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Friday, December 9, 2016

[Moody's defends cut; media owners revealed; Mongolia plays India v China; and UNICEF warns air pollution killing children]]

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Friday, December 9, 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

·         Mongolia Mining Corp could see debt deal before year-end

·         Kincora announces private placement, debt settlement

·         TerraCom finalises new share placement

·         Rio Tinto reshuffles top management

·         Rio Tinto: Company secretary appointment

Local Market

·         MSE Trading Report, Dec 8: Top 20 -0.78%, ALL -0.66%, Turnover ₮16.2 Million Shares

Economy

·         MNT sets 10th straight historic low vs USD; USD/MNT just ₮21.84 shy of 2.5K

·         BoM issues ₮132 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -3.9% to ₮423.3 billion

·         BoM sells US$24.05 million at ₮2,478, declines CNY bids, receives no swap offers

·         GoM sells ₮31 billion T-bills at 16.99% Discount from announced ₮60 billion

·         GoM receives no bids for ₮30 billion 28-week treasury auction

·         Mongolia Requires 'Whole Team' to Resolve Crisis: World Bank

·         Moody's: Sharp deterioration in fiscal and external position underpin Mongolia's Caa1 rating

·         Dutch Disease Strikes Mongolia

Politics & Legal

·         B.Batbayar appointed CEO of Development Bank of Mongolia

·         Cabinet presenting draft resolution on risk prevention measures regarding DBM

·         Cabinet backs negotiations with Tevsh River Power Plant bidder

·         Legal Standing Committee reviews proposed offshore account and domestic violence legislation

·         Who owns the Media in Mongolia?

·         Decentralizing Policy-Regional Development Forum Participants Discuss Slow Moving Decentralization Efforts

·         AmCham Daily Newswire for December 8, 2016

·         No country for old men, literally

·         Government to halt export of live horses

·         Prime Minister visits MONTSAME Agency

·         Mystery on the Hohhot Express

Business

·         Mott MacDonald provides lenders' technical for Gobi Desert windfarm

·         PM visits national manufacturers' exhibition

·         Government to formalize EUR 70 million loan from IIB

·         Cabinet approves list of energy projects to commence next year

·         Japanese and Mongolian decision makers showing up in "Invest= Mongolia Tokyo" conference

·         President of Mongolian Professional Institute of Geosciences and Mining assesses mining sector status

Ulaanbaatar

·         Mongolia: Thousands at risk of homelessness due to authorities' urban redevelopment failings

·         Water supply and tap water in Ulaanbaatar

Diplomacy

·         Mongolia seeks India support against China's 'blockade'

·         Mongolia should soul-search on hosting separatist figure

·         India: Closely working with Mongolia to implement $1bn credit line

·         Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides details on new Chinese border fees

·         Mongolia considering WTO complaint over China border fees

·         Mongolia FM receives Japanese Ambassador on end of his term

·         Russian-Mongolian Selenga Anti-Terrorism Drills to Kick Off in August 2017

·         Mongolia and Russia renew academic cooperation agreement

·         Mongolian Culture Centre opens in Java

·         Vietnam, Mongolia boost trade union partnership

Health & Education

·         Air pollution in Mongolia's capital poses health hazard for children says UNICEF

·         Roberto Benes: Mongolian wealth is children. Not gold, copper or coal

·         Pop singer Bold becomes UNICEF special envoy on fighting air pollution

·         WHO Rep: "In 10 years from now, cervical cancer rates will go even higher"

·         Strong measures needed to fight drug trafficking

·         Japan provides $200K grant to repair school and kindergarten buildings

·         Center for enrollment exams to be created at Mongolian State University of Education

·         Russia to help develop Music and Dance College into University

Culture & Society

·         Flying the flag: Opera singer E.Amartuvshin becomes Mongolian Cultural Envoy

·         UC Berkeley Event: Environmental Narratives in Mongolian Sound Worlds

·         Archaeology sheds light on Mongolia's uncertain nomadic future

·         Ashes of Dilov Khutughtu returns to Mongolia

Nature & Environment

·         Mongolia's comment on the proposed themes for 2017 UN Environment Assembly

·         Mongolia Focuses Efforts to Achieve Paris Goals

Sports

·         Bodybuilders return from Bangkok with 9 medals

·         Mountaineer B.Gangaamaa to leave for Mount Vinson on December 13

·         Gymnast G.Erdenebold grabs silver in Siberian Open Cup

·         Young swimmer Yesui eyes Tokyo 2020

·         Seminar, Award and Elections for Mongolian Student Sports Federation

·         This Gorgeous Race Lets People Run Alongside Wild Horses

·         Highly skilled Russian sportsmen to work in Mongolia under contract

Art & Entertainment

·         Miss World Mongolia's magic performance makes it to Top 10

·         "M-Pop": Mongolian boy band Guys awarded at Korean cultural festival

·         MOVIE REVIEW: 'The Eagle Huntress' soars

·         The Eagle Huntress: Exclusive clip sees Daisy Ridley narrate a truly feminist tale

·         THIS SUNDAY: Screening of ''Mongolian Bling'' at The Apartment!

·         'Heartland' Season 10 Episode 9: Mongolia Shoot Expands Story Beyond Canada!

 

ARTICLES

Int'l Market

975 closed -9.3% Thursday to HK$0.205

Mongolia Mining Corp could see debt deal before year-end

December 8 (Reuters) Mongolian Mining Corporation's debt restructuring talks with its creditors are progressing well and a deal could be reached before the end of the year, the country's Vice Minister Badamsuren Khookhor said on Monday. Hong Kong-listed Mongolian Mining Corp has been in default after missing a coupon payment in March on its $600 million 2017 issue.

"Progress has been quite successful for the moment," Badamsuren told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of an investment conference in London. "I hope negotiations can be done by the end of the year." The company's bond, due to mature in March, has traded at distressed levels of around 15 cents in the dollar in February, though has recovered in recent weeks to just over 50 cents, according to data from Reuters.

The Mongolian Mining Corp owns and operates two open-pit coking coal mines in the country's Southern Gobi province. Mongolia's best economic hope is its mining sector as commodities, especially coal, have rallied following last year's price rout, which hit Mongolia very hard.

"The commodity price fall ... has shown some negative effects to the Mongolian economy, and all other mineral extracting countries are facing similar problems," he said, speaking through a translator. Another major player is the Erdenet Mining Corporation, which delivers around 530,000 tonnes of copper concentrate per year, its website says. It faces high court action in London over unpaid debts.

Link to article

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KCC closed -6.67% on the announcement to C$0.42

Kincora announces private placement, debt settlement

VANCOUVER, Dec. 7, 2016 /CNW/ - The Company announces that, subject to the acceptance of the TSX Venture Exchange, it intends to proceed with a private placement of up to 1,449,275 shares ($500,000) at $0.345 per share (the "Private Placement"). Proceeds from the Private Placement will be applied to the exploration of its copper and gold projects in Mongolia and general working capital. The Company may pay finder's fees in accordance with the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange in connection with the Private Placement. 

The offering is open to investors who qualify under applicable securities laws, including but not limited to existing shareholders in qualifying jurisdictions in Canada and outside the United States under B.C. Instrument 45-534 and "accredited investors" in the United States and Canada.  Kincora has set December 6, 2016 as the record date for determining shareholders entitled to participate in the offering in reliance on the existing shareholder exemption. If the offering is over-subscribed, shares will be allotted on a first come first served basis. Qualifying investors who wish to participate in the private placement should contact the Company using the contact information set forth below. It is anticipated that the private placement will close on or about December 19, 2016.

The Company also announces that it has agreed to settle debt in the amount of US$48,576 owing to HPX Techco Inc., an affiliate of High Power Ventures, on account of loans made in the course of the Ibex Transaction, by the issuance of 186,831 shares of the Company having a deemed price of Can$0.345 (the "Debt Settlement").

All shares issued in connection with the Private Placement and the Debt Settlement will be subject to a four (4) month hold period. 

Link to release

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TER closed -2.86% Thursday to A$0.034

TerraCom finalises new share placement

December 8 (World Coal) ASX-listed coal mining company, TerraCom, has finalised a placement of AUS$4 million to new and existing institutional and sophisticated investors, the company said in recent announcement.

The placement followed a series of investor roadshows in Australia and Asia that aimed to introduce the company to new institution investors. Foster Stockbroking acted as lead manager to the placement.

TerraCom have recently restarted coal mining operations at its Baruun Noyon Uul metallurgical coal mine in Mongolia, having completed a binding 5.5 year, 7.5 million t sales contract with Inner Mongolia Kingho Co.

The company is also awaiting approval from the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines for the transfer of the Blair Athol mining lease to TerraCom. The company announced an agreement to buy the mine from Rio Tinto earlier this year.

The application to transfer the mining lease was issues in September. Eventual title transfer will trigger over AUS$20 million in already-committed working capital funding.

"The company is positioned to capitalise on a strong global coal market and pricing with the restart in Mongolia now underway, and remains excited at the near-term prospect of operations restarting in Queensland at the Blair Athol mine," TerraCom said.

Link to article

Link to TER release

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TRQ closed +1.14% Thursday to US$3.54

Rio Tinto reshuffles top management

New head for human resources and corporate affairs chief promoted following scrutiny over payments

December 8 (Financial Times) The chief executive of Rio Tinto, the miner under scrutiny for questionable payments in Africa, has further reshuffled his top management team, replacing a senior executive and adding a new member to the group that runs the FTSE 100 company.

Jean-Sébastien Jacques, who took control of the Anglo-Australian company this year, has appointed Vera Kirikova as head of human resources and put Simone Niven, head of corporate affairs, on its executive committee.

The reshuffle marks the latest move by Mr Jacques to reshape the top team at Rio. In his five months in charge, the French executive has replaced the boss of iron ore, Rio's most profitable business, installed a new copper chief and promoted the heads of safety and innovation.

It comes as Mr Jacques tries to address an unfolding payments crisis in Guinea that is threatening Rio's reputation as one of the world's best managed miners and worrying shareholders.

By giving Ms Niven a seat on the executive committee, Mr Jacques is trying to signal the importance of communication to Rio, people close to the company said. As well as its problems in Guinea, the company is facing a US investigation into a $3bn writedown on a mine in Mozambique.

"It's clear as an industry we need to lift our game in how we attract and retain top talent," said Mr Jacques in a statement.

Rio notified law enforcement agencies in the US, UK and Australia last month about a $10.5m payment it made to a consultant in 2011 who helped the company secure the rights to the Simandou ore deposit in Guinea.

The company has not said why it reported the fee but François de Combret, the consultant, was also working as informal adviser to Alpha Conde, Guinea's president, in 2011, raising questions about whether Rio broke anti-corruption laws.

Rio subsequently fired Alan Davies, head of its coal and uranium business who was previously in charge of the Simandou project, and Debra Valentine, its head of legal affairs. It said they had failed to maintain the standards expected of them under the company's code of conduct.

Mr Davies is planning legal action, saying he has not seen evidence to justify his sacking. Mrs Valentine has not been available for comment.

Some shareholders have expressed concern about the dismissals, questioning if Mr Jacques and Jan du Plessis, Rio chairman, had been hasty in jettisoning senior managers before the full facts of the affair are known.

Mr Jacques, who replaced Sam Walsh in July, has been charged with shaping the company's strategy for the next decade.

In his first detailed investors presentation last month, the French executive pledged to focus on sweating the group's assets rather than pursuing ambitious deals. He is aiming to boost cash generation by as much $5bn during the next five years.

Mrs Kirikova replaces Hugo Bague, who will leave in March after almost 10 years at the company. The decision to promote Ms Niven brings Rio in line with other miners such as Anglo American, which have corporate affairs chiefs on their executive committee.

Link to article

Link to RIO release

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Rio Tinto: Company secretary appointment

December 8 -- Steve Allen, formerly company secretary of BG Group plc, has been appointed company secretary of Rio Tinto plc and joint company secretary of Rio Tinto Limited, effective from 9 January 2017. He will be based in London. 

Tim Paine continues to be joint company secretary of Rio Tinto Limited, based in Melbourne.

Link to release

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Local Market

MSE Trading Report, Dec 8: Top 20 -0.78%, ALL -0.66%, Turnover 16.2 Million Shares

December 8 (MSE) --

Link to report

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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 7 Close

 

12/8

12/7

12/6

12/5

12/2

12/1

11/30

11/29

11/28

11/24

High

Date

USD

2,478.16

2,474.86

2,472.63

2,470.03

2,468.68

2,468.07

2,466.64

2,465.57

2,462.60

2,459.66

2,478.16

12/08/2016

EUR

2,667.24

2,651.57

2,661.29

2,618.60

2,634.45

2,619.73

2,620.31

2,614.49

2,623.90

2,591.50

2,681.43

11/10/2016

JPY

21.81

21.64

21.72

21.68

21.66

21.62

21.88

21.95

22.00

21.70

23.49

11/09/2016

GBP

3,132.64

3,126.00

3,153.96

3,134.72

3,116.83

3,093.85

3,076.89

3,058.17

3,077.88

3,053.79

3,183.26

8/13/2014

RUB

39.06

38.73

38.75

38.59

38.40

38.69

37.74

37.97

37.94

38.08

54.32

6/27/2014

CNY

360.18

359.17

359.64

358.57

358.84

357.99

358.22

357.76

356.74

355.47

361.23

11/10/2016

KRW

2.14

2.12

2.11

2.11

2.11

2.11

2.11

2.11

2.11

2.08

2.14

12/08/2016

SGD

1,747.71

1,739.06

1,742.64

1,733.84

1,735.15

1,726.77

1,730.19

1,728.47

1,729.11

1,715.66

1,752.48

11/10/2016

CAD

1,874.20

1,862.69

1,865.08

1,852.99

1,854.06

1,842.67

1,834.62

1,836.14

1,827.06

1,818.47

1,874.20

12/08/2016

AUD

1,855.77

1,836.22

1,841.24

1,836.34

1,831.02

1,826.99

1,844.18

1,843.01

1,843.63

1,812.65

1,886.29

11/10/2016

HKD

319.51

319.10

318.82

318.51

318.30

318.23

318.04

317.88

317.52

317.14

319.51

12/08/2016

CHF

2,462.52

2,450.11

2,458.00

2,437.49

2,443.03

2,431.00

2,428.87

2,432.13

2,441.48

2,415.81

2,497.77

11/09/2016

Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,470 Sell ₮2,480), TDB (Buy ₮2,470 Sell ₮2,480), Golomt (Buy ₮2,470 Sell ₮2,480), XacBank (Buy ₮2,472 Sell ₮2,481), State Bank (Buy ₮2,470 Sell ₮2,480)

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

Link to rates

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BoM issues 132 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -3.9% to 423.3 billion

December 7 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 132 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$24.05 million at 2,478, declines CNY bids, receives no swap offers

December 8 (Bank of Mongolia) Spot trade: Commercial banks bid weighted average rate of MNT2478.13 for USD46.00 million and weighted average rate of MNT 358.57 for CNY62.0 million respectively. The BoM sold USD24.05 million with a closing rate of MNT 2478.00.

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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Mogi: Interest raised by 0.01%. Last sold at 16.98% on December 2

GoM sells 31 billion T-bills at 16.99% Discount from announced 60 billion

December 7 (Bank of Mongolia) Auction for 12 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 60.0 billion MNT. Face value of 31.0 billion /out of 31.0 billion bid/ Government Treasury bill was sold at discounted price and with weighted average yield of 16.990 %.

Link to release

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Mogi: previous successful 28-weeks were sold at 16.89% on November 2

GoM receives no bids for 30 billion 28-week treasury auction

Auction for 28 weeks maturity Government Treasury bill was announced at face value of 30.0 billion MNT. Government Treasury bill was not sold due to absence of both competitive and non-competitive bids

Link to release

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Mongolia Requires 'Whole Team' to Resolve Crisis: World Bank

By Michael Kohn

December 7 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia needs a "whole team" of development-assistant partners to help the country resolve its economic crisis in the short term, Bert Hoffman, the World Bank's country director for China, Mongolia and Korea in the East Asia and Pacific Region, says in Ulaanbaatar.

* Partners including China, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, Asia Development Bank and others, he says

* Hoffman spoke at a consultative meeting with development partners in Ulaanbaatar

* "We are all talking and we hope the government concludes its program discussions very soon so we can start to help," he says

* Mongolia must end practice of using "back doors" to avoid stringent fiscal discipline: Hoffman

* Consolidation of budgets, including Bank of Mongolia budget and central bank budget, must be part of fiscal constraint: Hoffman

* Mongolia has opportunity to raise money through domestic resources, taxes on the wealthy, to help achieve fiscal sustainability and discipline: Hoffman

* NOTE: An IMF working group will visit Mongolia this month or next for further evaluvation of Mongolia's loan needs, Bulgantuya Khurelbaatar, Mongolia's deputy minister of finance, says during the conference.

