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Friday, December 2, 2016

[China adds new fees on Mongolian exports; MNT sets 5th straight low; govt debt rises 34%; and FX reserves lowest since 2009]

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Friday, December 2, 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

 

HEADLINES

Int'l Market

·         China slaps new fees on Mongolian exporters amid Dalai Lama row

·         Lippo's Stake in Haranga Diluted

·         TerraCom: Chairman Cameron McCrae's Speech at AGM

·         Wolf Petroleum: All Resolutions Approved at AGM

·         Rio Tinto confirms it is being investigated in US over accounts writedown

·         E-Commodities (01733) buys back 5.11m shares at HK$3.99m

·         Tai United: No Mining Operation Took Place at Bayan-Ulgii Mining Licenses

Local Market

·         MSE Trading Report, Dec 1: Top 20 -1.42%, ALL -1.08%, Turnover ₮20.1 Million Shares, ₮390.4 Million T-Bills

·         ₮1 Billion 12-Week T-Bills Sold from Announced ₮80 Billion

·         ₮1 Billion 39-Week T-Bills Sold from Announced ₮20 Billion

Economy

·         MNT sets 5th straight historic low against USD; USD/MNT up

·         BoM issues ₮149 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -0.7% to ₮418 billion

·         BoM sells US$12.75 million at ₮2,469.5, declines CNY bids, receives no swap offers

·         Mongolia Government Debt Rises 34% Y/y to $4.76b in 3Q

·         Mongolia FX Reserves Fall to $1.04b in Oct., Lowest Since 2009

·         Mongolia Sees $8m FDI in October, Negative $4.3 Billion Year-to-Date

·         UB Housing Prices Fall 0.16% in October, Down 5.6% from 2015

·         Study: Interest Rate Pass-Through in Mongolia

·         Amid Economic Crisis, Mongolians Risk Their Lives For Do-It-Yourself Mining

·         Copper slips as speculative interest wanes

·         Gold prices pressured as prices hit 10-month lows, investors may be ahead of the curve

·         Iron ore rebounds as prices continue to swing wildly

·         Oil prices dip after OPEC-Russia output cut deal, focus swings to implementation

Politics & Legal

·         Parliamentary hearing on Development Bank held

·         Government once again reduces excise tax on fuel

·         Mongolia government brings back Egiin Gol Hydro Power Project

·         Postponed roundtable meeting with investors to be held in first quarter

·         6:45 Lecture and Meeting with P.Tsagaan

·         ₮80 billion may be allocated for VAT refunds in 2017

·         Cabinet urges to proceed developing Law on Youth

·         Discussion held on establishing open government database

·         Dierkes: More on Re-Forming the DP

·         Traffic penalty point system and fines

Business

·         NHK's Her Story: Tender Loving Skin Care

·         KAIST to open smart farms in Mongolia

·         Mongolian National Association of Internal Auditors launches operations

·         ERA Signs Contract to Provide Surface Multilateration System for New Ulaanbaatar Airport

·         WTO: Dominica, Mongolia ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement; final countdown launched

·         Catching the Spirit of the Horse: Investing in Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs in Mongolia

·         LehmanLaw: Intellectual Property Protection in Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar

·         Capital city's legal status to be reconsidered

·         ₮5 billion budgeted for reduction of air pollution

·         Must see in Mongolia: Bogd Khaan Palace museum

·         Swapping, buying and selling event on Dec 4

Diplomacy

·         Britain, Mongolia pledge to do more mining together

·         Germany pledges ₮122 billion new funding for sustainable development

·         President receives Japanese ambassador on end of term

·         Russian Ground Forces will hold drills with India, Pakistan, Mongolia, CSTO countries in 2017

Health & Education

·         World AIDS Day: Giant red ribbon travels through Ulaanbaatar district

·         Four dead after mistakenly drinking technical alcohol

·         Jaypee Hospital Makes Liver Transplant History On Indian Organ Donation Day

·         Echuca Regional Health Center: Visitor is Straight Outta Mongolia

·         MASA: UGrad Alumni Talk

·         Oyu Tolgoi announces 2016-17 winners of scholarship programme

·         MIT: Steppe by steppe

·         Taking care of our children makes Mongolia more competitive

Culture & Society

·         Good News! - Alternative Housing Provided For Ten Families in Mongolia

·         Photo: Migrate across Harsh Mongolian Landscapes with Nomadic Family

·         Stone man monuments of Mongolia

·         NIU Mongolian Throat Singer Brings Sounds Of Nature To Retirement Center

Nature & Environment

·         Specialists discuss better management of livestock pastures

·         The Great EL Mongolian National Park Clean Up

Sports

·         International "Children of Asia" Games to take place in Ulaanbaatar

·         Bodybuilding and Fitness Association elects 26 year-old as president

·         Mongolia brings 30 medals from East Asian Special Games

Art & Entertainment

·         Missosology: Beautiful interview of Miss Mongolia Bayartsetseg ALTANGEREL

·         Miss World 2016: Mongolian 'Introductory Video' in Top Ten

·         "Together to the Miss World" voting campaign underway

·         Golden Treasure shooting for Academy Awards

·         MOVIE SWING concert to sound famous movie soundtracks

·         How I created? #3: DJ Bodikhuu

·         Movie Night: Magic Mike XXL

·         Mongolia's Got Talent Contestant Absolutely Crushes a Cover "Amarillo by Morning"

·         'The Eagle Huntress' Chronicles a Young Mongolian Woman's Remarkable Story

Travel

·         Video: Mongolia with PolarQuest 2016

·         5 common MISPERCEPTIONS about Mongolia

 

ARTICLES

Int'l Market

China slaps new fees on Mongolian exporters amid Dalai Lama row

December 1 (Reuters) A major border crossing between China and Mongolia has imposed new fees on commodity shipments between the two countries, amid a diplomatic row sparked by the visit to Ulaanbaatar of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama last week.

The Dalai Lama is cherished as a spiritual leader in predominantly Buddhist Mongolia, but China regards him as a dangerous separatist and warned the visit could damage bilateral relations.

The crossing at Gashuun Sukhait is used to export copper from the giant Oyu Tolgoi mine run by Rio Tinto, as well as coal from the Tavan Tolgoi mine, which China's state-owned Shenhua Group is currently in the running to develop.

The crossing in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia would charge vehicles a transit fee of 10 yuan ($1.45) each time they pass through the border, and would also impose an additional charge of 8 yuan per tonne for any goods they are delivering, according to a notice issued by local authorities and published by the Mongolian Mining Journal on Wednesday.

For precious metals and copper concentrate worth more than 10,000 yuan per tonne, exporters would be charged 0.2 percent of the total value of the cargo, the notice said, adding that the new charges would come into effect on Dec 1.

Dale Choi, an independent mining analyst in Ulaanbaatar, said 900 trucks pass through Gashuun Sukhait every day, adding that around 133,000 tonnes of copper concentrate is delivered into China every month via the crossing.

Local government officials contacted by Reuters on Thursday could not confirm the veracity of the announcement, but a senior industry representative in Ulaanbaatar who is familiar with the matter said the new charges were now in effect.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang did not confirm whether or not the new border fees were connected to the Dalai Lama's visit, saying that he was unaware of the situation.

"As for the Dalai Lama's visit to Mongolia, China has expressed its position many times," he said at the ministry's regular press briefing on Thursday.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. Beijing regards him as a "splittist", though he says he merely seeks genuine autonomy for his Himalayan homeland, which Communist Chinese troops "peacefully liberated" in 1950.

Geng said in a statement last month that Mongolia needed to "adopt effective measures to eliminate the negative effects of the Dalai Lama's visit".

The diplomatic repercussions could hit Mongolia hard, with the crisis-hit government desperate to boost economic ties with its powerful southern neighbor and use Chinese investment and knowhow to kickstart key mining and infrastructure projects.

China has already postponed a Nov. 28 meeting between the two sides, Mongolian government spokesman G. Otgonbayar said via Twitter last week.

Mongolian government officials are due to hold talks on Friday with international partners, including the International Monetary Fund and the Development Bank of China, to discuss Mongolia's currency and balance of payments crisis.

(This story has been corrected to change foreign ministry spokesman's response to "unaware of situation" from "aware of situation" in paragraph 8)

Link to article

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HAR last traded A$0.003 on November 17

Lippo's Stake in Haranga Diluted to 31.4% from 33.95% After Rights Issue

December 1, Haranga Resources Ltd. (ASX:HAR) --  

Link to notice

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TER closed -2.7% Thursday to A$0.036

TerraCom: Chairman Cameron McCrae's Speech at AGM

November 30, TerraCom Ltd. (ASX:TER) --

A. Introduction

B. Update to Shareholders on the Background to the AGM

I will now present an update regarding the resolutions presented for consideration at this AGM.

Since our last Annual General Meeting, there have been significant developments at TerraCom. In November 2015, we officially changed our name from Guildford Coal Australia to TerraCom Limited (ASX : TER). This change represented the opening of a new chapter as we make the step change from explorer to producer, across global locations.

TerraCom's deep management experience and strong resource base has placed it in a position poised to grow. Our recent announcement of signing binding agreements for the acquisition of Blair Athol Coal Mine from the Blair Athol Joint Venture is an exciting example of how we plan to grow through opportunistic, selective inorganic growth.

I was appointed Chairman in early June, taking over from the Honourable Craig Wallace. I would like to personally thank Craig for his leadership of TerraCom during the period of debt restructuring and through a very difficult period in the commodity cycle. I appreciate Craig's ongoing support as deputy Chairman and the support of the board and its advisors who are active in their review of our activities, strategies and plans.

Since my appointment we have announced further organisational changes in our management team, finalised the debt restructuring, raised additional equity and converted the Blair Athol opportunity into a binding agreement. The BNU coal mine is also recommencing mining operations after a period used to running down surplus stocks during a period of very low prices and to enable the establishment of a more efficient supply chain. The management team have worked tirelessly and diligently in putting TerraCom onto a stronger and sustainable footing. This is evidenced in the improvement in our balance sheet and the opinion of our external auditors.

2015-16 was a very difficult year - with the global coal industry's dilemma continuing for a third consecutive year. During 2015-16 the TerraCom team managed costs in a very stringent manner. This was critical during the period of debt renegotiation and suspended operations. For TerraCom it was a year of repositioning - the good news is that the balance sheet repair is largely behind us, we enjoy the confidence of financiers and we have exciting growth projects in front of us.

We have completed last year's strategic review initiatives and in late June 2016, we announced the successful restructure of $141 million of existing and soon to be due debt facilities. The new arrangements significantly improved our balance sheet, allowing us to raise additional equity over the past few months.

The Blair Athol acquisition is a very significant growth initiative for TerraCom, representing transformational change, and the announcement of binding agreements being signed is the culmination of complex negotiations over many months. The BA deal structure also gave our major lenders the confidence to convert our debt facilities into a 5-year bond.

Our ability to acquire the assets for $1, and to have the full rehabilitation liability provided for in cash is testament to the management team's ability to drive a value-adding deal. This structure will also allow us to generate working capital loans off the back of the asset values in Blair Athol.

The Board of TerraCom is cautiously optimistic over the recent recovery of the coal market. We are well positioned to leverage this upturn.

TerraCom's group of small, but highly skilled employees are committed to delivering shareholder value through its existing pipeline of projects and through potential acquisitions. We remain committed to the health and well being of all our employees and I am pleased to announce that we have now achieved two years of injury free work at our Mongolian operations.

There are 12 resolutions before you today. I will now move on to the formal part of the meeting.

Link to release

Link to AGM Results

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WOF trading flat at A$0.019 the last two days

Wolf Petroleum: All Resolutions Approved at AGM

November 30, Wolf Petroleum Ltd. (ASX:WOF) -- We advise that the Resolutions contained in the Notice of Annual General Meeting were approved at the meeting of shareholders on a show of hands.

We advise that in accordance with section 251AA of the Corporations Act, proxy votes exercisable by all proxies validly appointed were as follows:

 

Resolution

For

Against

Abstain

Proxy Discretion

1

Adoption of Remuneration Report

3,769,092

153,846

69,531,472

192,621

2

Approval of 10% Placement Capacity

73,300,564

153,846

-

192,621

Link to release

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Rio Tinto confirms it is being investigated in US over accounts writedown

December 1 (City A.M.) Rio Tinto confirmed this morning that it is the subject of a long-running US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) probe.

The investigation, which started in April 2013, relates to a $3bn (£2.4bn) impairment charge lodged in its 2012 accounts in respect of Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique.

Rio Tinto Coal Mozambique housed assets the company picked up when it took over Riversdale Mining in 2011 but it subsequently sold these in 2014.

The Anglo-Australian miner, which issued its statement in response to earlier press speculation, added that it was cooperating with the inquiries.

Shares in the FTSE 100 company are down 1.3 per cent at 2,952p at time of writing.

The SEC investigation is not the only hardship facing the company at the moment, as it struggles through challenging commodities markets. In its results for its first half of 2016, the firm revealed that its underlying earnings had nearly halved.

At the time the results were released, recently appointed chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said he was keen to cut back costs at the firm, as he did not see the market conditions becoming less challenging any time soon.

Link to article

Link to RIO release

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Formerly Winsway. 1733 closed +3.85% Thursday to HK$0.82

E-Commodities (01733) buys back 5.11m shares at HK$3.99m

[ET Net News Agency, 1 December 2016] E-Commodities Holdings (01733) said it repurchased on-market about 5.11 million shares yesterday at the price of HK$0.78 per share for a total of about HK$3.99 million (before brokerage and expenses).

The shares repurchased represent about 0.17% of the existing total issued share capital  of E-Commodities. The company will subsequently cancel the repurchased shares.

Link to article

Link to 1733 release

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Mogi: formerly Bestway

Tai United: No Mining Operation Took Place at Bayan-Ulgii Mining Licenses

Interim Results

November 30, Tai United Holdings Ltd. (HKEx:718) --

11. Mining rights

The mining rights represent the rights to conduct mining activities in the location of Nogoonnuur Soum and Tsengel Soum of Bayan-Ulgii Aimag in Mongolia, and have remaining legal lives of 15 to 20 years, expiring in July 2031, March 2033, December 2035 and July 2036, respectively. The mining licenses are issued by Mineral Resources and Petroleum Authority of Mongolia and may be extended for two successive additional periods of 20 years each. In the opinion of the directors of the Company, the application for extension is procedural and the Group should be able to renew its mining licenses at minimal charges, until all the proven and probable minerals have been mined. No active mining operation of the Group has taken place yet. The Group is in process to engage a qualified mineral technical adviser to prepare a resource estimation and a Mongolian professional firm to review and update the feasibility study report and the environmental impact assessment report on the above tungsten mines. The directors expect that the exploitation of the mines will take place no later than the end of 2018.

