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Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
KCC closed +9.09% to C$0.06, +200% YTD
Kincora Copper Limited: Exploration Update-Drilling Commenced at Bronze Fox
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - May 27, 2014) - Kincora Copper Limited (the "Company", "Kincora") (TSX VENTURE:KCC) is pleased to announce drilling activities have commenced at high priority copper porphyry targets, following initial exploration activities having already resumed at Bronze Fox.
The 2014 field season programme has been designed, and is funded, to primarily advance and test a number of large scale copper porphyry targets focused at the West Kasulu, Sophie North and Leca Pass prospects situated around the Bronze Fox Intrusive Complex ("BFIC"). The BFIC is located on our wholly owned 15000X exploration license and does not cross into any neighboring licenses. A detailed exploration review, including initial designed drill holes, has taken place by senior executive management during recent weeks in Ulaanbaatar following various ground truthing site visits and integration of known geology and geophysics.
Drilling activities will focus on areas of known mineralization that remain largely untested with subsequent Induced Polarization ("IP"), alternation and/or fertility analysis assisting vector to areas of potential high grade mineralization. Such targets include the last hole drilled in December 2012, F72, which returned localized copper of +4% on the periphery of a then untested IP chargeability high and in the western region, approximately 1km along strike, of previous drilling at the West Kasulu prospect.
Kincora is pleased to also announce the appointment of Henry Tebar as Principal Geologist as well as the addition of a number of high quality local geologists to our existing team. Henry has extensive copper and base metals exploration experience in various emerging and frontier countries, with proven porphyry orebody discovery experience. Henry is familiar with Bronze Fox via his previous role as President and Chief Geologist of the Trafigura Origo Joint Venture in Mongolia, has extensive knowledge of various regional opportunities and has an existing working relationship with Kincora's Director of Exploration, Yawen Cao.
Following a detailed tendering process, Kincora has signed Major Drilling LLC as its drilling contractor. Major Drilling is widely regarded as the leading drilling contractor in Mongolia in terms of experience, team and safety with current excess capacity in-country. Two UDR1500 Multi-Purpose and one 685 Schramm Reverse Circulation (RC) rigs have been mobilized with the team from Oyu Tolgoi, to Bronze Fox, with RC pre-collars planned before diamond drilling at most copper porphyry targets.
Trenching activities have also commenced at the Happy Geo prospect following promising recent surface sample results and corresponding integrated geophysical analysis. Further details on the Happy Geo prospect are provided on the following page.
Commenting on today's announcement, Sam Spring, President and CEO of Kincora, said:
"The last quarter has been a busy period for the Company setting the foundation for an exciting stage with exploration and drilling activities recently commencing. Kincora has a unique mix of experienced geologists, drillers, senior management and is exploring one of the most advanced and prospective copper projects in Mongolia, as we look to replicated a similar programme to that successfully executed in 2001 by the then Ivanhoe Mines (now Turquoise Hill Resources) which led to the "discovery hole" at Oyu Tolgoi.
The primary focus remains large-scale copper porphyry targets that have been actively advanced in the last 18 months since we last drilled at Bronze Fox, where we previously returned very promising results. Furthermore, the gold potential across the project is being pursued, noting that approximately a third of all holes previously drilled at Bronze Fox have returned intervals of at least 1g/t gold, with activities focused on the Happy Geo prospect where no previous drilling has taken place, consistent high grade surfaces have been returned with favourable corresponding geophysics. Other corporate initiatives to add shareholder value are being advanced following the private placement."
The Company will continue to inform the market of its exploration progress.
Happy Geo Prospect
PML last traded 1.5c on May 21
Parmelia Resources: Resignation and Appointment of Non-Executive Director
May 26 -- Parmelia Resources Limited (ASX:PML) advises that Mr Leigh Junk has resigned as Non-Executive Director of the Company. Mr Junk was a founding director of the Company and the Board would like to thank him for his valued contribution to PML and wishes him all the best for the future.
The Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Jay Stephenson as Non-Executive Director.
Bio of Mr Jay Stephenson
Mr Stephenson holds a Master of Business Administration, is a Fellow Certified Practicing Accountant, a Certified Management Accountant (Canada), a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Secretaries and is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Mr Stephenson has been involved in business development for over 25 years including approximately 21 years as Director, Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary for various listed and unlisted entities in resources, manufacturing, wine, hotels and property. He has been involved in business acquisitions, mergers, initial public offerings, capital raisings, business restructuring as well managing all areas of finance for companies.
Mr Stephenson is currently a non-executive Chairman of Quintessential Resources Limited, and is a Director of Drake Resources Limited, Doray Minerals Limited, Strategic Minerals Corporation NL, and Nickelore Limited as well as Company Secretary for a number of ASX-listed resource and industrial companies.
Parmelia Resources Limited (ASX:PML) is a Perth, Western Australia based mineral exploration company with a focus on exploration for copper and gold with active projects in the Eastern Goldfields region of Western Australia and the Gobi-Altai province of Western Mongolia.
MSE News for May 26: Top 20 -0.9%, Turnover ₮15.8 Million
Ulaanbaatar, May 26 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades held Monday, a total of 22 thousand and 519 shares of 31 JSCs were traded costing MNT 15 million 846 thousand and 569.63.
"Hermes center" /5,900 units/, "Silikat" /4,000 units/, "Moninjbar" /2,429 units/, "E-trans logistics" /2,000 units/ and "Genco tour bureau" /1,860 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Gobi" (MNT one million 821 thousand and 050), "Baganuur" (MNT one million 755 thousand and 940), "Eermel" (MNT one million 615 thousand and 650), "Tavantolgoi" (MNT one million 530 thousand and 690) and "Sharyn gol" (MNT one million 012 thousand and 500).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 552 billion 884 million 492 thousand and 715. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,236.53, decreasing by MNT 137.89 or 0.90% against the previous day.
MSE News for May 27: Top 20 -0.73% to 15,125.4, Turnover ₮11.1 Million
Ulaanbaatar, May 27 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades held Tuesday, a total of 8,745 shares of 17 JSCs were traded costing MNT 11 million 115 thousand and 151.14.
"State Department Store" /2,340 units/, "Remikon" /2,100 units/, "Khokh gan" /1,300 units/, "Genco tour bureau" /1,158 units/ and "Nako tulsh" /500 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Talkh chikher" (MNT five million 067 thousand and 490), "State Department Store" (MNT one million 233 thousand and 492), "Darkhan nekhii" (MNT one million and 500), "Gobi (MNT 700 thousand and 950) and "Gazar suljmel" (MNT 700 thousand).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 537 billion 450 million 760 thousand and 650. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,125.40, decreasing by MNT 111.13 or 0.73% against the previous day.
BoM MNT Rates: Tuesday, May 27 Close
May MNT Chart:
BoM issues ₮288 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +11.4% to ₮713.7 billion
May 26 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 288 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
BoM FX auction: $23.7 million, CNY31 million sold at ₮1,822, ₮292.8; $32.3 million MNT swap offers accepted
May 27 (Bank of Mongolia) On the Foreign Exchange Auction held on May 27th, 2014 the BOM has received from local commercial banks bid offer of USD and CNY. The BOM has sold 23.7 million USD as closing rate of MNT 1822.00 and 31.0 million CNY as closing rate of MNT 292.80.
On May 27th, 2014, The BOM has received MNT Swap agreement bid offer in equivalent to 32.3 million USD from local commercial banks and accepted the offer.
BoM: Small Transfers Now Possible 24/7
May 27 (Cover Mongolia) Bank of Mongolia, starting from May 23, 2014, has made bank transactions of less than ₮1 million possible to make in real time or 24/7.
Moody's affirms Mongolia's B1 sovereign rating, changes outlook to negative
Singapore, May 26, 2014 (Moody's Investors Service) -- Moody's Investors Service has changed the outlook on Mongolia's government bond rating to negative from stable. Concurrently, Moody's has affirmed the government's issuer and bond B1 ratings, the government's senior unsecured MTN rating at (P)B1 and the issuer's short-term Not Prime isuer rating. In a related rating action, Moody's has changed the outlook on the rating of the government-owned Development Bank of Mongolia LLC (DBM) to negative from stable, and affirmed DBM's senior unsecured B1 rating and its senior unsecured MTN (P)B1 rating. Since DBM's payment obligations carry a credit guarantee of the government of Mongolia, its debt obligations justify a rating at the same level as the government of Mongolia.
Mongolia's long-term local currency country risk ceiling is affirmed at Ba3, while the long-term foreign currency bond and bank deposit ceilings are affirmed at Ba3 and B2, respectively. The foreign currency short-term debt and deposit ceilings are affirmed at Not Prime. These ceilings act as a cap on ratings that can be assigned to the foreign and local currency obligations of entities domiciled in the country.