(BFW)

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Moody's: Sharp deterioration in fiscal and external position underpin Mongolia's Caa1 rating, despite strong medium-term growth potential

Singapore, December 08, 2016 -- Moody's Investors Service says that the Mongolian government's fiscal strength and the economy's external position have deteriorated significantly.

Furthermore, to meet its financial obligations, the government is reliant on securing external finance from a combination of multilateral and bilateral sources, the availability of which is uncertain.

Success in securing bilateral and multilateral support would stabilize the government's liquidity position and the economy's external position for a period, providing the government with time to address the decline in its fiscal strength until mining output comes on stream and supports growth and the government's finances.

On the other hand, failure to secure financing, particularly in the context of a further deterioration in growth and debt dynamics, would raise the risks of a balance of payments crisis and debt restructuring.

Moody's conclusions were contained in its just-released annual credit analysis, "Government of Mongolia -- Caa1 Stable" and which elaborates on the sovereign's credit profile in terms of Economic Strength; Low (+); Institutional Strength; Very Low (+); Fiscal Strength; Very Low (+); and Susceptibility to Event Risk (+). Moody's subscribers can access this report via the link provided at the end of this press release.

On 18 November 2016, Moody's downgraded Mongolia's government bond rating to Caa1 from B3, with a stable outlook, concluding the review initiated on 26 August 2016.

Compared to other Caa-rated sovereigns, Mongolia's 'Low (+) Economic Strength is supported by high growth potential, partly offset by high volatility.

Moody's expects real GDP growth to average zero this year, before picking up modestly to 1.0% in 2017 and 3.5% in 2018. In particular, mining exports are projected to continue falling well into 2017, as copper production becomes increasingly dependent on lower-quality ores.

Moody's assessment of Mongolia's Very Low (+) institutional strength reflects the country's rankings on the Worldwide Governance Indicators and our assessment of the government's capacity to address the current severe policy challenges.

Among countries rated by Moody's, Mongolia ranks in the 24th percentile for Government Effectiveness, 30th percentile for Rule of Law, and 26th percentile for Control of Corruption in the Worldwide Governance Indicators for 2015, broadly in line with other Caa-rated sovereigns.

Our assessment of Mongolia's Very Low (+) fiscal strength reflects the country's very large deficit and our expectation that government debt will continue to rise in the next two years, along with an increase in debt-servicing costs.

Fiscal slippage has been immense in 2016. We estimate that the deficit will widen to 19.5% of GDP -- the largest in Moody's sovereign universe and excluding the housing mortgage program, from 5.0% in 2015, and compared to our earlier forecast of 4.9%. We expect very large fiscal deficits to remain in 2017 and 2018.

We assess Mongolia's susceptibility to event risks as High(+), driven by external vulnerabilities that have arisen as foreign reserves remain low as external debt is edging higher. The crystallization of contingent liabilities also increases refinancing risks for government debt.

In addition, the banking system is challenged by multiple headwinds, with, as a result, a potentially limited capacity to finance very large borrowing needs for the government. Mongolian banks' credit profiles are under pressure, and we expect a continued deterioration in asset quality, liquidity and capitalization in the next few months. Asset quality will also remain under pressure, although the pace of deterioration will be significantly slower than in 2015.

The Local Market analyst for this rating is Mathias Angonin, +971 4 237 9548.

Subscribers can access the report via this link:

https://www.moodys.com/research/Government-of-Mongolia-Caa1-Stable-Annual-Credit-Analysis-Issuer-In-Depth--PBC_1051025

Link to release

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Dutch Disease Strikes Mongolia

by Elaine Schwartz

December 7 (EconLife) Just six years ago, Stephen Colbert told us that the Mongolian edition of Cosmopolitan was selling for 7,000 tugriks. He added that subscribers got half off the newsstand price and a free goat bladder phone.

The arrival of Cosmo was an indicator of Mongolia's commodity wealth. At Ulaanbaatar's luxury mall, the shops included Louis Vuitton and Hugo Boss. But there was one problem. It mostly depended on China.

Where are we going? To Dutch disease.

Mongolia's Commodity Problems

Their export revenue depended on commodities like copper and coal:

Mongolia's Exports

From: OEC

A lot of that export revenue came from China:

Export Destinations

From: OEC

But recently, China's demand for commodities has diminished. Correspondingly, in world markets, the price of copper and coal has sunk:

The result?

From a whopping 17%+ growth rate, the Mongolian economy has been contracting:

 

Our Bottom Line: Dutch Disease

Mongolia's problems display the downside of commodity wealth. The herding and agriculture that characterized their economy were nudged aside by copper and coal. Rendering other activity unimportant, commodity revenue boosted jobs, income and government spending. But when the boom turned to bust, there were no alternatives. The contraction was magnified, unemployment grew and GDP contracted.

Rather like a natural resource curse, Dutch Disease got its name in the Netherlands during the 1960s and '70s. Far beyond Mongolia, it has afflicted oil producers and maybe even Detroit.

My sources and more: Having heard an NPR update on Mongolia's economy, I immediately thought of Dutch Disease. More specifically, Bloomberg details the trajectory of coal prices while WSJ tells more about Mongolia's decline.  But if you would like the academic side, I recommend this paper. And finally, for a treasure trove of visualizations, do take a look at OEC. Please note that the Colbert facts came from a previous econlife post.

Link to article

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Politics & Legal

B.Batbayar appointed CEO of Development Bank of Mongolia

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, December 8 (MONTSAME) After reviewing the results of international open selection for executive management of the Development Bank, the cabinet approved appointment of Batbayar Balgan the next executive director of the Development Bank of Mongolia on Wednesday.

B.Batbayar graduated from the Economic School of the National University of Mongolia majoring in finance and economics in 1988, and defended master's degree in Indiana University, the USA in 2002-2004.

He worked as an accountant, economist and chief officer at the Budget Policy Department of the Ministry of Finance, head of a department and division, and acted as the representative of the Government and member of Boards of the State Bank, the Development Bank and other state-run industries.

Link to article

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Cabinet presenting draft resolution on risk prevention measures regarding DBM

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, December 8 (MONTSAME) The Development Bank (DB) of Mongolia, since its establishment in 2011, have been operating with active assets of MNT 7.0 trillion. During the course of its operation, the bank has financed some 2,000 projects, and has liabilities of MNT 5.9 trillion.

The liabilities balance exceeds the amount of assets. In accordance with the Law on Development Bang of Mongolia, the liabilities must not exceed the amount of equity multiplied by 50.

If the Development Bank fails to observe its duty before the law, the risk of the loan payables to be recalled before the agreed date can be higher. Therefore, in order to prevent from such risks, the cabinet approved the draft parliamentary resolution on "some measures towards the Development Bank of Mongolia", and resolved on Wednesday to immediately submit to the State Great Khural.

Link to article

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Cabinet backs negotiations with Tevsh River Power Plant bidder

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, December 8 (MONTSAME) On Wednesday's regular meeting, the cabinet backed continuing negotiation with interested party on direct concession contract on the Tevsh River Power Plant project, to be constructed in Saintsagaan soum of Dundgovi province.

The ministers reorganized the compositions of the Regulatory Council on the Exchange of Goods and Raw Materials of agricultural origin. The council is in charge of promoting operations of the agricultural exchange, giving directions and recommendations on law implementation, monitoring activities of traders and ensuring coordination.

The cabinet also resolved to reflect recommendations and suggestions to the draft laws on Disaster Prevention and Emergency Service Offices, initiated by the President.

Link to article

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Mogi: the bill was since rejected

Legal Standing Committee reviews proposed offshore account and domestic violence legislation

By T. Bayarbat

December 6 (UB Post) During a regular meeting of the Standing Committee on Law held on Tuesday, amendments to the Law on Combating Domestic Violence and the Law on Regulating and Avoiding Conflicts of Interest Among Public Officials were reviewed.

MPs in attendance had heated debate on the amendments. A number of committee members criticized the amendments to the law on domestic violence for being copied from foreign laws, and there were over 60 proposals for changes put forward by MPs.

The committee determined that it had to revisit the legislation. Head of the Standing Committee on Law S.Radnaased asked the MPs to review it again in one week, after changes are made, and met agreement from the other committee members.

Regarding the regulation of offshore accounts, MP T.Ayursaikhan said, "First, prohibiting incumbent public officials from opening offshore accounts is wrong, so please delete the word 'incumbent'. Second, offshore zones are not clear in legal terms, so it must be clear exactly which offshore areas will be banned. Third, the section stating that family members of public officials are not responsible for adhering to the law has to be revisited."

The committee approved MP Ts.Nyamdorj and T.Amarsaikhan's proposal to return the amendments to their authors for further revision.

Link to article

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Who owns the Media in Mongolia?

December 8, 2016 (Reporters without Borders) – Only one out of ten Mongolian media outlets is actively transparent about its ownership. A majority of them has political affiliations through their founders and / or owners. This limits the important role of media to act as an independent watchdog for democracy. These are some of the main findings of the Media Ownership Monitor (MOM), a research and advocacy project carried out in Mongolia by the Press Institute of Mongolia and Reporters Without Borders over the past three months and presented in Ulaanbaatar today.

The results are now available online in Mongolian and English on the MOM Mongolia website and provide transparency about who controls Mongolian news media: http://mongolia.mom-rsf.org/.

"The MOM project clearly shows that transparency obligations for media owners are deficient in Mongolia", said Munkhmandakh Myagmar, Executive Director of the Press Institute of Mongolia. "But transparency of ownership structures is the basis for the credibility of the information the public can get. All media outlets should be accountable to their audience, to ensure plurality of content and to serve the interests of Mongolian people."

President of the Board of Reporters Without Borders Germany, Michael Rediske, adds: "MOM results show, that 89 % of the media in Mongolia is not actively transparent about its owners. And for almost half of media companies data on their ownership and finance structure is completely unavailable. This is a worrying sign for the East Asian country. " Consequently, with insufficient laws to prevent political control over media ownership, Mongolia's media market is penetrated by political affiliations.

The high rate of 74 % of media outlets having political affiliations can endanger not only the freedom and plurality of information of citizens, but also opens doors to manipulate information in this important market. Media is different from any other industry. It presents facts and views that are then subjects of public debates, which in turn shape public opinion. So a high influence of the political world on media and journalists can damage democratic processes and the development of a pluralistic society as a whole.

The ownership of a media outlet can be disguised too easily by legal means. Also, in Mongolia there are no regulatory safeguards in place to prevent media concentration and monopolies. Even if media freedom is guaranteed by law, it is not fully implemented. All licensing and registration authorities belong to the government. And the entire State advertisement budget, essential for financing media outlets, is distributed without any rules and regulations.

MOM research and interviews with media outlets, media companies and journalists also reveal that journalists face mounting pressures. "When media are used as political or economic instruments by their owners, it puts them in the position of serving the owner's interests rather than the public", Munkhmandakh said. These dependencies can also prevent journalists from being neutral and open doors to self-censorship.

In addition, Mongolian journalists are generally overworked and underpaid. So it is very common that reporters depend on an extra income and put their profession on sale, producing "Paid Content" as outlined in MOM features "Politics & Friends" and "Big Business & Washed News" on the MOM website. The results also highlight corruption as the biggest problem between politics, business and the media in Mongolia. As a result, editorial independence is limited.

"Media laws need to be amended and properly implemented to ensure that professional journalism is really working as the fourth pillar of democracy," said Rediske. Munkhmandakh added: "Hopefully, there is light at the end of the tunnel with a new generation of journalists and media owners."

"Trust is the currency of media," she said. "How could journalists and the media check the people in power when they themselves are owned and financed by party people in power ?"

Today's press conference was followed by a panel discussion on the results of MOM Mongolia and the next steps forward, including an Expert input on the topic of "Media Literacy" by Ljiljana Zurovac, Executive Director of the Press Council of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Media Ownership Monitor Mongolia was carried out by Reporters Without Borders in partnership with the Press Institute of Mongolia between September and December 2016. The project studied the legal environment, media concentration and ownership structures of the country's 39 most popular national media outlets.

The Press Institute of Mongolia (PIM) is a well-established non-governmental organization which has been working towards the development of a professional and independent media in Mongolia since its establishment in 1996. Based in Ulaanbaatar, PIM focuses its activities on media training, media research and the provision of information services for the public and media. PIMs research team has implemented more than 70 short and long term research projects on media related issues in Mongolia.

MOM is an international project launched by the international press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders. It has been carried out in eight countries worldwide, including Turkey, Tunisia, Colombia and Cambodia. It applies a generic methodology for all countries as it looks at ownership and media concentration of the most relevant audio-visual, print and online outlets, which are selected based on audience share. The Project is funded by the German Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ).

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Decentralizing Policy-Regional Development Forum Participants Discuss Slow Moving Decentralization Efforts

By B. Dulguun

December 7 (UB Post) On December 6, the Cabinet Secretariat of the Mongolian government, the Mongolian Association of Local Authorities (MALA) and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) held the first Decentralizing Policy – Regional Development Forum to discuss the lack of development and decentralization in independent regions and provinces over the past twenty years.

Participants considered the lack of autonomy and financial power at the local level as the biggest obstacle keeping local officials from providing faster services to residents and carrying out projects for soums, provinces, and the capital.

However, a consensus at the forum voiced the necessity to keep all education, culture, health care, social security, social welfare and insurance, environment, and employment funding responsibilities to central agencies and ministries. In these sectors, local authorities will have to continue to request funds from the government.

Among other scientists and researchers, the forum most notably brought together Parliament member and Head of the State Building Standing Committee N.Enkhbold, Cabinet Secretariat Deputy U.Byambasuren, MP D.Togtokhsuren, and Ulaanbaatar Mayor and MALA Head S.Batbold.

"It's the perfect time to hold this forum. I believe it's a very significant measure. I'm confident that conferencing with local authorities and representatives from the KAS will help us to successfully decentralize and strengthen independency of regions and provinces," S.Batbold stated.

They agreed to deliberate this issue by analyzing responsibility of local authorities, capacity building, and provincial and capital city councils, mayors and associated officials, to provide guidance for projects to be implemented by the government,

Three keynote speakers presented at the forum: the Cabinet Secretariat Deputy U.Byambasuren on "Government Decentralizing Policy and Futures", Ulaanbaatar Mayor S.Batbold on "Decentralizing – The Foundation to Governing Development", and Professor Paul Witt from Germany's University of Public Administration on "Local Management System of Germany".

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AmCham Daily Newswire for December 7, 2016

GOVERNMENT

Legal Standing Committee convenes to discuss amendments 

Summary: Parliament's Legal Standing Committee convened to discuss proposed amendments to the Law on Combating Domestic Violence and the Conflict of Interest Law. The Head of the Committee, Sh. Radnaased, stated that the amendments included many provisions from foreign laws that may be unsuitable for implementation in Mongolia. The committee decided to review the amendments to the Law on Combating Domestic Violence after revisions are made to them. Addressing the proposed changes to the Conflict of Interest Law and a proposed ban on government officials holding offshore accounts, Member of Parliament T. Ayursaikhan stated, "Offshore zones are not clear in legal terms, so it must be clear exactly which offshore areas will be banned." Member of Parliament D. Ganbold stated that the provisions of the amendments must be made clear, and the members of the committee decided to send the amendments back to Cabinet for further revision.  

Keywords: legal standing committee, legal reform    The Official Gazette / page2/

Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs visits Russia

Summary: The Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs, S. Byambatsogt, paid an official visit to the Russian Federation to meet with Russian Minister of Justice Alexander Konovalov. A 2017-2018 cooperation agreement between the Mongolian Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs and Russian Minister of Justice was signed during the visit. The Ministry of Justice believes the successful implementation of this program will have a significant impact on the development of legal cooperation between the two countries.  This year marks the 95th anniversary of the diplomatic relationship between the two countries and the two sides are commemorating the anniversary with exploring possibilities for future cooperation.

Keywords: Russia, Ministry of Justice, diplomacy    The National Post /page 2/

ECONOMY

Minimum wage to be raised to 240,000 MNT in January

Summary: In April, the National Tripartite Committee on Labor and Social Consensus convened to increase the minimum wage by 25%, setting it at 240,000 MNT. The new minimum wage will be implemented starting from January 1, 2017, with an hourly rate of 1,428 MNT. Around 4-5% of the Mongolian workforce earns the minimum wage, and members of the committee believe that the increase is one way to help citizens improve their living standards.