Given that there is no significant change in the market conditions since 31 March 2016 and additional time is required for engaging qualified mineral technical adviser and Mongolian professional firm, based on the assessment of the directors of the Company, there is no indications of impairment and no impairment is recognised for the six months ended 30 September 2016 (six months ended 30 September 2015: Nil).

At 31 March 2016, the directors of the Company re-assessed the recoverable amount of the cash generating unit that holds mining rights (the "Mining CGU") by using fair value less costs of disposal, which was derived by using discounted cash flow analysis. The discount cash flow analysis has incorporated assumptions that a typical market participant would use in estimating the fair value of the Mining CGU, using cash flow projection for a period of 3 to 7 years and the discount rates applied to the cash flow projection are 21.27%-21.83%. In determining the discount rates, the weighted average cost of capital was used, which was determined with reference to the industry capital structure of market comparable with mining projects, and have taken into account the specific risks encountered by the Mining CGU.

With reference to the assessment, the directors of the Company were of the view that the recoverable amount of the Mining CGU is estimated to be HK$361,383,000 and therefore an impairment loss (net of tax) of HK$162,812,000 in respect of the mining rights was identified for the year ended 31 March 2016. The impairment is primarily due to decline in the selling price of tungsten concentrate products during the year ended 31 March 2016.

Link to report

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Local Market

MSE Trading Report, Dec 1: Top 20 -1.42%, ALL -1.08%, Turnover ₮20.1 Million Shares, ₮390.4 Million T-Bills

December 1 (MSE) --

Link to report

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₮1 Billion 12-Week T-Bills Sold from Announced ₮80 Billion

November 30 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 12 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 80.0 billion MNT. Face value of 1.0 billion /out of 1.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 16.980 %.

Link to release

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₮1 Billion 39-Week T-Bills Sold from Announced ₮20 Billion

Auction for 39 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 20.0 billion MNT. Face value of 1.0 billion /out of 1.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 17.000 %.

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: Thursday, December 1 Close

 

12/1

11/30

11/29

11/28

11/24

11/23

11/22

11/21

11/18

11/17

11/16

High

Date

USD

2,468.07

2,466.64

2,465.57

2,462.60

2,459.66

2,451.72

2,445.29

2,434.67

2,434.22

2,428.64

2,424.44

2,468.07

12/1/2016

EUR

2,619.73

2,620.31

2,614.49

2,623.90

2,591.50

2,604.83

2,596.65

2,588.30

2,581.37

2,602.17

2,595.61

2,681.43

11/10/2016

JPY

21.62

21.88

21.95

22.00

21.70

22.08

22.04

21.95

21.98

22.28

22.15

23.49

11/9/2016

GBP

3,093.85

3,076.89

3,058.17

3,077.88

3,053.79

3,042.71

3,050.99

3,006.57

3,018.07

3,024.51

3,024.73

3,183.26

8/13/2014

RUB

38.69

37.74

37.97

37.94

38.08

38.26

38.46

37.83

37.43

37.39

37.53

54.32

6/27/2014

CNY

357.99

358.22

357.76

356.74

355.47

355.66

354.90

353.06

353.26

353.57

352.89

361.23

11/10/2016

KRW

2.11

2.11

2.11

2.11

2.08

2.09

2.08

2.06

2.06

2.07

2.07

2.13

11/8/2016

SGD

1,726.77

1,730.19

1,728.47

1,729.11

1,715.66

1,720.69

1,717.26

1,706.92

1,706.91

1,715.50

1,708.80

1,752.48

11/10/2016

CAD

1,842.67

1,834.62

1,836.14

1,827.06

1,818.47

1,824.26

1,823.41

1,809.49

1,797.27

1,809.18

1,803.36

1,842.67

12/1/2016

AUD

1,826.99

1,844.18

1,843.01

1,843.63

1,812.65

1,823.47

1,806.46

1,788.87

1,797.31

1,814.80

1,824.39

1,886.29

11/10/2016

HKD

318.23

318.04

317.88

317.52

317.14

316.12

315.29

313.89

313.80

313.10

312.56

318.23

12/1/2016

CHF

2,431.00

2,428.87

2,432.13

2,441.48

2,415.81

2,423.49

2,419.28

2,413.79

2,408.69

2,426.09

2,418.76

2,497.77

11/9/2016

Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,460 Sell ₮2,469), TDB (Buy ₮2,464 Sell ₮2,474), Golomt (Buy ₮2,460 Sell ₮2,470), XacBank (Buy ₮2,462 Sell ₮2,472), State Bank (Buy ₮2,460 Sell ₮2,472)

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

Link to rates

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BoM issues ₮149 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -0.7% to ₮418 billion

November 30 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 149 billion at a weighted interest rate of 15.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

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BoM sells US$12.75 million at ₮2,469.5, declines CNY bids, receives no swap offers

December 1 (Bank of Mongolia) Spot trade: Commercial banks bid MNT 2450.00-2471.51 for USD31.45 million, MNT 352.00-358.00 for CNY40.0 million and asked MNT 358.22-358.42 for CNY10.0 million respectively. The BoM sold USD12.75 million with a single rate of MNT 2469.50.

Swap and forward trade: The BoM din not receive any bid offers of swap agreements from commercial banks.

Link to release

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Mongolia Government Debt Rises 34% Y/y to $4.76b in 3Q

By Michael Kohn

December 1 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's general government debt increased 34% to $4.76b at the end of the third quarter, compared with $3.54b at the same period yr ago, the central bank reported on
its website.

* For the same period:

* Central bank debt was $1.73b compared with $2.21b a year earlier

* Inter-company lending debt was $6.82b compared with $10.5b in 2015

* Mongolia's total gross external debt position was $23.8b compared with $21.6b in 2015

* From the previous quarter, general government debt rose 1.1 percent from $4.71b

(BFW)

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Mongolia FX Reserves Fall to $1.04b in Oct., Lowest Since 2009

By Michael Kohn

December 1 (Bloomberg) -- FX reserves decline 26% y/y, down for a 6th consecutive month, according to data posted on Bank of Mongolia website.

* Reserves drop 4.9% m/m, 22% YTD

* Stockpile lowest since $962m in Aug. 2009, according to central bank data

(BFW)

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Mongolia Sees $8m FDI in October, Negative $4.3 Billion Year-to-Date

December 2 (Bank of Mongolia) Main indicators            

Current account and Capital and Financial account balance totaled to $453.9 million deficit which is 31% or $201.8 million decline compared to the same period of the previous year. The change was mainly due to decrease of $297.4 million or 35% in income account deficit.

Capital account had surplus of $443.3 million which is declined by $207.1 million or 32% compared to the same period of the last year. According to the interpretation of 6thedition of Balance of Payments manual, Mongolia has a net borrowing during this period. 

Detailed information

Link to release

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UB Housing Prices Fall 0.16% in October, Down 5.6% from 2015

By BoM Research Division, Tenkhleg Zuuch LLC.

November 30 (Bank of Mongolia) Following is the public report of the October 2016 results of the "Housing Price Index" (HPI) research conducted independently by Tenkhleg Zuuch LLC at the request of Mongol Bank.

The research shows that the general index of housing price was at 1.1 percent in October 2016. It shows a decline by 0.16 percent compared to the previous month. The general index dropped by 4.1% compared to the starting period, and by 5.6% compared to the same month in previous year. Below are the Price index indicators classified by new and old houses.

The new house price index was at 14.4 percent. There is no change compared to the previous month. The index dropped by 3.9% compared to an earlier period of this year, and by 3.7% compared to the same month in previous year.

The old house price index was at -7.3 percent. This shows a decline by 0.3 percent compared to the previous month. The index dropped by 5.9% compared to the earlier period of this year, and by 8.5 % compared to the same month in previous year. 

 

 

General

New houses

Old houses

Index change /starting period -2013.01/

1.1%

14.4%

-7.3%

Compared to previous month

-0.16%

-0.03%

-0.3%

Compared to the beginning of the year

-4.1%

-3.9%

-5.9%

Compared to the same month in previous year

-5.6%

-3.7%

-8.5%

HPI was calculated by applying Hedonic regression methods and the calculation was based on the information available for 4891 old and new houses supplied for sale at the real estate market of Ulaanbaatar for the particular month.

Link to release

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Study: Interest Rate Pass-Through in Mongolia

GAN-OCHIR DOOJAV1,2 AND KALIAPPA KALIRAJAN1*

1Crawford School of Public Policy, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University, Australian Capital Territory, Australia; and 2Bank of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

First version received January 2016; final version accepted June 2016

I. INTRODUCTION

In the early years of this century, Mongolia was one of the world's fastest growing economies as a result of large foreign direct investment (FDI) in the mining sector. FDI averaged 40% of GDP, annual growth exceeded 15% in the period 2011–12, and economic growth has averaged 9% over the past decade. However, the economy has faced sharp declines in FDI and coal exports since 2013. During the years of low FDI and coal exports, the Mongolian authorities have implemented expansionary policies with large fiscal deficits and external borrowing. As a result, public debt has risen sharply. For instance, public debt reached 76.5% of GDP in 2014 and, given ongoing deficits, it is expected to peak at 92.5% of GDP in 2017 (IMF 2015). Given the political and economic realities, the role played by fiscal policy in economic stabilization efforts has been diminishing, while the importance of monetary policy has grown. Monetary policy has been seen as a key instrument of counter-cyclical policy, which is mainly directed at  smoothing the business cycle. Smoothing the swings in economic activity is important for achieving price stability and high employment over the course of the cycle.Moreover, the Bank of Mongolia (BOM) has been considering moving toward an inflation targeting regime as the guiding framework for monetary policy. Therefore, a sound understanding of the monetary policy transmissionmechanism is important for successfully implementing counter-cyclical policy and adopting an inflation targeting regime.

The interest rate pass-through process is an important part of the monetary policy transmission. The eventual impact that a change in policy rate (i.e., monetary policy stance) has on the business cycle and inflation depends on how the change is transmitted to other interest rates in the economy. In particular, the pass-through of policy-controlled interest rates1 to retail interest rates determines the effectiveness of monetary policy. However, retail interest rates set by banks directly influence their profitability and soundness and hence financial stability (De Bondt 2005). Consequently, the interest rate setting behavior of banks plays a vital role in the transmission of monetary policy.

For the effective operation of monetary policy, the adjustment of a bank's interest rates to a change in policy-controlled interest rates should be symmetric, quick, and large enough to influence aggregate demand (Apergis and Cooray 2015). However, the literature suggests that the interest rate pass-through varies according to markets and countries as both microeconomic and macroeconomic factors affect the adjustment of retail banks' interest rates. Several studies (e.g., Cottarelli and Kourelis 1994; De Bondt 2005) have found evidence of the stickiness of bank interest rates and the sluggishness of bank responses to a change in policy-controlled interest rates. As summarized by Apergis and Cooray (2015), there are a number of factors (e.g., price leadership, imperfect information, imperfect competition, agency costs, customer-switching costs, and central bank intervention) that explain the rigidity of bank interest rates. The asymmetric adjustment of bank interest rates has been found in several countries: Australia (Lim 2001; Valadkhani and Anwar 2012; Apergis and Cooray 2015); Canada (Panagopoulos, Reziti, and Spiliotis 2010); the Eurozone (Cecchetti 1999; Favero, Giavazzi, and Flabbi, 1999); the United Kingdom (Hofmann and Mizen 2004); Italy (Gambacorta and Innotti 2007); Singapore and Malaysia (Scholnick 1996); and Hong Kong, South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand (Yu, Chun, and Kim 2013).

Although there is no particular study focusing on the interest rate pass-through in Mongolia, some studies have estimated the relationship between bank interest rates and policy-controlled interest rates. Batnyam, Doojav, and Łyziak (2008) estimate the bank lending rate equation as an equation of the Small Inflation Model of Mongolia and find an incomplete and sluggish adjustment of the bank lending rate in response to a change in the one-week central bank bill rate. Doojav (2011) estimates equations for bank lending and bank deposit rates as equations of the structural model of inflation in Mongolia and shows that there were significant short- and long-run relationships between the bank-lending rate and the policy rate, with no significant relationship between policy rate and bank deposit rate. Doojav (2012) also examines the determinants of the bank lending and bank deposit rates using bank-level (panel) data over the period 2003–Q1 and 2009–Q2 and finds that the money market rate was an important factor in explaining both bank lending and bank deposit rates. In particular, the study emphasizes that the money market rate has a strong and quick impact on the bank lending rate compared to the bank deposit rate. In a recent study, Doojav and Dulamzaya (2014) investigate the cost channel of monetary policy in Mongolia using a Bayesian dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) approach and show that the pass-through of the money market rate to the bank lending rate is incomplete (i.e., the maximum pass-through was 30% of initial shock). Their study concludes that the incomplete and sluggish interest rate pass-through weakened the cost channel, and the interest rate setting behaviour of banks played an important role in the transmission of monetary policy. Bayardavaa, Batmunkh, and Chuluun (2015) analyze monetary policy transmission using vector autoregression (VAR) models and find that a change in the interbank market (IBM) rate has significantly affected the bank lending rate with time lags of 1–2 quarters.

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Amid Economic Crisis, Mongolians Risk Their Lives For Do-It-Yourself Mining

December 1 (NPR) On a hillside overlooking the steppes of northeastern Mongolia, an entire family shovels jet-black chunks of coal into a truck. Every half-hour or so, they fire up a machine that steadily pulls a steel cable attached to what looks like a roller-coaster car emerging from a hole in the ground. It takes five minutes before it arrives at the surface, full of more coal, extracted by cousins working half-a-mile beneath the earth.

For some rural Mongolians, risking their lives in crude, makeshift mines is the only way to survive.

"The leather factory I worked at went bankrupt," says Enkhbat, 47, as he wipes sweat from his face. "I looked for other jobs, but most employers in my town have stopped paying their workers. Here, inside the mine, we bring out coal with our bare hands and sell it for cash. We are our own bosses."

Mongolia's $11.8 billion economy, based heavily on mining, boomed in recent years but now has tanked alongside the falling prices of coal, copper and other commodities. Facing mass unemployment as companies go bankrupt, the Mongolian government and the International Monetary Fund are working out an emergency bailout.