RATIONALE FOR CHANGING THE RATING OUTLOOK TO NEGATIVE
Moody's decision to change Mongolia's outlook to negative is driven by a rise in the external debt burden over recent years, a sharp fall in foreign exchange reserves, and escalating credit growth since 2013. These developments increase the possibility of a currency or external payments crisis over the next few years. At the same time, elevated inflation and rapid credit growth threaten banking system stability, and could have negative feedback effects on the balance of payments. Unpredictability in Mongolia's investment regime further exacerbates risks to the external position and to government finances, which are highly reliant on mining revenues.
First driver -- A build-up in the external debt burden
In absolute terms, external debt has nearly doubled over the last two years to $18.9 billion in 2013. At 156.8% of GDP, this is significantly above the median for country peers rated B1 to B3. As a share of current account receipts, the increase is even steeper, rising to 352.0% in 2013 from 162.2% in 2011, again above the peer median. Dependence on market funding has also risen in recent years with the issuance of global bonds and a sharp decline in concessional external borrowing. Overall domestic public debt has ratcheted up since 2009. Given that foreign currency-denominated borrowing accounts for a very significant portion of total general government debt, a potentially weakening currency will further increase Mongolia's repayment burden.
The Bank of Mongolia's expansionary monetary policy stance -- accompanied by off-budget spending and investment that circumvents fiscal responsibility legislation -- has resulted in an uptick in external and domestic government liabilities. An equally sharp build-up in private-sector external debt has largely been driven by investment-related intercompany lending.
Second driver -- Heightened strains on the external liquidity position
Strain in the external liquidity position has become increasingly evident over the past year with the decline in gross international reserves to $2.4 billion as of January 2014, from $4.1 billion in December 2012.
Pressures in the balance of payments are evident in both the current and capital accounts. Weak global commodity prices and muted demand from China have resulted in subdued export growth. While this has been accompanied by a contraction in imports so far, expansionary policies are fueling demand pressures that could result in a rise in import growth in the future. Concurrently, FDI inflows have seen a sharp deceleration, due to the completion of the first phase of the Oyu Tolgoi mining project and an uncertain investment policy.
Continued monetary expansion would add to inflationary pressures, increasing the risk of capital flight, and further weaken the external payments position. It would also exacerbate budgetary debt financing costs.
Third driver -- Rapid credit growth
Loose monetary policies pursued by the central bank since 2013 have fueled rapid credit growth, which will cross our definitional threshold for a credit boom if this year's pace matches the 104.9% average increase seen in 2013. This could undermine asset quality and pose substantial systemic risks, given difficulties for banks in fully pricing in borrowers' credit risks due to loan rate caps, concentrated lending to the real estate sector, and the possibility that refinancing will become a challenge once expansionary policy is withdrawn.
RATIONALE FOR AFFIRMING THE B1 GOVERNMENT BOND RATING
The affirmation of Mongolia's B1 sovereign rating reflects the fact that although external liquidity is strained, a balance of payments crisis does not appear imminent, since there are no significant maturing debt obligations this year and the first large sovereign bond repayment is not due until 2017.
In addition, a gradual phase-out of monetary stimulus measures has begun. This may help dampen demand pressures, although with a lag.
WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING -- UP/DOWN
Key factors that could prompt an upward movement in the outlook and eventually in the rating include: (1) greater price and exchange rate stability; (2) a replenishment of official foreign exchange reserves; (3) a track record of adherence to fiscal rules; (4) steady mineral resource development under a stable and predictable investment regime that would improve the country's long-term fiscal and economic prospects.
Triggers for a downward movement in the rating include: (1) a continued rapid rise in external debt or decline in official international reserves; (2) the endurance of high loan growth and inflationary pressures; (3) persistent off-budget fiscal spending and slippage in adherence to fiscal responsibility legislation; (4) setbacks to foreign direct investment in Mongolia.
GDP per capita (PPP basis, US$): 5,885 (2013 Actual) (also known as Per Capita Income)&Real GDP growth (% change): 11.7% (2013 Actual) (also known as GDP Growth)&Inflation Rate (CPI, % change Dec/Dec): 12.3% (2013 Actual) &Gen. Gov. Financial Balance/GDP: -1.4% (2013 Actual) (also known as Fiscal Balance)&Current Account Balance/GDP: -26.5% (2013 Actual) (also known as External Balance)&External debt/GDP: 156.8% (2013 Actual) &Level of economic development: Low level of economic resilience &Default history: At least one default event (on bonds and/or loans) has been recorded since 1983.
On 21 May 2014, a rating committee was called to discuss the rating of the Mongolia, Government of. Views raised included: The issuer's fiscal or financial strength, including its debt profile, has materially decreased. The issuer has become increasingly susceptible to event risks.
The principal methodology used in these ratings was Sovereign Bond Ratings published in September 2013. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.
The weighting of all rating factors is described in the methodology used in this rating action, if applicable.
Growing Pains: An external analysis of the Mongolian economy
By James Watkins
May 27 (UB Post) It is immediately clear to all external observers that Mongolia's is a unique and fascinating economy. With the fifth highest growth rate in the world in 2013 according to the CIA World Factbook, Mongolia's ongoing rapid transition from nomadic agriculture to booming industry, and from a planned economy to competitive markets, ever since the democratic revolution in 1990, makes the country a hugely interesting case study for an economist.
However, it is clear that the economic outlook is not all rosy. High inflation creates economic uncertainty, erodes wealth, and imposes unnecessary economic inefficiencies, all of which deter valuable investment, as well as diminishing the proceeds of growth that improve individuals' living standards. Inflation threatens to derail the economy, as Mongolia increasingly becomes a less attractive recipient of foreign investment.
What problems face Mongolia?
The economy faces dual issues that create the need for both short-term and long-term strategies. The deeper issue is one of economic dependence on export revenues from primary industry (mining) and therefore the country relies on importing most of its manufactured goods, resulting in an unbalanced economy that is vulnerable to external shocks. This is exactly what has happened over the last few years in Mongolia – the business cycle has been almost wholly determined by the mineral demand of its main trading partners, Russia and China, which dipped substantially in 2007-2009, causing an economic crisis in Mongolia. This vulnerability and lack of balance must be tackled by long-term structural plans and fiscal policies pioneered by the government to change the emphasis of economic activity in the country.
The secondary problem is a consequence of the former: high inflation and a rapidly depreciating exchange rate,which are both threatening to run out of control. This must be tackled with short-term monetary policy changes led by MongolBank to stabilize the economy, but should not be considered impetus to change the necessary long-term economic strategy.
What needs to change?
Mongolians often despair that the government is pursuing policies for decades in the future while they see prices rising in the shops week by week, with annual CPI (Consumer Prices Index) inflation rate running at over 12 percent for several months, according to MongolBank, Mongolia's central bank. There is a very real dilemma here, as structural economic reform is necessary. Consumers' current woes are clearly a product of structural issues, as inflation is being caused by a weakening MNT as a result of the balance of payments deficit (imports are greater than exports), so the resulting low demand for the MNT makes the currency fall in value). This requires a long-term readjustment to improve the balance of payments by basing more production locally to boost exports and decrease reliance on imports. This would both strengthen the MNT directly, and also ensure that future international shocks, either from rising import costs or falling foreign demand, will have less of an inflationary impact in Mongolia.
However, it is clear that short-term instability in the form of inflation could weaken the strong growth of the last few years, so in addition to this long-term plan, more immediate action must also be taken now to tame inflation.
What policies can achieve both of these goals?
The trade-off between structural reform and short-term prosperity is not as stark as it currently seems. Firstly, accepted economic wisdom since the 1980s holds that the most important tool to tackle short-term inflationary issues is monetary policy. There is a proven link between money supply and prices, and monetary policy has faster effects than other policy options. Therefore, MongolBank should take bolder steps to reign in inflation and to control the exchange rate, as the IMF has proposed. In 2013, the IMF called for MongolBank to tighten monetary policy by halting its mortgage program and price stabilization program which have pumped excess liquidity into the economy, encouraging currency depreciation and inflation. Both programs are still in place. Reversing these policies, as well as more aggressive raising of interest rates to combat inflation, are steps that can quickly and effectively control the immediate inflationary crisis facing Mongolia.
Secondly, the long-term economic strategy that the government is currently pursuing should be promoted using different mechanisms. Currently, approaches such as the "Let's Construct and Create in Mongolia" program involve high government spending, investment and effective subsidies, all of which create large government budget deficits, only worsening short-term inflation.
According to the IMF, government expenditure increased by 70 percent from 2010 to 2012 – an unsustainable strategy. Instead, incentives to promote domestic production could be created through a discretionary tax system, giving tax breaks to companies in desirable industries (those that manufacture goods locally, to replace imports), and increasing tax revenues in other areas. Industry incentive tax credits have been implemented in many successful economies, principally the United States. This policy shift would achieve the same end-goal that the government is already targeting, while lessening the negative short-term consequences that high government spending currently has.