Keywords: minimum wage, labor     Today /page 1/

ONLINE STORY

Democratic Party convention continues for its second day

Summary: The VI Democratic Party Convention is continuing for its second day to approve its constitution and changes to party rules. On the first day of the convention, the members of the party discussed changes to the party and debated possible ways to strengthen it. Member of Parliament L. Bold stated, "The DP needs to create policies and work towards ensuring human rights." Over 60 members of the party voiced their opinions on party matters. A vote on the party's constitution and amendments are planned for the end of the convention's second day. The Democratic Party's Constitution Commission and Internal Election Commission are expected to be established.

Keywords: Democratic Party, convention    www.montsame.mn

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AmCham Daily Newswire for December 8, 2016

GOVERNMENT

New Chairman of the Democratic Party to be elected in January 

Summary: The VI Democratic Party Convention concluded yesterday, covering changes to the party's regulations for the appointment of party leaders and its constitution. Party members voted for the chairman of the party to now be determined through a general election among party members. Candidates for party  chairman will start campaigning by December 19 and the election will take place on January 29. The Democratic Party approved its Reformation Program, designed to transform the party into a more transparent and responsible organization. The convention started the groundwork for major changes for the Democratic Party.

Keywords: DPP, party leadership   The National Post /page2/

Development Bank proposal to be presented to Parliament soon

Summary: Cabinet has decided to present a proposal on measures to take with  Development Bank to Parliament as soon as possible.  Development Bank of Mongolia was established in 2011 and currently has 7 trillion MNT in assets and outstanding loans of 5.9 trillion MNT, which is more than 80% of its assets, creating the risk of bankruptcy. If Development Bank fails to thrive, the government faces the risk of having to repay the bank's foreign market debt at an earlier than expected date. The board of directors of Development Bank have approved the appointment of B. Batbyar as Executive Director, but other changes are expected.

Keywords: legal reform, Development Bank     Today /page A2/

ECONOMY

Cabinet authorizes loan agreement of 70 million EUR from International Investment Bank

Summary: Yesterday, Cabinet authorizes the Minister of Finance to conclude the loan agreement of up to 70 million EUR loan from International Investment Bank with a term of seven years and an interest rate of 3.89%. The loan's financing will be used to lower the cost of existing debt and to extend the average debt repayment period. Previously, Cabinet received a loan from Credit Suisse at Libor+ 6.25%.  In terms of national currency, the loan is around 185.6 billion MNT.

Keywords: foreign loans, International Investment Bank   Today /page A1/

MINING

Rio Tinto addresses temporary halt of Oyu Tolgoi's export 

Summary: Oyu Tolgoi announced the indefinite halt of copper export on December 1 due to border issues. The Telegraph reported on the announcement and quoted CEO of Rio Tinto Jean Sebastien Jacques as stating that the miner is used to such bumps in the road, "Each time we would work with the authorities and each time it was resolved. I've no doubt it will be resolved this time."  The Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry announced that they are working to resolve the matter and cannot comment on when export will resume.

Keywords: exports, Oyu Tolgoi,    Today /page 1/

ONLINE STORY

Cabinet approves 9 new projects in energy and transportation

Summary: Cabinet approved a list of nine projects in the energy and transportation sector that will be implemented in 2017. The projects will be turnkey operations with financing coming from investors. The following projects were approved: the expansion of Thermal Power Plant 3 by 250 MW, the expansion of Choibalsan Thermal Power Plant by 50 MW, Baganuur-Choir high-voltage power transmission lines, construction and expansion of a Choir power sub-station, construction of power transmission lines connecting the Khoshiit mine and Altai Soum, construction of a railroad connecting Choibalsan and Khootii mine, construction of a railroad connecting Khootii mine and Bichigt Port, construction of a railroad connecting Zuunbayn and Khangi Port, and construction of a railroad connecting Nariinsukhait mine and Shiveehuren Port.

Keywords: Cabinet, energy, transportation   www.montsame.mn

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No country for old men, literally

By J. Bayarjargal

December 7 (Mongolian Economy) Mongolia is a country of young people. Young people can be seen everywhere in the city streets, and even in rural areas tending to their livestock. You do not need to look up statistics to get the idea that it is a nation of the young. Today, people are becoming even more the proud of the country's youthfulness. Sometimes it even seems as though politicians worship this fact. Cabinet ministers say that we are a young country whenever they get behind a podium, and MPs talk about it in front of the cameras.

But! Perhaps this seemingly great feature should be looked at from another angle. What is the average life expectancy of Mongolians? What percentage of the population is composed of people 65 and above? People need to see the statistics and think about it. The National Statistical Office regularly publishes such statistics. Hence, is the proud statement "Mongolia is a country of young people" really just a euphemism for "Mongolia has a low life expectancy country"?

We struggled to reach a population of three million, but the average life expectancy is unsatisfactory. According to 1989-2008 rates, Mongolian people aged 65 or above have been increasing by an average of 0.67 percent per year. It was 3-4 times lower increase than the 1995 World Health Organisation rate (2-3 percent increase per year). Such a slow rate of increase is a direct result of the high mortality rate of this age group in Mongolia. These are not random figures, but conclusions by experts. Therefore, we need to think carefully. It is time to heed the advice of experts instead of sugar-coating reality with platitudes on the young.

According health sector experts, the life expectancy rate has not improved and has even declined in some ways. One important thing that they have raised alarm about is the average life expectancy of men, which has fallen to 64 years. Perhaps it is related to the carefree, or perhaps reckless, nature of Mongolian men. Mongolian men need to pay more attention to the health. It is not just a journalist saying this, but experts, doctors in particular. In contrast, it seems that women are much better at taking care of themselves as their average life expectancy has risen to 73 years, mean that women live nine more years than men on average. This gap is widening year by year. One of the many reasons is men's carefree nature as stated above. Secondly, Mongolian men love the drink.

In Japan, elder people account for 26.7 percent of the population, and researchers explain that their high life expectancy is related to their lifestyle, but most people probably already know why the Japanese live long. Japanese people hold their health and diet in high regard. That is the culture. However, the traditional Mongolian lifestyle is bringing down the life expectancy of men. There is a Mongolian joke that men are the waste basket before the trash bin, because any food the mother or children do not want to eat goes to dad. Doctors point to such cultural tendencies, as the views such a joke represents are actually a big part of the reason for the deterioration of men's health. Another issue is that parents do not give enough attention to boys. Mongolian parents living in rural areas try to provide education and good food to their daughters, while the sons are left to tend to the livestock in the freezing cold. All the hard work is on the boys' shoulders, in their ripped and worn-out clothes. This treatment of boys instils the attitude of disregarding health from a young age, according to research. When you look at it that way, it is hard to deny its truths.

Just take a look at the men around you. Are there any who willingly practice good hygiene and health? Rare, very rare. They will not clip their nails unless the woman nags them to do so. Perhaps women need to keep nagging until one day or another when men start to give a damn about their health. Hence, we need to thank the doctors who have been nagging us for years. Their ceaseless efforts are starting to reach the public.

It sure would sound nice if people lauded that "Mongolia is a country of young people" if average life expectancy were a bit higher. 

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Government to halt export of live horses

December 7 (UB Post) Minister of Food and Agriculture P.Sergelen and Head of the General Agency for Specialized Investigation N.Tsagaankhuu held a press conference regarding the treatment of horses at the Bichigt border crossing in Sukhbaatar Province and the halting of exports.

In a video that was recently circulated on social media, live horses are seen being transported over the border. There were reports that the horses were being abused and starved.

At the press conference, Minister P.Sergelen emphasized that the export of live horses was prohibited in November, and to remain in place until April of next year. The export of horses documented in the video has been determined to be in violation of the ban.

The officials noted that due to the recent cases of abuse and starvation linked to the live export of horses, an official decision was made to cease any further export of live horses.

Deputy Minister of Mongolia U.Khurelsukh released an official statement that read, "I will not tolerate the indecent transport and the inhumane treatment of the Mongolian horse, which has been commemorated in our nation's emblem. I have delegated the responsibility of addressing and stopping this issue to Minister of Food and Agriculture P.Sergelen and the Head of the General Agency for Specialized Investigation, N.Tsagaankhuu."

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Prime Minister visits MONTSAME Agency

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, December 8 (MONTSAME) On December 8, Prime Minister J.Erdenebat visited our agency to get familiar with the daily operations in person. MONTSAME is turning 96 next year.

During the meeting of Prime Minister with the agency staff, Vice Director of MONTSAME Sh.Batbold and representatives of three generations of workers shared their opinions and put forward their requests to the Government.

Editor-in-Chief of the Mongol Messenger weekly newspaper G.Purevsambuu, who has been working in the agency for the past 37 years, underlined MONTSAME remains as the fount of generations of outstanding journalists and, most importantly, the best translators in Mongolia. While noting that, due to financial and political situations in Mongolia, activities of newspapers in Russian and Chinese languages had been discontinued for certain periods of time and had been restored, MONTSAME has been maintaining full accomplishment of its duties of promoting Mongolia on the international arena and connecting the domestic audience with the whole world. He also highlighted the importance of sophisticating the human resource policy for the young and skillful personnel to stay in the agency for longer period and train the new cadres.

Domestic News Desk's reporter B.Ariunzaya asked the government to attach more importance to giving some privilege to the agency's reporters, as it is the most reliable source of information on Mongolia.

Editor-in-Chief of the News Abroad Desk Ya.Indra noted that MONTSAME News Agency has been reporting about Mongolia by sticking to its many years of principle in promoting and building an image Mongolia to the world audience in a comprehensive and systematic manner.

Prime Minister J.Erdenebat remarked that it is indeed important to cooperate with the longest running government news agency in promoting the politics and economy of the country. Mongolia, as a developing small power, faces a serious demand to present itself to the world, especially, the most potential sectors of its economy, he stated.

The head of Mongolian government pledged to work more closely with the news agency and promised to increase the funding for technological renovations.

After wishing the best of success to the Agency's staffers, the Prime Minister went through the newsrooms and printing house.

MONTSAME publishes weekly newspapers in English, Russian, Chinese and Japanese languages and in traditional Mongolian script. Montsame.mn website offers daily news in Mongolian, Russian and English languages.

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Mystery on the Hohhot Express

December 8 (news.mn) The police have arrested two people and seized a large sum of money and frozen beef hidden on a train. The mysterious money, totalling MNT890 thousand in 100, 50, 20, 10 notes as well as 75kg of  frozen beef was discovered hidden in boxes by the air valves of a train from Ulaanbaatar to Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, on 2ndof December. Questioning of the suspects continues.

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Business

Mott MacDonald provides lenders' technical for Gobi Desert windfarm

December 8 (Consultancy.uk) The 50MW Tsetsii wind farm situated in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia, reached financial close recently. The project, which is funded by European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, aims at boosting the country's renewable stock as the country looks to reduce it carbon footprint and the blight of pollution affecting its capital city Ulaanbaatar.

The Mongolian energy sector is heavily reliant on coal for the generation of the country's electricity needs: of its 1,130MW generation capacity in 2015, 88% came from coal, 6% from diesel, 6% from renewable energy, and 2% from hydropower. The country is, however, seeking (and obligated) to reduce its carbon footprint as well as expand its energy generation in line with growing demand.

The country also faces a blight from pollution, with its major city Ulaanbaatar suffering from 3 to 12 times the level of PM2.5 recommended by the World Health Organization – due to coal fired power plants, among others. One project aimed at reducing the country's carbon dependence, by offsetting 151,000 tons of CO2 per year, and reduce pollution, is the Tsetsii wind farm situated in the Gobi Desert.

The Gobi Desert is a vast area covering almost 1.3 million kilometres across areas of Mongolia and China, and continues to grow rapidly through desertification around its boarders. The desert is an area of extremes, ranging in temperature differences of up to 35 C in a single day – besides an abundance of sand the region too has considerable periods of blustery weather.

The new Tsetsii wind farm is located on the Mongolian side of the Gobi Desert and consists of 25 turbines generating a total output of 50 MW. The wind farm, the second to be built in the country, has a price tag of around $120 million, and is financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

As part of the lenders' environmental and social due diligence process, Mott MacDonald was called in. The firm brings considerable experience to the project, having worked on the country's earlier 50MW Salkhit wind energy scheme. As part of its lenders' technical advisory, the firm probed, among others, the project participants' technical capabilities, the project's design, schedule, contract agreements and the financial model, as well as environmental, social and permitting matters.

Caedmon Shayer, Mott MacDonald's Project Manager for the engagement, says, "The majority of power demand in Mongolia comes from the capital city Ulaanbaatar, which is primarily supplied by old coal power stations. Local residents also burn coal in open fires. As a result Ulaanbaatar is one of the most polluted cities in the world over its harsh winter. It is hoped that the renewable energy provided by Tsetsii will help reduce the dependence on fossil fuels in both the capital and Gobi Desert."

The engineering consultancy will continue to provide monitoring services to the project, which is slated for completion in 2017.

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PM visits national manufacturers' exhibition

December 8 (MONTSAME) On Tuesday Prime Minister Mr J.Erdenebat attended the trade fair named "Dealing with economic challenges through promoting national production".

More than 30 national companies exhibited equipment for metallurgy, metal processing, machines and mechanisms, construction materials, plastics, mining and heavy industry equipment spare parts, glass, concrete rail sleepers, electric cables, heating stoves, solar energy accumulators, information and nano technology products.

The best approach for overcoming the current economic difficulties is to promote domestic industry, said the Prime Minister. He applauded the workers of the "EcologyBus" company for organizing such an important event, and said that the government has been considering the national producers' request for deferment of import duty payment for industrial equipment.

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Government to formalize EUR 70 million loan from IIB

Ulaanbaatar, December 8 (MONTSAME) On Wednesday, the Cabinet authorized the Minister of Finance to sign a Loan Agreement of up to EUR 70 million with the International Investment Bank. The loan term is up to seven year and has 3.89 percent interest rate.

The government intends to spend the loan funding for reduction of credit service costs and lengthening average period for loan repayments.

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Cabinet approves list of energy projects to commence next year

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, December 8 (MONTSAME) At its regular meeting on Wednesday, the cabinet approved the list of projects covering spheres of energy, road and transport, to be realized in 2017. Agreements on implementation of these programs and projects will be concluded within the first quarter of 2017 with the selected investors to execute the project on Turn Key contracts.

The list incorporates the 250MWT Thermal Transmission Expansion Project on the Third Thermal Power Station; the 50MWT Thermal Transmission Expansion Project on Choibalsan Thermal Power Plant; Project on Baganuur-Choir Overhead Transmission Grids and Expansion Project on Baganuur Substation; Project on Construction of Choir Substation and Expansion Project; Project on 35KWT Overhead Transmission Grids connecting Khushuut mine with Altai soum of Khovd Province and Project on Construction of Substation; Project on Construction of Choibalsan-Khuut 192 km railroad, Project on Construction of 234km railroad connecting Khuut mine and Bichigt border checkpoint; Project on Construction of 281 km railroad connecting Zuunbayan station and Khangi border checkpoint; and Project on Construction of 45.3 km railroad connecting Nariinsukhait mine and Shiveekhuren border checkpoint.

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Japanese and Mongolian decision makers showing up in "Invest Mongolia Tokyo" conference

By B. Myagmardorj

December 7 (gogo.mn) The conference highlights the Japan-Mongolia Economic Partnership Agreement and the strengthening of the strategic partnership between Mongolia and Japan.

This year, the new Mongolian Government introduces its action plan for the next four years with particular focus on those industries in which Japanese investors have an active interest and the areas that provide the most benefit to the two countries.

Panels: 

  • The outlook of relations between Japan and Mongolia
  • The current condition of the Mongolian economy and what will be the key drivers for any recovery
  • The outlook for Mongolia's mineral exports and implications for Japanese investors
  • Government Hour: Parliament Members to discuss current issues regarding Mongolia and relations with Japan
  • Privatization and opportunities in Mongolia 
  • Green Infrastructure
  • The proposal to the Mongolian Government from Japan

Presentations: 

  • Legal Aspects of Doing Business in Mongolia
  • General update on the construction and real estate sector in Mongolia
  • Japanese International Cooperation Agency's operations for the further development of Mongolia

Within the above mentioned items, the conference will also discuss topical matters such as the impact of Oyu Tolgoi underground mine on the economy, the looming 2017 government bond repayment, the economic and political priorities in 2017 for Japan and Mongolia.

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President of Mongolian Professional Institute of Geosciences and Mining assesses mining sector status

By B. Chintushig

December 8 (UB Post) Udriin Sonin recently conducted an interview with the President of the Mongolian Professional Institute of Geosciences and Mining (MPIGM), M.Davga.