2014 report by the San Francisco-based Asia Foundation estimated that one in five rural Mongolians — 100,000 people — are mining coal and gold on their own to make ends meet. Such mining is legal with the proper license, but Nalaikh's abandoned mines are filled with several unlicensed brigades that are mining illegally.

These workers commonly are known as "artisanal miners." Enkhbat — Mongolians go only by their first names — shuns the pleasant-sounding label, saying that he and his coworkers are simply mining to survive. His team belongs to a "brigade" — 15 workers, family and friends who have pooled their money to buy equipment to extract what's left from an old, Soviet-era coal mine, abandoned in the 1990s.

"They say there is still enough coal under the ground here to last more than 50 years," Enkhbat says.

And that's why this mine, a former ghost town in the northeastern Mongolian city of Nalaikh, is now filled with life. Among the brick skeletons of warehouses and train depots, the landscape atop the abandoned mine is sprinkled with dozens of cream-colored gers, the tents of nomadic herders, each one housing a do-it-yourself mining brigade.

Batbayar, a sturdy 34-year-old whose long hair is contained under a headlamp, says wherever there's a tent, there's a shaft. It can take weeks of digging to find an untapped vein of coal. His brigade — a different one than Enkhbat's — has found one, after digging a tunnel nearly half-a-mile down. Now he and others shovel enough coal to fill seven two-ton trucks a day. Most of it is sold to people in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city, to heat their homes.

Each brigade member earns the equivalent of $200 a month, more than enough to feed their families, though less than two-thirds the country's average income.

"It's pretty dangerous work," says Batbayar. "We place logs inside the shaft for support, but sometimes they collapse under the weight of the earth. Last week, five people from a brigade next to us were killed when their tunnel collapsed."

According to official figures, about a dozen workers die inside these mines each year, but because many of the brigades aren't regulated by the government, the actual number of those buried here is likely much higher. Coal miners also are known to have have high rates of lung cancer, dust-induced chronic bronchitis and pneumoconiosis.

Inside a neighboring brigade's tent, a father straps on a headlamp, grabs a shovel and kisses his two-year-old son. He leaves him with the only woman in the brigade before descending into the mine shaft on a cart attached to a cable. The child screams for his father, tears making trails on a face that's black from playing in mounds of coal outside. The woman tells him to stop crying or, she says jokingly, "The foreign journalist will beat you."

The child screams even harder.

She finally gives him her phone, and he plays a video game on his bed, calming himself. The woman's name is Sainaa — she's 35 years old. She recently lost her job as a nurse, so she came here to cook and clean for the family brigade.

"I'll have to stay here this year, and I hope to find a more proper job next spring," she says with a look of worry. "If I can't find anything, things will get difficult. What I make here is next to nothing. At least I can take care of this poor child."

She watches the toddler on the bed, his father now working deep beneath our feet.

"This is no place for a child," she says — after a pause adding: "This is no place for me, either."

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Copper slips as speculative interest wanes

December 2 (Reuters) - Copper prices edged lower on the London Metal Exchange on Thursday as speculative positions started to unwind on doubts about the sustainability of a post U.S. election rally.

Three-month copper closed 0.6 per cent lower at $US5,791 a tonne, not far from a one-week low hit in the previous session.

In contrast, Shanghai copper futures rose nearly 2 per cent, benefiting from a rally in oil prices and continued speculative interest after data showed China's factory activity expanded modestly in November, while inflationary pressures showed signs of building.

The most-traded copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange hit a session high of 47,570 yuan ($US6,900), after falling 3.6 per cent on Wednesday.

"The market is fundamentally better than a lot of people thought, in terms of Chinese growth, but the massive speculative buying in China may start to dissipate and hit prices," Citi strategist David Wilson said.

"The $US5,000 to $US5,500 mark is a fair value for copper, it just seems a little overpriced right now."

The metal used widely in power and construction hit $US6,045.50 on Monday, its highest since June last year.

It rose 20 per cent in November, its biggest monthly increase since April 2006, also boosted by prospects that U.S. president-elect Donald Trump would enact reflationary policies funded by large fiscal stimulus.

Zinc closed up 0.9 per cent at $US2,728 a tonne and lead fell 2.2 per cent to $US2,314. Both metals retreated from multi-year highs hit earlier this week.

The Shanghai Futures Exchange said on Wednesday it would limit intraday position sizes in January and February zinc and lead futures for non-members, moving to curb speculators that have piled into metals.

Tin closed unchanged at $US21,055 a tonne, while nickel closed down 0.4 per cent at $US11,210 a tonne and aluminium closed 0.6 per cent lower at $US1,722 a tonne.

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Gold prices pressured as prices hit 10-month lows, investors may be ahead of the curve

December 2 (CNBC) The Federal Reserve is widely expected to hike interest rates at its next policy meeting on Dec. 13-14, weighing on gold prices as the precious metal is not an interest-yielding asset.

However, the hikes are unlikely to beat inflation, said Ned Naylor-Leyland, fund manager at Old Mutual Gold and Silver Fund.

"Right now, people are expecting, for some reason, more rate hikes than inflation even though (Fed Chair Janet) Yellen has explicitly said that the pace of rate hikes will undershoot inflation," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box".

"So what the central banks are telling is that you are continuing to lose purchasing power holding cash, which is good for gold, but the market has decided otherwise short term and is running away with this idea that you are going to accumulate purchasing power holding cash," he added.

On Thursday, gold hit its lowest level since February. Spot gold was flat on Friday morning around $1,174 an ounce in Asia after hitting a 10-month low of $1,160.38 an ounce in the previous session.

The yellow metal had fallen more than 8 percent in November and the outlook is not positive in the short-term, said Singapore's OCBC which is lowering its year-end forecast for the yellow metal to $1,200 an ounce from its previous prediction of $1,300 an ounce. 

The house sees two more rate hikes from the Fed in 2017, firming the greenback that will send gold to $1,100 an ounce by the end of the year.

Also weighing on gold is a stronger dollar in which the precious metal is denominated internationally and expectations that president-elect Donald Trump's massive infrastructure plan will spur growth and inflation.

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Iron ore rebounds as prices continue to swing wildly

December 2 (The Australian Financial Review) Chinese steel and iron ore futures climbed, as investors returned to the market after a two-day selldown, many of them continuing to hedge their risk against a sliding currency. Solid data on China's manufacturing sector bolstered sentiment.

Iron ore for delivery to China's Qingdao port advanced $US6.28 or 8.7 per cent to $US78.36 a tonne, according to Metal Bulletin. The spot benchmark recouped most of the loss it suffered since touching a two-year high above $US80 at the start of the week.

Prices of steel and its raw materials have traded wildly in Chinese markets in recent weeks, rising sharply on a drive by speculative investors on some days and hitting the floor in following sessions after exchanges hiked trading fees to tame the volatility.

Fears of a liquidity squeeze fuelled a selloff in China's commodity futures on Wednesday, deepening losses in steel and iron ore, which only on Monday had rallied sharply amid a fresh wave of speculative funds.

"Given the increasing uncertainty from the macroeconomic point of view, there might be some risk for the yuan to continue to depreciate and commodities may be good assets to hedge that risk," said Richard Lu, analyst at CRU consultancy in Beijing.

The most-traded rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed up 4.8 per cent at 3,187 yuan ($US462) a tonne, after rising as far as 3218 yuan. The construction steel product lost nearly 7 per cent in the previous two days based on settlement prices.

Shanghai hot rolled coil climbed as much as 7 per cent to hit its upside limit, before closing 6.6 per cent higher.

The recovery in steel futures pushed up iron ore. The most-active iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange rose 5.1 per cent to end at 595 yuan a tonne, after sliding 8 per cent in the past two sessions.

That could help improve bids in the physical iron ore market, although traders say buyers were largely hesitant given the recent wild swings in prices.

As the yuan fell to its weakest in more than eight years, China's central bank has circulated new rules for companies that make yuan-denominated loans to overseas entities in its latest bid to control capital outflows.

While China's factory activity expanded modestly in November, a central bank adviser said the economy faces growth risks next year from an expected slowdown in the property market.

Though the November PMI came in lower than October's figure, it nonetheless marked the second-highest reading in two years, indicating the manufacturing industry has continued to pick up steam, Zhong Zhengsheng, director of macroeconomic analysis at CEBM Group told Metal Bulletin.

"The Chinese economy continued to improve in November, although it lost some momentum compared to the previous month. Inventory and employment data also showed the foundation of growth is not solid yet and investors have to remain vigilant about the risk of a downturn in coming months," he added.

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Oil prices dip after OPEC-Russia output cut deal, focus swings to implementation

December 1 (Reuters) Oil prices slipped on Friday as some investors opted to cash out after Brent touched 16-month a high on Thursday, with optimism over this week's OPEC-Russia accord on cutting output giving way to questions on the "sticking point" of implementing the deal.

International Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 were trading at $53.66 per barrel at 0242 GMT, down 28 cents, or 0.52 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures CLc1 were at $50.92, down 14 cents, or 0.27 percent.

Brent and WTI futures had jumped more than 10 percent since Wednesday's agreement by OPEC members and Russia to reduce crude production by a combined 1.5 million barrels per day.

Analysts are now focusing their attention on implementation of the deal, the first agreement since 2001 by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia to coordinate production cuts.

"It looks achievable on the face of it, provided the parties to the latest production cut deal stick to their pledges, which has historically been somewhat of a sticking point," ANZ bank said on Friday.

Still, traders said the market remained broadly optimistic in the longer term about an accord designed to help bring the oil market back into balance.

"This is positive news that will make a sustainable difference to the oil market over the coming months," said Ric Spooner, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, adding that it wouldn't be surprising to see momentum pick up.

Traders said price developments in crude futures over the coming days should provide evidence of the extent of the market's optimism for the deal.

"WTI has arrived at the peaks from the middle of last year and again in October," Spooner said, adding the next movements in the futures should provide insight into exactly how positively traders view this week's agreement.

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Politics & Legal

Parliamentary hearing on Development Bank held

November 30 (UB Post) On November 29, the Economic Standing Committee and the Legal Standing Committee of Parliament held a meeting to review the findings of the Cabinet working group tasked with investigating Development Bank of Mongolia (DBM).

There have been reports that the Democratic Party has proposed a postponement of the hearings. The head of the working group, Vice Minister of Justice B.Enkhbayar, answered questions about the hearing.

There are reports that the hearing will be postponed. What is the reason for the postponement?

I am the head of the Cabinet working group, I was told to present a report when summoned by Parliament.

The Democratic Party has been accused of trying to avoid discussions about which companies received loans from DBM and shifting focusing on smaller matters.

Our working group produced a 200 page report. There were violations concerning 1.3 trillion MNT, or 700 million USD. I don't understand how this is a small issue. Is there a issue bigger than this one?

Is it unknown which companies received loans from DBM? There was speculation that more than 60 percent of the loans were given to companies owned by members of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP).

In the last five to six years, there have been more than 2,000 companies that either directly received a loan from DBM or received a loan through a commercial bank. Sixty percent of that would mean that around 1,200 MPP members received loans. I am confused how they learned the identity of all 1,200 companies. I want to officially state that our working group is not focused on the political aspect of the investigation.

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Government once again reduces excise tax on fuel

Ulaanbaatar, December 1 (MONTSAME) The Government has been taking response measures for preventing negative impacts of rising USD rate against the national currency. The cabinet resolved at the regular meeting of October 5 to reduce excise taxes per ton of petrol and diesel fuels by MNT 240 thousand respectively.

In accordance with the decision, MNT 260 thousand of excise tax was imposed on a ton of petrol and MNT 280 thousand- on diesel fuel.

Although the border price of oil has decreased by USD 30-33, the rising USD rate against MNT is causing the huge losses to fuel importing companies and the rise in the domestic fuel prices.

At the regular meeting on November 30, the cabinet adopted a resolution on re-cutting the excise taxes per ton of fuel by MNT 100,000.

The amounts of excise taxes for petrol and diesel fuels went down to MNT 160,000 and MNT 180,000 respectively.

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Mongolia government brings back Egiin Gol Hydro Power Project

November 30 (gogo.mn) Mongolia is able to produce 100% of its energy domestically, if we build the Eg river hydro power plant (EGHHP), said Minister of Energy P.Gankhuu at the regular meeting of the Economic Standing Committee of State Great Khural on Nov 29. 

Total annual energy consumption of Mongolia is 6865 million kWh, of which 80 percent is produced domestically while remaining 20 percent of energy is imported from Russia. 

An average growth of annual energy consumption is at 5.1 percent. According to the Government policy on energy, the Government of Mongolia aims to produce 100% of its energy domestically. 

The Government decision to build EGHPP, which is to develop the sustainable regime of CES and to reduce energy dependency on imports, was approved in 2013. Through reliable energy of EGHHP, a comfortable living environment for people will established and it is a strategically important project for national independency and security.

The total cost of the project is worth USD 827 million.

EGHHP will be constructed at Khutag Undur soum of Bulgan aimag, which is 450 km away from Ulaanbaatar city. EGHPP is to generate and supply 606 million kWh of electricity annually and estimated to generate capacity of 5.7 billion cubic meters of fresh water pool.

Further, Minister of Energy P.Gankhuu introduced the priority projects to improve the energy of Eastern region and emphasized that the country needs to start the construction of EGHHP immediately.

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Postponed roundtable meeting with investors to be held in first quarter

November 30 (gogo.mn) Erdenes Mongol LLC and the Ministry of Mining planned and prepared to hold a roundtable meeting entitled "Why should investors pay attention to Mongolia" with the attendance of international investors.

Because the government decided to shift the Independence Day holiday to the preceding Friday, the Ministry of Mining decided to postpone the conference.

Today, officials announced that the conference will be held in the 1st quarter of next year, but still no any particular date has announced yet.

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6:45 Lecture and Meeting with P.Tsagaan

November 29 (UB Post) NOUS Events Company will hold its next 6:45 series lecture and meeting on December 1 at Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel.

Founder of the Mongolian Economic Policy and Competitiveness Research Center P.Tsagaan will present a lecture titled "Dream" at the event.

Details

Where: Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel

When: December 1, 6:45 p.m.

Ticket Price: 20,000 MNT

More Information: 93115665

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80 billion may be allocated for VAT refunds in 2017

December 1 (UB Post) There have been reports that 80 billion MNT has been allocated in the 2017 state budget for distribution of VAT tax refunds.

The VAT Tax Law was approved by the previous government and came into effect on January 2016, allowing taxpayers to receive a 20 percent refund on VAT taxes paid and to take part in a lottery.

