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Wednesday, December 7, 2016
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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
TRQ up 3.15% in last 2 days to US$3.44
by Peter Ker
December 5 (The Australian Financial Review) The suspension of copper exports from Mongolia to China is not the only border sensitivity facing Rio Tinto, whose Mongolian copper mine is facing a delicate renegotiation of its power contract with a Chinese power utility.
Rio's Mongolian copper mine, Oyu Tolgoi, is located just 80 kilometres north of the Chinese border and the mine continues to rely on a power utility in the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia to keep the mine operating.
The current power agreement with the Inner Mongolia Power Corporation expires in October 2017, and with sufficient power supplies not available within Mongolia, Rio and its Oyu Tolgoi partners have already started negotiations for an extension of the power agreement.
A resolution to the negotiations is not expected any time soon, and there are fears that China may use its leverage over Oyu Tolgoi as a power supplier and a copper customer to seek a stake in the giant mine.
While that request is likely to be unpalatable to Rio and its partners in Oyu Tolgoi (the Government of Mongolia and Canadian miner Turquoise Hill Resources) the situation highlights the ongoing risks still attached to the mine, which is currently undergoing a $US5.3 billion expansion.
Most of Oyu Tolgoi's copper is exported to customers in China, but that supply chain broke down on Friday when new fees were imposed on Mongolian commodity exports to the middle kingdom.
The Oyu Tolgoi partners have sent some experimental shipments of copper to Japan in recent times, in a bid to diversify its customer base, but with Mongolia entirely landlocked between Russia and China, exports beyond those two nations will require some creativity and diplomacy.
Investors seek detail
Investors will look for Rio to provide more detail on the situation in Mongolia when it hosts a copper briefing in London on Tuesday evening.
The briefing will be the first major presentation since the leadership of the copper team was overhauled in June, when Arnaud Soirat took charge of Copper and Diamonds division.
As revealed by Fairfax Media, Rio's team in Mongolia was also overhauled around that time, with Armando Torres replacing Andrew Woodley as managing director of Oyu Tolgoi.
Tuesday's briefing will also be an opportunity for Rio chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques to share his views on copper markets in 2017, having predicted in 2015 that a shortage of copper could emerge as early as 2017.
Copper prices have rallied 25 per cent in the past seven weeks, and UBS expects it to continue rising to average $US3 per pound in 2017.
The original Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement between the Mongolian Government and Rio required for the mine's power supply to come from inside Mongolia, but with sufficient supplies not available in the South Gobi Desert, Rio has been allowed to temporarily source power from China.
The Mongolian government is keen to develop a large domestic power supply source, most likely on the back of the Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit, and it has selected Japanese firm Marubeni to help develop a coal-fired power station at the deposit.
But Tavan Tolgoi is unlikely to be able to supply power to Oyu Tolgoi for several years, meaning the mine will likely be reliant on Chinese power utilities for some time.
by Marcus Leroux
December 5 (The Times) Rio Tinto has been caught up in a political row between China and Mongolia fuelled by the Dalai Lama.
The commodities group owns a controlling stake in a copper and gold mine that is Mongolia's biggest taxpayer.
The Oyu Tolgoi mine exports all production south but after a visit to Mongolia by Tibet's spiritual leader, who is not acknowledged by China, border access was restricted. Authorities insisted that copper consignments must use the same border crossing as exports of coal.
Rio said that this had caused a bottleneck which would lead to safety concerns because drivers faced long waiting times stuck in temperatures that were yesterday dipping to minus 16C. As a result it stopped shipping ore on Friday.
The border restriction was one of several displays of displeasure immediately after the four-day visit. China also retaliated by cancelling meetings to discuss loans and development projects, including for a railway to serve the Tavan Tolgoi coalmine, a coal "megaproject".
The Dalai Lama has visited Mongolia, a largely Buddhist country, several times since he was anointed in 1979, to the annoyance of China which has not recognised the authority of the leader of Tibetan Buddhism since invading Tibet in 1950.
Rio, which employs 55,000 people across more than 40 countries, owns its controlling stake in Oyu Tolgoi through the Toronto-listed company Turquoise Hill, which is the literal translation of Oyu Tolgoi.
In June, the company approved a dollars 5.3 billion underground expansion of the mine, with first production expected in 2020. When fully operational in 2027, output is forecast at more than 500,000 tonnes annually.
The underground part of Oyu Tolgoi is Rio's biggest expansion plan. Jean-Sebastien Jacques, who was appointed chief executive in July, was as Rio's copper boss in charge of the fraught negotiations with the Mongolian government over the expansion.
An open cast mine is already in operation but about 80 per cent of the project's value will be tapped by the underground shaft. The project is forecast to increase the Mongolian economy by a third.
The problems suffered by Oyu Tolgoi are a demonstration of the complications of relying so heavily on Chinese demand, which has been fluctuating recently after years of rapid growth.
In contrast, Mongolia's coal industry is enjoying an entirely unexpected surge because Beijing introduced working-time limits on its own mines, forcing power stations and steel mills to turn to imports.
Western businesses have been caught on the wrong side of Chinese sensitivities about Tibet before. Carrefour, the French supermarket chain, was a target in 2008 after a pro-Tibetan demonstrator attempted to snatch the Olympic flame from a paralympian in Paris.
Rio Tinto's frontiers of trouble extend from Guinea to Mongolia – The Australian Financial Review, December 5
Mogi: very misleading headline
By Jon Yeomans
December 6 (The Telegraph) The boss of FTSE 100 mining group Rio Tinto has insisted a dispute with China over copper exports from Mongolia will be resolved shortly.
Jean-Sebastian Jacques, the French executive who was promoted to the top job in July, said the Anglo Australian miner was used to working with the authorities in the region and hoped to resume exports soon.
Last week Rio's subsidiary in Mongolia was forced to suspend copper shipments from its vast Oyu Tolgoi mine after Chinese authorities closed a border crossing and ordered copper to be shipped via a different route. The miner expressed concerns that queuing trucks were being made to wait in sub-zero temperatures.
D.Ganbold: "Chinese side have increased customs fees for three Mongolian and two Russian border checkpoint"
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, December 6 (MONTSAME) At a press conference on December 5, head of the Border Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs D.Ganbold stated that the Chinese side has not made any official notification about the increase in customs fees at the Gashuunsukhait, Bichigt and Shiveekhuren border checkpoints.
"Designation of customs fees is entirely a country's internal matter. Therefore, it is not necessary for the given country to officially notify thereon the other sides. The increase in customs fees does not apply only to the checkpoint on the China-Mongolia borders. According to the decision of the Chinese side from November 4, 2016 on increasing the customs fees were taken towards three border checkpoints from Mongolia and two checkpoints from Russia. The customs fees per ton of coal has been increased from CNY 5.2 to 8.0 and the fee for a ton of copper concentrate, value of which exceeds CNY 10,000, to 0.2 percent. Mongolian goods enter China through 46 checkpoints. Gashuusukhait has 12 corridors on Mongolian side of the border, one of which allows special courtesy to Oyu Tolgoi LLC. This corridor transmits all productions of Oyu Tolgoi's name. Gashuunsukhait has eight corridors on Chinese side of the border. Huge congestions and long queue might be caused by this difference", he said in the statement.
6 December 2016 -- Rio Tinto is hosting an investor seminar in London today, presented by:
· Jean-Sébastien Jacques, chief executive
· Chris Lynch, chief financial officer
· Chris Salisbury, chief executive, Iron Ore
· Arnaud Soirat, chief executive, Copper & Diamonds
· Steve McIntosh, group executive, Growth & Innovation
The live webcast will begin at 2pm GMT - available at www.riotinto.com/webcasts.
The presentation material will be available at www.riotinto.com/presentations.
TER last traded A$0.035 on Monday
December 6 -- The Directors of TerraCom Limited (TerraCom or the Company) hereby request a trading halt to be placed on the Company's securities from the commencement of trading on Tuesday, 6 December 2016.
The trading halt is requested pending an announcement by the Company following on from the investor roadshows the Company has conducted with Australian and Asian investors. TerraCom is in negotiations with some of these investors who have a long view on coal and long view on TerraCom.
EUM closed +16.67% on Tuesday
December 5, Eumeralla Resources Ltd. (ASX:EUM) -- Eumeralla Resources Limited (ASX:EUM) (Eumeralla or Company) is pleased to announce it has entered into a binding heads of agreement in relation to the acquisition of all of the securities in unlisted Australian public company Ausmex Mining Limited (Ausmex) (Proposed Acquisition). The key terms of the Proposed Acquisition are set out in Schedule 1 of this announcement.
Overview of Ausmex
1. Ausmex was incorporated in June 2016 with the principal objective of acquiring assets to explore for and develop a large IOGC or porphyry deposit funded by low risk gold production resources. To that end it has:
MSE Trading Report, December 6: Top 20 +0.43%, ALL +0.45%, Turnover ₮18 Million Shares, ₮9.3 Billion T-Bills
December 6 (MSE) --
December 5 (MSE) Mongolian Stock Exchange organized 5 securities trading sessions and made transaction of MNT1.8 billion with daily average transaction of MNT9,173,554,542.00 in period between 28 November 2016 and 02 December 2016.
533,378.00 shares of 43 joint stock companies worth of MNT310,579,372.00 were traded.
Most actively traded securities
Most active brokerage companies
Government retail bonds trading:
80,785 Government retail bonds worth of MNT8,078,500,000.00 traded through one trading session.
Most active brokerage companies for Government securities trading
Daewoo Securities Mongolia
8,027 government retail bonds traded on secondary market of Government securities trading and total of 784,475,170.00 transaction has been made.
Daewoo Securities Mongolia
As of 02 December 2016, market capitalization was MNT1,371,434,111,771.34 which indicated increased of 0.62% and MSE ALL index reached 787.53 units which indicated increased of 0.28% from the previous week.
Reds are when MNT fell, greens when it rose. Bold reds are rates that set a new historic high at the time.
USD (blue), CNY (red) vs MNT in last 1 year:
December 5 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 279.3 billion at a weighted interest rate of 15.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/
December 5 (Bank of Mongolia) Spot trade: Commercial banks bid MNT 2460.00-2482.11 for USD 42.55 million, MNT 356.12-360.11 for CNY 76.0 million. The BoM sold USD 22.7 million with a single rate of MNT 2473.00.
Swap and forward trade: The BoM received bids for USD 1 million MNT swap agreements, USD 5 million USD swap agreements from commercial banks. BoM did not accept any offers.
Link to release (in Mongolian)
Hong Kong, December 06, 2016 -- Moody's Investors Service says that the operating environment for Mongolian banks remains challenging, despite some signs of stabilizing credit growth in their 3Q 2016 results.
"The pace of asset quality deterioration has slowed, but we expect delinquencies will rise further, reflecting the country's economic challenges," says Hyun Hee Park, a Moody's Assistant Vice President and Analyst.
Moody's conclusions are contained in its just-released report "Banks -- Mongolia: 3Q 2016 Results Show Recovering Credit Growth, But Economic Headwinds Persist".
Moody's downgraded Mongolia's sovereign rating to Caa1 from B3 on 18 November 2016, reflecting uncertainty over the government's ability to meet its debt service obligations, and an expectation that the budget deficit will remain wide.
Moody's revised GDP growth assumptions of 0.0% in 2016 and 1.0% in 2017 are lower than its previous estimates of 1.5% and 3.5% and point to a slower improvement in the operating environment in 2017 than previously anticipated.
Meanwhile, credit growth turned positive in 3Q 2016, with loans extended by Mongolian banks up 4.5% year-on-year, the first positive reading since 4Q 2014. Liquidity also improved, as deposit growth of 22.4% in the same period outpaced loan growth and led to a drop in the system's loan-to-deposit ratio to 89.9% at end-September 2016 from 106% at end-2015.
Nevertheless, Moody's says downside risks remain, absent an improvement in the economy.
In particular, room to loosen policy support has narrowed, as the government's fiscal strength and the economy's external position have deteriorated. The Bank of Mongolia raised its policy rate by 450 basis points to 15% on 18 August 2016 to protect the domestic currency from further depreciation.
The banks' profitability has deteriorated, due to pressure on net interest margins from rising funding costs and low demand for loans due to high real borrowing costs.
Credit costs will also rise further in the current economic environment, says Moody's. And as a result, the limited growth in internally generated capital and a quicker pace of loan growth will pressure capitalization.
Nonetheless, mining-related foreign direct investment should recover from 2017, given investments linked to the Oyu Tolgoi Phase 2 project, with the growth impact set to accelerate into 2018. This situation will lead to a moderate improvement in the funding and liquidity conditions for the banks.
Subscribers can access the report at https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1034383
December 6 (Mongolian Economy) The government of Mongolia held a consultative with its development partners on December 2. Deputy Finance Minister Kh.Bulgantuya; the World Bank's Country Director for China, Mongolia and Korea in the East Asia and Pacific Region Bert Hofman; and the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Mongolia Beate Trankmann provided input regarding the results of the meeting.
"Although Mongolia is facing short-term economic difficulties, investors believe that our country still has potential to develop in the long run due to abundant resources and skilled and young personnel. That is why we are negotiating with the IMF to overcome this difficulty. Mr. Bert Hofman said that the World Bank is ready to support the IMF if it implements its project in Mongolia," stated Deputy Finance Minister Kh.Bulgantuya.
"Just recently, representatives of the IMF paid a working visit and studied budgetary and monetary data. They will come to Mongolia again next month to make decision on which area they will provide support in the future. Currently, both sides are exchanging information," she added.
By B. Dulguun
December 6 (UB Post) As of November 30, prices for staple food commodities have dropped by 1.5 percent since last week, and by 1.8 percent since last October, according to the National Statistical Office (NSO) of Mongolia.
The NSO reports that prices for bone-in mutton have fallen by 5.7 percent, bone-in beef by 1.5 percent, and filleted beef by 1.5 percent since last week, while horse and goat meat prices remained the same. Compared to October, bone-in mutton sold for 7.9 percent less, bone-in beef sold for 6.5 percent less, and filleted beef sold for 4.6 percent less.
The prices for a number of vegetables have seen a considerable decline since October, except for turnips, which saw a whopping 26.2 percent price increase. The price for potatoes fell by three percent, carrots by 0.4 percent, cabbages by 5.6 percent, and onions by 0.5 percent in the past month. Turnip prices have skyrocketed since October, but they actually declined by 5.8 percent in the past week. Other vegetable prices remained the same.
Compared to last month, the price for one liter of processed milk dropped by 2.9 percent while the price of raw milk remained the same.
Compared to last week, there haven't been any changes to the prices for most dairy products apart from single liters of packaged milk, which rose by 0.5 percent.
Prices for flour and sugar have not seen changes, but prices for white rice rose by 1.2 percent in the past month.
Prices for eggs, vegetable oil, and butter have remained the same since October.
Bert Hofman: Mongolia will not overcome its economic difficulties by receiving financial aid from IMF
December 6 (gogo.mn) Government of Mongolia and Development Partners` Consultative Meeting under the theme of Partnership for Sustainable Development was took place on December 2, 2016 in Ulaanbaatar city, Mongolia.
POSITIVE FORECAST AND DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS
Ambassadors of 21 countries, 19 delegations from international banks and financial organizations as well as government officials have attended the meeting this year. The Government officials introduced the current economic situation of the country and its long-term policy and plan to the development partners. Prime Minister and Minister of Finance highlighted that the future of Mongolia seems bright due to long-term economic and social policies become sustainable. Further, Prime Minister noted that we have a opportunity to restore economic growth by implementing frequent activities under the Government action plan and program on overcoming economic difficulties.
He added that the Government is working to intensify Oyu Tolgoi`s underground mine development and commence the major projects of Gatsuurt and Tavantolgoi in 2017.
Following, Minister of Finance B.Choijilsuren gave information on how to improve fiscal discipline of Mongolia.
Budget deficit is projected to reach equal to 9.1 percent of the country`s GDP in 2017, 7.5 percent of GDP in 2018 and 5.5 percent of GDP in 2019 while the Government has planned to eliminate the budget deficit by 2020.
The Government officials introduced positive economic forecast to the development partners including that the private sectors and the Government will attract US$ 2-3 billion foreign investment annually and increase the workplaces by 20 thousand annually. Development partners agreed the conclusion that the Mongolia is expected to have positive social and economic future for the long-term.
MONGOLIA NEEDS INSTITUTIONAL REFORM
Delegations from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, United Nations, Asian Development Bank, European Union, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Finance Corporation and the Swiss Cooperation Office have attended the meeting and expressed their views.
Neil Saker, Resident Representative for Mongolia, IMF stated "Mongolia should be able to take risks and attract more foreign investors. In regards, Mongolia needs policy protection and institutional reform".
WORKING GROUP OF IMF WILL VISIT MONGOLIA TO DETERMINE THE AMOUNT OF LOAN
The meeting organizers provided information to the media on possibilities to overcome economic difficulties for short-term and how to attract financial resources. Deputy Prime Minister Kh.Bulgantuya said "IMF successfully provided Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) to Mongolia twice. IMF carefully monitored the country`s situation in Oct, 2016. Working group of IMF will visit in Mongolia in Dec, 2016 or Jan, 2017 to determine the type of aid and amount of loan.
