporting a range of initiatives of the MRCS in different areas such as health and care, disaster preparedness and response, and youth development over the past 17 years. The country office support is outlined in LTPF 2012-2015 and the following key areas are deemed as continued priority for the next four years: 1. Organizational development and capacity building 2. Disaster management – strengthening of systems and implementation of activities 3. Health and care programme – capacity development and implementation of activities

Link to report page

 

Ex-CMU soccer player signs in Thailand

January 2 (The Sedalia Democrat) Former Central Methodist University mens soccer forward Murun Althankhuyag has become the first player born in Mongolia to sign a professional soccer contract.

The native of Mongolian capital Ulan Bator, the 24-year old scored 18 goals and six assists in 37 games with the Eagles in three season from 2010-2012. (Mogi: wow, pretty good scoring record)

He signed with Krabi FC of Division I, the second level of Thailand's league system. Krabi finished ninth in 2013.

After tryouts with several clubs in Thailand, Althankhuyag also had a tryout in Laos and was offered a contract by a club there before choosing to play in Thailand.

"I couldn't be happier for Murun," said Central Methodist coach Dan Schmidlin. "He was a great player for our University and will represent the Eagles and Mongolia well during his professional career."

Link to article

 

Part-time Bozemanite researches U.S., Mongolian wolverines

January 2 (Billings Gazette) She was told not to get her hopes up, that some people had worked on wolverine studies for 20 years and never seen one of the creatures in the wild.

So Rebecca Watters wasn't expecting much on the backpacking trip into Montana's Absaroka Mountains six years ago — a scouting trip seeking signs of wolverines.

While washing dinner dishes near a stream she heard her trip leader, wildlife biologist Jason Wilmot, screaming at his dog.

"Dusty! No!" he yelled. Watters couldn't imagine what was happening, but her senses went on high alert. The Absarokas, after all, are grizzly and black bear country. As it turned out, Wilmot's pup was on a collision course with a curious wolverine that had wandered over to investigate the campers along the talus slope.

Luckily, Dusty heeded his master, and the wolverine hung around for 17 minutes, popping its head up from different locations like a feral jack-in-the-box. Watters said the encounter, although brief, had a "profound effect" on her life.

"They're just such smart animals," Watters said. "You can tell there's something going on in their mind."

Wolverine move

This single meeting with the largest member of the weasel family launched Watters into a new obsession. Since she was a child growing up in the Boston suburb of Southborough, Mass., Watters had been fascinated by wild animals and wild places.

"When I was 3, I became obscenely obsessed with whales," she confessed over coffee in a Bozeman shop.

A self-described science geek, many of her childhood summers were spent with her parents and younger sister in a New Hampshire cabin built in the 1920s that had no running water, insulation or television. Spare time was spent exploring the mountains.

College and the Peace Corps saw her scratch an adventuresome itch with studies and work in Kenya, Cambodia — where armed motorcycle guards had

to accompany her into the jungle — and Mongolia. She now speaks Mongolian and has acted as a translator for other groups traveling there.

"One reason I went to Mongolia as a Peace Corps volunteer was because it reminded me of the West," Watters said.

That one backpacking trip into the Montana mountains had reaffirmed for her something she had discovered at an early age: she loved vast open spaces and the creatures that inhabited them.

"I'm more interested in wildlife than dealing with people's issues with wildlife," she said, a fact driven home by her graduate research on wolf reintroduction, the work that brought her to Bozeman, now her part-time home.

Spring quest

With wolverines on the brain and a fascination with the wildlands of Mongolia, the 37-year-old Watters last spring got a chance to further combine the two interests. She applied for and received a grant to explore Mongolia's Dharhad region on skis to search for wolverine sign.

The work would be a follow-up to research she began in 2009 as she interviewed hunters and herders in Mongolia about wolverine sightings, animals that had not been formally documented in the country.

"People up there say they see wolverines all of the time," she said. "And they have the pelts to prove it."

Accompanying her last spring were Utah photographer Jim Harris, Jackson Hole mountain guide Forrest McCarthy, wolverine researcher Wilmot and Gregg Treinish of the Bozeman group Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation.

The expedition was a learning experience for Watters. During the spring trip, she skied 230 miles for a month with the four men into the sprawling mountainous region — her first time skiing with a backpack and her first extended winter camping trip.

"This was my first long expedition, so there was plenty of learning for me," she wrote in her blog. "But they were, in a way, my mountains; I'd traveled around in them in bits and pieces over the course of twelve years, and they felt comfortable. Living in the cold, camping in the snow, and bundled into layers of warm winter clothing, we became snow beasts of the Darhad, too."

As the travelers entered northwestern Mongolia, Watters seemed to have packed her earlier luck in the Absarokas along.

"We predicted that if we were lucky, we would find four or five sets of tracks during the trip," Watters said. "Instead, within 45 minutes on the first day we found tracks.

"We began to realize that we needed to step back from our assumptions," she said.

Admittedly, some of the tracks were old and could have been made by the same animal. But following a snowstorm that erased any old tracks, the group found fresh sign, and continued to find tracks in every drainage they skied.

"The only days we didn't see tracks were when we were in the lower part of the valley where there was no snow, and when we saw herders migrating and they had trampled the snow," Watters said.

Mongolian mountains

The explorers were traversing huge, remote valleys, at an elevation of about 5,000 feet, surrounded by 10,000-foot mountains. Temperatures would commonly drop below zero at night, and sugary snow made trail breaking tedious and physically draining.

"There's almost nothing between you and the Arctic Circle," Watters said. "That's not to say it's uninhabited, but it's habited in a way that makes it feel intact."