In the first ten months of 2016, 25.4 billion MNT in refunds have been calculated for 456,611 taxpayers. The refunds are scheduled to be paid by the first quarter of 2017. VAT tax refunds will be paid annually, with 2016 refunds being paid in 2017.

A VAT lottery is conducted monthly with more immediate payment for lottery winners. Tax-payers calculate the taxes paid on their purchases by scanning the QR code appearing on all sales receipts, and they can monitor the refund amount that is due.

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Cabinet urges to proceed developing Law on Youth

Ulaanbaatar, December 1 (MONTSAME) On November 30, the cabinet approved a concept of the bill on promoting the development of youth. The Ministers of Labor and Social Security and of Justice and Domestic Affairs were assigned to prepare the draft for cabinet's next discussion.

According to the concept, this will be the first independent law to target the young people aged 16-40, if adopted. The cabinet viewed that the National Program on Youth Development will be implemented along with the enforcement of the law enabling more employment opportunities for young people.

A study shows that one in every ten young households live in a rental apartment. When adopted, the law will facilitate the necessary legal grounds to support young families and help them purchase apartments on easy terms.

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Discussion held on establishing open government database

November 30 (UB Post) On Wednesday, the Office of the Cabinet Secretariat and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences organized a discussion about building an open database for the Smart State Project the Government of Mongolia is implementing.

Over 120 representatives from the Office of the President, the secretariats of Parliament and Cabinet, and representatives from government ministries and agencies, research organizations, enterprises, and civil society took part in the discussion.

The state and private sector representatives discussed collecting data from state authorities to be accessed by anyone, introducing people to the advantages of using open data, the work accomplished so far to develop open data, ongoing work, future projects and programs scheduled, and the challenges faced in building an open database.

Deputy Chief of the Cabinet Secretariat U.Byambasuren pointed out that governmental organizations have huge quantities of data, and that this data should be published with open access to anyone wanting information. He said that people are able to access state information in many other countries.

A task force including representatives from governmental organizations was set up during the discussion, and their proposals and initiatives will be presented to state authorities.

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Dierkes: More on Re-Forming the DP

By Julian Dierkes

December 1 (Mongolia Focus) I recently started thinking about the future of the DP within Mongolian democracy. In that first post, I wrote about DP party unity and a rejuvenation of DP leaders. I want to continue that consideration here, particularly since the DP will be meeting in its party congress later in December.

3. Democratization Agenda?

One area where DP rhetoric has matched actions is on democratization. The DP very credibly stands for democratization given its history and its leaders' history of involvement in the democratic revolution.

Pres. Elbegdorj personally emphasizes this democratization legacy at all opportunities, certainly in interactions with international audiences.

But, during his presidency, he has also made some credible efforts at building more democratic institutions that involve more Mongolians. The best example (though any sense of their longterm impact is too early still) are the Peoples' Halls that have been crated at the local level to support democratic deliberations.

As these halls have been charged with hosting discussions of the Local Development Fund, they have been given real tasks that are of some significant relevance to local interests. The current budget situation may curtail the amount of funding that will be dispersed through the Local Development Fund and local corruption or lack of organization might limit the impact of deliberations in the peoples' halls, but this has been a very tangible effort at further democratization.

If the DP wants to continue to trade on democratization as one of its strengths, some discussion will be needed as to what that might look like. Is continued decentralization of decision-making the direction that the DP would want to take Mongolia in, along with its implication of a move away from a unitary nation state to something that looks more federal?

4. Policy Platform?

In parliament, the DP has four long years ahead of itself as a small opposition party. Any legislative initiatives will likely be rejected by the MPP that can do so easily, given its 65/79 seat majority. It seems that while the DP might not have access to resources because of its electoral defeat, this would be the ideal time to build competency in policy fields that are of particular importance.

If some kind of rejuvenation of the DP leadership happens (yes, a big IF, see discussion in the previous post), the party should be able to enter the 2020 parliamentary election with an actual platform rather than merely a slate of candidates.

There is no shortage of issues where the DP could develop real competence as they are pressing and few solutions have been proposed in the past. From Ulaanbaatar air pollution, to serious attempts to address social inequality or to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals, 3 1/2 years in opposition remaining leaves lots of time for discussions within the party and a reorientation toward particular policies.

5. Corruption?

Corruption remains endemic to Mongolia and to Mongolian politics. It is a massive drain on individual and collective opportunities for Mongolians.

At some point, I think, Mongolia's democracy will give rise to a popular movement against corruption that will either start a new party or will be absorbed into existing parties. For existing parties, including the DP, that will mean that at some point, the party might be swept away by a popular movement if it doesn't manage to credibly join that anti-corruption movement. But with the current strong representation of business interests and the apparent desire of DP politicians to think of public office as an earnings opportunity for themselves and their associated (no different from other parties in that regard), it seems unlikely that the party will actually address this issue.

If there was a genuine anti-corruption effort, it would have to start from the top, address the presence of business interests, and acknowledge that parties and governments have to be models for everyone else in this regard.

What Else?

Lots of topics I've left out: diversification, environment, debt, inequality, constitutional reform, etc. But those are specific policy-areas where the DP could develop competency and answers, not questions that need to be answered in terms of the party's future, I think.

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Traffic penalty point system and fines

November 30 (gogo.mn) Mongolia introduced a Traffic Penalty Point System on 1 February 2016. Drivers start with 10 points that may be deducted if they commit traffic violations. In addition to the violation point system, fines are to be imposed depending on level of violation.

When all 10 points are deducted, the driver is no longer allowed to drive. The driver must attend in driving course and pass a driving exam in order to again be awarded 10 points.

Mongolia has adopted the point system aiming to prevent traffic accidents and violations, reduce the amount of vehicle damage, improve drivers' responsibility and levels of courtesy.

Obviously, if you comply with the law and do not violate the regulations, you will keep your 10 points.

Please see following list which sets out how many points are deducted for what kind of incident:

ONE POINT INCIDENTS AND PENALTIES

1.    Vehicle owner allows someone without a driving licence to drive their vehicle - MNT 192,000

2.    Driving a vehicle when tired or sick or allowing someone who is in the same condition to drive - MNT 48,000 and MNT 19,200

3.    Driver not using seat belt – MNT 9,600

4.    Driver transporting passengers who are not using their seat belt – MNT 9,600 

5.    Not observing traffic light or traffic police signals – MNT 19,200

6.    Not observing one way road rules – MNT 19,200 

7.    Not observing passenger or freight transport rules – MNT 96,000/192,000 

TWO POINTS INCIDENTS AND PENALTIES

1.    Driving a category of vehicle without the relevant licence: (save where practising) – MNT 192,000

2.    Allowing someone drunk or intoxicated to drive a vehicle – MNT 96,000 

3.    Driving without an official number plate or intentionally obscuring the number plate – MNT 96,000 

4.    Not fulfilling one's duties after a traffic accident – MNT 96,000 

5.    Overtaking other vehicles or attempting to do so in a restricted area – MNT 19,200 

6.    Not observing the speed limit – MNT 19,200

7.    Not allowing pedestrians to cross a pedestrian crossing – MNT 9,600

8.    Driving a vehicle with brake or steering system problems, damaged trailer wiring or damaged front lights during times of limited visibility or at night MNT 48,000 

THREE POINT INCIDENTS AND PENALTIES

1.    Not observing railroad crossing rules – MNT 48,000 

2.    Using traffic lights and sirens illegally  – MNT 96,000 

FIVE POINT INCIDENTS TO DIMINISH FIVE POINTS AND PENALTIES

1.    Causing a traffic accident by breaking traffic rules

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Business

NHK's Her Story: Tender Loving Skin Care

Broadcast on November 30, 2016

Khulan Davaadorj, the owner of Mongolia's first-ever organic cosmetics brand, works to help women combat the effects of pollution and dryness. After developing a skin disease and being advised by her doctor to reduce artificial cosmetic use, she realized there was a lack of available organic alternatives. She quit her job to research this field. She went on to become the successful owner of a brand selling skincare products made with natural ingredients such as sheep's fat and milk.

Available until December 14, 2016

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KAIST to open smart farms in Mongolia

December 1 (The Korea Times) The nation's top-tier research university has signed a partnership with the Mongolian government over expanding smart farms for the East Asian country.

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) said Thursday the partnership will help the country to reduce its heavy reliance on foods imports, as the intelligent farming platforms will enable local residents there to harvest vegetables during extremely unfriendly climate conditions.

As the country's temperature in a winter season ― which runs from October to April ― drops to some -40 degrees, it has been almost impossible for Mongolian people to harvest any vegetables or fruits, the KAIST said.

But the recent partnership will help the country dramatically enhance its self-sufficiency for vegetables, as the Internet of Things (IoT)-converged farm management systems are expected to help users manage and keep track of harvest information in real-time.

"We hope this technological collaboration expands smart farms all across Mongolia," KAIST professor Choi Moon-ki said in a statement. "KAIST believes our smart farm project to help drive up the country's economic growth."

For the project, KAIST will also join hands with the Seoul-based electronics research body, the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) over co-developing various greenhouse management systems.

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Mongolian National Association of Internal Auditors launches operations

November 30 (UB Post) On November 25, the Mongolian National Association of Internal Auditors held their official grand opening. The association is a part of the Institute of Internal Auditors Global, an international auditing organization based in the U.S., and will be known as the Institute of Internal Auditors Mongolia (IIAM). Former Chairman of IIA Global Phil Tarling attended the opening ceremony held at Fine Arts Zanabazar Museum.

Zasgiin Gazrin Medee spoke with the Chairman of the Board of IIAM and General Auditor at Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia, P.Gantuul.

We would like to congratulate you on opening a branch of the prestigious Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA Global) in Mongolia and helping create opportunities and open doors for our domestic auditors. Can you give us detailed information about the institute?

Thank you. We first received approval to open a branch in Mongolia from IIA Global in February 2016. IIA Global is an international organization based in the U.S. that helps develop and promote internal auditing worldwide, while also setting standards for internal audits and accrediting auditors with internationally recognized certificates. We are the only official representatives of IIA Global in Mongolia.

The IIA has 185,000 members in 170 countries, with 100 institutes and 160 branches. Out of all the members, 17 percent reside in the Asia-Pacific region. By becoming a part of this 75-year-old institute, the foundation has been laid to help bring auditing in Mongolia to international standards.

Even though it is officially an institute, you might notice we used the term association. IIA Global gives institutional accreditation in stages. Therefore, becoming an official institute is a matter of time. Mongolian internal auditors worked tirelessly for the last three years to get IIA Global approval to open a branch here. Auditors from both the public and private sector, a working group from JICA, and a Ministry of Finance project to strengthen internal auditing in Mongolia all greatly contributed. The former Chairman of IIA Global, Phil Tarling, will represent IIA Global at our opening ceremony. Phil Tarling has 30 years of experience working in the auditing industry. He was the President of the U.K. and Ireland Institute and the President of the European Confederation.

External audits, meaning those done by foreign firms, have developed quite a lot in Mongolia. Internal audits are relatively new in the country. What benefits will come from the development of internal audits?

External audits verify if financial statements are true. Internal audits cover a wider range. Internal audits review marketing, human resources, and the operations of a company, and give consultative advice. Even though internal audits work within an organizational structure, they are independent from the administration and work under the company being audited. Internal auditing is divided into verification and consultancy. External audits and internal audits must cooperate in order to ensure there is no redundancy in services.

Internationally, internal audits are seen as a good experience. The value and the reputation of a company are directly linked to this. As a company expands, it is recommended that they have an internal auditing mechanism as administration becomes more tedious and complex. Internal audits can reveal what is not working in a company. It gives the administration the opportunity to fix a problem quickly. For business owners, internal audits can provide an unbiased report about whether or not their administrators are correctly implementing the strategy and goals of the company.

There have been new risks arising recently. For example, compliance risk and cyber security. Internal audits protect clients from these types of risks and threats. The reputation and the trustworthiness of a company can be secured if they conduct internal auditing. This helps companies retain their partners and customers.

Is Mongolian internal auditing up to international standards?

As of now, internal auditing is relatively new. Internal audits in the private sector started about 10 years ago, whereas auditing in the public sector stated four to five years ago. Even though it is early to compare it to international standards, we believe there is an opportunity for us to develop it in a short amount of time.

Internal auditing is an important component of business in any sector. The most important thing right now is to prepare a professional and capable workforce.

What benefits does membership in this association offer?

By becoming a member of our association, you automatically become a member of IIA Global. This allows access to an auditing database that has been compiled for the last 75 years. There are many opportunities only offered to members. For example, it opens up opportunities to partake in professional seminars and to buy materials and books at prices only offered to members. Members also have a chance to network with other professionals. To be specific, members are offered 32 hours or 4 days of seminars and 8 hours of networking events free of charge.

If accredited with a certified internal auditors certificate, it opens up the opportunity for an auditor to work internationally.

Is our country's legislative and legal environment ready for international auditing standards to be implemented?

Establishing a favorable legal environment is in progress right now. In 2011, an amendment was made to the Budget Law that made internal audits a legal requirement. Also, the government approved internal auditing rules and amended them in 2015. Auditing positions are becoming available in various government agencies, such as ministries. The Ministry of Finance has drafted a bill on internal auditing in the public sector. When the bill is passed, it will create a legal environment for internal auditing in the public sector. The internal auditing of companies is regulated by the Company Law.

How will you prepare auditors? How many members have signed up so far?

The IIA has 140,000 internal auditors with official accreditation, 62,000 of them being in the Asia-Pacific region. Our branch is working to offer courses that will be able to officially accredit auditors. We are hopeful that it will create a very capable workforce. Outside of accrediting internal auditors, there is an opportunity to cooperate with universities. The Internal Audit Education Partnership (IАEP) is being implemented at 48 universities in 12 countries. This program creates certified auditors through universities. This would mean that the training would be up to international standards. Auditing courses are very expensive around the world, but they offer a great opportunity to help prepare a capable workforce.

Our association currently has 50 members from 20 different organizations. This includes both the private and public sector. Anyone interested in internal auditing can become a member. Maybe 50 sounds low, but we see this as a good start. We forecast that we will have 50 members in two years time. IIA Global first started with 24 members and had 1,000 members by the end of that year. We believe that our association will expand rapidly as more people understand the importance of internal auditing.

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ERA Has Signed a New Contract to Provide a Surface Multilateration System for the New Ulaanbaatar International Airport (NUBIA), Mongolia

ERA announced having been awarded a contract to deliver a surface multilateration system for the New Ulaanbaatar International Airport.

