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Monday, May 18, 2015
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Turquoise Hill Resources Upgraded by TheStreet to "Hold"
May 14 (Analyst Ratings Network) TheStreet upgraded shares of Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE:TRQ) from an e+ rating to a hold rating in a report issued on Wednesday.
TheStreet has also updated their ratings on a number of other stocks in the last week. The firm upgraded shares of SunOpta, Inc. from a hold rating to a buy rating. Also, TheStreet downgraded shares of Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd from a buy rating to a hold rating. Finally, TheStreet upgraded shares of Cyren Ltd from a sell rating to a hold rating.
Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE:TRQ) traded up 0.23% during mid-day trading on Wednesday, hitting $4.32. 2,881,000 shares of the company's stock traded hands. Turquoise Hill Resources has a one year low of $2.65 and a one year high of $4.46. The stock's 50-day moving average is $3. and its 200-day moving average is $3.. The company has a market cap of $8.69 billion and a price-to-earnings ratio of 270.00.
Turquoise Hill Resources (NYSE:TRQ) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Monday, May 11th. The company reported $0.03 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the analysts' consensus estimate of $0.01 by $0.02. The company had revenue of $426.00 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $113.90 million. During the same quarter last year, the company posted ($0.03) earnings per share. Turquoise Hill Resources's revenue was up 274.2% compared to the same quarter last year. Analysts expect that Turquoise Hill Resources will post $0.13 EPS for the current fiscal year.
TRQ has been the subject of a number of other recent research reports. Analysts at Zacks upgraded shares of Turquoise Hill Resources from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note on Wednesday. Analysts at TD Securities downgraded shares of Turquoise Hill Resources from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note on Thursday, April 16th. Finally, analysts at CIBC downgraded shares of Turquoise Hill Resources from a sector perform rating to an underperform rating in a research note on Tuesday, April 7th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have issued a hold rating and one has given a buy rating to the company. The company has an average rating of Hold and an average price target of $9.89.
Oyu Tolgoi Loses Appeal on ₮345.7 Million Income Tax Claim
May 15 (news.mn) An appeal filed by Oyu Tolgoi LLC in response to a ruling by the Tax Dispute Resolution Council has been discussed by the Administrative Appellate Court and denied.
Oyu Togloi LLC has presented its appeal to the court, claiming the invalidation of Act No. 210988, dated November 6, 2009, related to an audit by the General Taxation Authority; 2b, paragraph 4a concerning taxes paid in 2007-2008; and the payment of taxes of 345,691,600 MNT in state income taxes.
The claim was also ruled against by the Court of Appeals on March 12, 2015.
Oyu Tolgoi LLC is once again faced with a ruling to pay 345,691,600 MNT in unpaid income tax revenue as called for by the General Taxation Authority of Mongolia.
SouthGobi Announces Changes to the Board of Directors
HONG KONG, CHINA--(Marketwired - May 15, 2015) - SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (TSX:SGQ)(HKSE:1878) ("SouthGobi" or the "Company") today announced appointment of two new directors to the Company's Board of Directors (the "Board") following the successful closing of the Novel Sunrise Investments Limited ("Novel Sunrise") private placement.
Mr. Ningqiao Li, 51, has been appointed as a non-executive director ("Non-Executive Director") of the Company effective May 15, 2015. Mr. Li is also a director of Novel Sunrise. Mr. Li has almost 30 years' experience in enterprise management, corporate governance and strategic investment. He is also knowledgeable about the real estate, energy, and financial institution sectors. Beyond his positions with the Company and Novel Sunrise, Mr. Li is also the Senior Advisor of Convoy Investment Services Limited, a Hong Kong based securities house. Prior to these positions, Mr. Li was a director of China Orient Group Incorporation. He was an independent non-executive director of China Outdoor Media Group Limited (now known as National United Resources Holdings Limited, a company listed on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited) from December 28, 2012 to June 6, 2014. He was the Senior Advisor of United Energy Group Limited and PetroAsian Energy Holdings Limited, as well as previously held several senior executive positions in China National Real Estate Development Group Corporation. Mr. Li graduated from Tsinghua University and holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree.
Mr. Yulan Guo, 30, has been appointed as a Non-Executive Director of the Company effective May 15, 2015. Mr. Yulan Guo is a Vice President of the Investment Banking Department of China International Capital Corporation Limited ("CICC"), a leading investment bank in China and Hong Kong, where he started his career in 2008. Mr. Guo possesses extensive experience in a variety of transactions in Mainland China, Hong Kong and the U.S. capital markets. He has arranged over USD 10 billion of equity and debt financings as well as M&A transactions. Mr. Guo also possesses industry expertise in mining and energy sectors, from both financial and operational aspects. Mr. Guo graduated from Peking University where he obtained his both Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees. He also finished his MBA program from University of International Business & Economics in Beijing.
SouthGobi also announces that effective May 15, 2015, Mr. Bold Baatar has resigned as a Non-Executive Director and member of the Health, Environment, Safety and Social Responsibility Committee and the Mergers and Acquisitions Committee due to his other business commitment.
Interim Chairman of the Board Mr. Gordon Lancaster said, "On behalf of the Board, I am pleased to welcome our new directors to the Company. Each brings significant skills and experience that will be very valuable to SouthGobi as we focus on strengthening the Company's core business performance and realizing its production potential. I would also like to thank Bold for his contributions to the Company during his tenure on the Board of Directors."
Investors' fear and loathing in Mongolia
Terrence Edwards in Ulaanbaatar
May 13 (bne) One company's high-profile dispute with the Mongolian government and the coincidental death of its chairman has stoked paranoia among the business community, and comes at a time when hostility toward foreign investors from fringe politicians and nationalists is already making government efforts to attract investors that much harder.
And investment is what the country desperately needs. Since a mining boom went bust, the resource-rich country now risks suffering a balance of payments crisis, according to the International Monetary Fund – something that can only be averted by a large injection of foreign investment. "The foreigners provide the capital that the country lacks itself," says Dale Choi, head of Independent Mongolian Metals & Mining Research.
But despite the crucial assistance that foreign investors can provide in exploiting the country's mineral wealth, there is a chasm of distrust between investors and locals. "The idea is that foreigners are here to take advantage of us," Choi says.
This distrust hasn't been helped by the eerily timed death of Khan Resources' chairman and respected Canadian businessman Jim Doak, which has brought the conspiracy theorists out the woodwork in Ulaanbaatar. Doak was found dead in his hotel room on April 24, a day after negotiations fell apart over $100mn awarded to Khan by a tribunal in Paris over a licensing dispute.
An autopsy revealed that Doak had died of natural causes related to Type 1 Diabetes, but the growing tension between the Mongolian public and foreign business has set imaginations running wild.
Doak's death came around the same time of reports, confirmed by the South Korean embassy, that one of its citizens who had taken control of a gold mine in Mongolia had been kidnapped and tortured by a gang of thugs. The female victim assailants alleged that the assailants had been sent by her disgruntled predecessor, who was fired after the company learnt she was hiding a private stock of gold pilfered from the mine.
Adding to investors' siege mentality are radical right-wing groups' attempts to impose a nationalist agenda. That includes the Nazi-turned-environmentalist group Bosoo Khukh Mongol (Stand Up Blue Mongolia), which made headlines in China after Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj had to apologize for an incident in which members of the group humiliated some Chinese tourists.
In Mongolia, the swastika is revered as an important Buddhist symbol of peace, but by tilting its axis atop a red background, it sends an entirely different message. Members are still often seen decked out in Nazi paraphernalia, but they have undergone an image makeover to become a radical environmental group.
According to the head of pollster Sant Maral Foundation, Luvsanvandan Sumati, such groups have so far failed to cross over into the mainstream. Attempts to put candidates in parliament have flopped. "They get low numbers," says Sumati, noting that they could not even break the 5% threshold in elections.
But that hasn't kept them out of the political arena, as they've become a common figure in protests against the mining industry. Bosoo Khukh Mongol in September 2013 was involved in one demonstration-turned-fiasco while protesting a proposed changed to Mongolia's environmental laws for mining. Live rounds were shot from rifles from another group protesting outside the parliament. A grenade was dropped in the excitement, and police found bombs planted at a nearby government office building and tower where many foreign businesses are headquartered. It was mostly for show, however, as the grenade was inactive and none of the bombs were set to explode, according to reports from the time.
Mongolia's next elections are still more than 18 months away, but investors are already prepared for a lull in business activity — especially mining deals that involve the state — as politicians start campaigning.
Analysts say Mongolia has until the annual summer festival called Naadam, when the parliament adjourns for recess, to resolve disputes with investors concerning two of its largest mining projects, the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine and the Tavan Tolgoi coking coal mine.
Slowing growth in China, the main consumer of Mongolia's copper and coal, and soft global commodities markets have caused economic growth in the country to stall. The World Bank is predicting just 4.4% GDP growth this year for Mongolia compared with 7.8% in 2014; at the peak of the country's mining boom in 2011, GDP growth reached a world-beating 17.5%.
The lack of foreign investment is also putting pressure on government finances, while life becomes ever more difficult for citizens unable to find employment and facing rising inflation.
Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg entered office last November to help steer the economy back to health. To help achieve that aim, he invited all but three independent candidates into his grand coalition government for what would likely be politically unpopular deals with foreign miners to reinvigorate the economy. But that has left a vacuum for dissenting voices, which is being filled by populists and nationalists. "What's happened is that in the creation of grand coalition there's no room for an opposition party," points out Sant Maral's Sumati.
A poll published in April by Sant Maral shows that two of the country's three most popular politicians are also the loudest critics of Rio Tinto, the government's partner in the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine. They have expressed scepticism that Rio's mining activities will deliver any benefit to the country, although the $5.4bn expansion project that the global mining giant wants to build for the mine would also help pull the country out of its economic funk. Gantumur Uyanga, Mongolia's third most popular politician, according to the poll, wrote about the mine: "Better scare it off than being exploited."
Sant Maral's Sumati reckons their moment in the spotlight will be short lived. But that's only because more conventional politicians are soon likely to be pandering to voters as well. Independent Metals' Choi admits he too expects as much. "The issues of resource nationalism and populism have been brought to the centre," he says.
MSE Weekly Review: Top 20 -0.2% to 12,772.49, Stocks ₮89.95 Million, T-Bills ₮236.9 Million
Ulaanbaatar, May 15 (MONTSAME) Five stock trades were held at Mongolia's Stock Exchange on May 11-15, 2015. In overall, 155 thousand and 529 units of 37 JSCs were traded costing MNT 326 million 861 thousand and 344.00.
"Merex" /101 thousand and 985 units/, "Genco tour bureau" /10 thousand and 600 units/, "Remikon" /10 thousand and 077 units/, "Hermes center" /10 thousand units/ and "State Department Store" /6,992 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value were "APU" (MNT 18 million 263 thousand and 260), "Gobi" (MNT nine million 985 thousand and 720), "Merex" (MNT eight million 991 thousand and 343), "Gutal" (MNT five million 050 thousand and 400) and "Talkh chikher" (MNT four million and 680 thousand).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 263 billion 801 million 453 thousand and 979. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 12,772.49, decreasing 0.20% and the all index of MSE was 938.25, decreasing 0.13% against the previous day.
BoM MNT Rates: Friday, May 15 Close
MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:
Mongolia Inbound FDI Drops 82% Y/y to $381.9m in 2014
By Michael Kohn
May 15 (Bloomberg) -- Inbound FDI in 2014 was $381.9m vs. $2.14b in 2013, central bank says in statement of revised data.
* Capital and financial account showed a surplus of $1.06b vs. $1.44b yr ago, a decline of 26%
* 2014 Current account deficit $1.4b at the end of December vs deficit of $3.2b yr earlier, narrowing 56% y/y
BoM issues ₮67.5 billion 1-week bills at 13%, total outstanding -14.8% to ₮135.6 billion
May 15 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 67.5 billion at a weighted interest rate of 13.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
Mogi: doesn't say where they got the numbers
Mongolia's Service and Retail Sector $1.55 Billion Loss in 2014
May 15 (gogo.mn) As of 2014 the losses in service and retail sector has increased by 18 percent. The monetary value of this loss is worth USD 1,553.2 million.
