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Monday, October 17, 2016

[TDB sells MMC; MNT sets new low; FX reserves lowest since '09; GoM issues ₮118B t-bills; and former DBM CEO arrested]

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Monday, October 17, 2016

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Jump to: Int'l Market - Local Market - Economy - Politics, Legal - Business - Ulaanbaatar - Diplomacy - Health, Education - Culture, Society - Nature, Environment - Sports - Art, Entertainment - Travel

Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

Int'l Market

975 closed -11.1% last week to HK$0.28

TDB Sells 3.5 Million MMC Shares at HK$0.365 Dropping Stake from 5.02% to 4.98%

Link to notice

 

HAR last traded A$0.004 on October 11

Lippo's Michael Riady Resigns from Haranga Board

October 14 -- Haranga Resources Limited announces that Mr Michael Riady has resigned from his position on the Board as a Non-Executive Director, effective immediately to focus on personal matters.

Link to release

 

Wolf Petroleum: China SAM Acquisition is "Not Fair But Reasonable" – Clarification Notice

October 17 -- On 19 September 2016, Wolf Petroleum Limited (WOF or the Company) released a notice to the ASX platform to hold a general meeting of the shareholders of WOF (Shareholders) on 19 October 2016 (Notice).

Resolution 3 of the Notice seeks shareholder approval for the acquisition by China SAM Enterprise Group Co., Ltd (China SAM) of a relevant interest of up to 51% in the fully paid ordinary shares in the capital of the Company (Proposed Transaction).

The Notice contains typographical errors which state that the independent expert has determined that the Proposed Transaction is fair and reasonable. These references should be amended to "not fair but reasonable".

The Directors consider that the Proposed Transaction is in best interests of the Shareholders and maintain their unanimous recommendation that the Shareholders vote in favour of Resolution 3.

Link to release

 

TRQ closed +2.4% last week to US$3.00

Turquoise Hill Drops SouthGobi Stake to Below 5%

October 12, SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (HKEx:1878, TSX:SGQ) --

Link to notice

 

1878 closed -18.1% last week to HK$2.04

SouthGobi: Appointment of Hong Kong Company Secretary and Change of Authorized Representatives

HONG KONG, October 12 – SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (TSX: SGQ, HK: 1878) ("SouthGobi" or the "Company") announces that Mr. Yulan Guo, an Executive Director and the Chief Financial Officer of the Company resigned as the Authorized Representative of the Company under the Companies Ordinance, Chapter 622 of the laws of Hong Kong (the "Companies Ordinance") and an Authorised Representative of the Company under the Rules Governing the Listing of Securities on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (the "Listing Rules"), with effect from October 12, 2016 (the "Resignation"). Mr. Yulan Guo has confirmed that he has no disagreement with the board of directors of the Company (the "Board") and there is no matter relating to the Resignation that needs to be brought to the attention of the shareholders of the Company.

The Company further announces that Mr. Kwok Siu Man ("Mr. Kwok") has been appointed as the Hong Kong Company Secretary of the Company, the Authorized Representative of the Company under the Companies Ordinance and an Authorized Representative under the Listing Rules with effect from October 12, 2016.(the "Appointment").

Link to release

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Local Market

MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 -1.21%, ALL -0.25%, Turnover 44.2 Million Shares, 9.9 Billion T-Bills

October 14 (MSE) --

Link to report

 

GoM Offering 5 Billion 12-Week, 28-Week T-Bills Each at 16.848%, 16.897% Discounts on MSE

October 14 (MSE) Buy order of 12 weeks Government bonds with annual interest of 16.848%, and 28 weeks Government bonds with annual interest of 16.897% starts from 14 October 2016 until 18 October 2016 through brokerage companies.

Click here to see detailed information of 12 weeks Government bonds.

Click here to see detailed information of 28 weeks Government bonds.

Link to release

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Economy

Reds are when MNT fell, greens when it rose. Bold reds are rates that set a new historic high at the time.

BoM MNT Rates: Friday, October 14 Close

10/14

10/13

10/12

10/11

10/10

10/7

10/6

10/5

10/4

10/3

High

Date

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/611b76b6-2b0b-4a23-a444-02f9cb3dd75f.png

USD

2,290.92

2,286.28

2,272.75

2,271.98

2,269.97

2,273.59

2,275.79

2,281.78

2,289.67

2,290.03

2,290.92

14 Oct '16

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/d90344bf-7731-47f3-bffe-93a4596232a2.png

EUR

2,522.76

2,517.54

2,512.75

2,524.74

2,537.60

2,526.53

2,548.20

2,559.93

2,558.48

2,571.70

2,571.70

3 Oct '16

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JPY

21.98

22.01

21.95

21.86

22.00

21.90

21.95

22.20

22.36

22.59

22.68

18 Aug '16

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/663d9297-6b7b-421b-a2c7-022882ec5691.png

GBP

2,792.75

2,782.52

2,796.73

2,793.63

2,816.58

2,832.55

2,892.98

2,901.40

2,924.71

2,944.41

3,183.26

13 Aug '14

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/a772b2ab-9007-499a-9c78-69d8ac652d26.png

RUB

36.36

36.12

36.31

36.54

36.40

36.44

36.47

36.57

36.61

36.63

54.32

27 Jun '14

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/ceaa3227-2aea-4575-9f0f-9374539b6e52.png

CNY

340.67

339.91

338.46

338.37

338.72

340.79

341.12

342.01

343.20

343.25

343.25

3 Oct '16

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KRW

2.02

2.01

2.02

2.03

2.05

2.04

2.05

2.05

2.07

2.08

2.08

29 Sep '16

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SGD

1,651.95

1,649.67

1,646.20

1,647.26

1,652.09

1,653.46

1,659.83

1,665.29

1,672.70

1,678.29

1,689.56

18 Aug '16

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/e78a2df0-8efa-4dfa-adb2-9cf7540dfc08.png

CAD

1,736.14

1,720.11

1,719.96

1,721.07

1,710.60

1,715.27

1,723.76

1,730.72

1,738.55

1,746.45

1,769.07

19 Aug '16

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/ec21d929-99bc-4825-8f98-d8f66d0a4814.png

AUD

1,740.76

1,719.17

1,723.31

1,716.59

1,722.79

1,720.99

1,725.62

1,738.15

1,753.54

1,756.22

1,765.65

14 Aug '14

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/ce22f7ae-6e61-4961-b249-a66ee1a47c1a.png

HKD

295.29

294.67

292.95

292.80

292.60

293.04

293.40

294.14

295.23

295.28

295.29

14 Oct '16

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/9775661f-ece0-420b-843d-58b1b4b23546.png

CHF

2,316.99

2,312.88

2,299.77

2,306.23

2,318.31

2,314.44

2,330.80

2,334.90

2,340.94

2,354.30

2,369.87

19 Aug '16

Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,290 Sell ₮2,305), TDB (Buy ₮2,285 Sell ₮2,300), Golomt (Buy ₮2,286 Sell ₮2,302), XacBank (Buy ₮2,292 Sell ₮2,307), State Bank (Buy ₮2,290 Sell ₮2,305)

USD (blue), CNY (red) vs MNT in last 1 year:

Link to rates

 

BoM issues 111.1 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -18.8% to ₮383.15 billion

October 14 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 111.1 billion at a weighted interest rate of 15.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

 

BoM sells US$15m at 2,288.61, CNY10m at 340.5; declines $44.5m MNT swap offers

October 13 (Bank of Mongolia) Spot trade: Commercial banks bid MNT 2277.00-2290.11 for USD56.8 million and MNT 338.46-340.82 for CNY81.5 million respectively. The BoM sells USD15.0 million with single rate of MNT 2288.61 and CNY 10.0 million with closing rate of MNT 340.50.

Swap and forward trade: The BoM received bid offers of USD44.5million of MNT swap agreements from commercial banks and the BoM did not accept any bid offers.

Link to release

 

Mongolia's Foreign-Exchange Reserves Fall to $1.14b at End-Aug

By Michael Kohn

October 13 (Bloomberg) -- FX reserves decline 34% from yr earlier, according to data posted on Bank of Mongolia website.

* Reserves decline 10% m/m, 14% YTD

* Reserves are lowest since September 2009 amount of $1.06b, according to central bank data

(BFW)

 

GoM Sells 30 Billion 28-Week T-Bills at 16.897% Discount from 30 Billion Bids

October 12 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 28 weeks maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 40.0 billion MNT. Face value of 30.0 billion /out of 30.0 billion bid/ Government Bond was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 16.897 %.

Link to release

 

GoM Sells 15 Billion 39-Week T-Bills at 16.95% Discount from 15 Billion Bids

October 12 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 39 weeks maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 30.0 billion MNT. Face value of 15.0 billion /out of 15.0 billion bid/ Government Bond was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 16.950 %.

Link to release

 

GoM Sells 2.5 Billion 52-Week T-Bills at 17% Discount from 2.5 Billion Bids

October 12 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 52 weeks maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 5.0 billion MNT. Face value of 2.5 billion /out of 2.5 billion bid/ Government Bond was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 17.000 %.

Link to release

 

GoM Sells 60 Billion 12-Week T-Bills at 16.848% Discount from 90 Billion Bids

October 14 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 12 weeks maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 60.0 billion MNT. Face value of 60.0 billion /out of 90.0 billion bid/ Government Bond was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 16.848 %.

Link to release

 

GoM Sells 10 Billion 39-Week T-Bills at 16.99% Discount from 10 Billion Bids

October 14 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 39 weeks maturity Government Bond was announced at face value of 20.0 billion MNT. Face value of 10.0 billion /out of 10.0 billion bid/ Government Bond was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 16.990 %.

Link to release

 

BoM buys 2.1 tons of gold in September, 13.4 tons YTD, +34.7% from 2015

October 2016 (BoM) --

Date

Month

Year-to-Date

YoY Change

2016/09

2071.4

13739.3

3542.6

2016/08

3,027.5

11,668.0

4,264.8

2016/07

2,167.6

8,640.4

3,231.1

2016/6

2,015.0

6,472.8

2,711.1

2016/5

1,769.4

4,457.7

2,040.1

2016/4

826.2

2,688.4

1,166.2

2016/3

679.5

1,862.1

876.6

2016/2

538.4

1,182.6

484.1

2016/1

644.1

644.1

419.8

2015/12

694.7

15,084.0

2,379.3

2015/11

1,518.4

14,389.2

2,605.4

2015/10

2,674.0

12,870.7

2,137.4

2015/09

2,793.5

10,196.7

1,444.2

Link to data (in Mongolian)

 

IMF team to arrive on October 20

Ulaanbaatar, October 13 (MONTSAME) The International Monetary Fund (IMF) sending a working group here on October 20, to assess the current state of economy.

A delegation headed by the Governor of the Bank of Mongolia took part in the annual meeting of IMF and the World Bank Group, held last week in Washington D.C. 

The delegates have met the leaders of IMF and WB and discussed the economic difficulties facing Mongolia.

Link to article

 

CPI falls 0.6% in September, 0.1% from 2015

Ulaanbaatar, October 13 (MONTSAME) In September, inflation rate decreased by 0.6 percent compared to August and by 0.1 percent compared to the same period of 2015. The decrease mainly reflected price fall by 2.8 percent in food and drinks.

Prices of consumer products and services in Ulaanbaatar went down by 0.9 percent in September compared to the previous month, and by 0.7 percent compared to the same period of last year, and increased by 0.1 percent against the end of 2015.

The price fall was mainly due to the decreases in food, drinks and services of 3.4 percent last month.

Link to article

 

Birthrate declines 5.5% in September, infant mortality up 0.4% in first 9 months

Ulaanbaatar, October 14 /MONTSAME/ In the first 9 months of 2016, 59,042 women gave birth to 59,320 children. There were 12,292 infant deaths, indicating an increase of 45 deaths (0.4%) compared to the same period of 2015.

The birth rate was reported to be 19.5 per 1,000 population and mortality rate of 4.0 per 1,000 population. In September of 2016, 6,533 maternities and 6560 live births were recorded, showing decreases of 370 (5.4%) maternities and 384 (5.5%) live births compared to the previous month.

Link to article

 

Rainer Michael Preiss -- What the IMF's return means for Mongolia

October 12 (Nikkei Asian Review) The story of Mongolia's relationship with the International Monetary Fund is a tale of geopolitics, local greed, mismanagement and uneasy ties with Chinese and Western investors. The return of the IMF to Ulaanbaatar is a harsh wake-up call for Mongolians and investors alike.

Mongolia's budget deficit is set to reach 20% of gross domestic product this year, and around $2 billion in public and private debt is scheduled to come due next year. With the Mongolian economy on its knees, Chinese creditors are making a case for greater investment concessions.

In recent years, Mongolia has severely mishandled relations with many foreign investors, most obviously with metals producer Rio Tinto, an investor in the Oyu Tolgoi gold and copper mine. Chinese interests have filled the void left by an exodus of Western investors.

Even if new IMF assistance helps Mongolia to avoid fiscal collapse, individuals and businesses in the country are still struggling with debt carrying high interest rates of over 22%. Banks in Mongolia typically lend money at annual rates of 22-28%. By comparison, shadow lenders offer loans at interests of about 36%.

But Chinese banks offer corporate lending against Mongolian collateral at an average of 5.6%, while the Chinese shadow banking market provides funding at rates of 10-20%. Because of the enticing borrowing differential, some worry that refinancing moves could further increase Mongolia's dependence on China.

Bank of China (BOC) is seeking to open a branch in Ulaanbaatar. However, competition concerns have prompted Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia, Golomt Bank and Khan Bank to lobby the government to delay or reject Bank of China's application for a full banking license.

Second cry for help

At the height of the global financial crisis in 2009, Mongolia called on the IMF for assistance and borrowed $232 million. The country was able to repay the loan early, as its main exports of coal and copper boomed due to strong demand from China.

To restrain dependence on China -- Mongolia's largest export market and main creditor -- the Mongolian People's Party government that took office in July has reached out to the IMF for help in restructuring debt and the economy.

Mongolia submitted a formal request on Sept. 30 for financial assistance from the IMF. Its total external debt is estimated at $23.5 billion, nearly double its GDP of $12 billion. Government debt makes up about $8.4 billion.

A $580 million bond issued by the Development Bank of Mongolia needs to be paid or refinanced by next March. Analysts say the government needs to repay a total of $1.7 billion-$1.8 billion over the next two years.

Efforts to reform the economy and financial system consist of a mix of austerity measures and the promotion of new mining projects, in the hope that the commodity cycle will soon turn and that investors might give Mongolia a second chance.

The Mongolian tugrik now trades at 2,278 against the dollar, down 12% so far this year and 92% off its peak in 2011. In an attempt to stabilize the depreciating currency, the Bank of Mongolia, the central bank, raised interest rates by 4.5 percentage points to 15% on Aug. 18.

The Mongolian Stock Exchange, which celebrated its 25th birthday this year, trades at a price-to-book ratio of 0.13 and is one of the cheapest markets in the world. It is also the world's third-worst performing stock market, with a 21% year-to-date decline. In comparison, the average price-to-book ratio of companies in New York's S&P 500 index stands at 2.7.

Growth expectations for Mongolia are falling. The Asian Development Bank recently forecast GDP growth of 0.3% for 2016 and 1.4% for 2017. The World Bank expects Mongolia to grow at 0.7% in 2016, 2.7% in 2017 and 6.2% in 2018.

By contrast, the Mongolian government forecasts growth of 3% for 2017, premised on new momentum to push forward a number of projects. The list includes a $5.3 billion expansion of Rio Tinto's Oyu Tolgoi mine; the development of the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine and an associated railway and power plant; development of an open-pit gold mine at Gatsuurt; and a 250-megawatt power plant expansion in Ulaanbaatar.