An external perspective of Mongolia in the world economy
Economists often refer to the "resource curse," a paradigm whereby most countries rich in natural resources suffer from worse development outcomes than countries who have to import minerals and fuel. This is because the resource-rich economies are excessively biased towards primary industries, leaving the nation open to turbulent and destructive boom-and-bust cycles, as well as the fact that prices rise faster in secondary products than primary goods. Whereas economies across Africa demonstrate the negative consequences of this, other nations such as Norway and the UAE show that an alternative sustainable and prosperous future is possible for resource-rich nations, so long as there is effective macroeconomic management. As these nations have shown, this involves government-sponsored investment in more diversified industries such as manufacturing and services, funded by efficient taxation policies.
All of this can be summarized as targeting sustainable growth. Mongolia's extraordinarily high growth rates of recent years are to be admired, but they are difficult to achieve continuously without experiencing the negative externalities associated with growth—inflation, environmental degradation, underinvestment in both physical and human capital, and of course the bust that inevitably follows the boom.
Mongolia is well situated for the transition towards diversification and sustainability. Compared to other economies of the same size, Mongolia has a very successful education system (with high levels of numeracy and literacy) and a sound financial system, both of which act as a strong basis to allow a more diversified economy to flourish. The increasing prosperity of all Mongolians will surely be a consequence of this more balanced economic strategy.
Government to Finance Up to One Third of Three Cement, One IV Solution Projects
May 27 (infomongolia.com) Due to approaching holiday this weekend, Mothers' and Children's Day, the Government held its regular Cabinet meeting on May 26, 2014.
In accordance with the recommendations issued by the National Security Council of Mongolia, the fund sourced from trading the Government Securities will be distributed to finance those projects and programs first to implement, following the revision made at the Policy Council meeting held on May 20, 2014.
Accordingly, it was resolved to finance the following four projects and programs that aim to replace import and increase export outputs:
- "Khukh Tsav Cement Factory" project submitted by "Mongolyn Alt" LLC to produce up to 3,000 tons of clinker a day and up to 1 million tons of cement per year;
- "Montsement" project by "Monpoliment" LLC to build a cement factory with capacity of production up to 1 million tons of cement per year;
- "Cement Factory" a joint project by "Davaat" cooperative with all members full liability and "Erchim" JSC to produce up to 300 thousand tons of cement per year;
- "Intravenous Solution Manufacture" project by "Enkhiin Shuuder" LLC to produce up to 7 million flacons per year.
The finance for above four projects in construction and health sectors will be allocated via Development Bank assigned by Minister of Economic Development N.Batbayar and Development Bank's Board of Directors in Link to article.
Government to Finance Four Plant Projects – Montsame, May 27
Groundbreaking Ceremony Held for Government Subsidized 7,000 Apartment Buyant-Ukhaa-2 Complex
Ulaanbaatar, May 27 (MONTSAME) This state-run Corporation intends to realize a policy on providing people with apartments of affordable prices and to implement a discount policy for a targeted group.
The corporation's director A.Gantulga said it at the "Hours of great constructions" weekly meeting Monday. He also said the National Great Construction Corporation has been selected to implement a project on "Buyant-Ukhaa" apartment town, which will take USD 50 million from the Development Bank of Mongolia (DBM) and employ 1,500 people.
It is projected that prices of the apartments will be MNT one million 280 thousand per square meter, 25-30% cheaper of the current market price, Gantulga said, adding that 1,764 flats have been put into use already, waiting for buyers.
Some 1,500 people--state servants, seniors, the disabled and young families mostly--have satisfied the condition for receiving the flats after nearly six thous. had applied through the automatic machines of governmental services. Now, 224 one-room flats, 33-39 square meters each, out of 1,764 are left empty, so these flats will be given to people in accordance with governmental guidelines, Gantulga said.
A foundation stone laying ceremony took place Monday for the "Buyant-Ukhaa-2" apartment town, he went on. This town will have some 7,000 flats, a kindergarten for 280, a secondary school for 980, a service center, a cultural center and seven-storey garage. Some 2,500 flats are expected to be put into use this year, he said.
The corporation's authorities reported that a programme launched to build 1,000 flats in centers of every aimag. The construction is to start in Uvs, Khovd, Arkhangai and Khovd aimags, they added.
Cabinet to Present Tavan Tolgoi Matter to NSC as Part of Economic Stimulus Plan
Ulaanbaatar, May 27 (MONTSAME) The Cabinet meeting decided Monday to officially present to the National Security Council a parliamentary draft resolution on measures to be taken about the Tavan Tolgoi deposit.
It has been aimed to implement a direction stated in an appendix of a parliamentary resolution on some measures for stimulating the economy.
Directions and suggestions of the National Security Council on the matter will be submitted to parliament by the cabinet.
Cabinet to Submit Draft Law on Granting One-Time Amnesty for Tax Evasion, Financial Crimes
Ulaanbaatar, May 27 (MONTSAME) The cabinet on Monday backed draft laws on supporting the economic transparency and on granting amnesty. These bills will be submitted to parliament.
The bill on economic transparency aims to disclose sources of capitals and incomes and to impose on them taxes. By this, taxes will cover more and forged financial and tax reports will be eliminated without any fines or punishment. The draft also has clauses on the registration of real estates and legal bodies, on accounting and reports of capitals and incomes.
In conjunction with this bill, the draft law on granting amnesty has been formulated in order to regulate the relations in sanctions at the administrative responsibility law and in exemption of punishment at the criminal law. In other words, people who committed tax, finance and enterprise crimes will be freed once from the administrative responsibility and criminal punishment.
₮19 billion budgeted this year for Uvurkhangai construction projects
Ulaanbaatar, May 27 (MONTSAME) A total of 16 construction works are planned in this province this year.
Required 19 billion togrog have been allotted in the state budget. If to classify, one billion is to be spent on green construction and landscaping, five billion--for Bogd soum reform, five billion 441 million ---for improvement/construction of secondary schools and dormitories, 2.2 billion---for new sport complex, two billion 443 million--for hospital buildings, three billion--new thermal power station, 100 million will go to research into airport location, one billion--to flood dumb erection, and 720 million--to condenser installation at sub-station.
As expected, all the works will commence in June and be executed by tender-winner companies.
Unlocking Mongolia's Potential
By Julian Dierkes
May 27 (UB Post) A small, well-educated, and open-to-the-world population living in a democracy with mineral wealth? Mongolia's potential for development remains terrific.
It's this potential that keeps investors (foreign and domestic) interested in Mongolia. It's also this potential that makes Mongolia's dynamic development fascinating to a social scientist like me.
I am quite confident that Mongolia will reach its potential to benefit Mongolians in the long run. However, the actions – or rather inaction – of the current government seems to be putting that ultimate achievement of social development off by many years. On two visits to Ulaanbaatar in May, I heard a lot of fatalism and frustration about politics from Mongolians.
Once Mongolians decided to embark on a path of democratization and some form of capitalist development, mineral wealth has emerged as the strongest, if not the only basis on which to build such development. The discovery of Oyu Tolgoi made that potential all the more possible.
Yet, after some short years of growth built on Oyu Tolgoi investment, the Mongolian economy has ground to a sputtering halt. Or, more accurately, the current government has essentially stopped further development by scaring off foreign investment and delaying progress at Oyu Tolgoi while borrowing funds to paper over the resulting decline in economic activity.
When President Elbegdorj initiated the current protracted dispute with Rio Tinto in his speech to Parliament last year. He raised many important questions regarding the costs of construction and the Oyu Tolgoi governance structure. Initially it looked like there was follow-up to those questions by the shuffling of the government-appointed Oyu Tolgoi directors. The replacement of political figures with individuals who offer some substantive expertise seemed like a good sign. However, I see very little progress on any of the questions raised by Elbegdorj since then. Surely, there are private discussions with and about Rio Tinto that I have no access to, but there are no public signs of progress. I am not even sure that the government is better informed about Oyu Tolgoi activities now than a year ago.
Prime Minister Altankhuyag has been surprisingly successful at keeping together a rag-tag coalition with the MPRP and Civil Will, a coalition that seemed like an odd choice in 2012 in part because the likelihood of this coalition enduring seemed low. But despite the recurring rumors of an imminent demise of the Altankhuyag government (intensifying once again in the last several weeks), the prime minister has kept the cabinet together for the moment. But to what purpose? After a flurry of action last fall to undo some of the damage caused by the Foreign Investment Law, and a relatively quiet winter, energies during the always-turbulent-in-Mongolia spring have focused on political infighting.