November 25 (ERA) ERA in consortium with ACH Holding LLC, a well-known Mongolian company, will supply and install a multilateration system for a brand new international airport in Ulaanbaatar as part of the NUBIA Construction Project led by Mitsubishi-Chiyoda Joint Venture (MCJV).

The herein mentioned multilateration surface system is intended for surface surveillance of the aircraft as well as vehicles, equipped by an ERA ADS-B beacon, to provide safety and operational enhancement of ground surveillance for the Mongolian Civil Aviation Authority (MCAA), who will be the end user of the system, at the New Ulaanbaatar International Airport.

The proposed multilateration system based on NEO by ERA represents a modern, flexible and certified ATM surveillance system that can be easily further extended, once the second RWY is finalized. Generally, the multilateration system can be easily accommodated to any surveillance requirement, while maintaining low maintenance costs.

"Our joint delivery of the multilateration system for NUBIA together in consortium with ACH Holding LLC is another important reference for ERA, demonstrating our leading position in the ATM domain focused on surveillance," stated Viktor Sotona, ERA Managing Director. He added: "In addition to another significant reference in Asia, we are pleased to participate in this interesting construction project led by a Japanese Joint Venture, where the quality of the products play a significant role in the project execution."

The largest international air facility in Mongolia has been Chinggis Khaan International Airport, serving Ulaanbaatar, situated 18 km southwest of the capital. The new airport is due to be opened in Khoshigt Valleyn in 2016 -2017, 52 kilometres south of the city centre. The ERA system is planned for this larger airport currently under construction.

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WTO: Dominica, Mongolia ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement; final countdown launched

November 29 (WTO) Dominica and Mongolia have ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), putting the total number of ratifications from members at 100. With just 10 more ratifications from members needed to bring the TFA into force, the final countdown begins for realizing a global deal that could boost global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion per annum by slashing trade costs and cutting red tape at the border.

Dominica's and Mongolia's instruments of acceptance were submitted to the WTO on 28 November. Earlier, on 29 July 2014, Mongolia submitted its Category A notification to the WTO outlining which substantive provisions of the TFA it intends to implement upon entry into force of the Agreement. Dominica did so on 29 April 2015. The TFA will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO membership has formally accepted the Agreement.

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Catching the Spirit of the Horse: Investing in Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs in Mongolia

November 29 (OPIC.gov) During the Mongolian festival of Naadam, it is said that whomever catches the sweat of the winning horse during the national horse race will enjoy renewed happiness, strength and vigor.  Crowds rush after the winning horse to catch some of its winning spirit.

Just as the winning horse strides powerfully past the finish line, Mongolian small businesses have survived many challenges, from difficult steppe terrain that poses challenges for the agriculture sector, to limited access to the financing that is often required to operate, hire workers, and expand.

With its large coal, copper and gold reserves, Mongolia remains highly dependent on the mining sector which comprises over 85 percent of its exports.  Net foreign direct investment peaked at almost $4.6 billion[1] in 2011, but dropped to $183 million in 2015.  The limited foreign investment coupled with low commodity prices pressured GDP in 2015 and the International Monetary Fund projects zero change in 2016.  The downturn in the larger economy has left little resources for small businesses to develop.    

In Mongolia, OPIC is supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through the Schulze Global Mongolia Debt Facility (SMDF), which provides loans coupled with advisory services to increase bankability for Mongolian SMEs, while supporting job creation and sector diversification for the Mongolian economy.

I recently traveled to Mongolia to visit some of the projects that OPIC financing is supporting through SMDF.

In the outskirts of the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, schools are suffering from overcrowding as more of the population moves in from the country side seeking opportunity.  One particular school has 1st grade class of 51 students and the teachers have to run three shifts of class in order to accommodate all of the students.  To alleviate this classroom crowding, OPIC financing is supporting a construction firm that is expanding the school to create more classrooms. 

OPIC is also investing in the rural regions of Mongolia.  Modern housing has become more affordable in the country's South Gobi province, thanks to a loan from Schulze to a construction firm that will build 138 residential units that will house municipal workers, school teachers as well as young professionals and engineers working in Mongolia's mining industry.   

In the agribusiness sector, OPIC has supported a small loan to a cold storage warehousing company, which used the Schulze loan to purchase a new warehouse that will store red meat purchased from herders in Eastern Mongolia.  Harsh winters in Mongolia often lead to herders slaughtering their supply, but because they lack the infrastructure to safely store meat, much of it goes to waste.  The modern warehouse will further support the country's goals in building out infrastructure for its strategic meat supply. 

Mongolia continues to make deep strides in its development.  Investing in SMEs will continue to foster innovation and solve critical development issues in the country as they go forth with winning spirit.

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LehmanLaw: Intellectual Property Protection in Mongolia

November 30 (LehmanLaw Mongolia LLP) Mongolia may be a relatively small market, but global brands are increasingly seeking to protect and enforce intellectual property rights in the country. Our firm works directly with global brands as to trademark and patent registration in Mongolia, cancellations of prior registrations, and IP enforcement matters.

Enforcement is difficult. Due to the relatively small population in Mongolia (about 3 million people in the whole country with about half in one City, Ulaanbaatar), many local lawyers and law firms are often unwilling to pursue intellectual property enforcement actions or litigation in Mongolia. The small interconnected population means many lawyers are unwilling to proactively advocate on behalf of clients, for fear of making enemies. Most trademark and patents providers will simply file registrations. When they do file an enforcement action it is more  "proforma" and less proactive advocacy.

One thing missing in Mongolia is a strong sense of the value of branding, and a clear understanding that brands deserve protection via copyright. The firm is acting on behalf of a group of brand owners who seek to create a new organization with the goal of raising awareness of the importance of intellectual property in Mongolia. The key to better protection is awareness.

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Ulaanbaatar

Capital city's legal status to be reconsidered

Ulaanbaatar, December 1 (MONTSAME) At Wednesday's regular meeting, the cabinet considered and backed the draft new version of the Law on Legal Status of the Capital City. The initiative of revising the law on legal status of the capital which was adopted in 1994, has been moved by the fact that the legal act is outdated for ceasing to meet new problems and challenges the capital city is confronted with with its expansion and development.

The city accommodates 46 percent of the total population of the country as permanent residents and 68 percent of registered entities, and produces 64.5 percent of GDP.

According to the concept of draft new version of the law, many changes associated with the environmental issues, society, economy, tax policies, suburban residences, rights and responsibilities of the entities have been provided for. It sets out implementation of economic leverages bearing a character of profound reforms aiming at building independence potentials in financial terms for the capital city and promotion of promptness of public services in order to facilitate the city with more favorable business and investment environments.

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5 billion budgeted for reduction of air pollution

Ulaanbaatar, December 1 (MONTSAME) The National Committee for Reducing Air Pollution, formed in accordance with an ordinance of the Prime Minister, held its first meeting on December 1. Present were, the committee members, officials from the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry and other state bodies.

In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister pledged the government will realize policy actions on enforcing priority frameworks for reducing air pollution, through expending the funds of air pollution payments for just purposes by promoting the renewable energy utilization, providing incentives to households using electric solution to heating, encouraging quality fuel imports, consumption and citizens' use of gas fuel vehicles.

The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Ms D.Oyunkhorol noted that Ulaanbaatar stood at the 47th place out of the 50 countries with the worst air pollution. A study shows there has been a 2.4 times increase in 2014 in the number of respiratory illnesses per 10 thousand population (1,730 cases) against that of 2005 (697 cases). It is necessary to sophisticate the strategies and plans for reducing air pollution, promoting actions between localities, and phase out the old vehicles through increasing the running tax, she said.

The committee discussed the actions taken and perspective for future developments, and tasked the Ministers to submit the proposals of planned actions for reducing air pollution by next Wednesday.

Each year, about MNT 30 billion is allocated in the Government Budget, pursuant to the Law on Air Pollution Payment. However, the funds have not been spent for its original purposes. MNT 5.0 billion has been budgeted for combat against air pollution for the next fiscal year.

The next year's air pollution budget will reportedly be dedicated to ensuring the reliability of power access for households in the targeted areas of air quality improvement, zeroing the nighttime power tariff and distributing low emission stoves and patent fuel.

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Must see in Mongolia: Bogd Khaan Palace museum

November 30 (news.mn) It is exactly 90 years since the Palace of the Bogd Khaan became a museum. Located in the southern part of Ulaanbaatar, it was the winter residence of the last ruler of Mongolia, the Bogd Khaan, Javzandamba. The palace compound was built between 1893 and 1903, and is well known for its Gate of Peace, its temple and the personal library of Bogd Khaan. The museum was opened in 1926.

The collection of the Palace Museum numbers over 8,000 exhibits, of these 72 are certified by the State as being unique; some are priceless artifacts. The museum welcomes 19-20 thousand visitors each year; between 70 and 80 percent are from foreign countries.

This is the only remaining palace of the four residences of the last Mongolian ruler. This palace displays the collection of personal belongings of the last Khaan and his wife as well as a wide variety of Buddhist arts. More modern paintings, such as those of Marzan Sharav, depicting with a slice of humour and irony scenes from the everyday life of Mongols at the turn of this century always attract a lot of attention.

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Swapping, buying and selling event on Dec 4

December 1 (gogo.mn) RePUBlik Bar & Venue is holding a buying, swapping and selling event "Holio Solia" on December 4. This is an event where you can swap, buy or sell your stuff regardless it is new or second hand. You also can have a look for stuff you might need. 

Highlights include Mulled Wine and some food at discounted price.

For those who want to sell, you need to get a table at 5k MNT and it is possible to share your table. The organizers will provide table, sofa and chairs.

Where: RePUBlik Bar & Venue (previously known as Revo)
When: December 04, 12 PM – 5 PM
Entrance fee: 1k MNT

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Diplomacy

Britain, Mongolia pledge to do more mining together

* Post-Brexit Britain nurturing new trade ties

* Mongolia has huge reserves of copper, gold, coal

* Exports high volumes to China

LONDON, Nov 29 (Reuters) Britain and Mongolia signed their first memorandum of understanding in the mining sector on Tuesday, pledging an exchange of technology and expertise, and deepening ties based on Rio Tinto's huge copper mine in the South Gobi desert.

The agreement, signed on the sidelines of a mining conference in London, recognised "the spirit of cooperation that exists between the respective countries" and a willingness "to promote closer cooperation in the extractive sector".

In an emailed statement, the Department for International Trade said the cooperation would cover technology transfer, education and training.

Tumentsogt Tsevegmid, CEO of Erdenes Mongol, set up to manage the state's mineral reserves, including copper, gold and coal, said the agreement also covered financing.

Mongolia, a vast country of just three million people, went on a borrowing spree at the height of the commodity cycle, and the $12 billion economy is staggering under total foreign debt - public and private - of more than $20 billion.

It has, however, been helped by this year's commodity price rally that has seen gains of more than 200 percent for coking coal and it is hoping to benefit from Anglo-Australian group Rio Tinto's Oyu Tolgoi copper mine.

In June, Rio gave the go-ahead to a $5.3 billion expansion of the mine, which will keep a steady flow of foreign investment during the next five-to-seven years of construction.

Rio says the massive mine will eventually be responsible for around 30 percent of the economy, but direct benefits for Mongolia will be delayed.

According to a 2009 investment agreement, investors must recoup their original investment costs before Mongolia can collect dividends for its 34 percent shareholding in the mine.

Oyu Tolgoi is jointly owned by the Government of Mongolia (34 percent) and Turquoise Hill Resources (66 percent, of which Rio Tinto owns 51 percent). Rio Tinto has been the manager of the Oyu Tolgoi project since 2010.

Copper aside, Tumentsogt told Reuters he expected Mongolia would export 20 million tonnes of coking coal this year to China and slightly more next year.

It is also undertaking a feasibility study on construction of a 5.2 gigawatt thermal coal plant that would export power to China.

Since Britain's decision to leave the European Union in June, the British government has emphasised the importance of new trade relations and is also seeking, for instance, to negotiate contracts in Iran.

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Germany pledges 122 billion new funding for sustainable development

Ulaanbaatar, December 1 (MONTSAME) At the intergovernmental negotiations held in Berlin on November 24 and 25, the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has pledged EUR 46,85 million (approximately MNT 122 billion) to support Mongolia in the three priority areas "Energy Efficiency", "Biodiversity" and "Sustainable Management of Mineral Resources". EUR 24,4 million are non-repayable grants, EUR 22,45 million are development cooperation loans.  BMZ Parliamentary Secretary of State Hans-Joachim Fuchtel highlighted that Germany will assist Mongolia to overcome its current economic, environmental and social challenges and will remain a long term partner to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

Since the bilateral Development Cooperation Agreement between the two countries was signed in 1992, Germany has provided almost MNT 1 trillion (EUR 347 million) for bilateral technical and financial cooperation. With the 25th anniversary of this cooperation ahead, both sides highlighted much has been achieved and both countries are looking forward to further deepen the cooperation. Starting with commodity aid 25 years ago both governments agreed in 2011 to cooperate in three priority areas. In all three priority areas additional funding will be provided.

Mongolia's unique biodiversity has to be preserved for future generations as healthy ecosystems form the foundation for sustainable development: Mongolia's grasslands are the basis for the traditional nomadic lifestyle, mountain ecosystems provide water vital for the country, and forests are carbon sinks of global importance. The beauty of these landscapes has high potential to enhance sustainable tourism. Therefore Germany is already supporting 11 protected areas in the east, northeast and the central part of the country (Dornod, Gorkhi Terelj, Khangai, Khan Khentii, Khustai, Onon Balj, Orkhon, Otgontenger, Tarvagatai, Ulaan Taiga and Zed Khantai). With the additional pledge provided this November, further areas in the western provinces can be supported. Protecting ecosystems and improving the livelihoods of local people always goes hand in hand. This is also the case for Germany's long term commitment to protect and sustainably use Mongolia's forest ecosystems. New funding will provide continued support for forest and environmental policies as well as of enhanced education and training of forest experts and workers.

As Mongolia is striving to develop a diversified and sustainable economy where all people benefit from the country's extractive resources, Germany continues to support the development of long term strategies for inclusive growth, regional development concepts and the strengthening of the legal framework and the judicial system. Together with Switzerland and Australia and supported also by the private sector, Germany very successfully provides support to the vocational training sector. This aims at giving young Mongolians a perspective to find qualified jobs. A significant amount of new funding was pledged to further improve the research and teaching infrastructure of the German Mongolian Institute for Resources and Technology (GMIT). The university was established 2011 to provide Mongolia with highly qualified specialists for the extractive resources sector.