They were traveling in the Horidol Saridag mountains in the province of Khuvsgul, which is also the name for a huge freshwater lake in the province just south of Russia.

The trip crossed into two recently protected areas, the Ulaan Taiga Strictly Protected Area and Tengis Shishged National Park. The regions were set aside as the country copes with offsetting the effects of an expanding mining industry, illegal logging and an increase in the number of livestock that are grazed across the countryside.

The nation's protected areas, which cover about 16 percent of the country, are home to Mongolia's most endangered species, including the snow leopard and gobi bear.

Along the way the American travelers were resupplied twice as they made a large loop through the region that is also home to moose, elk and possibly snow leopards.

"It's an unstudied system," Watters said. "Baseline on all of the species is pretty limited."

Back for more

In 2014, Watters plans to return to Mongolia as director of the Mongolian Wolverine Project with remote cameras to set up baited stations to lure animals into camera range. Donations should provide her with 16 cameras, which also have the potential to capture photos of the elusive snow leopard.

She hopes to stay through December, exploring the area that in some respects has become a second home.

Watters stressed "the huge importance of cultural and local knowledge to the research endeavor. I couldn't do it without the openness and the generosity of the communities in which I work."

Ultimately, Watters would like to set up a collaring operation to track the travels of Mongolian wolverines. That will take more grants, and more grant writing, on Watters' part — one of her duties when she's not off on expeditions into the wilds. In the end, when the data is analyzed and published, she hopes to show how information about Mongolian wolverines may hold keys to preserving the animals in the lower 48 states.

"It's an animal of the cold and snow," she said. "Whatever the exact mechanics are that drives that, the loss of snow will have an effect on the population."

Link to article

 

Mongolia project highlights Denver Zoo's global research and conservation effort

January 2 (Denver Post) Most visitors think they've left the Denver Zoo when they step through the turnstile at City Park, never imagining that its borders now stretch to a windswept park in Mongolia, the wetlands surrounding Lake Titicaca in Peru, and Botswana's Kalahari Desert.

"We are much more than the 80-acre footprint that we occupy in City Park," zoo veterinarian David Kenny said.

"The zoo is a venue for us to reach lots of people, but the field work is where we get to contribute in an up-close and personal way."

In 2011, the United Nations Development Programme designated the Denver Zoo's work in Mongolia's Ikh Nart Nature Reserve a "model program" for other global conservation efforts.

Ikh Nart consists of about 160,000 acres in central Mongolia, on the edge of the Gobi Desert. At 4,000 feet high, Ikh Nart looks a lot like the eastern plains of Wyoming — vast, dry grasslands punctuated by rocky outcrops.

On those rocks, cinereous vultures, enormous birds that weigh about 18 to 21 pounds each, make huge nests so sturdy they can support an adult man. Durian and long-eared hedgehogs live inside the rock crevices. So does the Pallas' coluber, a snake species that was the subject of an award-winning research project by L. Ankhbayar, a Mongolian student working with the Denver Zoo.

For 16 years, teams led by Denver Zoo staff have worked with Mongolian students on research projects that establish a baseline of knowledge about the wildlife in Ikh Nart, and teach the Mongolians how to become conservationists, wildlife veterinarians and researchers.

"Mongolia is our largest program," said Ganchimeg Wingard, the Mongolia program director and a native of Mongolia.

When the project began, Ikh Nart was what field zoologists call a paper park — an area that the government officially designated as a protected nature reserve, but without funding or other support.

"What we did was work with the Mongolian government and non-governmental organizations to take a paper park — a park that exists on paper, but isn't actively managed — and developed a program to transform it into a managed park with sustainable funding," explained veterinarian Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, a member of the Denver Zoo's board of directors who also spends several weeks each year in Ikh Nart.

"It involves research, setting up an administration, collecting data for a protected area so we could zone it, doing a lot of training. Hiring rangers. Putting up signs so people knew it was a protected area. Setting up women's groups and tourist camps so the local people there could benefit from tourists."

Before the Denver Zoo got involved with Ikh Nart, not much scientific data had been collected about the area's native animals, many of which are at risk.

From March to October, Wingard, Reading, Kenny and other Denver Zoo staffers join Mongolian students and volunteers from the Earthwatch Institute, to live in Ikh Nart.

To study the vultures, researchers climb to the nests to gently catch and bag chicks to be weighed, tested, measured, banded and outfitted with backpacks installed with chips that digitally track their movement. The chicks are returned to the nests. Some of those chicks are the progeny of adult vultures that also wear bands and backpacks that were installed during their fledgling days.

For Ikh Nart to continue as a self-sustaining program, managers must be able to document their work according to international scientific standards.

"We help the Mongolian students with fine-tuning the research," Fitzgerald said.

"They have convinced the local government of its worth. The value of a zoo doing this kind of conservation work is so unknown. The Denver Zoo is much more than animals in cages."

Denver Zoo visitors often are surprised to find out about the zoo's global conservation programs, said Kenny. "When visitors ask why we have a Mongolian ger (yurt) at the zoo, and we start describing our projects in Mongolia and other parts of the world, they are totally blown away."

Claire Martin: 303-954-1477, cmartin@denverpost.com or twitter.com/byclairemartin

Zoo without borders

The Denver Zoo sponsors research projects throughout the world, and recently was recognized by the United Nations for its program at Mongolia's Ikh Nart Nature Reserve.

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Munkhdul Badral Bontoi

Founder & CEO

Email: mogi@covermongolia.mn

Mobile: +976 9999 6779

Skype: mogibb

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