The market increasingly expects that the ramp-up of underground construction at Oyu Tolgoi, long delayed by disputes over costs and taxes, will bring in $1.1 billion in investment in 2017. Such investment would have spillover effects for other sectors of the economy.

The question on investors' minds is whether the new IMF bailout will be like the one South Korea received in 1997 -- a highly disputed and initially unpopular but ultimately very successful, albeit painful, restructuring. Or will Mongolia's second IMF bailout in less than seven years fail to achieve much, due to corruption and the economy's dependence on natural resources?

Mongolia will probably muddle through, thanks to strategic international interest in its vast natural resources. Yet Oyu Tolgoi may not give the quick payoffs that officials are hoping for. Rio Tinto chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques has been quoted as saying that Mongolia won't receive any dividend from the mine for 10 years. The mine, though, is expected to be in operation for more than 75 years and management perhaps just wanted to stress long-term benefits.

As a young country, Mongolia needed to go through a boom-and-bust cycle for the government, business community and even ordinary citizens to become more mature in handling natural wealth and to reduce corruption and infighting. But the multiyear dispute with Rio Tinto over Oyu Tolgoi could have been avoided.

Now, at least, more Mongolians realize that foreign investors have to be treated with respect, and that the country needs to create a more transparent and level playing field to unleash its own vast potential.

Rainer Michael Preiss founded the Mongolia Frontier Fund, a multiasset investment fund, and is a portfolio strategist based in Singapore.

Link to article

 

Getting Mongolia back on its feet: The short run and the long run

By Prof. Paul Sullivan (Georgetown University)

October 12 (UB Post) It has been a while since I wrote for this newspaper. As a little background for those who do not know me: I am an economics professor and adviser to many in leadership positions of many decades, with a Ph.D. from Yale and considerable experience in developing countries issues, as well as strategic issues related to economics. I also happen to be an American, one of Mongolia's "Third Neighbors", and I take being a neighbor seriously.

I have a great feeling for Mongolia and its economic and human development issues. There is no agenda in my articles on Mongolia other than to educate my readers and to possibly get some recovery, development, and other ideas to some in leadership.

Some may disagree with my ideas. That is OK. Having a serious discussion about serious issues in a country that needs to get back on its fiscal, financial, trade, economic, and human development feet is too important for one person to stand in arrogance and think he has all the answers. I will never claim to have all the answers. As Americans sometimes like to say: "this stuff is complicated". I think we can all agree that Mongolia is having a hard time of it economically. Debt is very high. Servicing that debt is a considerable burden on the country. Major exports have slowed down. Unemployment is up. The Mongolian tugrug has collapsed in recent months. Costs for imports are going way up in tugrug terms. Interest rates are much higher than they were for many loans than even what they were at the beginning of the summer. That massive 450 basis point rise by the Central Bank of Mongolia of the benchmark interest rate to about 15 percent was yet another indication that things are not going well. Mongolia is asking the IMF for a significant loan to help them deal with many economic and financial issues, but primarily with its debt burden and the cost of government.

The Government of Mongolia is under financial stress. Most of the people of Mongolia are having a very hard time of it. Poverty is up. Real wages are down. Standards of living are falling. The hopes that many people had even just a few years ago of Mongolia possibly being the next Qatar or UAE seem dashed. But it is not too late.

In this article I am going to give a broad brush view of some of the things that could be done. In future articles, I plan to go into more depth about how such things may be accomplished. However, expectations need to be managed.

Just looking to a rise in commodity prices to economically rise up again is not a sustainable policy. (It also will not solve the structural and other issues Mongolia faces.) Those countries that rely too much on commodities that have waves of high and low prices will see their economies and their people also go down in those waves. This is a solid fact, and it is seen worldwide and across many commodities.

Diversified economies do not have those issues. If the price of one commodity drops heavily in a country that relies on thousands of other products, services, and industries, then that country is a lot better off than if it relied on just a few commodities. I have written some articles lately about Saudi Arabia's 2030 vision to move away from oil. Maybe some in Mongolia could look at the Saudi plan and the McKinsey report associated with it to get some ideas. Clearly, the economies and societies of Mongolia and Saudi Arabia are different, but economic principles and the mathematics of diversification cut across all economies.

In the short run, Mongolia needs to get its budget deficits and debt under control. Monetary policies in the country seem very tight, as exhibited by that 450 basis point increase. Increasing interest rates this rapidly and keeping them high could be a serious break on the economy. This is obviously done to stop the run on the tugrug, but one of the results will be slowdowns in consumption and investment in the country. Dropping the value of the tugrug also increased the tugrug costs of servicing the foreign debt of the country.

Maybe a better set of monetary and fiscal policies configured and synchronized to not just get the budget in order, but also to get the economy moving forward could be helpful. But such policies are not easy to develop and may be even more difficult to ad-
minister. The government also needs to consolidate its budget under one balance sheet to see the whole picture. Many of the countries I have looked at have many budgets that are often not coordinated – and that can lead to real budgetary troubles. Government deficits cause government debt.

One thing is very clear: massive debt is a drag on an economy. Also, government sales of bonds can also cause financial crowding out by sopping up whatever savings there is into more short and longer term bonds, rather than into productive investments by those savers – who also may be the investors who bring the economy back.

Setting up tax and other incentives to get Mongolians and others to invest in Mongolia is a key to a better economic future. What those will be will have to be figured out by Mongolians for Mongolia, but some respectful advice might just help.

Strengthening the rule of law, especially contract law, might also help. But that will need a longer term to accomplish and should really be part of the long run solutions to the economic problems of Mongolia.

In the long run, Mongolia could and should be a wealthy, healthy, and secure country. The potential is there. Mongolia could focus on building its transportation, communications, IT, educational, energy, water, and logistics infrastructures. These infrastructure improvements could make industrial, agricultural, and other developments not only more likely, but less expensive (and more competitive) in the long run.

Education is going to be one of the most important keys to the future. This would be education at all levels. A focus on engineering, science, business, economics, and government administration could go a very long way. The more educated Mongolians are for the future potential economy of Mongolia, the more likely that economy will actually develop.

There is no reason why Mongolia should not be at the top of the education charts in the world sometime in the not too distant future. Mongolia could also be an inventive country, not just a follower of other countries inventions. Mongolians could someday be seen as some of the more educated and better trained people in Asia and beyond. Why not?

And with education and better training of the people and their government officials, the sky is the limit.

Mongolia could also work to diversify its trading networks by focusing less on raw materials and more on value-added exports. Instead of just exporting raw materials, process and develop them at home – and then export the final or intermediate products.

Mongolia is an amazing country with astonishing beauty and a deep history and culture. Tourism, if done properly, could give a big boost to many areas of Mongolia and its economy.

These are a few of the many more ideas that are possible. None of this will be easy. There will be tough times and there will be very good times. Expectation management is also a key. With a reasonable and long term perspective on fiscal issues, debts, and development there is no reason why Mongolia could not then focus on moving its country and people forward in both the short and the long run. The long run is what really counts, but getting to the long run requires short run efforts to be in order and focused on the bigger and longer run goals.

Link to article

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Politics & Legal

Ex-head of Mongolian development bank arrested

By Khaliun Bayartsogt, Contributing writer

ULAANBAATAR, October 15 (Nikkei Asian Review) -- A former chief executive of the Development Bank of Mongolia has been arrested Tuesday on suspicion of wrongly channelling money from the country's sovereign debt fund, a spokeswoman from the country's Independent Authority against Corruption told the Nikkei Asian Review

Mongolia's Morning News newspaper reported that Munkhbat Nanjid had approved debt to companies and commercial banks without issuing tender notices. In addition, he is alleged to have extended $1.49 million to the Mongolian Stock Exchange while he was a board member. Munkhbat was removed from his position by the new Mongolian People's Party government that took power in July.

Last Tuesday, Enkhbayar Battumur, vice minister of justice and internal affairs, claimed that the bank had approved funding without the permission of parliament and allowed infrastructure projects to receive far more money than originally agreed. The bank is supposed to grant lending only with the approval of the country's parliament.

One of the payments, totaling 1.3 billion tugrik ($570,150), went to U.S. financial news company Bloomberg to fund a video advertisement called Inside Mongolia, which was aired in 2013 to sell Mongolian bonds in the international market.

The Development Bank of Mongolia was established to manage a $1.5 billion Chinggis bond issued late in 2012, and a $290 million Samurai bond, with the proceeds slated to be invested in Mongolia's infrastructure and manufacturing.

According to the bank's website, projects it has funded since then include a cement factory, a hydro power plant, the Oyu Tolgoi underground mine project, apartment construction and renovations to central heating systems. But the bank's new leadership is unable to tell how much of the initial bond funds are left, and how much of those investments will be repaid in the future.

The bank's spokeswoman told the NAR that the bank had paid Bloomberg in order to promote Mongolia and seek foreign investors for the Chinggis bond.

"There were no plans at all, nobody knew how to spend that foreign debt. They started to think about spending plans only after the debt was raised," said Sanchir Jargalsaikhan, director of the Sustainable Development Strategy Institute in Ulaanbaatar. "The bank was established purely for political reasons

Meanwhile, the new government is eager to secure another loan to repay its foreign debt, after Finance Minister Choijilsuren Battogtokh in August revealed a budget deficit equivalent to nearly one-fifth of economic output.

Battogtokh said the government may not be able to pay salaries or afford the operational costs of government departments when the country starts to repay its first round of $580 million in 2017.

Prime Minister Erdenebat Jargaltulga started talks with the International Monetary Fund in September, seeking a bailout to plug the gap in its public finances.

Jargalsaikhan however warned against an IMF bailout, pointing to its previous financial assistance to Greece, in which the fund allowed the country to borrow far more than it could manage. "The IMF will sabotage Mongolia's economy like they ruined Greece," he said.

Munkhbat was appointed as CEO of the development bank during the Democrat Party's reign. He was an adviser to Nyamjav Batbayar, former minister of economic development, who is also suspected of corruption.

The Central Asian country, which has plentiful metal and mineral deposits, benefited from commodity price surges in 2011, but has been hit hard by the recent price slump, pushing gross domestic product growth down to 2.3% in 2015. The government projects 1.3% growth in 2016.

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Probe into Development Bank of Mongolia finds major violations

October 13 (UB Post) A Cabinet working group tasked with investigating the operations of the Development Bank of Mongolia (DBM) uncovered 1.3 trillion MNT in financial violations, according to the head of the working group, Vice Minister of Justice B.Enkhbayar.

Vice Minister B.Enkhbayar held a press conference on October 10 to discuss the findings of the investigation and release a report.

DBM was founded to provide loans to execute large development projects. From 2011 to 2016, the government presented DBM with 160 resolutions to fund different projects. The working group's probe found that some of the DBM-funded projects were notapproved by Parliament. The bank is responsible for getting parliamentary approval in order to fund projects each year. Other violations were also found during the process of the investigation.

Failure to issue Chinggis Bond funds in USD resulted in a loss. Interest on the bond has increased due to the money being in MNT. The loss was calculated to be 694 billion MNT as of the day the investigation took place. Vice Minister B.Enkhbayar said, "This is a matter of incompetence on the part of the Development Bank administration."

The Vice Minister also pointed out that DBM had accrued excessive operational costs, such as 3.2 million USD in legal advice and technical consultation with a price tag of three million USD.

The working group found that DBM did not take precautionary steps regarding exchange rates. Looking at the bank's sources of funding, 1.5 billion USD was from the Chinggis Bond, 600 million USD came from the Euro Bond, and 24.3 billion JPY from the Samurai bond. The report compiled by the working group stated that DBM did not account for the risks of rising exchange rates, and experienced loss due to transferring the JPY Samurai Bond to other currencies. When the JPY exchange rate changes by one yen, the loss increases by 25 billion MNT.

The spending of DBM executives was also included in the report. DBM CEO N.Munkhbat is currently under investigation by the Independent Authority Against Corruption. The working group found many violations linked to the CEO, and his travel expenses were considered to be excessive. In an evaluation of expense reports, one employee spent 1.24 million MNT a day on a trip to Saint Petersburg, Russia, and four employees spent 11.92 million MNT in four days.

Two examples of unapproved funding included a loan issued to the Mongolian Stock Exchange and a loan for the construction of an apartment complex in Yarmag. DBM is also accused of inflating the prices of projects. A one kilometer road in Yarmag was first estimated to cost 440 million MNT but the final cost of its construction was 1.8 billion MNT.

The working group will later report on which businesses received loans from DBM and the remaining balances for the loans.

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Cabinet approves 104 policy actions for 2017

Ulaanbaatar, October 12 (MONTSAME) The cabinet considered Tuesday draft general guidelines for socio-economic development of Mongolia for 2017, and resolved to submit it to the Parliament upon reflecting the cabinet members' proposals.

The draft provides for 104 policy actions to be implemented in the coming year and which require a total of MNT 5.5 trillion. Of the sum MNT 352.2 billion is envisioned to allocate from  the Government Budget, MNT 933.6 billion from foreign financial sources, MNT 4.1 trillion from private sector investment and MNT 117.8 billion from other sources.

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DP caucus evaluates performance of newly formed government

October 13 (gogo.mn) Democratic Party (DP) group in parliament reports its evaluation on actions for the first 100 days of newly formed government on Oct 12, 2016.

Deputy head of DP group in parliament, MP J.Batzandan says "It has been 100 days since the establishment of functional government formed by Mongolian People`s Party (MPP). However, MPP established non-functional government, consists of blood relatives and horse trainers. Also, they have passed some regulations and decisions that is differ from what they promised before the election".

What non-functional government did in 100 days:

  • Decreased allowances of teachers and doctors,
  • Canceled the Pension sharing law,
  • Halted scholarship to study in universities and institutes in abroad,
  • Halted monthly grant for students,   
  • Canceled Good Student Program,
  • Limited child benefits based on household income,
  • Canceled implementation of law on Child Protection and Law on Childcare service,
  • Recall Domestic violation law of Mongolia,
  • Stopped Good Yard Program and Ger District Redevelopment Project,
  • Halted actions of Criminal Law of Mongolia,
  • Decreased judges` salary,
  • Created new forms of Tax Laws and Increase Excise Tax on Tobacco, taxes on apartments and privately owned apartments
  • Halted Good Herder Program causing troubles and losses to civilians with such many bad policies.

The summing up on actions of the new government in 100 days says that it nears to threat the national sovereignty as the government is planning to increase debt ceiling up to 80 percent of GDP by 2020 and restoring several funds for budgets annulled by Law on Government Special Funds. 

DP group considered that MPP is backing off its promise by submitting draft laws which threats to citizens` livelihoods.

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Mongolian PM on mission to halve budget deficit ratio to 9%

TOKYO, October 15 (Nikkei Asian Review) -- Mongolian Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat aims to slash his government's budget deficit for fiscal 2017 in half, as a percentage of gross domestic product.

"We will review overall government spending to reduce the ratio of the deficit to 9% from the current 18%," he told The Nikkei while visiting Japan, declaring his determination to shore up fiscal health quickly. Amid rising concern about a Mongolian default on foreign currency debt, he said he would formally ask the International Monetary Fund for financial assistance.

Mongolia's legislative election in June triggered a power shift. Voters wanted a change amid a rapid economic slowdown, due to falling prices of natural resources. Under Erdenebat, the new government has made rebuilding public finances a top priority.

Erdenebat said it is impossible to keep the national budget at the levels seen when resource prices were soaring. He indicated that the government would scrutinize all expenditures for fiscal 2017 other than those directly related to national welfare. 

Austerity could further strain the economy, but Erdenebat has reason to push for it. The maturity of foreign currency-denominated bonds is close at hand, and default fears are swirling. On accepting support from the IMF, Erdenebat said, "I would like to accept an IMF research team later this month and promote a concrete support project."