Bert Hofman, Country Director for Mongolia, the World Bank said "Current economic challenges faced by the Mongolia has wide ranges. However, financial aid of IMF would be limited. Mongolia will not overcome its economic difficulties by receiving financial aid from the IMF. SBA mainly aims to provide macro-economic stability and proper fiscal policy as well as improve the capacity of the financial sector.
Therefore, Mongolia need to clarify that what actions included in the Government action plan and program on overcoming economic difficulties, should be implemented by aid of IMF".
"Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, THE main development partners are discussing to implement joint projects with the Government of Mongolia. Specifically, international organizations are agreed to support the actions to be implemented by the Government of Mongolia. However, it is not enough for the country to overcome its economic difficulties with the support of international organizations. Thus, the bilateral cooperation is significant", highlighted by the Bert Hofman, Country Director for Mongolia.
* Copper climbed nearly 3 percent on Monday
* Zinc pares early loss to extend Monday's 3.7 pct rally
* GRAPHIC-2016 metal returns: tmsnrt.rs/2eqHKkL (Updates with closing prices, adds comment)
By Jan Harvey
LONDON, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Copper prices fell on Tuesday as investors cashed in gains after the previous session's rally on concerns that a surge in base metals prices over the last month had left markets overstretched.
Copper rose 2.8 percent on Monday as a slide in the dollar prompted computer-driven fund buying, but the metal has failed to hold those gains.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) closed down 1.1 percent at $5,884 a tonne. The metal rose 23 percent last month to reach its highest since June 2015 at $6,045.50 a tonne.
"We do think (the price rise) has gone too far," Capital Economics analyst Caroline Bain said.
"You only have to look at the levels of investor buying to see that quite a lot of these rallies have been based on euphoria rather than grounded in fundamentals. We think we will see some profit-taking, inevitably, as we end the year."
Base metals have benefited from signs that the Chinese economy is improving, and have rallied sharply since Donald Trump's U.S. election victory, with some betting that his commitment to infrastructure spending would support demand.
However, with the details of Trump's plans still unclear, and even big improvements in U.S. demand likely to have little effect on overall global consumption, this factor is seen as overblown.
In supply news, Kazakhstan copper firm Kaz Minerals said its new copper project at Aktogay would deliver its next phase of output early in 2017 at a lower cost than expected.
Zinc, which also sank in earlier trade after rallying 3.7 percent on Monday, reversed losses to close up 1.2 percent at $2,800 a tonne.
Zinc is the best-performing LME metal this year, having surged almost 72 percent since Jan. 1, although it has dropped back 8 percent from last month's nine-year peak of $2,985.
Aluminium closed down 1.5 percent at $1,709 a tonne.
A Chinese metals industry association warned of a sharp drop in aluminium prices in the new year, Commerzbank said in a note, after recent gains boosted the pace at which idled production plants were restarted, and encouraged new capacity.
Lead closed up 0.7 percent at $2,336.50 a tonne, while tin ended the day 0.2 percent lower at $21,125 a tonne. Nickel closed down 0.3 percent at $11,610.
"We think that the recent advance has gotten somewhat long in the tooth in a number of metals and we could see a modest contraction set in," INTL FCStone said in a note.
By Clyde Russell | LAUNCESTON, AUSTRALIA
December 6 (Reuters) The already elevated price of coking coal could be boosted further if China decides to crack down on coal imports from its nuclear-armed neighbor North Korea.
The United Nations Security Council last week imposed fresh sanctions on North Korea, limiting its annual coal exports to 7.5 million tonnes, or a value of $400.9 million, after the isolated communist regime conducted a fifth nuclear weapons test.
This is significant for China's imports of high-quality coal used to make steel, as North Korea is one of its top suppliers.
Chinese customs data show that China imported 18.517 million tonnes of North Korean coal in the first 10 months of the year, a gain of 12.8 percent on the same period last year.
The jump in imports from North Korea this year came in spite of earlier Chinese commitments to ban the coal trade with Pyongyang.
So far, the official line from Beijing is that China will meet its obligations under the U.N. Security Council sanctions, but as was the case earlier this year, it appears the commitment may not be absolute.
Earlier sanctions banning coal purchases from North Korea were not enforced by China due to an exemption allowing imports for what was translated as "the people's well-being," or "livelihood purposes."
China's Foreign Ministry said on Dec. 1 that while it will enforce the new measures, they aren't intended to harm "normal" trade with North Korea or impact upon civilians.
"Resolution 2321 formulates new measures, showing the resolve of the Security Council, and also points out they must avoid creating adverse consequences for North Korean civilian and humanitarian needs, and are not intended to create negative effects on normal trade," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
Once again, it will appear to come down to what Beijing considers adverse effects on the North Korean populace, and it seems that the Chinese authorities are leaving themselves some wiggle room around the sanctions.
BULLISH COKING COAL SIGNAL
Certainly Chinese coal traders will be happy to be allowed to continue buying from North Korea once the new measures are put in place in January.
China is believed to be the only country that buys North Korean coal, which is the biggest export earner for the dynastic communist dictatorship.
Chinese customs data classifies North Korean coal as anthracite, which is a grade of coal high in energy content, making it ideal for use in the steel blast furnaces and ceramic factories in the northeast provinces close to North Korea.
Russia is the second-largest supplier of anthracite to China, but its 1.867 million tonnes in the first 10 months is barely 10 percent of what was imported from North Korea.
Rather, the main import competitor to North Korean anthracite is coking coal from Australia and Mongolia.
Chinese imports of Australian coking coal were up 11.3 percent in the first 10 months of the year to 23.45 million tonnes, while those from Mongolia surged 75.3 percent to 17.47 million tonnes.
Stronger steel production and a policy directive from Beijing to limit domestic coal output has combined to send coking prices sharply higher as China sucked up every available tonne from the seaborne market.
Coking coal futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange closed at 1,276 yuan ($185.46) a tonne on Dec. 2, up 126 percent from the start of the year.
These gains have been tempered in recent weeks as the Beijing authorities took actions to try to cool commodity markets, with exchanges requiring higher margins and charging increased fees.
Australian coking coal prices ended last week at $308.70 a tonne, about four times the $77 recorded at the end of last year.
With coking coal in strong demand in China, the potential loss of as much as 12 million tonnes of North Korean coal in 2017 would be a very bullish signal for prices.
It's possible that Beijing will force domestic coking coal miners to ramp up output, and it's also possible that imports from North Korean won't be cut by as much as implied by the new U.N. sanctions.
But for now, coking coal's extraordinary rally this year has just been given another reason to continue.
December 7 (Reuters) Steel and iron ore futures in China rose for a fourth straight day on Tuesday, backed by hopes construction activity would pick up next year to fill housing and property demand in the world's top consumer of both commodities.
Surging property prices and sales have prompted authorities to move to cool purchases in red-hot property markets, including in Shanghai and Tianjin, which last week imposed new borrowing restrictions.
Despite property sales in China increasing 27 per cent in January-October, construction activity has grown only by just over 3 per cent, said Commonwealth Bank of Australia analyst Vivek Dhar, leading to low inventories.
"Falling inventories mean that construction may be supported next year even if sales fall," Dhar wrote in a note.
Construction accounts for around 40 per cent of China's steel demand. Construction steel product rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed up 2.2 per cent at 3217 yuan ($US468) a tonne.
On the Dalian Commodity Exchange, the price of steelmaking raw material iron ore rose 3.4 per cent to 604.50 yuan a tonne.
The sharp swings in futures prices suggest speculative investors remain in the market, traders say.
Volatility - which surged to near a record in November - in the most-active Dalian iron ore futures contract has sent global spot prices on a roller-coaster ride. The wild ups and downs are risky for traders and steel mills, some of whom are losing faith in a market swayed by speculative money.
"I think speculators are still there, but the price moves may not be as crazy as in the last few weeks," said a Shanghai-based trader.
With the most-active futures contracts in both Dalian iron ore and Shanghai rebar switching to May from January since last week "that means more uncertainty for the market and many will not be so brave enough to put too much money there," he said.
Still, further strength in iron ore futures could push the spot benchmark back to near $US80 a tonne again.
Iron ore for delivery to China's Qingdao port rose 1.4% to $US79.73 a tonne on Tuesday, according to Metal Bulletin. It touched a two-year high of $US80.83 on November 28.
Iron ore firms as analysts upgrade forecasts – The Australian, December 7
Weighed down by a stronger dollar and expectations of a more hawkish Federal Reserve
December 6 (WSJ) Gold drifted lower Tuesday, weighed down by a stronger dollar and expectations of a more hawkish Federal Reserve.
Gold for February delivery closed down 0.5% at $1,170.10 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices are down around 12% from their November highs.
The Wall Street Journal Dollar Index was recently up 0.2% to 91.17. A stronger dollar tends to weigh on gold, which is priced in the U.S. currency and becomes more expensive to foreign buyers when the dollar rises.
Prices for the metal were also hit by concerns that a stronger U.S. economy will prompt the Federal Reserve to raise rates at a faster clip in coming months. Investors assigned a 94.9% likelihood to a rate increase this month, CME data showed. The likelihood of an additional increase by May stood at around 23%. Gold struggles to compete with yield-bearing assets when rates rise.
Analysts at Commerzbank noted downward pressure from continuing outflows from exchange-traded funds that buy gold. Investors have withdrawn money from ETFs for 17 consecutive sessions, accounting for nearly 150 tons of the metal—double the inflows of the third quarter of the year.
Gold bulls were confounded by the precious metal's slump in the wake of Donald Trump's election, but there was some evidence that for private investors gold retains its allure as a haven in times of rising political uncertainty.
The number of people adding to their personal gold holdings climbed 29.8% month-over-month in November, outweighing an 8.3% increase in people selling, according to BullionVault, an online marketplace for private investors in physical gold and silver.
Overall, demand for gold rose during the month at the fastest pace since November 2011, when the financial crisis was at its peak, the company said Tuesday.
Concerns remain whether OPEC will follow through with agreement to cut production
December 6 (WSJ) Oil prices slipped off one-year highs Tuesday with OPEC skeptics taking control of the market again after several days of surging prices because of cutbacks promised by the world's oil exporters.
Many traders and analysts have become more confident the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is likely to follow through on production cuts, but there are still many others who believe OPEC members will cheat on new quotas. On Tuesday, skeptics pointed to data forecasting another monthly increase to record-high output in November and to a deeper-than-expected price cut Saudi Arabia just issued for Asian customers.
An increase in U.S. stockpiles also may be weighing on prices, brokers said. Stockpiles at Cushing, Okla., rose by about 3 million barrels in the week ended Friday, data provider Genscape Inc. said on Monday, according to people who saw the report. That limited gains Monday and appeared to be adding to losses again Tuesday, ahead of the official U.S. government update on stockpiles scheduled for Wednesday, brokers said.
Light, sweet crude for January delivery settled down 86 cents, or 1.7%, at $50.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, lost $1.01, or 1.8%, to $53.93 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. The loss snaps a four-session winning streak for both benchmarks.
A stall in the rally wasn't surprising, even within a week of OPEC's decision, Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects in London, said in an email. "We have always said prices will move up on the news, then sell off till the market finds evidence of the cuts and then move higher."
Brokers and traders weren't finding it Tuesday. Several pointed to data showing output from OPEC has kept growing, seemingly up to the very day of the deal. That makes it harder for OPEC to hit its target for cutbacks, said Tim Pickering, president at Auspice, which manages $300 million.
"It points to further evidence OPEC is not to be trusted," he said.
Oil had rallied around 15% in just a week, hitting a one-year high after OPEC's decision to cut output by 1.2 million barrels a day, equivalent to around 1% of global supply. But that isn't a very strong rally—considering oil's price above $100 a barrel just two years ago—and isn't likely to get much stronger, said Dennis Gartman, writer of Wall Street's well-known daily Gartman Letter.
Speaking to a conference for coal traders in New York, he said leaders of the cartel's biggest producers and its biggest rivals feel urgency to produce as much as they can even now. Technological advancements will eventually lead to cleaner sources of power that render oil and other fossil fuels obsolete, so those exporters always have an incentive to produce, he said.
Many traders had been spooked by the still-growing production and questions about whether a meeting planned for Saturday between OPEC and nonmembers, including Russia, happens the way it is supposed to, brokers said. OPEC wants its non-OPEC counterparts to slash 600,000 barrels a day.
Commerzbank cast doubt on such a deal partly because Saudi Arabia, the quasi-head of OPEC, appears to be waiting until January to seasonally adjust its production to its lower winter level while also cutting its January selling price for Asian consumers, maintaining its strategy of defending market share. If Iran cuts prices in response, it could be a big problem for oil prices, said Bob Yawger, director of the futures division at Mizuho Securities USA Inc.
"They'll all cheat," Mr. Gartman said. "Believe me, Saudi Arabia is here to say 'We have oil for sale.' The Russians have crude oil for sale."
Oil falls on output cut skepticism, OPEC and Russia output rise – Reuters, December 6
1. Erdenet's Director: A new director is appointed for Erdenet Copper Mine after weeks of indecision
2. Border Restrictions: New fees and border restriction create new complications at a Mongolia-China land port
3. Real Estate IPO: One of Mongolia's earliest foreign invested companies plans for a listing on the London Stock Exchange's alternative market exchange
4. Investigation into Ex-Premier: DP released a statement regarding issues surrounding Altankhuyag Norov.
December 6 (news.mn) Earlier today (6th December), the 6th Convention of the Mongolian Democratic Party (DP) began at the Central Cultural Palace after 10 years break. In total, 1210 delegation are participating in the convention; according to B.Baabar, 450 of them are elected members and the others are from the factions.
The DP has been discussed party reform guidelines and rules for the last few months. Today, it will elect new elect a new party leader; P.Tsagaan, D.Erdenebat, L.Bold, S.Erdene, J.Batzandan, L.Gantumur and G.Batkhuu have all been nominated for the post.
The Democratic Party suffered a crushing defeat in the June parliamentary elections, retaining only 9 of 76 seats in the State Great Khural.
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, December 5 (MONTSAME) The composition of the Economic Policy Council has been renewed in accordance with a direction by the Prime Minister, Mr J.Erdenebat. The council's main duty is consulting and assisting the Government on medium and long term development policies, public and private partnerships and banking and finance.
For instance, the council members are responsible for identifying the viable approaches and instruments for overcoming economic challenges, ensuring further growth, stabilizing the macroeconomic environment, facilitating favorable conditions for businesses and investment and drawing domestic and international investments, and developing and submitting proposals to the cabinet.
The adjunct council is led by the Prime Minister of Mongolia, comprising representatives of the National Statistics Office, the Bank of Mongolia, the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Confederation of Employers, the National Council of Promoting Private Sector, the Institute of Economic Research and Sciences and the National University of Mongolia.
By T. Bayarbat
December 5 (UB Post) Prime Minister J.Erdenebat, Minister of Energy P.Gankhuu, and Minister of Roads and Transportation D.Ganbat visited Gurvantes soum in Umnugovi Province, on December 3, to tour the Nariin Sukhait coal mine.
During his tour, he met with the heads of the coal exporting companies operating in Gurvantes soum to discuss coal industry development. The coal exporters said that beginning construction of new railroads is of great importance to increasing coal trade.
Minister D.Ganbat pointed out that the ministry is preparing to launch construction of a rail line from Nariin Sukhait coal mine to Shiveekhuren Port in the spring of 2017 to boost coal export.
He also noted that after completion of the railroad, six mining companies operating in Shinejinst soum in Bayankhongor Province have asked Cabinet to build a 250 kilometer rail line from Shinejist to Nariin Sukhait.
By T. Bayarbat
December 5 (UB Post) On December 2, MPs reviewed amendments to the Law on State Border Protection, which outline transferring border levitra online control from the Immigration Agency to the General Authority for Border Protection (GABP).
A majority of MPs in attendance supported a border control transition. Chairman of the GABP Ts.Sergelen told MPs that 4.3 million individuals, 1.6 vehicles, and 1 million trains pass through 46 checkpoints, and there have been many cases of illegal activity at the checkpoints because of the inadequacy of the Immigration Agency's resources.
The amendments have been submitted to the Standing Committee on Security and Foreign Policy and the Standing Committee on Law for preparation for parliamentary review with a 90 percent vote in favor of further discussion.
By T. Bayarbat
December 5 (UB Post) During Parliament's session on December 2, Prime Minister J.Erdenebat held a briefing about the ongoing and upcoming government projects for poverty relief and welfare. The Prime Minister noted that, as of October, the state is providing 73,000 pensioners, 63,000 caregivers, 67,000 poverty-stricken people, 31,000 people living with disabilities, 141,000 seniors, 4,000 recipients of state honor grants, 134,000 pregnant and nursing women, and 3,000 Dukha people with welfare, and that welfare expenditure was 1.1 percent of GDP in 2015.
The PM pointed out that welfare spending is high, but expenditure for low-income families is low, so the Government of Mongolia wants to direct state welfare to targeted groups. He said that the state invests in welfare to reduce poverty, but poverty has dramatically increased due to the nation's economic challenges and many people have a tendency to rely on welfare without working.
He noted that there should be a focus on enhancing the legal and regulatory environment for welfare and social protection, as well as monitoring to ensure that target groups are receiving international and domestic aid for poverty reduction.