Bearing in mind the cold winters and insufficient power supply and distribution, the main goal of cooperation in this priority area is to increase efficiency along the energy value chain. The Energy Conservation Law was promulgated last year. This important step will pave the way for the use of energy managers, the introduction of market based tariffs, etc. Germany will further support the implementation of this law. German supported energy efficiency renovations of kindergartens have proven a reduction of illness days among children by 65% thanks to warm indoor climate. After a successful finalization of the modernization at Power Plant IV, Mongolia's biggest power and heat producers, in the next two years the modernization measures at the Darkhan Power Plant will be successfully concluded. These measures ensure access to electricity and heat for over 90,000 people in the region. A new project totaling over EUR 20 million shall improve the stability and the reliability of the Mongolian central energy transmission grid.

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President receives Japanese ambassador on end of term

Ulaanbaatar, November 30 (MONTSAME) The President of Mongolia, Mr Ts.Elbegdorj received today the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan, Mr Takenori Shimizu, in conjunction with his forthcoming return to homeland.

Mr Shimizu thanked for the President's time. Mentioning that he worked in Mongolia for five years and two months, he expressed his view that the bilateral relations has reached the higher level, and said the President has made a huge contribution to achieve such a progress.

Ambassador Shimizu noted the fact that the Japanese PM, Mr Shinzo Abe have coined a special term called " Abe and Ebe" and held nine meetings with the Mongolian President. This represents the accomplishment in our relations, he noted.

In turn, the President underlined that bilateral relations have reached the level that has never been seen since Mongolia's transition to Democracy. The people-to-people ties have flourished, he added and applauded the contributions Shimizu made to these accomplishments.

He also expressed his hope that the sides would maintain the relations at such a high level in the future, and remarked the Economic Partnership Agreement was a milestone in the history of our relationship.

President Ts.Elbegdorj noted that the royal family of Japan is always welcome to pay a visit to Mongolia. He reaffirmed Mongolia's stance with Shinzo Abe's policies, especially, the ones on regional peace and security.

At the end, he wished successes in Mr Shimizu's further endeavours and happiness in his life.

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Related:

Deputy PM U.Khurelsukh expresses gratitude to Ambassador T.ShimizuMontsame, November 30

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Russian Ground Forces will hold drills with India, Pakistan, Mongolia, CSTO countries in 2016

MOSCOW, December 1. /TASS/. Russian Ground Forces plan to hold joint drills with forces of India, Pakistan, Mongolia, Vietnam and Nicaragua in 2017, the Defense Ministry told journalists on Thursday.

"In 2017, it is planned to hold drills of formations and units of the Ground Forces in six joint military drills of peacekeeping and anti-terrorist course, with formations of the Armed Forces of India, Mongolia, Vietnam, Nicaragua and Pakistan, as well as with formations of the Armed Forces of CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) member countries," the ministry said.

"Main efforts in preparing the Ground Forces in the next year will be aimed at further improvement of mountain training, as well as actions of formations at unknown training ranges and in the Arctic zone," the ministry added.

The Russian Defense Ministry reminded that last year joint international drills were held with the Armed Forces of Mongolia, India, SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) and CSTO member countries — "Selenga-2016," "Indra-2016," "Peaceful Mission — 2016," "Indestructible Brotherhood — 2016," "Frontier-2016," as well as the joint Russian-Pakistani mountainous drills "Friendship-2016."

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Health & Education

World AIDS Day: Giant red ribbon travels through Ulaanbaatar district

November 30 (news.mn) World AIDS Day, has been marked every year on 1st December since 1988, and is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection, and mourning those who have died of the disease. Ahead of the day, a giant red ribbon, the global symbol for solidarity with HIV-positive people and those living with AIDS has been carried by students through the Nalaikh district of the Mongolian capital.

Mongolia is marking World AIDS Day under the theme 'preventing HIV/ AIDS is in our hands'. Since the1990's, a total of 219 HIV-positive cases have been registered in Mongolia. According to the survey, 62% of all HIV-positive people are between 25-34 years old and 80% of are male.

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Four dead after mistakenly drinking technical alcohol

November 30 (gogo.mn) Four people died and 19 people fell ill after being poisoned by drinking undefined liquid in Khalkh soum of Dornod aimag last Friday (Nov 25). The undefined liquid has smell of Chinese alcohol, said people who have poisoned. 

According to the medical examination conducted by the Ministry of Health, total of 23 employees of the Zuv Bolomj LLC, a subcontractor of the Petrochina Dachin Tamsag LLC, have poisoned after drinking the mixing of technical and methanol alcohol.

As of today, 17 patients are being treated while five of them are being treated at the intensive care unit (ICU). Five patients` condition treating at the ICU is stable and other patients are expected to recover soon, reported by the Ministry of Health today.

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Jaypee Hospital Makes Liver Transplant History On Indian Organ Donation Day

Two brothers and a sister make their way to Jaypee Hospital all the way from Mongolia to undergo a unique liver transplant surgery

November 30 (News World India) Two brothers and a sister make their way to Jaypee Hospital all the way from Mongolia to undergo a unique liver transplant surgery, where both brothers will each give 30-35 percent of their livers to be transplanted into their sister. The 3-person transparent is also unique as all three persons involved in the 18 hour surgery are related. At least 4 teams of Jaypee Hospital doctors will be a part of the momentous transplant.

(VIDEO)

Live transplants are considered viable options for liver and kidneys. While every person is born with two kidneys, livers are capable of regeneration which takes around 2-4 weeks. As two donors will be giving parts of their respective livers to the recipient, it's likely that recovery time for both donors will be reduced.

In case of any transplant, real siblings have a very high probability of compatibility as all siblings receive genes from the same parents. High compatibility ensures a better match and less chances of rejection of the new organ.

Jaypee Hospital is performing the transplant on the occasion of National Organ Transplant Day which is conducted by the National Organ & Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO) on November 30 (today). Arriving from Mongolia, they chose India for quality medical treatment, a new trend that is increasing 'medical tourism' of the country.

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Echuca Regional Health Center: Visitor is Straight Outta Mongolia

November 30 (Riverine Herald) Mongolia and Echuca may be worlds apart but their similarities have brought their doctors together.

Mongolian National University Medical Sciences head of critical care and anaesthesia Ganbold Lundeg visited Echuca Regional Health on Monday to see how its emergency care system works as it transitioned from a Russian-based model of care to an Australian model.

''Australian medical care is a good model for health care,'' he said.

''Mongolia has similarities to Echuca and Australia; distance, low density population and our medical facilities look like the health care systems here ... so I'm here to learn as much as possible and take that knowledge back and share it with my country.''

Dr Lundeg, who was closely involved in the WHO Emergency and Essential Surgical Care Toolkit implementation in Mongolia, is the president of the Mongolian society of Anaesthesiology and worked extensively in Mongolian critical and transplant care, said due to the isolation of villages in Mongolia, there were many pregnancy complications and and people died from illnesses like appendicitis because it was hard to access health care.

ERH's Dr Sam Kennedy said although there were a lot of barriers, including language, it was a great opportunity to have Dr Lundeg here and it was important to continue their relationship.

Dr Lundeg's visit was made possible through a Australian College of Emergency Medicine scholarship.

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MASA: UGrad Alumni Talk

November 29 (UB Post) The Mongolian Association of State Alumni will hold UGRAD Alumni Talk at the American Corner on November 30.

The Global Undergraduate (UGRAD) Program is a U.S. Department of State scholarship program that offers one-semester scholarships to outstanding undergraduate students for non-degree study at accredited American institutions.

Alumni of UGRAD Program will talk about their experiences at the event.

Details

Where: American Corner

When: November 30, 5:00 p.m.

Admission: Free

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Oyu Tolgoi announces 2016-17 winners of scholarship programme

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 1 December 2016 (Oyu Tolgoi LLC) On 30 November, Oyu Tolgoi organized an award ceremony to recognize 21 Mongolian students selected to receive domestic and international scholarships from the company for the academic year 2016-2017.

The 2016-17 scholarships build on a programme between Mongolia's Ministry of Education and Oyu Tolgoi to award 200 domestic scholarships and 30 international scholarships between 2010 and 2015.

The event was attended by new scholarship awardees, former recipients, students' families, M. Munkhbaatar, Head of Policy Implementation Coordination Department – Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sport, representatives of the ministries, and members of the Oyu Tolgoi team, including, Michael Gavin, General Manager – People and Organization and Orgil Luvsantseren, General Manager – External affairs and Communications.

Addressing the audience, M.Munkhbaatar, Head of Policy Implementation and Coordination Department – Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sport, said, "At the heart of development of any nation, lie people. Oyu Tolgoi has been focusing on this specific area since its first day of establishment. I'd like to thank Oyu Tolgoi for its continuous cooperation with the Ministry and ongoing support to prepare future skills in mining and other fields."

Speaking at the event, Michael Gavin, General Manager – People and Organization, said, "At Oyu Tolgoi, we believe investing in developing Mongolian talent is the best way to realise our vision to create enduring value, knowledge and skill from natural resource. This is a crucial part of our efforts to develop the future leaders who will lead the mining industry in Mongolia, and the world over." Following the event he stated that "the quality of the students that were awarded a scholarship today is a clear indication of the benefits of hard work supported by a fair and transparent process for selection."

The 20 recipients for the 2016-17 domestic scholarships come from across the leading educational institutions of Mongolia, with 11 students from Mongolian University of Science and Technology, four from the National University of Mongolia, and five from other universities.

The 2016-17 scholarships represent a continuation of the programme after the completion of the five-year MoU between the Ministry of Education and Oyu Tolgoi. The domestic scholarships are poised to continue – helping develop the next generation of Mongolia's talent in mining and related fields, laying the foundation for future excellence. Between 2010 and 2015, Oyu Tolgoi has invested approximately US$126mn for the implementation of 5-year master plan.

The scholarships will cover tuition fees, monthly allowances, dormitory fees, and with support from Oyu Tolgoi on internship opportunities, as well as access to the Oyu Tolgoi-funded Youth Development Programme.

In addition, Oyu Tolgoi funded Gobi Oyu Development Fund will announce the winners of South Gobi focused Gobi Oyu Scholarship this Friday.

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MIT: Steppe by steppe

Mongolian anthropologist Manduhai Buyandelger studies a society in transition.

November 30 (MIT News) Anthropologists often work best with one foot inside a society and one foot outside it: They are steeped in a culture, but detached enough to analyze it. For Manduhai Buyandelger, this vantage point is part of life itself. She is a Mongolian anthropologist at MIT, whose work illuminates her home society and very much derives from her own insider-outsider relationship to it.

Consider: In a nation whose self-image glorifies nomads on the rural steppes, Buyandelger is a city dweller raised in downtown Ulan Bator, the capital. Growing up in Mongolia during the Cold War, she attended Russian schools, giving her an uncommon perspective on both her own nation and the Soviet regime that was controlling it. Indeed, studying politics, propaganda, and the country's shift to a post-Soviet society has been essential to her research. And for all of Buyandelger's deep roots in Mongolia, she has lived in the U.S. for years, returning home periodically for intensive research.

"All these things gave me ways of thinking about diversity and cultural differences," Buyandelger says. "There were hidden parts of life I found intriguing, such as religion, which people practiced every day in secret. I lived with those contradictions from very early on."

Her work reflects this. Buyandelger's first book, "Tragic Spirits," about the surprising return of shamanism to post-Soviet Mongolia, concluded the return of older religious practices was a way for Mongolians to re-establish their national identity. Her current book project examines women in Mongolian politics, as they establish themselves in the rapidly changing, free-market culture that has altered their social roles.

Or, as Buyandelger puts it, she tries to make sense of the "change, discord, propaganda, and inconsistencies in everyday life," having experienced plenty of these things herself.  

"Socialism collapsed, right in front of my eyes"

Growing up in Ulan Bator, Buyandelger found herself attending rigorous Russian schools that were built mainly for the children of Soviet expats; the U.S.S.R. controlled Mongolia as a satellite country during the Cold War.

"I think that going to a Russian school gave me some dual background and some way of comparing things, and being able to associate myself with not only one culture, but multiple cultures," Buyandelger recounts.

In the meantime, she also witnessed some of the splits within Mongolian culture. For instance, her mother's parents recoiled from living in the family's apartment in the middle of Ulan Bator. Instead, they remained in the outskirts of the city, a place where "they had to bring in their own water and firewood. … They didn't care about about modern amenities. For them it was important to have access to the outdoors and have their own little plot of land." As Buyandelger noticed, some Mongolians retained private traditions and older values even given an opportunity for change.

By the time she started college, Buyandelger wanted to become a fiction writer. But then events overtook things: The Soviet Union and its whole socialist system starting breaking up, and she wanted to analyze it.

"Right when I entered college, in 1989, socialism collapsed, right in front of my eyes," Buyandelger says. "It was the time of the democratic movement, the demonstrations. My walk from my home to the university went through the main square, and that's where everything was taking place. … I really wanted to write about those transformations that took place: What did they mean for a country that was so consistently and neatly packaged as socialist, as it burst into complete chaos and embraced change so eagerly, and tried to build everything anew?"

Buyandelger's career path took shape when she received a Fulbright scholarship to study in the U.S. This allowed her to start graduate school at Harvard University, where scholars such as Nicola di Cosmo and Michael Herzfeld took note of her remarkable linguistic range — Buyandelger could then do research in traditional and contemporary Mongolian, Russian, English, and ancient Tibetan, and read French — and encouraged her to continue.

After receiving her PhD from Harvard in 2004, Buyandelger spent three years in the Harvard Society of Fellows and then joined the MIT faculty in 2008. She is the Class of 1956 Career Development Professor and was awarded tenure in 2016.

"There's no easy solution"

Both of Buyandelger's books lie at the junction of culture and the market. In "Tragic Spirits," which she researched mostly in remote rural areas, the end of communism led to a new breed of shamans — storefront entrepreneurs offering their services as seers. This helped them make money and survive in the new economy, and in the process, helped people re-assert a form of Mongolian identity after the Soviets shuttered religious expression.

Her ongoing book project, titled "A Thousand Steps to Parliament: Elections, Women's Participation, and Gendered Transformation in Postsocialist Mongolia," similarly finds unanticipated developments after the end of socialism. The book is about female parliamentary candidates running for office in increasingly commercialized election campaigns. In this case, while Mongolians enjoy far more freedom than they once had, commercial culture has also changed Mongolia's gender dynamics, Buyandelger thinks, in a way that affects politics.  