Those losses are explained with the increase in the tourism costs and decrease in the revenues, increase in the financial services and increase in the income to be paid to the foreign investors related with expanded exports of oil.
The increase in the losses in service and retail sector in 2014 is also explained with renewed calculation of the forecasts and additional information sources per IMF guidelines.
FDI has dropped by 87 percent or USD 1,822.1 million compared to the same period of the previous year, while according to the Bank of Mongolia the drop in the FDI was financed by:
· increase of the portfolio investment sources by USD 432.9 million,
· increase of other investment sources by USD 1,037.8 million.
Social Insurance Expenditure Outgrows Revenue by More Than Two to One
Ulaanbaatar, May 15 (MONTSAME) In the first four months of this year, the revenue of Social Insurance Fund amounted to 430.3 billion Togrog, reflecting 35.9 billion or 9.1% increase, while the expenditure of the fund reached MNT 478.8 billion, increasing MNT 79.8 billion or 19.6% against the previous year.
Some 48 billion Togrog was given to 185.4 thousand people in forms of pensions and welfare benefits from the Social Welfare Fund. The number of those receiving the pensions and welfare benefits went up by 22.8 thousand people or 14.0%, and amount of the pensions and allowances--by 3.1 billion Togrog or 7.0% against 2014.
In the first four months of this year, some 81 billion Togrog was issued by from the Human Development Fund to 1,005.4 thousand children aged below 18 as cash benefits.
Lunch with the FT: Saikhanbileg Chimed
By Lucy Hornby
Over mutton, Mongolia's prime minister talks about foreign investment, China and Twitter
May 15 (FT) At the Marshal House, a pastel peach building in the centre of the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar, it feels like time has stopped. A tall soldier waves me through ornate iron gates while another lights a fire against the cold spring air in the grand reception room. The thick carpets, full-length drapes and square marble columns exude the lavish but cold formality of Soviet architecture: in the first half of the 20th century this was the residence of Marshal Choibalsan, who ruled with a bloody fist during Mongolia's early decades as a satellite of the USSR.
Today the country is independent. The huge copper and coal deposits in the Gobi desert that powered its GDP to $11.7bn from just $1.1bn 10 years ago have given rise to the nickname "Minegolia". The stately routines of the Marshal House are a sharp contrast with the rest of the city: once low-rise and drab, it now boasts glass-and-steel skyscrapers and glitzy billboards, and the roads are crowded with SUVs. Almost half of Mongolia's 3m people live in Ulaanbaatar; each year, a further 10,000 families migrate here from the vast steppes and desert that make up the world's second-largest landlocked country. They are lured by the same promise of wealth that has attracted foreign miners and bankers.
But all is not well. Mongolia's economy has been hit by the crash in commodities prices and a steep drop in foreign investment. The currency is weakening and companies are starting to default on bank loans. I am here to meet Saikhanbileg Chimed, Mongolia's youngest-ever prime minister, and the man charged with averting a looming economic crisis.
Last November, Saikhanbileg cobbled together a "grand coalition" of parties with a mandate to get Mongolia's economic house in order. He is currently in a race to push through his agenda before the summer, when the beginning of the next election campaign season will test his coalition's unity. The prime minister appears tense but defiant: he believes the foreign investment community isn't giving Mongolia credit for what has been done so far. "In the last two or three years, the Mongolian government has been seen as 100 per cent the guilty party [in any investment dispute]," he complains. "In real life, it is never like that. Even between husband and wife, it is 60-40, 70-30, never 100-zero."
If it were truly the government's intention not to let foreigners into Mongolia, he says, there would be no reason for him to have lunch with me. "When we had this big boom, big investment, some people thought, 'This is such an easy thing — why do we need investment?' 'We can just do it by ourselves, why do we need the westerners' money?' But it's not the case, you know."
. . .
At 46, Saikhanbileg is the standard-bearer for the post-Soviet generation of tech-savvy, western-oriented Mongolians. He was a popular television reporter before he first ran for parliament. After decades of staid, communist broadcasting, Mongolians were fascinated by the tall, handsome and politically passionate young correspondent. Many can still mimic his signature sign-off, "Don't change the channel!"
Today, Saikhanbileg still has some of the television reporter about him. Describing the country's transformation since its first democratic elections in 1990, he moves his hands along the white tablecloth, as if editing an imaginary piece of film. "We are cutting, putting what the west has experienced in 200-300 years into 25 years," he says. "It is a quite difficult job. There have been a lot of cuts, a lot of edits, a lot of short-cuts in terms of timing."
Saikhanbileg's own life has mirrored those changes. Fluent in Russian, he studied history in Moscow in the late 1980s, and law in newly democratic Mongolia in the 1990s before earning a law degree from George Washington university, Washington DC, in 2002. His generation was, he says, "very lucky". "Our childhood and young years were spent under a totalitarian regime, so we somehow understand North Koreans right now, Cubans right now, because we were the same. Now, for 25 years, we have been in a western free democracy, free market economy, so we can also understand what the western world looks like. In these 25 years, a very small period of time, we have experienced a rollercoaster, seeing what sunny days and rainy days look like."
In the sunny days of the mining boom, politicians "divided the pelt before killing the bear", to use a Mongolian expression. They pledged mining revenues that had yet to materialise and demanded greater shares for the state, fearful that Mongolia was giving away its wealth too cheaply. Now, the boom has gone and the rain arrived. Foreign investment — which at its height in 2011 accounted for half Mongolia's GDP — has plummeted in the past few years, along with metal prices. The downturn is a severe blow to one of the world's most resource-dependent economies. Unemployment is at 7.7 per cent and is a particular problem in the "ger" districts — informal settlements of circular yurts — that house the capital's rising population of migrants, where average incomes are only a few hundred dollars a month. Worse, $1.08bn in international bonds become due in two years, an amount equal to about one-tenth of current GDP.
Attracting more foreign investment would make it easier to refinance the debt. The biggest chunk of that investment would come from a proposed expansion of the giant Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in the Gobi desert. Negotiating with developer Rio Tinto, one of the world's largest mining companies with a market capitalisation five times the size of the Mongolian economy, has not been easy. Nonetheless, shortly after we meet Saikhanbileg announces on national television that he has a deal "in principle" to move ahead on expanding Oyu Tolgoi as well as a huge coal mine.
Foreigners have complained of Mongolia's rapidly gyrating policies but, says Saikhanbileg, they must learn to live with the country's still young democratic process. "Do you want Mongolia to be a totalitarian society under one khan's rule, making one decision that everyone will follow? That's not the case. We made this decision 25 years ago and that's why there will be a majority, there will be a minority, there will be critics and there will be supporters," he says.
Even so, the Mongolian government was recently shaken by an international arbitration panel's award of $100m to Canadian-listed Khan Resources, whose uranium prospect near Saikhanbileg's birthplace in the far eastern province of Dornod was nationalised in 2010. (Payment talks broke down completely after the chief executive of Khan died from diabetes complications in a Mongolian hotel in April and Mongolia said it would seek to annul the award.) When I raise the subject, Saikhanbileg is immediately agitated. "I don't get why just one arbitration case and just $100m is talked about as if it is an earthquake!" Other countries have faced arbitration claims too, he exclaims, so there is no reason to put Mongolia "under a microscope".
. . .
A broth with tiny round dumplings arrives. Saikhanbileg breaks the tension by telling me it is a favourite Mongolian dish. I ask him about the previous serving — a sweet and oily warm cheese offering with chewy curds that comes in a metal cup. "It was cheese in a special Mongolian way. I didn't notice what I had but it was cheese," he says. Was he too upset over my question about Khan Resources to notice? I ask. He laughs and relaxes. "I was not upset!"
We consult a waiter, who explains that it was cheese julienne. A French dish, or Mongolian? I wonder, betraying my ignorance of haute cuisine. Saikhanbileg looks baffled. "It's hard to say, but the cheese is Mongolian, that's for sure." This is followed by a dish consisting of mutton minced with carrots and greens but mysteriously reattached to the rib, as if it were the original cut. Another Mongolian speciality?
"It is sheep." Saikhanbileg emits a surprisingly realistic bleat for clarification. Like most other Mongolians I have met this week, the PM leaves the side serving of vegetables untouched.
Vegetables remain rare and expensive here, so their presence at mealtimes is one more sign of changing times in Mongolia, where the traditional staple food is lamb. The jarring slide from dependence on the Soviet Union to dependence on mining has left many anxious. One woman I met in Ulaanbaatar phrased it this way: "In the city we worry about pollution, for the countryside it is the environmental damage, and we don't know if there will be anything left for our children."
The destruction of the nomadic lifestyle and the grasslands in Inner Mongolia was the subject of a recent hit Chinese movie, Wolf Totem, that transfixed Ulaanbaatar, though Saikhanbileg says he has yet to see it. Only 300,000 of Mongolia's nearly 3m people are still nomads but this past remains a large part of Mongolians' identity. According to Saikhanbileg it also plays a part in the national discord over foreign mining investment. "The nomadic style of life makes people adapt very quickly to any circumstances," he says. "Every person is a decision maker. You talk about why Mongolians are not so unified in a specific area — this is the mentality."
. . .
Earlier this year, in an attempt to get a popular mandate to negotiate the Oyu Tolgoi mine, Saikhanbileg launched a referendum by text message. Mobile phone owners were asked to choose between two evils: big mining projects or austerity. Ten per cent of the population responded, with 56 per cent choosing mining, but the exercise in direct democracy left many Mongolians fuming that it was not a fair question. "It's like being asked to choose between your mother and your mother-in-law, when what you really want is your wife," groused one blogger.
For his part, Saikhanbileg says he was pleased by the level of response to the poll. "I did not expect that 365,000 people would participate. That is a big number in Mongolia." Yet there is one glaring gap in the prime minister's efforts to build a national consensus: he is not on Twitter. It's a striking absence in a society where both politicians and the populace tweet constantly. Accusations of corruption or selling out to foreigners fly thick and fast on social media.
"That's not the approach for me," confesses Saikhanbileg, who throughout his political career has avoided personal scandal. "I have official channels to introduce myself to society and people. So that's why it is better not to engage with someone criticising you on Twitter."
He has, however, gone on TV to complain about online personal attacks. His wife, a former model, runs a beauty spa in Ulaanbaatar and he keeps his young children out of the limelight. "When this offence is on your private life, on your wife and children, it is really hard to accept," he says. "I lost my very happy youth under the public eye, when I was a TV anchor and entered politics. I didn't have the chance like a normal young guy to go to nightclubs, dance or whatever. It was always under somebody's surveillance." Anyway, he points out, as prime minister, "there is no physical time" for Twitter and it would feel fake to have a staffer do it for him.
The arrival of green tea to end the meal seems like a good time to ask about Mongolia's powerful neighbours. Attracting western investment is one way to keep Russia and China at bay — what Mongolia calls its "third neighbour" policy. But Mongolians also fear foreigners will flip attractive projects to Chinese buyers. Already the country's main oilfield is operated by China National Petroleum Corp, after being sold by an American company.
Just on the other side of the Gobi desert, China boasts a population 500 times the size of Mongolia's. In Ulaanbaatar rising nationalism is coupled with anxiety that the country is slipping into a satellite state of China, so quickly after shrugging off Russia's embrace. Nearly everyone I met mentioned turning to China for loans as a last resort if the next few years got really tough. But no one liked the idea. "It's hard to explain," Saikhanbileg says, slowing down for the first time. The threat of Chinese incursion from the south "was the issue during the past 800 years, maybe more than 1,000 years." He pauses. "The good thing is that people are concerned about this. As long as the concern is there, we will be in good shape."
In a sign of the times, the PM is trying to learn some Chinese. He finds the pronunciation hard. If you don't have time for Twitter, surely you don't have time to learn Chinese, I suggest.
"For any prime minister the hardest thing is that economic problems, other issues, they never end," he admits. "Spending time with family, with the children, this type of thing needs to be sacrificed." But, he finishes: "It's also a good opportunity to perform something, to achieve something."