Prime Minister J.Erdenebat said that Cabinet is concentrating more on low-income families by revisiting welfare programs and maintaining state welfare budgets without reducing spending. He stated that methods for determining which households fall under target group categories will be redesigned by using a database based on a household's wages,
property, and vehicle assets.
The PM underlined that children in groups targeted to receive the state's financial support will be eligible for the monthly distribution of 20,000 MNT, and all other children who previously received the monthly deposit will receive their regular deposits and outstanding payments in 2019. He added that the government hopes to implement a national program on family development by collaborating with local government officials to get a selected 55,000 families out of poverty over the next four years.
The Premier highlighted that Parliament approved an amendment to the law on financial support for the elderly, so nearly 120,000 seniors will receive a welfare payment of 50,000 to 250,000 MNT twice a year, and they will be provided with telecommunications assistance for the next four years to better access information, advice, and other required support.
After Prime Minister J.Erdenebat's briefing, former Minister of Population Development and Social Protection and Democratic Party Member of Parliament S.Erdene stated that all Mongolian children should receive a monthly deposit of 20,000 MNT, and that the MPP has discriminated against some Mongolian children by distributing the state's financial support only to targeted groups. He added that the state's financial support for children is not welfare, and that it was designed to be an investment in Mongolia's future.
MPP Caucus convenes to discuss economic challenges
Summary: Parliament's MPP Caucus held their meeting attended by Prime Minister J. Erdenebat, Speaker of Parliament M. Enkhbold, and other members to discuss ways to overcome current economic challenges. The party members also discussed the responsibilities of government officials and leaders of the party, warning the party's members to take greater responsibility for their jobs and assigned duties as government officials. Most members agreed that amendments are needed for the Constitution and the Law on Government Officials.
Keywords: MPP, Parliament The Century News /page 1/
Members approved for the Prime Minister's Economic Policy Council
Summary: By the order of Prime Minister J. Erdenebat, new members of the Cabinet's Economic Policy Council were approved. The council is tasked with providing Cabinet with assistance in developing short and long-term economic policy, counsel for strengthening private and public partnerships, and advising on financial issues. The council will prepare plans to overcome economic challenges, to stabilize the macro economy, to create a favorable environment for the private sector and investment, to attract FDI, and to present their plans to the Cabinet. The council will be led by the Prime Minister and its membership include representatives from the National Statistics Office, Bank of Mongolia, the Banker's Association, Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Employers Association, National Council of Private Sector Development, Economic Research Institute, National University, and other organizations.
Keywords: Prime Minister, economic policy The National Post /page 1/
State reports on the distribution of incentives for herders
Summary: The Government of Mongolia provides monetary incentives to herders who produce raw materials for processing in domestic factories. The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry reported that a total of 9.2 billion MNT in incentives has been distributed to 45,400 herders in 2016. In the last five years, domestic factories have bought 71,400 tons of wool from herders, and 112 billion MNT in incentives have been distributed. Due to the incentives offered, the number of herders supplying raw materials to domestic factories instead of pursuing exports has increased. Since the distribution of incentives began, the number of commercial entities in the sector grew by five times. Around 24 billion MNT was forecasted to be distributed in 2016 incentives for herders. The incentives offered to herders and domestic factories have helped to establish the groundwork for developing domestic companies that are able to export their finished products.
Keywords: agriculture, state subsidies The Official Gazette /page 11/
4.8 billion MNT in loans issued in the mining sector
Summary: As of October, commercial banks have granted loans totaling 4.8 billion MNT to 205 borrowers in the mining sector. A consolidated report from the Bank of Mongolia reveals that companies in the mining sector have repaid 9.7 billion MNT in loans, but still owe 983.5 billion MNT. Most loans granted to companies in the mining sector are short-term loans, and 27.9% of the loans are past due.
Keywords: loans, mining The Official Gazette /page 11/
U.S. and Mongolia Annual Meeting takes place
Summary: State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs D. Davaasuren took part in the U.S. and Mongolia Annual Meeting. D. Davaasuren met with White House Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council Daniel Kritenbrink and Director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia at the National Security Council Ryan Hass to discuss bilateral relations and cooperation, and exchanged views on world and regional affairs. D. Davaasuren thanked the President of the International Republican Institute and Ambassador Mark Green and President of the National Endowment For Democracy Carl Gershman for their support and roles in creating democratic institutions and systems that support civil society, and discussed possible future cooperation. The parties discussed possible ways for Members of Parliament to participate in exchange programs that would enable them to gain further experience in the U.S. D. Davaasuren also met with Ted Piccone, senior fellow in the Project International Order and Strategy and Latin America Initiative in the Foreign Policy Department at the Brookings Institute to develop cooperation between two nation's research institutes, and discussed projections for the policy of the U.S.'s new administration.
Keywords: bilateral relations, U.S.-Mongolia ties www.montsame.mn
By Rob Schmitz
December 5 (NPR) Inside Mongolia's largest open-air market in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, it doesn't feel like the economy is on the brink of collapse. Alleyways are packed with people selling carpets, fabric, clothes and nearly anything else you could think of.
But vendors here have had a front-row seat to an economy that has quickly gone from the world's fastest growing to one of the slowest. Everyone here seems to have a riches-to-rags story.
"Business is terrible," says candy seller Erdenejargal. "More and more people are unemployed and they can't afford anything. They ask me about the prices. I tell them. They leave."
For 28 years, Erdenejargal — who, like many Mongolians, goes by a single name — worked for a construction company. Last year, her company, like many involved with building infrastructure, went bankrupt. And now she's here in the market selling Russian candy out of the trunk of her tiny, rusted-out car.
She's perched in front of a loudspeaker dangling from a storefront announcing chickens for sale — chickens she can't afford. "The police chase me out of here, but if I don't do this, we won't have any money," Erdenejargal says with a sigh. "I've got three children and my husband lost his job. This is the government's fault – they borrowed so much, and it all disappeared."
Mongolia, sandwiched between Siberia to the north and China to the south, is twice the size of Texas with just 3 million people. It's a nation of nomadic herders whose history goes back to Genghis Khan.
China's demand for coal helped Mongolia's economy grow by 17.5 percent in 2011. This year, the World Bank forecasts it will grow by less than 1 percent.
"We're considered to be the fastest growing economy in the world for a number of years, since 2011 and 2012," says Undraa Agvaanluvsan, who was elected to the country's parliament in June. "When commodity prices started going down, so did our economy."
Now Mongolia — nicknamed "Minegolia" for its vast mineral wealth — suffers as global prices for coal and copper plummet. Its mines are bleeding money.
So is the government.
When its economy was booming five years ago, the Mongolian government went on a spending spree, issuing $1.5 billion worth of so-called "Genghis bonds" to build infrastructure. Much of the money was poorly spent. Several officials were revealed in the Panama Papers for holding secret offshore accounts. Now Mongolia's debt is nearly 80 percent of its GDP.
Its currency, the tugrik, is in a free-fall. "Obviously, the immediate thing we can do is fix our budget. Cut our deficit as much as we can," says Mogi Bontoi, who runs the market intelligence firm Cover Mongolia.
He says an IMF emergency bailout won't be enough to prevent Mongolia from defaulting on billions of dollars worth of loans. Some of that debt is owed to its neighbor, China — whose economic and political influence many Mongolians fear, but seems poised to loan even more money to Mongolia.
"Despite our public fear of China, what our politicians do is go to China," Bontoi says with a chuckle.
In the meantime, he says, unofficial unemployment hovers between 30 and 40 percent.
Many of those who have lost their jobs live in neighborhoods on the outskirts of the capital, filled with gers, the round tents of nomads who moved to the city to find work back when the economy was healthy.
Gankhuyag, 38, abandoned his life as a nomadic herder and moved here a few years ago with his family to work as a porter. "Everything costs money in the city – water, electricity, gas," he says. "I'm thinking of returning to the grasslands. Life is much simpler there. You ride your horse, herd your animals and sell their meat and hides."
For some in this sparsely populated country with a grassy backyard whose horizon seem limitless, waiting out this economic crisis by returning to nature seems like the best option.
Link to article (and audio)
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, December 5 (MONTSAME) On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare hosted a discussion themed "Involving the Disabled in the Sustainable Development Goals", followed by a press conference on December 2.
The Ministry, related associations and NGOs presented their works and objectives.
Vice Minister of Health L.Byambasuren talked about the Health Ministry's ongoing actions for ensuring accessibility in medical facilities, as well as the reproductive health care and gynecological services.
The main highlights from the presentation of D.Zanabazar, a department head of the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development, were the norms and standards of accessible civil construction designs. J.Sereeter, official from the Ministry of Road and Transport Development informed of the course of equipping public transports and personal vehicles for the people with disabilities.
There are over one billion disabled people in the world, of which 650 million are living in Asia. According to a 2015 report of the National Statistics Office of Mongolia, Mongolia has 101,730 people with disabilities. Some 34 percent of them have congenital disabilities, whereas 64 percent have acquired disabilities. The dominating types of disabilities in Mongolia are mobility impairments (19%) and psychological disorders (17%).
By Jargal "De Facto" Dambadarjaa
December 5 (gogo.mn) Twenty-five years ago Mongolia's economy was fully dependent on the Soviet Union. Following the collapse of the socialist system in Eastern Europe and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the 400 million USD USSR-Mongolia barter trade agreement dissolved in 1991. This cut 80 percent of Mongolia's imports as a cold winter loomed. Our economy basically went bankrupt, and stores had only two things: shop clerks and salt.
At the time, Mongolians started the transition from a system dominated by a single political party to a parliamentary democracy, and from a centrally-planned economy to a market economy. If we look at this historical time today, there are many areas where we fell short, although we accomplished a lot. This political and economic transition could not have been fathomed without soft loans and aid from donor countries and international development organizations.
DEVELOPMENT LOANS AND AID
Mongolia became a World Bank member country in 1991, on February 14, Lunar New Year's Eve. In the lead up to this milestone, we had become a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Asian Development Bank (ADB). Having established these cooperation agreements and acquired new partners, we welcomed the Year of the Iron Sheep. Given a lack of experience, Mongolians had to learn from our new partners and develop our economic and fiscal policies together to establish our democracy and free market system.
In order to overcome the economic crisis and tackle new challenges, Mongolia concluded negotiations with the IMF in August 1991 and started a stand-by program with the objective of reducing the trade deficit. It was followed by agreements to receive financial and technical support, and soft loans from World Bank, the ADB, and partnering countries, especially Japan. The top priority for the spending of the loans and aid was buying the required equipment, materials, and spare parts for the agriculture, energy, coal extraction, and fuel sectors.
Since then, Mongolia has worked with the IMF to align our budgetary and fiscal system with international standards, have a centralized account for state funds, change the policy for budget revenue, clarify the tax environment, and reform the banking, financial, and insurance sectors.
In cooperation with World Bank, Mongolia worked to improve public governance, enhance urban development, take education services to a better place, strengthen Ulaanbaatar's management, reduce air pollution, make management of the mining sector stronger, develop local infrastructure, protect the environment, and develop government policies related to these issues.
Another project that was carried out with World Bank was index-based livestock insurance, which is running successfully even today. This insurance takes into account Mongolia's climate and weather conditions and is based on the needs of herders.
Under the Sustainable Livelihood project, local development funds were set up in accordance with the revised budget law. By registering properties in the countryside, increasing civic engagement, developing microfinance, and reducing the centralization of budget allocation at the local level, this initiative increased the opportunities for investing in the countryside.
The ADB has provided Mongolia with a total of 1.6 billion USD in funding so far, and implemented more than 276 loans, aid, and technical assistance projects in many sectors, such as education, health, finance, infrastructure, and urban planning. The ADB is one of Mongolia's biggest partners.
With ADB funding, Mongolia's road network in the western region will soon be commissioned, creating a corridor connecting our two big neighbors as well as Asia and Europe. Also, projects implemented in the education sector include transitioning to a 12-year education system and reforming the curricula, standards, and teaching methodologies. In health, the ADB established the framework for planning hospital infrastructure and investment, built a model district hospital in Songinokhairkhan, and carried out many initiatives on safe blood transfusions, medical waste management, health and safety at hospitals, and disease prevention.
The Government of Mongolia received a total of 5.6 billion USD in official development assistance (ODA) from partner countries and international organizations in 1991-2014. Approximately 54 percent (3 billion USD) was soft loans, and 46 percent was aid.
In the same period of time, Mongolia's GDP per capita increased tenfold and has now reached 4,000 USD. Mongolia has moved from an underdeveloped country to a developing country. At this stage, we have increased opportunities to acquire huge loans with favorable conditions.
BENEFITS ACHIEVED AND LESSONS LEARNED
So far, Mongolia has spent 31 percent of its soft loans from abroad on infrastructure, 12 percent on power and energy, and 11 percent on the banking and financial sector. If we look at development aid, 15 percent has been spent on human development, 11 percent on emergency aid, 10 percent on power and energy, 10 percent on agriculture, and nine percent on roads and transportation.
For some time, several institutions, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Mongol Bank, managed the internal distribution of loans acquired from abroad. With the enactment of the Law on Foreign Loans and Aid in 2003, the Ministry of Finance assumed the role of managing the distribution process. This meant that all receipts and documents for loans went to the government's register.
Receipt of foreign loans and development aid is largely dependent on the transparency of the government and its accurate reporting of expenditure.
However, Mongolia's government is not known for its stability, and our mid and long-term development policies are weak. Also, the government officers who are in charge of implementing foreign loans and aid keep getting replaced. These factors contribute to projects being disrupted, duplicated, and not being aligned with government policies.
Going forward, we need to increase the actual benefits of development projects, improve reporting mechanisms, and direct foreign loans and aid to serving the objective of diversifying our economy, which is greatly dependent on a single sector: mining.
Currently, Mongolia is still dependent on foreign loans and development aid, despite the expansion of our economy. A clear example is that although we implemented an IMF stand-by program in 1991 and in 2009, we are now negotiating for another one to be implemented in 2017.
By B. Myagmardorj
December 5 (gogo.mn) Recently, the government decided that in case any public holiday falls on weekend, it would be shifted to the next closest weekday. But this decision was only for the Republic Day on 26th of November, 2016. They announced that upcoming holidays will be discussed at a later date.
Friday December 29, is a public holiday - Mongolian National Revolution of Freedom and Independence Day.
Here is the list of public holidays in 2017:
January 1, Sunday – New Year's Day Holiday
February 27 and 28, Monday and Tuesday – Lunar New Year Holiday (Tsagaan Sar)
March 1, Wednesday – Lunar New Year Holiday
March 8, Wednesday – International Women's Day Holiday
June 1, Thursday – Mothers' and Children's Day Holiday
July 11 – 15, Tuesday to Saturday – Naadam Holiday
November 19, Sunday – Chinggis Khaan's Birthday Day Holiday
November 26, Sunday – Independence Day Holiday
December 29, Friday – National Revolution of Freedom and Independence Day Holiday.
December 6 (gogo.mn) Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi CEO: Mongolia's debt to Chalco to be settled by next spring
The Mongol Messenger has previously reported that Erdenes Tavantolgoi JSC, has concluded on a negotiation to increase the price of coal of the East Tsankhi block of the Tavan Tolgoi deposits by 1.8 times or 85 percent. Since last week, an each coal price extracted from the block has been sold for USD 50 for each ton to TTJVCo - the operating company at the coal mine. This action is believed to improve the effectiveness of a contract with TTJVCo and increase a price of Tavan Tolgoi's coal.
Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, which is a subsidiary of the Erdenes Mongol LLC - owner of the Tavan Tolgoi deposits, is a development manager of the East Tsankhi coalfield. Newly-appointed CEO of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi M.Ariunbold said "Chinese government's aim to eliminate its domestic coal production is influencing the coal price and demand to remain higher and stronger. Concerning the preliminary forecast of the coal price on the index price of exchanges, a ton of coal removed from the east Tsankhi block is projected to be sold for USD 60 beginning from the first quarter of 2017".
Mongolia has been intermittently paying off its USD 350 million debt to China's aluminum company Chalco since 2011 in form of deliveries of coal from the East Tsankhi mine. When the contract was made in 2011, it was agreed that the base price of ton of coal to be set at USD 70 and the price would be established seasonally based on the index price of 4 exchanges located in China. "After a series of talks between a working group set-up by the Mongolian Government and Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi and the Chinese side, we have now brought the current coal price to the level that was set in the 2011 agreement. To clarify, as stated in the agreement, a ton of coal should cost USD 70, which is the payment of delivering the coal from mine to the border point. If the delivery cost is excluded, each ton of coal price would be USD 50 at the deposit".
On the debt repayment to Chalco, CEO Ariunbold said in his interview for itoim.mn website "We are now left with around USD 80 million of debt to repay to Chalco. In the past, the Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi has been giving 65 percent of the total coals extracted from the East Tsankhi mine for the payment of the TTJVCo's operations at the mine and the remaining 35 percent has been rendered to Chalco for reimbursement".
In addition, the Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi has requested the Chalco and TTJVCo companies to load larger amount of coal in each shipment to China in order to repay the debt more quickly. He continued to say that if Mongolia would keep the current amount of coal on each shipment to transport to Chalco, the debt would be completed within the early spring of 2017 and after that, East Tsankhi coal would be exported to other buyers.