Japan could also lend a hand. "I am hoping for the provision of yen loans, as at the time of the previous IMF support [in 2009]," Erdenebat added.

At the same time, he said attracting investment from foreign companies will be crucial to increasing government revenue. The government intends to take swift steps to lure foreign capital, such as permitting large projects in gold and copper mining -- possibly later this year.

Erdenebat stressed the importance of regaining investor trust. He suggested he would clear up opaque regulations and ensure the government adheres to the rules. "Mongolia's legal environment for investment and its taxes are not bad, but there have been problems in the implementation of laws."

Direct communication

The Mongolian government has been criticized for applying laws arbitrarily in recent years. For example, it urged British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, which was developing a copper mine in the country, to accept an increase in license fees after the fact. This made companies think twice about doing business in Mongolia, and once resource prices plunged, direct investment dried up fast.

In an effort to get back in investors' good graces, the government has set up an office under the prime minister's direct control. Foreign companies that run into problems can lodge complaints through this office.

Meanwhile, Mongolia is keen to strengthen economic ties with neighbors China and Russia. Erdenebat showed his support for Chinese President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, which links China with Europe through Central Asia.

"We will create an economic passageway through Mongolia under tripartite cooperation and play a role in connecting Asia and Europe," he said.

Public wariness of China runs deep in Mongolia, but for now, the prime minister signaled that economic revitalization takes precedence.

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Press Institute finds less political propaganda, more journalism in media coverage of 2016 elections

October 14 (UB Post) The Research Department of the Press Institute of Mongolia monitored media outlets during the parliamentary and city council elections of 2016, and presented the results of their work to the public on Thursday.

Experts compared news articles released during the 2016 election campaign with news articles published before the start of the 2016 election campaigns, and to those published during the 2012 parliamentary elections. Six newspapers, five websites, and the Facebook accounts of 24 journalists were included in the evaluation.

Since the election campaign began, twice the number of stories related to the elections were published in newspapers and five times the number of election stories appeared on websites and social media, according to the Press Institute.

Press Institute spokesperson G.Gunjidmaa noted that during the 2016 parliamentary elections, media outlets focused on providing facts about candidates that would be useful for voters. In particular, regularly published newspapers published fewer articles with political and electoral agendas than they did in 2012, and distributed more journalistic work and useful information for voters. According to the Press Institute's assessment, informative articles for voters appeared with 10 times more frequency on news websites and quadrupled in local daily newspapers.

Researchers concluded that 67 percent of work published by news outlets during the 2012 election had political propaganda, whereas this year, 37 percent had political propaganda. This change is attributed to the media and press adhering to the Election Law, and an increased industry-wide focus on journalistic production, G.Gunjidmaa explained.

LESS NEGATIVE CAMPAIGNING FOUND IN NEWSPAPERS AND WEBSITES

Regularly published newspapers and news websites had relatively fewer negative stories related to the election, says G.Gunjidmaa. She added that articles and posts on Facebook were less biased compared to Twitter, which was used for a number of negative and prejudiced statements.

POSITIVE STORIES ABOUT THE MPP DOMINATED THE MEDIA

The Press Institute's study showed that media outlets nationwide published an overwhelming number of positive stories about the Mongolian People's Party and more negative stories about the Democratic Party during the election campaign. The opposite perspectives were reflected in Ulaanbaatar, G.Gunjidmaa reported.

She noted that media outlets didn't publish articles that were noticeably partial to female candidates.

"Female candidates were strategically supported in previous elections to ensure gender equality, but this time, no such reporting was observed."

24 ETHICAL VIOLATIONS RECORDED

The 2016 election was different from previous elections, as it was conducted with a media ethics council. The council recorded 24 cases of ethical violations made by journalists. Specifically, 14 mistakes were made by newspapers and 10 mistakes were made online.

Complaints were made regarding political propaganda, personal prejudice, and some articles being published without an author identified.

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President discusses judicial reform with court officials

October 12 (UB Post) President Ts.Elbegdorj reviewed the operations of the Court of Criminal and Civil Appeals on Tuesday and met with the officials of the court to discuss judicial reform.

Attorney General D.Oyuntungalag spoke to the President about the achievements of the court. She noted that judges are becoming more specialized and gaining a lot of experience, and that judicial review procedures are being carried out in a fast and effective way.

She also noted that over 7,000 cases have been closed through arbitration, and the civil court is working to issue rulings more quickly and to develop the abilities of its judges in reporting jury verdicts on sentencing.

Criminal Appeals Court Judge S.Soyombo said that new electronic equipment has been installed in 115 courtrooms and juries have benefitted from digital procedures being implemented in trials.

Since April 2015, the Court of Criminal Appeals has ruled on 915 cases, and 82 of them have used new digital procedures and received positive feedback from the public.

The President told the judges that the public's trust in the judiciary branch has risen by 40 percent since the provision of a package of laws on the judiciary began being implemented five years ago. He noted that the work of the Office of the President, Parliament, judicial specialists, and the public are responsible for implementing judicial reform successfully.

He added that continued efforts made by judges and court officials will be required to continue progressive reform. Ts.Elbegdorj highlighted that restricting the power of the courts and the dismissal of court officials have always happened after an election, but judges are not being dismissed now because of judicial reform.

The President noted that the dismissals within judicial organizations were in violation of basic legal principles and unconstitutional, and that judicial organizations have to be exemplary institutions of government that are free of corruption.

He added that proposed amendments to the Criminal Code have been written to distinguish misdemeanors from criminal offenses, and Parliament will review amendments to laws on criminal procedure, law enforcement, the Criminal Code, and court rulings.

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Does Mongolia need a 'strong' leader?

October 14 (UB Post) "We need a strong leader to run this country" is a sentiment that is heard quite often in Mongolia. People young and old, through all walks of life, seem to be enchanted with the idea of a strong "man's man" who can get things done. Historically, Mongolia has seen great leaders, with the most obvious being Chinggis Khan, and leading up to Sukhbaatar. There have been great men and women who have led the Mongolian people through tough times. The question then arises: Do we need a strong leader now?

In favor of autocrats

There are many valid points and supporting historical evidence for how autocratic rule could potentially help Mongolia thrive. It could provide the Mongolian people with more stability, swifter decision making, a more unified and efficient government, and a decrease in corruption.

Historically, there have been instances where autocratic rule has been successful in stabilizing a country and taking its development to unprecedented levels. One example of this would be the three-decade reign of Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Yew is credited as the founding father of the nation, and is also credited with transitioning Singapore from a third world country to a first world country in a single generation. Lee's governance is considered to be an example of a benevolent dictatorship, where an authoritarian leader exercises absolute political power but does so to benefit the population as a whole. Although not considered benevolent, General Park Chung-hee is another authoritarian leader credited with leading his country to exponential economic development. Under General Park, South Korea experienced economic growth dubbed "The Miracle on the Han River". During this period, South Korea transitioned from a developing country to a developed country, becoming one of the Four Asian Tiger economies.

A recent example of the benefits of a strong leader, and one probably the most relevant to Mongolia's political and economic climate, is the leadership of Nursultan Nazarbayev as President of Kazakhstan. President Nazarbayev has been the leader of Kazakhstan since 1989, becoming the nation's first president after it gained independence from the USSR in 1991. Mongolia and Kazakhstan are both former Soviet-influenced countries, with the former being a satellite state and the latter being a member of the Soviet Union. In 1991, when both gained independence from the Soviet Union, Mongolia pursued a more democratic government, while Kazakhstan has had the same leader since it declared its independence. According to World Bank data, in 1991, Kazakhstan's GDP was 24.88 billion USD and Mongolia's GDP was 2.3 billion USD. Comparing those numbers to 2013 statistics, the GDP of Kazakhstan skyrocketed to 243.77 billion USD, while Mongolia's GDP had only climbed to 12.58 billion USD. Looking at these numbers, while both show significant growth in terms of the nations' economies, it is clear that Kazakhstan has outpaced Mongolia in terms of economic development. Is Kazakhstan what Mongolia could have become if different leadership was at the helm?

Obviously, there are many factors that play into economic growth, but looking at the three cases mentioned can give us a glimpse of what Mongolia could have accomplished, and still could accomplish. It is hard to deny the potential growth that effective leadership under one person can accomplish. Some analysts argue that the transition to democracy in 1991 was too swift and delayed Mongolia's modernization and growth. Many believe a strong, benevolent, authoritarian leader could have provided stability and economic growth after Mongolia gained independence.

In defense of democracy

When speaking about great leaders in our modern world, many Mongolians point to the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, who is seen as a prototypical macho, staunch head of state. This is not exclusive to our country, however, many people around the world share this sentiment about President Putin. Even Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has expressed support for Putin, calling him "a strong leader". What many people fail to mention, and tend to ignore, is that most of these "strong" leaders tend to be autocratic in some shape or form. It is much harder – virtually impossible, to be a decisive leader like President Putin in a functioning democratic system.

When advocating for a strong leader, many tend to forget a consistent theme in authoritarian leadership. In most autocracies, the personal freedoms and rights of citizens are a low priority, or not prioritized at all depending on the country. Autocrats have one thing in common: their consolidation of power. In almost all cases of authoritarian rule, dissent is suppressed. Stemming from the effort to retain the power consolidated, freedom of speech and freedom of the press are usually restricted. On the surface, an autocratic leader can seem ideal, especially in a young democracy like Mongolia's, which has yet to find its proper footing. When looking at cases like Singapore and South Korea, it can seem like autocracies can help speed up the process of economic development, and strengthen the rule of law and the institutions of government.

It is easy to focus on the economic development of Kazakhstan and conclude that Mongolia should have followed in the footsteps of Kazakhstan. However, it is important to take into account the serious human rights abuses that Kazakhstan has been accused of. According to the international watchdog group Human Rights Watch, "Kazakhstan heavily restricts freedom of assembly, speech, and religion. In 2014, authorities closed newspapers, jailed or fined dozens of people after peaceful but unsanctioned protests, and fined or detained worshippers for practicing religion outside state controls. Government critics, including opposition leader Vladimir Kozlov, remained in detention after unfair trials. In mid-2014, Kazakhstan adopted new criminal, criminal executive, criminal procedural, and administrative codes, and a new law on trade unions, which contain articles restricting fundamental freedoms and are incompatible with international standards. Torture remains common in places of detention."

It should be noted that the successes of Singapore and South Korea are rare. They seem to be the exception, not the rule. Take, for example, one of Africa's most infamous dictators, Robert Mugabe. Mugabe has been the leader of Zimbabwe since 1987, and under his rule, the government has been accused of several human rights abuses and has seen little to no economic growth. For every Lee Kuan Yew, there are 20 Robert Mugabes. Having autocratic leadership is rolling the dice on a country's future, and the odds do not look good. The best-case scenario would be seeing a benevolent dictator rule a country for a certain period of time before smoothly transitioning power to an elected government. The worst-case scenario would see a corrupt leader with absolute political power only serve his interests. Historically speaking, the worst-case scenario is the most likely to become reality.

Autocratic leaders can start with good intentions, and even help countries develop, but as the saying goes, "absolute power corrupts absolutely".

The cost of our pursuits

It is easy to look at Mongolia's political dysfunction, its lack of stability, and recent slow economic growth and wonder what Mongolia could have become under leadership that brought success to a country like Kazakhstan. It is possible that Mongolia could have fared better economically and transitioned more smoothly under authoritarian rule. However, only looking at the economic side of this equation ignores the other important aspects of a society. The rights and liberties that the Mongolian people enjoy in our democratic society would not be present.

We tend to forget how young Mongolia's democracy is. Mongolia is in the early stages of being a democratic country. It is unrealistic to expect a democracy implemented just over two decades ago to function perfectly, when a country like the United States – which has been democratic for over 250 years – is still working out the kinks.

In order for a democracy to thrive, its foundation and institutions must be strong. We are just in the beginning stages of solidifying our institutions and creating a strong foundation for governance. We have seen, time and time again, that democratic countries with strong institutions and rule of law have been the most prosperous. Mongolia has a chance to become a thriving democracy. Yet, we must understand that democracy requires work. Democracy is like a delicate flower that requires intense planning and care. Mongolia did not revert to authoritarian rule after the first signs of trouble during its democratic transition, and the people owe it to themselves and future generations to see democracy through. This is the only way to secure people's rights and liberties while continuing to pursue economic growth.

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Jargal De Facto: Debt belongs to the people, not the government

By Jargal "De Facto" Dambadarjaa

October 16 (UB Post) William Deming (1900-1993), who fully reinvented quality control systems, saw the management process of institutions through four different components, and suggested that improvements can be achieved by effectively managing and controlling those components. The components are plan, do, check, and act, which are known as the PDCA cycle.

In a democracy, the government is an institution that is established by the political party who has gathered the most support in public elections. The political party appoints its people to government positions for executive roles and to serve in the judicial branch of government.

If we look at the work that the Mongolian government has been doing through the Deming lens, the first two components of institutional management (plan and do) are very weak, the third component (check) is not really done, and the fourth component (act) is non-existent.

Although the government is supposed to check itself and fix its problems, media is often the independent mechanism that provides oversight of all aspects of the work the government is doing and informs the public. Such oversight and reporting is also done by informed individuals, who are sometimes actively engaged in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society. However, what we are seeing more of in Mongolia today are people who know how the government works and what has to be done in order to reap personal gains while working for the government. We call these people politicians.

GOVERNMENT WITHOUT OVERSIGHT

Politicians today own the media and are able to depict themselves to the public in any way they want. Given our weak civil society and NGOs that are not truly independent, Mongolia has not had the chance to evaluate what has been happening, verify what is true and false, and resolve problems. Mongolia's legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government have been weakening, and – in some instances – they are indistinguishable from each other due to each of them serving a single political group.

For example, let's have a look at how Mongolia's state budget works. The planning stage relies on guesses and incredibly rough estimates, and are based on the wish lists of politicians, as opposed to scientific data. This is the reason why Mongolia amends its state budget three times a year now.

The decision makers do not care whether budget expenditures actually benefit society and the Mongolian people. The only interest they pursue is what gains they can make from the state budget. This is revealed through public tenders, where the state's  decision makers ensure that the final outcome is to their advantage. They also receive rewards in exchange for appointing people to different positions. These are acts of corruption. When uncontrolled, corruption can grow into a cancer for society. Corruption has become normal in our country. Mongolia's growing debt and penalties from international courts keep reminding us how large the corruption has grown.

The Mongolian people still do not understand that the government's debt actually belongs to citizens rather than the government. Every time the economy goes into decline, we learn that taking out loans domestically or internationally, and giving them fancy names such as "Chinggis" and "Ugudei", do not solve the problem. The people understand this  because our purchasing power declines as the tugrug weakens. Today we are struggling with an insufficient number of schools and kindergartens, and developing respiratory diseases because of polluted air in winter. It makes everyone wonder why we are unable to solve these problems and get out of this situation.

WHY CORRUPTION IS GROWING

Mongolia actually has the financial capacity to resolve these issues. However, the capital required to do so is being stolen by a handful of people who hide behind their political parties. They are never held accountable for their unlawful actions. Moreover, these people continue working for their personal gain and controlling others.

When a penalty is imposed on our government due to the operations of state-owned companies, every Mongolian pays for it. We pay the penalties because the government does not have its own money; all of the government's financial capital comes from the mandatory taxes we pay and the fees the government collects from mining exports and the import of goods. Any payment the government makes  is actually paid by the people.