Is it right for state-owned companies to operate in the mining sector?

Rather than state my own opinion on this matter, it would be better to discuss what the advantages and disadvantages are of state-owned companies in the mining sector. As a person who has not been in charge of a state-owned company, I am not an expert on this matter.

When everyone stays quiet and says, "I am not an expert," we are losing our opportunity to increase revenue from mining. A professional in the mining industry would surely know about the troubles of state-owned companies in the mining sector.

There are many people who wish for the executives of state-owned companies to be more open and give us more information about this matter. Maybe, to encourage them to speak, I will say a few things on the matter. In simple terms, mining is transferring re-
sources from the ground to be used for the development of the economy. The question of whether the government should be directly involved in mining or delegate the matter to private companies arises. Historically, our country has always had state-owned companies in the mining sector.

Due to fears of losing our land and resources to foreign entities, we have labeled some mines as strategically vital. It is written by law that if the government finds a mine, 51 percent of it will be state-owned. If a private company finds a mine, 34 percent will be owned by the government. I have done a lot of research on the topic of your question. There are many problems. Whether or not the government can take on risk and develop mines comes into question.

In addition to taxation, the government seems to be eager to own shares in mines. That seems to backfire on them. Would you agree?

Looking at the nation's development, the financial situation, the undiversified economy, poverty, and unemployment, we must think hard about playing with state-owned companies. If the government wants to use state-owned companies to develop and prosper, they must think about what environment is necessary for this. As you said, private companies only pay taxes, if the mines are owned by the government, it seems like it would be more profitable and beneficial. We are getting lost in the word "profit". The government taxes mining companies regardless of whether they are making a profit or not. The mining sector is unique in that companies have to pay taxes for exploration. The revenue of mining companies is taxed. It does not matter if they are profitable or not, the government receives five percent. They also impose VAT and a number of other taxes. Any company can work profit- ably in the future. Once they start making a profit, the shareholders are given their dividends.

There has been uproar over news that Mongolia will not receive mining dividends in the near future. It seems better to have larger taxes.

People are too focused on profit, and the government places too much focus on owning shares in order to receive dividends. In the meantime, there are many avenues to profit from mining, but people are focusing on the dividends. In a country with bad governance and high corruption, it is not correct to wait for dividends that will not be reaped in the near future. Receiving dividends isn't the only form of mining revenue.

In countries with highly developed mining sectors, which way is considered the best?

They focus on taxation and royalties. In particular, countries that have used mining to reach the next stage of development have figured out that dividends and shares are too much of a hassle. They just delegate the mining to private companies. Those countries have a policy of having very high tax rates for mining.

Are there many examples of state-owned companies around the world that have good transparency and horizontal supervision?

Looking at international studies, state-owned companies seem to be insufficient in this matter. Countries that have a competent parliament are different. They are able to supervise state-owned companies well.

Are there any examples of state-owned companies in countries with undeveloped mining sectors conducting their own exploration and finding success?

Those cases are very rare. If there are no guidelines and laws regarding what state-owned companies can and can't do, it is very hard for them to succeed. It is difficult for state-owned companies to attract investment to a sector that won't give dividends for another 10 to 15 years.

They do not believe in them enough to invest?

Exactly. The more capable the state-owned company is of operating on its own, the better their opportunities are. It is better to not have any political involvement in those companies. Yet, a large part of the budget is from state- owned companies. If they are given too much freedom, there is a danger of becoming a kingdom rather than a country. In the 1990s, the Prime Minister had to beg to meet with the executives of state-owned companies. Just as not all companies are able to float their shares on the stock market, a state-owned company can have the same problem. If a company has a vital role in society, what happens when it is issued on the stock exchange? People are not stupid, they're not blind. They won't buy shares in a state-owned company which has no prospect for growth as it supports a whole city or is unable to operate to its fullest potential because of political involvement.

Is there a risk of a development standstill in the mining sector when there are so many state-owned companies involved?

State-owned companies are close to the ministry and the government, which gives them the advantage of having in- put on any new legislation. The power to influence decisions is much greater. Furthermore, there is a danger of be- coming too self-serving. This brings a huge risk of derailing the industry as a whole.

What do we need to do in order to increase our revenue from mining and develop other sectors?

In Mongolia's case, state-owned companies are legal. International mining companies have started operating in the country. Private domestic mining companies have developed to a certain point. There is no one recipe for success. In my opinion, it doesn't exist anywhere in the world. Countries such as Australia and Canada have imposed large rates of taxation and left mining to private companies. Whether or not our current model is the correct one is an important question.

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Ulaanbaatar

Mongolia: Thousands at risk of homelessness due to authorities' urban redevelopment failings

December 7 (Amnesty International) The Mongolian authorities' are failing residents of Ulaanbaatar with an urban redevelopment process that is putting thousands of people at risk of forced eviction and homelessness, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

The 55-page policy briefing, Falling Short: The Right to Adequate Housing in Ulaanbaatar, Mongoliahighlights the plight of residents in Mongolia's capital and reviews an urban redevelopment agenda that is marred by a lack of information on eviction, compensation and resettlement.

"Families are living in fear that they will be left homeless as a result of urban redevelopment. The authorities are falling short in their responsibilities to protect residents' rights," said Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia Director at Amnesty International.

"The ambitious redevelopment agenda has not been matched with the establishment of sufficient safeguards to protect against the risk of forced eviction. There is an urgent need for the authorities to put in place clear and effective guarantees to protect residents' rights."

Ulaanbaatar's redevelopment agenda

The current redevelopment plan for Ulaanbaatar is focused on 24 ger areas where approximately 9% of the city's 1.3 million residents live and public housing which is deemed unsafe or structurally unsound.

Ger areas combine both houses and gers (traditional round felt dwellings) and often lack basic infrastructure such as roads, access to water, sanitation and heating. They have multiplied over the past decade, as hundreds of thousands of herder families have left the steppes to settle in the outskirts of the city. These families typically find a piece of unoccupied land, put up a fence and erect their ger as they look for new ways to support their livelihood.

The redevelopment agenda has the potential to transform the living conditions for many Ulaanbaatar residents, with better housing and access to services for new and old inhabitants. It could also help combat high levels of air pollution through measures such as improved land use and upgrades to heating systems and water supplies.

However, the absence of clear and adequate government regulation, effective consultation and monitoring makes individuals affected by redevelopment vulnerable to a range of human rights violations, in particular the right to adequate housing.

Shortcomings in legal protections

A critical deficiency of relocation policies identified by Amnesty International is that residents lacking formal land titles or whose names do not appear on land deeds—a common occurrence in Ulaanbaatar where khashaa (fenced plot of land) are often shared by different families—are excluded from the procedures governing evictions and relocations.

The possibility of removing people from their land and housing for redevelopment without adequate consultation and compensation presents a serious risk of forced eviction and other human rights violations and runs counter to the stated objectives of the urban redevelopment agenda to "ensure a healthy, safe and comfortable living environment". Under international human rights law, adequate consultation with and compensation for all residents are necessary to make evictions lawful.

Another key failing of current legislation is the absence of specific measures to ensure equal participation of all and consultation with those affected by the redevelopment in specific and different ways including women, the elderly, youth and people with disabilities.

For example, while the Development Law includes a clause to ensure that new infrastructure must include conditions for easy access for people with disabilities, there is no provision requiring consultation on the planning and design of the new infrastructure with people with disabilities who may not be title holders.

Increased risk of homelessness

Amnesty International's research also found that residents often lacked adequate information which was a key factor in placing them at a distinct disadvantage with property development companies. Private developers play a major role under Ulaanbataar's current urban redevelopment programme. 

While in recent years a number of key laws and policies on redevelopment have been amended—at times in the right direction—residents have been left in the dark about what these changes mean in practice when faced with the risk of being evicted or relocated.

One resident told Amnesty International that her family saw no choice but to sign an agreement with a construction company that they considered potentially disadvantageous. They were told by the construction company that if they refused the terms of the agreement, the developer would utilize the provisions in the law to have them evicted – provisions that are contradicted in other redevelopment laws and regulations.

At the outset of the redevelopment project, residents were often offered rent money for fixed terms to pay for temporary accommodation until the new housing is built. However, with many projects now stalled as developers failed to make provisions for the current economic downturn and cannot cover the longer term payments, many families cannot afford the rent on their own.

Ahead of this year's winter, several families told Amnesty International they feared that they would be made homeless as a result. Temperatures typically reach minus 30 degrees Celsius during Ulaanbaatar's winter.

"No one should be left homeless because of redevelopment, yet families in Ulaanbaatar find themselves in limbo with no protection from the authorities as developers halt construction," said Nicholas Bequelin.

"Mongolian authorities must put the rights of residents first and ensure everyone affected by urban redevelopment is involved in the consultations. The government has the responsibility to make sure everyone involved is aware of their rights."

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Water supply and tap water in Ulaanbaatar

By B. Myagmardorj

December 8 (gogo.mn) The Tuul River, which flows through Ulaanbaatar, is one of its water resources. The Tuul runs for 704 km from its source in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park in the Khentii Mountains, and has a river basin covering an area of 49.84 km2. It connects with the Orkhon River and flows into the Selenge River, which then empties into Lake Baikal.

Ulaanbaatar takes the water from more than 30 meters below the surface, so even if the Tuul is not currently clean, the water Ulaanbaatar takes is not polluted. The City Central Water Center provides all the water for Ulaanbaatar. The center has a running capacity of 177,500 m3/day and a total capacity of 230,000 m3/day, so some spare capacity remains. City plans estimate that an additional 240,000 m3/day will be needed to cover water demands as the population increases.

Ulaanbaatar is approaching levels where water shortages could become a daily problem. Water demand is estimated to reach 510,700 m3/day by 2030.

55.5% of Ulaanbaatar's total water supply is for domestic use, with 53% supplied to apartments and 2.5% supplied to other private residences and the ger district. Meanwhile, 41.5% is for industrial use, split between power plants and organizations, and 3.7% is for agricultural use, including livestock. 

Worldwide, two thirds of the water supply is for agricultural use, followed by industrial use and then domestic use; however, Mongolia's agricultural water consumption is vastly less than other countries due to differences stemming from farming versus the nomadic system that thrives in Mongolia.

Clean drinking water supplies are available in 77% of Ulaanbaatar, and sewerage for sanitation is available in 35% of the city. Sewerage significantly lags behind drinking water in other regional towns and cities, where 41% have access to drinking water and 10% to sewerage.

According to the WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP), 57% of the world had clean drinking water sources in 2008. By comparison, the rate for cities in developed countries was approximately 79%.

Looking at these figures, the rates for Ulaanbaatar are close to those for developed countries, but those for regional towns and cities are quite low.

Tap water in Ulaanbaatar is considered bacteria-free, and besides the antiquated plumbing which means that the water may contain rust and chlorine that is not good for your long-term health, the drinking water in Ulaanbaatar is not contaminated.

Be wary of water purifier sales men that knock at your door, as water purifiers will make your water worse by filtering the minerals that are beneficial. What you need is a simple water purifier that filters rust and chlorine.

Otherwise, you should leave your water to stand overnight, so that the rust precipitates to the bottom of the pot and the chlorine evaporates.

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Diplomacy

Mongolia seeks India support against China's 'blockade'

by Kallol Bhattacherjee

December 7 (The Hindu) Mongolia has asked for "clear support" from India against a transport-obstruction imposed by China.

After Ulan Bator hosted the Dalai Lama in November, China has hiked tariffs on Mongolian trucks passing through Chinese territory, the Mongolian envoy said on Tuesday.

"India should come out with clear support against the difficulties that have been imposed on Mongolia by China, which is an overreaction to the religious visit by His Holiness Dalai Lama. We have not changed our 'One China' policy, so Beijing's response to Mongolia hosting the spiritual leader is really not justifiable," said Ambassador Gonchig Ganbold.

He said Mongolian vehicles were being arbitrarily charged for over-land transit and China's province of Inner Mongolia had begun to charge trucks carrying minerals a provincial tariff.

"With winter temperature already around minus-20 degrees, transport obstruction by China is likely to create a humanitarian crisis in Mongolia as these measures will hurt the flow of essential commodities," he said. The Ministry of External Affairs had been briefed about the bilateral difficulties with China that erupted following Dalai Lama's visit.

China accused Mongolia of taking an "erroneous" step after the visit of Dalai Lama. Speaking to the media, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said on November 23: "The erroneous action taken by the Mongolian side on Dalai's visit hurt the political foundation of China-Mongolia relations and exerted negative impact on the development of bilateral relations. The Chinese side requires the Mongolian side to genuinely respect China's core interests and major concerns, take effective means to remove the negative impact caused by its erroneous action and bring China-Mongolia relations back to the track of sound and steady growth."

Transit obstacles

Mr. Ganbold said Mongolia at present was dependent on Russian transit rights. "The transit obstructions have imposed a kind of blockade-like situation which will take a toll on our economy and society."

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Similar:

Exclusive: Mongolian envoy to India raises China's increase on land transit tax issue with MEAIndia Today, December 7

Raise voice against China: Mongolia urges IndiaTimes of India, December 7

India responds to Mongolia's SOS on Chinese sanctionsTNN, December 9

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Mongolia should soul-search on hosting separatist figure

By Wen Dao

December 8 (Global Times) The Hindu reported this week that Mongolia is seeking "clear support" from India to break away from China's recent "blockade." The Mongolian ambassador to India, Gonchig Ganhold, said China has raised tariffs on Mongolian trucks passing through Chinese territory, which he claimed is an "overreaction" to Mongolia's reception of the Dalai Lama in November, despite China's opposition.

Hiking over-land transit charges, according to foreign media, is among a series of countermeasures China has adopted to punish Mongolia for its "erroneous action" in defiance of China's warning. A few days after the Dalai Lama's visit, China suspended indefinitely two sets of talks with the Mongolian side, which is in dire need of Chinese loans for infrastructure and development projects.

The Chinese foreign ministry didn't confirm or deny these countermeasures or their connections with the Dalai Lama's visit. Spokesperson Geng Shuang said Mongolia should "adopt effective measures to eliminate the negative effects of the Dalai Lama's visit," insinuating the precondition for bringing Sino-Mongolian ties back on track is that Ulaanbaatar must realize it was wrong to touch China's red line of the Dalai Lama.

Mongolia, according to Ganhold's statement, simply deemed the Dalai Lama as a religious leader, and there were no political strings attached to his visit. But since he fled to India in 1959 after his separatist revolt was upset, the Dalai Lama has become a political advocate calling for the separation of Tibet under the guise of religion. In China's narrative, he is much more a separatist than a religious figure. Receiving him implies endorsement of his deeds, which is highly disapproved of in both government and public discourses in China.

Whether China's countermeasures are real or not, Mongolia should reflect on its ill-considered handling of the case, lacking diplomatic sophistication and making trouble for in-depth cooperation between both sides.

Sandwiched between Russia and China, Mongolia vows to remain a neutral state to benefit from both sides without having to get involved in a major-power competition.

However, it also hopes it could seek a "third neighbor," which can enable the country to reap more profits by gaining more bargaining chips. But Mongolia should be alerted that it cannot afford the risks of such geopolitical games.

Mongolia seems naive about the way international relations work - you cannot harm a country's interests while hoping it can reciprocate nicely.

Mongolia should know that mutual respect is the precondition to develop bilateral relationships and hitch a ride on China's economic development.

It is even more politically harebrained to ask for support from India, a move that will only complicate the situation and leave a narrower space to sort the issue out.  We hope the crisis-hit Mongolia will learn its lessons.

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Mongolia Protests Chinese Import Tax Following Dalai Lama VisitBreitbart, December 6

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India: Closely working with Mongolia to implement $1bn credit line

December 8 (Press Trust of India) India today said it is "closely working" with the Mongolian government to implement the USD one billion credit line to help it to meet current difficult budgetary situation arising out of various factors including the recent imposition of border tariffs against it by China.

The Chinese action came after Mongolia hosted the Dalai Lama in November following which the Mongolians wanted India to raise the issue publicly.

"Insofar as Mongolia's relationship with China is concerned, I would not like to comment. However, I can make some observations about our own very strong relationship with Mongolia. We are aware of the difficult budgetary situation that Mongolia is facing due to various factors including high cost of servicing of debt raised by them in the past," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

"As a close friend of Mongolia, which regards India as its 'third neighbour' and 'spiritual neighbour', we are ready to work with Mongolian people in this time of their difficulty," he said and referred to credit line of USD one billion announced during the visit of the Prime Minister's there in 2015.

