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Wednesday, July 6, 2016
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Park to attend ASEM summit in Mongolia next week
SEOUL, July 4 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye will embark on a five-day trip to Mongolia next week to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit and hold bilateral talks with her Mongolian counterpart, the presidential office said Monday.
Park will leave for Ulan Bator on Thursday next week to attend the 11th ASEM summit, slated to take place on July 15 and the following day. Following the group summit, she will begin her official visit to the resource-rich country, which was arranged on the invitation of Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj.
Under the main theme, "20 years of ASEM: Partnership for the Future through Connectivity," the summit will bring together leaders of more than 50 Asian and European countries, the presidential office said in a press release.
Seoul officials said that the ASEM summit will provide a venue for in-depth discussions on an array of major regional and international issues including military threats posed by a provocative, nuclear-ambitious North Korea.
Topping the agenda for the summit is expected to be economic uncertainties, which were triggered by Britain's recent vote to leave the European Union (EU).
Launched in 1996, ASEM is a consultative body aimed at strengthening cooperation between Asia and Europe in political, economic, social, cultural and other areas. The summit is held biennially, with the last one held in Italy in 2014.
ASEM consists of 51 member states and 2 regional organizations: the European Union and the secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. As of 2015, the grouping represents 63 percent of the world's population and 58 percent of the global gross domestic product.
From July 17, Park will begin her official visit to the country. It is her first visit to Mongolia since she assumed office in February 2013. Her predecessor Lee Myung-bak visited the country in 2011.
The president is set to hold summit talks with her Mongolia counterpart on a range of issues to bolster economic cooperation and exchanges in light of their "mutually complementary" economic structures, her office said.
The chief executive will also meet with South Korean residents in Mongolia and attend a South Korea-Mongolia business forum to encourage entrepreneurs operating in Mongolia or exploring business opportunities in the country.
"As President Elbegdorj visited South Korea in May and Park will visit Mongolia this time, (we) anticipate that the momentum for a mutually-beneficial, cooperative relationship between the two countries will further be strengthened," Cheong Wa Dae said.
Park prepares for first official visit to Mongolia – Korea JoongAng Daily, July 5
Park to visit Mongolia for ASEM summit next week – Korea Times, July 5
Japan seeks summit with South Korea during international gathering in Mongolia next week
SEOUL, July 5 (Kyodo) – Japan is asking South Korea to hold a summit on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting, which starts July 15 in Mongolia, a source familiar with Japan-South Korea relations said Tuesday.
South Korea has yet to make a clear reply to the proposal.
A senior South Korean official in the presidential office told reporters earlier Tuesday that progress seems not to have been made on the issue. But the source left open the possibility, saying Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Park Geun-hye may meet even if only for a short time.
The ASEM will run for two days in Ulan Bator.
In such a meeting, the two leaders would be expected to discuss North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs and vow to seek firm solidarity with the United States in coping with Pyongyang.
Abe and Park held a summit last November in Seoul, the first time since they took office, and also met in Washington in March.
In a major turnaround in bilateral ties, South Korea and Japan reached a landmark agreement last December on the "comfort women" forced to work in wartime brothels for the Japanese military.
Tokyo pledged to provide ¥1 billion (about $9.8 million) for a new South Korean foundation aimed at helping the aging women.
The deal has been criticized by some of the victims, as well as South Korean activists and opposition parties, who have called on the Japanese government to admit legal responsibility for compensation.
ASEF Editors' Roundtable to Discuss Asia-Europe Digital Connectivity
July 4 (ASEM Mongolia) 8th ASEF Editors' Roundtable Meeting, one of the side events of the ASEM Summit, was the focus of the June 30 'ASEM Information Hour' media briefing.
The briefing was held by representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mongolian Union of Journalists, which reported that 30 influential media companies' editors from 20 ASEM member countries will take part in the roundtable meeting. "Adrian Lloyd Van-Klaveren, Head of BBC World 2020, Joao Palmeir, President of the Portuguese Press Association, Gie Goris, Editor-in-Chief of the Belgian Mondiaal News, Yury Kruchkin, Editor-in-Chief of the Russian magazine 'Mongolia Today', Wu Ting, Managing Director of the Chinese 'The paper.cn', as well as editors-in-chief, senior journalists and overseas special correspondents from Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Ireland, Poland, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, and India.
The roundtable is to be held on July 7 – July 8, organized with the support of the Government of Mongolia, non-governmental organizations, the Asia-Europe Foundation, and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. This year's roundtable is expected to be on the same level of participation as in the previous roundtable, according to its organizers, who have expressed the hope that it would help bring the two continents closer together, and in particular, help consolidate cooperation among the journalists of the two regions, and it would also make an important contribution to international promotion of Mongolia.
130 youths from 51 Asia, Europe countries for ASEM summit in Mongolia
PETALING JAYA, July 6 (The Star Online) Some 130 youth representatives from 51 Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) countries, including Malaysia, will attend the five-day 7th Model Asem in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Themed 20 years of Asem: Partnership for Future through Connectivity, participants will address inter-regional issues on politics, economic and socio-cultural between Asia and Europe.
Asean members such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore are expected to discuss on migration, health, environment and education in order to court pragmatic solutions to the pressing issues.
The participants, who are students and young professionals from various fields such as diplomacy, law, engineering and journalism, will also engage in political debate and negotiation on Asia-Europe future collaborations such as the creation of a unified employment bloc and labour exchanges.
As a result of the conference, they will develop a chair's statement of the 7th Model Asem, which will be presented at the Asem11m meeting in Mongolia from July 10 to 15.
All 51 heads of states, the president of the European Commission, the president of the European Council, and the secretary-general of the Asean Secretariat are expected to attend,
The summit is held biennially.
Italy hosted the last one in 2014 which was attended by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Malaysia, which is one of the 21 Asian countries in Asem and a member since 1996, has one youth representative to the 7th Model Asem.
Seventh Model ASEM approaching – Montsame, July 5
Over 120 Volunteers trained to assist international media during ASEM
July 1 (ASEM Mongolia) Over 120 ASEM Volunteers have been trained in assistance for international journalists during the ASEM summit and its side-events, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 30. The training was instructed by P. Sainbileg, Head of Press at the Office of the President of Mongolia and Secretary of the ASEM Media and Public Relations working group.
"Volunteers reflect the level of professionalism and goodwill of any international event. Especially, volunteering to accompany and assist the journalists is going to require a lot from each one of you," said P. Sainbileg, "More than 800 well-known international journalists are going to visit our country to cover the Summit. Media coverage by one journalist could give the first impression about Mongolia to millions upon millions of viewers. Therefore, your attitude and work ethic with these journalists will determine the status of Mongolia's international prestige," Sainbileg said.
The volunteers were given instructions and guidance on points to remember while working with international journalists, professional principles, necessary skills, journalistic terms and jargons, diplomatic ethics, and cultural knowledge.
Next week, the volunteers will be taken for a tour of the Press Center at the Shangri-La Hotel, which will cater to local and foreign journalists during the Summit.
Preparing ASEM: The European Commission trains Mongolian interpreters
On 15-16 July 2016, Mongolia hosts the 11th Summit of Asian and European heads of state and government in Ulaanbaatar. The European Commission's Directorate General for Interpretation (SCIC) trained the first conference interpreters working into Mongolian. We followed them for five months from the first day of training to their final diploma. Visit the training sessions and see Interviews with the Mongolian trainees and their @EUInterpreters trainers. Please see http://www.aseminfoboard.org for information about the ASEM Summit.
Mongolia May Issue Up to $1b of Bonds by Year End, Nomura Says
By Neha D'silva
July 5 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia may tap its USD 2021 bonds on the back of a rally following the election outcome that investors may view positively, Nomura analysts including Gaurav Singhal
write in a note.
* A bond issue or tap could resolve near-term refinancing concerns, but "more fundamental developments" are needed before Nomura turns more bullish
* Forex reserves cover just 4.5 months of imports and the sovereign faces $580m maturity in 2017; Mongolia's FX reserves fell to $1.44b at end of May
* Further support to FX reserves may have to come from improvements in the BOP, more international debt issuance, or an IMF facility, Nomura says
* Oyu Tolgoi 2 expansion may bring in $1b in FDI from by the end of this year, but after mine development outflows, benefit to FX reserves may not be more than $300-400m
* NOTE: Mongolia's $500m 10.875% 2021 bonds priced in March at 100 is at 106.65 at 9:43 am in Hong Kong, Bloomberg prices show
* The notes rose 4 points last wk
HAR last traded A$0.002 on Thursday
Haranga Resources: Interim Finance Secured
July 5 -- Haranga Resources Limited ('the Company') is pleased to announce it has signed a Binding Terms Sheet with Sanjiv Noronha for an unsecured interim finance facility of AUD$200,000.
The salient terms of the Binding Terms Sheet are as follows:
- Amount: AUD$200,000
- Availability and drawdown: Immediately from date of signing to 3 months after first drawdown.
- Interest: Daily fixed rate of 6% per annum capitalised monthly.
- Repayment: 31 December 2016 or on completion of any equity or debt raising, whichever is sooner.
The funds will be utilised by the Company to satisfy Mongolian exploration and mining license commitments, costs associated with future funding prospects and for working capital purposes.
The Company is currently negotiating future fundraising opportunities and will update the market in due course as those discussions conclude.
TER trading flat at A$0.014 in morning trading
TerraCom: Chairman's Letter to Shareholders
July 5 --
In early June I accepted an invitation to become Chairman of the Board of TerraCom Limited. Last week it was announced to the ASX that I had been appointed Executive Chairman as part of a re-organisation of the senior management team. This reorganisation will better equip TerraCom to tackle the major tasks associated with growing the company into a global mid-tier resource player.
It has been a difficult investment and operating environment with the global coal industry experiencing terrible times over the past 3 years. Many well-run "icon" companies are now facing bankruptcy or going through debt restructuring. All are focussing on cost containment and balance sheet management. For TerraCom the good news is that the balance sheet repair is largely behind us and we have exciting growth projects in front of us.
The board will review strategic priorities and assess growth proposals and the performance of the management team. If appropriate I will recommend the injection of new blood to the board.
My immediate strategic focus is threefold:
1. strengthen our balance sheet,
2. bring our Mongolian coal mine into full and profitable production, and,
3. secure new cash generative (and value accretive) assets in the Australasian region to improve the long-term financial viability of the company.
On Thursday 23 June, 2016 we announced to the ASX the restructure of $141 million of existing and soon to be due debt facilities. The TerraCom team has worked incredibly hard to conclude the new arrangements and significantly improve the balance sheet. Our first strategic focus is substantially addressed and we are now in a better position to raise additional equity.
MM&M Research: Turquoise Hill Resources, Entrée Gold
July 4 (Mongolia Metals & Mining) Expect Takeovers in 3-12 months on Commercial Logic/Time value, Better Corporate Development, Smarter Corporate Messaging
• Weekend has provided us time to start discussing investment implications of expected stable Govt, based on MPP SuperMajority in Parliament, to Mongolian investment assets.
• From those, we first discuss TRQ, the benchmark, most liquid global Mongolian Metals & Mining equity and its side kick Entrée Gold(ETG) . Discussion is particularly relevant given Jean Sebastian Jacques(JSJ) has got now the top job at Rio Tinto(RT) .
• After recent notorious Sunday Times article, TRQ appears to have been repriced by the market to well above US$3 in New York (US$3.48 Friday close) by speculation of TRQ takeover (expectations of takeover premium), and along the way, as we interpret, incorporating all progress on OT underground up to date.
OPP last traded 0.25p on March 10
Origo Partners: Final Results for year ended 31 December 2015
July 5 -- Origo announces its audited final results for the year ended 31 December 2015.
· Net asset value declined by 44 per cent. during the year to US$30.6 million (30 June 2015: US$50.7 million, 31 December 2014: US$54.3 million)
· Loss after tax of US$24.4 million (2014: loss after tax of US$61.9 million) reflecting unrealised and realised losses on investments
· Total investments in existing investee companies during the year of US$0.58 million (2014: US$2.7 million)
· Cash position of US$1.3 million as at 31 December 2015 (31 December 2014: US$5.2 million)
2015 was another challenging year for Origo as we sought to deal with a number of interrelated issues that have impacted the Company's financial position, the performance of our investment portfolio and our ability to execute our realisation strategy.…
Kincora Copper Limited ("Kincora"), a TSX Venture Exchange listed Mongolia focused copper exploration company, announced the combination of two of its wholly owned subsidiaries with companies that own contiguous licences in May 2016. Concurrent with the mergers, Kincora announced a proposed C$2 million non-brokered private placement.
To enable the business combination and the private placement, Origo agreed to convert C$2,000,000 of convertible notes outstanding into equity on the same terms as the private placement. Meanwhile, we have informed the company that we intend to draw-down escrowed funds in the amount of C$500,000 in conjunction with the completion of the proposed financing.
Kincora now benefits from a portfolio of contiguous copper porphyry targets in a highly prospective region, access to one of the largest regional geophysical and surface geochemistry datasets, an enhanced, experienced team with complementary skill sets as well as increased funding. While the carrying value of Origo's investment in Kincora declined by 33 per cent. during the year, reflecting movements in the price of Kincora's listed equity, the market value of the investment has rebounded significantly in connection with the above mentioned private placement.
Moly World Ltd (Moly World), through its subsidiary, owns an exploration license, covering 2,360 hectares in the Mandal area of Mongolia (the "Mandal Project"). The Mandal project holds a JORC resource of 203Mt in situ material at 0.126% Mo and 0.026%W. Over the last two years, Moly World has undertaken further exploration work and discovered that the project has the potential to significantly expand its resource base. The company also commissioned a third-party scoping study for a small mining operation. On this basis, in 2015, the company initiated a process to convert the exploration license into a mining license. However, Moly prices are at a level where the majority of primary producers are producing at a loss. Taking into account the risks of obtaining the relevant licenses and raising the required project financing, the carrying value of the Moly World position was reduced by 38 per cent.
Gobi Coal & Energy
Over the past several years, Gobi Coal & Energy Ltd. ("GCE") has successfully preserved its coal assets while conducting selected exploration and drilling works to expand and improve the resource during an unusually weak coking coal market.
In 2015, the company successfully completed a drilling program at its primary coking coal mine at Shinejinst. The drilling program consisted of a total of 637.3 meters of drilling comprised of 8 diamond core boreholes that enlarged the deposit area to the southeast with an average coal thickness of 9.3m. One hole returned an exceptional coal seam of 44m in thickness with low volatile materials. 76 coal quality samples were obtained in 2015 and submitted for laboratory testing, with subsequent results confirming hard coking coal properties and the potential for a new sub-basin at Shinejinst.