As a scholar, I am very interested in questions surrounding institutional design and whether a parliament is impeded in its function when nearly 1/3 of its members are wearing the "double deel" of also serving in cabinet. But as an observer of current developments in Mongolia, I do not see this question as one that has much impact on developments. Will the Oyu Tolgoi impasse really be resolved more effectively by a cabinet of single-deel wearers?
The circumstances of attempts to remove Minister of Justice Temuujin from office also suggest that these efforts are more rooted in personalities than by disagreements over policy choices.
Will the DP's efforts to replace all officials across Mongolia down to school principals with DP-friendly individuals really lead to a better future for Mongolia?
To my mind, the top priority for any current government is to structure the environment around Oyu Tolgoi in a way that allows that project to go ahead without inflicting environmental and social damage while yielding tangible and significant benefits for Mongolians now and in the future. A well-managed Oyu Tolgoi in any form will be the cornerstone of Mongolian development, so that management must come first. A lack of progress will devastate the economy and risk social development further, while progress on Oyu Tolgoi will produce the additional resources and experience to deepen the regulatory and policy analysis capacity of the government.
I would note that there is no perfect solution to how to manage such a project. There is no sense in searching for an optimal solution when this search delays progress and leads to a decline in confidence in Mongolia and hardship to Mongolians through inflation and the decline of the Tugrik, for example. Once good practices – not necessarily best practice – have been established around Oyu Tolgoi that will produce the resources and the time to address other issues. But to reach a decision for good practice must be the most important task for the government.
I hope that the current government is devoting much more time to seeking a solution to the Oyu Tolgoi impasse than is publicly visible. I also hope that they are investing heavily in their internal resources to help build capacity to analyze options regarding Oyu Tolgoi at future decision moments. If they are not focused in such a way, they are gambling with Mongolia's future.
We don't want to give our money to scammers – "victims" of S&Ls
May 27 (UB Post) Mongolians wishing to earn easy money can often end up with financial and emotional losses. Due to specious laws and ordinances passed by the State, regular citizens are losing their money on useless things. For instance, herders and consumers are seeing the darker side of the law on compensating loss with repayment conditions. For 8,000 people who lost money on their investments, the State passed the law and then the Ministry of Justice drafted a bill on amendments to the law. Taxpayers, how long do we have to be defrauded by herders who rely on hand-outs and people who receive grants regularly? During harsh times in winter "zud" disasters, we help herders a lot, but why can't they decrease the price of meat?
For more examples of the state spending taxpayer funds on useless things, they passed a law for the 8,000 victims of a savings and credit cooperative and are now making amendments to it. Is this fair? Every spring, the victims of the savings and credit cooperative demonstrate. This year they threatened to declare a hunger strike. Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag met with their representatives and created a working group led by Kh.Temuujin, Minister of Justice. As a result, the Democratic Party made amendments to this useless law without any difficulty.
If we estimate that the Mongolian population is three million, at least one percent of the population was ripped off by the savings and credit cooperative's scam eight years ago. Taxpayer money is not meant to be spent on charity. Instead of the government passing useless laws, they should invest in the frozen tenders for building schools and kindergartens. The state should not cover the losses of the savings and credit cooperation. I will say again and again that these funds are not state property! It is taxpayer money. When the Mongolian economy has fallen and people's lives are becoming more difficult, taxpayers do not want to pay for losses on behalf of others. The government can't spend the money from billions of dollars in loans efficiently. If they really have such a huge amount of money, why can't they build schools, kindergartens and hospitals? Victims of the savings and credit cooperation may get their money from the State. How are we supposed to understand how they are spending our money?
In 2006, when a lot of savings and credit cooperatives went bankrupt, over 30 cooperatives were destroyed and the owners went to prison. In 2007, 33 billion MNT was paid to victims by order of the Minister of Finance. The following year it was, 2.1 billion MNT, for a total of 35.1 billion MNT paid to 7,290 victims.
Honestly, those victims are not the very poor, or vulnerable people in our communities. One survey said that most of them live quite well, their children study abroad, they own multiple flats and summer cottages, and run their own businesses. However, when they were talking about declaring a hunger strike, they pretended like they were really poor and shed crocodile tears. I saw someone who knew them looking and laughing. They are being guided by their greed. How do they dare to have their fingers in our pockets with the help of politicians? I question paying taxes to help these "victims". Perhaps it's time to demonstrate for terminating the law that lines their pockets.
China Investment Corporation Assures Support for $30 Billion Coal-To-Gas Project in Mongolia
May 27 (infomongolia.com) On May 26, 2014, Speaker of the State Great Khural (Parliament) Mr. Zandaakhuu ENKHBOLD received in his office the Secretary-General of the State Council and Chairman & CEO of China Investment Corporation, Mr. Ding Xuedong.
At the meeting, Mongolian side was attended by Minister of Mining, Mr. Davaajav GANKHUYAG and the other part by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the PR of China to Mongolia, Mr. Wang Xiaolong as well as other officials from both sides were also present.
At the beginning of meeting, Speaker Z.Enkhbold mentioned the discussed issues between the heads of state of the two countries during the Fourth Summit of the CICA held in Shanghai and thanked the Chinese side for supporting to strengthen the bilateral cooperation in the infrastructure sector. Moreover, parties exchanged views on coal gasification project implementation in Mongolia.
During the meeting, the Secretary-General Ding Xuedong briefed about the China Investment Corporation's activity and stated to support and assist on the implementation of the coal gasification project. Moreover, 30 billion USD of investment is required to implement the project and Mr. Ding Xuedong expressed his hope that the Parliament of Mongolia would collaborate by providing tax eases and on other relevant tasks.
In addition, he extended his satisfaction in the improvement on Mongolia's Law on Foreign Investment and expressed China's interest to increase the volume of investment into Mongolia.
Speaker Z.Enkhbold noted the head of state of the PR of China will be conducting a state visit to Mongolia in August 2014 and during the visit, a ground breaking ceremony for the coal-to-gas plant is planned, and Speaker said Mongolia is willing to collaborate with China in many other major projects that would play an important role in the future economic development of the country.
CIC Invested $1 Billion in Mongolia So Far, Willing to Invest More
Ulaanbaatar, May 27 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Economic Development N.Batbayar Monday received a delegation headed by Mr Ding Xuedong, CEO of the China Investment Corporation (CIC).
The latter expressed a willingness to make investments to the biggest projects in Mongolia. As of present, the CIC has invested USD 210 billion at international level, of which one billion has been made to Mongolia. The delegation is here to study opportunities to augment its investments.
As known, the President and the PM paid last week visits to China and Russia to back with them a "Five lines" or "Steppe ways" project on building auto roads, railways, gas and oil pipelines and electricity lines, which requires huge investments.
Since constructing of the Peace Bridge in Ulaanbaatar 50 years ago, Mongolia has not received from China big investments for the construction. Now, a recently adopted new law on investments gives investors a confidence that a realization of mutually beneficial projects and increase in investments have become more real and secure, the CIC head said.
IT Section of Parliamentary Office Attends ICT Expo 2014
Ulaanbaatar, May 25 (MONTSAME) Information Technology section of the Parliamentary Office is participating in the ICT Expo 2014 which opened May 22 in the "Misheel Expo" center.
Running for the eighth time, this year's exhibition has been organized by the Agency of Information Technology, Post and Communication in frames of the 93rd anniversary of foundation of the modern communication sector in Mongolia and World Communications and Information Society Day under a motto "Progressive technology--Smart consumption".
At the exhibition, IT experts are introducing to the public the parliament.mn website which is registered at the Inter-Parliamentary Union as well as the open.parliament.mn website, are displaying applications such as LawsMN, automatic machine for governmental services, and the "State Great Khural" module. "Parliamentary Office currently has some 100 websites. This time we are attending the exhibition with main three websites," a chairman of the IT section J.Elbegzaya said.
The ICT Expo-2014 will continue until Monday.
Suu JSC to stage Ice Cream Festival for Children's Day
May 27 (infomongolia.com) As part of celebration the Mothers' and Children Day holiday in Ulaanbaatar, "Suu" JSC is organizing the "Ice Cream Festival" in front area of ASA Circus on May 31 and June 01, 2014.
During the Festival, many events are planned to be held such as largest ice cream tasting, airing 500 balloons and free ice creams to first come first served participants. Besides, fun games like "I am the ice cream monster" as well as singing contest and "neon laser" show and other performances will be organized.
Parliament Approves Higher Education in Engineering Soft Loan from Japan
Ulaanbaatar, May 26 (MONTSAME) The parliamentary session decided last Friday to launch the "Higher Engineering Education Development" project which has been included in the mid-term program of the Mongolia-Japan Strategic Partnership.
This program was approved during a visit of the Mongolian PM to Japan last year, including this education project that aims to improve curricula of engineering and natural sciences classes of the Sciences and Technology University and National University of Mongolia, to support a quality of academic works by teachers and scientists, and to prepare qualified engineers and specialists in a short period.