"We are closely working with the Mongolian government to implement the credit line in a manner that is deemed beneficial to the friendly people of Mongolia by its leadership," Swarup added.

The Dalai Lama's visit to Mongolia, which is China's northern neighbour has riled Beijing as it reportedly put off several meetings and delegation visits, including a trip of Mongolia's Deputy Prime Minister.

Asked about the postponement of the meeting and visits, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang had said "the wrong doing by Mongolia on this issue diminished political foundation between the two countries and brought negative impact to bilateral relations".

"We ask the Mongolian side to respect our major concern and take concrete actions to remove the negative impact and bring China-Mongolia relations on to the track of sound development," Geng said.

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India comes to aid of Mongolia as China ups ante after Dalai LamaThe New Indian Express, December 8

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Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides details on new Chinese border fees

By B. Chintushig

December 7 (UB Post) The head of the Border Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, D.Ganbold, gave a press conference on the new border fees being imposed by the Chinese government.

D.Ganbold reported that Mongolia currently has 46 active border points operating in partnership with its two neighbors, and that all sides are working to improve the capacity and interconnectivity of the border points. He talked about reports that the new fees imposed at a number of Chinese border crossings have adversely affected Mongolia's imports and exports.

He said, "The new fees are affecting three Mongolian border points, namely Shiveekhuren, Gashuun Sukhait, and Bichigt. The Chinese government has not sent us any official statements regarding the new fees. The Ministry found out through reports and is currently working to look into this matter. There has been some misinformation in reports regarding the new fees. The new fees at border crossings are not only being imposed on Mongolia.

"According to the Inner Mongolia Development and Reform Commission, the November 4 decision to impose new fees applies to three Mongolian border crossings and two Russian border crossings."

D.Ganbold answered questions from the media after the press conference.

How much was the increase in fees? Does the Chinese side have to confer or report in advance before applying new fees?

The decision to increase or decrease fees is a domestic issue. For this reason, there is no obligation to report changes in advance to other countries. In other words, they are not obligated to report changes in advance, or officially, to other parties.

Not all fees at border crossings are the same. For instance, the Gashuun Sukhait border crossing has road, processing, and sanitation fees. Gants Mod Port in China has sanitation and documentation fees. The newly imposed fees include an 8 RMB tariff per one ton, a 10 RMB tariff per one truck, and a two percent tariff on mining products with a value exceeding 10,000 RMB. The new fees were reported to be an increase in the facilities maintenance fees of the port.

Recently, Oyu Tolgoi announced that it had suspended concentrate shipments to the Chinese border due to a new requirement at the Chinese-Mongolian border to utilize one coal and concentrate crossing route. Can you give us more information about this?

The Gashuun Sukhait border crossing has 12 gates. Out of these 12, one of them is owned solely by Oyu Tolgoi. All of Oyu Tolgoi's export product goes through this gate. There is no problem from the Mongolian side. We have not changed anything, the products are still allowed through that gate. The Chinese side of the border crossing has eight gates. The problem is regarding those eight gates on the Chinese side.

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Mongolia considering WTO complaint over China border fees

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, December 8 (MONTSAME) The Standing committee on Budget of the State Great Khural ran the first discussion on draft amendments to the Law on Custom Tariffs and Duties on December 7.

The standing committee members inquired about the measures being taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the increasing customs fees on Mongolian goods at the Chinese border, while underlining that Mongolia has established comprehensive strategic partnership with its two neighbors.

According to the working group, the Mongolian side has been collaborating on reducing the custom fees and duties with the Eurasian Economic Union, which has five members including Russia. As for the negotiations with the Chinese side, the Foreign Ministry of Mongolia has requested China to alleviate custom tariffs by 30 percent, said an official. Both of our neighbors are members of the World Trade Organization. The recent decision by the Chinese side on increasing custom fees on goods from Mongolia breaches 2-3 obligations China has assumed under the WTO. This is a sufficient ground for Mongolia to make a complaint to the organization. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been examining this issue, said a member of the working group.

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Mongolia FM receives Japanese Ambassador on end of his term

By N. Khaliun

Ulaanbaatar, December 8 (MONTSAME) Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia Ts.Munkh-Orgil received  Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Mongolia Takenori Shimizu on December 5,  in conjunction with the completion of his diplomatic mission in Mongolia.

The latter noted that he is satisfied with the current level of Japanese-Mongolian relations and expressed confidence that the Economic Partnership Agreement between Japan and Mongolia will contribute to enhancing economic and investment cooperation, and will play a prominent role in increasing trade turnover between the two countries.

In turn, Mr. Munkh-Orgil thanked the Japanese Ambassador for bringing bilateral relations to the current level of development and stressed that the Mongolian Government will continue to give a special importance to the expansion of Mongolian-Japanese strategic partnership.

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Russian-Mongolian Selenga Anti-Terrorism Drills to Kick Off in August 2017

Russia and Mongolia will hold joint anti-terrorism drills dubbed Selenga-2017 next year starting from August, until September, spokesman of the Russian Eastern Military District (EMD) Alexander Gordeev said.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – According to Gordeev, the exact composition of the forces that will take part in the drills, as well as other details, including the "location of the field camps … will be approved at the planning conferences that will take place next year."

The joint Russian-Mongolian Selenga drills have been held annually since 2008. The Selenga-2016 exercise was held in the Russian Republic of Buryatia. Next year the drills will be held in Mongolia.

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Mongolia and Russia renew academic cooperation agreement

By N. Khaliun

Ulaanbaatar, December 8 (MONTSAME) In the frameworks of his working visit to the Russian Federation, Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Sports J.Batsuuri met with the RFBR Board Chairman, academician V.Y. Panchenko.

After reviewing results of the 10-year fruitfull cooperation between the Mongolian Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, the both sides came up with proposals on its further development. Then, they reached an agreement on organizing a new interdisciplinary contest with the larger amount of funding and extending the term of joint academic project implementation, which will allow scholars to achieve better results.
 

In turn, Mr. Batsuuri proposed organizing pertinent report events for project managers who have gained a support at the joint contests, in May 2017 at home.

After that, the parties discussed the prospects of Mongolia-Russia relations within the framework of RFBR-initiated Eurasian Association For Support of Scientific Researches, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports of Mongolia joined in 2016 as a founder. In 2017, it is expected that the first competition for joint Mongolian and Russian research projects to be funded from tha year of 2018 will be announced.

The meeting was resulted in signing revised cooperation agreement which defines the parties' obligations for the next five years.

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Mongolian Culture Centre opens in Java

December 6 (news.mn) A Mongolian Culture Centre has opened in the Tanjung Lesung Resort on the Indonesian island of Java. The opening ceremony was held on 26th of November as a part of the programme of events marking the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Indonesia.

At the ceremony, Sh.Battsetseg, Ambassador of Mongolia to Indonesia said 'It allows a chance to see a Mongolian ger, nomadic history, culture, and lifestyle which have been recognized by UNESCO'. A representative of the Jababeca group said 'It aims to expand the Mongolian Culture Centre to become a 'Mini Mongolia' in Java island.

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Mongolian Cultural Center opens in JakartaMontsame, December 7

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Vietnam, Mongolia boost trade union partnership

Hanoi, December 7 (VNA) – The Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) supports establishing relations between Vietnamese and Mongolian trade union sectors and localities.

Vice Chairman of the VGCL Mai Duc Chinh made the statement at a reception for Vice President of the Confederation of Mongolian Trade Unions (CMTU) Erdenebat Sukhbaa Tar in Hanoi on December 6.

He suggested building ties between the Vietnam Railway Trade Union and Federation of Mongolian Railway Trade Union and exchanging informationand delegations and coordinating in cadres training.

Erdenebat Sukhbaa Tar said Mongolia is home to over one million trade union federations with 35 member organisations and 450,000 trade unionists.

He reiterated the CMTU's policy of maintaining and developing rapport with traditional friends, noting that the friendship with Vietnamese trade unions was resumed in 1996 after several years of interrupted delegation exchanges.

During this visit, the CMTU is interested in Vietnam's experience in developing trade union membership, reforming activities, and training staff, he said.

The Mongolian confederation also hopes to set up relations between trade union sectors and localities, and seek bilateral cooperation in tourism and support each other at international forums, he added.

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Health & Education

Air pollution in Mongolia's capital poses health hazard for children says UNICEF

ULAN BATOR, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and health experts on Wednesday warned about the dire consequences of local air pollution, which residents have been experiencing for more than a decade.

Health experts have noted an increase in cases of child pneumonia due to air pollution in Mongolia's capital Ulan Bator.

Eighteen children ages five and under have died in December this year of pneumonia and lung cancer caused by air pollution, said M. Sarantsetseg, a medical doctor in the Bayanzurkh district of the capital.

Children are more vulnerable to air pollution as their internal organs are not fully developed.

According to a UNICEF report, there is growing evidence of air pollution's effects on children, including reduced fetal growth, preterm birth, pneumonia and acute respiratory disease. The incidence of lung cancer is nine times higher in urban than in rural areas.

Roberto Benes, a resident representative of UNICEF in Mongolia, said the government and the public need to take immediate actions to mitigate the negative impacts of air pollution on the population's and children's health. These actions do not need a lot of funds, he said.

First of all, more residents need to be made aware of the hazards of air pollution, Benes said.

"It is crucial for parents to go to hospitals immediately if their children show first signs of pneumonia," he said.

Second, there is the need to "install air pollution filters in all kindergartens and schools and these will not require much funds," he added.

Oyunkhorol Dulamsuren, Mongolia's environment and tourism minister, said the government has set up a working group to develop national programs to reduce air pollution. Potential activities to reduce air pollution include the development of renewable energy and reducing heat loss from buildings.

More than 800,000 residents, over half of Ulan Bator's population, live in slums, also known as Ger districts.

These residents rely on burning raw coal and other inflammable materials such as plastics and old tire rubber to stay warm and make their meals during the six-month-long winter.

As a result, Ulan Bator, one of the coldest capitals in the world, is now one of the most polluted cities in the world in winter.

Since 2000, the Mongolian government, international donors and development organizations, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, have spent millions of dollars on programs and projects to reduce air pollution.

However, these efforts did not substantially reduce the air pollution in Ulan Bator, as the level of air pollution remains almost as high as it was in early 2000.

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Related:

REPORT: Understanding and Addressing the Impact of Air Pollution on Children's Health in MongoliaUNICEF, December 2016

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Roberto Benes: Mongolian wealth is children. Not gold, copper or coal

By R. Adiyasuren

December 7 (gogo.mn) "Health impacts of air pollution on children and its solution" report, conducted jointly by the UN Children's Fund, Institute of Public Health and the Public Health Association was introduced today. 

According to the report, air pollution negatively impacts on human development in uterus, especially child respiratory organs and lung function.

Specifically, air pollution can seriously harm to human health, including:

  • fetal growth,
  • premature births,
  • pneumonia and respiratory diseases. 

ROBERTO BENES: WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO DO NOTHING

Roberto Benes, Representative for UNICEF Mongolia office emphasized:

"Children breathe twice as fast as adults, which means they take more toxic air than us and they are high risk for severe respiratory disease. The second leading cause for under-five mortality rate in Mongolia is pneumonia, which accounts 15 percent of infant mortality. 

Air pollution is the major cause of pneumonia. We have no right to do nothing. Mongolian wealth is children. Not the gold, copper and coal. 

The country need to take urgent action against air pollution. The first steps should be taken are; provide information to the residents, every citizen should wear mask, avoid using raw coal and parents should stop smoking near the children. People can protect the children from silent killer with joint efforts". 

PNEUMONIA VACCINATION, SMOKELESS FUEL, MASK...

According to the Global Burden of Disease, air pollution cause significant health impacts to Mongolian. As of 2013, one in every three deaths were due to air pollution. 

B.Tsogtbaatar, Head of Institute of Public Health said "According to the study conducted in 2009, 9-13 percent of total deaths registered in Ulaanbaatar city were caused by air pollution. If this condition continues, more and more people will die and suffer from air pollution in the future". 

People should close the window during the most polluted periods (from 6AM to 10AM and 5PM to 9PM). Moreover, residents should wear PM2.5 pollution mask regularly when go outside. 

Also, use of air conditioning is effective way to improve indoor air quality.

The report also includes direction and guidelines to protect children's health from air pollution, including smokeless fuel and pneumonia vaccination.

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Pop singer Bold becomes UNICEF special envoy on fighting air pollution

December 7 (news.mn) Mongolian State Laureate, the singer D.Bold has been appointed special envoy of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to fight against air-pollution. D.Bold, who is best known as leader of the famous Mongolian boy-band 'Camerton', said 'I will rise a voice against air-pollution and activate other parents like me'. The singer was appointed at a ceremony launching a report entitled 'Reducing effects of air-pollution on children's health' by UNICEF and the Public Health Institute.

Air-pollution is serious global problem - and in Ulaanbaatar in particular. It is blamed for 3.4 million deaths annually around the world; half million of which are children aged below five.

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WHO Rep: "In 10 years from now, cervical cancer rates will go even higher"

By A. Odontuya

December 8 (gogo.mn) The World Health Organization (WHO) is the technical agency responsible for health within the United Nations system. Our principle job is to provide technical advice and support to the Government of Mongolia and the Ministry of Health. Also, we work closely with other partners to promote the global and regional health goals to prevent and protect humankind from devastating ill health in an era of globalization with increasing interdependencies between countries.

We interviewed with Dr Soe Nyunt U, WHO Representative in Mongolia. 

-You are working in Mongolia as country representative since 2012. What is the priority health issue of Mongolia?

-When you look at mortality and mobility issues, top causes of deaths in Mongolia are noncommunicable diseases. Mongolians are still dying of heart attack at first (cardiovascular diseases). Second are the cancers. Mongolian death rate from liver cancer is highest in the world. Also, we have common stomach cancer. Third we have road traffic accident, violence and injuries. Even roads are getting better and better in terms of connection, but because of the weather during the winter is very dangerous. Also, during summer in Mongolia, people drink lots of vodka and they ride. Because of this, lots of car accidents happen and many young adults die. Diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases are popular among Mongolians.

-How about communicable diseases?

-Mongolia still has a lot of communicable disease among the population. Notable is tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections (STI) among the young adults. We have pneumonia due to we have very cold winter. Since March 2015, we have measles outbreak. Also, foodborne disease outbreak or food safety problem and drink safety problems are common in Mongolia. Even last weekend, we have alcohol poisoning. We still have issue with hygiene and hand hygiene. Because of this, hydro or foodborne diseases are happening in the school canteen.

Moreover, we have 60 plus millions of animals, zoonotic diseases are important. But not in terms of frequency, in terms of outbreak, sometimes we get brucellosis and anthrax outbreak.

-What STIs are common in Mongolia?

-Gonorrhea is popular among young adults of Mongolia. Many people treat it without proper prescriptions, they treat it themselves buying medicine. Not properly treat, but later infections become resistant to all this antibiotics.

Second is syphilis. Because many pregnant mothers got syphilis and they pass it to their newborn babies. We call it congenital syphilis. If a baby is born with syphilis, the baby has many sign and symptoms of congenital syphilis. Normally a woman in her pregnancy should go to care center for screening. If their syphilis positive, they should get a full treatment. If both partners are treated, they should not be any problem and their baby will be born without syphilis. But sometimes mothers do not come to hospital.

In 2015, we have 52 cases of babies born with congenital syphilis. We do not want any baby born with any infection. We can prevent mother to child transmission. As long as the mother is coming to the health care and get properly tested, we can treat and cure them together with the partner and prevent infection from innocent child. Infectious disease is heavy problem in Mongolia, but our main problems are noncommunicable diseases.

STI, by itself does not kill a person, but you will have several symptoms and you will have complications. Later you might have serious disease like cervical cancer.

Not only in Ulaanbaatar city but also other rural areas, STI is popular among the young adults. It does not mean that rural areas are completely free from STI. Now the road network has became really good. In the next couple year, every aimags will be connected with each other with roads. So we have to be careful that even STI is spreading. In terms of the percentage, about 32 percent of all infectious diseases are STI, which is one third of all infectious disease.

In Mongolia, if the woman is sexually active almost 100 percent of those women already have human papillomavirus (HPV). It does not produce serious symptoms. But ten years later, it causes cervical cancer for woman and genital cancer in man. Mongolia is already among the leading country in Asia Pacific countries with cervical cancer.  In 10 years from now, our cervical cancer will goes up even higher. If you do not do proper screening and the prevention in the next 10 years, you have a chance of developing cervical cancer.

I want to advice any woman definitely about the age of 30 to do the examination every three years.