Due to the protracted weakness in semi-soft coking coal prices, GCE's Shinejinst and Zeegt projects were placed on and have remained on care and maintenance, except for minimal mining requirements to local communities, in order to preserve cash. While the primary mine at Shinejinst is uneconomic at the current semisoft coking coal pricing, its long-term Net Present Value is positive based on the recent and future expected semi-soft coking coal price improvements and using assumptions in GCE's feasibility study.
We understand exploration work is intended to continue. At the same time, the company is exploring opportunities to expand and diversify across the energy resources value chain inside and outside of Mongolia.
We have been informed that GCE has maintained negligible debt and was recently awarded US $11.5 million, plus costs and continuing interest and damages, by the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, in respect of collateralized loans outstanding to a Mongolian business vehicle, granted in connection a power generation business and a mining supply business focused on the major active Mongolia mines such as Rio Tinto's Oyu Tolgoi project.
On the basis of the valuation of a group of traded peers, the carrying value of the position in Gobi has been reduced by 51 per cent.
Posting of Annual Report and Notice of AGM - Origo Partners, July 5
CG closed +1% Tuesday to C$8.1
Centerra Gold Inc. Announces C$170 Million Bought Deal Financing
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - July 5, 2016) - Centerra Gold Inc. (TSX:CG) ("Centerra" or the "Company") has announced today that it has entered into an agreement with BMO Capital Markets, Credit Suisse Securities Canada and Scotiabank (the "Underwriters"), under which the Underwriters have agreed to purchase on bought deal basis 23,130,000 subscription receipts (the "Subscription Receipts"), at a price of C$7.35 per Subscription Receipt for gross proceeds to the Company of approximately C$170 million (the "Offering").
The net proceeds of the Offering will be used to partially fund the redemption of the secured and unsecured notes of Thompson Creek Metals Company Inc. ("Thompson Creek") in connection with the Company's concurrently announced acquisition of all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Thompson Creek (the "Transaction"). Upon completion of the Transaction, existing Centerra and Thompson Creek shareholders are expected to own approximately 92% and 8% of the pro forma company, respectively, on a fully-diluted in-the-money basis, after giving effect to the Offering. The Company expects the Transaction to close in the fall of 2016.
Centerra Gold and Thompson Creek Announce Transformational Business Combination - Centerra Gold, July 5
MSE Trading Report: Top 20 +0.96%, ALL +0.63%, Turnover ₮11.5 Million Shares
July 4 (MSE) --
MSE Trading Report: TOP 20 +1.69%, ALL +0.98%, Turnover ₮25.6 Million Shares
July 5 (MSE) --
Baganuur JSC Launches Primary Trading of 9.9 Million Additional Shares at ₮2,650, Raising ₮26.2 Billion
July 5 (MSE) On 04 July 2016, "Baganuur" JSC's opening event of additional shares issuance held successfully at Mongolian Stock Exchange. During the opening event, Otgonbayar.M, CEO of "Baganuur" JSC rang the bell and Bolor.M, CEO of Mongolian Stock Exchange and delegates of "TDB Capital" LLC participated.
"Baganuur" JSC is issuing additional 9,870,287 shares and raising amount of MNT 26,156,260,550. This will also reduce State's ownership percentage 51% from 75%.
FRC Approves Novel Investment's New Chingeltei Branch
July 5 (MSE) According to the Order No.: 189 of Financial Regulatory Commission in 2016, "Novel Investment" LLC, member company of Mongolian Stock Exchange, granted to open new branch in Chingeltei district /khoroo #18, Yargait 37, door#140/.
In 2016, "Novel Investment" JSC traded total of MNT5.58 billion which is 6 percent of total trading of Mongolian Stock Exchange.
Historic low ₮2,050.85/USD set March 28, 2016. Reds are rates that set a new low at the time
BoM MNT Rates: Tuesday, July 5 Close
MNT vs USD (blue), CNY (red) in last 1 year:
BoM issues ₮258 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +3.6% to ₮638.25 billion
July 4 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 258 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
BoM sells US$22.7m at ₮2,006, CNY28.8m at ₮302.3-303.2, accepts $142.5m MNT, $1m USD swap offers
July 5 (Bank of Mongolia) Spot trade: Commercial banks bid for USD and CNY. The BOM sold USD22.7 million at the rate of MNT2006.00 and CNY28.8 million at the rate of MNT302.30-303.20.
Swap and forward trade: Commercial banks bid for USD142.5 million of MNT swap agreement and asked for USD1.0 million of USD swap agreement. The BOM accepted the offers.
Mongolia's Foreign-Exchange Reserves Fall to $1.44b at End-May
By Michael Kohn
July 4 (Bloomberg) -- FX reserves decline 9.37% from yr earlier, according to data posted on Bank of Mongolia website.
* Reserves decline 6.62% m/m, rise 8.98% YTD
UB Housing Price Index Down 1.1% in June, Down 10.3% from 2015
July 5 (BoM) --
Index change /from 2013.01 base/
From previous month
From year beginning
From previous year
Link to release (in Mongolian)
Subsidized Mortgage Report: ₮138.8 Billion Issued at 5%, ₮361.9 Billion at 8%, ₮54.2 Billion Transferred to 5%
July 4 (Bank of Mongolia) As of July 1 banks received ₮585.3 billion (₮526.8 billion as of June 16) mortgage requests of 9,509 citizens (8,568 as of June 16), of which ₮138.8 billion (₮120 billion as June 16) of 2,929 citizens (2,535 as of June 16) have been approved at 5%, ₮361.9 billion (₮324.9 billion as of June 16) of 5,374 citizens (4,833 of June 16) at 8%.
Also, ₮54.2 billion mortgages (₮45.7 billion as of June 16) of 1,330 borrowers (1,116 as of June 16) who bought housing in Ulaanbaatar ger area redevelopment zones, satellite districts Baganuur, Bagakhangai, and Nalaikh, new capital housing zones, and 21 aimags have been transferred to 5%.
Link to release (in Mongolian)
External trade reaches $3.2 billion as of June
July 4 (gogo.mn) As of June 15, 2016, Mongolia's external trade reached $3.2 billion. The number has lowered compared to the same period of last year, which was $3.5 billion.
In 2016, export is at $1.9 billion, which is on the same level of previous year. But import decreased by $300 million from last year to $1.3 billion. External trade balance grew to $610 million.
Source: General department of Customs and Taxation
Financial Stability Report of Mongolia, June 2016
July 4 (Bank of Mongolia) --
Link to report (in Mongolian)
Mongolia reports highest-ever livestock count
July 4 (Global Meat News) Livestock numbers in Mongolia reached a record level this year despite harsh climate conditions wiping out more than one million farm animals.
Mongolia's livestock count soared to a record 73m in 2016 with plans in the pipeline to increase meat exports, according to the country's Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
Government figures show Mongolia had 55.9m head of goats, sheep, cattle, camels and horses at the end of 2015. Since the turn of the year, an additional 18.8m livestock were bred in the first four months of the year, registering an annual rise of 7.6% when compared to the first quarter of 2015.
Landlocked Mongolia is home to around 153,000 livestock herder families. This accounts for nearly 28% of the nation's total labour force, according to government figures. To protect the heritage and prosperity of the sector, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has implemented a range of policies to protect herders. These include an effort to raise productivity within animal husbandry without damaging the pasture land. Moves into the value-added protein market are also being "vigorously pursued" to diversify the meat Mongolia can export.
What's in a category? Mongolia falls back to Lower Middle Income Country
By Jim Anderson, World Bank Mongolia Country Manager
July 4 (World Bank Blog) One year ago, Mongolia was designated an Upper Middle Income Country (UMIC) when the country's GNI per capita crossed the threshold between lower and upper middle income countries. Some Mongolians celebrated, seeing the designation as a reflection of how far the country had come since recovering from a prolonged slump in the 1990s. Others wondered what it means for the availability of concessional financing in the future. And others just wondered if it was accurate. While Mongolia's progress is unmistakable, we also know that 22% of the population lives below the national poverty line of roughly $2.70 per day—what does it mean to be an "upper middle income country" in the face of such a statistic?
Last week, Mongolia was re-designated a Lower Middle Income Country (LMIC). How is this possible and what does it mean?
How can it be that Mongolia was classified UMIC one year, and then back to LMIC the next? In short, that is what the numbers say—these designations are not judgments on anyone's part, they are completely based on official statistics regarding levels of income.
Still, the turnabout will surely raise questions. Mongolia was the fastest growing country in the world in 2011, and although the economy has weakened in years since, the country still saw positive growth in 2015. To understand why Mongolia was designated a LMIC, then, one has to get into the details.
The World Bank's classification system has its roots in a 1989 paper outlining a methodology and thresholds. To give a common conceptual metric, GNI per capita* was chosen, and to make numbers comparable across countries, a conversion method based on average exchange rates was chosen. The thresholds are updated every year to account for inflation in some of the large countries whose currencies are included in the IMF's Special Drawing Rights (SDR). Since global growth generally outpaces inflation, this means that, over time, more and more countries will cross those thresholds. At least we hope so. (You can read more on the details of the income classification system here.)
To make the numbers comparable, one needs to convert GNI per capita into a common currency, and the USD is used for this purpose. Rather than use a single year's exchange rate, which could lead to abrupt changes in the USD equivalent of GNI per capita when currencies fluctuate, a moving average of exchange rates is used. The World Bank Atlas Method is based on three years average exchange rates, adjusted for differences in inflation between the country of interest, in this case Mongolia, and the countries whose currencies make up the SDR.
To illustrate, take a look at how the exchange rate has evolved over the past four years. While GNI per capita grew by nearly 30% since 2012, the togrog depreciated by 45%, and the largest depreciation came between 2013 and 2014. The 2014 Atlas conversion factor, however, was still based in part on 2012 exchange rates when the togrogwas stronger.
The table below shows GNI per capita in togrogs (A), the Atlas conversion factor (B), and the GNI per capita in dollars (A/B). The table also shows the average exchange rate and, for illustration, the three year moving average of exchange rates. (That is, the green cell is the average of the yellow cells.) The moving average is not exactly the same as the Atlas conversion factor, because the latter makes adjustments for relative inflation.
This helps show how it is possible that Mongolia's economy grew modestly in 2015, yet still saw the dollar value of GNI per capita decline.* GNI per capita grew 1.3%, but the Atlas conversion factor, based largely on the three-year moving average of exchange rates, increased by about 13%: 1,970 entered the moving average, while 1,358 fell out. The result is that Mongolia's GNI per capita, when converted into dollars, fell to $3,830, below the threshold for UMIC. (It is not common, but also not unheard of for countries to be re-designated to a lower category after earlier being promoted. This year, seven countries, mostly commodity exporters, moved to lower categories, while three moved to higher categories.)
The World Bank does not use the classification per se for aid allocations, although the same economic statistic that is used for the classifications, GNI, does figure into aid allocation decisions and the thresholds do have implications, even if not hard and fast. (Other factors such as credit-worthiness and assessments of the policy and institutional environment also contribute.) Some programs and other organizations, however, may use those classifications directly for aid allocation decisions. Indeed, some argue that the present approach distracts from the true extent of poverty and that the classifications, when used by other aid organizations, reduces resources for countries designated "middle income". Researchers at the World Bank have also taken up the question of the classification system, examining the pros and cons from the perspective of users of the classifications. (You can find their views here.)
For the present, however, the classifications are viewed as useful and continue to be published each year. Although Mongolia has moved from LMIC to UMIC and back to LMIC over three years, the level of concessional assistance from IDA has not changed as a result of these movements. The World Bank will continue to partner with Mongolia, working to support the country's ambitions to grow, to prosper, to reduce poverty and to expand access to services for the foreseeable future, regardless of whether its income statistic has crossed a threshold.
* As in most countries, the growth rate of GDP is more often cited in Mongolia than the growth rate of GNI. Although the two statistics are not the same, they are highly correlated. This note has not focused on these differences.
Mogi: reelected MP Erdenebat Jargaltulga is the likely candidate for PM, according to local reports. Erdenebat was finance minister during Saikhanbileg's brief super coalition. MPP will hold its conference today to formally choose him.
Mongolia appoints new parliament speaker
ULAN BATOR, July 5 (Xinhua) -- Chairman of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) Miyegombo Enkhbold was elected the new speaker of the parliament on Tuesday.
At the first plenary meeting of the newly formed parliament, where the MPP won 65 out of 76 seats, 66 lawmakers voted for Enkhbold to become speaker of the parliament.
Tsendiin Nyamdorj, another lawmaker from the MPP, and Sanjmyatav Yadamsuren from the opposition Democratic Party were appointed vice speakers of the parliament.
Enkhbold pledged that his party "will be the ethical, responsible, just and energetic majority in the parliament" and "improve the living standard of each of the households."
Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj wished success to the newly appointed speaker of the parliament and warned against losing the "trust of the public" that had voted for his party.
MPP leaders have said economic development and stable governance will be a priority.
M.Enkhbold elected as Chairman of Parliament – GoGo Mongolia, July 5
M.Enkhbold becomes Speaker of parliament – Montsame, July 5
Another Enkhbold elected Speaker of Parliament – news.mn, July 5
Z. Enkhbold resigns as DP leader, D. Erdenebat appointed interim chairman till July 18
Ulaanbaatar, July 5 (MONTSAME) Executive council of the Democratic Party (DP) resolved some matters at its meeting held Tuesday.
In accordance with a decision of the executive council, the chairman of the DP Z.Enkhbold was discharged from the post. Replacing him, D.Erdenebat was appointed as the acting DP chairman.
Moreover, S.Erdene was appointed as the head the DP's faction at parliament, B.Purevdorj and J.Batzandan--as deputy heads of the DP faction. Ya.Sanjmyatav will become Deputy Speaker as well.
Newly elected independent MP S.Javkhlan arrives to first day of work on horseback
July 5 (UB Post) State Honored Artist S.Javkhlan, who was elected to the new Parliament with a majority vote in Bayanzurkh District, arrived at the State Palace on horseback accompanied by 99 mounted cavaliers to attend the first meeting of the new Parliament and to take the oath of office. S.Javkhlan was the only independent candidate elected to Parliament in last week's elections.