For example, when the government withdrew Canadian company Khan Resources' mining license and transferred it to a different company, the International Court of Arbitration ruled against the government and imposed a penalty of 100 million USD. We, the people, paid this penalty this summer. Furthermore, the private Mongolian company Just Group borrowed 120 million USD from Standard Bank with a guarantee from state-owned Erdenet Mining Corporation. They were not able to pay off the debt. Mongolian media reported that after a long dialogue with the International Court of Arbitration, it was ruled that Erdenet Mining Corporation would be responsible for paying  170 million USD, the loan plus interest payments and legal fees. Bloomberg reported that, despite claims by the Executive Director and the Chairman of Erdenet Mining Corporation that their signatures were forged, it was established by the court that the signatures were genuine.

PEOPLE PAY FOR THE GAINS GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS COLLECT

There is a trend in Mongolia where people who have not committed any illegal actions end up paying for the unlawful gains made by those who steal from public funds and are never held accountable. Since they have already received their share of the profits, the senior officials in government don't really do anything to those who have been convicted, or make them pay for what they stole. Those who end up behind bars get out after a while or they're pardoned.

Only a few examples have been shared here. It is hard to guess how many others there are because the media does not tell us everything, since they are being paid not to talk about specific issues. Unless we tackle corruption, Mongolia will never be able to get rid of poverty, solve the air pollution problem, or achieve flourishing development.

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KEPCO, SoftBank to embark on super grid project in Northeast Asia

October 14 (Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea) Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) and SoftBank will soon embark on the process to build a super grid that will link the power grid among four neighboring countries, South Korea, China, Japan and Mongolia, to allow them to share energy as a part of the ambitious push dubbed as "Smart Energy Belt of One Asia" proposed by SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son

"We have initiated a preliminary feasibility study on a demonstration project linking a 2-gigawatt electricity grid between Korea and China, as well as between Korea and Japan," Cho Hwan-eik, president and chief executive of South Korea's state utility firm KEPCO, said during the 17th World Knowledge Forum (WKF) held in Seoul on Thursday. At the forum, Cho released detailed plans of creating the super grid that he has recently discussed with CEO Masayoshi Son of Japan-based IT giant SoftBank for the first time. The lately initiated project would provide a cornerstone for the more ambitious plan of the Smart Energy Belt of One Asia that was first preached by SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. 

The One Asia smart grid push aims to transmit new renewable energy such as solar or wind power energy from countries that are best able to produce it to other countries that lack such energy by building a power grid among the nations. 

About 7 trillion won ($6.2 billion) to 8 trillion won would be injected in the first demonstration project that would construct a power grid linking Mongolia, China, Korea and Japan. 

The demonstration project will first build a 2-gigawatt complex that can produce solar and wind power in Mongolia and a seabed power grid connecting Shandong Province of China, Korea and western part of Japan that will transmit renewable energy to be produced in Mongolia. The project is joined by KEPCO, China's State Grid Corp China (SGCC), Japan's SoftBank and Mongolia's energy development company Newcom. Depending on the success of the demonstration project, the super grid project would be extended to Russia and India in the future. 

The four countries are still discussing details such as technologies to be used in building the grid, said the president. "The super grid project is expected to promote cooperation in Northeast Asia," he added. 

Masayoshi Son has vowed to make aggressive investments in new renewable energy project. "Gobi Desert in Mongolia is a rich repository of new renewable energy and we will push forward with the super grid of One Asia," said Miwa Shigeki, a strategy and planning executive of SoftBank who attended the session of One Asia Supergrid at the WKF.

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Mongolian brands ready for export to Japan

October 14 (news.mn) Five months ago, the Economic Partnership Agreement was signed by the Prime Ministers of Mongolia and Japan for liberalising and facilitating trade in goods and services between the two countries. The agreement makes it possible to remove or decrease tariffs on exports of nearly 5700 diversified products of 97 categories from Mongolia to Japan as well as 9300 diversified products of 97 categories from Japan to Mongolia. From the day that the agreement enters into force, Mongolia will remove 59% of the imports tariff on 3429 diversified products, whilst Japan will reduce the tariff by 86% on 8000 different products.

Since February, a total of 29 Mongolian companies such as 'Gobi', 'Erdenet Carpet' and Cashmere Holding LLC have obtained certificates of origin from the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry to export their products to Japan. Under the agreement, 40 traditional  Mongolian products such as cashmere, fur, leather, seabuckthorn and noodles will be exported to Japan.

No less than 80% of all Mongolian imports from Japan are automobile related. So, as a part of the agreement, Mongolia will remove the tariff on imports of cars of up to 3 years of age and reduce the tariffs on 4-6 year old cars.

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China Ready to Buy Electricity from Mongolia

October 13 (Breakbulk) Prospects for future China-Mongolia shipments of energy equipment have improved now that the head of China's largest power distributor, State Grid, has told Mongolian government leaders that China is ready to buy electricity from their country.

"Strengthening energy cooperation" and promoting development of a cross-border power grid to serve Northeast Asia were discussed during the recent talks in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar between State Grid Chairman Liu Zhenya and the head of the Mongolian parliament and prime minister, according to a State Grid statement. Mongolia's ministers of energy, environmental protection and transportation also attended the meeting.

"Liu Zhenya said electricity would be an important trading product in the future," the statement said.

Earlier this year, the Japanese telecom and energy conglomerate Softbank said it was leading an initiative for "feasibility studies on multinational power grid interconnection" involving State Grid, PJSC Rosseti in Russia, and Korea Electric Power. Governments in the region including Mongolia's are being asked to support the proposed project, for which no timetable has been announced.

Mongolia and China may work together to supply a regional power grid if they agree to a proposal for a jointly built and operated power plant called Xibe Obo. In April, the two sides agreed to study the feasibility of the US$12 billion construction project, State Grid said, which would provide 25,000 jobs and take five years to complete.

Moreover, the statement said, without elaborating, that the Mongolian government "has proposed to establish a Mongolia-China-Russia Infrastructure Research Center to promote cooperation in highways, railways, aviation and energy."

Mongolia is building power plants in hopes of weaning itself from the need to import electricity from China and Russia to meet domestic demand, according to a 2015 report by Oxford Business Group.

State Grid noted Mongolia is rich in coal, with proven reserves of 152 billion tons, that could be tapped to fuel future power stations.

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Minters, A&O, Bakers, NRF involved in Mongolia wind farm project

October 13 (Asian Legal Business) MinterEllison and Norton Rose Fulbright have advised Denmark's Vestas on a deal to supply turbines for Mongolia's 50 MW Tsetsii wind farm. Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow is representing the sponsors, while Allen & Overy are acting for the joint financers.

Vestas will supply 25 wind turbines to the wind farm, expected to be up and running by late 2017. The project is part of Mongolia's goal to boost renewable energy generation – currently at 7 percent – to 20 percent by 2023 and 30 percent by 2030.

Tsetsii wind farm, located approximately 540 kilometres south of capital Ulaanbaatar, is being developed by sponsors Clean Energy Asia, which is jointly owned by Mongolia's Newcom Group and Japan's SoftBank Energy Corp. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Japan International Cooperation Agency are co-financing the project. 

The MinterEllison team was led by partners Sebastian Rosholt, Michael Creedon and Christian Pellone, and also involved Dunnaran Baasankhuu, a partner with Mongolian firm MEMGL. Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow's team was led by Martin David, head of the Singapore projects practice, while partner Scott Neilson took the helm for A&O.

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Related:

Gobi Desert wind farm to power MongoliaLawyers Weekly, October 13

 

$20 million World Bank export development project bill to be submitted

Ulaanbaatar, October 12 (MONTSAME) A document proposing the implementation of Export Development project, co-initiated by the Government of Mongolia, World Bank and International Development Association, is to be submitted to the State Great Khural (Parliament). The decision was made at the regular meeting of the Cabinet on Tuesday.

Total сost is USD 20 million. The five-year project is charted to promote the export-oriented national companies and domestic production. It is designed to be funded with a loan with repayment period of 25 years and annual interest rate of 1.25 percent.

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Trade fair of Northeast Asian regional cooperation body opens in S. Korea

SOKCHO, South Korea, Oct. 12 (Yonhap) -- Leaders of regional governments and businesspeople on Wednesday kicked off an international trade and investment fair of the Greater Tumen Initiative (GTI), an economic cooperation body in the Northeast Asian region, with the expo characterized by the envisioned establishment of an "Olympic road" and utilization of a Seoul-Beijing free trade agreement.

The GTI, which involves South Korea, China, Russia and Mongolia, is aimed at developing areas near the Tumen River between China and North Korea.

Choi Moon-soon, governor of South Korea's northeastern Gangwon Province, said during the opening ceremony at a park in Sokcho, a coastal city in the province, that this year's GTI expo will hopefully help the region embark on a new road towards cooperation and development, declaring the five-day fair open.

Choi said the regional government has made a proposal for the establishment of a traffic network linking the venues of the three consecutive Olympics in Northeast Asia and "the network, if completed, will provide the region with a road of peace and prosperity encompassing its trade, investment, tourism, culture and economy."

The PyeongChang Winter Games, the first of its kind in South Korea, will set off an unprecedented cycle of three consecutive Olympics in Northeast Asia. Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics and Beijing will stage the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Lee Hee-beom, chief of the PyongChang Olympics' organizing committee, noted that the planned hosting of the three Olympics linking PyongChang in Gangwon, Tokyo and Beijing will expand cooperation in Asia, open a new horizon for exchanges of sports culture among the three countries, and thus contribute to co-prosperity and development in Northeast Asia.

About 2,000 visitors gathered to take part in the opening ceremony. Also attending it were officials from Chinese and Japanese embassies and representatives of the region's local governments.

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Made in Germany Business Days Held October 11-12

October 13 (news.mn) The German-Mongolian Business Days event has been taking place in Ulaanbaatar from 11th and 12th of October. The Integrated Mineral Resource Initiative (IMRI) of GIZ and the German-Mongolian Business Association (DMUV) jointly organizing the event for fifth year. As a part of event, "Made in Germany" is an exhibition as well as a conference which is open to the public.  N.Natsagnyam, deputy of National Development Agency has participated forum entitled 'Economic diversification and opportunity to ensure economic growth'. More than 60 business delegations, investors have been participating in the event.

Since the first German-Mongolian Business Days in 2012 more than 100 German businesses have been introduced to potential Mongolian partners and gained market access.

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Proper management – a closer EuropeMongolian Economy, October 13

 

Cashmere industry in need of sustainable solutions

By Louisa Rohde

October 13 (UB Post) Mongolia's cashmere industry accounts for almost 10 percent of Mongolia's exports and for up to 20 percent of the global cashmere supply. Unfortunately, the industry is not only causing the country to prosper, but may also be responsible for its decline. Mongolia's nature is vulnerable and under threat due to the ever progressing land degradation.

There are numerous factors playing in endangering the intact grasslands and endless steppes. The mining industry and the thirst for natural resources will sooner or later take its toll on "the land of the eternal blue sky". Transformations caused by climate change and global warming will eventually be also felt here just as much as in other parts of the world.

Therefore, it would be too easy to blame cashmere goats alone for the hazards facing Mongolia's landscape. It cannot be denied, however, that overgrazing is also in part responsible for the desertification and degradation affecting approximately 77 percent of the Mongolian territory.

High prices in cashmere, the luxurious fiber produced by goats, and the adoption of a free market system after the fall of the communist regime have led to a massive increase in livestock as the herds were privatized.

There are reportedly thrice as many herders as there were before the decollectivization and the number of produced raw cashmere went up by 450 percent between 1990 and 2009. Mongolia dominates, behind China, the cashmere market, and exported 7,400 tons in hair in 2014. To make this number more relatable, one cashmere goat annually produces only three to four ounces of cashmere, that one could make a sweater with. Global demand, prices and the market pressure have therefore pushed most herders to financially rely on the quantity not the quality they produce, making large herds essential for survival.

Consumers seem to be more unlikely to try to get to the bottom of the cashmere industry, as there are far less people involved in its production than in, for example, other parts of the clothing industry. Cashmere is also still considered a luxury good. 70 EUR for a sweater in high-street shops like Zara and H&M is viewed as an impressive bargain and therefore does not necessarily make consumers question their splurge.

Moreover, goats graze in comparison to other cattle more aggressively. Their preferred plants are widely-ranged and are eaten wholly, including the roots, which leads after some time to the degradation of grassland and in return to the expansion of the desert.

Needless to say, that this is an ominous prospect as deserts are amongst most hostile environments to live in, harboring severe consequences for Mongolia's unique nomadic culture. Although Mongolia would probably offer enough wide space to feed all livestock, current herding practices seem to concentrate herds on a level that far outstrips the amount of animals the grasslands can sustain.

So is Mongolia at the crossroads? Is it either leaving the industry unchecked until the inconceivable consequences are eventually put a halt to it, or is it drastically reducing herding, but endangering the country's world market standing, and in turn thousands of jobs? The cashmere industry is in desperate need of some sustainable solutions.

When dealing with sustainable cashmere, however, one question will naturally arise: What does sustainability, this little term that seems to gain more and more importance each year, mean?

Sustainability is the concept of economizing resources in a way that will safeguard them for future generations as well. It is basically a long-term cause and commitment that clashes with the capitalist notion of making as much money in the shortest time possible without thinking of the consequences it might entail for all parties involved. Men have more or less exploited nature since the beginning of civilization. Now that we are able to gain the insight of how severe consequences are, why do we not listen?

NOYA Fibers, an organization founded by Greg Goble as part of his curriculum at the Colorado State University's Global, Social, and Sustainable Enterprise MBA program, is among those attending to the issue. They partnered with the Nature Conservancy in order to develop and enforce sustainable grazing practices throughout Mongolia.

"NOYA then purchases the raw cashmere fiber that the herders produce, processes the fiber into yarns, then sells the yarns to luxury brand textile manufacturers as a source of responsible cashmere. A percentage of the proceeds on the sale of the cashmere is used to support the nomadic herding lifestyle," explained Greg Goble to The UB Post via e-mail.

What started out as a research program in 2012, soon became a company, when the potential and demand in the marketplace was realized. From then on, NOYA Fibers' efforts have not only been recognized by many, but also honored by a partnership with the global outdoor clothing and gear brand Patagonia, Inc. in their "Truth to Materials" collection.

Currently, the universal NOYA standard is underdevelopment and to be finalized and implemented in a number of reserves in 2017 and 2018. It aims to guarantee costumers the highest quality in responsibly sourced and procured cashmere without neglecting the issues of ethical treatment of herders and livestock, and transparency throughout the supply chain.

Could this be the start of a rethinking in the cashmere industry?

There does not necessarily have to be a rethinking, according to NOYA Fibers CEO Greg Goble. Nothing has to be undone and redone. It is more about optimizing the herding techniques that already exist. This can only be achieved by cooperation with herders as they know their grassland and animals best, but often lack the necessary support and resources. That is what NOYA Fibers intends to provide them with in order to battle land degradation and desertification and thereby give grasslands a chance to recover. Patronizingly dictating herders how to manage their own grasslands would not have been half as successful, according to the NOYA Fibers founder.

NOYA Fibers also aims to promote the issues facing the industry and will focus on doing so once the standard is developed. In fact, raising awareness is critically important for Mongolia's perilous situation in order to act before it is too late. Decades seem to be an unimaginable time span away, but in fact, 50 or 60 years are nothing in comparison to the time Mongolia's grasslands have existed. Consumers and costumers therefore need to be informed as only they can make conscious decisions in regard to the cashmere products they buy as they are the ones influencing the market with the demand they generate.

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Mongolia aims to become world nomadic tourism center

October 14 (Xinhua) Mongolian government aims to attract tourists by rebranding its current tourism based on its rich nomadic culture and heritage, a top Mongolian official said on Thursday. 