-I think the epidemic proportion of STI among young adults are because of they have not enough health education. What do you think?

-Mongolian literacy rate is high. Knowledge about protective health behavior is low. In Mongolia, understanding about condom usage is not very high. When it comes to behavior using condom for sex, no one is using condom. In country like Thailand, Cambodia, we promote "no condom, no sex". Now it with all education and help promotion, HIV incidents and unwanted pregnancy and STI in those countries has dropped. Also, we have to prevent young adults from alcohol abuse.

Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education need to collaborate with each other. Mongolia is the only country among the other developing countries in Asia-Pacific region where every school employ medical doctor. Those doctors in the schools have to do health education and promotion, not just treating students when they got injure. If they provide the appropriate health education at appropriate age, children can grow without any infection or disease. Even we should start at kindergarten from hand hygiene after going to toilet. If you start this kind of appropriate health behavior training from kindergarten, you do not have to this anymore.

-What is the major cause of other noncommunicable diseases?

-Everyone say that no family in Mongolia has person without liver cancer. The cause of cancer is Hepatitis B and C. It leads to liver cirrhosis and later liver cancer. Now we have drugs for Hepatitis B and C. Liver is very fantastic organism. Regeneration of liver is so good. If you cure the Hepatitis viruses, liver damage will be stopped and the liver will regenerate. But the drug is still expensive in Mongolia. The Government is now planning to use their budget and social insurance contribution for the medical expense. As a result, we can make the medicine available to the poor patients. Combine with this treatment, we have to do prevention and control. In this way we can bring down the liver cancer rates. In regards, many stakeholders are collaborating and we are increasing the availability and treatment of those drugs to many people.

Stomach cancer is related to H pylori infection. H pylori infection is related to hygiene, sanitation and food safety issue. If food outlets, dormitory, food stores are not properly hygienic, they can spread H pylori infection to many people.  If you have a chronic H pylori infection, you can end up with a stomach cancer. Now Ministry of Health put screening for both noncommunicable and communicable diseases as a priority. 

-I think maybe the major cause for those diseases are caused by smoking and alcohol abuse?

-Now the average life expectancy of Mongolians is 68-69. We want to reduce the gap between the men and women`s life expectancy from current 10 years to 8 or 7. Mongolian men are died ten years ahead of the women. Ten years is too much.

Two things are very common, smoking and drinking. The Ministry of Health wants to increase the tobacco and alcohol taxes. Cigarettes are very cheap in Mongolia. Mongolia has one of the cheapest cigarettes in Asia. Even students can afford the cigarettes and start smoking. Alcohol is very cheap too. Unfortunately, when we have very cheap alcohol and cigarettes, medicine price are very high. We are looking for possibility to reduce the drug price. 

I had the same problem in Philippine before I came to Mongolia, they had cheap cigarettes and very expensive drugs around 2007. Ministry of Health and many stakeholders worked really hard to increase the tobacco and alcohol price by increasing the tax by 20-30 percent. Now Philippine is different from Mongolia.

-Could you name the positive changes have occurred in Mongolian health sector?

-We have great achievement in maternal and child health. Mongolia has become one of the nine countries that achieved Millennium Development Goals, especially in maternal and child health.

Almost 100 percent of Mongolian mothers deliver their babies in the health facilities. We have a very high delivery rates in health facilities attended by skilled professionals who are trained for a safe delivery. Developing countries like Indonesia and Philippine, 40-50 percent of deliveries are still happening at home. Those countries have higher maternal death and higher infant death.

Also, Mongolian sportsman and woman are winning Olympic medals and World Championship medals. Many Mongolians are having some issues with health behavior. Thus, it is great for them to use those role models as inspiration and start training by not ending up with drinking and smoking.

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Strong measures needed to fight drug trafficking

By T. Bayarbat

December 6 (UB Post) Drug abuse among the youth is a rising problem in Mongolia, especially in recent years. The greatest threat facing the world is drug abuse, so there should be a greater focus on fighting this dangerous threat. We always hear that smugglers have been caught at border checkpoints, and that representatives from the government, diplomats, and the arts are allegedly involved in the drug trade.

Unfortunately, law enforcement's efforts in combating drug trafficking don't work when it comes to cases involving famous people. Everybody knows that drug-related crimes bear the consequences of the longest prison sentences, but many Mongolians are still venturing into criminal activities due to human greed and to make more money. Premature decisions about making easy money fast causes youth to engage in the drug trade.

We also say that we have to be very careful about drug issues because of our location between two of the world's largest countries, which have faced challenges in fighting drug trafficking. This is true. The state, police, and non-governmental organizations are carrying out campaigns to discourage people from drug use, but these efforts cannot help to effectively control drug abuse and the market for illegal substances.

Several singers are rumored to be connected to the illegal drug trade, and a number of pop and rock stars are reportedly using drugs. Rumors about drug abuse could possibly affect their fans and may encourage interest in trying drugs.

Mongolian drug dealers set traps for the children of the rich to become their customers. They make friends with the easily influenced children of the rich and then some of them start using drugs. There are a number of puppets working for secret drug dealers. Unfortunately, the puppets are arrested by customs, border protection, and police officers for smuggling, selling illegal drugs, and drug possession.

Which drugs have police and customs officials recently encountered in Mongolia?

Methamphetamine is one of the most common. Ice is one common slang term for methamphetamine, but it is also known as meth, speed, crystal, glass, and shards. Methamphetamine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system, and is a powerfully addictive drug. Its use is growing in popularity among young adults.

Methamphetamine packs a punch three-anda half times more powerful than cocaine. It is also more popular and cheaper than cocaine. One hit of meth is about one-quarter of a gram, and can cost little as 25 USD. Users can snort it, swallow it, smoke it, or shoot it straight into their veins.

A single hit can keep someone high for as long as 12 hours. This is why it is the world's most dangerous drug. What should we do to reduce drug-related crime? How can we fight it? Why should we fight it? Dramatically tightening the legal and regulatory environment for successfully fighting drug trafficking is one approach.

When former Member of Parliament and former Minister of Education, Culture, and Science L.Gantumur was asked about reducing and fighting drug trafficking, he pointed out that increasing the number of law enforcement authorities, improving their capacity, and increasing the use of innovative technology were of significant importance to fighting drug abuse, smuggling, and uncovering the market for illegal substances.

Mongolia could impose the death penalty for drug smuggling, countering the policy of commuting death sentences announced by President Ts.Elbegdorj, because Mongolia is a small country with a population of only three million people. In reality, many Mongolians don't strongly support President Ts.Elbegdorj's death penalty stance.

People usually blame the President's initiative whenever horrific murders are committed. Applying the death penalty when drug offenders are caught is known to be an important actions to encourage adherence to the law. According to a report from Amnesty International, from 2007 to 2014, there were less than 50 people killed in 12 countries that apply the death penalty for drug smuggling.

If the growth of drug trafficking continues at its current rate, it will be one of the greatest threats to our national security, so we need to take action to address the drug trade and drug abuse. We can look to the Philippine Drug War to know how much a nation bogged down in drug abuse sacrifices, so we must start taking action to dismantle the drug trade soon.

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Japan provides $200K grant to repair school and kindergarten buildings

By R. Adiyasuren

December 7 (gogo.mn) Two secondary school buildings and one kindergarten building are to overhaul due to implementation of "Grass root - Human Security Project" (GGP) by Government of Japan.

School buildings and school dormitories of Khongor soum, Darkhan-Uul aimag, Tudevtei soum, Zavkhan aimag and kindergarten building of Saintsagaan soum, Dundgobi aimag will be overhauled by grant with worth of $206.498 (MNT 453 million 595 thousand 842).

Takenori Shimizu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary from Japan to Mongolia and affiliated aimag governors signed the project.

"Upon my completion as Ambassador of Japan to Mongolia, I am very pleased that my final duty is to sign one of GGP. I have tried my best to implement GGP throughout Mongolia since 1990. Currently, GGP have successfully implemented in all aimags and 208 soums out of total 332 soums. We have started GGP with the aim to solve issues faced by residents especially in education and health sectors. Today I signed the 503th project. 

I would like to express my gratitude to all Mongolians. Mongolia has a lot of potential to develop. However, the country needs a good policy to move forward and improve people`s life. I told officials that economy will be recovered after three years, if the country can manage its all resources properly. Thus, I hope for Mongolia`s bright future", said Ambassador T.Shimizu. 

During his tenure, Ambassador T.Shimizu had brought many investment and loans to Mongolia, including US$ 700 million soft loan to construct the New Ulaanbaatar International Airport (NUBIA), US$ 80 million aid to build a hospital under University of Medical Sciences and US$ 50 million soft loan to study 1000 Mongolian engineers in Japan.

Overhaul at school and kindergarten buildings is scheduled to commence in upcoming spring and will finish before Sep, 2017. 

The Government of Japan had launched GGP since 1989 to support multilateral needs of developing countries and it funds to small projects which is implemented by local government, education and health sector through the Embassy of Japan. 

After GGP had launched in Mongolia since 1990, it had aided to every aimags of Mongolia. Mongolia had been emphasizing educational sector. Thus, over 60% of implemented projects were funded to expansion and repair projects of secondary schools and kindergartens.

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Center for enrollment exams to be created at Mongolian State University of Education

Ulaanbaatar, December 8 (MONTSAME) More than 430 Mongolian children will study in Russian universities with Russian government scholarships in 2017-2018 academic year.

An agreement thereon was reached during a working visit of the Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Sports J.Batsuuri to Moscow.

On average more than 330 Mongolian students take exams to study in Russian universities and  now about 1,500 Mongolian students are studying in that country.

At the moment, a number of secondary schools practice educational programs of the Russian Federation, which are the Russian Embassy school in Mongolia, Lyceum of Russian Economic Academy named after G.V. Plekhanov, the joint Russian Mongolian School (School No 3) in Ulaanbaatar, and Erdenet-Russian school #19.

After the meeting, the Center of taking enrollment exams will be set up at the Mongolian State University of Education. Prior to this, the above-mentioned school graduates had to take exams on the territory of Russia. 

Over 100 Mongolian young people who will pass the exams will have an opportunity to study in Russian universities with scholarships.

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Russia to help develop Music and Dance College into University

December 7 (news.mn) Russia, the land of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov and the world-famous Bolshoi Ballet, is to help transform the Music and Dance College of Mongolia into a top-class university. According to J.Batsuuri, Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Sport, the upgrading will involve a teaching and administration team from the Russian Music University coming to Ulaanbaatar in February. The specialists will conduct a technical and management audit, evaluating what musical instruments and facilities are required for the transformation.

Mongolia and Russia have had a long and close history of cooperation going back several generations. This programme, however, in education, science, culture and sport was agreed during a visit by Minister, J.Batsuuri during a visit to Russia in November. In total, 433 Mongolian students will receive scholarships to study in the Russian Federation during the 2017-2018 academic year. More than 1500 Mongolians are currently studying in Russia.

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Culture & Society

Flying the flag: Opera singer E.Amartuvshin becomes Mongolian Cultural Envoy

December 7 (news.mn) Opera singer E.Amartuvshin has received a certificate appointing him as Cultural Envoy of Mongolia. The ceremony took place on Tuesday 6th December. State Honoured Artist E. Amartuvshin has shown brilliant successes in international competitions and has sung in some of the greatest opera houses in the world. He currently sings at the famous Mariinskii Theatre in St Petersburg. The young singer's career took off when he won second place at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and won the Audience Award at the BBC Singer of the World event in Cardiff.

The practice of appointing cultural envoys was established by the Mongolian Government in 2015. The cultural envoys contribute greatly to promoting cultural, historic, humanitarian and scientific interactions with many different countries of the world.

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Related:

E.Amartuvshin becomes Cultural EnvoyMontsame, December 7

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UC Berkeley Event: Environmental Narratives in Mongolian Sound Worlds

Conference/Symposium: Institute of East Asian Studies: Mongolia Initiative | February 3 | 1-6 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

SponsorsInstitute of East Asian Studies (IEAS), UC Berkeley Mongolia Initiative, California State University East Bay, Department of Music

Urbanization, globalization, and climate change have had a powerful effect on the ways Mongolians and Inner Mongolians relate to their environment, and this is transforming many of their cultural forms. This conference seeks to increase awareness of the relationships been musical expression and the ecological, economic and political issues impacting residents in different ethnic groups in both rural and urban Mongolia.

Event Contactieas@berkeley.edu, 510-643-6492

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Archaeology sheds light on Mongolia's uncertain nomadic future

As a herding lifestyle practiced for millennia is threatened by contemporary climate change, archaeology offers a long-term perspective

by William Taylor

December 7 (The Guardian) Around the world, traditional subsistence practices provide a resilient source of ecological knowledge that improves humanity's ability to respond to environmental crises. In Central Asia, a herding lifestyle practiced for millennia is increasingly threatened by the speed and magnitude of climate change.

Although the global mean temperature is predicted to rise by 2C over the coming century, this trend will likely be more severe in high altitude and high latitude environments. In the subarctic steppes of Mongolia, nearly one-third of the population makes their living through migratory herding of livestock – sheep, goat, horse, cattle, camel, and yak. For these herders, the effects of climate change have been immediate and dramatic. Mongolia has experienced summer droughts, extreme winter weather, pasture degradation, a shrinking water supply, and desertification, leading to seasonal herd die-offs. These processes have a cascading effect, reinforcing other issues caused by human activity and globalisation.

How will nomadic society respond to these obstacles? Archaeology offers a long-term perspective on the relationship between people and the environment.

In comparison to other parts of the continent, the grasslands of Mongolia are dry, cold, and inhospitable. Precipitation is infrequent and seasonal, making pastures susceptible to overgrazing. Horses, which can open snow-covered winter pastures for other livestock and move quickly over long distances, would have helped to mitigate the challenges of life in the Mongolian steppe.

Archaeologists have long been aware of the ecological advantages to horse herding and riding, and used them to develop explanations for the origins of nomadic cultures made infamous by Genghis (Mongolian: Chinggis) and Khubilai Khan. One popular archaeological theory championed by Russian scholar Anatoly Khazonov1 argues that more sedentary herders developed horseback riding and seasonal migration as a way to cope with prolonged drought during the late second millennium BCE. If mobile herding societies first coalesced during a centuries-long dry spell, contemporary climate trends might not seem such a fatal threat to nomadic life.

However, as researchers have acquired detailed record of ancient climate conditions, a different pattern has started to emerge –a link between wet, productive grasslands and the success of nomadic empires. Because water is the limiting factor for life in the Eastern Steppe, rain has a direct impact on the number of livestock an area can support. A recent investigation of paleoclimate records from the Tarim Basin of western China revealed that the great Mongol empire flourished during an anomalously wet period, linked to hemispheric cooling. "Increased carrying capacity for livestock translates into increased carrying capacity for herders," says study co-author Dave Putnam of the University of Maine.

Putnam and colleagues argue that cooler, wetter conditions prompted the southern expansion of grasslands and made long-distance military travel on horseback through arid regions easier – favouring the spread of pastoralism, and facilitating the Mongol conquests.

Putnam cautions that their work only demonstrates a correlation, and more data is needed to demonstrate causality. However, other recent work implies that this pattern is far older than the Mongol empire.

The first direct evidence for widespread mobile pastoralism in Mongolia dates to the late bronze age, around 1200 BCE. Researcher Jean-Luc Houle at Western Kentucky University studied this early nomadic period, and found little evidence for ecological stress. Instead, he argued that these herders, who may have practiced the first horseback riding in Mongolia, seemed to have a healthy diet and an economy with enough surplus animals to conduct conspicuous ritual sacrifices – at some sites, the number of animals killed reaching into the thousands. Houle's current studies suggest that the Xiongnu (another early empire known for prompting construction of parts of the Great Wall) also rose to power during a wetter interval at the end of the first millennium BCE.

So if the first mobile herding societies (and many nomadic empires thereafter) developed and spread under a wetter climate, what does this mean for contemporary nomads facing unprecedented warming and desertification?

The answer may be surprisingly complex. One man I spoke with, Jantsankhorloo, lives near Terelj national park not far from Mongolia's capital Ulaanbaatar. He has seen many new challenges in his seven decades as a herder, many of them caused by human activity rather than climate. He notes that urban expansion, fencing, increased animal populations, and more traffic near the park have damaged grasslands and made subsistence more difficult. In mineral-rich areas, mining has also depleted local water sources. More than dry summers and difficult winters, he worries most about the loss of traditional knowledge among the younger generation. Many young people have left the countryside for the city, and no longer learn the skills of horsemanship and animal husbandry. In the coming years, the success or failure of Mongolian nomadic life may depend in large part on how people respond to and mitigate these anthropogenic problems.