MPP, DP name caucus leaders
Ulaanbaatar, July 5 (MONTSAME) Afternoon meeting of the first session of the freshly assembled State Great Khural has begun. The session appointed the chairman of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) M.Enkhbold as the Speaker.
At the beginning of the afternoon session, M.Enkhbold informed that a MPP faction has been set up, headed by D.Khayankhyarvaa MP.
Democratic Party (DP) has also established a faction and chosen S.Erdene as the head.
DP and MPRP makes allegation on election violation against MPP
July 5 (gogo.mn) Democratic Party leader Z.Enkhbold and senior members, and Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party leader N.Enkhbayar made a joint statement at State Palace this morning.
DP yesterday called first plenary session of parliament after settling four violations.
But today, they are making a statement concerning an another violation. Election candidate from Mongolian People's Party (MPP) has received double vote in just a single constituency, says Z.Enkhbold. He added election observers complained to organizers after discovering the violation and they accepted the violation. The 2016 election was fixed from the very start.
"This election violated the election law from the beginning, and that's why the rejected to register me as candidate." said MPRP leader N.Enkhbayar. "There is a limit to cheating. But this was a complete, clear election fraud. MPP won 65 seats. They have exploited DP's weakness. They are capable of winning seats but their reputation is not on the level to win majority of the seats. Let us end election fraud by 2016. It doesn't matter who wins. But it's important to win fair and square. I'm standing here together with DP because this election was fixed."
They stated, they will meet president Ts.Elbegdorj to bring up the issue after the press conference.
DP and MPRP authorities accuse the MPP of election fraud – UB Post, July 5
Jargal DeFacto: Election of Clarity 2016
By Jargal "DeFacto" Dambadarjaa
July 5 (jargaldefacto.com) If a good person does not run in an election, the bad ones win it. If voters do not choose how their life is going to be, someone else will do it for them.
Mongolian parliamentary elections and municipal elections have taken place. A total of 498 candidates were running for 76 seats in the parliament, and 69 of them were independents. There were 15 political parties running in the election, and only the Democratic Party (DP) and the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) had a candidate in all 76 constituencies, each of which had one mandate. One fourth of all candidates were women, whereas one fifth owned a business. Also, there were six wrestlers, four singers, two poets, an archer, an actor, a TV anchor, and a painter. Approximately 1.8 million of our 3 million strong population were eligible to vote in this election, and the turnout threshold is typically 50 percent. It should be noted that the 2012 elections had a turnout of 65 percent.
What is noteworthy about the 2016 elections? Six people competing for one seat in Parliament is not so new; it was seven in the previous election. What is special about this election is the number of independents. Compared to the previous election, the number of independent candidates increased from 26 to 69. This demonstrates that our society cares about politics to a much greater extent today. It can also be said that the DP and MPP, which have had ruling power one after the other, are not able to grow as political institutions, are lacking in capability, and are seeing their reputations plummet. Also, people are actively looking for brand new political leaders after waiting too long for the DP and MPP to become social leaders that connect society to the government.
NEW MONGOLIA IS LOOKING FOR NEW POLITICAL LEADERS
With their previous choices and the results they yielded, people now understand that the corrupt authorities who make false promises cannot resolve Mongolia's socio-economic issues today. Having realized this notion, people are looking for a brand new political force.
The independents who are running for office today are the first to fight for transparent and fair governance, and against deep-seated corruption and false democracy. Having understood what society needs and what people want, they are fighting for the dreams of the people.
I am confident that there are many future leaders amongst those who took on this fight. It is apparent that they are walking a step ahead of our society and attempting to take care of longstanding problems by influencing the public and their activities. These citizens who are running as independents are devoting themselves to their cause, and have lit their own torches in society.
One of the independents succeeded in securing a seat in the election. If more than eight of them had been elected as MPs, they could have formed a caucus. I do hope that such a caucus could one day be set up and truly oversee what Parliament and the Cabinet are doing and serve as an important opposition force, which Mongolia has not had in the last 25 years.
Regardless of whether they won or lost, the independents will remain active Mongolian citizens and become heroes to their friends and families for challenging themselves and inspiring pride. Mongolians are thanking these independent candidates.
POLITICAL PARTIES STIFLED BY CORRUPTION
When we say that we need strong leadership, this means that we are missing inclusive governance where the rule of law is followed and legislation treats everyone equally and fairly. In a country like Mongolia, where everyone plays individually as opposed to as a team, this duty of inclusive governance should be fulfilled by political and economic institutions. When political and economic institutions are extractive and serve the minority in a society, global thinkers say a nation truly struggles.
We have seen many elections, but political factions inside political parties have always ruled Mongolia. These people who join hands on the basis of their personal interests, and to fill their wallets, have been overthrowing the government, making false promises, and making money from public funds directly and indirectly. They see their political party financing as an auction, where public property, land, government positions, and public tenders are available to the highest bidder.
It has become particularly interesting today, because they have now started to collect the capital they need for the future by borrowing and embezzling. When will state-owned companies, which are in fact governed by political parties, be privatized so that there will be supervision and oversight?
Many in our society today are gaining more clarity and losing faith in big political parties because they continue to keep their political party financing secret and allow public funds to be compromised. It has been 16 years of false promises and refusal to take off the "double deel". Therefore, there are currently no leaders that are truly respected and followed by people.
Instead of strengthening the government's structure as an institution, they have been changing it to benefit their own interests. This completely changes the personnel within the government. It has proven through dozens of recently revealed secret recordings, experiments, and smear campaigns that our political leaders betray each other while wearing a smile.
If people in our government can secretly see what senior statesmen are up to, anything can be done to us, the people. If there was recorded behavior that should have been called out, why isn't it shared with the public right away? If releasing these tapes is advantageous only to the political opponent holding them and used to help win an election, who have these politicians been working for? Why have our statesmen become such wimps?
Mongolians are hoping to see jobs created after this election. Having a job helps you put food on the table and achieve your dreams. Our society understands that jobs are created by the private sector rather than the government. If this is the case, why is the government pressuring the private sector with various taxes and feeding from these taxes to pay for the government's immeasurable debt? Why are they providing soft loans and easy money to specific individuals instead of supporting fair competition?
Why is the government sending people who have just turned 50 years old to retirement when they are the most experienced people in their fields? Why can't we set up internet access centers in their neighborhoods and give them training for new skills? Hundreds of such training centers could be established with a small portion of the money that is being handing out as free cash. If we get experienced elders work, it will have a positive impact on our labor resources.
Why are there no special courses or training dedicated to supporting the youth in competing internationally? Are we going to continue begging foreign countries to hire our laborers when our working population is only one million? Why are these and many other social issues being neglected?
Mongolians today need to have faith in tomorrow and in ourselves. Our society needs a government that can realize this faith. Realizing faith in tomorrow requires having a stable, reliable, and non-corrupt government with respectable and likeable leaders.
We took part in the parliamentary elections with these expectations. Everyone should have cast their vote in this election of clarity.
Trans. by B.AMAR
Not a Social Media Election
By Julian Dierkes
July 4 (Mongolia Focus) I was surprised that the election campaign for the June 29 election did not unfold on social media more. Yes, there was some activity, but I did not see any clever or comprehensive campaigns by candidates or parties, nor was there all that much action from voters.
Why Might One Expect a Social Media Election?
Data on social media usage is always a bit tricky and rarely up-to-date, but basic telephony and computer access data for Mongolia is available through the UN's International Telecommunications' Union, for example. In the ITU's 2015 ICT Development Index, some of the data included suggests widespread use of mobiles that anyone who has travelled to or lives in Mongolia could certainly confirm. For example, for 100 Mongolians, there are 105 cell phone contracts. 29% of households have access to the internet, according to these statistics.
That confirms the more anecdotal impression of wide-spread use of mobiles, increasingly smartphones as well, and of computers. Mongolians also continue to be very active on social media. While Twitter has been very popular for some years, Facebook seems to have surpassed it recently.
Given the potential for multiplication of political messages via social media, I was expecting a very active election campaign online this year. I was looking for URLs and Facebook/Twitter/userids to be prominent in campaign materials, and for coordinated campaigns in social media via hashtags and the strategic sharing of posts.
My overall impression is that not nearly as many of these kind of activities happened as I was expecting.
MPs on Twitter
But, obviously, my impression is quite limited. It is based primarily on Twitter rather than Facebook. My children keep reminding me that "Twitter is for old people". That's why I use it, but many Mongolian politicians seem to agree with me in that. 41 members of the incoming State Great Khural are on Twitter. With a parliament of 76 members that's not quite universal adoption, and not all of the 41 accounts I identified are particularly active, but still, it does seem that even if Twitter is less of the go-to social medium that it might have been some few years ago in Mongolia, it is still relevant.
Facebook and other Platforms
I have been told that Facebook discussions around the election were quite active. While I am on FB myself, I really don't use it very much for professional purposes, in part because the search function does not seem to work well for such purposes, and because hashtagging or some other form of organization has never really taken off. I did not take a closer look at other rising social media like SnapChat. A search for the hashtag #Сонгууль2016 does produce a number of posts on Instagram, including many where voters have recorded their voting "receipt", but not much in terms of a campaign that I can identify.
I was also quite surprised not to see more posting on the election night. GIFs were noticeably absent from Twitter as well, though I made a clumsy attempt at humour:
From photos that others sent me, I could not spot a single billboard or campaign poster that listed a website or social media userid. It seems that the election law did not specifically prohibit such pointers to social media sites and channels.
See the small forest of election posters in the photo below. Not a single one seems to offer a link to social media or a website.
Lack of Campaigning
I was surprised that neither parties nor candidates seem to develop strategic campaigns that focused on slogans, particular issues, or anything like that really. I did not see any strategic hashtags that would lend themselves to engage voters on specific topics, nor any attempts to use graphics to increase engagement. The parties in particular did not seem to see strategic value in coordinating any activities on social media.
Why, given Mongolians' participation in social media?
First of all, Mongolian political operatives are not alone in not realizing the potential that social media hold for engagement of citizens. This is certainly a common theme for analyses of "digital diplomacy" efforts where the number of channels appears to be proliferating, but the messages are primarily intended for broadcast, rather than engagement.
Secondly, past campaigns in Mongolia have also not suggested strong coordination within parties to observers. One of the challenges remain that most candidates seem themselves as a campaign on to themselves. This was very obviously the case in the 2008 election where multiple members from the same party were competing in the same constituency, but even in 2012 with its portion of seat to be won by proportional representation, central party campaigns were limited. With the return to majoritarian voting in this election, perhaps the incentives have skewed away from party campaign efforts again.
Reporting on Campaign
While I didn't see much use of social media by the parties, the media were more active this time and seemed better prepared for the election evening and the arrival of results as well.
Some media organizations clearly dedicated some resources to the production of graphics and dedicated websites, etc. Here's an example of some of the visually-attractive, but also informative graphics that came out.
Note: I am unable to corroborate what Lkhagva is reporting here, but a) I know him to be a committed investigative journalist, and b) this is a potentially important story given the significance of the Erdenet mine to Mongolia, not just its economy, but also its identity. – Julian Dierkes
Mongolian Ruling Party Questions the Legality of Hush Mine Deal with Russia
By Lkhagva Erdene
July 4 (Mongolia Focus) Investigation and debate by MongolTV journalist shed new light on a secret US$400 million deal involving two of the biggest state owned mines in the country.
On June 28th, day before the country goes to vote Prime Minister of Mongolia Chimed Saikhanbileg announced the transaction of Russian shares of the largest copper and molybdenum mine to a Mongolian company called Mongolian Copper Corporation.
"I am announcing today that the Erdenet Mining Corporation is under 100% Mongolian ownership. Mongolian company now owns the 49 percent share once belonged to Rostec, Russian SOE. I would like to highlight the decision was concluded at the highest level or Russian government." http://eagle.mn/r/13348, http://www.ikon.mn/n/ryl
After the announcement, political party Mongolian People's Revolutionary party which holds 3 seat in current cabinet strongly condemn the sale while main opposition Mongolian People's Party issued an statement calling the sale illegal. MP Su Batbold delivered the statement "The share belongs to the Mongolian people. This deal is given to an unknown company that was only incorporated two years ago called Mongolian Copper Corporation run by an executive who is only 28 years old. No action can justify this deal." http://www.ikon.mn/n/ryn
June 29th – Election Day
Mongolian voters went to the polls giving landslide victory to Mongolian People's Party with 65 seats out of 76 seats.
June 30th – Rostec confirms the sale
Rostec issued a press release confirming the sale of the shares hailing the "beneficial market conditions for both the Russian and Mongolian sides"
"At the root of the sale of 49% of shares in Erdenet Mining Corporation LLC is a studied approach to managing its mining companies and implementing an individual approach with respect to different assets in accordance with Rostec's strategic benchmarks. The sale of 49% of shares in Erdenet Mining Corporation LLC and Mongolrostsvetmet LLC is Rostec's largest deal in the real economy, as a result of which the corporation's budget received its largest ever single cash input…" said Rostec's CEO Sergei Chemezov http://rostec.ru/en/news/4518501
Mongolian Copper Corporation (MCC.mn)
Before the PM's announcement Mongolian business and political circle has unheard of the Mongolian Copper Corporation. The company is "fully owned by a consortium of leading Mongolian companies" according to the press release by Rostec.
The official address on the company website "Suite 401" at the Blue Sky Tower was occupied by National News Corporation and Bloomberg TV Mongolia staff. Staff had no knowledge of such corporation.
Bloomberg TV Mongolia is owned by TDB Media LLC subsidiary of Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia
Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia helped advise and finance the mine deal according to the CEO of the bank Onon Orkhon. http://www.mnb.mn/i/91032
Mongolian Copper Corporation is wholly owned by a Mongolian citizen named Purevtuvshin. The deal was concluded at US 400 million. 200 million was financed by the corporation and 200 million was a credit from Trade and Development Bank to Mongolian Copper Corporation said Orkhon during the live TV panel organized by MongolTV. The deal was highly secretive given the (geo)political situation, Orkhon added.
The debate – July 4th – Hush deal and uninformed public
Mongol TV called for panel debate on the mine sale asking relevant decision makers, bankers close to the deal and lawyers into a popular debate show titled "Nuudel Shiidel". Prior to the debate an online poll showed 80 percent of the public had no information of the state owned mine share to MCC. /1900 people took the poll as of 12:10pm of July 5th/
Ministry of Finance sources told MongolTV the announcement came as surprise to relevant government officials within the ministry. Erdenebileg Erdenejamiyan, Deputy Leader of Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party confirmed the account citing cabinet members from his party enquired about the mine sale from the PM only to be ignored by the cabinet leader. Erdenejamiyan served as Deputy Justice Minister in the previous cabinet.