Another largest section of the Tavan Tolgoi, is the West Tsankhi coal. The Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi has reported that explorations at the block were resumed in order to take advantage of coal price surge and increase state budget revenue. A consortium of Mongolian companies, "SGS", LLC, Khishig Arvin Industrial LLC and Monnis LLC has been selected as the main operator at the West Tsankhi. The developments are expected to produce 1.1 million tons of coal within the first two months and a ton coal is planned to be sold for USD 60 according to CEO Ariunbold. The total resource of the West Tsankhi mine is estimated at around 4.5 million tons.
Exploration and sales activities of the both the East and West Tsankhi mines are expected to benefit the country's economy immensely by bringing over USD 100 million of revenue to the state budget as taxes and fees annually, creating more than 5 thousand jobs and increasing foreign currency flow of the country.
December 6 (Think Railways) Russian Railways (RZD) in cooperation with SWIFT Transport International Logistic Co. has launched the first container train from China to the European part of Russia, via Mongolia.
The train composed of 57 conventional wagons loaded with consumer goods, electric equipment and car parts traveled from Tianjin Port to Vorsino railway station in Kaluga region.
The lead time, including Ereen-Zamin-Uud (China-Mongolia) and Sükhbaatar-Naushki (Mongolia -Russia) border crossings, is 10 days.
TransContainer is the provider of flatcars and containers for this services.
The project aims to develop economic cooperation between Russia, China and Mongolia, in framework of Eurasia's Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
SWIFT Transport International Logistic Co., Ltd was founded in August 2007 in Tianjin. The company specializes in the import and export of containerized cargo between the countries of Southeast Asia and Russia and manages its own 6,000 TEU container fleet.
December 6 (sxcoal.com) Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi (ETT), Mongolian state-owned miner of the world's largest undeveloped coal deposit, announced it had negotiated an 85% price jump in its average selling price to $50/t from December, rising to $60/t for 2017, Frontera News reported on December 5.
ETT had been selling its coal at only $32/t as part of a settlement for debt owed to the Aluminum Corporation of China, or Chalco.
In another part of Tavan Tolgoi, Mongolia Mining Corporation had already struck a deal to sell its premium washed variety of coal at $107/t.
The price hike, reached by a newly installed government in Ulaanbaatar, was regarded as a way to get the country out of the economic crisis it inherited. Mounting debt has driven Mongolian government into talks with the International Monetary Fund. It's been whacked with two credit rating downgrades in as many weeks.
Yet, sales of coal – coupled with rising earnings from the country's other main resources, namely copper, gold and iron ore – appear destined to rescue this nation of 3 million people, with or without foreign handouts.
It is reported that tailback of coal-laden trucks has been building for months, which sometimes stretches over 60 kilometers, the world's longest one, mainly shipping to China.
Around half – or 1,500 trucks – make it across the border each day, Frontera News cited drivers and border guards as said. That equates to around 135,000 tonnes every day, or 48.60 million tonnes annually.
This will bring over $4 billion of annual revenue to Mongolia – based on a mid-price between the $60/t and $107/t so far achieved at Tavan Tolgoi, the consignment at $83/t – just from coal.
For Mongolia's $12 billion economy, this would mean a 25% jump in GDP, returning the economy to the type of dizzying growth rates seen last decade, said Nick Cousyn, the Chief Operating Officer for BDSec, Mongolia's largest broker and investment bank, in a report with similar conclusion.
Coal prices have been rising entering 2016, especially coking coal used for making steel, mainly supported by China's government-led overcapacity slash drive. Amid the nationwide campaign, domestic coal supply fell short of demand from downstream sectors, boosting coal imports from coal-rich countries including neighboring Mongolia.
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December 5 (Voice of Mongolia) Mongolia temporarily stops live horse export. Mongolia temporarily stops the export of live horses until the spring of 2017. A team of inspectors has assessed the procedure of meat and livestock exports through the Bichigt border checkpoint, and concluded that the operation is improper. Horses for export have been herded for many days without proper feeding. The risk of horses to freeze their eyes or die from starvation is very high in winter time. There have been cases in Mongolia when the horses were unable to move and were pushed by cranes across the border.
By G. Davaadorj
December 5 (Mongolian Economy) What is most at risk in Mongolia? Is it value of the currency, the mining sector, or the entire economy altogether? The answer is none of the above.
That which is at most risk is the future of Mongolia, the children. It would not too far from the truth to say that Mongolia is one of the countries that does not pay much attention to children. Children are suffering in body and mind on a daily basis – at home, in the streets and in the schools.
One of the things posing a great risk to the future of Mongolia is the wooden latrine. Outhouses are the source of 90 percent of soil contamination in Ulaanbaatar, and furthermore, they are one of the leading causes of gastrointestinal illnesses among thousands of children living in ger districts and rural areas. During the summer especially, outhouses become the source of infectious disease outbreaks of diarrhoea, hepatitis A and B and enteroviruses. Doctor S.Gambuu of the National Center for Communicable Disease says that children are the most vulnerable to these diseases, and also that the walk to and from outhouses often cause one to slip and become injured.
Actual work on issues concerning outhouses, which have been just talk for many years, started to take off two years ago. However, it was the private sector that took the initiative and not the government, indicating that corporate social responsibility (CSR) has made strides in Mongolia.
MobiCom, the first telecom company in Mongolia, did something about children using unsanitary outhouses. Since 2014, the company has worked on a project to improve sanitation and hygiene conditions at rural schools in cooperation with World Vision Mongolia. Over the past three years, MobiCom built improved sanitation facilities for schools in 35 soums in 12 provinces as part of the project. These facilities included septic systems that are spaced far from the school and have smart toilet seats, hot and cold water and showers. It provides hot water by heating groundwater and re-uses its waste water after purification. Such a solution is quite suitable for rural areas as the septic tank needs to be pumped only once every three years.
As of September 2016, a total of 35,000 children in rural schools now enjoy modern sanitation facilities, and more are on the way.
In the first year of the project's implementation, MobiCom Corporation raised about 70 percent of the financing while the World Vision Mongolia contributed the remaining 30 percent. Since 2015, local administrations began to be involved, such that each of the three sides now cover one-third of the project's financing. Furthermore, the Mongolian National Broadcaster, the United Nations Children's Fund and the Royal King construction company have also joined the project, further intensifying the undertaking. MobiCom spent a total of MNT 1.2 billion on the project in 2014-2015.
In 2017, the company plans to eliminate outhouses in schools of at least 10 soums or even 20, if possible, said MobiCom's PR and Communication Director E.Chinzorig.
This CSR endeavour carried out by MobiCom has become a nationwide campaign.
MobiCom adopted its current CSR policy in 2014 and established a special unit within the PR and Communications Department. The policy states "CSR is not only the company's responsibility to society and the staff, but a corporate business and social philosophy for the prosperity of the society and the people." The core of this philosophy in MobiCom's case is children.
Children listen to you
Another major work child-focused initiative of MobiCom is the "108 Children's Helpline" project. In doing research for this article, I found out just how important this project is for Mongolia, given that violations of children's rights are increasing in the country.
Although Mongolia began operating the children's helpline in 2001 to ensure implementation of UN Conventions, it was not able to cover a wide scope due to financial shortfalls.
Since 2014, MobiCom Corporation and World Vision Mongolia have been cooperating on the work to upgrade the child helpline with the support of the Authority for Family, Child and Youth Development. The Child Helpline's 108 phone number was transferred into the same category as other emergency helplines, which made it free to call in accordance with a decree by the National Council for Children.
MobiCom now fully takes on responsibility for the hardware and software of the helpline and provides with free usage of its servers.
The child helpline operates 24/7 with a total of 22 employees divided into four shifts, including 16 counsellors, four social workers, one senior psychologist and one coordinator. A joint child protection team consisting of 152 khoroos and 336 soums keeps in contact with child and family development departments, school and kindergarten authorities, social workers, local administrations, citizens' representative councils and other non-governmental and international organisations operating throughout Mongolia.
The hotline receives an average of 430 calls per day, providing psychological counselling and transferring issues to relevant authorities if necessary. Within two years, approximately 360,000 calls were made. M.Enkhbold, a specialist at the child helpline call centre, said that 5,000 of those calls were emergency calls concerning the life or health of a child.
These are just a few examples of MobiCom Corporation's dedication to children. Some of the projects and programmes initiated by the company have been included in state policies as well as the government's platform. For example, MobiCom initiated and successfully implemented the first phase of a School Lunch programme at 12 secondary schools in the outskirts of the capital. As a result of the programme, school attendance and tardiness significantly improved, class participation increased and illness decreased. The programme was so successful that the government took the programme nationwide, implementing the measure in all the public secondary schools across the country.
MobiCom's PR and Communications Director E.Chinzorig said that MobiCom takes major pride in their CSR works, and it is clear that the company's CSR endeavours are much more than just empty gestures.
December 5 (Minex Forum) Due to weak commodity prices in the past five years Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and other Central Asian countries whose economies are built around extractive industries have been going through hard economic times. Although Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is considered the key instrument for stimulating economic growth, the relationships between the Governments and Foreign Investors in these countries were far from ideal. Have the parties been able to learn from their costly mistakes and will the recovery of commodity markets translate into FDI boom in the mining sector and economic reinvigoration in 2017 and beyond?
MINEX Eurasia Conference organised in London on 28 November provided an insight into the changes, which will be shaping up investment climate in the mining industries of Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.
Key legislation changes in Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan and were presented by Badamsuren Khookhor, Vice-Minister, Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry of Mongolia, Angelica Phillips, Co-Chair, UK-Kazakhstan Inter-Governmental Commission and Simon Cox, Partner, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP.
Macro and Investment overview on Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Uzbekistan was presented by Chris Weafer, Senior Partner, Macro-Advisory Ltd. According to Mr. Weafer, the Eurasian countries are being forced onto a new path because of political changes and as old economic models are no longer viable.
Russia's old economic model has matured. A new investment based model is now required to replace the decreasing share of oil, which represents less than 35% of budget revenues. Russia is today a low cost economy. A cheap rouble is at the core of efforts to create a competitive economic base. Although the Russian Economy has enough resources to "muddle-through", the return to targeted growth of 3.5-4.5% will require a pick-up in investment.\
Kazakhstan's economy has suffered because of an over reliance on hydrocarbon revenues and contagion from the Russian recession. Devaluation of Tenge was badly handled and has created legacy problems in the banking sector. Budget deficit has expanded as government tries to maintain social stability. The Government has announced very ambitious reform and industrial programmes, however, investors are awaiting specifics before committing. There are often mixed messages concerning investment into natural resources. Government policy is to attract inward investment but local management in strategic companies are often obstructive. Being the key player in the Eurasian Economic Union and strategic member in China's "Silk route" project, Kazakhstan is expected to conclude substantial investment deals with Iran, India and Turkey.
Political and regime change in Mongolia, along with shifting expectations of the population, should help create a more favourable FDI climate. June election produced surprise result with the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) taking 85% of the seats in parliament. The MPP was previously opposed to foreign investment and especially to foreign control. Economic realities have changed that stance. The new government is promising a more open and investment friendly climate. The immediate priority is to restructure the budget, create new jobs and get new funding to cover external obligations falling due. There are also contradictions to be resolved, such as how to extract more from mining projects while boosting FDI. FDI recovery is the key to economic growth and to both social and political stability. Tavan Tolgoi is considered to be a test case to watch.
Mining investment cases and projects presented at the Conference
Oyu Tolgoi – the story of Mongolia's largest mining development.
Ulf Quellmann, Chief Financial Officer, Copper and Diamonds, Rio Tinto plc – www.riotinto.com
Erdenes Mongol's ongoing commitment to "Strategic Transformation".
Tumentsogt Tsevegmid, CEO, Erdenes Mongol – www.erdenesmongol.mn
Developing a New Gold District in Southwest Mongolia.
Peter C. Akerley, President and Director, Erdene Resource Development – www.erdene.com
Leading regional exploration play in an emerging world class, gold rich copper belt.
Jonathan Spring, Director, President and CEO, Kincora Copper Limited – www.kincoracopper.com
Unlocking Mongolia's Copper-Gold Belts.
Dr Andrew Stewart, Managing Director & CEO, Xanadu Mines Ltd – www.xanadumines.com
For a free copy of the full conference report please visit: http://eurasia2016.minexforum.com/
By Enerelt Enkhbold, Investment Officer, Mongolia Resident Mission, ADB
December 6 (Asian Development Blog) If there is one thing one should know about Mongolia, it is the important role that agriculture plays in the lives of the people. Agricultural is deeply embedded in Mongolia's traditions and everyday life, and encompasses almost every aspect of people's lives.
Agriculture has long remained integral to the economy of Mongolia. Modern scientific studies claim that the meteoric rise of Genghis Khan and his conquests were fueled by a huge increase in the Mongols' herds of horses and livestock at the time. The tree ring data suggests that a change in climate with unusually heavy rainfall and mild temperatures in the early 13th century boosted the Mongolian plateau's grassland productivity, resulting in an accumulation of horses and food on the steppe.
Today, agriculture is still vital to the country's economy. It employs nearly one-third of the workforce and generates more than 10% of GDP. A considerable portion of Mongolians will likely continue to be involved in agribusiness for the foreseeable future, even if mining and services sectors are growing rapidly.
Mongolia has hundreds of years of experience in animal husbandry, which directly or indirectly employs about a quarter of the country's workforce. Animal breeding is part of the lives of Mongolians. Mongolian livestock consists of five primary kinds of animals or tavan khoshuu: goats, sheep, cattle, horses, and camels. Animal husbandry accounts for over 80% of the country's agricultural production. With its 56 million heads of livestock (as of 2015) and unique location between two giant economies—the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Russian Federation—Mongolia has enormous potential to boost its meat production, dairy food processing, and other value-added activities, in particular cashmere wool and animal skin products. Accessing export markets is critical for Mongolia's economic growth and to lift rural populations out of poverty.
The government's estimate for potential annual meat exports reached $1 billion in early 2016. This is possibly not a distant dream for Mongolia, since a Russian meat corporation has proposed the purchase of 7,000 tons of beef and horses and the PRC wants to import 150,000 tons of meat annually. Actually, Mongolia now sells less than a tenth of its potential for annual meat exports, and much less than the 40,000 tons of meat per year the country exported during the socialist period.
The constraints that have kept Mongolia from realizing its meat export potential include low technological and production capacity, logistics limitations, few meat plants, quotas, and phytosanitary barriers. Existing processing plants require substantive upgrading to improve production capacity and meet quality and sanitary requirements. Due to poorly developed logistics and trade procedures, the costs of trading across borders are considerable. For adequate and sustainable supply of meat products into the market, Mongolian farmers need to establish a good business model that includes animal nutrition supplements during the long winter months.
The animal husbandry business in Mongolia is directly affected by the harsh weather and the fact that herders still follow the conventional pasture herding method, which makes them especially vulnerable to extreme climate events like the dzud, the particularly severe winter experienced last year. The dzud caused many animal deaths and sudden shortages in animal fodder, led to a dramatic reduction in animal numbers during the winter. Investing in the animal nutrition sector through fodder crop farming is necessary for the continuous development of the country's agriculture sector.
Despite the numerous challenges faced by Mongolia, international investors are still interested in agriculture. They are ready to bring new agricultural technology to the sector, and build modern plants in the country. They see the untapped huge potential for Mongolia's agriculture because it is organic, less polluted, and the least industrialized in the region. However, one of the key constraints discouraging foreign direct investments in agriculture is related to sanitation.
A 2013 ADB assessment found that the existing sanitary and phytosanitary laboratory network has insufficient capacity to establish adequate protection against risks to animal and plant health in Mongolia. Despite the fact that Mongolia has significantly improved its sanitary and phytosanitary system over the past decade, the potential for exporting agricultural products is far from being fully realized. Sanitation requirements imposed on cross-border trade limit Mongolia's agribusinesses growth, and diminish its competitiveness for agricultural export because the country has no internationally accredited laboratories.
The road ahead for Mongolia is exciting and full of opportunities. Through our work, I look forward to seeing the further development of the agriculture sector in the years ahead.
By A. Misheel
December 6 (gogo.mn) In 2017, the Government has planned to improve air quality by providing reliable power supply for ger-area households, cutting electricity night tariff to zero, providing improved stoves and supplying briquette.
National committee to reduce air pollution held its first meeting on Dec 4.
At the meeting, Prime Minister J.Erdenebat delivered opening remarks and stated: "We need to take effective actions against air pollution. In further, the Government will support renewable energy usage, offer electricity tariff discount for households using electric heating, support the import and consumption of high-quality fuel and use natural gas fuel for transportation by spending air pollution charge properly.
"Mongolia is not the only country that is suffering from air pollution. Whole world is paying attention to this issue. Ulaanbaatar city ranks 47th at the list of most polluted 50 cities in the world. Respiratory diseases were 697 per 10 thousand population in 2005 and it has increased by 2.4 percent to 1730 per 10 thousand population in 2014. We need to undertake decisive measures, including developing strategies and planning to reduce air pollution, supporting the activities of locals and sectors as well as increasing the taxes on aging cars", said Minister of Environment and Tourism D.Oyunkhorol.
According to the law on air pollution charge, about MNT 30 billion are collected in the state budget per year. However, it could not spent properly. This year, MNT 5 billion was budgeted to reduce air pollution.
By B. Dulguun
December 6 (UB Post) The Air Pollution Reduction National Committee (APRNC) held its first meeting with its new members, approved by Prime Minister J.Erdenebat through Directive No.120, to report on projects and measures completed from 2015 to 2016 and to determine plans for next year.