Modern technology has also impacted herding. Many herders living in the drier, flatter Gobi regions have abandoned horses for Chinese motorbikes – enabling them to move farther distances with their animals, and cope with easily overgrazed pastures. Critics denounce the practice as "lazy" and un-Mongolian, expressing concerns about the effect it may have on the environment and livestock health. Even as technology helps herders cope with changing ecological parameters, it may also have unintended consequences.

With this whirlwind of social and technological change occurring alongside the changing climate, it's unclear exactly how the future may play out for nomads in eastern Eurasia. Nonetheless, it seems unlikely that wet and productive environment that accompanied the emergence of horse culture in the region – and some of its greatest nomadic empires – will characterise the near future. As arid conditions stretch further northward, Putnam sees many herders "caught between a desert and a cold place" – with less biomass translating into reduced forage, and a narrowing window for nomadic life. As climate change endangers Mongolia's herding traditions, it also threatens ecological knowledge essential to our collective resilience to environmental disaster.

Further reading:

Houle, Jean-Luc. 2010. Emergent complexity on the Mongolian Steppe: mobility, territoriality, and the development of early nomadic polities. PhD dissertation, University of Pittsburgh.

Khazanov, Anatoly. 1984. Nomads and the Outside WorldMadison, University of Wisconsin Press, pp. 89-97

Putnam, A et al. 2016. Little Ice Age wetting of interior Asian deserts and the rise of the Mongol EmpireQuaternary Science Reviews 131: 33-50.

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Ashes of Dilov Khutughtu returns to Mongolia

December 7 (news.mn) The Ashes of the Dilov Khutughtu (D.Jamsranjav) have been returned to Mongolia from USA. The holy remains arrived in Ulaanbaatar on 6th of December. The Dilov Khutughtu was one of Mongolia's most venerated religious and political thinkers of the XX century. He died in New York city of USA on 7th of April in 1965 and was cremated at a Buddhist holy site in India. His ashes have been kept for his return to Mongolia.

The remains have brought back to Mongolia 26 years after the Government officially 'rehabilitated' from being branded a 'traitor-fugitive'. The Cultural Association of Mongolian and the USA organised the return of the ashes.

When he was 5 year old, D.Jamsranjav was 'identified' as the 5th reincarnation of the Dilov Khutughtu. Since then, he lived for the Buddhist religion as well as fighting for the independence and integrity of Mongolia.

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Nature & Environment

Mongolia's comment on the proposed themes for 2017 UN Environment Assembly

Regarding to the theme and process, I would like to inform you that Mongolia is choosing the theme 1 which is Pollution free planet: delivering a deal to detoxify the world.

Regards,

Ariuntuya Dorjsuren

Senior officer, Climate change and international cooperation division

Ministry of Environment and Tourism

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Mongolia Focuses Efforts to Achieve Paris Goals

CDM Used to Increase Transparency

December 6 (UNFCC) Mongolia is laying the groundwork for climate action by tallying its business-as-usual emissions to better focus its efforts to curb greenhouse gases and to measure the corresponding results. The country is using methodologies developed under the UN's Clean Development Mechanism to do so.

Under its national climate action plan submitted ahead of the universal Paris Climate Change Agreement, Mongolia is aiming for a 14 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to business as usual. But the country still has to decide how best to achieve that goal.

"Our first step is to take stock of where our emissions are coming from and in what volumes," said Batjargal Zamba, National Focal Point for Mongolia for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). "Only then can we be sure that we're focusing our efforts in the right places, in the right measure and with the desired effect."

Working with a United Nations and Japanese technical team, Mongolia has calculated the volume of emissions created from each unit of electricity generated in the country's power plants, something called a "grid emission factor". The country is now turning it into a standardized baseline under the rules of the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), and is considering standardized baselines for public transport, cement production, livestock production and the waste sector.

"Countries need to know where to direct their efforts and be able to gauge their success; that's where standardized baselines come in," said Yuqing Ariel Yu, a technical officer with the UNFCCC/IGES Regional Collaboration Centre for Asia-Pacific, based in Bangkok, Thailand (RCC Bangkok). "Mongolia is well on its way by calculating a grid emission factor."

The CDM was developed under the Kyoto Protocol to credit and thus incentivize emission reduction projects in developing countries. CDM infrastructure is proving useful for a host of purposes, including creating transparency in monitoring, reporting and verifying climate action, a critical requirement under the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement was adopted in Paris, France at the UN climate conference in December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016. One hundred countries of 197 Parties to the UNFCCC have to date ratified the agreement.

In the run-up to Paris, countries including Mongolia prepared Intended Nationally Determined Contributions – national climate action plans. These will now turn into Nationally Determined Contributions, which can always be resubmitted as more ambitious plans at any point, but cannot be weakened.

Governments are obliged to take action to achieve the temperature goals enshrined in the Agreement – keeping the average global temperature rise from pre-industrial times below 2 degrees C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees.

RCC Bangkok is a partnership between the UNFCCC secretariat, based in Bonn, Germany, and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, based in Hayama, Japan.

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Sports

Bodybuilders return from Bangkok with 9 medals

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, December 8 (MONTSAME) Team of Mongolian bodybuilders, who brought three gold, two silver and four bronze medals from the World Bodybuilding and Physique Championships, held in Bangkok, has arrived home.

Mongolia was represented by 16 athletes to this year's world championships which was participated by more than 600 athletes from 59 countries. The Mongolian Bodybuilding Fitness Federation will be hosting the next world championships.

The gold medals were won by G.Ugalztsetseg and B.Badamsuren in women's athletic figure categories and A.Ichinnorov in women's fitness category, whereas the silver medals were brought by N.Chinzorig in men's youth category and Tuvshinbayar in men's model category.

B.Badamsuren in women's fitness, L.Saruulbat in men's bodybuilding (70kg), G.Jamts in men's bodybuilding (75kg) and Dulamragchaa in men's master catergory won bronze medals.

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Mountaineer B.Gangaamaa to leave for Mount Vinson on December 13

By B. Tungalag

December 8 (UB Post) The first Mongolian woman to climb Mount Everest, State Honored Athlete B.Gangaamaa, will head to conquer the highest summit of Antarctica's Mount Vinson (4,892 m), the Vinson Massif, on December 13.

B.Gangaamaa met the press, her sponsors and representatives of sports federations on December 5, before starting her voyage.

The mountaineer will climb Mount Vinson with a team of Russian mountaineers on December 15.

Below is an interview with mountaineer B.Gangaamaa about her upcoming voyage.

Your dream to conquer the Seven Summits of the World will come true very soon. How are you feeling?

I feel good for sure. I prepared well and am ready to conquer the seventh summit, Mount Vinson. Conquering the Seven Summits is the dream of every mountaineer. Mongolia is facing an economy crisis. I want to express my gratitude to all Mongolians and organizations that sponsored me during this hard time. It will be a historical event for Mongolia after I conquer Mount Vinson Massif.

The expedition team had to collect 48,000 USD to start the climb to Vinson Massif. We announced a fundraising campaign through social media last September. Mongolians, state and international organizations helped a lot. Thank you all.

What do you think about the climate in Antarctica?

Currently, Antarctica does have summer. Mountaineers usually go to Antarctica to climb Vinson Massif from October to January. The temperature in Antarctica is +10 Celsius to -30 Celsius, but -35 Celsius at Vinson Massif. Antarctica is very windy and stormy. I could face unpleasant weather, but I don't care. Everyone knows that there are no plants and grass in Antarctica. I am very close to my dream.

You will conduct a research in Antarctica while mountain climbing. Tell us about the research?

According to the contract signed with the Information and Research Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment, I will do a research on climate, environment and ice in Antarctica, and take samples.

Seven Mongolian researchers have done studies in Antarctica since 1972. I will research while climbing. It is a very responsible job. People might be surprised that I will be conducting a research. I worked for a meteorology organization for five years. I have experience in this field.

Before you, G.Gankhuu climbed Vinson Massif. You will be the first Mongolian woman who conquered Vinson Massif.

Yes, G.Gankhuu is the first Mongolian to climb Vinson Massif. Everyone in Mongolia knows G.Gankhuu as the leader of Shar Airag band and traveler. We met him and he gave us advice.

Why do you love the mountaineering sport? Please tell us about your first climbing experience.

I chose the mountaineering sport when I was a child. I have been training in the mountaineering sport since 1989. My first climb was Otgontenger Mountain. The experience energized me. During the first 10 years, I followed senior mountaineers and climbed mountains in Mongolia. I devoted my heart to this sport and started climbing internationally. That's why I succeeded. As a result of that, I raised the Mongolian state flag on six summits of the Seven Summits of the World.

Actually, I didn't plan to climb the Seven Summits of the World. I started thinking of the Seven Summits after climbing Mount Everest.

What do you take with you when you go climbing? What do you bring from the mountains?

I always take the state flag with me. For food, I take dried meat. Dried meat gives me energy. I bring success from the mountains I climb.

When are you planning to retire?

Many people asked me this question. The press reported that I, mountaineer B.Gangaamaa, retired after climbing K2 or Mount Godwin-Austen. That was untrue.

Vinson Massif will not be my last climb.

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Gymnast G.Erdenebold grabs silver in Siberian Open Cup

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, December 7 (MONTSAME) International Master of Sports G.Erdenebold won silver medal at the Siberian Open Cup of Gymnastics, took place between December 1 and 3 Leninsk-Kuznetsky, Russia.

The medal was won in vault category of adults. Mongolia was represented by G.Erdenebold and A.Enkhtulga, coached by Ts.Altantugs.

More than 70 athletes from Leninsk-Kuznetsky, Kemerovo, Barnaul, Veliky Novgorod, Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, Gatchina, Tomsk, Seversk, Tobolsk, Tyumen, Chelyabinsk, as well as from Kazakhstan and Mongolia participated this year's Open Cup.

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Young swimmer Yesui eyes Tokyo 2020

By B. Dulguun

December 7 (UB Post) Sixteen-year-old Sports Master B.Yesui, who represented Mongolia in the women's 50-meter freestyle swimming event at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, spoke in length about how she became an Olympian at such a young age and the swimming sport in Mongolia.

It hasn't been long since swimming started developing as competitive sport in Mongolia. What made you want to become a swimmer?

My dad enjoys swimming and when I turned six, he took me to Khangarid Sports Club to learn swimming. In the beginning, I was so little that I couldn't get my face to the surface of the pool even if I tiptoed. Still, I really enjoyed swimming and trained hard. I used to actually attend dance and piano classes on top of an IQ academy when I was six. But I liked swimming the most so I decided to leave all of them and focus on swimming.

I used to attend competitions held in Erdenet city. Then, my current instructor Altantuya saw potential in me; she advised me to train systematically and asked me to join the Erdenet city swimming team. I didn't understand her well back then. When I told my parents they said, without hesitation, that I should accept her offer. For a while, I couldn't handle the intense training and wasn't very good. Gradually I improved and won a bronze medal at my first state championships. I was elated. Afterwards, I won silver and gold medals and started competing in international competitions in 2014. In 2014, I participated in the Asian Swimming Championships.

My parents gave me the aspiration to become a swimmer. They're very supportive.

Swimming may be popular in Mongolia but not many people decide to become an athlete. Our best swimmers are nowhere near the level of foreign swimmers. What do you think the reason for this is?

Mongolia doesn't have a world-standard 50-meter swimming pool, which means that athletes don't have a place to practice. Most pools in Mongolia are 25 meters in length. A 50-meter swimming pool with two lanes was opened, but it's not the standard one with six lanes – it's for amateurs. It's also expensive. In addition, the government doesn't support athletes unless they've won medals at large international competitions.

You would assume that the state supports athletes from the start to help them win medals at competitions. But it's not like that. Due to these reasons, swimming isn't developing in Mongolia. Swimming in a 25-meter pool is different from swimming in a 50-meter pool. Obviously, we can't compete with foreign swimmers as they practice and train in standard pools, ones used at the Olympics and international competitions.

How do you train?

I train with instructor Altantuya at Khangarid Sports Club. After training with her, I do weight training on my own in the evening. It's not really systematic but I try my best. I guess things would be a little different if there was a standard pool though. As a matter of fact, it's highly possible to develop swimming in Mongolia. Many people are being motivated to become swimmers. With a little bit of support, they'd succeed in no time.

You trained in the USA for a month. How was the experience for you?

There, I really trained properly. It was completely different from my usual workout. I got motivated to train harder and it was much more effective. Increasing your speed in the water even by a second, especially in a 50-meter distance, is a huge improvement.

You recently took part in the Asian Swimming Championships held in Japan. Can you tell us about that?

Personally, I think I did pretty well at the latest Asian Swimming Championships. I finished the 50-meter freestyle event in 28:40 seconds at the Summer Olympics. This time, I was able to prove that it wasn't just luck by finishing the same distance in 28:42 seconds. The Asian champions usually finish the course in 26 seconds. I can reach their level if I continue to train systematically.

You were able to break your personal record at the State Swimming Championships. How were you able to do that?  Did you change your training and workout?

I have since intensified my training routine. I started lifting heavier weights that are five to 10 kg heavier. My swimming workouts have become more challenging too.

Does age impact the achievements of swimmers? Most swimmers competing in the Olympics are aged over 20 or nearing 30. You're only 16, right?

Of course, your skills and experience increase as you age. But my body build is similar to the builds of swimmers participating in world reputable competitions and so is my height. There are swimmers slightly taller or shorter than me so it doesn't mean that I'm not good enough just because I'm young. The only thing I need is a standard environment for training. I'm still young. I have plenty of time to train harder, get better and succeed as an athlete. My biggest target now is the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. Many people place high expectations on me. I will not let them down. As I feel much more pressure and responsibility, I will train harder.

Do you think you can improve your speed to 26 seconds by training in Mongolia? Do you think intensifying your usual training session is enough to achieve this or do you need to do something else?

You mustn't be too focused on improving your personal record. No matter how you think, systematic training is important. I plan to train while studying abroad. I will finish middle school next year. I want to prepare for the next Olympics overseas. Foreigners usually study during the day and train at night. I want to follow this kind of schedule.

At present, the best competitive swimmers are from the USA, China and Japan. After speaking with my parents and instructor, we agreed that it's best for me to go to Japan. I plan to go to Japan and train for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics there.

You won the State Swimming Championships, held in Erdenet. What did you think of your opponents? Did you see any strong rivals?

Yes, I won the State Swimming Championships. The championships was held in four age groups. Many children compete in the preliminary round and only five compete in the finals. The girl who swam right beside me finished in the exact time I did, which was 27:76 seconds. This happens very rarely. This means that there are other Mongolian girls who are at my level. Anyone can quickly improve their skills if they start training systematically in standard pools.

Sadly, I injured my wrist when I reached the wall at the State Swimming Championships. At the time, my hand was immobilized but I had to swim in the final. It was an important event for me, and I had to secure my spot in the 50-meter freestyle. I endured the pain and finished 27:46 seconds on the clock, setting a new national record and coming in first place. The following day, I was supposed to compete in the 100-meter backstroke, but that evening, my hand started swelling and I was very scared. My doctor said that I had already injured the extensor tendons of my hand. It was quite a serious injury, yet I kept swimming and even participated in the championships without knowing. All I thought was that I had to win since I represented my country at the Olympics. Had I not injured my wrist, I probably would have finished much quicker than 27:46 seconds in the final.

Most foreign swimmers test their strength in various events. Although you mostly compete in the 50-meter freestyle, is it possible for you to try out other events?

Swimmers train in every swimming style and events. There are four competitive swimming types, which are freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. Your muscles develop properly and evenly if you train in all four types. You will not improve much if you do only one. I became a sports master in the 100-meter backstroke, but I compete in the 50-meter freestyle event in competitions.

It's better to compete in different swimming events, but you have to earn the right to participate in them at international competitions. You must be able to finish within a certain amount of time to qualify for competitions. That's what makes it so difficult to compete in multiple events. In a country where swimming hasn't developed well, you have no choice but to concentrate on one particular event. That's why, I'm striving to excel in the 50-meter freestyle event.

A lot of Mongolian athletes join national teams of other countries. Have you received a proposal to represent another country?

The Buryats asked me to join their team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. I declined. My parents were against it too. I swim only for Mongolia. I will fulfill my goal even if people don't support me and my parents have to cover all my costs.

What's you biggest goal right now?

That would be to succeed in the next Olympics. I want to hear the Mongolian national anthem and watch the Mongolian flag rise as I stand on the Olympic podium. I want to promote Mongolia on the world stage. This is my biggest ambition right now.