"During socialism, the state purposefully, with the help of women's organizations, propagated images of working women and women heroes and professionals," Buyandleger observes. "So there were not sexualized images of women. They were presented as model citizens, in medicine or as teachers, or women workers laying bricks. That disappeared. With the commercialization [of the market economy], the images of women switched, from idealized workers to [those of] beauty pageants, trophy wives, entertainment. That's the transformation of state-sanctioned gender ideas to market-dominated ones."

Women face multiple new challenges as a result, from finding political funding in a campaign-intensive culture, to presenting themselves in ways that are professional yet nonthreatening, Buyandelger believes.

"The double bind is they have to meet the requirements of [a] sexism that allocates feminine and masculine features in a very distinct way," Buyandelger says. "They have to be feminine enough to be accepted by gender norms … but if they are [too] feminine, that prescribes them into a lower stratum." As she sees it, some women in politics have made strides by presenting themselves as being professionally successful in ways that register well with voters, but others have struggled. Many female candidates, in Buyandelger's view, present themselves as being "intellectful" — a word from the taken from the Mongolian term "oyunlag," which translates as "with intellect."

So as with religion, in politics there are problematic social fractures and tensions that have developed, almost inevitably, as an old culture has collided with radical political and economic changes. But these struggles are exactly what makes Buyandelger want to study her home country in unique detail.

"That's what the country is struggling with, and there's no easy solution," Buyandelger says — partly as an insider, partly as an outsider, and always as an observer.

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Taking care of our children makes Mongolia more competitive

November 30 (UB Post) Mongolians say that taking care of a child well makes them become a better person; training a foal well makes them become a better horse. Mongolians have a lot of good ways to take good care of their children, such as teaching them to respect elders, teaching them good habits, teaching them to be patient to overcome challenges, teaching them to look at something in many different ways to make wise decisions, and teaching them to protect the environment, but these ways rarely appear among us.

Some people say that traditional Mongolian ways of raising children don't fit in with modern ways, because traditional Mongolian ways come from nomadic life and culture. In contrast, some people believe that Mongolians have to pursue a compounded and comprehensive version of traditional ways and modern ones to maintain Mongolian values. There are a number of challenges facing parents raising children.

Most parents have no time to spend with their children because of their busy schedules. Many wealthy Mongolians hire foreign or domestic nannies to take on the responsibility of child rearing. Most children grow up while they are in kindergarten and school, and most of their time without their parents is spent with numerous hours staring at the screens of cell phones, computers, and televisions.

Kindergartens, schools, and other community centers are very good places for children to open their eyes to learning, but they have to listen to their parents' opinions when they are outside of these environments. Another big problem facing parents is divorce. Mongolians say that children learn patience, resilience, determination, bravery, and intelligence from their fathers; and they learn compassion, mercy, humanity, and self-management from their mothers.

Fathers and mothers are like two wheels of a cart, and divorce makes a family incomplete. Of course, a cart can't move forward when its two wheels don't go forward together. Children who are well cared for become good and educated people who take advantage of the opportunities in life. If parents do not focus on how their children (especially teenagers) spend their time, their children are more likely to be influenced by bad people.

Parents' responsibilities are to lead their children down a good path and to encourage them to do good things to become good people. Some parents persuade their kids to do things they aren't interested in, and the parents push their kids to do these things. This is usually a mistake, because kids don't always feel like being exactly what their parents imagine and are interested in doing different things.

Punishment is not a good way to teach kids, but many instructors and adults don't spend time figuring out ways to let kids learn what is right and what is wrong. Letting kids think for themselves is the best choice, but the most important thing is to come back to them to show them how to figure things out.

Feedback circles are the most important thing in a relationship between children and their parents. Many parents have no experience in how to educate their kids, they just tell their children to study and work hard, but they cannot teach their kids how to do those things successfully; where to find answers, how to work together, how to succeed, and how long it can take to see achievements fulfilled.

Parents need to prioritize what their kids should do to take control of their environment. After setting these priorities, parents should encourage their kids to do things which will help them become good people, but there should be a strong focus on avoiding things which could negatively affect them. In my opinion, challenging our kids is one of the best ways to help them become more educated and independent.

Therefore, we need to encourage our kids everyday to use timelines and to-do lists, to ask them challenging questions when they face an unexpected obstacle, tell them true stories to make them feel strong and empowered, debate them, teach them what they want to know, and motivate them to be eager learners.

I think this kind of environment for raising children makes them more competitive, and parents who have grown up in this kind of environment will educate their kids to be smarter people. Competitive Mongolians will determine whether or not Mongolia is strong. In order for us to be competitive, we have to make some smart choices right now, so taking care of our kids by educating them on how to follow a good path is a smart choice.

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Culture & Society

Good News! - Alternative Housing Provided For Ten Families in Mongolia

November 30 (Amnesty International) Ten families from Building #3 in Ulaanbaatar (UB), previously facing homelessness during this severe winter, have been provided with alternative housing. The Building is now empty of inhabitants.

Ten families from Building #3 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia who had been enduring extreme winter conditions without adequate housing, have been provided with alternative housing. The Deputy Governor of UB wrote to Amnesty International on 24 November to confirm that the Governor's Office has solved these households' issues and given keys for temporary accommodation on 17 October, 2016.

Lundeejantsan, a resident who moved out in late October 2016, has sent his heartfelt thanks to Amnesty activists for their support:

"I got a two room apartment which is warm and cosy and I am living with my daughter's family. This could not happen without help of Amnesty. I am very grateful."

While Amnesty International welcomes the relocation of the ten families, we will continue to monitor the situation of Building #3 and the redevelopment in Ulaanbaatar as a lack of effective and systemic safeguards could result in others facing a similar fate. No further action is required on behalf of Building #3 inhabitants, as all 200 residents have sought refuge elsewhere.

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Photo: Migrate across Harsh Mongolian Landscapes with Nomadic Family

December 1 (Avax News) Everybody pitches in during the cattle separation, including the children in Altai Mountains, Mongolia, September 2016. Follow these nomadic families across the brutal landscape of Mongolia as they move their entire lives 150km through the mountains. Largely based in Western Mongolia, Kazakhs are a nomadic people who brave blizzards, extreme hot and cold weather and rocky mountain paths several times a year when they move between their seasonal homes.Videographer and photographer Joel Santos ventured to Mongolia's Altai mountain range twice to shadow families – who have never let an outsider into their camps – as they made the breathtaking journey between seasonal homes. (Photo by Joel Santos/Barcroft Images)

Everybody pitches in during the cattle separation, including the children in Altai Mountains, Mongolia, September 2016. (Photo by Joel Santos/Barcroft Images)

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Stone man monuments of Mongolia

December 1 (MONTSAME) One of the archaeological monuments that are widely found in the territory of Mongolia is a man-shaped statue called Stone man. The monuments that are closely bound to shamanism ideology, faith and rituals come to be an important source for studying material culture of that time and message the monuments carrying itself.

The stone man had been erected to individual persons who lived in certain period of history.  For this, dresses, armaments, accessories and other stuffs that belonged to that person had been engraved clearly. This helps archaeologists to identify which period of time and culture the stone man belongs to.

There are over 500 stone man monuments found in the territory of Mongolia so far, and above 400 of which belong to the Turkic period. The number has a high probability to increase.

The stone man are discovered not only in the territory of Mongolia, but also in our neighboring countries' border areas such as Tuva and Altai of Russia and Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang of China. Subjected to well studies by the scholars, the prevailing number of monuments dates back to the Turkic period or VI-VIII centuries. As for the stone men found in Mongolia, they are divided into two age categories which are Turkic period or VI-IX centuries and Mongol Empire or XIII-XIV centuries.

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NIU Mongolian Throat Singer Brings Sounds Of Nature To Retirement Center

November 29 (Northern Public Radio) Tamir Hargana shared his gift of music with the residents of Oak Crest Retirement Center Tuesday afternoon in DeKalb.

Hargana says the public concert was in appreciation for financial support from the Lester K. Smith scholarship fund to continue his studies in DeKalb.

The Northern Illinois University graduate student previously attended Inner Mongolia University Arts College, specializing in Mongolian throat singing and the horse head fiddle.

At NIU, he helped establish the Northern Wind Trio, a fusion band in which "various musical ideas co-exist to foster an intercultural dialogue and exchange."

He played a variety of instruments Tuesday including the horse head fiddle, but much of the focus goes to the unique sounds that come from throat singing.

While the type of music he performs may not be what an American audience is familiar with, he says they are in fact sounds that they have often heard before.

"It is all imitating nature. Everything is imitating nature. I imitate birds, the grasslands, animals and things like that."

LISTEN:

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Nature & Environment

Specialists discuss better management of livestock pastures

Ulaanbaatar, November 30 (MONTSAME) The parliamentary standing committee on environment, food and agriculture hosted an open discussion on Thursday themed "Current State and Challenges of Mongolia's Pastoral Lands" at the State House. The event gathered members of parliament, representatives of the Ministries of Environment and Tourism, of Construction and Urban Development and of Mining and Heavy Industries, the Agency for Land Management, Geodesy and Cartography, the Centre for Policy Studies, the UN, SDC and the Association of Pastoral Land Users of Mongolia.

The first paper themed "State of Mongolia's Pastoral Lands and Related Government Actions" was presented by L.Choi-Ish, the director of the Department for Coordinating Animal Husbandry Policy Implementation of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry.

Mongolia has 156.4 million hectares of territory, of which 112.7 million is pastoral land. According to the report from 2014, 73.8 percent of the total land is used for pastoral purposes. The recent years' overload of pastoral capacity is mainly triggered by the burst in the population of livestocks. The specialists were criticizing the government policies that prioritized quantity over quality.

To be specific, the livestock herders were encouraged to increase the number of their livestocks in order to receive more benefits from the government. Thus, the traditional proportion of sheep and goat, which was 3:1, has been broken and shifted to 1:1. The above mentioned 112.7 million hectares of pasture is capable for grazing 74.6 million sheep. This represents a decrease of 9.4 million hectares in total pastoral lands, an increase of 36.9 million in livestock (transferred to sheep population), and in overall, a 1.8 times increase in population of livestock per 100 hectares of pasture, compared to 1964. Although, the pastoral load looks fine in figures, the composition and types of livestock herds are inappropriate for the current economic demands. While enhancing the traditional farming, it is also necessary to take comprehensive actions to promote intensive farming nearby urban areas to meet the consumption and demand, highlighted Mr Choi-Ish in his presentation.

The participants of the open discussion were underlining the necessity to sophisticate the legal grounds for better management of pastoral lands.

A draft law on Pastoral Lands has been on the table of parliamentary discussions since 2000, being delayed four times. However, passing the law will not solve all problems, said Dr A.Enkh-Amgalan, the leader of the Center for Policy Studies. He came up with productive approaches to developing "climate-sensitive smart agriculture". Almost 65 percent of the total pastoral lands have lost its pristine state. Consequently, herders have been facing a range of overwhelming loss of animals during drought and dzud, due to the lack of pasture for migration.

For example, 11.2 million animals were lost in droughts and dzuds of 1999-2002, valued at MNT 333 billion, and 9.7 million animals – during 2009-2010 dzud, a loss valued at MNT 527 billion. Some 32.7 percent of all herding households have lost more than half of their livestock and 8.7 percent have been left with empty yards, mentioned the presenter.

The participants further discussed whether the separate law needs to be passed, the ways to consider the distinctive qualities of each pastoral regions, issuing less mining permits, proper commercializing of animal-origin primary goods, specified regulation of land use and operation, re-defining the boundaries of land-farming and pastoral lands, enhancing livestock herder responsibility and the pastures lease issues.

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The Great EL Mongolian National Park Clean Up

True. Not the most eye catching of subject titles. It's difficult to try and 'jazz' it up. But, that's what this post is about - the annual EL funded rubbish clean-up. 

Whoop! Whoop!

November 29 (Eternal Landscapes) OK. When most people travel to Mongolia they don't do so to be part of a rubbish clean-up. It's not in the top ten highlights suggested by Lonely Planet or Wanderlust.

Still. This year we had three EL international guests come along and join us. They donned the gloves, picked up the sacks and got on with it.

What's it all about?!

Mongolia is frequently sold by tour companies as being a pristine untouched wilderness. It's not. But, with Mongolia's scenic beauty and wilderness experience being key points behind why people visit Mongolia, preservation of these values is a prerequisite for sustainable travel here in Mongolia. Much of Mongolia's tourism sector in fact depends in the long term on the preservation of the country's cultural and physical landscapes. 

Unfortunately in Mongolia (as with elsewhere in the world), there has been a noticable increase in the amount of rubbish that is discarded. A majority of our clients commented on it so I decided to do something about it.....and make it part of our philosophy and a feature of the EL calendar.

For the past three years, Turuu and I have arranged for members of the Tariat community to spend two days clearing the north-shore (and surrounding area) of Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park.

Why Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park?

Because of these guys. Batbold and Jargaa (I'm pictured here with them and their grandson Anand - who deserves a blog post all of his own). Some of the kindest and warmest people you could ever hope to meet.

We picked Terkhiin Tsaagaan Nuur initially due to the strength of our contacts there. We wanted a community involvement and Jargaa and Batbold (our hosts at Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur and owners of Surtiin Tulga Eco Camp) are at the centre of their local community.

Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur is popular with Mongolian families making the most of the five-day annual Naadam holiday. And this is where rubbish, human waste, and camp fires had degraded the environment over the course of several years as visitor numbers have increased. Discarded rubbish is a major issue for the local rural communities as many of them lack the funds and resources to collect the rubbish. 

That's the basic combination that inspired Turuu and I to arrange and facilitate a trial clean-up in 2014 at the Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park and then to repeat it in 2015. And now 2016.

This year? We wanted to see the differences. And gladly there were.

A natural highlight of Mongolia, White Lake National Park encompasses an area of wild nature - volcanic craters, rugged mountains, river valleys and rolling steppe.

This large freshwater lake (formed by the damming of the Chuluut River from the lava flow from Khorg Uul  - radiocarbon dated at about 4930 years ago) has 10 tributary rivers and over 6000 hectares of wetlands of international importance. The numerous bays and peninsulas on the northern shore are home to Bar Headed Geese, Ruddy Shellducks and Northern Lapwings. It is one of 70 Important Bird Area's (IBA) in Mongolia and part of the East Asian Australasian Flyway protecting migratory water birds. There are also populations of Siberian Marmots on the open steppe and Grey Wolves (mainly in the larch dominated coniferous forest in the mountains).  