"According to a plan on sustainable development up to 2030, we envision that Mongolia will become a center of nomadic tourism," Miyegombo Enkhbold, speaker of the Mongolian parliament said at the opening of the International Silk Road Conference on Nomadic Tourism and Sustainable Cities held at Ulan Bator. 

Enkhbold noted that Mongolia has good potential to attract foreign tourists by virtue of its nomadic heritage and tourism can be a key pillar of Mongolia's sustainable development. 

Sluggish commodity prices and internal political struggles have plummeted the land-locked country into deep economic crisis, and economic diversification is seen by many here as the country's future development. Tourism has caught much attention in this regard. 

Lack of tourism infrastructure and high cost of visits to Mongolia are also believed to have prevented development of the tourism sector in the landlocked Asian country. 

According to official statistics, about 400,000 tourists visit Mongolia each year and income from the tourism sector accounts for around 3 percent of the country's GDP

Tourism experts estimate that this number can be increased if Mongolia improves the current situation of the tourism sector. 

Representatives of the Mongolian Ministry of Environment and Tourism have emphasized that Mongolia plans to improve competitiveness of its tourism sector and adopt about 30 standards to ensure comfortable stay for tourists and attract them to Mongolia. 

One of the standards is about building comfortable toilets in rural areas. One of the common problems raised by tourists that travel to Mongolia is lack of toilets in rural areas. 

Mongolian government aims to increase the number of tourists that arrive in Mongolia to 1 million by 2020.

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Similar:

International Silk Road Conference on Nomadic Tourism and Sustainable Cities Held in Mongolianews.mn, October 13

Silk Road Conference asserts Mongolia's role in nomadic tourism development Montsame, October 13

Mongolian nomadic culture attracts 40 percent of touristsMontsame, October 14

Northeast Asians share experience on safeguarding the Intangible Cultural HeritageGoGo Mongolia, October 13

 

Designer B.Yavuutsagaan targets European fashion industry

October 13 (UB Post) As unique as her name, fashion designer B.Yavuutsagaan produces one-of-a-kind clothing and is gaining momentum in Japan with her "Picasso & Japonismo" collection. Many of her designs are inspired by the world famous, multi-talented artist Pablo Picasso, which has been delineated in the name of her latest collection.

B.Yavuutsagaan has temporarily returned to Mongolia to organize her first fashion show in her home land. She plans to showcase her new "Yavuu SS17" spring-summer 2017 collection at Shangri-La Hotel on October 21, 2016. The emerging fashion designer spoke about her Yavuu Brand and the upcoming fashion show in the interview below.The young Mongolian fashion designer gallantly entered the Japanese fashion industry with her Yavuu Brand, which combines traditional styles and patterns of the highly respected Japanese kimono with new modern styles. Despite the strong nationalistic ideology of the Japanese people, B.Yavuutsagaan's designs have been trending throughout the country. The young Mongolian designer's seasonal and kimono collections are exclusively sold in some of Japan's most luxurious stores in Shibuya, Tokyo.

How were you able to step foot into the Japanese fashion industry. Wasn't it challenging since Japan has a unique culture with a very strict code of etiquette?

I was born and raised in Bayankhongor Province, Mongolia. I've been interested in fashion design since I was in middle school. I participated in Unsgeljin (Cinderella) fashion competition for children two years in a row. In connection with my aspiration and interest, I enrolled into Urlakh Erdem Fashion Design Institute. Japanese drama series "Oshin" used to be shown on the television when I was in ninth or 10th grade. I loved watching that film and it made me want to go to Japan. Many of my university friends started traveling abroad so I decided to study the Japanese language on my own while attending university classes. Soon I came across an opportunity to study in Japan. I've been living in Japan for nearly 12 years now. I studied and earned my master's degree at the Vantan Design Institute in Japan. People who graduated from Japanese institutes and colleges have to establish their own brand for a master's degree.  The first fashion show I participated in after setting up my own brand was the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Tokyo in 2013.

Your daring changes to traditional kimono styles have been gaining popularity. Can you talk about that?

Yes. I studied kimono for quite a bit, and based on my study, I tried bringing change to kimono. As soon as I arrived in Japan for the first time, I tried on a kimono and even started going to a (kimono) club. I studied the arts of kimono making, its embroidery and material. The more I learned about kimono, the more interesting it became. I wrote my bachelor's thesis on kimono – "Infusing Kimono Embroidery to European Clothing". I haven't been away from kimono since. The kimono has a history spanning several hundreds of years. The study of kimono is endless.

It seems that minimalist fashion and styles are trending in Japan. Your designs are focused on small details as well, right?

Our brand consists of casual, everyday wear. You could say that it's for the masses. Kimono, on the other hand, is made with a one-of-a-kind design and we sell only one of each design. Kimonos are custom-made only. These are the two fields I work in. Wearing a Japanese traditional kimono is very complicated. You can't put it on alone. I changed this characteristic and created modern kimono designs (that are easy to wear) but they aren't too revealing. Some also have been adapted to become office wear.

The Japanese people are modest and conservative. They hardly wear things that are fancy, exotic or too exposing. I designed my kimonos with this in mind, but made sure that it still had elegant and luxurious aspect of the kimono. This is probably why Japanese people accept and adore my designs. The number of my clients increased rapidly. My kimono collections are more popular than my everyday wear collections.

You must have faced many obstacles to have your brand recognized by the Japanese people. Have you ever felt discouraged?

Link to interview

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B.Yavuutsagaan: My designs are dedicated for elegant womenGoGo Mongolia, October 13

 

XacBank Awarded "Best Bank of Mongolia 2016" by Global Finance

October 14 (gogo.mn) XacBank was awarded "Best Bank of Mongolia, 2016" by the Global Finance magazine on October 10th 2016. The internationally acclaimed magazine, headquartered in New York, is a trusted name in the international finance sector reporting. 

The selection criteria included the bank's capital increase, profitability, strategic partnerships, customer service, sound pricing structures, and the integration of cutting-edge technology into the product lines. At the event, the 25th year of selection and ranking, the best banks from 67 countries as well as the best of the best banks from 5 different regions were announced.

Namely, ICBC from the PRC, Sumitomo Mitsui from Japan, Maybank from Malaysia, KEB Hana Bank from South Korea, OCBC from Singapore, and UBS from Switzerland have been recognized for their widespread operations, capital capacity, governance, and trustworthiness not only in their country but in their respective regions.

XacBank received this prestigious award in 2014 and now once again for our 15th anniversary, securing its position year after year as the Best Bank in Mongolia. We sincerely thank our loyal customers for joining XacBank in contributing to our country's economy and to the the betterment of communities throughout Mongolia.

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UB Chamber of Commerce selects new management

October 12 (Mongolian Economy) J.Oyungerel and D.Onchinsuren were appointed President and Executive Director, respectively, of the Ulaanbaatar Chamber of Commerce (UBCC).

At a regular meeting of the UBCC's Board of Directors on the 29th of September, J.Od, Chairman of the Board of Directors, and O.Amartuvshin, CEO of the UBCC, were relieved from their positions in accordance with the chamber's bylaws to appoint new executive management every two years.

The newly-appointed J.Oyungerel is also the Chairwoman of Petrovis LLC.

The UBCC was established in March of last year at the initiative of enterprises operating in the capital, with the objective of protecting the common rights and interests of the Ulaanbaatar's enterprises, improving the business and investment environment, ensuring stability and supporting public-private partnerships.

Over this period, the chamber has been actively supporting the Ulaanbaatar city administration's initiative to establish the Ulaanbaatar Development Corporation (UBDC) and cooperated with authorities in an advisory role to make its governance transparent and bring in international best practices. Another focus area of the UBDC is projects and programmes included in the Economic Development Strategy in cooperation with the private sector. Three members of the Ulaanbaatar Chamber of Commerce are members on the Ulaanbaatar Development Corporation's board, representing the private sector.

Another change brought by the chamber is the establishment of arbitration under itself. Business disputes arise in business cooperation. In order to resolve disputes in a timely and cost-effective manner, the world is more for often choosing to forego official courts in favour of arbitration. The UBCC aims to establish a professional arbitration unit that respects law and order.

The chamber organised the "Ulaanbaatar Investment 2015" and "Ulaanbaatar Procurement 2016" forums in cooperation with the Ulaanbaatar Mayor's Office in order to create open relationships between members of the chamber and the private sector and also to promote public-private partnerships. In addition, the chamber has organised meetings with a number of other trade chambers and representatives of business organisations in order to support investment and business activities of its member organisations.

In the upcoming years, Ulaanbaatar Chamber of Commerce will work to support the future operations of the UBDC, intensify public-private partnerships, make arbitration more regular, cooperate more closely with the capital's administration, make investments, stabilise and improve the business and legal environment, and protect the rights and interests of its members.

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Ulaanbaatar

UB city clean water source to increase 20% with power plants shifting to grey water

Mayor of Ulaanbaatar S.Batbold said that the modernization of the wastewater treatment plant, the biggest issue facing Ulaanbaatar, will be completed by 2018. Currently, the concession agreement to build the new wastewater treatment plant is currently a work in progress, and the government will also start the work to renovate the old treatment plant after resolving this issue beforehand. Moreover, the city administration will cooperate with the US Millennium Challenge Fund to resolve clean water issues of the capital.

Currently, a fifth of the clean water consumed in the Ulaanbaatar is supplied directly to power stations. According to the programme to be implemented with the organisation, grey water from the new wastewater treatment plant will be used for cooling and other necessities of two power plants, allowing the currently used clean water to be diverted to ordinary consumers.

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Government cuts 'clean air' spending as deaths continue

October 12 (news.mn) Last year, the Mongolian Government allocated a total of MNT102 billion from the state budget to reduce air pollution. Although actions for reducing air pollution have been implemented, such as providing families in Ulaanbaatar's ger (yurt) districts with stoves that emit less smoke, the results - according to some - have not been as positive as anticipated. So far, 97.6% of ger district households received 'low smoke' stoves and air pollution has fallen by nearly 30% in Ulaanbaatar. Despite this positive indicator, the project was terminated.

According to officials, "Ulaanbaatar's air pollution decreased by 26% last year, however, we haven't seen the results". The Mongolian Parliament has decided to trim spending in the battle with air pollution.

According to a medical survey, air pollution causes one in ten deaths in the Mongolian capital. It is blamed for 52.9% of respiratory diseases, 39.9% of lung cancer cases and  28.8% of heart disease.

Ulaanbaatar has 1.3 million residents — almost half the country's population — and gers have proliferated as a cheap and common form of housing. Since they are not linked to the city's central heating grid, ger -dwellers must burn coal to stay warm. Because the ger-dwellers are generally not well off, they invariably burn poor-quality coal, which emits harmful smoke. This , together with the smoke from the coal-fired power plants and the exhaust from the growing number of motor vehicles on Ulaanbaatar's roads is viewed as the chief culprit for air pollution. Despite the clear success of the 'clean stove' programme, air pollution still remains a problem in Ulaanbaatar as it also does in Beijing and New Delhi.

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Regular Business Round Table Agreed with Ulan-Ude

Yesterday (13th October), Ulaanbaatar city mayor S.Batbold held a meeting with Alexander Golkov, mayor of Ulan-Ude, the capital city of the Russian Republic of Buryatia. This is the second meeting of the two mayors - in September, mayor S.Batbold participated in the 350th anniversary of the Ulan-Ude. During that visit, they decided to establish a regular Business Round Table. This was one of the main topics of yesterday's meeting. Alexander Golkov is currently participating in the International Silk Road Conference on Nomadic Tourism and Sustainable Cities in Ulaanbaatar.

The Mongolian-Russian agreement for reciprocal visa-free travel of its passport holders for up to 30 days has been effective since November. As a result, huge numbers of Mongolians have been travelling to Buryatia; many are keen to trade with Mongolia's closest Russian neighbour.

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UB city will cooperate with Canadian parking corporation

October 14 (gogo.mn) City Governor and Mayor S.Batbold met with delegations of Imperial parking corporation today. 

Imperial Parking Corporation offers parking management services in North America. The company runs 3400 parking lots in 100 cities in America and Canada and it operates parking facilities on behalf of property owners and asset managers under parking management agreements and through bankable leases. It offers parking management services that include staffing, operation, reporting, and improving parking and transportation systems and services. The company also designs and constructs signage for parking structures and non-parking related uses; and temporary signage for an event, and backlit signage for a permanent installation.

Imperial Parking Corporation expressed their desire to cooperate and support finding decision to reduce heavy traffic pressure and improve paved roads in Ulaanbaatar city. They stated that if car parking is managed well, it helps to reduce heavy traffic pressure. Moreover income from car parking is able to be spent on improvement of city infrastructure.  

Representatives of the Imperial parking corporation agreed to study the opportunities of building parking lots in Ulaanbaatar city and submit their ideas to city officials.

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Small city based on new airport to be established

October 13 (Mongolian Economy) The Ulaanbaatar city administration plans to establish a small city based on the new international airport being built in Khushig Valley. "Aero City" will have a population of around 100 thousand and part of its purpose is to reduce crowdedness of the capital. Nearly45 percent of Mongolia (1.35 million people) live in the Ulaanbaatar, and approximately30,000 people move to Ulaanbaatar from rural areas each year.

Given that the new airport will begin handling flights starting from January 2017 according to plans, the city administration decided to submit a proposal to the government about using Chinggis Khaan (formerly Buyant-Ukhaa) international airport as a large service complex. The proposals are part of Ulaanbaatar Mayor S.Batbold's aim of developing Ulaanbaatar into one of northeast Asia's major tourism hubs within the next four years.

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Diplomacy

Japan and Mongolia agree to strengthen ties further

October 15 (The Japan Times) Mongolian Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed Friday during talks in Tokyo to accelerate ongoing efforts to draw up a 2017-21 action plan to strengthen bilateral ties.

Erdenebat chose Japan as the destination of his first diplomatic tour after he was appointed in early July, underlining his intention to place great importance on Mongolia's ties with Japan.

During a news conference at the Prime Minister's Office, Erdenebat thanked Abe for expressing his intention to provide "generous support" for middle to long-term development of the Mongolian economy.

On Thursday Japan and Mongolia held a forum in Tokyo to attract more trade and investment by Japanese firms to the landlocked central Asian nation.

During a joint conference after their meeting, Abe touted Mongolia as "a strategic partner" of Japan that shares basic values such as freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

Abe said the two leaders "had a very meaningful discussion" on the security threat posed by North Korea and agreed to "keep cooperating" on the matter.

Mongolia is one of the few countries that has relatively strong political ties with the hermit state.

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Prime Minister meets Japanese officials to develop economic cooperation

October 13 (UB Post) Speaker of the House of Representatives of Japan Tadamori Oshima and President of Japan's House of Councilors Chuichi Date received Prime Minister J.Erdenebat in Tokyo, on October 13.

During their meeting, the Speaker stressed that a close relationship between the two countries has influenced the creation of a sustainable environment for investment in Mongolia, and can take economic ties to a new level.

The Prime Minister stated that business relations and people-to-people relationships are of importance to expanding the strategic partnership between the two countries.

The Prime Minister also met with the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Japan, Tadamori Oshima. In their meeting, Speaker Oshima said he hopes that the Government of Mongolia will see economic recovery and that Japan's high ranking politicians support Mongolia in all fields.

He highlighted that Japan and Mongolia stand by principles such as democracy and free enterprise, and noted that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has visited Mongolia three times, which indicates that the relationship between the two countries is a very close one.

Oshima noted that political stability is very important to developing investment and economic cooperation, and that good results come from stability, which builds mutual trust. He added that training specialists, adopting new technologies, and carrying out fruitful cooperation are the main principles of Japanese investors and entrepreneurs.

Speaker Oshima said that he hopes Mongolia has the political environment to continue investment cooperation, maintained by pursuing these principles.