Under this project, the Mongolians will study double-degree (320), master's degree (100), doctorate (60), and non-degree (325) programs. The project will be implemented under a soft loan of USD 74.1 million, with annual interest of 0.2%, and repayment condition of 20 years. In the first six years of the project implementation, there will be no loan payment.
Law Firms of MDS & Associates LLP and KhanLex Advocates LLP Announce Their Merger
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, April 9, 2014 - MDS & Associates LLP and KhanLex Advocates LLP have announced the merger of their two law firms. The merger will be completed by April 17, 2014
The substantially expands by creating the two firms' services law multi -service largest in firm the of completion Upon Mongolia. the merger, the merged law firm of MDS & KhanLex LLP will be able to offer clients a broader range of services - finance, regulatory, corporate, commercial and dispute resolution. This legal expertise will now be available to cover the key sectors of the economy: Mongolian energy, infrastructure, finance and natural resources.
B.Enkhbat, Partner, KhanLex: "We are very excited about this merger. It greatly extends and compliments the scope of our core services of financial regulation, capital markets, project financing transactions. corporate and we are grateful to our clients for their support as we continue to grow."
J.Maizorig, Partner, MDS & Associates said "This is an exciting day for us. We worked hard to get to know each other well. The increased scale of the merged firm will offer broader opportunities for further development and specialization of our lawyers and staff".
The combined firm will have 8 partners and 5 associates making it one of the largest multi-service firms in Mongolia.
About MDS & Associates
MDS & Associates has LLP been founded in 2011 by three partners with experience in various companies and industries as well as in government services. Since its establishment, the law firm has been engaged in landmark projects in Mongolia, including the New Railway Project and the proposed IPO of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi. The mission of the firm is to assist both local businesses as well international investors blending by Mongolian the entering international market with knowledge industry legal local expertise.
About KhanLex Advocates
KhanLex Advocates has been serving international clients on the Mongolian law related to foreign investment, natural resources and finance, with a primary focus on transactional matters and regulatory issues. The firm has been established in 2011 by three Mongolian partners with significant government and private sector experiences. The clients of the firm include government agencies, foreign/ international institutions and state-owned local companies.
Ulaanbaatar hosts 5th Asia-Pacific Telecommunity Cyber Security Forum
May 27 (news.mn) The 5th APT Cyber Security Forum (CSF-5) began in Ulaanbaatar on Monday May 26th.
The Forum, organized by the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT), hosted by the Information Technology, Post and Telecommunications Authority (ITPTA) is being held at the Best Western Premier Tuushin hotel from 26th to 28th May.
The forum is being represented by participants from 20 Asia-Pacific countries to help with the implementation of the project "Provide security of information" that was launched by the Information Technology, Post and Telecommunications Authority. Participant countries include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Fiji, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, and Japan. The Forum aims to bring together stakeholders responsible for Cyber security systems in the Asia-Pacific region to enhance the regional collaborative efforts in combating cybercrime, enhancing cyber security, countering spam activities and other threats.
Forum participants will also share information on practical experiences, knowledge, and expertise on cyber security including public awareness.
Mongolia-Spain Multilateral Partnership Meeting 2014 in Ulaanbaatar, June 4-5
May 27 (infomongolia.com) Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) in association with Spain Trade and Investment (ICEX) and the Economic and Commercial Office of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Spain in Beijing, PR of China are going to organize the Mongolia-Spain Multilateral Partnership Meeting 2014 in Ulaanbaatar on June 04-05, 2014.
The event is aimed to promote collaboration between Spanish and Mongolian companies to participate in the projects financed by Multilateral Funds.
The Multilateral Partnership offers Mongolian companies the opportunity to meet leading and well-known Spanish companies, with great expertise in the following fields:
Transport, Urban and Tourism Infrastructure
Energy (generation and transmission)
Environment (especially water, urban and industrial treatment)
MONGOLIA HEALTH SECTOR ECONOMIC AND INVESTMENT FORUM, JUNE 7, ULAANBAATAR
Despite sustained economic growth, Mongolia's public spending for health as the share of GDP has declined over the last years. The countries around the world have always aimed of increasing the resources for health, and WHO and other development partners recommend 5.6% of national income allocation for public spending for health. In addition, private sector is growing and there is need to coordinate and share information with wider audiences for better cooperation and strategies.
In cooperation with Ministry of Economic Development and the Mongolian Chamber of Commerce, the Ministry of Health is organizing the first Health Sector Economic and Investment forum in Mongolia on 07th June 2014. The objectives of this forum are to:
· increase awareness and interest for more resources for health;
· promote foreign and domestic investment opportunities;
· discuss overall policy and regulatory issues;
· promote public private partnership in health; and
· share information;
The forum will be marked by a key note presentation entitled "Economic and financing issues in health and investment needs" by Dr. N.Udval, Minister of Health, Mongolia. In addition, the Prime Minister of Mongolia will participate in the forum and all international partners, ambassadors, interested foreign and national investors will be invited.
The forum will be a platform for partners, stakeholders and private investors to discuss the current situation, challenges and advancements relating to health sector resource and finances as well as cooperation opportunities in light of the increasing population health needs.
Organizers and participants will seek to share experience and good practices to promote, mobilize and better use of resources for health. The Forum will be divided into substantive sessions to provide participants the opportunity to focus on specific areas from their own perspective and experiences around the world. Such areas include mother and child health, cancer and cardiovascular diseases and other medical conditions that lead Mongolians to seek care abroad. Moreover, health sector priorities for public health and primary health care will be discussed. The main conclusions of the Forum will be reflected and incorporated into a Declaration to be considered and adopted by the participants and submitted to Government and other public and private stakeholders.
On behalf of the Organizing Committee, it is a great pleasure to invite you to the first Health sector economic and investment forum in Ulaanbaatar on 7th June 2014. Please also extend the invitation to other interested individuals, government and private representatives who may wish to attend this forum. Should you wish to contribute to this forum by presentation and speeches please notify us in advance.
Mongolia: increasing transparency year on year
The Prime Minister balanced enthusiasm and realism at the launch of their EITI Report.
March 31 (EITI) Mongolia has possibly the fastest growing mining industries in the world, with new discoveries of copper, gold, coal, uranium and many other types of minerals. Revenues from these have made up almost a quarter of the Mongolian economy over the past five years. The effects of exploration and expansion touch upon the lives of most Mongolian citizens, who are increasingly demanding to be informed and engaged. The Government of Mongolia sees the EITI as a key tool to ensure that its new-found resources are managed transparently.
Prime Minister Altankhuyag noted at the launch of Mongolia's 2012 EITI Report that although "absolute 100% transparency is not possible," his government would continue to increase transparency in the mining sector year on year. They have drafted a new EITI law, which mandates publication of EITI data as well as financing to their EITI process.
Mongolia's 2012 EITI Report was at the launch recognised to be an improvement over previous year's reports. Firstly, it was more succinct than the 2011 report: roughly 160 vs 1600 pages. Secondly, it discloses detailed information about its extractives sector beyond revenue stream figures, as they will be required to do in order to meet the 2013 EITI Standard. And finally, beyond the EITI requirements, it discloses information about what is being done to mitigate the environmental impact of natural resource extraction.
Mongolia's EITI hopes that the 2012 EITI report will be a key tool to inform the debate about revenues received from extractives to the state, as well as to local levels of government. Notable highlights from the report include:
· While in 2011 total payments amounted to KMNT 2,150,734,000 (US $1.73 billion, or 21% of GDP), these decreased to KMNT 1,594,114,641 (US $1.20 billion, or 18% of GDP) in 2012. This constitutes a 26% drop in income in the national currency. This was mostly due to falling commodity prices (copper, coal, oil) from 2011 to 2012.
· Payments to local governments amounted to KMNT 92,841,103, or US $70m.
· The Erdenet and the Oyu Tolgoi copper mines together constituted 45% of total revenue.
· Oil production increased by 42% from 2011 to 2012 and currently stands at 3.6m barrels / year, with Petro China production responsible for 6.6% of revenue. Oil production is forecast to grow by more than 10% per year.
· Mongolia has aimed to address more of the concerns citizens have about the environmental aspects of natural resource extraction through its EITI reports. This extended to the 2012 report, which:
o Disclosed expenses by extractives companies for environmental protection. Companies are required by law to pay an advance for costs for environmental protection into the Environmental Protection Special Fund, special bank accounts held by government (state and aimag). In 2012, 45 companies out of 200 made deposits of MNT 1,413,848,000 (roughly US$ 800,000) to this Fund. Also, possible refunds provided by the state are reported.
o Made public the findings from the "survey on environmental protection and remediation activities". These included an indication of technical remediation; top soil remediation; biological remediation; and declared cost of work performed by extractives companies.