Speaker Receives World Bank CFO Bertrand Badre
May 15 (infomongolia.com) Today on May 15, 2015, the Speaker of the State Great Khural (Parliament), Zandaakhuu ENKHBOLD received in his office the World Bank Group delegates headed by Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer, Bertrand Badre.
At the beginning of meeting, Speaker of Parliament Z.Enkhbold thanked Mr. Bertrand Badre to meeting and briefed about the current situation of Mongolian economy.
Chief Financial Officer Bertrand Badre said he has been visiting Mongolia to get acknowledged with the country's office activities and forwarded his proposals on how to overcome the economic difficulties as well as clarified on the World Bank's proposed three projects that are submitted to the Parliament.
In turn, Parliamentary Chairman, Z.Enkhbold said, "Sustainable Livelihood Project-3" project is approved by the State Great Khural. Now to be implemented projects in education, health, e-governance are undergoing and the amount and project names will not be changed, but to make some changes in the content. These projects will be approved soon. In addition, we presented to Mr. Anderson regarding the re-engineering of the Office of Parliament. In the future, all government entities will be reengineering.
Therefore, some of above mentioned projects would be helpful to implement the latter ones".
Speaker Meets Managing Director of WBG – Montsame, May 15
ADB, Mongolia Hold Country Portfolio Review Meeting
May 15 (gogo.mn) This year, country portfolio review meeting which is to evaluate the implementation and performance of projects funded by ADB took place in Mongolian Representative office of Asian Development Bank (ADB). The Ministry of Finance jointly discussed the difficulties faced during the implementation of projects and determined the ways to solve with project proponent state organizations.
ADB implements 18 loan projects, nine free grant projects and 30 technical assistance projects in Mongolia.
The City Governor Office and ADB are jointly implementing "Ulaanbaatar Urban Services and Ger Area Development Investment Program" and the State Great Khural approved "Urban Transport Development Investment Program" on April 30, 2015.
The construction work will start in March 2016. By implementing the project, officials expected that resident`s time for commute by public transport will be decreased by 20-40 percent besides negative impacts on the environment of public transport will declined by 70-80 percent.
During the meeting, "Ulaanbaatar Urban Services and Ger Areas Development Investment Program" was introduced as successfully implementing project by the City Governor Office and ADB. In scope of the importance and range of the program, Arnaud Heckmann Senior Urban Development Specialist of East Asia Department was appointed to work in Mongolia in order to cooperate more closely with the ADB.
ADB's Project Implementation Reviewed – Montsame, May 15
PM Addresses National Assembly of Environmental Protection Cooperatives
Ulaanbaatar, May 15 (MONTSAME) The Prime Minister's adviser B.Urgamaltsetseg delivered Friday the PM Ch.Saikhanbileg's letter to the national assembly of environment-protection cooperatives. This event started at the State House May 14, organized by the Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism.
The Government, while implementing a policy for ensuring the country's development and economic growth, is prioritizing the perspectives to conserve the ecological balance and to prevent an environmental pollution and degradation through appropriate utilization of the natural resources in harmony with the environmental capacity and adequate rehabilitation, the letter says.
The Government also works for extending the people's rights and responsibilities, for improving the public involvement, and consistently pursues a policy to cover the expenses for natural resources' protection and rehabilitation, it goes on.
Today, the matters on pastoral lands and disaster risk management--a basis for the animal husbandry industry--have come to be realized by the herdsmen' cooperatives, "we realize that the collaborative management of natural resources will not become possible unless the Government provides coordination between these sectors", the PM says in the letter.
In recent years, the people's attitude toward the environment protection have been improving, and responsible activities, participation and cooperation have been intensifying, and this has resulted in a creation of 1,600 friendships and cooperatives with some 40 thousand people, he notes. The cooperatives are conducting conservation and protection works on over 8.2 million hectares of areas, according to the statistics.
Supreme Court upholds appeal to allow Amjilt.com to reopen
May 15 (news.mn) Preliminary Court No. 20 has reviewed the case filed on the decision made by the Communications Regulatory Commission to shut down amjilt.com, on December 18, 2014. Based on Paragraph 9.1.2 of Article 9 of the Law of Communications Regulatory Commission of Mongolia, it was decided that the appeal to this decision was invalid. The decision was appealed on in March 20, 2015.
Claimant Director of Big Success LLC J.Shijir said, "On July 3, 2014, our website published an article about Khaan Jims resort, which belongs to the [former] Prime Minister of Mongolia, dumping wastewater in the Tuul River. The day after the publication of this article, on July 4, 2014, the Communications Regulatory Commission included our company on the black list and closed domestic access to our site.
"As indicated in the law, the Communications Regulatory Commission hasn't resolved this issue. We believe that this is unlawful and we have submitted our claim to the court to invalidate this unlawful decision."
President's Human Rights Advisor on Domestic Violence Bill
May 14 (UB Post) The following is an interview with Human Rights and Legal Policy Advisor to the President of Mongolia Ch.Unurbayar. He spoke about issues related to the draft law against domestic violence presented by President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj to Parliament.
The public is pleased with President Ts.Elbegdorj's efforts and initiatives to fight domestic violence. Are these projects seeing any results?
Indeed. The President of Mongolia has been paying special attention on fighting domestic violence for a long time and focused policies as well as initiatives on this issue. the "Let's Unite Against Violence" meeting was held at the Citizens' Chamber under the President of Mongolia in December 2013, and the President himself participated in the event. The President expressed his position against domestic violence during that meeting, which involved government and nongovernment organizations, researchers, scientists, and citizen representatives.
First of all, Mongolia is in urgent need to review and improve the legal environment. After cooperating with government and nongovernment organizations, researchers, scientists and citizens, the President developed a draft bill to fight domestic violence and presented it to Parliament in April, 2015.
How is Mongolia's current legal framework for combating domestic violence?
The Law on Domestic Violence was approved by Parliament in 2004. It can be said that the foundation for operations to fight domestic violence was established by the approval of this law. Over 10 years have passed since then. Now that I look back, Mongolia's gone quite a long way. Yet, complete abolition of domestic violence has become Mongolia's highest priority and an urgent issue.
According to a survey made in 2014, domestic violence-related crimes had increased by 2.6 folds in just a year compared to 2013.The number of victims of domestic violence had increased by 3.5 times, and one in every five families was getting divorced because of domestic violence. Also, there have been 3,048 cases of domestic violence in total, 66 cases of premeditated murder, and 2,727 cases of serious bodily injury from 2009 to 2014. This is a warning signal.
This statistic shows that it's time to review the current legal framework. This isn't the result we anticipated. It's time to put an end to this situation.
What exactly has caused this situation to surface? What should Mongolia focus on?
Various reasons can be mentioned, but frankly speaking, this situation is directly dependent on the system and legal environment to combat domestic violence. Even though Mongolia has set an ambitious goal to fight against domestic violence, it still hasn't created an effective system to reach that goal yet. If you look at the current actual situation, Mongolia has created a system that punishes victims rather than protecting them.
Under such condition, it's become pointless and money-wasting to talk about fighting, abolishing or even preventing domestic violence. This semi-paralyzed system is increasing domestic violence, even making domestic violence more hidden, and in the end, the victims are imprisoned.
People have to understand that there are more people affected by domestic violence, have their rights seriously violated, and living in fear, unable to escape the grip of their enslavers than the number statistics are showing. As this situation is existent, it's crucial to improve the legal framework and create a more effective system. I'd like to point out that the social demand for the revised draft on domestic violence initiated by the Mongolian President was made because of this need. The draft bill aims to bring protection and provide services which the state is unable to give.
What's the difference between the Law on Domestic Violence approved in 2004 and the revised draft bill presented by the President?
The revised draft law against domestic violence presented by the President has issued many progressive regulations that are very significant and beneficial and to which the currently effective law can't be compared.
Firstly, the protection of the rights of victims has been put as top priority in the draft bill. The draft is especially focused on providing a system to protect people's rights. Secondly, relevant additional articles and changes weren't issued in the law when the Law on Domestic Violence was approved in 2004. The rights of organizations were too general and the policy to combat domestic violence became useless because necessary relations between organizations weren't issued consistently in the law. The current legislation is ineffective. The revised draft bill takes the system to fight domestic violence as a whole, specifies the rights and responsibilities of the government and nongovernment organizations, and the relations between institutes and sectors to correct policy errors. Thirdly, the draft regulates issues concerning the protection of children from domestic violence in a separate chapter.
The regulation in the new chapter provides detailed guide for protecting the rights of a child affected or is in danger of domestic violence, detecting and reporting such cases, and ensuring special protection for these children. I'd like to highlight that many new and effective regulations have been issued in the draft for ensuring human rights.
You've just mentioned about services for protecting the rights of victims. What kinds of services are specified in the draft bill?
According to the draft bill, seven types of services will be provided to victims of domestic violence. Particularly, security services, health care services, legal assistance, child protective services, mental health services, referral services, and social welfare services. The security service will protect the lives, health and safety of victims. In other words, it's been specified that people affected by domestic violence will be protected in a temporary house to ensure their safety and suitable measures will be taken to protect their rights. People will see from the draft law that other services are also directed for protecting the rights of victims.
The public is most interested in how domestic violence perpetrators will be held accountable. What's been specified in the draft bill?
A family is the first and the basic environment for protecting and ensuring people's rights. It's impossible to resolve social issues without resolving family issues first. Therefore, we can absolutely not accept modern enslavement – domestic violence. Establishing an effective liability system for holding domestic violence perpetrators accountable is essential. Even when people are confirmed of perpetrating domestic violence, the law approved in 2004 doesn't impose criminal liability on them. The new draft bill, on the other hand, has provided general regulation for imposing criminal liability and the recently submitted draft Criminal Code issued domestic violence as a criminal act. I foresee improvement in the liability system as domestic violence will be considered as a violation and criminal act.
When will the draft law against domestic violence be approved?
Unfortunately, the discussion for the draft law is being delayed at the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice. Even so, MPs are supporting the draft bill. I'm expecting it to be approved by the end of the spring parliamentary session.
Japan Diet OKs free trade agreement with Mongolia
May 15 (Jiji Press) The Diet approved an economic partnership agreement with Mongolia on Friday.
The Upper House passed the bilateral free trade pact by a majority vote at a plenary session. The Lower House has already approved the pact.
The government will draw up relevant ordinances needed to implement the treaty, while Mongolia will work to complete parliamentary approval procedures. With these steps taken, the trade agreement is expected to take effect before the end of the year after the two countries have exchanged diplomatic notes.
Mongolia is the 15th economy to have concluded an EPA with Japan. For Mongolia, this is its first EPA.
Under the pact, the proportion of tariff-free goods from Japan to Mongolia will be increased to about 96 percent of the total Mongolia-bound export value within 10 years, while Japan will abolish tariffs on all goods imported from Mongolia over the same period.
Japan hopes the EPA with Mongolia will help secure stable supplies of mineral resources such as coal and rare earths.
The Upper House's plenary session also approved a World Trade Organization trade facilitation pact Friday. The pact, the first major progress since the 2001 launch of the Doha Round of global trade liberalization negotiations, will come into force if it is endorsed by two-thirds of WTO members.
Bulgaria to build $ 1 million greenhouse in Mongolia
May 15 (FreshPlaza) Bulgaria's plan to build a greenhouse for vegetable production in Mongolia worth about $ 1 million is one of the concrete results of the visit of President Rosen Plevneliev to Ulan Bator. The aim is to further develop the production of fruits and vegetables and to find new markets. The agreement was signed in the Mongolian capital by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture Vasil Grudev.
"The greenhouse to be built here, in the Mongolian capital, will bring Bulgarian know-how in the production of vegetables. Hopefully the project will begin taking shape by the end of the year so that we can actually start opening new markets," said Grudev.
According to him, the opportunity that the country has with the construction of this greenhouse is to use the capital of Mongolia as a base for market development in Asia. "For us, Mongolia represents a door for the whole of Asia, and especially China," he added.