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Seminar, Award and Elections for Mongolian Student Sports Federation

December 6 (FISU) ULAANBAATAR - NUSF Mongolia - The Mongolian Student Sports Federation (MSSF) held its 7th General Assembly on Dec 1st, and 2nd in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. The 1st day, a Seminar was held at the conference hall of the Mongolian State University of Science and Technology, followed by the 7th General Assembly on the 2nd day, held at the "Red Rock" camp. The event was attended by 70 representatives from 30 universities and colleges, including some delegates coming from remote provinces of Mongolia such as Uvs, Khovd, Bayan-Ulgii, Gobi-Altai, Zavkhan, Dornod, Darkhan-Uul and Orkhon. 

DAY 1: SEMINAR OF NUSF MONGOLIA

On the first day, on December 1st, the MSSF organized a seminar for the delegates, including those from regional divisions of MSSF.

FISU Treasurer and MSSF President Mr. Bayasgalan D., AUSF Vice President, Vice chair CIC of FISU and MSSF Secretary General Mr. Jargalsaikhan D., FISU Education Committee working group member and MSSF EC member Mr. Batsaikhan Kh., MSSF Executive Director Mrs. Erdenetuya Ch., and other special guests from the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports of Mongolia, State Authorities of Physical Culture and Sports Mongolia and delegate rectors of universities have made presentations, related to the following topics: the FISU philosophy and its goals, the MSSF's activity's final report 2013-2016, the objectives to widen university sports, FISU and Universiade education and scientific research, topics related with the implementation of physical education program in higher education institutions, procedures on celebrating International University Sports Day (IDUS), experimental model of functional and physical cultural training of athletes. Furthermore, a brief informative introduction on the 12th National University Sports Games (National Universiade), that will take place throughout the country in 2017, was made in order to update the participants on the procedure and regulations of the event. The seminar was closed with a discussion and debate session among the participants. 

DAY 2: THE 7TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY AND ELECTIONS NUSF MONGOLIA

On the second day, Dec.2nd, 2016, the 7th General Assembly meeting of MSSF took place at the conference hall of "Red Rock" camp in Terelj National Park of Mongolia. According to the agenda, Bayasgalan D. President of the MSSF made his report by reviewing the achievements made during the term of 2013-2016, highlighting the good number of competitions and events, the excellent participation of Mongolian delegations at the Universiade games (2013 and 2015), at the World University Championships (2014 and 2016 period), educational programs and interactive activities. He highly acknowledged member universities and clubs' dedication and contribution towards the Mongolian university sports movement's expansion.

The auditor Mr. Lumjav presented his report on the period 2013-2015. The General Assembly also adopted the action plan for the years 2017-2020. Finally, on the occasion of the event, some proposed key amendments to the MSSF constitution were approved.

During the GA session, a new MSSF executive board was elected for the coming 4 year term (2016-2020). FISU Treasurer Bayasgalan D. was re-elected as a President of MSSF. Mr. Kheruga, President of Mongolian University of Life Sciences and head of Mongolian Universities Consortium was elected as First Vice President of MSSF, Mr. Kh. Batsaikhan, Vice Chairman of Mongolian National Council for Education Accreditation was elected as - Vice President of MSSF and Dr. Jargalsaikhan D., AUSF Vice President and State Honored Coach was re-elected as Secretary General of MSSF for a new term.

New EC members of MSSF are Mrs. Amarjargalan J., Director of Higher Education Department at the Ministry of Education, Science, and Sports, Mr. Tserensodnom L., Vice President of Mongolian State University of Education, Mr. Banzaagaya M., President at Branch school of Mongolian State University of Health and Science in Gobi-Altai province, Mr. Dadam R., Director of Financial Department of National Emergency Authority of Mongolia, Mrs. Gundegmaa L., Vice President of National Physical Education Institute of Mongolia, Mrs. Enkhtuya S., Lecturer at Mongolian State University of Science and Technology and Mr. Erdenepurev P. Director at Physical Education Department of National University of Mongolia.

During the session, Lumjav Ts. – President of "Uvs" Institute of Labor, Mr. Baigali Yu. – General Director of "Asar" group, Mr. Usukhbayar M. – President of "Mon-Altius" Physical Education Institute of Mongolia were appointed as Audit Committee members of MSSF by the delegates of the 7th General Assembly.

After these official results, Mr. Bayasgalan thanked the General Assembly delegates for their confidence.

Also, at the occasion of the event, the MSSF awarded : "The Top Universities of the year":

1.    Mongolian State University of Science and Technology

2.    National Institute of Physical Education

3.    Mongolian State University of Education

4.    Branch school of Mongolian State University of Health and Science in Gobi-Altai province

Best athlete and coach of 2016:

-       Ms. Ankhtsetseg M. – Three time Gold Medalist (Champion of the World University Weightlifting Championships 2016 in Mexico) as Best Student-athlete 2016 Mongolia.

-       Mr. Ganbold M. lecturer at "Mon-Altius" physical education institute of Mongolia (coach of woodball and bodybuilding) - The Best Coach and Teacher of the Physical Education year of 2016 with the "Honor of Diploma" and memorable souvenirs.

Source: Mrs. Enkhnaran J and B.Bayanbulag-Staff of MSSF

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This Gorgeous Race Lets People Run Alongside Wild Horses

December 7 (Women's Running) One of the most beautiful runs in the world is a race you've never heard of in a country you likely never planned to visit.

The Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset Trail Run is held in Hovsgol National Park in northwest Mongolia, near the Russian border. Runners from all over the world take part in the annual event, and with a 42K and 100K option on technical trails, racers certainly earn their views. (That's 26 and 62 miles after the conversion).

Because Hovsgol National Park is home to a giant alpine lake (one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world), the area around it is teaming with life. Wild horses, reindeer, Siberian moose, ibex and argali all head to the water to drink. Runners are allowed to share the trails with this stunning array of wildlife.

The region is also home to nomadic Mongolian citizens that tend to flocks of camel, yak, horses or cows. The large white tents runner notice are gers (Mongolian yurts), and racers will be encouraged by cheering from locals as they pass.

We dare you to scroll through this gallery and then not search for flight deals to Mongolia. The next race is slated for August 2017.

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Highly skilled Russian sportsmen to work in Mongolia under contract

Ulaanbaatar, December 8 (MONTSAME) In 2017 Mongolia and Russia will sign a Memorandum on Cooperation in the field of sports.

It is expected that starting from 2018, the both sides will conduct joint training of national teams of Mongolia and Russia. In this light, the highly skilled sportsmen of the Russian Federation will work in Mongolia under a contract.

Besides this, the Russian side has promised to help in attracting a sponsor for Mongolia to organize the 7th Children of Asia International Sports Games in 2020 in Ulaanbaatar, and to increase the quota for Mongolian students to study at Russian universities for the professions of coach national teams and winter sports coaches.

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Art & Entertainment

Miss World Mongolia's magic performance makes it to Top 10

By B. Amarsaikhan

Ulaanbaatar, December 7 (MONTSAME) The talent performance by the Mongolian contestant of Miss World 2016 A.Bayartsetseg was selected as one of the Top 10 among the 120 performances in total.

The Pageant Page revealed the list of the 10 Finalists of Talent Show on December 6. With A.Bayartsetseg's "magical" performance, Miss Poland's singing, Miss Hungary's acrobatic, Miss Latvia's dance, Miss Chile's violin, Miss Croatia's singing, Miss Malta's dance, Miss Philippines's singing, Miss Ukraine's piano and dance and Miss Canada's piano performances were selected.

Miss World 2016 has announced an online polling for the 25 semi-finalists. The above mentioned 10 performances received most votes online.

A.Bayartsetseg's magic trick of quick change of clothes combined with Mongolian calligraphy have been created by magician S.Bilegt and choreographer G.Shinetsetseg. 

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"M-Pop": Mongolian boy band Guys awarded at Korean cultural festival

December 7 (news.mn) Mongolian boy band 'Guys' has received the 'International star' award from a South Korean Culture and Arts Festival, which took place on 30th  November. The band, marking the 20th anniversary of the creation of 'Guys', was awarded in South Korea, the world centre of boy bands and home to K-pop, which dominates the Asian music scene.

The festival has been held annually in South Korea since 1992 and this year 'International Star' award was given to foreign artists. Performers from the USA, China, Japan, Malaysia and Mongolia have received awards.

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MOVIE REVIEW: 'The Eagle Huntress' soars

As one of the most visually stunning and emotionally uplifting films of 2016, this unique documentary is as majestic as the eagles it portrays

by Hunter Heilman

December 6 (Niner Times) 2016 hasn't been a particularly great year for much outside of horror films, but two issues have reared their ugly heads the most this year: racism and sexism. In the divisive 2016 presidential election, the discourse behind both of these issues caused a social frenzy in bringing these issues to the forefront after going silent for so long. While racism doesn't directly play a role in "The Eagle Huntress," sexism is its main villain. While many developed cultures are finding ways to legitimize and equalize the gap between men and women set by societal gender roles, other cultures still struggle to embrace even the slightest of changes. From the youngest of ages, girls in less-developed cultures are constantly reminded of their inferiority to men, much like Aisholpan at the beginning of this film, the one will develop herself into the majestic Eagle Huntress.

Aisholpan is a 13 year-old girl living in Mongolia with her Kazakh nomad family. Her father is an eagle hunter, prestigious hunters and showmen who use the talents of eagles to catch food and furs for the harsh Mongolian winters. With no sons, Aisholpan's father plans to train her in the art of eagle hunting, something that has never been done in history. Despite support from her family and friends, Aisholpan is constantly degraded by her elder eagle hunters who say (sometimes to her face) that she is unable to be an eagle hunter simply because she is a girl. Though Aisholpan finds a fuel in this backlash and uses it to train harder and work longer to become everything she believes a true eagle hunter should be.

From the first frame of this film, it's clear that you are looking at one of the most visually stunning films of the year, something so breathtaking that it's hard to believe that you're still watching a documentary. Throughout "The Eagle Huntress," the entire thing feels far more cinematic than the typical documentary does, with epic music and grandiose, sweeping shots of the desolate Mongolian wilderness that Aisholpan faces with a calm ease. This film is an absolute visual treat, one that is rarely ever matched, whether it be from documentary or narrative. Director Otto Bell and DP Simon Niblett have crafted a crisp, near-perfect looking visual experience, one that would be amplified even further had Sony pushed the film for an IMAX release, but I guess I'm just a dreamer.

Beyond just looking pretty, "The Eagle Huntress" is a film with loads of heart and it very well might be one of the most uplifting films of 2016. Capped off with the message that you truly can do anything, marked beautifully by Sia's lyrics to "Angel by the Wings" during the end credits for the film, an original song written for the film. There are multiple moments in the film when you'll want to be cheering in the aisles for this simply heartwarming story of a girl, her eagle and her will to succeed.

If I had a complaint for "The Eagle Huntress," it would be that for one of the first times, a documentary might actually be too short. Typically, 87 minutes for a documentary is a perfect length, as many documentaries drag a bit more than narrative features, but the sheer cinematic wonder of "The Eagle Huntress" gives room for the film to be longer than it is. Perhaps this could be argued as another compliment, as it means I simply wanted to see more of the film, but I stand by it.

I want Otto Bell to return to "The Eagle Huntress" in about 10 years time to check up a 23 year-old Aisholpan and her life as an eagle hunter. This is a story that screams to go on and will reverberate through Mongolia forever. The fear of the elders is that Aisholpan will set a precedent for girls becoming eagle hunters beside men, despite their "inability," but I can't wait to see how Aisholpan changes the face of how girls can achieve their dreams in Mongolia and how this extends beyond just the world of eagle hunting. "The Eagle Huntress" is a gorgeous film with a gorgeous message.

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'Eagle Huntress' is a terrific family movieThe Buffalo News, December 9

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The Eagle Huntress: Exclusive clip sees Daisy Ridley narrate a truly feminist tale

The documentary follows 13-year-old Aisholpan, the Mongolian teenager who broke boundaries to become the first female eagle hunter in her country

by Clarisse Loughrey  | @clarisselou 

December 8 (The Independent) The Age of Daisy Ridley has arrived. Her gutsy, determined take on Rey, the protagonist at the centre of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, has enraptured a new legion of adoring fans and quickly established her as a future major Hollywood player. 

With Star Wars: Episode VIII set to begin filming next year, she'll only further cement those blockbuster credentials in the next couple of years; yet, what's been wonderful to see is Ridley utilise her newfound star power to bring attention to smaller, worthy artistic projects. 

She's already lent her voice to Studio Ghibli's Only Yesterday, which finally received both a North American release and English language dub track this year a full 25 years after debuting in Japan.

Now, she's joined The Eagle Huntress: an inspirational documentary which follows 13-year-old Aisholpan, the Mongolian teenager who broke boundaries to become the first female eagle hunter in her country. Filmmaker Otto Bell first discovered Aisholpan while looking through a series of photographs by Israeli artist Asher Svidensky in 2014, struck by how empowering a simple shot of a girl and her eagle could be. 

The film follows Aisholpan as she captures her own eagle - a vital first step in the tradition - undergoes intensive training with the aid of her father, and eventually becomes both the youngest contestant and first woman ever to take part in the Golden Eagle Festival in Ölgii.

Only a week before the doc premiered at Sundance, Ridley got hold of a copy of the film and fell in love with Aisholpan's story; swiftly coming on as executive producer, and eventually adding several pieces of narration to the film. 

It's a simple, but beautifully empowering story of what young women can do when they refuse to believe in the limits the world tries to place on them; one that can hopefully inspire others to do the same and keeping breaking those boundaries.

The Eagle Huntress hits UK cinemas on 16 December.

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THIS SUNDAY: Screening of ''Mongolian Bling'' at The Apartment!

December 8 (The Shanghaist) Forget about nomads and monks, it's hip hop that's making Mongolia move in the 21st century. Get ready to enter the inner world of Mongolia with a feature length documentary ''Mongolian Bling'' to be screened at The Apartment on December 11th from 6.30pm directed by Benj Binks.

Having screened in over 15 countries at festivals and TV networks worldwide, this documentary gives you a first hand experience into the thriving music scene in the capital Ulaanbaatar and follows stars as they rap nationwide. It explores traditions, culture, western influence, music, identity and the meaning of being a Mongolian youth. The documenetary tells a story through the eyes of three of the country's rappers with a colourful supporting cast including a shaman, a traditional musician, old rappers and everyday Mongolians.

The screening

December 11th 6.30pm

The Apartment
47 Yongfu Road // 永福路 47
¥50 includes a drink

Koryo Tours' Rich Beal will be present to talk and answer any questions about his experiences in Mongolia

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'Heartland' Season 10 Episode 9: Mongolia Shoot Expands Story Beyond Canada!

December 7 (Game & Guide) With computer-generated images, producers of movies and TV shows could use digital tools to make it appear that their characters are in a particular location even if they are inside a studio. However, for authenticity's sake, producers of the Canadian TV series "Heartland" Season 10 Episode 9 did not use CGI when it showed Ty (Graham Wardle) and Bob (Roger LeBlanc) hunting for killers of Gobi bears in Mongolia.

The two actors really flew to Mongolia in September to shoot the bear scenes shown in "Heartland" Season 10 Episode 9 and for Ty's blog titled "BordenWithoutBorders. Chasing bear killers in Mongolia is part of the evolution of the character of Ty, who at the start of the TV series was a leather jacket-wearing dude who loves to smoke, TV, eh? reports.

Ty Evolves

From Season 1, he had married Amy (Amber Marshall) and they are now expecting a baby. Ty also became a veterinarian which explains his interest in the Gobi bear in "Heartland" Season 10 Episode 9.

Graham Wardle shared that the idea about tackling the extinction of the Gobi bear came from Heather Conkie, showrunner of "Heartland," who read a story that there are less than 24 such bear species in the Gobi. The actor also remembered the shooting by an American hunter of Cecil, the Lion, in Africa which triggered global outrage and led to their Mongolia scenes in "Heartland" Season 10 Episode 9.

Going Beyond Canada

He sees in the Mongolia scenes value added to the TV series because it brought viewers and expanded the series' storyline outside Canada and Alberta. Graham Wardle said the Gobi bear scene on "Heartland" Season 10 Episode 9 was a good opportunity to show how other people interact with their native animal species, although the dead bear they used was just a prosthetic.

According to Drumhellermail, the Mongolia scenes, aired on Dec. 4 in "Heartland" Season 10 Episode 9, was filmed at the Drumheller Valley's Dorothy area in September. Between Episodes 9 and 10, "Heartland" Season 10 would be on a midseason pause. CBC would instead broadcast Yuletide and New Year special shows for the rest of December.

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