By disclosing detailed information about what is being done to remedy the environmental effects of mining, Mongolia EITI hopes to encourage informed discussions about the benefits and challenges with how its natural resources are being managed.
For further information about EITI in Mongolia, visit the country page on the EITI website.
Goway's New Asia Adventures Take Travellers Beyond the Great Wall
With China's tourism industry growing like never before, Goway is opening the door on the great dragon's neighbours.
Glendale, CA (PRWEB) May 26, 2014 -- China has been called the last great frontier for Western travellers. But some intrepid globetrotters are looking to China's neighbours for new adventures. Tibet and Nepal have long offered unparalleled trekking shrouded in spirituality, while Mongolia has serious appeal for travellers in search of 'the great unknown', with a unique culture descended from what was once the world's most powerful empire.
Goway's new China, Tibet and Nepal is the ultimate trip for travellers interested in Tibetan Buddhism. This 16-day journey starts with China's most iconic images – the Great Wall and the sights of Beijing, before heading west into Tibet. The city of Lhasa is the heart of Tibetan Buddhism and former home of the Dalai Lama. The trip then weaves through spectacular Himalayan scenery via Mount Everest Base Camp into Nepal. The final destination is Kathmandu, where guests take in more sacred sights including Swayambhunath Monkey Temple and Patan, one of the world's oldest Buddhist cities.
China, Tibet and Nepal has departures from August to October 2014, starting from US$5290 from Los Angeles or CA$5750 from Vancouver, including airfare with Cathay Pacific.
One of Asia's most mysterious countries, Mongolia is surprisingly accessible and offers a completely unique culture for travellers up for the adventure. Guests who book one of Goway's three selected Mongolia tours by June 30, 2014 will enjoy 10% off the price. The 5-day Mongolia Stopover is an ideal introduction to the land of Genghis Khan, perfect for those with limited time, or as an addition to a China vacation. The 8-day Mongolia in Depth offers a more detailed look at the country including a tented camp experience, while Goway's 12-day Gobi & Karakorum is the ultimate immersion in Mongol culture.
Goway also offers its Best of China tour, an air-inclusive 13-day trip that includes Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Priced from just US$4090 from Los Angeles or CA$4295 from Vancouver, this is an ideal introduction to China showcasing four of its most popular and memorable cities, along with breathtaking natural sights within this diverse country.
Since 1970, Goway has been providing unforgettable travel experiences to Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, idyllic island destinations and Latin America. Today Goway is recognized as one of North America's leading travel companies for individuals, families and groups to select exotic destinations around the globe. Goway has offices in Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto, and Sydney (Australia).
For reservations and information, visit http://www.goway.com, or call your Travel Professional on 1-800-387-8850.
Japan-Funded Project to Improve Tuul River Water Flow and Flood Protection
Ulaanbaatar, May 27 (MONTSAME) With a financial support of the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction /JFPR/ through the Asian Development Bank /ADB/, a first discussion of technical assistance for the "Tuul River improvement" project is running in the UB city May 27-28.
This project is carried out by the Tuul River Basin Authority and executed by the Ministry of Environment.
At the action, a technical assistance team for the project preparation, consisting of 15 foreign and domestic specialists, has been presenting research process. The project model is expected to be done by this November, after which in 2015 a loan agreement for the project will be made.
As supposed, the project outcome will also include improvement in the river's waters and flood protection in the city.
The above discussion was attended by the Minister S.Oyun and Mr Takenori Shimizu, the Japanese Ambassador to Mongolia.
Annual Car Free Day in Ulaanbaatar on June 7
May 27 (news.mn) The annual car-free day in Ulaanbaatar falls on June 7th this year.
Ulaanbaatar has celebrated a car-free day annually for five years, calling attention to health and promoting clean air without any pollution in the city.
On this day, citizens of Ulaanbaatar city will give up their vehicles and instead ride bicycles or choose to walk.
Any sirens or horns of vehicles except those belonging to special forces on duty will be banned on the day.
From this year, the International Ulaanbaatar Marathon will be held on the car-free day.
For the car-free day, vehicle traffic from Peace Avenue to the West Crossroads (Baruun dorov zam) and Revolutionists` street on Baga toiruu - Zaluuchuud avenue will be banned between 10.00 am and 5.00 pm.
N. Korean nuclear envoy, U.S. experts hold informal talks in Mongolia
BEIJING, May 26 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's chief nuclear envoy met with U.S. experts late last week for informal talks in Mongolia over the resumption of stalled multilateral discussions on the North's nuclear program, a diplomatic source in Beijing said Monday.
The informal talks in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar on Friday were apparently aimed at reviving the deadlocked six-nation talks, but it was not immediately known whether any progress was made, the source said on the condition of anonymity.
The Friday talks involved Ri Yong-ho, Pyongyang's chief negotiator to the stalled six-party talks, and three U.S. experts, including Joel Wit and Robert Carlin, former U.S. State Department officials specializing in North Korean issues, the source said.
"Ri and the American experts met in Ulaanbaatar on May 23," the source said, declining to elaborate on what topics were covered.
North Korea and the U.S. held two rounds of such informal talks last year, which have served as venues for the two nations to share ideas about resuming the six-party talks.
Since North Korea's third nuclear test in February last year, the communist country has repeatedly expressed its willingness to reopen the six-party talks "without preconditions," but South Korea and the U.S. have maintained that North Korea must first demonstrate its sincerity toward denuclearization before the disarmament-for-aid talks can resume.
China has been more accommodating toward North Korea, urging South Korea and the U.S. to lower their bar for talks. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is set to visit South Korea on Monday with the agenda focused on how to deal with North Korea's nuclear program.
North Korea has been threatening to conduct its fourth nuclear test since last March, although recent satellite images showed no immediate signs of a test.
The six-party forum, which includes the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, has been dormant since late 2008.
(2nd LD) N. Korean nuclear envoy confirms informal talks with U.S. experts
BEIJING, May 26 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's chief nuclear envoy on Monday confirmed that he held an informal meeting with U.S. experts in Mongolia late last week, in an apparent move to explore ways to resume long-stalled multilateral discussions on the North's nuclear program.
Asked upon arriving at a Beijing airport whether he held informal talks with U.S. experts, Ri Yong-ho, Pyongyang's chief delegate to the six-nation talks, told reporters, "Yes, yes." However, Ri declined to give details before being picked up by a North Korean Embassy vehicle.
Mongolia Ready to Support Russian Gas Pipeline through Territory, Says PM N.Altankhuyag
May 26 (infomongolia.com) Prime Minister of Mongolia N.Altankhuyag, who attended the International Economic Forum 2014 in Saint Petersburg, held a meeting with President of the Russian Federation V.V.Putin on May 24, 2014.
At the beginning of meeting, state of head Vladimir Putin expressed his gratitude to Premier N.Altankhuyag for accepting the invitation to participate in the International Forum and parties exchanged views on further bilateral partnership and economical issues, besides discussed about many other topics such as railway and joint ventures established by two governments.
Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag underlined that Mongolia and Russia are friendly nations with long traditional ties, our country's relationship with the Russian Federation is considered as the priority foreign policy and we always prefer to deepen this traditional relations.
Also, Premier N.Altankhuyag mentioned that he met with authorities of Mongolia-Russia joint ventures including Ulaanbaatar Railway and other organizations to exchange views and re-affirmed the invitation of the President of Mongolia to participate in the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the victory in the Battles of Khalkh River to commemorate in Dornod Aimag of Mongolia in August 2014.
During the meeting Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag expressed his readiness to discuss issues regarding a joint railway efficient utilization, transportation increases, and reciprocal visa free travel and if necessary, the Government of Mongolia is ready to support the issue on construction of natural gas pipeline between Russia and China through Mongolian territory.
Minister N.Batbayar Proposes Russia to Construct Natural Gas Pipeline via Mongolian Territory
May 26 (infomongolia.com) Mongolian delegates led by Prime Minister of Mongolia N.Altankhuyag have participated in the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum held on May 22-24, 2014.
During the attendance, Premier N.Altankhuyag and Minister for Economic Development of Mongolia N.Batbayar have held meetings with the Russian President V.V.Putin, Russian Railways President V.I.Yakunin, Rosneft President I.I.Sechin and Minister for Economic Development of the Russian Federation A.V. Ulyukaev respectively.
During the meeting between Minister Nyamjav BATBAYAR and Minister Aleksei Valentinovich Ulyukaev, parties exchanged views on accelerating bilateral economic partnership, where Minister N.Batbayar proposed Mongolia's initiations on constructing natural gas and oil pipelines, auto roads and energy network connecting Russia and China through Mongolian territory.