Members of the APRNC, Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry, and representatives from other agencies participated in the meeting.
"Air pollution is increasing every year in Ulaanbaatar, and adversely impacting public health to the extent that it has become a pressing issue at the national security level. Therefore, we're required to take substantial action to reduce air pollution," Prime Minister J.Erdenebat said, opening the meeting.
"We will strive to resolve relevant matters through state policy, such as promoting renewable energy use through appropriate spending of air pollution fees; granting nighttime electricity use incentives for families using electrical heating systems; promoting import and the consumption of high-quality petroleum; using natural gas to fuel public transportation; improving services; identifying the quantity and classification of air pollutants in provinces and large rural settlements; enhancing power efficiency and supply in provinces and soums; determining regions that need to improve air pollution; and deciding on measures to take," he added.
Following the Prime Minister's opening remarks, the Minister of Environment, Green Development and Tourism commented on the importance of eliminating air pollution worldwide.
"Today, air pollution is faced by not only Mongolia, but also by the whole world. It's a global problem. Ulaanbaatar is ranked 47th out of 50 countries with the most air pollution on Earth. Research and statistics organizations reported very unfortunate data, that in 2005, 697 per 10,000 individuals died worldwide due to respiratory diseases. But in 2014, it rose by 2.4 times to 1,740 per 10,000 individuals. At present, the Ministry of Environment, Green Development and Tourism isn't able to stop every activity harming the environment. We don't have the legal grounds to do more than report and send proposals to the police and specialized inspection agencies. Yet, the public continues to demand that our ministry protect sacred natural sites, and clean rives and conserve them. We're in urgent need of decisive actions, including developing air pollution reduction plans and strategies; supporting provincial and intersectional measures; and reducing the number of vehicles by increasing taxes on old vehicles."
Within the scope of air pollution reduction, officials have decided to spend funds from the 2017 state budget on ensuring reliable electricity supply to families living in ger areas, nullifying fees for nighttime power usage, supplying households with eco-friendly stoves, and increasing briquette supply.
The City of Ulaanbaatar (the "City") approached the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development ("EBRD" or the "Bank") with a request to assist in identifying the gaps and key areas for development in the urban transport sector.
On this basis, the Bank is looking to engage a suitably qualified consultant (the "Consultant") to prepare a study aimed at (i) assessment of current practices in bus operations (ii) analysing government bus funding programme and (iii) recommendation of future bus fleet renewal and funding programme (the "Assignment"). The Consultant will provide an assessment of the Priority Investment Plan (PIP) and its benefits, including legal/regulatory requirements and financial and economic rate of return for the Project.
The expected outcome of the Assignment is to identify key areas in urban transport in the City of UB to structure EBRD's investments.
The selected Consultant is expected to provide the following services:
· Review of bus transport sector, including bus operations and licencing practices, bus fleet management and maintenance practices and facilities, revenue collection and AFC operation, current and future fleet requirements including Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).
· Analysis of existing bus funding programme regarding legal/regulatory framework, organisation and resources, financial review/fund uses, application/allocation process for bus operators.
· Proposals for new bus funding programme, including fleet requirements (up to 10 years), on-going support initiatives, including other IFIs (notably ADB for BRT scheme), legal/regulatory requirements and financial and economic assessment
· Workshop for City/EBRD and key stakeholders.
Status of Selection Process: Interested firms or groups of firms are hereby invited to submit expressions of interest.
Assignment Start Date and Duration: The Assignment is expected to start in Q12016 and has an estimated overall duration of 4 months.
Cost Estimate for the Assignment: EUR 100,000 (exclusive of VAT).
By B. Tungalag
December 4 (UB Post) A new international standard ice rink opened in School No. 6 in Sukhbaatar District on November 30.
The Mongolian Ice Hockey Federation and Sukhbaatar District administration built the ice rink to develop winter sports in Mongolia. The new ice rink cost 240 million MNT to build.
Winter sports athletes will be able to train in ice hockey, figure skating and short track skating on the new ice rink.
Ulaanbaatar has several outdoor ice rinks, and only one indoor ice rink in Hunnu Mall.
Winter sports have been developing fast in Mongolia in recent years. For example, the Mongolian ice hockey team won a bronze medal at the Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia, which was held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in March 2016. Mongolia won four bronze medals at the Asian Challenge Cup, and Mongolian athletes have been competing in the World Bandy Championship and international skating tournaments regularly.
December 2 (China File) The day before the Dalai Lama's November 18 trip to Mongolia, Beijing issued a "strong demand" to its neighbor to cancel the visit of the "anti-Chinese separatist" or face (unstated) consequences. The Dalai Lama would be making his ninth visit to the sparsely populated nation of 3 million people, just to China's north. Previous visits triggered retaliation from China, including the temporary closure of parts of the Sino-Mongolian border.
Just like in the past, Ulaanbaatar ignored the warnings. Befitting a nation where a majority of the population practices a form of Buddhism derived from Tibet, Mongolian officials described the visit as purely religious in nature. The Dalai Lama attracted crowds of thousands during his four-day trip. He visited monasteries, preached to admiring worshippers at a gigantic sports facility (built with Chinese aid), and made a star appearance at an international conference on "Buddhist science."
But in a press conference, the Dalai Lama slammed China for interfering with his travels. He also announced that the next spiritual leader of Mongolia, the Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, considered the third most important lama, after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, has been born. That controversial move is likely to anger Beijing, which has long sparred with the Dalai Lama over the right to appoint Buddhist reincarnations. After the Dalai Lama left on November 23, Beijing indefinitely postponed bilateral meetings between the two nations, casting doubts over Ulaanbaatar's hopes to obtain badly needed soft loans and economic aid.
President Xi Jinping has repeatedly spoke about the win-win nature of China's rise. China's outreach to its neighbors through its massive One Belt, One Road initiative promises regional economic growth, peace, and stability. And Beijing advertises equality and non-interference as hallmarks of its foreign policy: different, it says, from foreign policies of the old great powers. But Beijing's efforts—and embarrassing inability—to force Mongolia's compliance with its political demands expose a more sinister face of China's friendship.
The history of China's relations with Mongolia shows that raw pressure and intimidation can backfire in unexpected ways. One particularly relevant example concerns Beijing's efforts to sway Mongolia following the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict. In 1959, following the outbreak of an anti-Chinese rebellion in Tibet, the then 23-year-old Dalai Lama fled to India. Beijing never forgave him for leaving, nor forgave India for giving him refuge. Relations between Beijing and New Delhi, until then hailed as a shining example of peaceful coexistence, tanked. Border tensions escalated, and in October 1962, the two neighbors went to war in the Himalayas.
Although China won the battle, the real challenge was to persuade the world that the Indians were the bad guys—a matter complicated by the reality that Beijing attacked India, not the other way around. The task fell to the founding father of Chinese diplomacy, Zhou Enlai, who spent weeks explaining China's take on the conflict to disconcerted regional players like Indonesia and Sri Lanka. In December 1962, Zhou attempted to convince the Mongolians to endorse the Chinese point of view. The records of his dramatic encounter with then Mongolian Prime Minister Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal have recently been declassified by the Mongolian Foreign Ministry, and are now accessible online. They make for sober reading.
Tsedenbal, who came to China to sign a border treaty and to ask for economic aid, seemed surprised when Zhou unexpectedly raised the subject of India. Zhou recounted the highlights of the Sino-Indian border confrontation, and condemned the Indians for selling out to American imperialism and for pursuing anti-Chinese policies. Tsedenbal reacted by saying meekly that he was sorry that China and India had quarreled. "I don't understand what you mean by being sorry about the Sino-Indian conflict," Zhou pressed. It was a matter of black and white: China was right, India was wrong. There could not be neutrality in the question. But Tsedenbal would not budge, telling Zhou that quarreling with India over an uninhibited strip of land in the Himalayas would only force the Indians to turn to the West, and that would not help China's cause. Zhou nearly lost it: his face "twisted in anger," noted the record-taker.
After this inauspicious beginning, the talks rapidly went downhill. Tsedenbal asked Zhou to help resolve the problem of Chinese workers in Mongolia. These workers had become rebellious and were declaring strikes; would Beijing tell them to behave, and send more workers, which Mongolia badly needed? In response, Zhou connected the workers problem and Mongolia's unwillingness to endorse China's political positions.
The two continued to argue to the point that, according the Mongolian record, Zhou literally jumped from his chair in anger. "You don't need to get angry," Tsedenbal pleaded with Zhou, "just speak calmly." Zhou accused the prime minister of trying to "lecture" him. The then Mongolian Ambassador to China, Dondogiin Tsevegmid, present at the meeting, recalled that the conversation became so heated that he thought the two men "would come to blows."
After this unpleasant encounter—the last time the two men saw each other—relations between China and Mongolia worsened. China curbed economic aid, and by 1964 had pulled out its workers from the country. Mongolia turned to the Soviet Union for protection, and the Russians sent an army, which they did not completely withdraw until after the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991. Tsedenbal remained one of the bitterest critics of China. It was on his watch that the Dalai Lama first visited Mongolia, in June 1979.
What was behind Zhou's embarrassingly ineffective performance? Yes, the Chinese Premier, generally known for his refinement and tact, was under pressure at home to comply with Mao Zedong's radical leftist agenda. But his brutal effort to impose the Chinese viewpoint on a visiting leader—in this case a leader of a neighboring country, which, he knew all too well, depended on China's largesse—had the opposite effect from what he probably intended. In the early 1960s, some in the Mongolian leadership advocated a softer line on China. But Beijing's pressure made it politically impossible to defend closer ties with China: anyone doing so risked alienation as a sell-out and as an agent of Chinese influence.
The problem was that the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party could not tolerate opposing opinions. Mao had brutally crushed domestic dissent. He applied the same yardstick internationally: one was either with him or against him; there was no middle ground to accommodate cautious neutrality like Tsedenbal's. At the surface, it was all about equality and non-interference. But just below, there was the expectation that others would kowtow to your demands, and anger and retribution when they refused.
Today's China is vastly more powerful than China of the 1960s. But it is hardly more cognizant that bullying others into submission is not a useful method for winning friends, especially among neighboring countries, which are often suspicious of Beijing's intentions. The Dalai Lama's recent visit prompted soul-searching among Mongolian politicians, as the Vice Chairman of the Mongolian Parliament Tsend Nyamdorj, among others, publicly questioned the wisdom of taunting the dragon. But, like in the 1960s, Beijing's heavy-handed threats make it politically difficult to defend closer ties with Beijing.
If China is ever to gain regional trust, it must convince others that its words about equality are more than just words, that it respects others' right to dissenting opinions, and that it will not issue "strong demands" or apply an economic lever in an angry effort to force compliance. Zhou has long been a role model for Chinese diplomats. But they could learn a valuable lesson from the Dalai Lama. "The true hero," he once said, "is one who conquers his own anger and hatred."
Sergey Radchenko is a Professor of International Relations at Cardiff University and a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.
He is the author of Two Suns in the Heavens: The Sino-Soviet Struggle for Supremacy (Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Stanford University Press, 2009) and Unwanted Visionaries: The Soviet Failure in Asia at the End of the Cold War (Oxford University Press, 2014). He is currently working on a history of Chinese foreign relations since 1949.
China imposes new fees on Mongolian imports after Dalai Lama visit – The Tibet Post, December 6
Mogi: by Michael Aldrich, founder of Hogan Lovells UB
Buddhism in Mongolia has always had a strong connection to geopolitics.
By M.A. Aldrich
December 03 (The Diplomat) On November 19, 2016, the Dalai Lama arrived in Ulaanbaatar for a five-day visit that was called a religious event by the Government of Mongolia. In fact, the trip can be seen as the latest move in a geopolitical chess game that has been going on since the 16th century.
On his fourth day in Ulaanbaatar, the Dalai Lama held a press conference where he said that he is convinced of the recent rebirth of the Jebtsundampa Khatagt in Mongolia. The Jebtsundampa Khatagt, meaning the "Reverend Noble Incarnate Lama," is the traditional title bestowed upon the patriarchs of Mongolian Buddhism, which, as an institution, follows the teachings of the "Yellow Hat" sect under the Dalai Lama's leadership.
The newly born Tenth Patriarch is believed to be a reincarnation of a highly placed lama or tulku in a lineage that had nearly been extinguished in the early 20th century. The announcement puts into play a geopolitical contest where the exiled Tibetan leader and the Governments of Mongolia, China, and India all have a stake in its outcome, to varying degrees.
The Buddhist Patriarchs of Mongolia
Yellow Hat Buddhism arrived in northern Mongolia in 1586 when the Third Dalai Lama initiated the Abatai Khan, the ruler of a central province, into an esoteric ritual and philosophy called the Kalachakra. It is from this time that Buddhism firmly put down its roots in the region of what is today the sovereign state of Mongolia
Fifty years later, the ruling grandson of the Abatai Khan arranged for one of his sons to be inducted as a Yellow Hat monk with the Sanskrit name Zanabazar. In 1639, Zanabazar was recognized as the reincarnation of Taranatha, a revered Tibetan scholar and founder of the Jonangpa philosophical school of Tibetan Buddhism. In 1647, Zanabazar's clan took him to Beijing as the Jebtsundampa Khatagt to pay homage to the recently installed Manchu emperor of China.
Zanabazar was the first of eight patriarchs officially recognized by the Qing Court as the ecclesiastical leaders of northern Mongolia. In their homeland, the patriarchs were the third most senior lamas after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. Zanabazar is remembered as both a distinguished polymath noted for his bronze artwork, religious texts, and scientific experiments as well as a shrewd political strategist who allied his clan's interests with the rising Qing Empire. After Zanabazar's death in 1723, the Second Patriarch was found in northern Mongolia in the person of the one of the great-grandsons of Zanabazar's brother and duly enthroned with the support of the Manchu throne and the Yellow Hat clergy in Lhasa.
Manchu Imperial Intervention
By the middle of the 18th century, tensions had arisen between the Manchu court and the ruling elites in northern Mongolia. In 1756, a cousin of the Second Patriarch led an unsuccessful rebellion against Manchu rule, a disturbance that convinced the Qianlong Emperor of the need to break the potentially seditious relationship between the Mongolian elites and the leader of their Buddhist clergy. In 1758, the emperor declared that upon the death of the Second Patriarch, all subsequent reincarnations had to be found in Tibet and born of Tibetan parents in a process closely supervised by the Manchu court.
The Qianlong Emperor was able to command these changes since he was more than just a secular ruler in the view of the Buddhist clergy. The Dalai Lamas had declared the Qing emperors to be the reincarnations of Manjusri, the bodhisattva of wisdom. This brought about an unintended extension of secular power into the domain of the spiritual, a situation that continues to provoke unrest in Tibet to this day. The Tibetan-born nominees for the position of Mongolian Patriarch had to be approved by the emperor's court in Beijing, then by the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, and finally the name of the candidate had to be drawn from a golden urn in the Yonghegong temple in Beijing.
The final performance of this imperial ritual occurred in the 1870s for the Eighth Patriarch, the last Jebtsundampa Khatagt recognized by the Qing Empire. The Eighth Patriarch was brought to northern Mongolia at a time of decay for the Manchu court and rising imperialist aspirations for Mongolia's neighbors. Despite his foreign birth and his persistent violations of his monastic vows, the Eighth Patriarch identified with Mongolian nationalism and became a rallying point for Mongolians seeking independence.
Post-Manchu Changes in a Tumultuous Time and the End of the Lineage
In December 1911, northern Mongolia declared its independence from the failing Manchu empire and established a theocracy with the Eighth Patriarch as its sovereign. The theocratic state soon fell prey to the intrigues among a Chinese warlord government in Beijing and the Tsarist government in Saint Petersburg as well as Japanese imperial ambitions. In 1919, the Beijing warlord government reoccupied Ulaanbaatar and forced the Eighth Patriarch to renounce Mongolian independence. As a virtual prisoner of the warlord army, the patriarch frantically searched for a powerful benefactor and invited the army of a White Russian adventurer, Baron Ungern von Sternberg, to come to his aid and force the warlord army from Mongolia. Ungern von Sternberg defeated the Chinese invaders but almost immediately embarked upon a psychotic campaign of murder in the capital. The Eighth Patriarch was forced to appeal for help once again by sending a group of Mongolian proto-revolutionaries to Irkutsk to discuss the crisis with the Bolsheviks.
In July 1921, Mongolian partisans retook the capital with the support of the Soviet Red Army. The new government slowly eased the Eighth Patriarch from any participation in political affairs. In May 1924, he passed away, but because of Buddhism's popularity, the newly established government of the Mongolian People's Republic had to tread slowly before declaring an end of the lineage in 1929 and prohibiting any attempt to locate the Ninth Patriarch. The Buddhist monastic community was all but destroyed during a Stalinist purge in 1937-8 but managed to be revived by a handful of monks in the later 1940s at the Gandan Tegchenling Monastery in Ulaanbaatar, which had been retained by the Communist government as a shallow Potemkin symbol of religious tolerance.