Debate shed new light on the details of the deal raising more concerns of the legality of the deal.
"According to Mongolian law on strategic mines (Erdenet mine is listed 11th on the strategic mine list) parliament has to approve the sale of stake in the mine" said Oyunsaikhan Altangerel lawyer, defense attorney who previously worked for the Justice Ministry of Mongolia.
"The main question is why Russia is exiting Mongolian market shying away from their strategic interest. I am more interested in that context rather than looking at this as a business deal." Member of Parliament former Defense Minister of Mongolia Jadamba Enkhbayar
Jargalsaikhan Dambadarjaa independent journalist shared new information on cabinet approval from Mongolian government letter dated June 13th sent from Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirming the sale by declining the Rostec initial offer to government of Mongolia. "Russian government Medvedev agreed to the sale only if cabinet approval from the Mongolian counterpart on June 2nd on government website."
Jadamba Enkhbayar who's party now represents super majority in Mongolian Parliament asked for parliamentary probe and hearing into this deal by concluding "The Mongolian people voted for our party to investigative and return the public asset. We will have to deliver. That is what we promised."
Will the Mongolian government change their decision with the new parliament swearing-in today? Will the deal taint a longstanding relationship between the two countries? Feel free to weigh in on the discussion or add your input to email@example.com
About Lkhagva E
Lkhagva Erdene is an investigative journalist based in Mongolia. He is the executive producer of news at MongolTV, commercial broadcaster in Mongolia. He is currently working on the Panama Papers leak with The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
You can watch the full debate in Mongolian from MongolTV Youtube Channel https://www.youtube.com/user/MONGOLTVlHD
By Bumochir Dulam
29 June 2016 (University College London) Since the early 1990s Mongolia has been a parliamentary democracy. During his visit to Mongolia recently, John Kerry, US Secretary of State, hailed Mongolia an "oasis of democracy" (Torbati 2016), a fact which, given the current elections, I think, needs to be questioned. In a democracy opposition parties and individuals (individual MPs, groups and political parties etc) are one of the "milestones of democracy" (Dahl 1966: xiii-xiv). For example, on the 23rd January, 2008, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) "adopted Resolution 1601 (2008) on "Procedural guidelines on the rights and responsibilities of the opposition in a democratic parliament". The resolution emphasized the role of political opposition as "an essential component of a well-functioning democracy" and advocated a certain institutionalization of parliamentary opposition rights, laying down a number of guidelines through which parliaments of member states are invited to draw inspiration (Nussenberger et al. 2010: 3).
The following blog post argues that Mongolia severely lacks professional, institutionalised, formalised and legally-protected permanent political opposition. According to the Council of Europe, democracy without opposition is "dysfunctional" (ibid: 7).
Every four years, Mongolia reaches its maximal 'politicization' (uls törjih) during the parliamentary election. Political life is revealed through a variety of people, such as candidates standing for election, including singers, actors, wrestlers, boxers, doctors, scholars, lawyers, economists, activists, protestors, stakeholders, business owners, government employees, and politicians etc. Political campaigns often become intimate, revealing personal affairs and relationships, or discussing candidates' history discovering 'unusual' occupations such as shireenii hüühen meaning "table woman" in bars. This year, a campaigns against a female candidate, who had a history of working as a 'table woman', invited a famous transgender public figure N. Gan-Od who had the same job experience as "table woman", to reveal information about the job description.[ii] Conflicts, fights, protests, demonstrations and even riots happen during and after elections. The 2008 parliamentary election result lead to a devastating riot on the 1st of July, when 5 people were killed, 300 injured, and 700 arrested, resulting in the first and only state of emergency being declared in the history of Mongolia.
The period leading up to election also gives rise to a number of active oppositional political forces, which lay dormant most of the time. We need to question whether these are actually political opposition, because many of them tend to be temporary, occasional, superficial and inefficient. All of the candidates prioritise their purpose to win a formal political position in government rather than opposing concrete issues, decisions, policies and actions of existing or potential rulers.
Since the 1990s, Mongolia has had two dominant parties currently known as the People's Party and the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party has been the main political opposition for years, except from when they were in power from 1996 to 2000. After the People's Party dominated Mongolia's politics for 8 long years, in 2008 the Democratic Party lost in the election, which caused public anger, desperation and devastation, leading to the July 2008 riot. In 2012, finally the Democratic Party won the election again and took the lead of the country. Unfortunately, their rule failed to meet the public expectation of those who had anxiously waited and supported them for a decade since their rule ended in 2000.
Many feel unsatisfied with the past four years of political performance of the Democratic Party who have left the country in severe economic crisis with massive national external debt of around 22 billion USD. A recent IMF report warns that "Mongolia is at high risk of public debt distress" (Rodlauer et al 2015: 1). Economist H. Batsuuri writes that "current generation of Mongolians are considered to be unfortunate people as they have original sin, or foreign denominated debt, leaving to the next generations" (Batsuuri 2015: 4).
The failure of the Democratic Party has puzzled many voters, wondering if they should return to the People's Party, which was largely hated and rejected in the 2008 riot and lost in the 2012 election, or if they should turn to smaller third parties and new political forces. But the People's Party has multiple reasons to be partly blamed for the crisis and difficulties grew in the last four years of time. Starting at the end of 2014, the Democratic Party started another coalition with the People's Party, which lasted for only a couple of months. A news article by Kh. Törbold compared the coalition of the two parties from 2008, which was often depicted with the name MANAN (or AN+MAN), which literally means fog in Mongolian (Törbold 2014). MAN is the popular acronym for Mongol Ardyn Nam (Mongolian People's Party), while AN refers to the Ardchilsan Nam (Democratic Party). In this way, the two main parties repeatedly failed to perform a role of opposing political forces. Instead the coalition, corporation and conspiracy of the two party leaders dramatically increased, except at times of election. The two parties have a broader history of coalition governments from 1990 to 2015 (cf. Elisa 2012). In addition to their coalitions, there is a growing suspicion concerning corruption and conspiracy of the two party leaders. Many election campaigns appeal to voters not to choose MANAN, expressing narratives that question the two parties' unfulfilled democratic duty to be politically opposed to one another. Election forecasts reveal significant downturns in support for the two leading parties. A poll conducted by the Sant Maral Foundation in March 2016 showed 38.3% support for the People's Party and 31.7% support for the Democratic Party. Citizens are evidently disappointed in both of the parties and no longer trust either of them. Significantly, 42.3% of polled voters supported a proposal to abandon the multi-party parliamentary system in favour of an authoritarian form of government in which the president exercises absolute power,[iv] similar to Russia, North Korea and most of the Central Asian states.
This situation has created an opportunity for other political parties and opposition forces to win an increased number of seats in the next parliament. For many smaller political parties, independent candidates standing for the election and all other political forces, this is a political advantage that has been unprecedented in the past 26 years. As a consequence, in February 2015, the National Labour Party (Khödölmöriin Ündesnii Nam) held its very first forum and declared itself the "new political force" (uls töriin shine khüchin) in Mongolia. Member of the Labour Party S. Borgil, who was later elected as the party leader, stated that "two political parties dominated Mongolia over the last 25 years, creating a MANAN tyranny" (Gan 2015). In April 2016, prior the election, the Independence and Unity Party (Tusgaar Tognol Ev Negdeliin Nam) – a relatively new party not well known to the public – proclaimed itself "not the third political power, but the leading power" (Uyanga 2016).
The two dominant parties have sought to conspire against the possible rise of third political powers in the 2016 parliamentary election, amending the law on elections on the 25th of December 2015[viii], six months before the June 2016 election, to replace mixed-member proportional representation with a first-past-the-post voting system. According to T. Edwards (2016) the amendment "handicaps smaller parties" and "erodes democracy" in Mongolia. The public, civil society, organizations, NGOs, smaller parties and many others expressed strong resistance to the amendment, but with little impact. The famous poet Ts. Khulan addressed a letter to the President of Mongolia Ts. Elbegdorj, in which she blamed the President for not applying his veto right to block the amendment.[ix] The latest conspiracies of the two parties on the amendment of the electoral law have left Mongolia without the prospect of a strong political opposition. In addition to the amended election law, the minority parties are all handicapped by other problems and disadvantages. For example, the above-mentioned two political parties are relatively new, while older minority political parties have often been founded by and organised around one strong political figure who never resigns from the official position of party leader. Additionally, most of these parties remain inactive between elections, without performing the role of active political opposition. Because of unequal power relationships within these parties, single leader-based parties lack the professionalism and institutionalization required to form a strong political opposition.
But the major problems of the opposition in Mongolia do not only lie in the political parties themselves, so much as in the absence of legislation to support a political opposition – for instance, there is no law or constitutional articles governing the rights and responsibilities of opposition parties. Needed are rules guaranteeing minority participation in parliamentary procedures, giving rights to supervise and scrutinize government policy; the right to block or delay majority decisions; the right to demand constitutional review of laws, and so on (Nussenberger 2015: 22). In the Council of Europe report on political opposition, Nussenberger et al. listed the following duties of a legally protected and institutionalized political opposition:
The function of the opposition is not to rule. Instead the opposition may have other functions. How these may best be listed is arguable, but among them may be the following: to offer political alternatives; articulate and promote the interests of their voters (constituents); offer alternatives to the decisions proposed by the government and the majority representative; improve parliamentary decision-making procedures by ensuring debate, reflection and contradiction; scrutinise the legislative and budgetary proposals of the government; supervise and oversee the government and the administration; enhance stability, legitimacy, accountability and transparency in the political processes (ibid: 7).
Mongolians are blaming the ruling party for current crisis, but it is not only the rulers who can be blamed. The political culture is also at fault, as seen from the absence of a political opposition willing to engage and react against unfair, illegal, inaccurate and improper acts by the ruling parties. To make its democracy an "oasis", at least Mongolia needs to formalize, institutionalize and validate its political opposition.
Mogi: the son of MP Batbold Sukhbaatar
The 2016 election and the next generation in Mongolia
By Battushig Batbold
July 4 -- Mongolia completed its 7th parliamentary elections on June 29th, with the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) taking a landslide victory with 65 of the 76 seats in the parliament. Not many had predicted the magnitude of the victory, even though the MPP was expected to win. Given the past four years of economic difficulties, many believed there would be a change from the existing ruling party. However, the reason such a large margin was able to swing towards the MPP was not limited to the economy. An important part that differentiated the two main parties was the ability to promote the next generation of leaders and representatives. This was extremely important because of the demographics of the young democracy in Mongolia. Currently the Mongolian population of a little over 3 million, is comprised of mostly young people, with 65.28% under the age of 35 based on a 2013 consensus. At least one third of the voting population was under the age of 35 in the 2016 election, with most of them having access to social media. Therefore, as the proportion of young people increased in Mongolia, the ability to put forward young, capable and educated candidates was the key difference in this election.
One way that the MPP connected to the youth was by nominating candidates that are young themselves, with representation from the party's youth union and student union. Given that these unions are comprised of mostly young adults, the use of Facebook and Twitter was instrumental. This allows social and general media to have an influence on the voters' decision and also give transparent information to the general population. As one scrolls through status updates of Facebook and Twitter, many of the tweets and posts are about the elections and politicians. Politicians and social media users are continuously using these platforms to send their message in order to show that they can interact with the young generation. While one user defends certain legislation on one feed, the other attacks. Twitter and Facebook have become the major outlets of politicians and political parties in Mongolia, with the volume of tweets ranging from 60,000 to 88,000 from the most prolific users. Put differently, if you divide this by the 4 years of a parliamentary term, the result is an average of 41 tweets a day.
Mongolia, at its beginning of democracy, had the option in the early 1990's to gravitate towards the old ways, but instead moved towards a democratic system with many young parliamentary members who were in their twenties. However, in the more recent elections the representation of young people was diminished. A strong negative correlation resulted when the number of young people increased but the representation by young people decreased. This trend has now hopefully stopped with the success of the MPP candidates in this election including a winner of one of the seats, a young man who is 29. Now that the parliament has a few younger representatives again, the key question will be can this trend continue going forward?
Mongolian Parliament Approves Domestic Violence Law
In Mongolia, a decision to criminalize domestic violence advances the fight to end violence against women and girls.
Ulaanbaatar, 26 May 2016 (UNFPA) – Recently, the Law to Combat Domestic Violence (LCDV) was passed by the Mongolian Parliament in an important decision that addresses violence against women and girls, which the UNFPA has been supporting alongside government and civil society partners since 2007. Domestic Violence (DV) is considered as one of the most serious, prevalent and persistent human rights violations in Mongolia.
The law is extremely important because:
• One out of 5 families has a violent relationship; one out of 5 women suffers from psychical violence; and one out of 2 children and one out of 4 elderly are victims of violence;
• Eighty people lost their lives, and 3,299 people were injured due to domestic violence during the last 5 years (as of 2015).
• One out of 3 children living under the care of welfare institutions ran away from home due to domestic violence;
• One out of 5 divorces is due to domestic violence;
• 88.3 percent of domestic violence is against women and 64.6 percent is against children;
• 79 percent of victims of domestic violence suffer physically and/or psychologically from health conditions aggravated or caused by violence; and
• In 2015, there were 1,356 cases of domestic violence registered and the number of domestic violence cases reported to the police increased by 26% from the same period of the previous years (Information technology center of the General Police Authority).
The LCDV was approved in 2004, but why did it have to be revised? That is because the implementation of the 2004 law was limited as different laws and regulations were not consistent with each other, leading to lack of coordination between Government agencies that were supposed to provide integrated services to DV survivors. The 2004 law did not guarantee government funding to support the promulgation of the law either. But above all, the 2004 law did not recognize DV as a crime, and thus there was no means to end the behaviours of perpetrators.
UNFPA Mongolia thus supported a wide range of initiatives to revise the 2004 law, and get it approved by the Parliament. It was also to get related laws amended and approved to ensure that the legal system in relation to domestic violence is consistent. These include: 1) the Criminal Code; 2) the Petty Offence Law; 3) the Law on Investigation of Criminal Offences; 4) the Code on Law Enforcement Proceedings; and 5) the Court Execution Law.