Gradon chasing more Mongolia work
Practice one of three shortlisted for Four Seasons scheme
May 15 (Building Design) Tyneside practice Gradon Architecture is one of three firms chasing a scheme to design a £200 million entertainment, residential and commercial centre in Mongolia.
The firm is up against unnamed practices from Germany and South Korea.
Called the Four Seasons, the scheme in the capital Ulan Bator includes residential apartments, public spaces, a hotel, shopping mall, leisure centre, skating rink and waterpark as well as conference centre, office space and medical hub.
Client on the scheme is Mongol Corporation, a local developer with a number of schemes dotted throughout Ulan Bator.
Gradon's proposals also sees existing natural vegetation incorporated into the building's exterior to create vertical gardens.
The practice has an office out in Mongolia and last month was appointed to work on a £20 million retail and residential complex in Ulan Bator.
Vietnam delegates to inspect Mongolian meat factories
May 15 (Mongolian Economy) Mongolia has 54 million heads of livestock. Of those, 10.3 million were slaughtered for meat production last year and 11.8 million this year. It is evident that Mongolia has the capacity to export meat while simultaneously meeting domestic demand. According to one study, Mongolia has the capacity to process 6.4 thousand tonnes of camel meat, 60 thousand tonnes of beef, 38 thousand tonnes of horse meat, 38 thousand tonnes of mutton and 132 thousand tonnes of chevon (goat meat) per year in regards to foodstuffs.
Officials said that our two neighbours as well as other European and Asian countries have repeatedly sent requests to purchase Mongolian meat and meat products. In other words, our supply is not meeting the demand even though it's clearly there. According to a control officer at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, one person eats an average of 44 kilograms of meat per year globally. However, this rate is much lower in China where one person eats 4 kilograms of meat per year. Despite that, there are still great opportunities in the Chinese market.
Industry veterans working in this sector believe that Russia is the most opportune destination to export our meat. However, Mongolia provides merely 0.18 percent of Russia's meat imports. As these figures are rather low, vanguards in our meat industry are prioritising exports to our southern and northern neighbours.
Mongolian factories such as Makh Market and Darkhan Meat Food are to start exporting processed meat and meat products to China as a result of cooperation between officials from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the General Agency for Specialised Inspection with their Chinese counterparts in February of last year. The factories must ensure they meet the requirements necessitated by China and Russia. Entrepreneurs have been saying that support and cooperation from government agencies such as the General Agency for Specialised Inspection and the Department of Veterinary and Animal Breeding are lacking, making it difficult to meet the requirements.
Members of the Mongolian Meat Association said, "Every factory has failed Russian veterinary inspections this year. Support from the government is relatively weak; Mongolia's veterinaries are subpar. If government agencies are not going to cooperate with and support factories, they will go bankrupt as a result of failing inspections year after year."
Delegates from the Department of Veterinary of Vietnam's Ministry of Food and Agriculture will come to Mongolia to inspect and conduct a formal examination of 20 slaughterhouses and meat processing factories between the 20th and 30th of this month. In doing so, they will issue a report on the likelihood of successful export of mutton and chevon in the context of the agreement. The Chief Inspector of the General Agency for Specialised Inspection, N.Nyamdorj, said that the Vietnamese side will come to a decision regarding from which factories and what types of meat they would be willing to import after the inspection.
The Vietnamese side has submitted their criteria regarding what aspects the inspections will emphatically check for. To be more specific, they will examine the monitoring of the origins of livestock at slaughterhouses and the internal and external supervision of factories. As for processing factories, the inspectors will pay careful attention to technology. Government agencies will also inspect each other. In addition, they will be introduced to the border pass system of meat and meat products.
Entrepreneurs reminded relevant parties that the 20 factories to be inspected must be factories that meet international standards, because when Japanese inspectors came to Mongolia few years ago, some factories were not even accredited. Members from Mongolian Meat Association stressed that these Japanese inspectors left the country saying that factories do not meet standards.
Vietnamese delegation to visit Mongolian meat processing factories – UB Post, May 14
JICA Signs Project with AFCCR on Improving Fair Competition in Mongolia
Ulaanbaatar, May 17 (MONTSAME) Officials from the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumers' Rights and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) inked the completed plan for a "Improving Fair Competition Environment in Mongolia" project.
The plan, developed this May 5-15, was signed Saturday by T.Ayursaikhan, the chairman of the Mongolian authority, and by Haruyuki Shimada, the head of the research team in Mongolia appointed by the JICA. In frames of the project, the two sides will expand their partnership in order to achieve efficient outcome of the project, to strengthen capacity of the Authority for Fair Competition and Consumers' Rights, to advertize laws and regulations to the entities, state, local and localities' self-governing administrations, to educate judges on fair competition concept, to have them learn international practices, and to improve a legal environment of fair competition.
The project will commence this July and will complete in July of 2018.
Scientific Conference Held in Mongolia on Aviation Sector
Ulaanbaatar, May 17 (MONTSAME) Such a scientific conference was held on Saturday on occasion of the 90th anniversary of the foundation of Mongolian aviation.
It brought together representatives and scholars from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Ministry of Road and Transportation, Ministry of Defense, General Headquarters of Mongolian Armed Forces (GHMAF), Mongolian University of Science and Technology (MUST), Mongolian State University and the University of Defense. The gathered focused mainly on concluding the achievements Mongolia has gained in this sphere and on determining further directions.
A former chairman of the CAA Mr Lhagva said a number of aviation companies has reached eight, and that 250-300 planes are flying over Mongolian territories every day. The separation distance between planes flying in our airspace have been fixed at 30 km (from previous 90 km) by the governmental order, and this will increase a number of such flights, he noted. Services of airlines have reached international standards, staffers' skills have improved, he added.
In 2014, Mongolia earned 68 billion Togrog from the navigation services for international flights over Mongolian territories, 88 billion is expected to be earned this year.
It is considered that the aviation service of Mongolia was founded on May 25 of 1925 when a Soviet-made Y-12 plane landed in Ulaanbaatar. As of today, the aviation sector has some two thous. staffers, airports in 15 provinces and an international airport in the capital city.
Booming Ulan Bator, the world's coldest capital, is choking on smoke
By TERRENCE EDWARDS
May 15 (L.A. Times) Thirteenth century Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan worshiped the sky as a god and declared it the source of power as his hordes built the world's most expansive empire. In the last few years, however, smog and ash have increasingly blotted out the sky here in modern Mongolia's capital.
Coal-fired power plants and the exhaust from the growing number of motor vehicles on Ulan Bator's roads are viewed as the chief culprits, as they are from Beijing to New Delhi. But Ulan Bator's woes are exacerbated by a uniquely Mongolian factor: the tens of thousands of gers, or yurts, clustered around the city's edges.
For centuries, Mongolia's nomads have dwelt in these tent-like structures made of felt. But the promise of a better education and jobs has lured hundreds of thousands to the big city. Ulan Bator has 1.3 million residents — almost half the country's population — and gershave proliferated as a cheap and familiar form of housing. With no access to the city's central heating grid, though, ger dwellers must burn coal to stay warm.
And burn they do. Ulan Bator is the world's coldest capital; in January, the average low temperature was 41.3 degrees below zero, with the mercury once sinking to minus 86.8. Winter weather lingers through April, so clouds of smoke choke the skies for months on end. Ulan Bator means "red hero" in Mongolian, but the pollution is so bad that cynical locals have taken to calling their city Smoky Hero.
"It's really difficult to breathe and the smoke sticks to my clothes," says Tsetsegmaa Tsoggerel, a 23-year-old shop clerk. "Everything smells and I hate it."
Tsoggerel saves money by living in a ger. She bought the structure for $1,500 and pays $25 a month to lease the spot it sits on; a typical one-bedroom apartment rents for about $350 a month. But she worries about the long-term cost to her health and that of her husky puppy, Hero.
"When people sneeze or get rashes, they say they have allergies, but I don't think that's it. I think it's the pollution," she said.
Mongolia, landlocked between Russia and China, became a democracy about 25 years ago after decades as a Soviet satellite. In recent years, its economy has soared as foreign mining companies have been invited to tap the nation's rich deposits of valuable minerals, helping gross domestic product to grow nearly tenfold from 2000 to 2012. Though the economy has slowed, growth continued at a robust 7.8% last year.
The capital, which sits in a valley with mountains on the outskirts, was prone to bad air seasonally even before the economy started booming. Spring dust storms are common, whipping particles into the air and contributing to health problems such as eye infections.
The booming economy has brought thousands of foreigners to Mongolia, including about 2,000 Americans. For their sake as well as to address concern about the global effect of air pollution, the U.S. Embassy here recently began measuring Ulan Bator's air quality at its location in the heart of the city.
Following the lead of American Embassy officials in Beijing — who launched a monitoring program more than five years ago — U.S. diplomatic outposts have begun measuring air quality in Mongolia and other Asian nations, including Vietnam. By this summer, data will be posted and archived for research at a website run by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Ulan Bator has four air-monitoring stations run by the city's air quality department. But the U.S. Embassy is even closer to the central business district and parliament. "Ulan Bator is located in sort of a depression, and the embassy within that pocket is in one of the deepest parts of the city," U.S. Ambassador Piper Campbell said.
Unlike in Beijing, where the monitoring program has been perceived by Chinese leaders as a stick in the eye, the American efforts in Ulan Bator have been welcomed by the government and researchers, she said.
The typical level of tiny particulates known as PM 2.5 in Ulan Bator's air is about three times the level recommended by the World Health Organization, said Luvsan Munkh-Erdene, director of the health policy research center at the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences. On bad days, it can climb to 12 times the WHO-recommended limit.
Air pollution here is of particular concern to pregnant women and children. Infants and youngsters growing up in ger districts are most at risk, said Munkh-Erdene, who has researched air quality in Ulan Bator and its effect on health for four years. Pneumonia is the most common immediate problem, and long-term exposure can contribute to cardiovascular disease and lung cancer.
Air pollution in Ulan Bator causes 130 premature deaths among children and 1,440 among adults each year, according to a 2014 report Munkh-Erdene researched with collaborators from UC Berkeley.
The government has subsidized and distributed more efficient stoves that produce less smoke. But foreigners in Ulan Bator sense little improvement.
"After a year or two, many expats give up," said Harris Kupperman, an American who heads the commercial real estate rental and development firm Mongolia Growth Group.
Kupperman, who lives much of the year in Miami, removed residential property rentals from his company's business portfolio after many foreign residents broke their leases and decided to leave the country. "There's lots of places with cold weather in the world, but Mongolia is special because of the pollution," he said.
Ulan Bator leaders want to dismantle the gers and wooden houses. They have long envisioned building affordable apartment complexes, with access to the city's heat and water services. That's still years away, however, and doesn't look like an option for Tsoggerel.
She imagines she'll eventually flee to a rural town, as her grandmother did eight years ago.
"I thought I would always just live in the city," she said, "but I don't know how I can keep living here."
Why Modi's Going to Mongolia
May 15 (Bloomberg TV) Narendra Modi travels to Mongolia after his visit to China. This will be the first-ever visit by an Indian Prime Minister. Sandwiched between China and Russia, it seems an unlikely destination to stop by. Bloomberg TV Mongolia's Hongorzool Narangerel reports.
PM Modi addresses the Parliament of Mongolia
May 17 (Narendra Modi) PM Modi addresses the Parliament, the State Great Hural, in Mongolia.
Narendra Modi discovers 'special connection' with Mongolian Parliament
Ulan Bator, May 17 (PTI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday discovered a "special connection" with Mongolia when he entered the Buddhist country's Parliament to deliver a speech, the first foreign leader to do so on Sunday - a holiday.
At the end of his 25-minute address to lawmakers at the State Great Hural - the Parliament - Modi turned around and pointed to state emblem which had a lotus among other symbols.
"When I entered the Parliament, I saw this symbol and I found special connection with this Parliament," he said.
Pointing his finger towards the emblem, he told lawmakers that there is a lotus on the emblem and his party BJP's symbol is also lotus.