The Prime Minister expressed his satisfaction with Mongolia's successful cooperation with Japan and an increased number of high-level visits between the two countries. He noted that the Government of Mongolia is pursuing taking trade, investment, and economic cooperation to high levels, just as it has with political relations between the two countries.

J.Erdenebat stated that Mongolia and Japan's free trade agreement and economic partnership agreement are significant to strengthening investment and economic relations. He added that boosting trade circulation and implementing the agreements are very important, and expressed an interest in expediting preparations to establish an agreement with Japan concerning double taxation.

The Prime Minister also participated in a Mongolia-Japan trade and investment forum and addressed the forum's attendees.

The PM met with the Secretary-General of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, Toshihiro Nikai, and representatives from the Japan External Trade Organization.

Link to article

Related:

Prime Ministers of Mongolia and Japan to hold official talksGoGo Mongolia, October 14

 

Visa-free travel to Japan for Mongolians agreed

October 14 (news.mn) Mongolian diplomatic passport holders can travel without a visa to Japan for up to 30 days. D.Davaasuren, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Kikuchi Minoru, Minister-Counsellor at the Japan Embassy in Ulaanbaatar have exchanged notes on Visa Exemption Arrangements between Japan and Mongolia for diplomatic passport holders within 30 days.

Ordinary Mongolian passport holders are able to travel to Japan for 15 days without a visa once in three years.

Currently Mongolia has agreements with more than 20 countries that allow travel reciprocally without a visa for both diplomatic and official passport holders. Ordinary passport holders are able to travel to 16 of these countries without visas.

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Speaker and MPP Chairman M. Enkhbold visits China

October 13 (news.mn) Today, (13th of October), M.Enkhbold, leader of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) travelled to China. In China, he will participate in the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) from 14th to 17th of October. During the conference, he will meet officials of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Last year, Z.Enkhbold former Speaker of the State Great Khural (parliament) participated in the ICAPP as a leader of the Democratic Party.

Earlier this month, senior CPC official Liu Yunshan visited Mongolia.

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China, Mongolia to strengthen military cooperation

October 15 (Xinhua) China and Mongolia pledged to strengthen bilateral military cooperation as senior military leaders of both countries met in Beijing on Friday. 

Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, met with Dulamsurengiin Davaa, chief of the General Staff of the Mongolian Armed Forces, who attended the seventh Xiangshan Forum, which concluded in Beijing on Wednesday. 

Xu said the Chinese and Mongolian military should enhance exchanges and cooperation as their bilateral relationship has been upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership to make bigger contributions to regional peace and stability. 

Davaa said developing Mongolia-China ties has been a priority in Mongolian foreign policy, adding the Mongolian military expects closer ties with the Chinese army.

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Agriculture Minister pays visit to Hungary

Ulaanbaatar, October 12 (MONTSAME) Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry P.Sergelen paid a working visit to Hungary on October 10. He met with Hungary Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Szijjarto, State Secretary of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture Istvan Nagy and Deputy Director of the Exim Bank Andras Puskas, to discuss deepening cooperation in agriculture.

During the meetings, the dignitaries considered forwarding comprehensive renovation at the "Biocombinat" state-run industry, which is a symbol of Mongolia-Hungary friendship, to be financed by USD 25 million softest loan in scope of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Financial Cooperation. They also touched upon matters of eurostandards adoption for the Mongolian agricultural industry, potential of establishing a joint factory of meat, dairy and seabuckthorn products and building capacity of Mongolia's agricultural sector.

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King and Queen of Belgium stop in Mongolia for two hours

October 12 (UB Post) King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium met with Foreign Affairs Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil on October 10, during a two-hour layover at Chinggis Khaan International Airport en route to Japan for a state visit.

Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil welcomed them at the airport and introduced them to Mongolian history, culture, customs, and traditions, and the nation's economic situation and future objectives.

During the meeting, the sides exchanged views on aspects of cooperation in some areas between Belgium and Mongolia.

Minister Ts.MunkhOrgil noted that the Belgian government provided Mongolia with a soft loan to implement the Western Region Diagnosis and Treatment Center Enhancement Project and expressed his gratitude to the Belgian people and their government for assisting in improving Mongolian medical services.

King Philippe thanked the Minister for his warm welcome and stated that he and the Queen hope to have the opportunity to learn more about Mongolia in the future.

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FAO to open representative office in Ulaanbaatar

October 13 (news.mn) Ts.Jambaldorj, Mongolian Ambassador at UNFAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organization) presented his credentials to Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva yesterday (12th of October). Mario Lubetkin, Chef de Cabinet, Ms. Paola Dini, the chief of protocol and S. Dashvaanjil, embassy adviser also participated in the event. Following the ceremony, Ts.Jambaldorj and Jose Graziano da Silva discussed cooperation between Mongolia and UNFAO. At the meeting, Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva noted that FAO will be open a representative office in Ulaanbaatar. During the last seven years, the FAO has implemented many programmes and projects in Mongolia, focusing on forestry and the livestock sector.

Mongolia became a member of the Food and Agriculture Organization in 1974, and was accredited through the FAO Representative office in the People's Republic of China. The FAO Liaison Office in Mongolia was opened on 1 July, 2009.

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Mongolia ready to cooperate with Kyrgyzstan in agriculture and mining 

October 15 (24.kg) Mongolia is ready to cooperate with Kyrgyzstan in the field of agriculture and mining. The Speaker of the State Great Hural (Parliament of Mongolia) Miyegombyn Enkhbold stated at a meeting with Speaker of the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan Chynybay Tursunbekov.

As the press service of the Parliament reported, Kyrgyz Parliament Speaker admitted that the domestic MPs can learn much from their Mongolian colleagues. "Studying of your experience in building a parliamentary democracy is very important for us," Chynybay Tursunbekov said.

Miyegombyn Enkhbold stressed the need to increase economic ties and said that the parliamentary delegation of Mongolia would visit Kyrgyzstan in the near future.

The delegation of the Parliament is participating in "Dialogue of the Communist Party of China with the world 2016" Forum, which takes place in the city of Chongqing. The delegation, headed by the Speaker of the Parliament, includes deputies Osmonbek Artykbaev (SDPK) and Aida Ismailova (Respublika - Ata Jurt). 

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Mongolia FM welcomes U.S. State Department delegation

Ulaanbaatar, October 14 (MONTSAME) Minister of Foreign Affairs Ts.Munkh-Orgil received Thursday the US Department of State delegation, headed by Ms Susan Thornton,  Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. The Foreign Minister briefed the guests on the general guidelines of action and pressing issues faced by Government.

He noted Mongolia places great value to the relations with the US. Ms Thornton highlighted the recent milestones in the US-Mongolia ties. She proposed to organize the meeting of intergovernmental committee on December 1, 2016 in Washington D.C.

The 30th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and the USA will be marked on January 27 of 2017.

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Related:

Parliamentarians receive US Department of State delegatesMontsame, October 13

 

U.S. Embassy Announces Logo Contest for 30th Anniversary of Diplomatic Ties

October 13 (UB Post) To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the U.S. – Mongolia diplomatic relations in 2017, the U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar announced a logo contest. The winning logo design will be used by the U.S. Embassy in products and promotions to celebrate the 30th anniversary throughout 2017.

The grand-prize for the winning design will be an iPad Pro.

The U.S. Embassy will receive designs until 8:00 a.m. on October 14.

Criteria

-Designs should capture the spirit of the 30-year-old democratic relations between the U.S. and Mongolia

-Design submissions must include an image file (can be in either .jpeg, .gif or .png format)

-Designs that violate the intellectual property rights of others will be disqualified

-Designs will be judged on their creativity, originality and appropriateness

Details

Where: The U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar

When: October 14, 8:00 a.m.

More Information: 70076001

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ROTC members visit Mongolia, Djibouti

October 13 (Student Printz) Alexander Herty never expected he would have the opportunity to travel to Djibouti, Africa. Likewise, Deanna Mikell never saw herself traveling to Mongolia on her own. However, thanks to the Army ROTC's Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency Program (CULP), both Herty and Mikell traveled far over the summer.

Mikell studies at William Carey but is a member of the Southern Miss ROTC. She has participated in ROTC since high school for many of the same reasons as Herty.

"It was an opportunity to continue what I loved and pursue a bigger goal of joining the army as an officer," Mikell said.

The Army ROTC's CULP program provides ROTC cadets across the nation opportunities to travel to foreign nations and learn skills that can only be obtained outside of a classroom. As part of the experience, cadets participate in military-to-military exchange, language and cultural learning and humanitarian service.

According to the Army ROTC website, CULP's goal is to teach ROTC cadets more cultural awareness and foreign language skills. This year, over 1,300 Army ROTC cadets traveled to 42 different countries as part of the CULP program.

At first, Mikell did not know what to expect when she traveled to Mongolia, an East-Asian country landlocked between China and Russia.

Mikell said she quickly adjusted to the people and culture soon after arriving.

"They were very friendly and treated you like family, especially Americans," Mikell said.

Mikell's mission focused on strengthening the English speaking skills of her Mongolian counterparts. In return, Mikell was instructed in Mongolian culture, language and military training.

Mikell said her mission was a beautiful experience that helped her grow as an ROTC cadet.

"I know I can go without certain tools, because they go without them all the time," Mikell said. "They made stuff last when they did not have the materials. We have all the things we need, so I need to learn to use them to the best of my ability and learn as much as I can while I am in ROTC so that I can be better equipped for overseas training."

Herty and Mikell recommended that cadets participate in the CULP program if given the opportunity.

"Try to take any opportunity the Army has to work with foreign countries," Herty said. "It's given me a greater understanding of how foreign relations work. I highly suggest it, it is an invaluable experience. If I could, I would do it every summer."

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The Diplomat Podcast on Mongolia as Asia's Hidden Geopolitical Player

By Julian Dierkes

October 14 (Mongolia Focus) I'm finally getting around to listening to The Diplomat's podcast episode focused on Mongolia, "Northeast Asia's Hidden Geopolitical Player".

Ankit Panda, one of the editors of The Diplomat, speaks to Peter Bittner who spent some time in Mongolia earlier this year and has written about that for The Diplomat.

One of the reasons I want to discuss that podcast episode is that I enjoy The Diplomat podcast and website and appreciate that Ankit Panda does pay attention to Mongolia as one of the actors in Asian politics and international relations.

Panda and Bittner focused on Pres. Elbegdorj to some extent. Panda built on his curiosity about Elbegdorj' status as "one of the world's best-travelled" leaders. This is appropriate of course, as this is the last year in office for Pres. Elbegdorj, so that a discussion of Mongolia's role in geopolitics may look somewhat different in two years or so after a new president has made his (most likely, yes, his) mark.

Permanent neutrality

As Panda noted, Elbegdorj made a bit of a splash at last year's UN General Assembly by announcing that Mongolia would seek to achieve "permanent neutrality" to bolster its Third Neighbour Policy further.

That proposal was not received with much approval in Mongolia itself, though the discussion has generally been muted rather than opposed. Note that at his address at the 71st General Assembly, Pres. Elbegdorj did not mention permanent neutrality again this September.

The opposition to this proposal has been built around hesitancy to abandon the possibility of alliances entirely. That is not because there actually is a debate about a real re-commitment to Russia as Panda and Bittner discuss a little bit. Yes, there is a generally positive attitude toward Soviet history with Mongolia and toward contemporary Russia, but that only goes so far in the population as well as the leadership. But even for foreign policy leaders who are not considering any kind of closer "alliance" with Russia (China is completely out of the question in this regard, despite the ever-growing Mongolian dependence on Chinese bridge loans to paper over its fiscal woes), the permanent part of neutrality is somewhat off-putting.

Mongolian Aid

One element of foreign policy that Pres. Elbegdorj mentioned at the UN this year and that also has an impact on Mongolia's hidden geopolitical ambitions/role is its aid program.

The International Cooperation Fund has been operational for some years now (I have coorganized activities with the ICF in the past), but Pres. Elbegdorj highlighted its work in democracy promotion in his congratulations to Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan on "their successful elections".

Genghis?

Overall, Panda and Bittner provided a useful discussion.

Join me in a campaign to persuade Panda to speak of "Chinggis Khaan" rather than "Gengis" and we'll appreciate his coverage of Mongolia even more.

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Embassies and international organizations in Mongolia  hold football tournament

October 13 (UB Post) A football tournament was held among over 360 representatives of fourteen embassies in Mongolia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, UN, and the Asian Development Bank on October 8 at the National Garden Park.

This year's football tournament among embassies was organized by Golomt Bank and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar won first place. The U.S. Embassy was followed by the Embassy of Russia and Embassy of Turkey.

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Health, Education

Mongolian 'golden donor' donated blood 182 times

October 14 (news.mn) One blood donor can save many other lives. In Mongolia, 19,000 people donated their blood in the first nine months of 2016: last year a total of 30,400 people donated their blood for others. Known as the 'man with the golden arm', D.Bum-Erdene is Mongolia's only golden donor, having donated no less than 182 times! Mongolia has only 10 donors, who have donated over 100 times. Men can donate their blood once every two months; woman every three months.

The Mongolian National Blood Centre has 125 pieces of different equipment such as bloodmobiles, cross-match and blood banks. More than 65 diversified pieces of equipment have been installed in branches of the National Blood Centre in Mongolia's 21 provinces. Donated blood is saved for a 1-3 year period in Mongolia.

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National Cancer Center of Mongolia will perform its first liver transplant in 2016

October 13 (gogo.mn) City administrative office have agreed to supply 14 types of medical equipment worth MNT 1 billion which needed for liver transplantation to the National cancer center of Mongolia. 

In regards, liver transplantation surgery will able to be performed on people with liver cancer and cirrhosis in Mongolia. 

UB city Mayor and Governor. S.Batbold and Director of National cancer center L.Tumurbaatar have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on Oct 12, 2016.

Two parties have agreed to cooperate on prevention of liver disease, the vital health problem in the country and to develop civilian health education. 

FOUR PEOPLE DIE FROM LIVER CANCER A DAY

Liver cancer is now the most vital health problem in Mongolia. Rate of liver cancer in Mongolia is six times higher than the world average.

As of 2015, 1658 out of 2160 patients diagnosed with early-stage liver cancer have died. In other words, four Mongolians die from liver cancer in a day. Liver transplants are needed 150 patients who diagnosed with end–stage liver cancer but they die without having their liver replaced.

During the last one and a half years, over 160 people with liver cancer took liver transplantation surgery in India and South Korea. These patients paid US$ 11,000-15,000 US for the surgery which became financial pressure to the most of them. 

Medical equipment will be supplied within November, 2016 while National cancer center has planning to perform the first liver transplantat within this year.

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Related:

One billion tugrug financing settled for live transplants by UB city Montsame, October 13

Liver doctors want to form professional council under ministryMontsame, October 12

 

Healthy breakfast menu for Mongolians #6

October 12 (gogo.mn) The Public Health Institute introduced the customized the fifth breakfast menu, suited for Mongolians. It includes a glass of water with honey, an egg, a banana, 7.5 grams of butter and 2 grams of sugar, which has total of 350.1 kcal.

Egg and banana pancakes are soft and delicious also, it is a healthy and rich in vitamins. 

Honey is a natural and organic product which can help get rid of toxins in your body. If you drink warm water with honey on an empty stomach, it will improve your digestion system.

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Mongolia to launch its first satellite in 2017

October 12 (Mongolian Economy) Mongolia will be launching their first satellite into space next spring, with four young Mongolian scientists majoring in electronics in Japan are working on the satellite's design. One of the four is working at Hokkaido University and the remaining three are at the Kyushu Institute of Technology. Currently, all the necessary tasks, including modelling and assembling, are the final testing stage. The team plans to hand over the satellite to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in December.