A Secret Revival of the Lineage
Despite the official line of the Communist authorities, the lineage did not die out. In 1936, the Reting Rinpoche, the ruling regent of Tibet for the interregnum between the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Dalai Lamas, recognized a boy named Jambal Namdo Choiji in Lhasa as the reincarnation of the Eighth Patriarch. The boy's identity remained a carefully guarded secret because of possible assassination attempts by Communist Mongolian agents. Jambal Namdo was inducted incognito into Lhasa's clergy without the financial support usually provided to important tulkus. In the 1940s, he left the clergy, started a family, and earned his living peacefully as a farmer. However, in the aftermath of the Tibetan Uprising in 1959, he fled to India with the Dalai Lama because of his fear of being discovered and used as a propaganda tool by the Chinese Communists. In the 1980s, he resumed his monastic vows and lived a quiet life in Karnataka.
In September 1991, the Dalai Lama publicly announced that the Ninth Patriarch was alive and a member of the monastic community in India. The announcement was reportedly made at the request of the leading clergy at the Gandan Tegchenling Monastery. The stage had been set for this unexpected development thanks to the efforts of the diplomatic representative of the Government of India in Ulaanbaatar.
India's Role in the Revival of Mongolian Buddhism
Following a policy first laid down by Pandit Nehru, the Government of India has been consistently supportive of the Tibetan community within its borders since the Dalai Lama's flight from Tibet.
A talented Indian politician played an important role as an intermediary for the Dalai Lama in foreign affairs. This politician was the Nineteenth Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, a practicing tulku from the province of Jammu-Kashmir who was born into a Ladkhaki noble family. The Bakula Rinpoche had entered government service in the Lok Sabha or Lower House and later in the National Parliament of the Republic of India. In the 1979, he assisted the Dalai Lama by arranging for his first official visit to Ulaanbaatar and subsequently helped arrange for further visits there and to the Buryat Buddhist community in the Soviet Union.
In 1990, the Government of India appointed the Bakula Rinpoche as its ambassador to the Mongolian People's Republic. During his 10-year term, he played a significant role in supporting the revival of Yellow Hat Buddhism in post-Communist Mongolia and bringing the Dalai Lama to Mongolia to consecrate revived monastic colleges. In 1999, he helped the Ninth Holy One to come for his first visit to Mongolia, an event that touched off a brief political firestorm over allowing a potential political figure of foreign birth into the country. After two months of the controversy, the Ninth Patriarch returned to India. The Bakula Rinpoche retired as ambassador the following year.
The Last Days of the Ninth Patriarch
Toward the end of his life, the Ninth Patriarch told the Dalai Lama of his desire to return to Mongolia for his passing. In November 2011, the Ninth Patriarch, in poor health, took up residency at the Gandan Tegchenling Monastery. He died there in March 2012.
According to Buddhist tradition, the Ninth Patriarch's wish to pass away in Mongolia was a significant indication that his next rebirth would be in Mongolia. By spending his last days at the Gandan Tegchenling Monastery, the Ninth Patriarch helped to set the stage for the discovery of the first Mongolian-born patriarch in nearly 300 years.
As if to remove potential objections to this plan, the Government of Mongolia granted citizenship to the Ninth Patriarch just before his death. This shrewdly lessened anxieties about a foreign ecclesiastical leader living in Mongolia's foremost Buddhist monastery. Further, it also deflected criticisms by hyper-nationalist Mongolians about a non-Mongolian patriarch of Mongolian Buddhism.
Little discussion took place in the media about the possible reincarnation of the Tenth Patriarch in Mongolia until the Dalai Lama's press team and the Government of Mongolia announced his ninth pastoral visit to Ulaanbaatar just before his departure from Japan on November 19, 2016.
Contesting Interests in Mongolian Buddhism
While Mongolia adopted a democratic system of government in 1992, the country's elites have taken over the controls of politics and the economy through factions that are sometimes in a bitter rivalry. The existence of such battles is typically cloaked from the view of foreign observers. Moreover, the local press in Mongolia is beholden to the views of their corporate owners. Public discussion of shadowy private rivalries is discouraged. While speculation about cleavages in the power structure abounds, it is difficult to obtain confirmation, especially since factional alliances continually shift.
Buddhism has become one of many forums for rivalries, which are often motivated by the business relationships among the factions of the Mongolian power elite. A faction may organize its business activities, and its policies when in government, to seek support from politico-business interests in Russia, or China, or "third neighbors," the generic term used to describe other nations that have the resources to play a role in the Mongolian economy. It appears that the use of Buddhism by factions is often unrelated to a genuine commitment to the faith's underlying spiritual message. Rather it can be a tool for self-interest.
For instance, while the Dalai Lama was still in Ulaanbaatar, some of the local media queried whether the Tenth Patriarch had been born into a wealthy family, thus implying a monetary incentive or other unseemly motivation for the Dalai Lama's announcement. The Dalai Lama resisted efforts to disclose the Tenth Patriarch's identity, explaining, correctly, that the child needs to undergo several years of preparation before his elevation. This explanation has not dulled suspicions among some Mongolians, however.
Another example is how the Dorje Shugden controversy has played out in Mongolia. Starting in 1976, this theological controversy has descended into an acrimonious dispute between the Dalai Lama's followers and the followers of a 17th century Tibetan deity called Dorje Shugden. The hub of the dispute is contrasting views on sectarianism and the correct path for Yellow Hat Buddhism. The Shugden followers insist upon an aggressive purge of heterodox forms of Tibetan Buddhism while the Dalai Lama has called for non-sectarian cooperation among all branches of Tibet's religions. Accusations of assassinations, denial of civil liberties, and collusion with the Chinese government have caused the dispute to degenerate into vitriol during the past two decades. While it is strenuously denied, the sect appears to receive support from the Chinese government as a countermeasure against the Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama believes that aggressive sectarianism threatens Tibetan unity. He has decreed that while the followers of Dorje Shugden may continue to worship the deity, his own followers should not permit devotees of Shugden to be initiated into the Kalachakra. In Mongolia, all but one temple has heeded his call. Nevertheless, in 2014, the Trijang Rinpoche, a 32 year-old monk and a leader in the Shugden sect, visited Ulaanbaatar to perform rites to Dorje Shugden in a state museum that once was a temple associated with the deity.
Mongolian supporters of the Dalai Lama sometimes imply that the Shugden sect is a front for Chinese politico-business interests that pose a threat to Mongolian sovereignty. Devotees of the Shugden sect in Mongolia claim that the Dalai Lama's supporters seek to derail economic cooperation between Ulaanbaatar and Beijing in furtherance of the interests of allies in Russia. Such views are mostly promoted through whispering campaigns rather than a full and open discussion of the issue.
The announcement of the birth of the Tenth Patriarch comes at a time of considerable uncertainty for Mongolians. Despite an impressive uptick in GDP growth and direct foreign investment in the late 2000s, the Government of Mongolia implemented disastrous economic policies in the aftermath of the general election of 2012. The collapse of the local currency, falling global commodities' prices, and a dramatic decrease in the volume of direct foreign investment have contributed to a sharply declining economy. Next year, Mongolia must make repayment under an ill-conceived U.S. dollar sovereign bond issue while other needed infrastructure projects are moth-balled or struggle to find funding.
Prior to the Dalai Lama's visit, China and Mongolia had been in negotiations for a $4.2 billion loan to assist Mongolia in meeting these repayment obligations. Unsurprisingly, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the visit by His Holiness, called off the loan negotiations, and canceled state-to-state meetings for the forthcoming year. For those Mongolians seeking to build closer ties with China, Beijing's reaction was a considerable set-back.
But was Beijing truly blindsided by the Dalai Lama's visit? Given the state of Mongolia's cybersecurity, it is unlikely that Beijing had no forewarning. Further, in early November, a delegation of government officials from the Tibet Autonomous Region visited Ulaanbaatar for high-level talks. While no explicit information was forthcoming about the details of the meetings, it may very well have taken place because of Beijing's concerns over the Dalai Lama's trip and the prospect of his recognition of the Tenth Patriarch. Did China suspect that it had been cut out of a process that arguably impacts upon its national interests in a religious group that it regards as seditious? Moreover, Chinese negotiators, and any of their allies in Mongolia, may secretly welcome the disruption of negotiations as a way to extract more onerous concessions for any loan agreement with the Government of Mongolia.
China has another national interest triggered by the discovery of the Tenth Patriarch, one that relates to an obscure aspect of 17th century Tibetan history.
The Mongolian Patriarchs were believed to be successive reincarnations of Taranatha, a 17th century Tibet monastic leader whose order, the Jonongpa, was aggressively absorbed into mainstream Yellow Hat Buddhism by the Fifth Dalai Lama. It had been assumed that the Jonangpa had died out, but then, in the 1990s, Tibetan studies scholars discovered several communities of Jonangpa monks in remote parts of Qinghai and Western Sichuan province. The Dalai Lama appointed the Ninth Patriarch in India to be the leader of the lineage, a decision in keeping with reincarnation theory but in direct conflict with China's laws requiring strict administrative control over the appointment of tulkus within its territory. This "internal affair" for China may very well have been a topic of disputation between the TAR delegation and the Government of Mongolia.
India's foreign policy objectives in this regard are more opaque but its support of Yellow Hat Buddhism can be seen as a part of a "Tibet card" to be played by New Delhi against China. Certainly, the Indian ambassador to Mongolia signaled his country's interest in the visit by meeting His Holiness at Ulaanbaatar's international airport and accompanying him.
It is a mistake to imbue the Dalai Lama's visit to Mongolia with a solely political complexion, however. In terms of Dalai Lama's objectives, this was an important pastoral visit for the promotion of a modern, reformed, and more participatory Buddhism in contrast to the ritualistic and superstitious practices that made the faith seem like a relic from the Dark Ages to early 20th century visitors to Mongolia. His Holiness exhorted Mongolians to cultivate a personal understanding of the tenets of the religion rather than simply seeking a "quick fix" cure or blessing from a lama in times of trouble. His modern Buddhist message is possibly at odds with the practices of some Mongolian monks who have come to regard Buddhism as an expeditious vehicle for raising funds in the free market world of post-Communist Mongolia.
Finally, while no information has been disclosed about the process of identifying the Tenth Patriarch, it is possible that the ritual is a "dry run" for the discovery of a Fifteenth Dalai Lama outside the territorial limits of China. This may be of critical importance for the mission of Yellow Hat Buddhism given the conflict that arose over the enthronement of the Panchen Lama in 1995.
Nineteenth century Russian strategists called the diplomatic maneuvers among hegemonic powers in Central Asia the "Tournament of Shadows." It is a name that has a renewed relevance for the 21s century version of this geopolitical chess game.
M.A. Aldrich is a lawyer, author and resident for nearly 30 years in East and Central Asia. His book Ulaanbaatar: Beyond Water and Grass is due to be published by Hong Kong University Press next year.
Mongolia and China: History, Rage, and Reincarnation – China Digital Times, December 5
By: Jeffrey Reeves
December 5 (The Jamestown Foundation) The Mongolian People's Party (MPP) came to power in a land-slide election in June 2016 due to the dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party's (DP) economic policies. However, in outlining its economic development and foreign relations priorities, the MPP has made it clear that it intends to continue a core element of the previous government's approach: active engagement with the People's Republic of China (PRC). Indeed, while less referenced in MPP talking points on the country's foreign engagement, early indications suggest the Party largely preferences alignment with the PRC over its "third neighbor" partners as its support is more direct and far less conditional (Sonin.mn, October 17). Although China's anger at Dalai Lama's visit to Mongolia has prompted it to cancel a number of high-level meetings, this policy predilection—a legacy of the Democratic Party-led (DP) government—will likely continue a reorientation of Mongolia's strategic approach to foreign relations that began in 2014 (Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, November 23).
Initially seen as the party intent on limiting Chinese influence, the DP altered its approach to the PRC in response to the country's economic slowdown and essential abandonment by foreign investors. One can trace this policy shift to August 2014, when the DP-led government agreed to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with China aimed at deepening policy linkages, and to November 2015, when it signed an additional agreement with Beijing for further integration (Mongolia Ministry of Foreign Affairs, April 15, 2015; Xinhua, November 11, 2015). Far from politics as usual, these two agreements marked a fundamental change in Mongolia's approach to China prioritizing interconnectivity over concerns of dependency.
As part of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, the DP-led government agreed to establish the Mongolian-Chinese Intergovernmental Joint Commission on Economic, Trade and Technology and the Mongolian-Chinese Mine and Energy Integration Cooperation Committee. Both formal mechanisms are meant to improve coordination between the two states' economic systems (Xinhua, August 22). Within these frameworks, Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj established an annual trade exposition in China's Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region (IMAR), a free trade zone between the two states in Erlian and Zamiin-Uud, and an economic corridor linking China and Russia through Mongolia: all key policy priorities for Beijing (Montsame, October 26, 2015). In 2014, the two states signed the Medium-Term Development Program for Mongolian-Chinese Economic and Trade Cooperation and agreed to double their bilateral annual trade to $10 billion by 2020 and to raise the amount of their currency swap agreement; both developments predicated on far greater Chinese involvement in the Mongolian economy than in the past (Mongolian Ministry of Commerce, November 11, 2015). The DP-led government also agreed to advance coordination between Mongolia's national development strategy, the "Steppe Road Development Plan," and China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) including the "holy trinity" of mining, construction and financial cooperation (Xinhua August 22, 2014). As a result of these policy alignments, China became much more integrated in Mongolia's domestic economic sector than before (ASAN Forum, April 7).
In addition to economic alignment, the DP-led government also pushed for greater integration with China across the two states' political and security sectors (Xinhua, August 19, 2014). As part of the 2014 Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement, for instance, the DP-led government agreed to greater political integration with Beijing, including regular, formalized meetings between the two states" respective legislatures. In 2014, for example, Mongolia's Speaker of Parliament Zandaakhuu Enkhbold signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Zhang Dejiang to establish a formal mechanism for engagement and exchange between Mongolia's Parliament and China's National People's Congress (Xinhua, October 27, 2014). This agreement led to unprecedented levels of cooperation between Mongolia and China's political elite.
Mongolia and China also expanded their security engagement under the DP-led government in a variety of spheres such as military-led cooperation on humanitarian and disaster relief, counter-terrorism, border security and transnational crime. In 2014, President Elbegdorj called on Mongolia's Department of Defense and the Mongolian Armed Forces to develop deeper ties with China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) for communication, strategic trust, and training purposes (UB Post, October 11, 2015). In 2015, the two states held their first ever joint-training activity for Special Forces and counter-terrorism called "Falcon 2015." Training included gunnery, helicopter fast-roping, and joint hostage rescue. Mongolia's Minister of Defense, Tserendash Tsolmon, called for more regular and higher-level military cooperation between Mongolia and China immediately after the training exercise (Xinhua, October 16, 2015).
Continuing the Tilt Toward China
Within weeks of taking power, the MPP made it clear that it would continue and expand the DP-led government's engagement approach with China. In August 2016, for instance, Speaker of Parliament Miyegombo Enkhbold and Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat—both senior MPP members—identified cooperation with China and the need for a more relaxed foreign investment environment as essential components for Mongolia's growth in the short- to medium-terms (Nikkei, July 1). Prime Minister Erdenebat called for greater cooperation with China across the two states' mineral resource, infrastructure, agriculture, transportation, and financial sectors during a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in October 2016. The same month, Prime Minister Erdenebat also pledged Mongolian cooperation with China's BRI on infrastructure development in a separate meeting with senior Communist Party of China (CCP) official Liu Yunshan in Ulaanbaatar (Xinhua, October 1). MPP leadership has expressed its inclination to allow the Bank of China (BOC) to establish an office in Mongolia; a move the DP-led government was unwilling to take due to lobbying efforts from the country's domestic banking industry. As the BOC would offer far lower interest rates than Mongolia's domestic banks, its presence in the country would fundamentally alter its financial system and create additional state dependency on Chinese financing (Sonin.mn, October 24).
The MPP has also expressed its intent to establish greater political linkages with the PRC. In his October 2016 meeting with Liu Yunshan, for instance, Prime Minister Erdenebat called for greater political engagement and coordination between Ulaanbaatar and Beijing, stating the two states must "cement" their strategic partnership (Xinhua, October 1). The same month, Speaker of Parliament Enkhbold met with President Xi in Beijing and called for continued, high-level exchange between the MPP and the CCP. Speaker Enkhbold also pledged enhanced engagement between Mongolia's Parliament and China's National People's Congress in direct response to President Xi's call for greater bilateral collaboration on governance issues (Xinhua, October 19).
The MPP has also continued the DP-led government's approach to security relations with Beijing. On October 17, the Chief of the General Staff of the Mongolian Armed Forces, Dulamsurengiin Davaa, called for a strengthening of Mongolian-Chinese military relations, to include higher-level cooperation and more frequent joint exercises, in a meeting with the Vice Chairman of China's Central Military Commission Xu Qiliang (China Military Online, October 17). General Davaa noted that closer political and security cooperation with China is one of MPP-led government's top foreign policy goals.