His remarks was followed by clappings from lawmakers. Mongolia bestowed a rare honour on Modi by convening its Parliament on Sunday - a holiday - for his address.
Modi, who arrived in Mongolia on Sunday night from China on the second leg of his three-nation tour, is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the country.
PM Modi and Mongolian PM Chimed Saikhanbileg at the Signing of Agreements & Joint Press Statements
May 17 (Narendra Modi) --
India to take partnership with Mongolia from 'comprehensive' to 'strategic': PM Modi
May 17 (ANI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday thanked Mongolia for vouching for India's permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council, adding that India has decided to take the partnership between the two nations from a 'comprehensive' to a 'strategic' one.
"I conveyed India's sincere appreciation for Mongolia's strong support for India's permanent membership of United Nations Security Council. In a reflection of our commitment to further deepen our relationship, we have decided to upgrade our comprehensive partnership to 'strategic partnership'. We also agreed to renew our treaty of friendly relations and cooperation," Prime Minister Modi said, after he and his Mongolian counterpart Chimed Saikhanbileg witnessed the signing of 14 agreements between the two nations.
"I conveyed to Prime Minister [Saikhanbileg] that we greatly value our international partnership, which is based on our friendship, shared spiritual heritage and democratic values. These also provide solid foundation for our cooperation in our region," he added.
He further said that it was a great honour for him to be the first Prime Minister of India to visit Mongolia.
"I am delighted to visit Mongolia. It is a great honour to be the first prime minister of India to do so. It is a special privilege to come on the occasion of two important milestones that unite us - 25 years of democracy in Mongolia and 60 years of diplomatic relations between our two countries," said Prime Minister Modi.
"I am deeply grateful for your welcome and hospitality that have touched our hearts. You have embraced us with unlimited generosity and warmth of a true friend. Your Parliament's decision to host me on a Sunday is a remarkable gesture of honour for India," he added.
"I could not have started my visit in a better way. It began with a visit to the historic Gandan Monastery, where I handed over a sapling of the Mahabodhi Tree. This is a token of friendship from the people of India. I am here in respect and appreciation for our timeless kinship. You have called us your spiritual neighbour and third neighbour. We will always fulfil the responsibility that comes with this honour," he further said.
Prime Minister Modi also said that the destinies of India and Mongolia are closely linked with the future of the Asia-Pacific region
"Today, Mongolia is also an integral part of India's Act East Policy. The destinies of India and Mongolia are closely linked with the future of Asia-Pacific region. We can work together to help advance peace, stability and prosperity in this region. So, I am also here in commitment to our shared responsibility to our region," he said.
"Prime Minister Saikhanbileg has spoken eloquently about the relationship and our meeting today. I will have the honour to speak about our vision in the Parliament a little later. I was very pleased with my discussions with Prime Minister today. We have strong convergence of views on bilateral relations and our regional and international partnership," he added.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Modi said that India is looking forward to take its economic relationship with Mongolia to a new level.
"The agreements that we have just signed speak to the depth of the relationship. These cover economic relations, development partnership, defence and security, and people-to-people contacts. We will take our economic partnership to a new level. Today, I am pleased to announce that India will provide a line of credit of USD one billion to support expansion of Mongolia's economic capacity and infrastructure," he said.
"Supporting development of human resources is the best way to secure a nation's development. We reiterated our commitment to continue our efforts in Mongolia. India will increase the ITEC training slots for Mongolia from 150 to 200. We will also establish an India-Mongolia Joint School," he added.
Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister visited the Gandantegchinlen monastery in the city, where he interacted with the Hamba Lama and gifted him a sapling of a Bodhi tree.
This was followed by a ceremonial welcome that was accorded to him at the Mongolian State Palace at the Chinggis Khaan Square, where he also signed the guestbook.
Prime Minister Modi is later scheduled to address the Mongolian Parliament, the first foreign leader to address the members on Sunday, a holiday. He will also call on Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and will lay the foundation stone of the IT centre at the Mongolian University of Science and Technology.
Prime Minister Modi, who arrived in Ulaanbaatar on Saturday night, is the first Indian prime minister to visit Mongolia.
Joint Statement for India-Mongolia Strategic Partnership
May 17 (Ministry of External Affairs, India) At the invitation of His Excellency Mr. Chimediin Saikhanbileg, Prime Minister of Mongolia, His Excellency Mr. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, paid a state visit to Mongolia from 16 to 18 May, 2015.
Prime Minister Modi held bilateral discussions with Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg. President Ts.Elbegdorj, hosted a luncheon for Prime Minister Modi. During his meeting with Speaker Z.Enkhbold, Prime Minister Modi expressed his deep appreciation for according him the privilege to address the State Great Hural of Mongolia.
A New Chapter
Future directions and objectives
Political and Security Partnership
Defence & Security Cooperation
Health Sector Cooperation
Scientific, Cultural and People to People contacts
Laying Down Frameworks for Future Cooperation
The two Prime Ministers witnessed the signing of the following bilateral documents:
1. Air Services Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of Mongolia
2. Treaty between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of Mongolia on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons
3. Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India Government of Mongolia on Cooperation in the Field of Animal Health and Dairy
4. Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of Mongolia on Cooperation in the Field of Traditional Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy
5. Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Republic of India and the Government of Mongolia and on Establishment of Cyber Security Training Centre in the Ministry of Defence of Mongolia
6. Memorandum of Understanding betweenthe Government of Republic of India andthe Government of MongoliaonEstablishment of India-Mongolia Joint Friendship School in Mongolia
7. Programme on Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of India and theGovernment of Mongolia in the field of Culture for the Years 2015-2018
8. Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation between the National Security Council of the Republic of Indiaand the National Security Council of Mongolia
9. Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between the Ministry of External Affairs of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia
10. Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Energy of Mongolia
11. Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Justice of Mongolia for enhancing co-operation in Border Guarding, Policing and Surveillance
12. Memorandum of Understanding between the Tata Memorial Centre of India and the National Cancer Center of Mongolia for Gifting of Bhabhatron-II Tele-therapy Unit along with a Radiotherapy Simulator
13. Memorandum of Understanding between the Foreign Service Institute of the Ministry of External Affairs of the Republic of India and the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia
The two Prime Ministers agreed to take the opportunity of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2015 to organize joint cultural activities in their respective countries.
The two Prime Ministers agreed to work closely on issues discussed and agreed on during the official talks between Prime Minister Modi and Mongolian leadership through existing bilateral mechanisms and all other means of interaction to ensure concrete outcomes of bilateral cooperation in the years to come.
The State Visit of the Prime Minister of India has consolidated the longstanding, cordial and cooperative ties between Mongolia and India, and contributed greatly to further developing the newly established bilateral partnership.
India Extends Mongolia $1 Billion Credit Line for Infrastructure
By Michael Kohn
May 17 (Bloomberg) India will provide Mongolia with a $1 billion line of credit to help fund railway, power and other infrastructure projects, a much-needed boost for the north Asian country struggling to right its slowing economy.
"We will take our economic partnership to a new level," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today at a joint press conference with his Mongolian counterpart, Saikhanbileg Chimed.
Mongolia is looking for ways to finance and expand a network of road and rail corridors to help increase mineral exports to China and beyond. It's also developing new coal fired power plants and wind farms to reduce energy reliance on neighboring Russia.
Mongolia has seen its economic growth slow from a world-beating 17.3 percent in 2011 to 7.8 percent last year amid a flight of foreign investment and low commodity prices. Modi today mentioned mining as a sector for joint cooperation, without providing details.
While trade between the two countries is almost negligible, just $16 million last year, Mongolia looks to India for a spiritual connection as the majority of its citizens follow Buddhism, founded in India 2,500 years ago.
Modi, the first Indian premier to pay a working visit to Mongolia, began his visit today at Gandan Monastery where he presented a sapling of the Bodhi tree.
He addressed lawmakers at a special session of Parliament and is due to attend a Mongolian sports festival.
India and Mongolia signed more than 10 agreements, including cooperation on border security, health, renewable energy, dairy farming and cyber security.
Mongolia is Modi's second stop on a three-nation tour that also includes China and South Korea.
India to open $1 bln credit line to finance infrastructure in Mongolia – Reuters, May 17
PM Narendra Modi announces $1 billion line of credit for Mongolia – The Times of India, May 17
India to help Mongolia set up Amul-like dairy cooperative
VADODARA, May 17 (TNN): When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Ulan Bator on Sunday, he will be taking along with him the 'Taste of India' to Mongolia.
Amul — India's best known food brand — is all set to help Mongolia develop its dairy sector based on the Amul model of cooperatives.
A team from Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) — the country's largest co-operative that markets brand Amul — visited Mongolia last month.
Modi will be the first Indian Prime Minister to make a trip to the Mongolian capital. During his visit, a cooperation agreement between GCMMF and the Institute of Technology, Mongolia, will be signed.
Discussions between Amul and Mongolia started when the ambassador of Mongolia to India visited GCMMF headquarters in Anand in June last year.
It was during this meeting that Mongolia had asked GCMMF to facilitate Mongolian milk producers to restructure their dairy industry.
GCMMF's team had last month visited the milk-processing plants in Mongolia, Institute of Technology at Ulan Bator and met stakeholders in dairy sector to understand the Mongolian government's outlook on dairy development and their role.
"Our cooperation will be for creation of an effective milk procurement system near Ulan Bator and Darkhan cities and in Bayankhongor and Ovorkhangai provinces in partnership with existing rural cooperatives and milk processing entities," GCMMF's managing director R S Sodhi told TOI, while confirming the development.
Amul will help develop training programmes on management of bulk milk cooling system, clean milk production, animal health, establishing milk producers organization, develop standards of operation procedure of different units in dairy chain, dairy technology for non-dairy technologists, quality control of milk and dairy products and technological and engineering aspects of manufacturing of basic dairy products.
It will also organize vocational dairy training course for Mongolian dairy operators, representatives of small, medium enterprises in India and study tour for dairy specialists of Mongolia in India.
Mongolia will invite dairy experts on animal breeding, health, dairy processing, including indigenous products from India to organize joint workshops, seminars, and training activities. It will invite experts on establishment of rural cooperatives, milk producers' organization and work out the models of such cooperative establishment in one of the rural provinces of Mongolia.
India will also help in designing and fabrication of small scale tools and equipment for traditional dairy products, as well as an automatic milk delivery machine suitable to Mongolian condition.
"Although Mongolia is almost half the size of India, it has a population of just 30 lakh, half of which lives in urban pockets. But Mongolia's total cattle population is over five crore with just the number of cows being around 35 lakh. Hence, there is very good potential of dairy development in that country," said a GCMMF official, who visited Mongolia in April.
Mongolia integral part of India's Act East Policy: Modi
May 17 (PTI) India will provide a line of credit of USD 1 billion to support expansion of Mongolia's economic capacity and infrastructure.
India on Sunday announced a credit line of USD 1 billion to Mongolia to expand its economic capacity and infrastructure, as they decided to upgrade their relationship from comprehensive to 'strategic partnership'.
Narendra Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Mongolia, held wide-ranging talks with his counterpart Chimed Saikhanbileg in Ulan Bator, following which the two sides inked 14 agreements covering defence, cyber security, agriculture, renewable energy and health sector.
"I am pleased to announce that India will provide a line of credit of USD one billion to support expansion of Mongolia's economic capacity and infrastructure," Mr. Modi said at a joint press interaction with Mr. Saikhanbileg at the State Palace.
Asserting that Mongolia is an integral part of India's Act East Policy, he said the destinies of the two countries are closely linked with the future of Asia-Pacific region.
"We can work together to help advance peace, stability and prosperity in this region," the Prime Minister said.
"In a reflection of our commitment to further deepen our relationship, we have decided to upgrade our comprehensive partnership to 'strategic partnership'," he said.
"It is a special privilege to come on the occasion of two important milestones that unite us — 25 years of democracy in Mongolia and 60 years of diplomatic relations between our two nations."
Commenting on his counterpart Mr. Saikhanbileg's remarks that India is the "spiritual neighbour and third neighbour" of Mongolia, Mr. Modi said, "We will always fulfil the responsibility that comes with this honour."