First, every year, the "16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence" was organized, which led to the ground-breaking statement by the President in December 2013 calling on the state to accelerate action to end DV. Mongolia has become the 64th country in the entire world where the United Nations "Commit" initiative was signed by the head of state, fully committing the country to ending violence against women and girls. Subsequently, UNFPA Mongolia helped to set up a working group to revise the 2004 LCDV and ensure the integration of the voices, views and suggestions of not only MPs and Government partners but also those of civil society, women and young people to the final version of the revised LCDV. Here, partnerships with the Parliamentary Women's Caucus, key male and female MPs, civil society representatives, and national gender champions played an important role to advocate for the approval of the revised LCDV.
Second, UNFPA Mongolia helped and closely worked with civil society organizations. For instance, every year, the CSO Forum was organized on the International Women's Day, which was tied to an advocacy event for high level officials to get the revised LCDV approved by the Parliament. Strong partnerships with CSOs, namely the National Center Against Violence (a pioneer in the provision of protection services to DV survivors since 1995) and MONFEMNET (an NGO focused on human rights advocacy, particularly for women and girls) were beyond valuable in advocating for comprehensive legal reform to end violence against women and girls. CSOs also provided expert input in revising the 2004 LCDV, bringing in different perspectives, technical suggestions, and best practices to the discussion table.
Third, it was a strong belief of UNFPA Mongolia to continue to engage the general public. UNFPA Mongolia capitalized on the momentum of the public outrage at the well-publicized, tragic case of a 4 year-old girl murdered by her step-mother in 2015, strongly calling on decision makers for the criminalization of DV and related legal reform to end violence against women and girls.
Lastly, UNFPA Mongolia brought in young people in this process. It is estimated that 40% of victims of violence are young women aged 15-34, and thus UNFPA Mongolia considered it essential to involve young women and men to address this issue. UNFPA organized "Orange Sessions," public concerts with Mongolia's young musicians, where the youth echoed the message to support an end to violence. This helped raise awareness of violence against women and girls, also advocating for the approval of the revised LCDV. In addition, "Orange Days" were marked on every 25th of the month, and on 25 December 2014, even Members of the Parliament demonstrated their unity with the cause through wearing orange ties and scarves.
With the approval of the revised LCDV, which criminalized domestic violence, UNFPA Mongolia hopes that the issue of cultural impunity on domestic violence is also addressed. There exists the prevalent, traditional perception that DV is a private family matter, something better settled within the confines of the family without external involvement. The approval of the revised LCDV was one important step to reduce reluctance of some high level decision makers and gain public support through advocacy measures, so as to end violence against women and girls in the country.
Soon a new partnership will be officiated between the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and UNFPA to join forces and address violence against women and girls in Mongolia. It will be a landmark project first to conduct a long-awaited study to understand the level of violence against women and girls, second to carry out comprehensive public communications, and lastly to ensure the expansion of integrated services provided to victims of violence through the one-stop-center model (which has already been tested with UNFPA support in the past years in Ulaanbaatar, Zavhan, Bayanhongor, and Gobi-Altai.) The project will work closely with the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Population Development and Social Protection, and the Ministry of Health and Sports, as well as with other national partners.
Mongolian People's Party to introduce investor, miner-friendly policies
July 5 (CNBC) Mongolia's mining sector is set for a comeback from a few troubled years, after the country's investor-friendly opposition party regained control of parliament.
The Mongolian People's Party (MPP) won an impressive 85 percent majority in parliamentary elections last Wednesday, sweeping back to power following a four-year hiatus and ending the ruling Democratic Party's (DP) reign. Next year will see the landlocked nation hold presidential elections.
"The landslide electoral victory of the MPP in the general parliamentary elections is a boon for investors and miners alike," Travis Hamilton, founder of Khan Investment Management, a wealth management and advisory group that specializes in Mongolia, told CNBC via e-mail.
Mongolia has long relied on the exploitation of its vast mineral resources, which include coal, copper and gold, for economic development. The World Bank estimated mining's contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) at 20 percent currently, twice the ratio of a decade ago. But the country suffered amid the global commodity rout, with GDP tumbling to 2.3 percent in 2015, from 7.9 percent in 2014.
While the DP made significant legislative progress in liberalizing resource investment, policy flip-flops and a prevailing sense of nationalism dampened interest from foreign investors. In May 2012, the government passed a controversial law aimed at curbing foreign ownership in certain sectors, including mining, which Reuters reported led to a 43 percent annual crash in overseas investment during the first half of 2013, before the law was abolished. (Mogi: that law was passed by MPP-led parliament, before DP took power)
Sentiment took another hit in October 2012, when Mongolia detailed Australian lawyer Sarah Armstrong, who was working in the country for SouthGobi Resources. Mongolia claimed Armstrong was a potential witness in a tax evasion case, but SouthGobi told journalists the move was payback for a dispute the company had with the government over mining licenses. Mongolia lifted the travel ban on Armstrong two months later following intervention from the Australian government.
Now that the MPP is back in power, economists anticipate improved policy coordination going forward, pointing to the party's robust track record of unity and leadership.
"MPP's victory will reduce political friction within the parliament given that MPP appears to be an older party with stronger structure and discipline, as compared to DP, which is operated by several factions," Citi economist Adrienne Lui commented in a note this week.
Moreover, MPP's parliamentary majority meant they could govern without the need to form a coalition government, thereby avoiding political compromise, a factor that plagued the DP, Hamilton said. Almost all anti-mining populists were ousted from parliament in last week's vote, paving the way for a healthier business environment, he added.
That's good news for foreign miners, such as Australia's Rio Tinto, that have suffered under the DP.
Rio is the majority shareholder in Turquoise Hill Resources (TRQ), a Canadian miner that has a 66 percent controlling interest in Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi (OT) mine, which has one of the world's largest copper reserves. Following a two-year dispute with the Australian company, Mongolia's outgoing Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg finally allowed Rio to restart work on OT last May. The miner recently announced it would invest about $5 billion in OT over the next four years.
"We believe OT will remain free of politics," said Lui, noting that the MPP was also a key player in orchestrating the 2015 peace deal with Rio.
Investors could also take comfort that the OT project was being supported by the World Bank, "rendering it effectively bulletproof from further alteration or political investment risk," Hamilton said.
Optimism is also high for progress on the Tavan Tolgoi (TT) mine, one of the world's biggest untapped coking and thermal coal deposits, which also experienced difficulties under the DP's rule.
"The three local companies that operate TT—Energy Resources, state-owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi (ETT) and Tavan Tolgoi Joint Stock Company—have all scaled back operations since the mining economy began slowing down in 2014," researchers at University College London write in a June note.
But the new government is expected to honor investment agreements that support TT, including building a power plant as a joint project with Japan's Marubeni, and resolve outstanding debt that state-owned ETT owes Chinese aluminum producer Chalco Group.
Mongolia's mining outlook and overall growth profile will also be bolstered by the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor, a project aimed at strengthening transport links and trade between the three nations that was signed last month.
"Post-elections, there will be three to four years of certainty, and the Mongolian risk premium is thus improving," Joseph Naemi, independent director at Sharyn Gol Joint Stock Company, a local thermal coal supplier that's 70 percent owned by Manhattan-based private equity fund Firebrand Resources (Mogi: Firebird. This is what happens when you get journos who don't know Mongolia), told CNBC last week.
He predicted a string of mergers and acquisitions, on the heels of Trade Development Bank of Mongolia's $500 million deal this week to acquire gold, copper and iron ore mining interests from Russian conglomerate Rostec.
In particular, Naemi anticipates a potential take-over of TRQ. Over the past year, speculation has risen that Rio may buy out the remaining shares in TRQ, but Naemi believes Chinese firm Chinalco could be a viable contender.
"If my call proves to be correct, and should Chinalco evolve as the major player in bidding for the TRQ minority, their involvement would further de-risk the Oyu Tolgoi project, which by necessity de-risks Mongolia as an investment destination and sovereign."
In Mongolia, Investors Finally See an Election to Cheer
By Lee Cashell
July 5 (Frontera News) Amidst the chaos unfurled by Brexit, one country's mass protest vote is being greeted with relief by investors.
Three million Mongolians resoundingly opted to end an era of policies that contributed to foreign direct investment and economic growth plummeting. After clinching a landslide 85% majority in the election, the Mongolian People's Party hopes to reinvigorate the economy through a more permissive operating environment and friendlier attitudes toward investors.
Landlocked between Russia and China, Mongolia's vast natural resources have stood neglected in recent years as disputes halted Rio Tinto's $5 billion investment plans for the Oyu Tolgoi mine, one of the world's largest copper reserves. With little to buffer this commodity dependent nation, a people who only a few years ago sat atop the fastest growing economy watched their livelihoods go off a cliff.
In the run-up to the election, outgoing Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg attempted to repair the damage, restarting Rio Tinto's mining concession along with Tavan Tolgoi, one of the largest untapped coking and thermal coal deposits. Then, weeks before voters took to the polls, the government made a last-minute deal to pay Canada's Khan Resources $70 million in compensation for its revoked uranium license.
But it was all too late for the Democratic Party. The combination of the commodities downturn and perceived hostility toward foreign investors has resulted in economic growth shrinking from 17.3% five years ago to 2.3%. The dearth of opportunity has triggered unemployment, inflation and currency devaluation.
The investment world's darling a few years ago had became a punch line for bankers who once jetted in from Hong Kong, Singapore and London to compete for project finance deals.
But since the election, there's a palpable sense of optimism on the streets of the capital, Ulaanbaatar. A proud nation with a heritage dating to the times of Ghenghis Khan and the Mongol Empire, most here understand the need for technical know-how from the thousands of expats that foreign companies send to manage mines – principle drivers of the Mongolian economy.
The people's desperation for change underpinned a 72% voter turnout, no mean feat for this nation of traditionally rugged individualist nomads. One herder trekked for seven days to reach his nearest polling station in the Gobi desert – accompanied by 2,000 sheep, goats and horses.
As a nation, voters handed a stunning 65 out of 76 seats to the opposition MPP (including 13 new female MPs.) This absolute majority sets the stage for fast action in parliament.
While the Democratic Party was genuinely thought of as well meaning, it lacked the experience of running a country. The MPP, which has governed outright or through coalitions from 2000 to 2012, has no such problem. Among its top ranks, Chairman Miyegombyn Enkhbold – a former Prime Minister with a Masters degree in economics – has been appointed Speaker of the State Great Khural, Mongolia's Parliament. Potential candidates for PM include J. Erdenebat, a former Finance Minister, and former Deputy Prime Minister U. Khurelsukh.
The MPP's rule won't be without its challenges – foremost of which will be a perceived lack of transparency. With the overwhelming parliamentary majority that the MPP now possesses, the party will be in a position to pass legislation without meaningful opposition or public discussion. This opacity could spell trouble down the road for a ruling party in a country whose population is weary from tales of government corruption and mismanagement.
But for now, the mood is buoyant. Shares of Turquoise Hill Resources, the Rio Tinto unit handling the Oyu Tolgoi project, have climbed 4.3% on the Toronto Stock Exchange since the election last week. Activity at its copper mine is expected to contribute over 30% of Mongolia's GDP by the time it's fully operational in 2019.
While copper is Mongolia's biggest export, it was overtaken between 2010 and 2013 by coking coal. Additionally, a total $1 billion comes from zinc concentrates, crude retail oils and, most significantly, gold.
Although most commodity prices, particularly copper, have remained in the doldrums, Brexit has delivered Mongolia something of silver – or gold – lining.
Bullion prices have rocketed since Britain's June 29 vote to leave the European Union, extending the best two-quarter gain since 2007, with a 26% rally in the first half of this year. Even before this latest surge, export revenue from gold products more than tripled in three years to $420 million in 2015.
Along with over 37 million tonnes (81 billion pounds) of copper, the Oyu Tolgoi mine in the southern Gobi Desert is estimated to contain more than 1,431 tonnes (46 million ounces) of gold. And that's with only 30% of the country's surface area so far explored.
Gold is another reason for optimism that the bad times are behind us – at least in Mongolia.
Mogi: this was not substantiated
G.Munkhbayar appointed General Director of Erdenet Mining Corporation
July 5 (Mongolian Economy) It was recently announced that ownership of Erdenet Mining Corporation (EMC) has become 100 percent in the hands of Mongolians after Trade and Development Bank purchased the Russian government's 49 percent stakes in the company. Yesterday, the representatives from the Mongolian government, which owns 51 percent of EMC, met with their new partner in ownership and appointed former Mayor of Ulaanbaatar G.Munkhbayar as the General Director of EMC.
Munkhbayar, 52 years old and a member of the Mongolian People's Party(MPP), has worked in the city administration and city committee of the party along with the current leader of the MPP, M.Enkhbold, for many years. A thermal engineer by trade, Munkhbayar personally visited Erdenet city yesterday, and word has it that the Russian side is finalising the process of handing over their work to the new owners.
Some border checkpoints to close during Naadam Festival
July 5 (UB Post) Border checkpoints on the Dayan, Bulgan, Baitag, Burgastai, Shivee Khuren, Gashuun Sukhait, Khangi, Zamii-Uud, Bichigt, Sumber, Bayankhoshuu, and Khavirga highways will be closed next week, from July 11 to 15, for the Naadam holiday.
The checkpoints will resume normal operations on July 15.
Border authorities recommend that the public travel via railway or airplane if they have to China or Russia during the Naadam holiday.
Airports and railway checkpoints in Altanbulag, Buyant Ukhaa, and Zamiin-Uud will not see a disruption in service during Naadam holiday.
Young Mongols: Mongolian-Made Products
By Aubrey Menard
July 3 (Young Mongols) Mongolia needs to diversify its mining-based economy, and these Young Mongols are hard at work creating innovative products to lead the way.
Meet Khulan of Natural Essentials, Bolortuya of Seaberry, Oyunbat of Best Energy Savings, and Khulan of Gumuda. Their products are helping Mongolia diversify in a sustainable, home-grown way!
"Mongolian Jeweler" exhibition opens at Fine Art Gallery
Ulaanbaatar, July 5 (MONTSAME) "Mongol Uran Darkhan" (Mongolian Craftsmen) exhibition opened July 2 at the Fine Art Gallery, under auspices of the President of Mongolia. Leader of "Tumen Erdenes" (10,000 Treasures) Union of Mongolian Jewelers Mr S.Batzorigt officially launched the exhibition.
After giving opening remarks, the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj handed over presidential certificates to the craftsmen and attended the Anvil-Worshipping ceremony.
The exhibition will last until July 8.
Reformed Business Inspections in Mongolia Leads to National Awards for IFC
July (IFC) Seven years ago, doing business in Mongolia had its host of challenges including permit delays, opaque licensing rules and slow processing times.