The Rebalance's Driving Force
Both the DP- and MPP-led governments employ the same rationale for pursuing closer ties with the PRC: that bandwagoning with China provides Mongolia the best opportunity for economic development and growth (News.mn, October 24). By all accounts, China has emerged as Mongolia's primary source of trade, finance, investment, and aid since the two states signed the 2014 Comprehensive Strategic Partnership; a central position within Mongolia's domestic economy that is likely to expand as the two states further consolidate their economic linkages (Mongolian Ministry of Commerce, December 12, 2015). Mongolia's other "third neighbor" partners, conversely, continue to have limited influence over the country's economic development. Japan, for instance, receives only 0.45 percent of Mongolia's exports; a base number likely to increase by only 5 percent following the two states' FTA (UB Post, October 27). Russia—often wrongly identified as Mongolia's "alternative" partner—is now a secondary economic actor for the state: its interests becoming increasingly limited with each passing year (Asan Forum, December 23, 2015). Even engagement with the IMF, which many analysts argue is the MPP's way of avoiding over dependency on China, cannot compete with the allure of PRC financing to Mongolia, whether in the shape of a currency swap agreement or a $4 billion line of credit.
As such, one can best understand the MPP's 2016–2020 Government Action Plan (GAP) as a manifesto for greater engagement with China in line with the 2014 Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. More specifically, the GAP's singular reliance on foreign investment to finance the state's domestic-level economic goals such as debt reduction, stabilization of the macro-economy, the expansion/rejuvenation of the country's mining sector, and economic diversification, were clearly drafted with the PRC in mind (Mongolian Parliament, August 26). No other state nor institution comes remotely close to matching the PRC's ability to stimulate Mongolia's economic through trade, investment, and/or aid. Neither is it certain the MPP-led government prefers alternative partnerships—including the IMF—to greater economic dependency on China (News.mn, October 13).
Importantly, Mongolia's shift toward engagement with the PRC coincides with China's own foreign policy reorientation away from greater power relations toward periphery diplomacy. Under the Xi Jinping administration, for instance, China has prioritized its ties with its neighboring states above its relations with great powers (with the potential exception of the United States) (Huanqiu, January 13, 2015). Within this larger paradigm shift, Mongolia has emerged as a strategic partner for China in terms of regional influence, peripheral security, and access to markets in the country's near and far abroad (Xinhua, April 23, 2015). The Mongolian government's decision to align more closely with the PRC since 2014 has not, therefore, occurred in a vacuum. Rather, Mongolian-Chinese linkages have deepened as both states have redefined their contemporary strategic challenges to see partnership as beneficial, if not essential. While China's reaction to the Dalai Lama's visit has caused a diplomatic flap, and China clearly intends to attempt to leverage the temporary cancelation of talks, such rhetoric does little to change the fundamentals of the two countries' relationships.
The MPP's decision to continue the DP-led government's engagement strategy toward China highlights two important conditions in Mongolia's contemporary political-economic situation. First, the Mongolian government—regardless of its precise party composition—lacks the agency to direct the country's economy through entirely domestic means. Rather, as outlined in the GAP, Mongolia has become dependent on its external environment for growth opportunities and economic stability. This reliance creates vulnerabilities within Mongolia's economic sector that the state lacks the capacity to mitigate absent foreign involvement. This inability raises questions about Mongolia's domestic sovereignty or, at the very least, about the government's ability to control the state's domestic institutions.
Second, Mongolia has become reliant on China for its economic growth and stability to the point where the benefits of economic engagement outweigh the potential risk of overdependence. This understanding of Chinese influence is a fundamental break with Mongolia's past strategic thinking. As recently as 2010, for instance, the Mongolian government drafted a National Security Concept that specifically called for decreased dependency on China through a network of foreign partners, or "third neighbors." While the DP and MPP continue to pursue foreign relations that demonstrate the pretext of diplomatic diversity—most notably with Russia, Japan, and the International Monetary Fund—both parties' clear preference for engagement China since 2014 undermines this approach. For the MPP in particular, partnership with China has become largely preferable to engagement with the state's increasingly distant "third neighbors"; none of which have anywhere near the material capacity or political will to challenge China's position in Mongolia (Sonin.mn, October 25).
Mongolians concerned about China's growing influence over the state are unlikely to take much solace in the state of affairs. Rather than offer an alternative model for engagement with China, the MPP seems intent on accepting political and security linkages with the PRC as the price to pay for closer economic integration with the state. The MPP may justify these linkages with the understanding that Mongolia's strategic options are limited and that the state's "third neighbor" policy, while symbolically important, has lost its practical application (if, indeed, it ever had one). More likely, however, is that the MPP pursues its integration approach to China while continuing to engage with other state and institutional actors to preserve the appearance of broad engagement. While there is nothing inherently wrong in this model, particularly if Mongolia's engagement with China leads to growth with secondary effects on the country's human security, it is, however, important for analysts to acknowledge China's structural power over Mongolia's domestic and foreign policies. Failure to do so is failure to understand Mongolia's political and economic systems as they actually are, not as Western states, in particular, would like to see them.
Dr. Jeffrey Reeves is an Associate Professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies. The views expressed are his own.
First meeting of working group on establishing Mongolia-S.Korea economic partnership coincides with SOMTI6 in Seoul
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, December 6 (MONTSAME) The Sixth Meeting of Senior Officials on Trade and Investment took place in Seoul on December 1 and 2. Mongolia, China and South Korea co-chaired the meeting.
This meeting is being resumed for the first time since 2008 session, and was participated by delegates from 46 countries.
The participants underlined the significance of Ulaanbaatar Declaration issued during the latest ASEM Summit in expanding economic and commercial ties and strengthening connectivity between Asian and European nations, and agreed to organize the ASEM Ministerial meeting, which has been discontinued for a decade, in Seoul next year.
During the SOMTI, Mongolian delegates had meetings with the director for Free Trade Agreements of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Energy, and representatives of the S.Korean government and research institutes. The sides held the first meeting of the joint working group in charge of study for establishing economic partnership agreement.
December 6 (news.mn) On Monday (5th of December), lawyer G.Batbayar and the family of S.Amarmandakh, frontman of the group 'Khar Sarnai' (Black Rose) met officials from the Russian Embassy in Mongolia regarding the assault on the singer. They demanded that the Russian Embassy employee be handed over to Mongolian law enforcement agencies. They warned that if the Russian Embassy in Mongolia neglects the issue, they will have no recourse other than appeal to international organisations. At the meeting, a senior secretary of the Russian Embassy in Ulaanbaatar said, 'We are ready to cooperate on this issue. We will also charge the employee in question following the decision if the court. The Russian Embassy is also providing an apology to S.Amarmandakh'.
S.Amarmandakh, had been brutally beaten by a Russian embassy employee at a 'Happy Ulaanbaatar' public celebration on 22nd of November. The Russian allegedly attacked the musician after the event, striking him on the head with a bottle. A group of men then began to kick S.Amarmandakh as he fell to the ground and lost consciousness. The group was eventually stopped by security personnel, the incident was reportedly captured by security cameras.
The reason for the attack appears to have been the fact that 'Khar Sarnai' often uses the symbol of the swastika, which, for them, is intrinsically linked to Mongolia's Buddhist identity. At the concert S.Amarmandakh was wearing a Mongolian deel with a prominent swastika motif. This is what appears to have triggered the incident. For Mongolians, it is a positive cultural symbol; for Russians, and many nations, however, it represents the evil and tyranny of Hitler's Germany and the greatest tragedy of the last century. In the Soviet Union, it is estimated that 20 million died in WW2.
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, December 6 (MONTSAME) A member of Parliament and Minister of Justice and Home Affairs S.Byambatsogt is paying a working visit to the Russian Federation as invited by the Russian Minister of Domestic Affairs.
Minister S.Byambatsogt met the Russian Minister of Justice Aleksandr Vladimirovich Konovalov. The Mongolian minister highlighted that this year is marking the 95th anniversary of establishment of the diplomatic ties and there are abundance of opportunities for the two countries to expand and deepen the longstanding cooperation between the justice ministries. He also noted that his ministry has been attaching greater importance to the sophistication of laws and regulations on economy, business and property management.
A.V.Konovalov thanked S.Byambatsogt for accepting the minister's invitation. The sides discussed about the effective implementation of the legal assistance cooperation agreement between the justice ministries.
The dignitaries also agreed on forwarding collaboration on legal assistance, law making and development of special services.
The Cooperation Program for 2017-2018 between the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs of Mongolia and the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation was signed at the end of the meeting by the two ministers.
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, December 6 (MONTSAME) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and the US Department of State organized the 11th political consultations on December 1 in Washington D.C., reports the Foreign Ministry on Monday.
The Mongolian delegation was headed by the State Secretary of the Foreign Ministry D.Davaasuren, whereas the U.S. side was led by Daniel Russel, the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Present were also, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the US B.Altangerel and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the US to Mongolia J.Galt.
Our delegates gave insight to the action ns by the Government of Mongolia, specifically, the priorities in foreign policy, activities for overcoming the economic difficulties, attracting more foreign investment and regaining the investors' trust.
The sides also touched upon the matters of bilateral trade and economic cooperation, especially, drawing American investment to Mongolia, deepening cooperation in the fields of defense, agriculture, energy and security, finalizing and enforcing the transparency agreement, and establishing the second compact agreement with the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
Furthermore, the parties exchanged views on introducing a consular cooperation mechanism, commemoration of the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations to happen next year, and strengthening the people-to-people ties and educational cooperation.
The American side underlined and applauded Mongolia's active participation in consolidating democracy, sharing its democratic experiences within the region and the fact that the country is acting as the role model in international peacekeeping operations, and confirmed the US' support in Mongolia's involvement in such deeds.
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, December 6 (MONTSAME) State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs D.Davaasuren attended the annual Mongolia-US consultative meeting in Washington D.C. last week. He held bilateral meetings with Daniel J.Kritenbrink, Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the US National Security Council, and R.Hass, Senior director for China, Taiwan and Mongolia Affairs.
The State Secretary briefed about Mongolia-US relations and cooperation and shared views on international and regional issues of mutual concern.
During his next meetings with the President of the International Republican Institute Ambassador, Mr Mark A.Green and the President of the National Endowment for Democracy, Mr Carl Gershman, he extended gratitude for the close cooperation and assistance to Mongolia in establishing democratic institutions and humane society in Mongolia, and discussed about further cooperation. In specific, sending Mongolian public servants for training and experience sharing in the USA and involving in the exchange programs hosted by these institutions.
State Secretary D.Davaasuren, during his meeting with senior fellow at Brookings Institute Ted Piccone, shared his interest to stamilize cooperation and promoting academic exchanges. They have also interchanged opinions on the new administration in the USA.
By Julian Dierkes
[With thanks to CIRDI's Marie-Luise Ermisch for contributing some of these.]
December 4 (Mongolia Focus) During the first workshop we co-organized with the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' International Cooperation Fund, a number of impacts arose in an incidental manner, but bolstered my belief in the utility of providing a forum for exchange between actors in emerging resource economies.
Here, I list some unintended impacts of the second workshop held in Bishkek in early November.
Some of these are professional impacts, some of them a bit more personal or curious.
At the workshop we co-organized in Bishkek, one of the most concrete impacts right then/right there was that the Mongolian Mining Association and the Kyrgyz Mining Association signed an MOU to collaborate and exchange experiences.
Another very palatable impact was fellow blogger Mendee's joy at discovering a bit of Central Asia. It was very interesting to observe him speak Russian with Kyrgyz who were clearly puzzled, but to whom he immediately explained that he was Mongolian, a fact that was not obvious to them by his facial features, dress or mannerisms. And, Mendee felt quite at home in Bishkek, it reminded him of Ulaanbaatar in the 1980s!
Exchange between National Resource Companies
At the workshop, we were very pleased to have delegations from Timor Leste and Myanmar participating along with a group from Mongolia and many Kyrgyz participants, obviously.
As Myanmar and even more Timor Leste are much more focused on the oil and gas sector, the question of exchanges between national oil companies arose and came along the observation that there are relatively few points of interaction between national companies, even of emerging oil economies. When these are looking to expand/invest should they not follow their expertise and look for projects in other emerging economies?
Mongolian Public Servants' Health
Following our workshop, we had a chance to visit the Kumtor gold mine. As the mine is located at 4,000+m, we had to undergo several health checks that were primarily concerned with blood pressure.
Curiously, all the male members of our delegation from the Mongolian Ministry of Mining were unable to participate in the site visit due to elevated blood pressure levels. Perhaps enough of a reason for the Ministry to examine its health policies or the health of its public servants more closely?
The Mongolian delegation bought a significant amount of fruit before their departure. We are pretty confident that vitamin C levels among the delegates and their families spiked in mid-November, hopefully promoting good health outcomes.
Language Skills in Hotel Staff
Some of the young receptionists and waiters at the hotel we stayed were thrilled to have an opportunity to practice their German. I am always happy to indulge German practice, so perhaps language skills were slightly elevated by the time we left.
Overall, I was very surprised to bump into real German skills at several moments. This is something that I delight in during Mongolia travel, but I didn't know it was prevalent in Central Asia, or at least Kyrgyzstan as well.
Central Asia seems to be a bit off the map for Global Affairs Canada (despite the very competent and energetic work done by the Canadian embassy in Astana). Given the somewhat troubled history of the Canadian Kumtor investment, perhaps our workshop left a positive impression of Canadian initiatives.
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, December 5 (MONTSAME) Ministries of Health of Mongolia and Qatar have agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in targeted therapy and capacity building for laboratories.
Minister of Health A.Tsogtsetseg took part in the World Innovation Summit for Health, held in Doha of Qatar on November 29 and 30.
On the sidelines, the Minister met with her counterpart Ms Hanan Al Kuwari and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, Mr Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi and came to an agreement on future cooperation in communicable diseases and healthcare studies.
The 3rd World Innovation Summit was attended by some 1,500 delegates from over 100 countries, including health ministers from 19 countries.
The summit addressed education of medical practitioners, cardiovascular disorders, infectious diseases, stem cells and targeted therapy, population genomics, effects of genetic determinants and pathology, healthy population, healthy behavior, health and ethics and investment in healthcare.
Mongolia - Transparency and Accountability in Mongolian Education (TAME) : P150842 - Implementation Status Results Report : Sequence 04 (English)
December 5 (World Bank) --
Mongolia - MN Education Quality Reform Project : P148110 - Implementation Status Results Report : Sequence 06 (English)
December 5 (World Bank) --
By B. Amarsaikhan
Ulaanbaatar, December 5 (MONTSAME) The School of International Relations and Public Administration (formerly the School of Foreign Service) of the National University of Mongolia organized today a scientific conference themed "Russian Studies: Pressing problems and future perspectives", on occasion of the 25th anniversary of its establishment and the 95th jubilee of establishing Mongolia-Russia diplomatic ties.
The opening remarks were given by the NUM rector R.Bat-Erdene, director of the Russian Center for Science and Culture G.E.Mikhailov and cultural attache of the Russian Embassy in Ulaanbaatar E.O.Sazonova.
Rector R.Bat-Erdene highlighted that the university has been attaching greater importance to the Russian studies and intends to set up a Russian studies department on the second floor of the new NUM library being commissioned within this academic year. He said "Although the research and studies on Russia, one of our great neighbors, is crucial to Mongolia, our circle of scientists and academics who have deep connectionы with Russian studies remains narrowl", and added that the first university of Mongolia will be the pioneer on promoting this field of study.
Mr Mikhailov briefly touched upon the heated incident where a famous Mongolian singer was beaten up by a Russian official and said the Ambassador I.K.Azizov asked him to convey that the embassy has also been investigating within itself to help deliver justice to the victimized side.
The keynote speakers included Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Director of Diplomatic Academy of Mongolia Kh.Bekhbat, deputy director of the Department of Neighboring Countries of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs D.Khasar, curator of the Global Policy Branch of the Institute of International Relations of the Academy of Sciences D.Altai, director of Russian Language Center of the Russian Center for Science and Culture T.Ch.Budaeva, researcher from the International Relations Institute Ts.Altangerel, Russian language professor of the SIRPA Ts.Sarantsatsral, professors S.Enkhtsetseg and B.Sanjmyatav, doctoral candidate of the SIRPA S.S.Bezrukov.
The participants touched upon the current level of Russian studies in Mongolia, Mongolia-Russia relations in the 21st century, the stance of former Soviet Union during the candidacy of Mongolia to the United Nations, Mongolia-Russia-China integration issues, promoting Mongolia-Russia economic cooperation, public and social administration over the education in Russia in context of contemporary Russian studies, motivation to learning Russian language, results of a study among Russian language students, literature ties of Mongolia and Russia and the special features of political speech in contemporary Russian language.
The participants agreed on the importance of modernizing the methodologies of Russian studies, for example, through avoiding the traditional methods of approaching each other as ancient neighbors and brother nations and enriching the content of the field studies with practical situations of the present.
December 5 (Radio Free Asia) Dozens of ethnic Mongolians protested on Monday outside government offices in northern China over restrictions on the use of the Mongolian language in two of the city's kindergartens.
They say that Chinese authorities in the northern region of Inner Mongolia are allowing discriminatory practices by local schools, which have targeted the use of the Mongolian language in two kindergartens in Ulaanhad city (known as Chifeng in Chinese).
The parents, who have been protesting since two Han Chinese principals were appointed to head Ulaanhad's 6.1 Kindergarten and Xincheng Mongolian Kindergarten, unfurled a banner outside the city government offices which read: "Respect our ethnic culture, improve the language environment, respect the Minorities Education Law, appoint ethnic Mongolian principals."
Parents of children at the schools launched a protest campaign last month on social media, writing open letters and collecting signatures to protest the principals' actions, which they say contravene existing legislation on minority educational provision.