The satellite is being made by using the latest Japanese and German technology with help from UNESCO and the Japanese government. In addition, professors and students of the National University of Mongolia are raising money by organising a fundraiser. The project requires funding of USD 225 thousand for all the necessary operations, such as manufacturing and testing, using Japanese laboratories, launching it into space and establishing a ground control station.

This satellite under development by the hands of Mongolian scientists will be launched in May2017 alongside with those of four other nations. Japan will launch its satellite with four countries that do not have a space programme: Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ghana and Mongolia. Countries such as Taiwan and Thailand will participate in ground station management.

The satellites will perform six tasks after reaching orbit: take 100-metre resolution images from a height of 400 kilometres; send encoded signals through the 437MHz FM frequency; determine satellite locations; and use ground stations as an international network. The satellite ground station will be located at the National University of Mongolia, and the satellite can be used for various research, including inspecting changes in the earth's surface, forest fires and natural disasters. The satellite will carry out such tasks after launching and connecting with the four other satellites.

Mongolia was the 10th country in the world to send an astronaut to space, the fifth country to send its own technology to space and the 20th country to successfully test space equipment. Soon, Mongolia will also be in the list of countries operating a satellite in space.

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Education supports Mongolian development

October 12 (UB Post) Education is a complex way of gaining ability, knowledge, skills, habits, methods as well as beliefs. Senior lecturer Ts.Chinzorig says that the cornerstones of a good education are a very comprehensive and robust program to captivate students, highly experienced teachers, a comfortable learning environment, and eager students.

In reality, there are very few educational institutions that bring these four cornerstones together in Mongolia. There are a number of challenges to improving education in Mongolia, including wages for teachers, managing class sizes, instituting training programs, and developing true competitiveness in the education system.

Everyone agrees that education is the key to 21st century development, but we are failing to provide a quality education to all of our kids. Why do we not concentrate on education?                 If you ask people what the biggest problems are when trying to get a good education, most people will point to educational policy, financial resources, the learning environment, and the education system as a whole.

These things are major problems, but people rarely say anything about their own skills and abilities. Actually, the biggest challenge facing individuals is their capability to succeed in their studies. The problem is that instead of studying, students have been spending too much time on things like the internet, their friends, hanging out, and other distractions.

If a student really thinks about how they spend their time every day, they will find that they actually do have enough time for their classes. Most students have problems with time management. If you ask the youth what their goals and aspirations are, they would all say they want a good life. To have the good life they want, they need to study harder. Students have to schedule their study time in the same way that they schedule their free time.

I think lots of students have timelines for their dreams, but most of them don't actually work for people, as students think that their mental schedules and timelines should become natural to them and not require effort to adhere to. They also don't take advantage of the factors that influence the process of learning for more effective studying.

In fact, there are many private universities and English language centers in Mongolia putting profit first and providing their customers with a good education second. A lot of young people ask their parents to pay for their education, and unfortunately, their money goes to these universities and education centers.

As a consequence, most students become disappointed and lose motivation to keep
learning, and give up on the challenges facing them because they are not learning thoughtful, critical, and logical ways to deal with challenges within the education system.

One big problem that Mongolians struggle with is that they are easily persuaded to follow something. Sometimes businesses and leaders exploit this tendency and convince people to support agendas that benefit their profits and power. If friends and neighbors struggle to pursue an education, Mongolians tend to follow the same path. We could turn this tendency around by educating people.

The government has a responsibility to improve the quality of public education. Every public school has to reduce class sizes, but we cannot build enough schools for our kids because Mongolia has been facing economic challenges in recent years.

Another challenge facing our kids is that almost 50,000 children are not able to enroll in kindergartens this year. Kindergarten is the first place where children enter the world of education, opening their eyes to learning and growth, and it is known to be a very important step toward future success in education.

We cannot cut education spending despite our economic difficulties. After the economy recovers, the government has to increase education spending to execute better education policy.

Mongolia does best when the middle class is doing well. How should the government support low and middle income families? The government should make the necessary investments in education and health, with special attention being paid to ger districts and the provinces,
because investing in education creates workers for the jobs of tomorrow.

It is very expensive to create an education system with highly skilled teachers, beautiful classrooms, great students, and comprehensive training programs. But we don't need money to help our students become eager about learning, we do need time to see the changes we want.

Fortunately, because Mongolia has a population of only three million people, we have the opportunity to create a wonderful environment through better education.                                         Other's achievements positively influence public opinion. For example, after Mongolia's athletes failed to earn medals at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games, the government increased funding for some sports, and Mongolian athletes brought home gold and silver medals in 2008.

As a result, more kids have been motivated to train hard in sports and our young athletes have seen many achievements in recent years. If we maintain our current education policy, Mongolians won't have the stamina to be well educated and succeed in the global arena. Mongolian high school students are being accepted to the world's top 20 universities and are qualifying for foreign and domestic government scholarships covering tuition and all academic related costs. Such scholarships encourage and motivate students to fulfill their academic potential.

Government grants are of great importance to motivating students to become global leaders. Mongolia needs a consistently strong education system that isn't subject to arbitrary policies, and students must be encouraged to pursue the study of subjects that are applicable to their chosen career fields. We have to improve Mongolian society by educating our citizens and helping them think critically about outside influences.

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Culture, Society

Altai Harp –the unique archaeological artifact

October 14 (MONTSAME) Two years ago in Ulaanbaatar, a grand ceremony was held for re-sounding the Altai Harp, an extraordinary archaeological finding, which was played more than 1,400 years ago in the Mongolian steppe.

The artifact, unmatched cultural heritage of ancient nomads was restored in the Federal Republic of Germany in the framework of the archeological cooperation between Mongolia and Germany.  

The Altai Harp was officially declared as a symbol of cultural ties between Mongolia and Germany in 2014 during an official ceremony for celebrating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The Altai Harp was discovered by archaeologists in 2008 in the course of excavations in an ancient tomb in Mankhan soum of Khovd Province, located in western Mongolia. This ancient masterpiece dating back to the Turkic period is the first ever musical instrument to be unearthed in the territory of Mongolia.

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Mongolia's Small-Scale Miners Play Critical Role in Safeguarding Natural Resources

By Bolormaa PurevjavJonathan Stacey

October 12 (The Asia Foundation) Over the last two decades, Mongolia's mining industry has supported the country's economic and industrialization agenda, catapulting the country to one of the world's fastest growing economies in 2013. According to government statistics, mining and quarrying accounted for 23 percent of GDP in 2014, and by May 2015, mineral exports accounted for 87 percent of total exports. However, the industry's rush to expand has come at a significant cost to the environment and the country's fragile natural resources.

Mining exploitation has led to rapid soil erosion and degradation of both pastureland and watercourses, and as a result, has drastically altered the traditional livelihoods of local agrarian communities, many of whom still rely on conventional animal husbandry. This has created an "unwanted new world" which has forced local communities in many areas to make a tough choice: either to adapt and tolerate or to flee and seek refuge in urban centers.

To make matters worse, an ongoing economic downturn due to a significant drop in foreign direct investment in the mining sector, as well as low commodity prices globally, has fueled a rise in unemployment, and resulted in an increase in small-scale artisanal mining (ASM) activity in the country. There are an estimated 100,000 small-scale artisanal miners who work independently and comprise nearly 20 percent of Mongolia's rural workforce. In 2015, the ASM sector (including some small companies) sold 6.7 tons of gold to the Bank of Mongolia, which represented an impressive 46.3 percent of total gold-mining sales.

Although legalized, ASM remains a widely controversial issue here. Rangeland degradation, increased desertification, water pollution, localized mercury use, reduced river levels, and landscape destruction are the main environmental issues associated with ASM. Illegal artisanal mining in the country's Protected Areas is an increasingly contested issue.

The main issues surrounding ASM lie on two fronts. From a social perspective, traditional artisanal miners work in incredibly harsh and hazardous conditions, usually at great expense to their health. On the environmental front, thousands of unfilled deep pits, tunnels, and waste—a consequence of this type of mining—are degrading the land, soil, and hydrology, and posing a real danger to animals and people.

According to the Mongolian government, 40 percent of abandoned mining degraded land can be attributed to ASM. In particular, extensive areas of open shafts, compacted soil, loss of vegetation and topsoil, and polluted water all degrade the value of pasturelands and impact wildlife. But for the artisanal miners who lack the necessary knowledge, financial resources, and technical capacity, rehabilitating the land themselves is in most cases challenging and prohibitive.

The Asia Foundation's Engaging Stakeholders in Environmental Conservation Project (ESEC II), funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), has been working since 2013 to mitigate the negative environmental impacts of past and present mining practices. The project promotes the development of sound environmental practices at the local level to ensure that communities live in a healthy and safe environment and, at the same time, ensures that the employment opportunities that ASM creates are not taken away.

Throughout 2014‑15, we supported 17 frugal rehabilitation demonstration projects, and in 2016, through a co-financing initiative, local governments implemented 13 additional frugal rehabilitation projects. Today, a total of 210 hectares of land has been rehabilitated by 23 ASM NGOs across the country.

Now that the project has come to a close, it's helpful to look at some of the key areas of impact and lessons learned:

Bolormaa Purevjav is The Asia Foundation's Mongolia Environment Program director and Jonathan Stacey manages The Asia Foundation's Engaging Stakeholders in Environmental Conservation Project Phase II. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and not those of The Asia Foundation or its funders.

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Nature, Environment

Mongolia and Turkey to cooperate in landscaping and ground water source

Ulaanbaatar, October 12 (MONTSAME) Minister of Environment and Tourism D.Oyunkhorol proposed Turkey to cooperate with Mongolia in green facilities and improving ground water sources during her meeting with the Turkish Ambassador Murat Karagoz.

The Ambassador noted the sides will be signing a cooperation memorandum in the approximate future, and expressed willingness to share good practices with Mongolians.

The Minister extended thanks for Turkey's participation in the International Silk Road Conference on Nomadic Tourism and Sustainable Cities, taking place in Ulaanbaatar. Ms Oyunkhorol also conveyed invitations to Turkey Ministers of culture, tourism, environment and urban development and forestry and water management to pay visits to Mongolia.

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Chinese government to aid in the preservation of the Mazaalai bear

October 13 (UB Post) As reported by Xinhua News, the Chinese government signed an agreement with the Government of Mongolia to implement a project for the conservation of the Mazaalai bear.

The deal was signed by the Ministry of Environment, Green Development, and Tourism (MEGDT)and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. Director of the Environmental and Natural Resource Management Department of the MEGDT D.Davaasamba and the Secretary of Trade and Economic Affairs of the Chinese Embassy Liu Jiefen signed the protocol.

Under the agreement, over the next three years, the Chinese government will provide scientific research assistance for studying the Gobi bear's population and provide support for environmental assessment, improving the management of the Great Gobi conservation area, and providing conservation efforts with equipment and material supplies.

Nine experts from the Chinese Academy of Forestry spent eight days collecting habitat area information and studying Gobi bear conservation practices across the 18,000-square kilometer core habitat of the Gobi bear. Yang Qingdong, Minister Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Mongolia, highlighted the hard work of the Chinese researchers and credited their contributions to the success of the agreement.

The Mazaalai is listed as critically endangered in the Mongolian Red Book of endangered species. According to the latest data on the species, there are only 20 Mazaalai bears left in the Great Gobi conservation area and no bears are known to be living in captivity.

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The seeds of modern environment conservation efforts may have been sown in the 18th century

The Qing Empire declared Bogd Khan, now in Mongolia, a protected area in 1783, making it possibly the oldest legally protected natural area in the world.

October 15 (Scroll.in) In the American Museum of Natural History, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, there is a 200-year-old vest made entirely of Chinese coins. Tlingit artisans, natives of Sitka, Alaska, crafted it in the early 1800s. The vest is a vestige of an earlier global age: the coins were minted in Yunnanese copper, sold to shippers from Boston, and exchanged for sea otter pelts off the Alaskan coast.

Tlingit chiefs wore Chinese money; Chinese consumers wore otter fur. China's demand for fur in this period was so pronounced, in fact, that by 1840, sea otters, sables, and other species were being hunted to the brink of extinction not only around Sitka, but across the world from Mongolia to Baja California.

How should we understand this earlier age? How did people understand its environmental crises? And how might China's past look different from the vantage of a sea otter?

Unexpected answers can be found in the archives of Beijing, Taipei, and Ulaanbaatar, where historians today are sifting through documents written not only in Chinese, but in Mongolian and Manchu as well. After three years conducting research for my book, A World Trimmed with Fur, I found that these records pose profound challenges to our conventional understanding of both China's past and global environmental history as a whole.

Historians have long recognised booming demand for resources transformed China in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The era's growth was unprecedented. Before 1700, it had taken roughly 1,500 years for China's population to double. Then, between 1700 and 1850, the population tripled. At the same time, the area of land under cultivation doubled, as homesteaders set off for China's frontiers: Manchuria, Mongolia, Tibet, the Southwest and Taiwan.

Beyond these new settlements, in the forests, grasslands and highlands of the Qing Empire, an unprecedented rush for natural resources ensued. By 1800, one could find a staggering array of frontier products for sale on the streets of Beijing. Pawnshop records, journal entries, travelogues, and other records attest to the abundance of these materials: sandalwood from Hawaii, birds nest from Borneo, mother-of-pearl from the Philippines, copper from Yunnan and upland Southeast Asia, jade from Xinjiang and Burma, sea turtle from Sulawesi, sea cucumber from Fiji, mushrooms from Mongolia, ginseng and pearls from Jilin, sable from Siberia, and sea otter from Hokkaido, Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and the California coast. As demand for these resources grew in the late 1700s, markets boomed. By the 1830s, however, all would go bust: animal populations were exhausted; forests had been cleared; beaches had been combed for valuable wildlife.

Untold tale

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Sports

Urantsetseg, Sumiya leads IJF World Ranks

Ulaanbaatar, October 14 (MONTSAME) World Champion Urantsetseg Munkhbat, with 2734 points, is leading the most recent IJF World Rank's women's -48 kg category, whereas Olympic silver-medalist Sumiya Dorjsuren is also leading women's  -57 kg category, with 3550 points.

D.Sumiya is followed by Kim Jandi from South Korea, with 2258 points. With his bronze medal from the Judo Grand Prix, took place in Tashkent, D.Altansukh improved his rank to the fourth place. Tumurkhuleg Davaadorj remains at the second place in men's 66kg and Tuvshinbayar Naidan, at the 18th place in his weight.

Kazakhstan's judoka of Mongolian origin, the Rio 2016 silver-medalist M.Otgontsetseg is at the third place in her weight.

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What are the two Mongolian 'Rio' coaches are doing now?

October 13 (news.mn) The two Mongolian wrestling coaches who stripped in protest at the Rio Olympics have been suspended for three years by the Mongolian Freestyle Wrestling Association (MFWA) and United World Wrestling (UWW). Coaches Ts.Tsogbayar and B.Bayaraa have been banned from all international competitions until August 2019. So, what are the two coaches doing now?

Coach Ts.Tsogbayar was training at the 'Aldar' sport club, when our journalist caught up with him. 'I haven't worked with the national wrestling team after the banning decision. I am currently preparing to officially hand over the work to another coach. But I can't just sit around. For the good of my students, I am working with them every day at the sports center. The Mongolian Freestyle Wrestling Association has announced a competition among coaches.' said Ts.Tsogbayar.

-Did the MFWA appeal to the Sport Arbitration Court over the disputed competition involving wrestler G.Mandakhnaran at the Rio-Olympics? 'G.Mandakhnaran is working with a lawyer from Holland. It is important to determine whether the judgment of the referee was fair or not. I think we need to determine this first and to receive the court decision regarding G.Mandakhnaran's competition. We have found a good lawyer. So, I hope that we won't be disappointed.' said the coach.