But in 2008, the government decided to revamp the way it monitors and regulates businesses and invited the World Bank Group to advise and assist.
IFC was brought in to work with Mongolia's General Authority for Specialized Inspection (GASI) to find out what wasn't working and why. At the time, the agency was swamped with business and licensing assessments. Many business owners dreaded engaging with the agency as procedures were seen as slow, complex and punitive.
IFC's invaluable onsite work with GASI resulted in the Government of Mongolia conferring the Honor of Excellence of General Authority for Specialized Inspection of Mongolia to the project leader, Jigjidmaa Dugeree, and Certificates of Honor to four other members (Narantuya Jambalsuren, Donald Macrae, Florentin Blanc and Gordana Ristic) in mid-June.
Identifying the Problem
As a first step, the reform required a country-wide analysis of the regulatory environment, said IFC's Mongolia Business Inspections Reform project manager, Jigjidmaa Dugeree. "We found there were unclear rules and permit requirements and recommended changes to transform Mongolia's inspections regime and business environment."
GASI is responsible for overseeing the operations of all businesses across the country. At the project's outset, there were over 36,000 businesses and the agency had inspected almost 60 percent of them – a task that exhausted the office's resources.
One measure Jigjidmaa's team introduced was a risk-based approach to inspections. Before the reforms, GASI was inspecting all businesses with the same yardstick, regardless of risk to public safety. Artisan workshops, watch and shoe repair vendors, street food kiosks and household goods retailers all underwent full inspections. Not only were many of these unnecessary, but also costly to small enterprises.
One small bakery reportedly spent about $4 million Tugruk (US$2,000) in order to test product samples for GASI approval. "This is quite a significant overhead burden considering that Mongolia's annual per capita income is just over $4,000," said Jigjidmaa.
Risk Profiles for Businesses
To help ascertain risk, the IFC project team and GASI used existing non-compliance data and introduced checklists and risk criteria scores. By creating risk profiles for businesses, GASI shifted its approach from one of control to risk management.
All businesses are now identified as low, medium or high risk and each level is matched with an appropriate extent of examination which includes the frequency of inspections. For instance, vendors with low risk products must present valid documents, while those with medium risk products undergo physical inspections. High-risk product enterprises need to complete lab testing in addition to document checks.
"By helping Mongolia implement a risk-based inspections regime, small businesses that pose little to no risk to public safety are no longer being inspected," said Jigjidmaa. The results of the reforms surpassed project targets, reducing the number of inspections by 26 percent and saving $2.6 million in compliance costs. This cost savings meant businesses spent less on fines and more on their operations.
Engaging with Transparency
GASI now publishes its checklists and annual schedule of inspections in advance. For further transparency, the agency shares its results with businesses in a formal report and interacts with them via its Glass Inspections Portal, which allows for two-way engagement online.
"Before the reforms, inspectors used their subjective opinions a lot. The outcomes of inspections were often only penalties which created a culture of fear and intimidation between business owners and the authorities," said Jigjidmaa.
With greater transparency and dialogue, GASI has altered its image and role from police officer to business supporter. The seven-year project was a win-win for all as Mongolia succeeded in remodeling its inspections processes and IFC was recognized for its steadfast efforts during the entire project lifecycle by receiving national awards.
Mongolia's debt trap: The role of the EBRD and its strategy in Mongolia
From "Lost in translation: 25 years of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development"
April 2016 (CEE Bankwatch) At February's Central Asia Forum in Istanbul, EBRD President Chakrabarti almost nostalgically reminded the audience that not so long ago, Mongolia was the world's fastest growing economy.59 But the story of Mongolia's economy since the beginning of the century is not one of growth but a cautionary tale about public debt reaching distressing levels and the vulnerability to boom and bust commodity cycles. Some also read the tale as a story of extinction, with the disappearance of the one of the world's last nomadic cultures and the unique ecosystems and biodiversity of the Gobi desert. This case study presents elements of Mongolia's model of unsustainable development – financial, environmental and social – and examines more closely the role of the EBRD in the country.
Growth in Mongolia during the boom decade of the last commodity supercycle starting in the 2000s did help lift people out of poverty: for every one per cent of growth in GDP, 1 per cent of the population crossed the two dollars a day threshold. However, economic growth in Mongolia has also increased inequality60 61. And while the rapid but short-lived growth did not translate into significant and lasting progress, with a fifth to a one quarter of Mongolians still living in poverty62, the current crisis is expected to hit hardest the poor, the majority of whom live in rural areas63.
Since 2006 when the EBRD began operations in Mongolia, the bank has directed a sizeable proportion of its portfolio to the natural resources sector, in spite of the risks it identified in its own country strategies for Mongolia. The size of the EBRD's natural resources portfolio in Mongolia outweighs the bank's stated strategic priority to support the diversification of the country's economy away from an excessive reliance on extractive industries. A 2013 study of the Mongolia Cooperation Fund by the EBRD Evaluation Department acknowledges that "the natural resources sector became the core area of the EBRD's intervention in Mongolia" after the signing on 30 April 2007 of a Memorandum of Understanding between the government of Mongolia and IFIs (World Bank Group, Asian Development Bank and the EBRD) to ensure the sustainable long-term development of the mining sector in Mongolia, including strategic mining deposits and associated infrastructures64.
As early as 2011 and 2012, Bankwatch raised concerns that in the two country strategy periods since 2006, the natural resources sector had received the lion's share of the EBRD money in Mongolia at EUR 176 million. Bankwatch estimates that for the period up to 2010, more than 70 per cent of the EBRD's investments in Mongolia were in natural resources, while the portfolio of approved projects in 2011-12 was more than 90 per cent in mining.65 The EBRD has so far invested in the following mines in Mongolia66:
· Eldev 'clean coal' mine, as part of a USD 45 million loan investment in the Mongolian company MAK in 2007;
· Ukhaa Hudag hard coal mine: two projects with Energy Resources, including Phase 1 (USD 30 million in equity signed in 2009) and Phase 2 (USD 180 million loan signed in 2010); as well as a related loan for the mine's contractor, Leighton Mongolia (USD 35 million signed in 2009) and a loan of up to USD 200 million for Leighton as Lessee and Khan Bank as Lessor (with unclear status67);
· Altain Khuder iron ore mine: USD 25 million in equity and USD 30 million loan signed in 2011;
· Tsagaan Suvarga copper mine: USD 350 million term loan and USD 100 million stand by facility signed with MAK in 2011;
· Gatsuurt gold mine (ESIA disclosure expected in 2Q 2016), through several investments in Centerra Gold, the latest one a USD 150 million, five-year corporate revolving debt facility signed in 201668.
Additionally the EBRD invested USD 6.6 million in gold exploration with Altan Rio in 201369 and in several natural resources projects through a Direct Investment Facility: a 4.5 million loan for exploration with Australian Independent Diamond Drilling in 2007; a USD 6 million equity in oil drilling with Petro Matad in 200970; and a USD 10 million loan for the Sharyn Gol coal mine signed in 201471. The EBRD has invested in MT petrol stations: USD 35 million in debt and equity signed in 2008 and an additional USD 50 million signed in 2011.
In its 2013 country strategy for Mongolia,72 the EBRD prioritized the diversification of the country's economy, yet envisioned a continued role in "responsible mining" projects. Juggling these two priorities was never going to be easy, given the known threat of Dutch disease. Neither the EBRD's country strategy nor an EBRD paper from 2012 propose a credible way for how these two priorities can be reconciled: "Specialisation in natural resources will make it more difficult to develop non-resource sectors, while diversification of the economy is associated with certain benefits."73 Both of these papers also focus predominantly on fiscal policies and institutional capacity and pay little attention to environmental and cultural limitations, like the scarcity of water and desertification in Mongolia, or the adverse impacts of mining on livestock and herders.
In December 2015 the EBRD arranged a USD 1.2 billion syndicated loan for the Oyu Tolgoi Phase 2 project. The EBRD is providing USD 400 million of its own resources, and a syndicate of 15 commercial and development banks will provide the remainder of the USD 4.4 billion package74. With a total of 78 EBRD-financed projects in Mongolia and cumulative investments of EUR 1.3 billion75, the OT deal could hardly ever be matched by the bank's efforts to diversify Mongolia's economy. The implementation of the Oyu Tolgoi project to date has raised concerns about the ability of the EBRD and other lenders to ensure environmental sustainability and mitigate against the impacts on herders. Upon approval the Oyu Tolgoi project received a derogation from the EBRD's biodiversity standards, due to the impact of the project on the critical habitat of Houbara Bustards76.
In crises like the current one, fingers are usually pointed at the governments of resource-rich countries that almost inevitably (unless they are Norway) fall victim to the 'resource curse'. The IFIs, however, are not exactly observers of these developments, but active players through their investments and policy dialogue, so some responsibility as lenders must be assumed.
Wider research raises the concern that "there is no evidence that growth and lending is reducing dependence on primary commodities"101, questioning the premises on which IFIs build their strategies for Mongolia – heavy lending to the natural resources sector, warnings against "resource nationalism" and encouraging less state-regulated "business environment", and at the same time diversifying mostly on paper.
The EBRD's own prognosis was correct: "Despite sustained high commodity prices, public and external debts are projected to continue rising as mining projects and related infrastructure require significant public and private investments. The economy remains vulnerable to a renewed downturn in global commodity prices, which may weaken investment and economic activity and lead to delays with key mining projects. Developing manufacturing sectors in a volatile macroeconomic environment will also present a major challenge as will dealing with a possible appreciation of the Togrog eroding Mongolia's price competitiveness ('Dutch disease')."
The EBRD's strategy in Mongolia has incompatible priorities, and the bank's investment and policy dialogue have a lot more to show in the mining sector than in the efforts to diversify the economy.
Mongolia's development path has proven to be unsustainable – both financially and in terms of the environmental and social impacts. During the revision of the country strategy in 2016, the EBRD will have to demonstrate how it has delivered on its strategy and its wider mandate and how it plans to address the situation in the future.
Link to report (page 20)
MPP nominates former MP Batbold Sundui for mayor, Sandui Ts. For council chairman
Ulaanbaatar, July 5 (MONTSAME) Former parliamentarian Su.Batbold has been nominated for the UB City Mayor's post, while head of the city's MPP Ts.Sandui--for the post of head of the UB Citizens' Representative Khural (council).
It was reported Tuesday by D.Amarbayasgalan, head of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) faction at the Citizens' Representative Khural of Ulaanbaatar city.
"First meeting of the Citizens' Representative Khural was due on Monday, but it was postponed for the term of office was effective for Su.Batbold who has been nominated for the UB Mayor.
Now it is urgent to convene the first meeting of the city's Council in order to ensure normal function of public service, especially, when the National Grand Festival--Naadam as well as the ASEM Summit are approaching. Therefore, the meeting is scheduled on Wednesday to appoint new Mayor of UB and head of the Citizens' Representative Khural," D.Amarbayasgalan said.
New members of City council receive temporary certificates
Ulaanbaatar, July 4 (MONTSAME) Temporary certificates were handed over on Monday to newly-elected members of the Citizens' Representative Khural (Council) of Ulaanbaatar city.
282 candidates from ten political parties and two coalitions, and four independent candidates ran for the 2016 elections of the Citizens' Representative Khural organized with participation of 3,966 public servants in 397 polling stations divided into 45 constituencies in nine districts.
As the results of the elections where 70.4% of the voters cast their votes, the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) secured 34 seats, while the Democratic Party (DP) got 11 seats.
Ambassador to Russia meets EEC Board Member
Ulaanbaatar, July 4 (MONTSAME) On July 1, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Russian Federation B.Delgermaa met T.D. Valovaya, a member of Ministry Board (Minister) for Principle Directions of Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasian Economic Committee (EEC), in Moscow.
At the meeting, the sides discussed issues on expanding bilateral cooperation between Mongolia and the EEC and facilitating customs duty and tariffs for Mongolian products such as meat, meat products, knitted goods and processed leathers.
The Ambassador invited Valovaya to take part in the 15th Asia-Europe Business Forum to be held on July 13-14 as a side event of the 11th ASEM Summit in Ulaanbaatar. She asked Valovaya to secure participation of Russian and EEC delegations in large compositions at the upcoming business forum.
Maptek provides Vulcan software for Mongolian mine engineering students
By Munkhbadral Algaa, CEO of ITExperts LLC
July 4 -- Mining technology developer Maptek has provided educational licences of Vulcan geological modelling and mine planning software to the Mongolian University of Science and Technology (MUST), based in Ulaanbaatar.
Maptek reseller for the region, Information Technology Experts LLC will conduct the training of staff and ongoing teaching of fourth year students in the School of Mining Engineering. About 2400 students study mine engineering at MUST, with 9 different specialisations offered.
Addressing guests at the launch ceremony for the Maptek Vulcan laboratory on Friday April 5, CEO of IT Experts, Mr Munkhbadral Algaa, said that the software would help prepare students for job opportunities in the private sector as well as with state agencies.
The School of Mining Engineering has a strong research base that is closely linked to industry. Many academic staff come from industry and bring practical, educational and research experience to the faculty.
Maptek will provide 15 networked Vulcan licences, giving students access to open cut and underground mine design, pit optimisation and geostatistical applications.
Scholarship program announced for postgraduate Mongolian studies students
Ulaanbaatar, July 4 (MONTSAME) The National University of Mongolia (NUM) has announced a scholarship program named after prominent scholars and linguists Ts.Damdinsuren, Sh.Luvsanvandan and B.Rinchin for doctoral and postdoctoral students majoring in Mongol studies for the academic years of 2016-2017.
The scholarship program aims to support young foreign scholars who will do researches on certain topics of Mongolian studies. The scholarship named after Ts.Damdinsuren will cover research works on Mongolian literature and history, the Sh.Luvsanvandan's scholarship-- on Mongolian language, scripts and Altai studies, and B.Rinchin's scholarship-- on Mongolian literature, anthropology and ethnography.
Up to three applicants who are studying for PhD degree or postdoctoral researchers aged under 40 are eligible for the scholarships, and the winners will be involved in the courses and will conduct research works in Mongolia for three months from September 1, 2016.
Christina Noble: Graduation Day for Our Boys' Prison Education Programme
June 20 (Christina Noble Children's Foundation) Since 1997 the Christina Noble Children's Foundation has worked in cooperation with the boys' prison in Mongolia to provide full-time education and rehabilitation for the teenagers living within the facility. Our programme enables these boys, the majority of who have come from extremely difficult and impoverished backgrounds, to leave prison with the necessary grades and qualifications to find employment and break the vicious cycle of poverty and crime for good.