Working Together

Our suggestion of two-days dedicated to cleaning up waste were welcomed by the administration of the Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park back in 2014 and the joint effort was planned.  It is still warmly welcomed and this year for the first time I met with the governor of Tariat sum - Altan Ochir.

As with each year, we paid a small financial incentive to each person involved - including unemployed locals and nomadic herders who make their home in the area who volunteered to come and join us.  We were also joined by the protected area rangers. We obtained the local town (15-ton) rubbish truck and paid for the fuel and the driver. We provided a cooked lunch on both days as well as urns of tea. AND! Between us (on both occasions)  we filled the rubbish truck.  

The end of clean-up party was rather monumental - sorry, the vodka was flowing so we have no photos. But, we were awarded our first EL Өргөмжлөл - Certificate of Merit or Tribute. An extremely proud moment.

We'll be returning to Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur in 2017.  We are also thinking of opening it up in 2017 to our guests - offering an opportunity for active involvement in community conservation work. Why not consider joining us and make the most of an opportunity to take experiential travel to a new level by contributing  with time and effort to a good environmental cause? (We will cover the costs of the days spent on the rubbish collection itself).

Interested? Dates to follow but get in touch for more details!

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Sports

International "Children of Asia" Games to take place in Ulaanbaatar

December 1 (gogo.mn) Mongolia will hold the 7th "Children of Asia" International Sport Games in 2020.  The organizers have budgeted expenditure of 6 billion MNT (approximately 2,446,450 USD) of which the government will bear 60%. For the remaining 40%, they intend to seek the assistance of sponsors and international organizations.

The Children of Asia International Games includes on average 3000 competitors, around 500 coaches, 90 judges and 120 officials from up to 50 countries. The Prime Minister has mandated the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Mr. Batsuuri J., to prepare for the event.

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Bodybuilding and Fitness Association elects 26 year-old as president

November 30 (news.mn) The Mongolian Bodybuilding and Fitness Association (MBFA) has a new president. The appointment is Mr. G.Anarkhuu, CEO of 'Octobus Consulting', who at the age of 26 becomes the youngest president of the MBFA. The young businessman takes over from E.Bat-Uul, former mayor of Ulaanbaatar.

At the press conference, the newly elected president, announced that Mongolia will be hosting the Bodybuilding and Fitness World Championship for the first time. The competition will be held on 3th-9th of October 2017 in Ulaanbaatar. It expected that more than 1000 participants from 61 countries will come to Mongolia.

16 athletes (ten men and six women) are participating in the Bodybuilding and Fitness World Championship which is taking place in Bangkok, Thailand. Over 600 athletes from 59 countries are participating in the competition.

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Mongolia brings 30 medals from East Asian Special Games

November 30 (news.mn) A Mongolian team has successfully participated in a competition organised among the countries of East Asian. The competition took place in Hong Kong from 24th to 29th of November marking the 40th anniversary of the Special Olympic Committee of Hong Kong. Mongolian athletes took a total 30 medals (13 gold, 11 silver, six bronze) in the track-and-field athletics, badminton and bowling categories. More than 300 athletes from six countries, namely China, South Korea, Taiwan, Macao, Hong Kong and Mongolia participated in the competition.

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Art & Entertainment

Missosology: Beautiful interview of Miss Mongolia Bayartsetseg ALTANGEREL

November 29 (Missosology.info) Miss Mongolia World 2016

Miss Earth Mongolia 2015

I have very high hopes from her 

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Miss World 2016: Mongolian 'Introductory Video' in Top Ten

November 30 (news.mn) Miss World 2016 beauty contest is currently taking place in Washington D.C. of USA. The contestants from 110 countries are competing against each other for the crown. The final contest will be held on 18th of December.

There is good news for Mongolia: the Introductory Video of our model and actress A.Bayartsetseg, has been listed in the top ten by the Great Pageant Community. On 29th of November was A.Bayartsetseg's birthday. We wish her all the best and 'good luck!'

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"Together to the Miss World" voting campaign underway

November 30 (MONTSAME) A promotion campaign with a motto "Together to the Miss World" is running on facebook in support of Mongolian contestant Bayartsetseg Altangerel who is representing Mongolia at the Miss World 2016 beauty contest. Currently, e-voting of the contest has been officially started.

The winner who gets the highest number of votes will be included to the TOP-10 best contestants.

Last year's winner was Miss Vietnam with 1, 000, 000 votes. So, the campaign calls for Mongolia to contribute to paving the way for A.Bayartsetseg to TOP 10 beauties of 2016. The contestants of Miss World have already posted their video presentations about themselves and their native countries on social network. At the moment, our contestant A.Bayartsetseg's video presentation is leading TOP-10 videos of the Miss World competition.

By the way, A.Bayartsetseg has been selected as one of 10 girls who will dance in the front row of the Miss World- 2016 competition.

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Golden Treasure shooting for Academy Awards

Ulaanbaatar, November 30 (MONTSAME) A Mongolian film – the Golden Treasure is competing for the right to become the Best Foreign Language Film nominee of the forthcoming 89th Academy Awards. The film made it to the top 20 among total of 50 works.

The first three films will have a passage to be nominated to the Oscars. The Academy Awards require the best foreign language films to raise social problems regarding the environment, ecology, human rights and gender equality. The key message of the Golden Treasure is directly connected to the gender issue.

For the above reason, EFILM and the Motion Picture Association of America have given authorization to screen this movie in theatres of the USA.

The film made a profit of over USD 3.0 million after premiering.

The storyline shows a family of a locally celebrated national wrestler Tseveen, who desperately wants a son, but instead has three daughters, and decides to raise his fourth daughter in a manner of a man. His decision was caused by the "social" pressure to have a son as he was a wrestler, which is the symbol for masculinity. Tseveen names his youngest daughter Taivan, dresses her as a boy and forces her to act like a boy. As the girl grows up, the family moves farther away from the crowd. The film continues with unexpected turns in the young girl's life.

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MOVIE SWING concert to sound famous movie soundtracks

Ulaanbaatar, November 30 (MONTSAME) The State Philharmonic is staging on December 2 a concert of the most memorable of the Mongolian and international movie songs. The Bayanmongol Jazz Ensemble, conducted by maestro S.Saruul-Od, will perform the MOVIE SWING concert.

Also, singers N.Naranbaatar, Ts.Khulan, P.Unurjargal, B.Solongo and Odnoo from Lemons will sing soundtracks.

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How I created? #3: DJ Bodikhuu

November 29 (UB Post) How I Created? #3 will take place at CLUB Co-working on November 30.

One of Mongolia's most talented and notorious DJs Bodikhuu will participate as a guest speaker of the event. He will talk about his newly released album "Welcome to Ulaanbaatar".

Details

Where: CLUB Co-working, ICC Tower

When: November 30, 7:00 p.m.

Ticket Price: 25,000 MNT

More Information: 70070004

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Movie Night: Magic Mike XXL

November 29 (UB Post) Nogoon Tagt Restaurant will hold its next Movie Night on November 30. American comedy-drama film "Magic Mike XXL" will be screened at the event.

A sequel to 2012's "Magic Mike", the film was released on July 1, 2015. In the film, three years after Mike bowed out of the stripper life at the top of his game, he and the remaining Kings of Tampa hit the road to Myrtle Beach to put on one last blowout performance.

Details

Where: Nogoon Tagt Restaurant, Urt Tsagaan

When: November 30, 8:00 p.m.

Admission: 2,000 MNT

More Information: 77110003

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Mongolia's Got Talent Contestant Absolutely Crushes a Cover "Amarillo by Morning"

November 29 (Whiskey Riff) This is incredible.

I don't know shit about Mongolia other than I don't mind the Mongolian beef once in awhile, but this guy absolutely kills a cover of George Strait's "Amarillo By Morning." Ignore the over aggressive clapping at the start, but the ladies in the crowd are swooning, the host is fist pumping and it even looks like the judge is giving him the "do me eyes." It's unbelievable.

Link to article (and video)

Related:

Mongolian Electrician Owns Cover of George Strait's 'Amarillo By Morning'Sounds Like Nashville, November 30

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'The Eagle Huntress' Chronicles a Young Mongolian Woman's Remarkable Story 

November 30 (Cleveland Scene Magazine) In a rural area of Mongolia where gender stereotypes about boys and girls haven't changed in hundreds of years, 13-year-old Aisholpan, the subject of the new documentary film The Eagle Huntress, stands out as an exception. Her incredible story about wanting to become the first female eagle hunter in her family gives the movie, which opens on Friday at the Cedar Lee Theatre, a natural arc.

Aisholpan, who has a particularly close relationship with her eagle hunter father, picks up a few tips from the guy when she can. He teaches her to hold her arm out, so the eagle can launch itself and then hunt for prey. It requires a certain amount of upper body strength, and her father tells her that many grown men struggle to master the task. Once she masters a number of eagle hunting tasks, her father determines it's time to adopt her very own eagle, which she must swipe from a nest. So she and her father find an eagle's nest perched in a particularly precarious crevice. He helps her climb to the nest and abduct a bird by wrapping it in a rug. She begins working with the bird, developing the kind of bond that exists between a dog and its owner.

At this point, Aisholpan and her father begin rigorous training for the Golden Eagle Festival, a competition that involves 70 of the best Mongolian eagle hunters. To get to the event, Aisholpan and her father must travel across expanses of barren wasteland. At the festival, Aisholpan competes against veteran eagle hunters, most of whom look to be at least twice her age and all of whom are male.

Once the competition ends, Aisholpan must fulfill one more task in her journey to become a true eagle hunter. She and her eagle must successfully hunt a fox in the wild, and they endure frigid temperatures as they venture deep into the Mongolian wilderness on their hunting expedition.

Narrated by Star Wars' Daisy Ridley, the film makes the most of the story's gender dynamics and casts Aisholpan's story in a feminist light. Set in the Mongolian steppe, the movie also makes the most of its exotic setting thanks to some stellar cinematography.

Link to article

Related:

Movie review: 'Eagle Huntress' a beautiful look at MongoliaHerald Tribune, November 30

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Travel

Video: Mongolia with PolarQuest 2016

November 30 (PolarQuest) Enjoy a short film with photos from PolarQuest's trips to Mongolia 2016.

Read about our trips to Mongolia in 2017:polar-quest.com/trip/mongolia-request-2017/

Läs mer om våra resor till Mongoliet 2017: polarquest.se/resor/ovriga-varlden/mongoliet-request-2017

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5 common MISPERCEPTIONS about Mongolia

December 1 (gogo.mn) How well do you know about Mongolia? People who never visited Mongolia think that we still live in a ger (national dwelling) and ride horse to their school or job. However, the country with the population of only 3 million and 60 thousand, according to the 2015 data, has been developing rapidly with new additions such as Shangri-La Hotel, iMax movie theatre, Porsche showroom and Louis Vuitton brand store at its capital city, the Ulaanbaatar which is home to about 1 million and 300 hundred people.  

Geographically, Mongolia is located in the North-East Asia bordering China with 4.673 km in the south and Russian Federation with 3485 km in the north. The country is located on average altitude of 1580 meters above the sea level.

We at GoGo Mongolia pointed out the common misperceptions about the country and tried to deliver you the truth. 

1. MONGOLIANS STILL LIVE IN A GER (TRADITIONAL DWELLING) TODAY

Yes, we do and we don't as well. A ger is a portable, round tent covered with skins or felt and used as a dwelling by nomads. Stove is placed in the middle of the ger for heating and cooking. 

However today almost half of the population live in apartments and houses. People prefer houses than ger in the countryside too. Hence most tourist camps operating in Mongolia offer ger housing to visitors, enabling the guest to watch the sky through its roof window.

2. MONGOLIANS RIDE HORSE AS A TRANSPORTATION

The truth is we do not ride horse often. Even herders ride motorcycle or vehicles in the countryside instead of horse nowadays. However, it is easy to find horse in Mongolia while tourist companies organize horse treks regularly. Moreover, horse is a sacred animal, and Mongols have a variety of spiritual beliefs regarding them.

Also, the mare's milk is processed into the national beverage, "airag".  

In Mongolia, each horsemen select the best horse from their herd and takes it to the race during the Naadam festival. Horse racing is one of the "three manly sportsr". Mongolian races are long, up to 30 km, and can involve thousands of horses.

3. MONGOLIA IS THE LEAST VEGAN PLACE IN THE WORLD 

Mongolia is definitely the country for meat lovers. We eat meat around the year as we have harsh weathers which had affected the traditional diet. Mongols mainly eat beef, mutton, horse meat and goat meat. It is popular to eat horse meat during the extremely cold Mongolian winter as the meat serves more calories which help the body to keep warm .

However, Mongols prefer not to eat meat during the summer. If you visit herder family, you will notice that they eat dinner at around 5pm to 6pm and drink yogurt or boiled milk before they go to sleep. Meat is mostly cooked or used in soups. Spices and vegetables are not served often in the nomadic family. 

In recent years, families living in cities realize that eating too much meat is unhealthy especially for those who are not working outdoors. 

Therefore the food and meal serving in the countryside and city is quite different. Modern families in cities focus on healthy food by eating different types of vegetables and vegan food. You can find all vegetables from every store of UB city, while there are plenty of vegan restaurants which have really good choices in a country of meat lovers.

4. MONGOLIA IS A DANGEROUS PLACE TO TRAVEL  

Absolutely no! The truth is that Mongolia is a lot safer than many other places that people travel, if you don't do anything silly. The only thing you should beware are pick pockets when you walking in the busy streets of Ulaanbaatar city. Mongolians are usually curious of foreigners and love trying to communicate with you, even if they can't speak English.

5. MONGOLIA IS PART OF CHINA  

The truth is that Mongolia is not part of both China and Russia. Mongolia is a landlocked sovereign state in Central Asia and proudly has its own language, culture, currency, parliament, and president. 

In the 16th century, Tibetan Buddhism began to spread in Mongolia, being further led by the Manchu-founded Qing dynasty, which absorbed the country in the 17th century. By the early 1900s, almost one-third of the adult male population were Buddhist monks. After the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911, Mongolia declared independence from the Qing dynasty, and in 1921 established de facto independence from the Republic of China. Shortly thereafter, the country came under the control of the Soviet Union, which had aided its independence from China. On November 26, 1924, Mongolia declared itself as an independent country with the adoption of its first constitution. Mongolia has never been part of China and it will. 

After the anti-Communist revolitions of 1989, Mongolia conducted its own peaceful democratic revolution in early 1990. This led to a multi-party system, a new constitution of 1992, and transition to a market economy.

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