PM Modi gifts rare 13th century manuscript to the President of Mongolia
Prime Minister Modi presented Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj a specially commissioned reproduction of a rare 13th-century manuscript on the history of Mongols from the Rampur Raza Library.
May 17 (The Indian Express) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday presented Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj a specially commissioned reproduction of a rare 13th century manuscript on the history of Mongols from the Rampur Raza Library, Rampur.
The manuscripts, called Jamiut Tawarikh, was one of the grandest projects undertaken by the Ilkhanate king Ghazan Khan (1295-1304). The great work was done by the king's wazir Rasheeduddin Fazlullah Hamedani who wrote it in Persian and chronicled the history up to the reign of Oljeitju (1304-1316).
The breadth of coverage of the work often caused it to be dubbed as the first world history. The manuscript has over 80 fine miniature illustrations. The manuscript is a part of Volume 1 of the work and no other copy of it is known to exist.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a two-day visit to the Country. He is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Mongolia. While addressing the media after a delegation-level talk, Prime Minister said, "India and Mongolia are at an important milestone. We are celebrating sixty years of diplomatic relations."
PM Narendra Modi visits Gandan monastery in Mongolia
ULAN BATOR, May 17 (PTI): Prime Minster Narendra Modi today handed over a Bodhi tree sapling to Hamba Lama (Chief Abbott) of the Gandan Tegchilen monastery here in the Mongolian Capital.
Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to vist Mongolia went to the Gir shrine dedicated to Lord Buddha.
The Hamba Lama D Choijamts held the Prime Ministers hand and took him around Vajra Tara temple where the Indian leader paid obeisance.
Modi was taken to the sacred library at the temple which has exhibits of old sacred books.
The Prime Minister did a parikrama at the Janraisag monastery. He handed over a Bodhi tree sapling to the Hamba Lama.
Gandan is the largest and mosty significant monastery in Mongolia. Built in the mid 19th century, it is the only monastery where Buddhist services continue to function even during the Communist period.
PM Modi at Community Reception in Mongolia
May 17 (Narendra Modi)
Modi in Mongolia: Cultural Crossroads in the Far East
Modi will be the first Indian PM to visit Mongolia, as he seeks to breathe new life into relations.
May 16 (The Diplomat) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's week-long tour of the East has been grabbing headlines, particularly because of his much-hyped first stop in China, which concludes today. On May 18, Modi will head to South Korea, another East Asian country with which New Delhi would like to improve its political standing. But sandwiched in between these two high-profile visits is a rather peculiar one-day stopover – in Mongolia. When Modi lands in the capital of Ulaanbaatar on the 17th, it will be the first ever visit by an Indian prime minister, six decades after the two countries formally established bilateral ties. With a population of barely three million, and landlocked between Russia and China, the choice of Mongolia has considerable strategic significance in the eyes of many Indian foreign policy watchers.
Undoubtedly, the shadow of China will loom large over the trip not just to Ulaanbaatar, but to Seoul as well. Since he came to power a year ago, Modi has devoted considerable attention to foreign policy. In the last 11 months, he has visited 16 countries. New Delhi has, in turn, played host to U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, among others. Closer to home, Modi has made trips to Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar – all part of his attempt to revitalize India's image in South Asia. As India's largest neighbor and a country with which New Delhi shares a rather uncomfortable history, China is the elephant in the room. Modi's stopover in Ulaanbaatar could well be an attempt to improve ties with countries along China's periphery – in a tit-for-tat move against Beijing, which has been doing much the same with countries neighboring India.
This is not to say that India and Mongolia have never enjoyed comfortable bilateral relations. Ties date back to 1955, when India became the first country outside the Soviet bloc to establish relations with Mongolia (then known as the Mongolian People's Republic). While bilateral state-level visits have remained confined to the presidents of both countries, India has played an important role in getting Mongolia admission to major international forums, including the United Nations. By way of reciprocation, Ulaanbaatar co-sponsored a 1972 UN resolution with India and Bhutan for the recognition of the newly liberated Bangladesh. Since then, relations between the two countries have been largely focused around increased bilateral cooperation in areas like defense, security, trade, and civilian nuclear energy. Mongolia has some of the world's richest reserves of coal, petroleum and uranium.
Still, there are limits to relations. For instance, while Mongolia is a potential uranium supplier, India already has existing agreements with many other countries from which it would find it much easier to ship the commodity, rather than from landlocked Mongolia. India and Mongolia did sign a deal to ship uranium to India in 2009 – but Mongolia has yet to follow up on it.
Moreover, Mongolia has had a rather strained history with both its immediate neighbors. Russia and China are bigger and hold all the cards in terms of economic and political power – leaving aside their sheer size. Ulaanbaatar will have no wish to provoke either Moscow or Beijing by actively pursuing policies which either or both giants will find hostile. Indeed, while maintaining its desire to have what it calls "strategic autonomy" from its larger neighbors, Mongolia has worked hard to recalibrate its standing vis-à-vis the international community. It has, for example, taken to multilateralism in a big way. Using what has been termed the "third neighbor" policy, Ulaanbaatar has sought active cooperation with Germany, Europe, Japan and Korea. It holds annual multilateral military exercises (which India is an active part of) on its soil, called the "Khaan Quest," and it plays a fairly proactive role in the United Nations' Peacekeeping Operations across the globe. With China wielding obvious economic clout in Mongolian affairs, it is not likely that Ulaanbaatar will look to rock the boat with India.
Modi appears to recognize this. In a shrewd move, he has chosen to elevate Indian ties with Mongolia away from defense and security. Instead, by claiming Mongolia to be India's "spiritual friend," and calling for "democracy and Buddhism" to bind the two countries, Modi has placed a shared religious heritage at the center of India's ties with Mongolia.
Buddhism travelled to Mongolia from India and Tibet at different times in its history, only to emerge as the dominant religion over the last two millennia. Reviving its religious legacy and celebrating its democracy have been the cornerstones of Mongolia's international image building over the last two decades. Modi's tweet on May 6 (posted in the Mongolian Cyrillic script as well) plays cleverly to those two precepts. Buddhism has, in fact, been at the center of most of Modi's trips across South Asia in the last few months. From offering prayers at the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, to meditating at a Buddhist temple in Kyoto and visiting the holy Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, Modi is using the faith as part of a two-pronged outreach to Far Eastern countries. He has already talked about the possibility of restoring ancient Buddhist sites across the subcontinent, and using tourism to dissipate borders via modern transport and infrastructure.
The other prong is the promise of Indian investment in Mongolian economic development. Trade between the two countries fell in 2013 to $35 million, a statistic which Modi will be looking to boost, given that China's trade with Ulaanbaatar stands at a solid $6.2 billion. The Indian government has cleared the decks for memorandums of understanding to be signed during Modi's trip to Mongolia in the fields of border security and surveillance, as well as traditional medicine, but there is more that can be done. For example, India has the potential to fulfill Ulaanbaatar's economic requirements with the use of IT-enabled services in Mongolian mining.
Modi's trip to China is an attempt to overcome the stasis that is currently dogging New Delhi's ties with Beijing. His stopover in Mongolia has the same undertone – to give bilateral ties new direction, by placing Ulaanbaatar at the center of a culture-oriented Indian outreach to the Far East.
India's Narendra Modi in Mongolia: Wrestling, Buddhism and Democracy
May 16 (WSJ Blog) What do India, with its 1.2 billion population and Mongolia, a country of 2.8 million, have in common? More than you might think.
But as Narendra Modi reached Mongolia's capital Ulan Bator on Saturday night, it was the first time a serving Indian prime minister set foot in the Central Asian nation. On Sunday, he will address the Parliament in a specially convened session and attend an open-air festival with displays of wrestling, horse riding and archery, among other things, during the day-long visit.
The two countries have had cultural and historical ties for more than 2,000 years.
In popular Indian thinking, Mongolia is generally linked with Genghis Khan: a horse-riding warrior who came to India in the 13th century to expand his empire.
At least one Bollywood movie has been made about him, the 1957 film titled "Changez Khan" — the name by which he is often known in India.
Local media reports say that another Hindi movie about him is in the making.
But there's more to India's ties with Mongolia. Here are five connections that you might not know about:
Revival of Buddhism: India helped revived Buddhism in Mongolia..
In 1990, India appointed a Buddhist monk, Kushok Bakula, as its ambassador to Mongolia. At the time, the country, which borders Russia and China, had been under the influence of communism for decades and freedom for religion was restricted.
"For 70 long years there has been almost no religion in Mongolia," Mr. Bakula, a monk from Ladakh in northern India, told Reuters during an interview in 1990.
"I want to help in the revival of Buddhism in Mongolia," he added. During his 10-year stint in Mongolia, he helped open a school for Buddhist monks among other efforts.
Gandan monastery in Ulan Bator was where Mr. Bakula often worked. It will be the first stop for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his one-day visit on Sunday.
"Democracy and Buddhism bind India with Mongolia – our spiritual friend," Mr. Modi said in a post on his official Twitter account recently.
Cultural Connection: Only around 200 of Mongolia's 2.8-million population, are Indian, and there's an even small number of people of Indian origin there. Still, the country shares unique cultural ties with India.
Mongolians consider India to be an especially spiritual place, partly because it's where Buddha found enlightenment. India's most-sacred river the Ganges features in several Mongolian folk songs and literature and a major lake in the country shares its name with the river. One local legend says that the lake was created when a man who had returned from India sprinkled some water from the River Ganga at the spot.
More recently, Bollywood movies have become popular and posters of Indian actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Madhuri Dixit, and Vidya Balan can be seen in the local markets.
An Indian television serial on the Hindu epic Mahabharata has been dubbed in Mongolian and shown on Ulaanbaatar TV, according to India's Ministry of External Affairs.
Like most major Indian cities, Mongolia's capital has a road named after Mahatma Gandhi.
Meanwhile, India is a popular destination for Mongolian students. Around 500 Mongolians were living in India in 2009, of those, 300 were university students.
During Mr. Modi's visit, he will finalize the setting up of an English-medium school in Ulan Bator, something that India has proposed to do for years.
Political Ties: India was the first country outside the Soviet block to establish diplomatic ties with Mongolia, which it did on Dec. 24, 1955, according to India's foreign ministry.
"Glad to visit Mongolia … to commemorate 60th year of our diplomatic relations and the silver jubilee of Mongolia's democracy," said Mr. Modi in a tweet recently
India supported Mongolia's membership into the United Nations, something that China had tried to block in the past. Mongolia has endorsed India's bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.
Several Mongolian presidents and prime ministers have visited India over the years. From India, the last high-level visit was made by Indian President Pratibha Patil who went to Ulan Bator in 2011.
During Mr. Modi's trip, there will be "the normal talks with the Prime Minister of Mongolia, after which there would be the usual signing ceremony of the agreements, several of which are going to be signed," according to a government briefing.
These agreements will include one on solar and wind energy, establishment of direct and regular contacts between the foreign offices of the two countries and agreements on training of diplomats, among others.
Money Links: Trade between the two countries remains small and has shrunk over the past few years.
In 2014, the total value of imports and exports between the two countries was estimated to be around $16 million.
One key stumbling block to widening trade between the two countries is that Mongolia is landlocked. The shortest land route between India and Mongolia is either through China, or central Asian countries like Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to Mongolia's west, a journey that would require going through Pakistan, which has only one main trade route into India.
"India can neither do the business through Pakistan nor through China," said Arata Bhanjan Mahapatra, director of the Centre for Asian Strategic Studies-India, a think tank in Delhi.
A recent deal by India to develop a port in southeast Iran, the Chabahar port, could provide an answer to this dilemma.
As of now, the port will provide access to Afghanistan, but India could potentially extend the connectivity to other central Asian countries including Mongolia, said Mr. Mahapatra. This could "serve as a kind of mini-silk route for India by connecting to Central Asia [without] depending on any of the two rivals i.e. Pakistan and China," he said.
India is interested in getting access to Mongolia's large deposits of minerals like uranium and coking coal. Meanwhile, Mongolia wants India's agricultural products, industrial processing capacity building and information-technology knowhow, among other things, said Mr. Mahapatra.