Through providing them with a good education and showing these boys the love, care and respect that all children need, CNCF has helped to give back hope to many young men and enabled them to lead positive, productive and fulfilling lives after serving their sentences.
One of the days where the success of our Foundation's work in the prison is often most evident is at graduation, which took place last month. The day marks the end of the school year and celebrates the boys' academic and extra-curricular achievements.
This year we are over the moon to say that all of the boys passed their national curriculum assessments and that they are now able to move on to the next level of their studies. It was a joy for all of our team who attended the special occasion to see such pride, confidence and renewed self-belief in the young men as they went up to the front to collect their certificates.
During the event the boys displayed a variety of other skills that they had been learning over the course of the year: we were treated to a selection of delicious homemade cakes, viewed their most recent works of art and were given an absolutely beautiful handcrafted horsehead fiddle as a gift for the Foundation's ongoing love and support.
As always it was truly wonderful to see what our boys had achieved. Their progress, smiles and radiating pride are just some of the many reasons why the Christina Noble Children's Foundation works so hard to continue to provide the facilities, guidance and care that supports the educational and emotional development of these young men during this difficult time in their lives.
Naadam festival tickets available on sale on July 7
July 4 (gogo.mn) Mongol Naadam festival to commemorate 2225th anniversary of statehood, 810th anniversary of Great Mongolian Empire, 95th anniversary of the People's Revolution will be held on July 7-12.
Naadam festival tickets will be available for sale at Palace of Culture, Wrestling Palace starting July 7.
Tickets' price range from 16 - 24 thousand tugrug, and $25 for tourists' tickets, reports Press and Media relations department of the Capital city governor's office.
Naadam tickets to be sold from July 7 – Montsame, July 4
2016 Naadam to feature more sportsmen
Ulaanbaatar, July 5 (MONTSAME) The organizing commission for the National Grand Festival--Naadam held its meeting on Monday to hear reports concerning preparation works and ongoing works of the sub-committees.
Chairs of the sub-committees informed that the preparation works are going on as scheduled.
During this year's Naadam to celebrate the 2225th anniversary of the First Statehood of Mongolia, the 810th anniversary of the Great Mongol Empire and the 95th anniversary of the People's Revolution, the national wrestling tournament is set for 1,024 wrestlers, the national archery--some 1,000 archers, and ankle-bone shooting--some 800 shooters from 80 teams. In other words, sportsmen in larger number than the previous festival will be drawn to the tournaments. The horse-races will run in six age categories and among hybrid horses as well.
Deputy Premier and organizing committee head Ts.Oyunbaatar tasked chairs of the sub-committees to complete reconstructing venues of the Naadam events. Arenas for wrestling, horse-race and archery competitions will become available by July 5, said Ts.Oyunbaatar.
Actions will be taken to fix schedules of the horse-races and their distances, to present Naadam events' program to the public and to ensure safety for jockeys. The jockeys without safety clothes will not be allowed to compete in races, Ts.Oyunbaatar said.
Why Huushuur is the most sought-after food during Naadam Festival?
July 5 (gogo.mn) This question might interest not only any guest visiting Mongolia during the Naadam Festival, but also Mongolians who almost unconsciously follow the crowd to buy huushuur at the Central Stadium and Hui Doloon Hudag, where the main Naadam Festival events of three manly games take place every year.
I wanted to find the answer why this food has become so much popular during the Naadam Festival and asked friends, colleagues and even my family members. Unfortunately, I couldn't encounter any definite answer to why everyone has that craze to find huushuur during naadam and go to the Central Stadium whether it is hot with bright sun up high or during the sudden July showers through pools of water and mud.
The answers did not deviate much from the general 'just because it is delicious', 'good to gulp down in between the wrestling matches' and 'easy filling the stomach'. Thou, some have given some extended answers like 'it is considered as Mongolian fast food and it is convenient with huushuur not to over eat, as one can decide how many to eat.'
Food vendors specializing in huushuur say that with 1 kg of meat they come up with around 25 huushuur as per one huushuur they use 40gr of meat and per 1 kg of meat they use 1.5 kg of flour. So the real cost of a huushuur can be calculated easily, which I am leaving it with you.
Back onto the question why has huushuur become the most favorite? Going through the answers to my question the answer might come to some definite ones like: easy to make, tasty because it is deep fried, easy to pack into paper or foil paper and is very portable, can be heated by dipping into hot tea or soup, can be done with any ingredient of desire and even vegans can adapt the traditional meat recipe into vegan huushuur with stuffing with their favorite vegetables, easy to fill the stomach during busy viewing of wrestling matches at the stadium and somehow affordable compared with other dishes like barbeque.
As for food vendors it only requires a hot pot with oil to deep fry the huushuur, flour, meat and some seasoning and huushuur is ready to serve maximum amount of consumers in a very short time frame, giving the vendors the opportunity to have bigger profit margin in just few days of Naadam Festival.
In conclusion, if you are still wondering why huushuur is such a favorite, just go to the huushuur vendor and try it out. You won't regret it at all. Besides it can be garnished with various salads, seasonings such as ketchup, soybean sauce and you can gulp it down with hot milk tea, soft drinks or even airag. Enjoy!
Mongolian Naadam festival organized in Poland
Ulaanbaatar, July 5 (MONTSAME) Mongolian Naadam-2016 event has taken place in Warsaw among Mongolians residing in Poland, the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported Tuesday.
N.Bataa, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to Poland made the opening remarks at the festival and greeted guests on the national event. The "Mongolian melody" group of voluntary artists staged a concert during the festival which attracted 200-250 Mongolians from Wroclav, Krakow, Katowice, Gdansk and other cities. Polish public representatives also attended the event, where they also tasted Mongolian cuisine and dairy products.
The festival's national wrestling tournament was held among 16 wrestlers. Besides wrestling, sports competitions took place in archery, ankle-bone shooting, sprint running and tug-of-war in two age categories. Winners of each competition received certificates and gifts from the Mongolian Embassy.
In addition, the Ambassador handed over certificates to some institutions and individuals for successful and effective works.
Archeological Excavations in Mongolia Has Been Launched by TWESCO
July 4 (TWESCO) Archeological excavations are taking place now at the "Shivet Ulaan" memorial complex of the ancient Turkic tribes.
The work of the expedition is conducted within the framework of agreement between TWESCO and Mongolian National Science Academy signed during "The Great Steppe" Human Sciences Forum, which was held in Astana at the end of May 2016.
These archeological surveys aim to contribute to scientific endeavors, which are trying to understand ancient monuments in Mongolia and their social role for Turks, as well as to enrich the collection of archeological findings. Excavations will last for two months and are guided by distinguished Mongolian archeologist D.Tsevendorj and Kazakh Turkologist N.Bazilkhan.
After the excavations would be finished, TWESCO plans to organize an international expedition "Treasures of Nomads of the Great Steppe: From Tien Shan to Otuken", which is scheduled for 20-25 August 2016.
It should be reminded that the Academy in 2015 had erected in Astana the exact scientific copy of the "Mangi Tas" (Eternal Stone) monument of the Ancient Turks found at the "Shivet Ulaan" memorial complex in Mongolia.
Arts Council's Nomintuya Selected 2016-2017 Curator of Global Shapers Ulaanbaatar Hub
About Nomintuya Baasankhuu
Nomintuya Baasankhuu is the Deputy executive director of the Arts Council of Mongolia (ACM). She is a Fulbright scholar and a graduate of Columbia University and The National University of Mongolia. Through her work Nomintuya promotes role of arts for sustainable development and cultural diversity for positive social impact. Currently, she is leading the first edition of Ulaanbaatar International Media Arts Festival that promotes collaboration and intersection of arts, science and technology. In 2009, she initiated the Young Leaders in the Arts program, which has empowered more than 100 artists to become leaders in the arts over the last 6 years. Before becoming an arts producer and consultant, she was a professional contortionist and toured over 22 countries around the world. Although Nomintuya left the stage she continues to present on contortion as an expert and made a talk on TEDMED Ulaanbaatar 2013 based on her research on contortion. Nomintuya is a recipient of International Peace Scholarship, Leman Fellowship Award, and Undergraduate Exchange Program Scholarship from the Open Society Institute and was listed in Forbes Mongolia 30 under 30 of 2014. Nomintuya was selected as one of the 50 Global Shapers and named as one of the 40 world cultural leaders to contribute to the agenda of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016 in Davos.
Expertise: Entrepreneurship | Arts and Culture | Media | Sustainability and Environment
ACMS Speaker Series – Dr. Wayne Lee & Dr. Günhan Börekçi- comparative military history of Mongolia
5:30 PM, Tuesday - July 5th, 2016, American Corner, Ulaanbaatar public library
Comparing Strategies of Conquest and Control in the Sown, the Steppe, and the Wilderness: Understanding Landscapes and Logistics
Like most army planners, military historians tend to focus on conquest. They spend less time thinking about how a conquering society then manages or controls those territories or peoples thereafter. Furthermore, most military historians examine conquest by and of sedentary agricultural societies. There are key exceptions, but in general few examine the processes of conquest or control on the steppe or in the wilderness. This paper compares those three types of landscapes and their impact on the logistics of conquest and control, using 18th-century North America and the Mongol conquests as examples of the special problems posed in the steppe and in the "wilderness." This is still an exploratory work, and I hope to learn from the audience more about how the steppe landscape functions and how it has been shaped by human activity, and how it in turn shapes the strategies of conquest and control.
Mounted Archers in War: The Ottoman Imperial Cavalry and their Training Exercises for Battles in the Age of Gunpowder Revolution
From the fifteenth century onward, Ottoman authors produced several important works on various aspects of military horsemanship and mounted archery. These works, some of which were based on the Mamluk furûsiyya literature, provide us highly valuable insights not only on the development of horseback archery in world history, but also on the critical question of how the Ottomans actually prepared their imperial cavalry forces for battles in an age when land warfare had been transformed by the so-called Gunpowder Revolution. In this context, by examining a select group of hitherto unpublished Ottoman military treatises and manuals, this paper discusses the training methods and related cavalry exercises utilized by the Ottomans so as to perfect their horsemanship and mounted archery skills and tactics for the new type of warfare in which artillery and firearms played an increasingly vital role in defining the outcomes in the battlefields
Co-Sponsored by the American Cultural and Information Center, Ulaanbaatar
About the Presenters
Article: Ephemeral 'communities': spatiality and politics in rangeland interventions in Mongolia
In recent years, the number of community-based natural resource management projects for rangeland conservation and development has grown rapidly in Mongolia. Such projects seek to develop social capital through the formation of herder groups and pasture user groups, in order to enable the coordination of complex, collective tasks needed for sustainability. Through analysis of social networks, interviews and ethnographic data from two places where such projects have been implemented, Bayanjargalan, Dundgovi, and Tariat, Arkhangai, the paper demonstrates that the spatiality of pastoral social relations is much more extensive than assumed by these projects. Furthermore, rather than being neutral technical interventions, such projects are embedded in and proliferate politics. They often bolster the informal power of wealthy herders who gain more access to pasture, while at the same time leading to tensions between different levels of government and becoming objects of struggle between Mongolia's two dominant political parties. For all of these reasons, these efforts have tended not to build trust, and the 'communities' they create, in the form of herder groups and pasture user groups, have tended to be ephemeral.
Byambabaatar Ichinkhorloo is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology and Archeology, National University of Mongolia, where he conducts research on pastoralism, political ecology, development interventions and natural resource management. He has published articles on resilience to livestock loss from dzud and on the impact of meat reserves on the meat market in Mongolia. In addition to his scholarly work, he has worked for more than 15 years as a research consultant in the international development sector in Mongolia. Email:
Emily T. Yeh is professor and chair of the Department of Geography, University of Colorado Boulder. She has conducted research on nature–society relations, primarily in Tibetan parts of the People's Republic of China, including conflicts over access to natural resources, the relationship between ideologies of nature and nation, the political ecology of pastoral environment and development policies, and emerging environmental subjectivities. She is the author of Taming Tibet: landscape transformation and the gift of Chinese development(2013), and co-editor of Mapping Shangrila: contested landscapes in the Sino-Tibetan borderlands (2014) and Rural politics in contemporary China, a collection of the Journal of Peasant Studies.
Mongolia's nesting programme helps save the prized saker falcon
July 3 (Al Jazeera) Mongolia is home to the Saker falcon, which is a bird prized in the Middle East known for its speed and stealth to catch prey in the desert. But it's an endangered bird.
Al Jazeera's Pearly Jacob reports from Ulaanbaatar on an artificial nesting programme, which is trying to ensure the Saker's survival.
Mongolia's 'unbreakable flower' wrestles for Rio gold
By Terrence Edwards
Ulaanbaatar, July 5 (Reuters) Battsetseg Soronzonbold became a national hero in her native Mongolia after winning wrestling bronze at the London Olympics and is determined to turn the medal into gold in Rio next month.
Born in a country with a long tradition of wrestling, the 26-year-old Battsetseg, whose name means "unbreakable flower", is currently training twice a day with about a dozen young men and women in a camp some 45 minutes drive from Ulaanbaatar.
The popularity of wrestling in the country of under three million people, sandwiched between Russia and China, is only paralleled by their love for horses, meat and an alcoholic mare's milk concoction called airag.
"From ancient times we have been a wrestling country," coach Sukhbataar said. "Mongolian women are like warriors - really strong - that's why traditionally it's easy for them to become successful wrestlers."
Grappling and hand-to-hand combat were ways for soldiers to keep strong when the Mongol horde led by 13th century conqueror Genghis Khan marched across Asia and reached the edges of Medieval Europe.
Mongolia these days has fans of K-pop and Hollywood superhero movies but wrestling is still revered.
Battsetseg got hooked on the sport while in a hospital bed recovering from tonsil surgery.
"When I was watching TV, I saw these nice women wrestling, then I said to my teacher this is really nice," said Battsetseg.
"Because of that I decided to begin wrestling."
And the fact that being a female wrestler does not carry the same stigma in Mongolia as it might in other parts of the world, helped.
"Well you know people used to imagine (female) wrestlers as being big and chubby," said Battsetseg.
"Now things are very open, people are watching TV and they watch us, people say that we are nice girls, they don't say that we are like men."