In the scope of natural gas pipeline via Mongolian territory, Minister N.Batbayar offered that Russia, China and Mongolia, the three parties should agree on establishing a new concept of this gas route namely "Steppe Road". He also noted it was good that the Governments of Russia and China have negotiated to construct a natural gas pipeline and if the route passes through Mongolia it would be the most beneficial solution for three countries.
Furthermore, Minister N.Batbayar said in order to increase bilateral trade turnover, parties agreed to mutually realize its national currencies, to establish a swap agreement and strengthen cooperation between the Central Banks of the two countries.
In response, Russian Minister A.Ulyukaev affirmed to fully utilize the economic partnership opportunities and offered to study on co-establishing and joining a Free Trade and Economic Zone.
Afterwards, relevant Ministries agreed to establish agreement on cooperation between the two countries in order to facilitate bilateral economic partnership.
Latvia offers Mongolia to use Riga as intermediate point for flights to Europe
May 26 (The Baltic Course) Latvia has offered Mongolia to used Riga as an intermediate point for flights to Europe, Ministry of Transport informed the business portal Nozare.lv, cites LETA.
The offer was made during Transport Minister Anrijs Matiss' (Unity) meeting with Mongolian Minister of Transport Amarjargal Gansukh at the International Transport Forum in Leipzig.
The ministers noted the high potential of both countries in the trucking sector, including via the Chinese-European supply chains.
Considering comprehensive reforms to the Mongolian transform system, Gansukh said that Mongolia was interested in establishing closer cooperation with Latvia.
Justice Ministries of China and Mongolia to sign MOU on Cooperation
May 26 (news.mn) China's Deputy Justice Minister, Zhang Zhijun, is to make a two-day official visit to Mongolia between May 26th and 27th upon the invitation of the Justice Minister of Mongolia, Kh.Temuujin.
During the visit, the two counterparts are expected to exchange information on the reforms of the legislatures of both countries, legislation systems, and also detention center functions.
The parties will also hold talks over the further increase of bilateral relations and collaboration between the legislatures, and the potential of mutual legal assistances between the two countries.
The Deputy Justice Minister of Mongolia E.Erdenejamiyan and China's Deputy Justice Minister Zhang Zhijun are to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation between the two ministries.
Deputy Minister of Justice of China to Visit – Montsame, May 26
Swiss Development Agency to continue technical assistance to Mongolia on agriculture
Ulaanbaatar, May 25 (MONTSAME) The Vice Minister of Industry and Agriculture Ts.Tuvaan has received a delegation led by Mr Martin Dahinden, a director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), who paid an official visit to Mongolia May 20-22.
It was decided by an agreement that Mongolia is to receive a technical assistance from the SDC for introducing achievements of the "Mongolian potato" programme in agriculture and that the sides are to forward their cooperation.
The visit of the SDC director has coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Mongolia-Switzerland diplomatic relations and 10th anniversary of the SDC Office in Mongolia.
From last decade, the SDC has been implementing many projects and programmes--on refining the agricultural sector, especially potato farming, on upgrading the pasture management, introducing an insurance system of livestock. Moreover, the SDC gave aid and support to Mongolia during the dzud natural disaster in 2009-2010.
75th Anniversary Conference for Khalkh River Battle Victory Runs in Moscow
Ulaanbaatar, May 26 (MONTSAME) A conference dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Mongolian and Soviet soldiers victory in the Khalkh River Battle ran May 17 in the Central Museum of Armed Forces in Moscow, Russia.
It was organized by the Moscow-based officials of Zabaykalsky Krai and became the first event of the anniversary. The conference's date was not chosen accidentally because this is the foundation day of the Lenin Order laureate Zabaykalsky Krai's Military District that took part in the Battle.
The conference brought together Sh.Altangerel, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to Russia; Bair Jamsuyev, a senator of the Federal Council of the Russian Federation; N.Makarov, Army General and Hero of Russia; N.G.Bogdanov, the Battle veteran; A.Mikhailov, People's Artist of Russia; and Yelena Limorenko, a daughter of tankman and Hero of Soviet Union A.P.Pyankov.
Mr Altangerel congratulated the gathered, and highlighted that the Victory in the Khalkh River Battle was a basis for the Soviet Union's Victory over the World War II and Mongolia's complete gaining of its independence in 1949.
After the conference, a state-run "Chita" TV and radio company displayed a documentary film about the Battle, and artists of cultural center at the Russian Armed Forces gave a concert.
Justice Ministry State Secretary Talks Experience of Fighting Human Trafficking with Nepal Delegates
Ulaanbaatar, May 26 (MONTSAME) The State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice J.Bayartsetseg Thursday received official delegates of Nepal during their visit May 18-23.
Ms Bayartsetseg spoke about experience and laws of Mongolia on a fight against human trafficking-- preventing, ceasing, detecting, protecting victims and providing legal assistance.
Here the Nepalese delegates, representing Ministries of Women, Children and Social Welfare, of Law and Justice, of Home Affairs and of Labor, visited also several state organizations.
Foreign Minister of Mongolia Pays Official Visits to Kingdoms of Sweden and Denmark
May 26 (infomongolia.com) Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia Mr. Luvsanvandan BOLD left the country to pay an official visit to the Kingdom of Sweden on May 26 upon the invitation of his counterpart of Sweden Mr. Carl Bildt and to the Kingdom of Denmark at the invitation of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark Mr. Martin Lidegaard on May 27-28, 2014 respectively.
During his visit to Sweden, Minister L.Bold will meet Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Minister for Public Administration and Housing Stefan Attefall and attend a Mongolia-Sweden Business Forum to be co-hosted by the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Swedish Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The present visit implemented within the 50th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and the Kingdom of Sweden has a great importance for furthering bilateral friendly relations and cooperation, maintaining the frequency of top and high-level talks, strengthening mutual understanding and addressing bilateral and international issues of mutual concern.
Mongolia and the Kingdom of Sweden have established the diplomatic relations on June 30, 1964.
The official visit to Denmark is being paid following an official visit of Danish Parliament Speaker Mogens Lykketoft, which took place last year within the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations that had significance for fostering bilateral relations and cooperation.
During his upcoming visit, Minister L.Bold will pay courtesy calls to Her Majesty Margrethe II, the Queen of Denmark and Danish Parliament Speaker Mogens Lykketoft and held meetings with his Danish counterpart Martin Lindegaard and Minister of Trade and Development Cooperation Mogens Jensen, reports the Foreign Ministry of Mongolia.
Mongolia and the Kingdom of Denmark have established the diplomatic relations on August 05, 1968.
FM L.Bold to Visit Sweden and Denmark – Montsame, May 26
Mongolia-Kazakhstan intergovernmental meeting determines list of cooperation measures
Ulaanbaatar, May 27 (MONTSAME) The 6th meeting of the Mongolia-Kazakhstan intergovernmental commission for the trade, economy, sciences, culture and technical cooperation ran May 26-27 in Ulaanbaatar.
The parties discussed important directions and specific measures for developing the relations and cooperation until 2016.
For example, they determined a list of measures and works to be done in investment, business, agriculture, roads, transportation, mining, regional collaboration, culture and education spheres. They also agreed to establish a middle-term programme for the cooperation.
Then, the sides signed a protocol of the intergovernmental meeting, and decided to run the next meeting in 2016 in Astana city.
The meeting was co-chaired by Mr S.Erdene, a head of the commission's Mongolian side and Minister of Population Development and Social Welfare, and by Ms Tamara Duisenova, Kazakhstan's Minister of Labour, Population and Social Welfare and chair of the Kazakh side. Present were J.Sukhee, the Ambassador of Mongolia to Kazakhstan; Mr K.I.Koblandin, the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Mongolia; representatives of Ministries and provinces.
After the meeting, the Prime Minister of Mongolia N.Altankhuyag received the Kazakhstan delegation headed by Ms Tamara Duisenova.
Mongolia, Kazakhstan to Commence Direct Flights Soon
Ulaanbaatar, May 27 (MONTSAME) A direct flight between Mongolia and Kazakhstan will open soon.
A memorandum on it between the civil aviation organizations was established during the 6th Mongolia-Kazakhstan intergovernmental commission meeting on Tuesday in Ulaanbaatar. It was inked by Ch.Nyamsaikhan, a deputy director of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and by T.T.Lastayev, a deputy head of the Civil Aviation Committee of Kazakhstan.
China, Mongolia and FAO sign MoU for food security and livestock
China, Mongolia and the FAO have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for South-South Cooperation (SSC) tripartite agreement to implement the National Program for Food Security and the National Livestock Program
May 26 (Far Eastern Agriculture) The aim of this agreement is to select and field Chinese experts and technicians who will make up the SSC team and assist with the implementation of the SSC program in Mongolia.