Defense Engagement: For more than a decade, the two countries have been engaged in defense cooperation, including via joint military exercises.
Mr. Mahapatra, whose research firm has done work for the Mongolian government, said that the central Asian nation wants to boost its defense forces in a bid to counter China, which every few years tries to move further inside Mongolian territory. Mongolia believes that India, which has experience in dealing with contentious neighbors like Pakistan, can help it manage its porous border, he said.
Also, in recent years, Mongolia has had to deal with a new threat: terrorism. Mr. Mahapatra some recent Indian-Mongolian defense training sessions have been focused on training special forces, to deal with this.
For India, the indirect tradeoff of closer defense ties with Mongolia: "You can have a country that is favorable to you in the backyard of China," he said.
The monk-ambassador who cemented India's relations with Mongolia
Modi might be the first Indian prime minister to visit the Northeast Asian country. But the ties between the nations have always been strong, partly thanks to an early ambassador.
May 16 (Scroll.in) When Narendra Modi touches down in Mongolia on Sunday, it will be the first time an Indian prime minister is ever paying a visit to the Northeast Asian country. To some, the trip comes as a surprise. The primary focus of Modi's three-nation tour is the other two destinations, China and South Korea, countries that share strong economic and political ties with India. Why include Mongolia in the mix then? What exactly is the significance of the birthplace of Genghis Khan in India's foreign relations?
Some believe Modi is spending two days in Mongolia during his latest foreign excursion to send out a subtle message to Beijing – while you make frequent forays into South Asia, we'll make friends in your immediate neighbourhood. Others point to the vast mineral resources and uranium deposits in Mongolia, which is keenly searching for partners to exploit this enormous wealth.
Religion solidified bond
Landlocked between Russia to the north and China on the other three sides, Mongolia is a vast country with a population of about 3 million, the majority of whom live in the capital Ulaanbaatar. Sandwiched between two giants, Mongolia has evolved the concept of the "third neighbour". While it strikes a balance between the two geographic neighbours and avoids domination by either, it seeks out friends or "virtual neighbours" in other regions, both in the West and in Asia.
Mongolia has had excellent relations with India ever since they first established diplomatic ties in 1955 – India was in fact the first country outside the Soviet bloc to do so. A few years later, India backed Mongolia's membership in the United Nations while Taiwan and China were united in opposition. In the 1970s, when even the Soviet Union was standing back in hesitation, Mongolia was the second country after Bhutan to recognise Bangladesh. Still, it was not a strategic convergence but religion that solidified the bond.
In one of those inspired decisions made occasionally by the government, India sent out a political appointee, a former Member of Parliament as Ambassador to Ulaanbaatar. The former MP Kushak Bakula also happened to be the Head Lama of Ladakh and was recognised as one of the greatest scholars of Tibetan language and Buddhist studies.
In the late 1980s, this had little import for the Communist regime in Ulaanbaatar. The Communists had wiped out Buddhism from Mongolia, burning scriptures, destroying monasteries and driving out monks. Before this obliteration, Mongolia had more than 300 monasteries and about a third of its male population were monks. By 1990 there was just one monastery, Gandan, and a handful of government-appointed monks left. The knowledge of Buddhist thought and practices was lost.
Monk and ambassador
This changed once Mongolia developed into a multi-party democracy after a peaceful revolution in 1990. The revolution was Mongolian style: the main square in Ulaanbaatar was packed with pro-democracy protestors and, as the situation grew more fraught, late night meetings were held and the Politburo was persuaded to resign. At first the economic adjustment to market reforms was difficult but then a strong nationalistic pride developed.
In the wake of the revolution, along with freedom of religion came restoration of old symbols and icons as well as a revival of interest in Buddhism. The Mongolians follow the same Mahayana school of Buddhism as the people of Ladakh, and this is where Kushak Bakula came in.
He is credited with reviving Buddhism in Mongolia. He took Buddhist scriptures to Mongolia and set up a school for Buddhist learning in Ulaanbaatar. He sent newly ordained monks to India to study Buddhism at Sarnath and Dharamshala, and invited Buddhist teachers to visit Mongolia. He travelled through the vast country, giving lectures and discourses. Old-timers were said to prostrate themselves before him and young Mongolians sought autographs and blessings – usually a red thread tied around the wrist. During the pro-democracy protests in Ulaanbaatar, he is believed to have advised the demonstrators to remain non-violent.
In 1993, on his personal urging, the Indian government allowed the holy relics of the Buddha (housed in the National Museum in New Delhi) to be displayed outside India for the first time. Mongolians, from the president to herders from remote places, queued up for a darshan. Even after he completed his six-year diplomatic assignment, Kushak Bakula retained strong ties with Mongolia till he died at the age of 87 on November 6, 2003.
Long overdue visit
The Buddhist link between Mongolia and India has been in place for 2,500 years, but the connection exists at different levels in contemporary times. People from Mongolia often travel to India to visit the Buddhist sites. Hindi films are popular in the country and the television serial Mahabharat, dubbed in Mongolian, was once a great favourite.
Modi's visit will add another layer to this texture. It comes on the 60th anniversary of the establishment of India-Mongolia diplomatic relations and in the 25th year of Mongolia adopting a democratic system. His first engagement in Ulaanbaatar will be a visit to the Gandan Monastery, where a sapling of the Bodhi tree will be presented to the Chief Abbot. As a special gesture, the Mongolian Parliament will meet on Sunday, a holiday, for an address by Modi.
In Modi's Mongolia Pivot, a Test of Indian Soft Power
By Phunchok Stobdan, former Indian ambassador and the only Mongolist in India
May 16 (The Wire) Mongolia may be a distant country for India but it is the last Asian frontier where Indic cultural imprints continue to thrive. From the 12th century onwards, many Mongol rulers titled themselves as Chakravartin Khan. Most Mongols still prefer to have their names in Sanskrit, though Buddhism here came through Tibet. The incarnate of the last Mongol theocratic ruler Khalka Jebdtsundamba lived in India until he died recently.
Mongolia is also one of the world's oldest nations and a crucial geographical pivot of Eurasian history. Way back in the 12th century, during the Pax Mongolica days, Chengis Khan's soldiers conquered Baghdad. Many Americans were surprised to discover this fact in 1991.
Today, Mongolia is still a geographic titan, half of India's territorial size in area, but with a population of only 3 million. In fact, the other half of the Mongols historico-ethnic homeland, has been incorporated as Inner Mongolia by China since 1911.
Geopolitically sandwiched between Russian and China, Mongolia could not escape Sino-Russian rivalry affecting its affairs. However, since the Cold War ended, the country has tried hard to shed its image as a Soviet tutelary state. It is now one of Asia's more vibrant democracies. To seek an independent role, Mongol strategic thinkers have experimented with their "third neighbor" policy to develop overseas partnerships with the United States, Japan and India.
In the early 1990s, the Mongolian equivalent of the 'colour revolution' was inspired by Indian wisdom; people then chose the Buddhist path for transforming Asia's first Communist state into a democratic society. This author had suggested the idea of sending a Buddhist Monk as India's envoy to Mongolia; this was, I think, the reason why the Indian Embassy dwarfed the Russian, Chinese and American missions in Ulaanbaatar then.
Pivot to Asia
Mongolia's strategic position at the junction of Central Asia, Northeast Asia and East Asia holds considerable promise for the major powers. For the US, Mongolia is an important partner as a "pivot" to Asia. Its geographic proximity to North Korea and Afghanistan is factored into US calculations. Mongol troops have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US President turned up in Ulaanbaatar in 2005 to endorse Mongolia's contributions to US war efforts.
The China angle also drives US strategic planning here. American academics think that the psychic burden of Chinese occupation weighs more heavily on the Mongols in Inner Mongolia than the Tibetans and Uighurs. A sovereign Mongol state next-door could still spawn nationalism with a spiralling affect on China's unity. Some believe this may be a future project for the US.
When it became independent in 1947, India realised right away that it could not ignore Mongolia despite that country being a distant neighbour and largely peripheral to its immediate interest. China's expansionist designs may have been the key factor, a reason why India fought for Mongolia's case for UN membership in 1961. At the 10th UN General Assembly, Krishna Menon, who was India's ambassador to the United Nations at the time, said, "Mongolia was founded not today, but existed as an independent state over many centuries". Nehru, too, put up a strong case for Mongolia's admission at the 15th UNGA. India established diplomatic ties with Mongolia in 1955. Vice President S. Radhakrishnan visited Mongolia in 1957. All these initiatives may have irked the Chinese. But, most interestingly, Mongolia along with Bhutan co-sponsored the UN resolution for the recognition of Bangladesh's independence in 1972. This ruptured Mongolia's relations with Pakistan.
Many would surely view Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Mongolia this week in the context of China. This may be true, because India continues to strengthen Mongolia's independence at the political level. But to merely relate the partnership with Mongolia from the angle of China's fails to consider Mongolia's own strategic interests. In fact, treating Mongolia only as a hedge against a rising China would be rather simplistic and misleading. For Mongolia, its relationship with China remains the top foreign policy priority. Practically everything that came to Mongolia from the Soviet Union in the past is now being replaced by China.
Why China still matters
No other country can match China's economic incentives, trade and investments in Mongolia. China has replaced Russia as Mongolia's leading economic partner. Trade with China has gone up from about $24 million in 1989 to over $300 million in 2014. China accounts for nearly 90 per cent of Mongolian exports.
India's trade is merely $25 million. It is also true that China's speedy foray is opposed by the public. There is widespread and pronounced anti-Chinese feeling among the Mongols. Mostly this is over China's major resource development projects, extraction of minerals like coal and copper in Tavan Tolgoi and Oyu Tolgoi in Gobi deserts.
Many observers fear Mongolia's growing economic dependency would once again risk losing its independence to China. Fortunately, after a brief pause, Russia is attempting to come back to restore a semblance of its influence in Mongolia. President Vladimir Putin decided to write off 98 per cent of the over 11 billion ruble Soviet-era debt and committed to modernise Mongolia's railroad and mineral industry.
For India, the cultural bond with Mongolia is its biggest strategic asset. The BJP should be credited for its cultural farsightedness. In 2004, Atal Bihari Vajpayee conferred an honorary doctorate on Mongolian Prime Minister Nambariin Enkhbayar for his role in promoting democracy and Buddhism. This was a critical diplomatic move by India to reach out to Northeast Asia. The foundation for the first ever Mongolian Buddhist Monastery in Bodh Gaya was laid then. Modi is continuing to keep pace with that vision.
Prime Minister's visit to Ulaanbaatar to commemorate the 60th year of India's diplomatic relations and the silver jubilee of Mongolia's democracy is significant. The bilateral relationship, over the years, has been widening to include strategic elements such as the import of uranium from Mongolia. Defence cooperation has grown and the militaries of the two countries conduct the defence exercise "Nomadic Elephant" regularly. Consultation between national security establishments of the two countries since 2006 covers aspects such as cyber security. Cooperation between the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) and the Mongol General Authority of Border Protection (GABP) helps build Mongolia's capacity to manage its vast border with China.
Limit to trade push
The significance of Mod's visit should lie in the fact he is the second India leader after Nehru to take cultural ownership of the shared Indo-Mongolian heritage. Nehru fought for Mongolia's status at the United Nations but India is now in a better economic position than it was then to nurture the relationship. Modi will be the first Indian leader to address the Mongol Great Khural, its parliament, on May 17.
The Prime Minister will no doubt push for more trade and investment ties with Mongolia. Mineral discoveries are the key to expanding Mongolia's appeal to exploration companies. In fact, Mongolia's natural resources such as uranium, coal and copper deposits are attractive enough to draw investors from all over. But for India to compete with other players may not be very practical, given the difficulty in transporting Mongolia's riches down to the subcontinent. However, India should explore the prospect of developing a gold mine in Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi (Turquoise Hill). To be sure, Mongolia, like the rest of Central Asia, will continue to remain a field for strategic competition between Russia and China, and to some extent for the US too. Despite their current bonhomie, Moscow and Beijing are bound to undercut each other in this strategic space. The Mongols may not like the Chinese, but in reality they cannot live without the Chinese. And while the Mongols love Indians, they can live without India. That is why Modi should just work on strengthening Indian influence in Mongolia because that is something the Chinese cannot buy through their money.