-Since the ban, coach B.Bayaraa also hasn't been to the national team's practice centre; however, he too has been working with his students. He said 'I will hand over my job officially. The coach of the national team is an official and responsible job. But I have something to say about the ban: United World Wrestling has reported that the ban decision was made at the suggestion of the MFWA. I realise that the MFWA requested the UWW to punish us. This action indicates that the MFWA accepted the incorrect judgement of G.Mandakhnaran's fight

-G.Mandakhnaran said 'I am repeatedly watching my wrestling with Uzbekisatn's Ikhtiyor Navruzov. I think the judgement of the referees was wrong. I have appeal about the competition to the sports' court. The MFWA hasn't connected us about this issue'

The protest by the Mongolian coaches came just seconds after the referees declared Uzbekistan's Ikhtiyor Navruzov bronze medal winner over Mandakhnaran Ganzorig at the Rio Olympics.

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Young Mongolian weightlifter sanctioned

October 14 (news.mn) A young Mongolian weightlifter has been sanctioned after testing positive for testosterone, the Court of Arbitration for Sport has announced. U.Chagnaadorj, aged 19, competed in the 56kg category at the Rio-Olympics but did not finish. He participated in the competition in place of a Russian weightlifter who had been eliminated by the International Olympic Committee. U.Chagnaadorj and other three athletes have been banned for different periods of time. He becomes the seventh athlete to test positive for doping during the Olympics in Brazil.

U.Chagnaadorj failed to lift 103 kg in his third  attempt at the Rio Olympics on 8th of August. He was listed fourth at the 2016 Asian Championship.

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Erchim FC conquers Khurkhree National League

October 13 (UB Post) The final round of Khurkhree National Football League Championship took place at the Mongolian Football Federation on October 9. Erchim FC has successfully defended its title at this year's championship.

Khurkhree National League continued for six months and over 280 football players of 10 football clubs competed this year.

The final match was between Erchim FC and Khangarid FC of Erdenet Mining Corporation.

Erchim FC displayed excellent teamwork and dominated the match to claim the victory over Khangarid FC.

The total prize fund of the Khurkhree National Football League Championship was 100 million MNT, and Erchim FC received 40 million MNT in prize money.

Silver medal winner Khangard FC was awarded 30 million MNT, and the bronze medal and 20 million MNT went to Khoromkhon FC.

Erchim FC's B.Ariunbold was named the best goalkeeper of the league.

Khoromkhon FC's D.Turbat was named the best defender, and Erchim FC's O.Bayarjargal was named the best midfielder.

O.Mijiddorj of Khoromkhon FC was named the best forward of Khurkhree League.

This year's best players were awarded two million MNT each. Secretary-general of the Mongolian Football Federation U.Shijir and director of Arvain Undes LLC O.Orgil handed prizes to the winners and best players.

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13th National Kendo Championship concludes

The Mongolian Kendo Federation and Embassy of Japan to Mongolia have jointly organized the 13th National Kendo Championship last Sunday.

At the opening ceremony of the championship, secretary-general of the Mongolian Kendo Federation E.Tamir said, "Kendo has been developing in Mongolian since 1994. Teacher R.Batdorj first established Ulaanbaatar Kendo Club in 1994. Currently, there are seven kendo clubs in Mongolia, and 200 kendo athletes. Eight professional kendo coaches from Japan came to Mongolia to judge this year's championship. This is a very big opportunity for us."

"We will start preparing kendo athletes for the World Kendo Championship 2018 after the National Kendo Championship 2016. That is why we believe this year's National Championship is highly significant," he added.

A total of 67 athletes of seven clubs competed in four categories at this years championship.

Result of the National Kendo Championship 2016

Men's Individual

Gold medal – T.Chinzorig (Chikara Club)

Silver medal – E.Batkhuu (Khasbuu Club)

Bronze medal – E.Tamir (Mongol Club)

Women's Individual

Gold medal – B.Munkhzaya (Chikara Club)

Silver medal – B.Sarangerel (Orgil Club)

Bronze medal – G.Uranbileg (Orgil Club)

Boys' (15 to 18 years of age)

Gold medal – A.Nyamjav (Mongol Club)

Silver medal – S.Tuguldur (Ulaanbaatar Club)

Bronze medal – O.Erdenebulgan (Mongol Club)

Girls' (15 to 18 years of age)

Gold medal – M.Munkhzaya (Ulaanbaatar Club)

Silver medal – Ch.Anargoo (Chono Club)

Bronze medal – A.Khaliun (Ulaanbaatar Club)

First place winners of each category were awarded a right to travel around Japan for a week.

Head of the Education and Culture Department of the Embassy of Japan to Mongolia Keigo Yamamoto said, "The Japanese traditional martial art of kendo is developing in Mongolia. I am very happy that coaches and athletes are spreading kendo. This is very effective for understanding the Japanese culture, and bushido (the code of honor and morals of Japanese samurai) through martial art. The number of kendo practitioners is increasing because the Mongolian Kendo Federation and All Japan Kendo Federation are doing a good job. There are 2.6 million kendo practitioners in the world. Half of them are foreigners, not Japanese. There weren't enough kendo coaches in Mongolia few years ago. Now the number of coaches and athletes are increasing. These athletes are participating in domestic and international tournaments. Mongolian athletes have a chance to compete on the world stage."

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Mongolian mountaineering federation signs cooperation documents with supporting organizations

Ulaanbaatar, October 13 (MONTSAME) Cooperation documents were signed today by the leaders of supporting organizations and groups of the Mongolian National Mountaineering Federation, in the Hall of Sign of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on October 12.

At the document signing ceremony were, president of the MNMF B.Tulga, vice president B.Zoljargal, members of Board T.Battulga, Major-General Ya.Choijamts, secretary B.Sukhbat, director of the Mongolian State University of Education (MSUE), Dr D.Munkhjargal, dean of the School of Physical Culture of the MSUE A.Enkhmaa, head of Sales and Marketing Department of Monos Foods LLC N.Tumennast and director of Astvision LLC O.Enkhmunkh.

In accordance with the cooperation document, the MSUE and MNMF agreed to promote popularity of mountaineering in the country, support younger generation, create professional cadres through developing specific training program that meet the international standard. The two institutions will exchange information on training Olympic athletes and improving coaching skills.

Monos Foods offered its support for the Mongolian mountaineering through providing its products and services.

Astvision formalized its cooperation with the Federation in implementing a MNT 45 million project on developing Mountaineering Management System and handling its regular maintenance.

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Big Bowling Friendship Competition Held

October 13 (news.mn) The first national league bowling competition took place at the Big Bowling Center in the weekend. Organised by the Mongolian Bowling Association the 'Big Bowling Friendship' competition consisted of a total of eight teams. The team competition consists of five components.

J.Sodnomdorj's team won the competition with a score of 19, Ts.Molor's team took second place with 17, G.Magsarjalam's team- bronze with 15.

In the men's solo bowling competition Sh.Baatar led with a score of 1322, followed by B.Uuganbayar with 1252, B.Batkhuu had 1208. In the women's solo category, T.Nansalmaa led with 1157 followed by S.Khandaa with1055 and N.Orgilmaa with a score of 1030.

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Spectacular moments from Rio 2016 captured by Ch.Ganbat

October 13 (UB Post) Photographer Ch.Ganbat presented "Rio 2016 Summer Olympics on My Camera" at Blue Moon Art Gallery, from October 7 through 10. Sixty-four photos captured unique moments from the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Five photojournalists from the Mongolia Sports Press Union went to the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games. One of them was Ch.Ganbat, vice president of the Mongolian Judo Association and Executive Board member of the Mongolian Sports Press Union.

Ch.Ganbat made remarks at the exhibition's opening and said, "I opened this exhibition for the 60th anniversary of the Mongolian National Olympic Committee. The Rio 2016 Olympics were the third Olympics that I reported on. This year's Olympics were very special, because all Mongolians hoped for their athletes to get medals. We were pretty sure that Mongolian athletes could bring home gold medals in judo and freestyle wrestling, but every sport is very competitive."

"I released an exhibition after the London 2012 Summer Olympics. That exhibition was about Mongolian athletes at London 2012. 'Rio 2016 Summer Olympics on My Camera' is different. It is not only about Mongolian athletes but unique moments from every sporting event," he added.

Ch.Ganbat has reported on the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, and Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. He has also taken photos at a number of world championships and the Asian Games.

The following is a brief interview with Ch.Ganbat.

You shot photos of so many famous athletes, such as the fastest human in the world, Usain Bolt. Can you remember those spectacular moments.

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Art, Entertainment

Aquatic Circus opens in UB

October 12 (news.mn) The 'Moscow Dolphinarium' travelling aquatic circus has arrived in Mongolia. Three dolphins and one seal are performing at the National Amusement Park every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from today. The animals arrived in Ulaanbaatar at the weekend.

Tickets of aquatic circus is available at the desk of National Amusement Park. Tickets cost MNT 10-30 thousand each.

Travelling dolphinariums are banned across much of the world but remain popular in the ex-Soviet bloc where forms of circus entertainment prohibited in the West, such as acts with wild animals like lions and bears, continue to thrive despite concerns about animal welfare.

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Ulaanbaatar International Jazz Series 2016-2017: The Voice of Jazz, October 20-21

October 12 (news.mn) Jazzlab agency is organising the Ulaanbaatar International Jazz Series 2016-2017. Several outstanding jazz stars including Kenny Washington, Champian Fulton from USA, Igansi Terraza from Spain, Laurent Maur from France and saxophonist Jesse Davis will perform in Ulaanbaatar. Kenny Washington's "The Voice of Jazz" can be seen and heard at the State Opera and Ballet Theater from 20th and 21st of October. 

Jazzlab agency has organised more than 60 jazz spectacles since being established.

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American Music Night: Guns N' Roses, American Corner, October 14

October 13 (UB Post) The American Corner is set to hold its American Music Night with Gambino program, which aims to share the history of American music and artists. Songs of American hard-rock band Guns N' Roses will be performed and discussed by attendees this time.

The American Music Night will take place at the American Corner in Natsagdorj Library on October 14.

Details

Where: American Corner, Natsagdorj Library

When: October 14, 7:00 p.m.

Admission: Free

More Information: 70115703

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'Law Of The Jungle' Cast Park Se Young & Group Hunt For Rodents For Next Meal In Mongolia

October 15 (iTechPost) South Korea's version of "Survivor" has been airing so far six episodes from its 27th location. "Law of the Jungle" is in Mongolia where actress Park Se Young, accompanied by the group's maknaes, or youngest members, Eric Nam and Changsub of boy band BTOB are shown hunting for marmots in the episode aired on Friday, Oct. 14.

Marmots are rodents eaten by Mongolians. Since the "Law of the Jungle" cast and crew are starved, they set out to catch enough marmots so everyone would have food. However, they are seen struggling making the first catch because the animal is quite elusive, darting away from their hands into the field.

Changsub was the first to catch a marmot which he kept inside his jacket. Having observed how Changsub caught the rodent-cum-next meal makes Park Se Young's eyes light up.

Who Are The Celebrities Surviving In Mongolia?

The three are among the 12 cast members of the reality-documentary show's Mongolian season. On July 26, SBS named Ye Ji Won, Lee Chun Hee and Kim Min Kyo as the other cast of the show. The next day, the show's production team announced that actor Seo In Guk would join them in his second appearance on "Law of the Jungle," according to Soompi.

The additional cast members of "Law of the Jungle" are actor-model Julien Kang, actor Ryu Seung Soo, actress Lee Sun Bin, singer Kang Nam and comedian Kim Byung Man.

"Law of the Jungle" Next Season Goes To South Pacific Ocean

The celebrity cast members are sent to less-inhabited, natural locations to survive on their own and experience living with local tribes and people. The next location for "Law of the Jungle" would be in the South Pacific Ocean where "Singer Special" would be its theme. However, because of the sex video controversy involving Jung Joon Young, he would be edited out.

Seo In Guk was cast in 2015 in the show's Indochina season. It was his friendship with Kim Jo Ho, producing director of the reality show, which paved the way for his second appearance. He accepted the PD's offer to join the Mongolian season on the condition that he first finish filming a new drama, "Squad 23" in early August.

Six of the cast left for Mongolia on Aug. 5, while the other six followed on Aug. 11, according to K-Pop Amino.

The Mongolian season, with the theme "Nomad," started to broadcast on Sept. 22 with episode 229. The series airs every Friday on SBS.

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Travel

Catching cold while ice-fishing in Mongolia

Travel Writer: A question to the 4x4 driver led Lorcain Cameron on speeding dash across the ice to investigate

October 14 (The Irish Times) The interior of the van is covered with thick purple padding to protect passengers from the worst of the bumps, giving it the look and feel of a hip retro cocktail bar in London rather than a rugged 4x4 bouncing along a lakeside track in central Mongolia. It's November, so the lake is frozen over and the terrain is pure white.

My partner and I are the only passengers. We're on a four day tour of the countryside around Ulaanbaatar, the capital. We passed the morning camel riding in the desert, then visited a fascinating museum of archaeology and explored a Buddhist temple built on the site of Genghis Khan's capital city, Karakorum. Now we're heading to the winter home of a family of nomadic herders, who will accommodate us in their ger (a traditional felt tent) for the night.

Ice ride

About a mile out on the lake I can see a truck and a small group of figures. What are they up to on the ice, I wonder, and I'm about to ask our guide about it when our driver notices them too. He points and says something in Mongolian and all of a sudden we are speeding across the ice to investigate.

Most of the figures are sitting alone and still, sending puffs of cigarette smoke into the frozen air. As we slide to a stop and the four of us climb out into the cold a man in a black ski suit makes his way over, waving cheerfully. They are Russians. They've driven here for an ice-fishing trip – at least eight hours from the nearest border crossing point.

We transcend the language barrier with smiles, shivers, and gestures to the extraordinary vastness and flatness of the landscape. One of the fishermen invites us to take his place while he goes to share a smoke with our driver.

Picture perfect

My partner and I take turns posing on his little stool and gently tugging on a line which drops from a tiny plastic reel into the hole he's cut in the ice. No bites, but our guide catches what will become my favourite picture of the trip: my partner is sitting with the reel and we're laughing at how silly we must look in this totally alien place, like two fish out of water. Behind us the featureless steppe plays a trick of perspective and the van looks like a miniature toy.

The man in black seems to be the leader of the group and he comes back over pointing at his truck. We follow him to the boot where he proudly displays two large sacks full of freshly caught perch, which have all frozen solid in their short time out of the water.

I'm afraid I might go the same way myself if we hang around any longer, so after a few more photos we say our goodbyes and set off back to the van to continue our journey.

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Beautiful Photos From A Trip To Mongolia By Max Muench

October 13 (Freeyork)  'Disconnect' project was created by the photo databank Fotolia by Adobe. The three first parts of this photographic saga took by photographers Sonia Szóstak, Brice Portolano and Théo Gosselin in Philippines, Namibia, and Iceland.

For this fourth episode, the German photographer Max Muench went on an exploration of the plains of Mongolia to meet its inhabitants. As part of this trip in wild lands with an atmosphere that is both inhospitable and fascinating, the Gang Corp collective joined the artist in order to come back with a set of visuals.

Over there, in the middle of the Mongolian steppes, Max Muench, and his partners had the opportunity to take their time to admire the extent, to capture the sweetest lights and to meet wanderers who left the city a while ago after a short experience.

Max Muench came back from this journey with a series of 36 photos and Pavlé Savic from Gang Corp shot 17 videos, that will all be available on the platform for the usual prices. 3 pictures and 1 exclusive video can be downloaded for free during 24 hours on Fotolia by Adobe's blog.

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