During the course of two years, the Chinese government will closely collaborate with Mongolia in identifying, designing and implementing an SSC program in support of food security through the implementation of the two programmes. According to FAO, technical assistance will be provided by Chinese experts and technicians in areas like animal feed production, horticulture, poultry production, livestock and animal husbandry, bee farming and aquaculture to Mongolia.
Agricultural inputs and equipment will also be provided as appropriate for demonstration purposes, with the implementation of capacity development activities including technical training and exchanges, the UN organisation added.
José Graziano da Silva, FAO director-general, expressed his thanks to the contribution and support provided by China to the success of FAO's South-South Cooperation initiatives for the improvement of global food security. "China has been one of the important partners of FAO's South-South Cooperation Program since it was launched in 1996," da Silva said.
da Silva pointed out that the first phase of the South-South project had been successfully implemented. "Nineteen Chinese experts and technicians were involved in these efforts. They helped strengthen the capacity of their counterparts in implementing activities that contributed to the fulfillment of the National Program for Food Security of Mongolia. Based on the successful experience and results of the first phase of the project, Mongolia requested the implementation of a second phase of this South-South Cooperation," the director-general added.
During the second phase, and on the basis of the expressed needs and objectives discussed with China, Mongolia will receive technical assistance from 12 experts and five technicians and Mongolia will provide the facilities and logistics support to host them. The programme is funded through the Chinese Trust Fund with a total budget of nearly US$1mn.
Link to FAO press release, April 11
Korea Forest Service at forefront of desertification prevention
May 27 (The Korea Herald) The Korea Forest Service will help developing countries prevent desertification and deforestation as called for by the international community, the agency said.
As South Korea is currently an official development assistance, or ODA, donor and has been a member of the OECD's Development Assistance Committee since 2010, as well as the host nation of the Green Climate Fund, it has the obligation and responsibility to carry out global forestry recovery efforts.
To this end, the KFS helps prevent desertification particularly in Mongolia and China, according to the agency.
In Mongolia, it planned to reforest up to 3,000 hectares between 2007 and 2016, and has completed 1,498 hectares as of last year.
Meanwhile, in China, the KFS is providing support to private businesses dedicated to the prevention of desertification and, as a result, has reforested roughly 1,200 hectares as of last year.
Apart from direct involvement, the KFS also aids five international organizations: the Food and Agriculture Organization, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization and International Tropical Timber Organization.
Furthermore, the agency plans to actively pursue distinguished types of ODA services that may be desired by the recipient country, while also collaborating with the Korea International Cooperation Agency in order to discover new and innovative kinds of forestry development assistance.
The agency's total forest ODA budget for 2014 amounts to 10.35 billion won ($10.12 million).
State Mortgage Program to be made available for private houses
Ulaanbaatar, May 26 (MONTSAME) Last week, the "11 11" center, created at the cabinet of reforms, received suggestions, complaints and words of gratitude from 866 people.
Many complained about a costly loan prepayment imposed by commercial banks to winners of a housing raffle for the newly-completed Buyant Ukhaa apartments. Others asked about availability of the low-interest loan program of the Government for those willing to build a house. The procedure of the low-interest loan program has been changed so as to allow the loans to private house builders, the Urban Development Ministry answered. Once the amendments are approved, the Government loans will be available for the house builders, with annual 8% interest in Ulaanbaatar and with 7% interest in provinces.
People were also irritated by the Khan bank's decision not to render services to those showing a reference ticket from the Government Services Machines (GSM). The State Registration Authority said they warned the bank on this matter and applied to the Fair Competition Agency already.
Police arrest three in connection with stolen Buddhist statues from Erdene Zuu Museum
May 27 (news.mn) The seven priceless Buddhist golden statues that were stolen from the Erdene-Zuu museum in Kharkhorin, Uvurkhangai aimag, were returned by the General Police Agency after only one week. As result of the immediate investigation after the theft of the priceless cultural heritage the police were able to arrest three suspects.
The three are now accused for planning and carrying out the crime to steal the seven Buddhist goddess statues that are estimated to be worth more than 100 million MNT. A source says that the three suspects had been waiting for the right time to steal the exhibits near the museum for days ahead of the incident. But local residents were suspicious about the three strangers who arrived in the area in a vehicle without a license plate number and informed the local police about their presence. Police could identify the suspects` vehicle and intents because of the local residents actions.
Police clocked the time of entry of the suspects` vehicle into Ulaanbaatar City on May 19th.
A search of the suspects` home in Songinokhairkhan district in Ulaanbaatar city found the stolen items, and the statues were then delivered to the Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts on Monday in the presence of the Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism. The three suspects were arrested and taken to detention center 461 of the Court Decision Enforcement Office. The Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism Ts.Oyungerel expressed her appreciation to the police for retrieving the unique cultural heritages before they were smuggled and lost, and she pledged to pay attention to the protection and safety of the cultural items in the museum.
SUMO/ Hakuho takes 29th title with clutch win over Harumafuji on Day 15
May 25 (Asahi Shimbun) Grand champion Hakuho quickly dispatched compatriot Harumafuji on May 25 to win his 29th Emperor's Cup while denying Kisenosato a chance to capture his first title at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.
Needing a victory over yokozuna Harumafuji to win the tournament outright, Hakuho delivered when he used an arm throw to send his opponent toppling down in the day's final bout while improving to 14-1. Harumafuji dropped to 11-4.
"I'm thrilled to win my 29th title at the age of 29," Hakuho said. "It's hard to find the words to describe it other than I did my best."
Kisenosato needed Hakuho to lose in order to force a playoff, but it didn't happen. The ozeki did his part to stay in the title chase when he used a barrage of powerful arm thrusts in the penultimate bout at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan to defeat yokozuna Kakuryu and improve to 13-2.
Mongolian Kakuryu finished his first tournament at sumo's highest rank with a 9-6 mark, a result that will leave his critics questioning his yokozuna credentials.
Kakuryu was in decent shape until he lost his final three bouts and will need to work on his stamina to post a result worthy of a grand champion.
In other major bouts, sekiwake Tochiozan threw down Ikioi to improve to 10-5. Ikioi, a No. 5 maegashira who was in contention up until the second to the last day, finished the tournament with a solid 11-4 record and picked up the Fighting Spirit Prize.
Sekiwake Goeido, the only wrestler to beat Hakuho, got a grip on the belt of Kotoshogiku and used an arm throw to defeat the ozeki while securing a winning record of 8-7 and being awarded the tournament's Outstanding Performance Prize. It was a disappointing tourney for Kotoshogiku, who finished with a 5-10 record.
Rising star Endo, a No. 4 maegashira, finished on a winning note when he used an arm throw to send down No. 12 maegashira Takanoiwa (3-12) to improve to 7-8.
Endo wasn't able to secure a winning record, but he did win four of his first five bouts, which included a huge upset of grand champion Kakuryu on Day 4.
Further down the ranks, Egypt's Osunaarashi, a No. 10 maegashira, shoved out No. 15 maegashira Kyokushuho to finish with an impressive 10-5 record. Mongolian Kyokushuho also had a strong tournament, posting a record of 9-6.
Osunaarashi finished strong, winning six of his last seven bouts, an accomplishment that should help him move up the ranks.
Komusubi Chiyootori overpowered No. 8 maegashira Takayasu (6-9) to finish with a 5-10 mark. Yoshikaze, also a komusubi, beat Kyokutenho to close out at 6-9 while sending the Mongolian veteran to his 12th loss against only three wins.
Photo News: Yak Festival 2014
May 27 (infomongolia.com) Within an aim to increase the number of heads and promote the Yak breeding, the Governing Administration of Umnugovi Aimag successfully organized the third Yak Festival at Yolyn Am near Zuun Saikhan Mt. of Dalanzadgad Sum on May 24, 2014.
During the "Yak Festival 2014", several sports competitions such as lasso, parade of herders riding yaks, yak marathon, yak race and bestowing the best breed were organized.
In the contest of yak marathon, a team from Bayandalai Sum led by M.Enkhtur won the marathon followed by teams from Bayandalai and Khurmen Sums headed by B.Baatar and N.Bayanchuluun.
Also, the yak race was held, where a herder from Khurmen Sum, N.Uuganbayar finished in the first place followed by Z.Erkhembayar and Ts.Munkhbat both from Bayandalai Sum.
Besides, best yak breed and herders with most number of heads were also selected and awarded.
Notably, reporters from British BBC television have arrived to screen a documentary film about yak and the festival.
Organizers are aiming to conduct such measures annually and promote their Gobi region as tourism destination by involving more local tourist unions, entities, herders and participants as well.
Photo Essay: Celebrating Mongolia's Beautiful, Brutal Winter Cold
May 26 (Wired) Mongolia is in the midst of rapid change driven by a booming mining industry. People are moving out of poverty, and the country's cities are encroaching in places on a vast wilderness where nomadic life continues.
P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.