Hungary begins providing pensions for Mongolian workers
May 15 (news.mn) Under an agreement between Mongolia and Hungary, Mongolians who have worked in Hungary have begun to receive pensions from the Hungarian government.
Nine Mongolian citizens have begun to receive pensions established on years they worked in Hungary. The pension payment program began in 2012, with more Mongolian citizens being included each year, and plans for more former workers to be included.
Each month 100,000 Hungarian forints will be transferred from Hungary to the banking accounts of these citizens.
Mongolia has concluded similar agreements with South Korea, Kazakhstan, and Russia. Mongolia has expanded partnerships with foreign organizations in the field of social protection and pensions to protect citizens living and working abroad.
May 15 (President.mn) Today President of Mongolia Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj welcomed Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Mr. Wunna Maung Lwin who is paying an official visit to Mongolia.
President Elbegdorj recalled his successful visit to Myanmar in 2013, when he met with President, Speakers of the Parliament and other officials of Myanmar Government and emphasized the intensive development of bilateral relations between the two countries.
Mr. Wunna Maung Lwin thanked the President for audience and said that his visit is highlighted as the first ever visit of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar to Mongolia. He also noted that he has exchanged views with his counterpart L.Purevsuren, Foreign Minister of Mongolia on the President of Myanmar Thein Sein's upcoming visit to Mongolia.
Tourism in Myanmar is well developed and the two countries have opportunities to cooperate in tourism industry and other sectors.
FM Purevsuren: Mongolia Prioritizing "One-Window" Policy on Diplomacy
May 15 (news.mn) During the broadcast "Minister's Time", Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Purevsuren stressed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is prioritizing a "one-window" policy on the cooperation with foreign countries at all levels of state organizations.
A foreign economic cooperation department has been founded in order to shift to a structure of implementing foreign economic relations only through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs has been appointed as Mongolian Head of the Mongolian-Russian and Mongolian-Chinese intergovernmental commissions. The Ministry believes this is important in developing trade and economic cooperation with Russia and China, to unite the work of sub-commissions within intergovernmental commissions, and to pursue a one-window policy on cooperation with Mongolia's neighbors.
A foreign promotion and information department has been founded within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and this department will implement projects dedicated to promoting Mongolia abroad. The main priority of the program is to disseminate information about culture, tradition, sport, and science.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is expanding the policy to include citizens who are living abroad and developing more elaborate policy to maintain their initiatives, with 43 million MNT being budgeted to assist citizens living abroad in working with the Ministry on promotion.
Mongolian Government Signs Cooperation Agreement with MIT
Ulaanbaatar, May 17 (MONTSAME) A Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between the Mongolian Government and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was signed May 15 by the Minister of Education, Culture and Sciences L.Gantomor and the vice president of the MIT Claude R.Canizares.
In frames of the MoU, the MIT and Mongolian universities will cooperate in joint researches, implement joint programs in innovation and entrepreneurship, the MIT professors will cooperate with Mongolian professors on teaching methodologies, Mongolian professors will work in the MIT as guest professors, and joint training and symposium will be organized under a topic of pressing issues facing urban planning. The cooperation will commence this September. Today, a total of 15 Mongolian students are receiving trainings at the MIT.
The Minister L.Gantomor sent an official proposal for cooperation to the president of the MIT Mr Rafael Reif in January, 2014. Following the proposal, a Mongolian delegation representing the Ministry visited the MIT in March last year, as invited by the Institute.
After this, a delegation led by the MIT administrator in charge of foreign relations Mr Bernd Widdig came to Mongolia in October, 2014, to study the cooperation atmosphere, and worked at the Mongolian University of Science and Technology, the Mongolian State University and other academic institutes.
The scholars' team reached conclusion that Mongolia is a potential partner in cooperation, who attaches a great importance in education. Mongolia has an interesting geographic location that can possibly make the country a strategically-important area in the regional economy, the study discovered.
Mongolia Hosting Asian Youth Council General Assembly, May 18-21
May 15 (news.mn) From May 18 to 21, Mongolia will host the XIII General Assembly of Asian Youth Council with the theme "Youth's Role in Future Sustainable Development Goals". As of today, almost 300 youth from 23 countries in Asia will participate in the assembly.
Representatives from other countries have also sent requests to participate in the conference. Guests from the Maldives, Kuwait, and Nigeria are also going to be participating in the assembly.
Nearly 300 Mongolian youth will participate in the assembly and online registration is almost finished.
As of today, all preparation work has been completed and organizers are ready to start conference in three days.
Mongolia's Khusugtun takes second place at Asia's Got Talent
May 15 (infomongolia.com) On May 14, 2015, the first regional version of the Got Talent franchise, the "Asia's Got Talent" announced its winners of the 9 finalists and Mongolia's Khusugtun Ethnic Ballad Group takes the second place. Congratulations!!
These 9 finalists of the Asia's next superstar were chosen and the final voting was conducting online was closed on May 12, 2015, where votes for Khusugtun were giving under AGT5.
The Khusugtun Band - V.Batzorig, G.Adiyadorj, Kh.Ulambayar, D.Ariunbold, Ch.Amarbayasgalan and O.Chuluubaatar - has performed an original composition in the Final with the use of traditional Mongolian musical instruments and the group's magical throat singing around an open fire took listeners back to the ancient mountains of Mongolia.
And the winner of the Asia's Got Talent becomes El Gamma Penumbra, shadow play group, who performed a routine themed centrally on man's destruction of Mother Earth's resources, its effects, and ecological salvation, set to the tune of "Colors of the Wind" by Vanessa Williams.
Khusugtun Becomes Second of Asia's Got Talent – Montsame, May 15
Khusugtun wins 2nd place in "Asia's Got Talent" – news.mn, May 15
2015 National Football League Season Kicks-Off Tomorrow in Mongolia
May 15 (infomongolia.com) Mongolian Football Federation (MFF) championship will commence at stadium of MFF tomorrow on May 16, 2015.
This year's Championship will be held under "Khurkhree National League - 2015". Khurkhree is the brand name of Mongolian beer produced by "Arvain Undes" LLC. This name was chosen for this year's Championship because Mongolian Football Federation are cooperating with "Arvain Undes" LLC starting from this year.
On May 12, 2015, MMF President A.Ganbaatar and Executive Director O.Orgil of "Arvain Undes" LLC have signed a 500 million MNT contract for next four years. Thus, "Arvain Undes" has become the official partner of the Federation.
The event has significant importance to Mongolian sports and its further development because it remarks the beginning of successful prosperity of sports. The championship "Khurkhree National League - 2015" will be organized between May 16 and September 26 with two legs.
Local NTV television and web site www.time.mn will live broadcast the games. This year, nine teams - Deren, Soyombyn Barsuud, Khoromkhon, Ulaanbaataryn Mazaalainuud, FC Ulaanbaatar, Selenge Press, UBU FC, Khangarid and Erchim – will participate in the championship to battle for the Cup. The monetary prize of "Khurkhree National League - 2015" is 100 million MNT. The 2015 Championship will start at 3 pm on May 15 with match between Khoromkhon and FC Ulaanbaatar teams.
21-year old G.Nandinzaya qualifies for Rio in rifles
May 15 (gogo.mn) ISSF Riffle/Pistol World Cup being hosted in Benning, USA hosted the 106 athletes in the Riffles category. International Sports Master G.Nandinzaya placed 4th and qualified to Rio Olympics.
G.Nandinzaya is 21 years old and she is the World Student Champion and has Bronze medal from the Universiade.
In the Riffles Female Category:
1. Andrea Arsovic from Serbia placed first
2. Snjezana Pejcic from Croatia placed second
3. Stine Nielsen from Denmark placed third.
Mongolian Athlete competed in this category Ch.Narantuya was qualified to finals and placed 8th.
One More Mongolian Qualified for 2016 Olympics – Montsame, May 15
Talk with Me: D.Davaasuren, Personal Trainer and Nutrition Consultant
May 15 (gogo.mn) "Talk with me" is the Star TV Mongolia's new series about life in Mongolia interviewed by Allyson Seaborn, Australian journalist and lawyer.
Presented in English for overseas viewers and for English speakers living in Mongolia.
We are glad to deliver the next episodes. The guest D.Davaasuren is passionate personal trainer and nutrition consultant at Ulaanbaatar`s Davaa Fitness.
Please enjoy the interview and stay tuned as more episodes are coming soon.
For the full interview please click here.
Talk with Me: B.Bayasgalan, Author, "Ulaanbaatar: Before and Now"
May 3 (Star TV Mongolia) --
Ride with Reindeer Riders in Amazing Huvsgul
May 15 (gogo.mn) Many say that Mongolian summer is the time when heaven settles on earth. True enough, from June till the end of August this ancient land of nomads is all about the sun, warmth and it really inspires one travel and experience the best of what Mongolia has to offer. GoGo Mongolia Travel will suggest various travel ideas & inspirations for avid travellers eager to discover Mongolia more in depth.
Here's one for the adventurous to begin with, a 19-day horse trek in the fabled Darkhad Valley in the northern Mongolia. This epic ride is offered by Boojum Expeditions – the first US outfitter to offer tours in Mongolia; and this Darkhad Valley horse trek has been their most popular ride since 1994.
On horseback the riders cross through the vast Darkhad Valley in Huvsgul, visit the summer camp of the Tsaatan (Reindeer herders in the Taiga) and meet them, and take part in a local Naadam Festival – Mongolia's ancient festival comprising wrestling, archery, horse racing, as well as lots of music and dances. Moreover, the riders will visit the Lake Huvsgul, so called the Mother Ocean by the locals and spend a leisure day by the Lake shore visiting a shaman/shamaness. Boojum's rustic lodges in Huvsgul serve as basecamps for much of the riding. The nature scenery in the amazing Darkhad Valley is simply magical with snow-capped mountains, crystal clear waters and green valleys.
The tour brief itinerary is below:
Day 1: Arrive in Ulaanbaatar
Day 2: Airport transfer for your flight to Muren. Drive to Ulaan Uul village. Overnight in tents
Day 3: This will be the first day of the horseback riding adventure through Darhad valley.
Day 4: Continue riding to the town of Renchinlhumbe in the Darhat Valley. Vehicle supported. Overnight Saridag Ger Camp. (Hot shower is available)
Day 5: All day watching Naadam. Stay overnight in Saridag Ger Camp.
Day 6: Ride (approximately 15 miles) through the Darhat Valley towards Hogrog. Overnight in tents.
Day 7: Arrive at Hogrog, jumping off point to visit the Reindeer People. Overnight in tents.
Day 8-Day 10: Pack trip into the northern mountains to the summer camp of the Tsaatan (Reindeer people). Camp out with packhorse support.
Day 11: Free day at the Boojum Lodge at Shishgid/Tengis confluence.
Day 12: Ride half way to Renchinlhumbe. Overnight in tents.
Day 13: Short ride to Renchinlhumbe. Rest day. Ger camp. (Hot shower is available)
Day 14: Ride towards Jigleg pass. Uliin gol.Overnight in tents
Day 15: Arrive at Jigleg Pass located halfway up the western shore of the lake. Overnight in tents.
Day 16: Today you will have five hour boat ride on Lake Huvsgul to the ger camp.
Day 17: Return flight to UB. Farewell dinner. Hotel.
Day 18: Full day guided sightseeing in UB. Overnight in hotel.
Day 19: Airport transfer for your return flight home.
The 2015 tour dates with Naadam Festival are: June 28-July 16, and July 7-25, and the tour prices start from US$3180 (+internal air).
For more info & details about the horse trek above, please contact Boojum Expeditions Mongolia office at: +976-9911-5929 (English, Russian & Mongolian speaker), or you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org(contact persons are Anya & Emma).
Prepared by Zola, General Manager of Mongolian Tourism Association for GoGo Mongolia Travel. © All rights reserved 2015.
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