A world champion in the under-59 kg class in 2010 and a household name after her London bronze at under 63 kg, Battsetseg thinks anything less than gold in Rio will be a disappointment.
After that she hopes to marry the boyfriend with whom she sometimes tests out her moves.
"We practice the techniques," she said. "But because he's bigger than me I shouldn't practice too much with him."
Mongolia routs Northern Mariana Islands 8-0 at East Asian qualifiers
July 6 (Marianas Variety) MONGOLIA showed dominance taking down the NMI Men's National Team Blue Ayuyus, 8-0 during their final match of the EAFF East Asia Championships 2017 Round 1 tournament held in Guam last Monday.
NMI failed to finish with a win due to Mongolia's aggressiveness.
Mongolia held most of the possession throughout the game leaving NMI small openings for a chance to attack as they pushed fast.
Mongolia clipped their first goal 27 minutes into the game by Bayarjargal Oyunbat and it did not stop there.
Bayarjargal followed through with his second goal nine minutes later while Naranbold Nyam-Osor tagged along with the third goal on the 39th mark, just three minutes after.
Before ending the first half, Mongolia extended the lead 4-0 as Turbat Daginaa clipped one at the 45th minute.
NMI managed to squeeze in a few attempted shots but mainly played defense as Mongolia continuous attack kept them backing down for defense.
Mongolia maintained a fast pace offensive brining in four more goals during the second half. Tuguldur Munkh-Erdene scored three goals alone while Purevdor Erdenebat bagged a lone goal to secure the win 8-0.
Mogi: looked quite ugly
Team Mongolia to wear yellow at Rio Olympics
July 5 (news.mn) The Rio Olympics are less than a month away. On 'Athletes Day' (3rd June) the Mongolian team outfit has finally unveiled. It has a similar design and colour to that of the Beijing-2008 Olympics'. At the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the Mongolian athletes will wear smart uniforms designed by designers from "Shilmel Zagvar" LLC. The "Ariunaa Suri" brand, which produced the outfits for the Winter Olympic for Sochi-2014 voluntarily withdrew from the tender. Team Mongolia will now be wearing yellow uniforms in the third Olympics in a row. In the 2004 Athens Olympics the Mongolian team outfits were blue.
2016 Genghis Khan MTB Adventure: Women's division won by Mongolian Tuvshinjargal
July 4 (CCTV) The 2016 Genghis Khan MTB Adventure and Grassland Extreme Marathon. The race taking place in West Ujimqin Banner, Inner Mongolia. Mongolians would prove fastest as Sainbayar Jambaljamts, would be victorious in the men's race and Enja Tuvshinjargal took the women's category.
About 500 cyclists from more than 30 countries and regions competed in beautiful Ujimqin grassland during the 3-day event.
The most difficult long distance part of the multy-day event covers 280 kilometres, more than 80 percent of that on flat prairie land.
Mongolian cyclists swept the top three in men's race, including Sainbayar Jambaljamts taking first. Wang Guolong was the top Chinese in eighth. in the women's race -- Enja Tuvshinjargal was tops, with Chinese cyclist Qin Zi Ye fourth.
Mongolia to take part in Children of Asia Games
July 5 (gogo.mn) The sixth "Children of Asia International Sports Games" will be held in Sakha Republic (Yakutia) of Russian Federation on July 5-17.
This year's "Children of Asia International Sports Games" is held under the auspices of Olympic Council of Asia, International Olympic Committee in 22 disciplines and bring together 4500 athletes of 39 countries.
Mongolia reportedly sent a list of 200 athletes, coaches in 19 sports disciplines for VI Children of Asia International Sports Games
Athletes were qualified from last year's V Mongolia Children Games and Junior National Championship.
Mongolians to take part in 6th Children of Asia International Sports Games – Montsame, July 5
Mongolian circus marks 75th anniversary
July 5 (news.mn) This year marks the 75th anniversary of the birth of circus culture in Mongolia. The National Circus of Mongolia with 2000 seats was established on 9th of July, 1941 in the Yarmagiin Denj district of the capital. The National Circus of Mongolia will present a performance entitled 'Backtracking the Mongolian Circus'. This will take place in on 6th-7th July as part of 75th anniversary. About 200 artists and teams and the 18 best circus troupes will participate in the event.
More than 1,400 year-old Altai Harp sounds reheard in Ulaanbaatar
Ulaanbaatar, July 4 (MONTSAME) "Asar Urgoo (Tent Palace) of Legendary Nomads" has opened at the yard of the Choijin Lama Monastery-Museum of Ulaanbaatar. The Altai – Mongolian ballad group is performing the masterpieces of the Altai folklore with Altai Harp, an extraordinary historic finding dating back to Turkic period, which existed more than 1,400 years ago on Mongolian lands.
The musical instrument was discovered in 2008 in the remains of an ancient tomb in Mankhan soum of Khovd Province, located in the far northwestern Mongolia, by the Mongolian archaeologists. After the excavation, the team handed over the tomb's findings to a German team for further studies.
After years of studying the origin of this musical instrument, the head of Mongolian Ethnic Music Bureau Mr D.Ganpurev along with music instruments maker P.Baigalijav have recreated a copy, keeping the original shape and feature of the ancient instrument. Both the original and the copy were displayed at the "Heritages of Steppe Warriors" exhibition in the National History Museum in 2014. Since then, the Altai Harp has been acknowledged as an exclusive cultural heritage of Mongolia and the official token of Mongolia-Germany cultural friendship.
The Mongolian Ethnic Music Bureau has also been making efforts in restoring one of the Mongolian lost heritages – the Toirom (Circle) Dance. The dance has been mentioned in the Secret History of the Mongols, indicating its popularity in the 12 and 13th centuries.
The Altai – the ethnic ballad group – named after the Altai Mountains and the Harp itself, was established in 2011. The band has performed in Turkey upon invitation by the President of Turkey Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and in the Grand Hall of UNESCO. The Altai is rehearsing to stage a performance in China in July 14 at the invitation of the Chinese president Mr Xi Jinping. The band has released its first album named "Zolgoe doo" (Let's Greet), which has 30 songs.
Photo News: Best of Classics 2016
July 4 (gogo.mn) In scope of "Hospitable Ulaanbaatar" program, an open air classic art concert "Best of Classics" was held at Chinggis square on July 02 at 21:00 PM.
Mongolia's best artists will be performing world famous classics such as:
- Carmen opera by G.Bizet
- Sleeping beauty ballet by P.I.Tchaikovsky
- Swan lake ballet by P.I.Tchaikovsky
- Uran has ballet by J.Chuluun
- Shivee hiagt opera by D.Luvsansharav
- Chinggis khaan opera by B.Sharav
We bring you photos of the night's highlights.
Slow Motion Projects: Fast Forward Across Mongolia
June 26 (Slow Motion Projects) Over the past two months, Slow Motion Projects took us on a journey across the incredible landscapes of Siberia and Mongolia: discover some of these adventures... In fast-forward!
Slow Motion Projects is a Swiss NGO supporting sustainable development in Asian countries through environmental education: learn more and donate at http://slowmotionprojects.org
Challenge yourself to an extreme bike tour of Western Mongolia
July 4 (The Weekly Review) There's about 10 of us in the mess tent, shouting to be heard over the howling wind. The stove and the lights went out ages ago, so we're seeing in flashes of lightning and erratic head-torch beams.
We're each fighting to hold one of the main tent beams to the ground. There's a feeble squeak from the chef and a flapping of canvas as the cooking tent 10 metres away is ripped up by the wind and flung into the distance …
By morning, we're back in paradise again. There's no sign of last night's drama except a rogue roll of toilet paper draped across the otherwise perfect scenery.
There's no sign of the cooking tent, either, even though we can see to the horizon. So we pack up and kickstart our motorcycles.
We're in Western Mongolia, by the side of the Ulaagchin Khar Lake, with the Extreme Bike Tours team.
Half of those people live in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, so the vast steppe feels absolutely barren, prehistoric, pulled from the cover of a The Clan of the Cave Bear book.
Mountain after mountain, rising out of grassy valleys that stretch so wide they dwarf our 15-strong convoy of bikes and vans. It warps your sense of distance. I've never felt so alone.
Five tips for adventure travel on motorcycles:
1. Choose your machine wisely. Big, heavy bikes are great for the transport sections but you'll feel differently about them when you have to pick them up the third time on a tight trail.
2. Play it safe. If you're heading into remote areas, make sure you've got a back-up plan like an EPIRB (tracking transmitter) that can summon help in an emergency.
3. Know your spanners. When things go pear-shaped, you need to be able to fix the bike or jury-rig a solution that can get you home.
4. Don't forget the water. Off-road riding can be hard, physical work; you can get dehydrated faster than you think.
5. If in doubt, gas it out. Mud, sand, rivers, ruts – a motorcycle will handle them all much more happily if you're on the throttle, taking the weight off that front wheel. Plus, your mates will give you extra style points for more spectacular stacks. Everyone wins!
Airy scenes lure tourists north
Xinjiang beckons visitors to experience life in four countries along new routes
July 5 (China Daily) China's northwestern Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region is expected to get more high-end visitors after the launch of cross-border tours to the Altai Mountains, where China, Russia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan come together.
With the approval of the Altai area as a cross-border tourism cooperation zone, more favorable policies on visas, transportation, and tax-free shopping will be introduced for the convenience of tourists from the four countries.
Tourists can choose to travel between China, Russia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, or take a tour with multiple stops in various places in the Altai Mountain area.
According to the regional tourism authority, in 2016 alone 15 groups will travel between China and Mongolia; 10 groups will cross the borders of China, Mongolia and Russia; eight groups will travel between China and Kazakhstan; and five will include China, Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan.
The name Altai comes from Mongolian and means "gold mountain". The area covers Altai in China's Xinjiang region, Altai Krai and the Altai Republic in Russia, the East Kazakhstan region of Kazakhstan, and the Bayan-Olgii and Khovd provinces of Mongolia, where more than 5 million people occupy 780,000 square kilometers.
Yang Xinfeng, deputy director of the Altai Tourism Bureau, said the bureau promoted the cross-border routes to tourists starting last year, and the market has responded vigorously.
"The first cross-border trip, a group driving their own cars between China and Mongolia, started in July last year. So far, we've had nearly 300 tourists participating in these routes," Yang said. "Cross-border tourism has contributed to Altai tourism.
"In 2015, we received 179,600 inbound visits from tourists, an increase of 8.95 percent year-on-year. The inbound tourism revenue reached 294 million yuan ($44.2 million) in 2015, up 8.85 percent."
"Still, bottlenecks are there," Yang said. "China and the other three countries haven't mutually recognized driver's licenses, which limits the development of driving tours around the Altai Mountains. The visa application process is also time-consuming and expensive."
Hu Xianchun, manager of Xinjiang CITIC International Travel Agency, said the cross-border travel routes are not just for tourists within Xinjiang but are open to the whole country.
"The Altai Mountains have abundant tourism resources, including the best ice and snow scenery," Hu said.
"However, the price is still relatively high. So it is more popular among high-end tourists instead of the general public," he said.
A 14-day standard tour costs around 17,000 yuan, while a driving tour costs more than 30,000 yuan, Hu estimated.
Hu said the tourism industry in Xinjiang is facing some downward pressure, and the cross-border travel routes will be a stimulator.
"Compared with other tourism destinations, the transportation cost in Xinjiang is relatively high," Hu said.
"Besides, Xinjiang is not a tourism destination that will attract tourists all year. The best time to visit Xinjiang is from June to August. This is a relatively small window for us," he said.
It's a long way from Achill to Mongolia
ACHILL TO MONGOLIA Achill man Ian Boyle with his Citroen Berlingo van which he hopes to drive from Achill to Mongolia as part of the Mongolia Charity Rally
By Anton McNulty
July 5 (Mayo News) "I can change a wheel and oil but apart from that we are on a wing and a prayer." That is the honest assessment of Ian Boyle's mechanical skills but it is not enough to turn the Achill native away from competing in an arduous road-trip from Achill to Mongolia.
Ian, along with his co-driver, Liverpool man Haven Tsang, will be driving a 2007 Citroen Berlingo van through some of the world's roughest terrain as part of the epic and somewhat dangerous Mongolia Charity Rally.
The rally officially begins this week on July 8 from the Belgian capital of Brussels, with dozens of other adventurers driving vehicles of all shapes and sizes across Europe and Asia to the Mongolian capital of Ulanbaatar.
How the drivers get to the homeland of Genghis Khan is their own prerogative and Ian has decided to go the scenic route through Germany, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, down through Kazakhstan, back into Russia and onto Mongolia.
There will be no back-up teams to help them and any problems with the van and they could be stranded in the middle of nowhere, perhaps even in some countries famous for bandits. So what possessed two professional cameramen with no mechanical experience to sign up?
"We were working in the Middle East together during the Egyptian uprising. I was with Al Jazeera which is a 24-hour news channel and you were seeing some terrible images every day. One night I was on a break and I found an article on this [Mongolia rally] and the idea got out there. The world is so small now so you need your own adventure and this will be our challenge and the definition of a challenge, and maybe craziness.
"We both spoke about it for a number of months and we decided it had to be done. We signed up in November 2015 and were one of the first people to have signed up. At that stage it was shit or get off the pot.
"We are pretty handy with technology but not great with cars. If the van breaks down we are screwed," laughed the 32-year-old who is originally from Currane, and now back in Ireland working for UTV.
While the rally officially starts in Brussels, Ian decided to start his journey at the edge of Europe at Keem Bay over the weekend and travel to Brussels via England. Apart from a few rest days and barring any emergencies, the two men will be taking it in turns to drive 12 hours a day to cover the 15,000km journey in three weeks. Once in Mongolia they hope to sell the Berlingo and donate the proceeds to the RNLI.
The rally is 100 percent for charity and is run by Go Help, a UK charity that works with local communities in Central Asia to improve their access to healthcare and education services. The race costs £200 sterling to register, £800 to register the car and the competitors have to raise £1,000 for the charity. They have also secured barbersandgroomers.ie, an online store for male grooming products, as their main sponsor.
Considering both are professional cameramen it would be remiss of them not to record their journey and they are planning to make a documentary of their adventure with Irish TV agreeing to broadcast it.
With only a few days to go, Ian says they can't wait for the adventure to begin.
"We are terrified of what might happen but you can't think about it. We are bringing the bare minimum, we are only bringing two jerrycans of diesel, a shovel and a towrope. Other than that we will be relying on the kindness of strangers to get us through."
To make a donation, go to the website www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hyperfocaldistance.
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