"About 20 parents visited the complaints department of the Ulaanhad city government at around 8.30 this morning," protester Tanaa told RFA.
"There is now a Han Chinese principal of our Mongolian kindergarten, and they won't allow the Mongolian teachers to speak Mongolian to each other, or to plan Mongolian-language lessons," she said.
She called for the removal of both Han Chinese principals, and for the gradual conversion of both kindergartens to monolingual education, in Mongolian.
Unfair development policies
China's 5.8 million-strong ethnic Mongolian community have long complained about unfair development policies in the region, which borders the independent country of Mongolia.
However, ethnic Mongolian children have previously had much more opportunity to learn their native language and its cursive, flowing script during their early schooling.
The parents accuse 6.1 Kindergarten of "disregarding laws and regulations" by banning ethnic Mongolian teachers from teaching in Mongolian and from speaking it in school following the new principal's appointment.
"[This] public action of depriving the Mongolians of their right to speak and use their native language is ethnic discrimination," the parents wrote in an open letter posted online.
The letter said the move was a blatant form of Han Chinese chauvinism.
"Depriving us, the legitimate owners of the land, of the right to speak our language and telling us to shut our mouths up and speak Chinese is another form of ethno-terrorism," the letter said.
"This is typical of the hate speech and hate action against humanity that was practiced only by colonial occupiers in the past," it said.
Mongolian parents are also complaining that seats available for Mongolian children in the only existing two Mongolian kindergartens in the entire city of Ulaanhad are very limited, as an increasing number of Chinese children are accepted into the schools.
The Ulaanhad bureau of education responded on Nov. 15 with a promise to appoint ethnic Mongolians to the top jobs in both kindergartens, but haven't yet acted on that promise, according to the New York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights and Information Center (SMHRIC)group.
Tanaa said the children at the kindergartens, which are billed as "bilingual," are now being taught mostly in Chinese, after their parents enrolled them in a bid to keep their culture alive.
Job never advertised
She said that many ethnic Mongolians already have trouble finding a kindergarten that offers any Mongolian-language education at all.
A parent who asked to remain anonymous told RFA in a recent interview that the 6.1 Kindergarten had started using Chinese much earlier than this semester.
"Under this new vice-principal, there has been much, much more non-Mongolian content in class," she said. "We don't even know how this person was hired, because the job was never advertised publicly."
"A lot of former herders and farmers have lost their land, and they are coming into the cities to look for manual labor, and so we are seeing more concentrations of Mongolians in cities now," she said.
"Finding a kindergarten for their kids is a really huge problem," she said.
She said the schools are also insisting on the use of Chinese for many administrative tasks.
"Since when has there been a rule that this stuff has to be written in Chinese? The local education bureau doesn't want Mongolian [schools] to even use their own language," she said.
According to research carried out by veteran ethnic Mongolian activist Hada, the regional capital Hohhot only offers 3,000 Mongolian-medium primary school places to serve an ethnic Mongolian population of some 210,000, SMHRIC said.
The number of Mongolian-medium primary school places across the whole region fell from 110,000 in the early 1980s to just 19,000 in 2009, it said.
Hada told RFA on Monday he supported the parents' campaign.
"This incident is itself a crime of ethnic discrimination and oppression, and a major component of [Beijing's] policy of cultural genocide," he said.
"[The authorities] are trampling on both domestic and international law, and I will support the parents all the way."
Another parent activist, Tuyaa, told SMHRIC, "We are ready to fight for our rights until they are truly honored and respected."
"We are not asking for any special privilege. What we are asking for is our most basic right, the right to use our native language and the right to teach our language to our children," she said.
Ethnic Mongolians in China have long complained of widespread environmental destruction, violent evictions from traditional grazing lands, and unfair development policies in the region.
Hada has called the routine eviction of herders from their traditional grazing lands, often in the name of ecological protection, part of a calculated program of ethnic cleansing in the region.
Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Wong Siu-san and Dai Weisen for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.
December 5 (news.mn) On Friday 2nd of December, an earthquake was recorded in Mongolia's South Gobi (Umnugobi) province. According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), there were some 20 shocks ranging in magnitude from 1.5 to 3.8.
NEMA officers evacuated more than 700 people to safety, including students of a local university and workers at the giant Tavan Tolgoi coal mine.
Electrical power was also cut for several hours in the Tsogttsetsii Soum (district) as a result of the earthquake.
By B. Dulguun
December 6 (UB Post) A national conference on Ecosystem-based Adaptation Approach to Maintaining Water Security was held last Thursday /December 1/ in Ulaanbaatar.
Opening the conference, Minister of Health L.Byambasuren reported that two water suppliers and six provincial stakeholders launched the Ecosystem-based Adaptation Approach in 2012 with assistance from the WHO to identify every water pollutant during water provisioning services, assess risks, prevent potential water pollution, and ensure water security. As a result, stakeholders have expanded operations and now, there are 21 water suppliers operating in Ulaanbaatar, 14 in Dornogovi Province, and seven suppliers in Umnugovi Province. Research showed that the project has improved drinking water supplies for 1.9 million people in Mongolia.
Minister L.Byambasuren expressed gratitude to representatives from the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development, Ministry of Environment and Tourism, General Agency of Specialized Inspection, Public Health Institute in Ulaanbaatar, Water Supply and Sewage Authority, and various schools for participating in the conference and continuing to contribute to improving the nation's water security.
Companies and organizations that took part in developing and implementing the program were awarded certificates.
Remarks by Beate Trankmann, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative
Your Excellency Mr. Ts. Elbegdorj, President of Mongolia
Honorable Mr. Khurelsukh, Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia
Brigadier General Badral, Chief of NEMA
Representatives of development community
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am pleased that Mongolia is joining the global campaign "Live to Tell" and the call for increasing disaster risk awareness of communities. Empowering communities and individuals is vital to strengthen their ability to prepare, cope and recover from disaster impacts.
Disasters are having a major impact around the world. Man-made and climate-induced disasters cause increased humanitarian stress. They exacerbate food insecurity, water scarcity, conflict and migration and increase the vulnerability of the poor. During the last decade, over 700 thousand people have lost their lives, over 1.4 million have been injured and approximately 23 million have been made homeless as a result of disasters. Overall, more than 1.5 billion people have been affected by disasters, with women, children and people in vulnerable situations disproportionately feeling the brunt. The total economic loss over the decade is estimated to be more than $1.3 trillion.
Reducing disaster risk is a cost-effective investment in preventing future losses.
To do so, we need to assess and understand disaster risks to address existing challenges and be prepared for future ones. The more we understand risk and vulnerability, the better equipped will we be to mitigate the impact of disasters when they strike and save lives.
I applaud the Government's initiative to assess public buildings such as schools, kindergartens, hospitals, libraries and other public institutions and places for their earthquake resistance.
Earthquakes commonly cause the most widespread destruction. In the past two decades, earthquakes accounted for more deaths than all other natural hazards combined, causing nearly 56% of total global disaster mortality between 1996 and 2015.
Mongolia is a nation of nomads. Yet, it is now more urbanized than many other parts of Asia. More than two-thirds of Mongolians live in cities. Close to half of the country's entire population lives in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar – which has been developing fast in the last two decades.
Development is not disaster neutral. On the contrary: development can create and exacerbate or alternately reduce risks.
- Every house that is built on a floodplain is a potential for tragedy.
- Every kilogram of cement or steel reduced from original building plans and construction norms in a building or infrastructure project to cut corners and decrease costs is a recipe for loss of lives.
This means that our development choices today will determine whether we are disaster prone tomorrow! To make sure that development choices and decisions do not put us at risk; to ensure that wein fact reduce risks – we first and foremost need to understand and calculate the risks as well as our vulnerabilities. Is the country/city earthquake prone? Which areas? How robust is the infrastructure? How many schools and other public places are located in vulnerable areas? How many people live there? How many of them are kids, women, disabled, elderly? Taking risk informed decisions will help to protect development and save lives.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Knowing the risk and the vulnerabilities is the first step. The next step is to come up with clear and concrete strategies and actions to reduce the risks. Whether it is
- setting and enforcing national norms or standards for construction so that buildings can withstand an earthquake; or
- providing local governments with the knowledge and tools to work with communities to understand and deal with local hazards; or
- coming up with strategies to empower and protect vulnerable population groups such as children, the elderly, disabled or women who tend to be disproportionately affected by disasters; or
- ensuring sufficient money is allocated in the government budget to implement these measures--
there is much that can and should be done. As such, disaster risk reduction is a cross cutting, multi-sectoral challenge and can only be fully realized if it is integrated into all stages of development planning, budgeting, implementation and monitoring, across all sectors and levels - national, regional or community.
It is obvious from all of this that disaster risk reduction is not the job of one agency, one ministry alone. Neither is it the job of the Government alone. As the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban-Ki Moon puts it, "it is in everybody's interest, and it is everybody's business".
The UN in Mongolia has been a long standing partner of the Government in disaster management. In line with the Sendai Framework and the Sustainable Development Goals, we will continue to support mainstreaming disaster risk reduction into development and improve emergency preparedness and response capacities at community and institutional levels. Community based DRR approaches promoted by UNDP and others can help inform community earthquake preparedness and we will hear about the work of a number of UN agencies in subsequent interventions.
We look forward to continue working with Mongolia to mitigate against disasters, reduce the cost of response and protect the most vulnerable.
Thank you and I wish you fruitful discussions.
December 5 (news.mn) G.Ugalztsetseg has become the two time champion in the athletic body category of the Bodybuilding and Fitness World Championship for the second time. The 37-year-old is a trainer at the 'Ulaanbaatar fitness center. Last year, G.Ugalztsetseg became the first Mongolian woman to become world champion in Bodybuilding and Fitness.
The competition took place in Bangkok, Thailand. In total, 16 Mongolian athletes (ten men and six women) participated, taking three gold, two silver and four bronze medals. Over 600 athletes from 59 countries are taking part in the competition.
Women bodybuilders become World Champions – Montsame, December 5
December 5 (MONTSAME) The 8th World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championships are taking place in Bangkok, Thailand. By Sunday, Mongolian athletes have won two gold and two bronze medals at the competition.
Mongolia is being represented by 10 men and 6 women at the competition, in which more than 600 athletes from 59 countries are participating. The Asian Champion A.Ichinnorov grabbed the first gold medal for the team in the women's up to 160 cm event. In the same category, B.Badamsuren won a bronze medal.
On Sunday, the world champion G.Ugalztsetseg defended her title by winning the gold medal in the women's up to 165 cm. In this category, our athlete G.Gansaruul won the bronze medal.
In men's bodybuilding category, L.Saruulbat also won a bronze medal. The championships will finish on Monday.
December 6 (news.mn) Located 1,200 km from the South Pole, 4,897 metre Mount Vinson is the highest mountain in Antactica. Now, Mongolian mountaineer B.Gangaamaa has announced that she will plans to conquer the peak, to realise her dream of standing on all the Seven Summits. The Mongolian State Honoured Sportswoman will climb Mount Vinson from 15-30th of December.
Previously, B.Gangaamaa has reached the summits of Mount Elbrus (Russia), Mount Everest (Nepal), Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Denali (North America), Aconcagua (Argentina) and Carstensz Pyramid (Indonesia). Now, only one remains for her to conquer, the desolate Mount Vinson.
B.Gangaamaa will became first woman to climb Vinson Massif and the ninth Mongolian.
As we manage the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, finding opportunities to quietly be with ourselves may help us tend to the details of what we value most.
By GOH YUN JIE
December 7 (Run Society) You cannot feel further away from the hectic, modern world: Wild horses, yaks, untouched nature, some shamanic "Ovoos" and a few Mongolian gers here and there.
Every year since 1999, runners from all around the world soak up this unique atmosphere and participate in the Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset (MS2S).
The MS2S is not a one-day event. It is a whole week full of discovery and adventure. Participants gather in a picturesque camp at the lakeshore and sleep in traditional Mongolian yurts. In the days before and following the race, runners can enjoy a variety of leisure activities: horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, hiking, or mountain biking.
In the last edition, MS2S 2016 had attracted runners from no less than 21 countries who spent a week together at the shores of Lake Hovsgol.
The 2017 race week will be held from 29 July 2017 to 5 August 2017 with 2 August 2017 being the race day.
Experience Nature Like Never Before
The MS2S, a non-profit 42km and 100km ultra trail run, is without doubt, among the most beautiful and memorable runs on the planet with seas of Edelweiss, the majestic mountains, marshy forests and not to be missed, the deep blue pearl of Mongolia, Lake Hovsgol.
The lake supports a flourishing population of wildflowers and wildlife, including the grayling and lennock. The legendary taimen, the world's biggest salmonoid, can also be found and fished from the rivers in the area in weights of up to 23kg.
The region around the lake hosts a widely dispersed population of mostly nomadic Mongol people who live in gers (Mongolian yurts) and tend herds of horses, camels, cattle and yaks. Runners may also encounter reindeer herding Tsaatan people, wild sheep, ibex, bear, moose, and over 200 species of birds.
Nicolas Musy, Race Director of MS2S said,
"Our race offers spectacular views from start to finish - be it on the lakeside single trail when the sun rises behind Lake Hovsgol, on the impressive mountain passes or through the windblown lowlands and dry riverbeds."
The accumulated elevation gain/loss is around 2,255m for the marathon distance and around 3,365m for the 100km distance.
The overall cut-off time for the ultra-marathon is 18 hours, with cut-off times at key aid stations enforced, so that the last runner can finish the MS2S by sunset.
MS2S is part of the Asia Trail Masters, and completion of the 100km event will qualify as 4 points in the new scale (2 points in the old scale) for the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc.
Participants will stay in Camp Toilogt, a rustic and comfortable facility which offers guests the novelty of Mongolian-style living, along with environmentally-friendly 'western' comforts, such as hot showers, solar electricity and a satellite phone for emergency calls.
Meals served will be prepared by professional cooks using locally-grown organic produce with minimal imported food.
For the Preservation of Life
The MS2S is a non-profit race with all proceeds going towards environmental and cultural projects in Hovsgol National Park.
The proceeds will help to cover the costs of keeping Hovsgol National Park pristine and clean, as well as support the culture of the local nomads via the ecoLeap foundation registered in Geneva, Switzerland.
Nicolas Musy, Race Director of MS2S commented,
"We want to keep this pristine mountain area as beautiful as it is now. That is why we fund a litter control project and its ongoing operation including hiring park rangers, providing eco-friendly garbage bags and raising awareness nation-wide through TV ads and education of local children and families.
The ecoLeap foundation also supports the local culture. It is not only the pristine nature that makes this part of the world so special. It is also the unique culture of the nomads and their way of life. The nomads should be proud of their abilities and culture."
Registration for the 19th edition of MS2S has commenced. Runners with an appetite for a special adventure can now secure early bird rates for the race package.
Sign up now to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.
by Mike Blewitt
December 5 (MarathonMTB.com) After a tough start to the year with a broken pelvis and 5 broken ribs, Subaru-MarathonMTB.com racer Justin Morris set his sights on the Simpson Desert Bike Challenge – winning the classic stage race across the desert while helping the event raise money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Now, Morris has set his sights on his next major challenge – the Mongolia Bike Challenge.
"I've wanted to do the Mongolia Bike Challenge since talking to Mike Blewitt in 2012 at the Crocodile Trophy. Long, arduous stage and marathon races appeal to me as they always seem to create quite a memorable story and experience."
Having started racing mountain bikes while starting high school, and quickly taking up road cycling too, Morris has raced for a number of teams in Australia and the USA, including a long stint with team Type 1, which became Team Novo Nordisk. As a Type 1 diabetic, Morris is faced with daily challenges, especially in bike races. This is part of what drives him to compete in arduous events around the globe.
"Dealing with Type1 diabetes gives me an extra challenge that my competitors on the start line usually do not have. Having raced for 17 years now I am more motivated than ever as I have seen the inspirational impact racing can have on other people living with these challenges."
The Mongolia Bike Challenge will be a major goal for Morris, along side The Pioneer in New Zealand, plus the pre-eminent marathon events in Australia, and shorter stage races such as Port to Port north of his home town in Sydney.
"The Mongolia Bike Challenge has been on my radar for a long time now. The remoteness, spectacular scenery and arduous profile make this race a true spectacle. Spectacles always bring about the best stories. I am really looking forward to being in Mongolia and then sharing the story of racing there with the broader MTB and diabetes community."
If you're after more details on the Mongolia Bike Challenge, head to the event website.
Ulaanbaatar, December 5 (MONTSAME) Walt Disney Pictures has eyes on our contestant to the Miss World 2016. They have reportedly requested A.Bayartsetseg to audition for the main role of Mulan, a motion picture to be filmed next year.
About this, she posted on her Facebook page – Miss World Mongolia on Sunday. She wrote: "What a beautiful day! I just got an email from my agency to submit my portfolio for Mulan, Disney live-action film which will be filmed in 2017 in China. As you may have noticed, the opposite characters Huns are the ancestors of Mongolians. Who knows what life will bring me? Your Bela".
A.Bayartsetseg has already made her debute in Hollywood, by starring in Netflix's Marco Polo TV series in a supporting role.
Also, in a thegreatpageantcommunity.com article titled "A Breath of Fresh Air" highlighted that she is the strongest beauty sent by Mongolia to the Miss World so far.
A.Bayartsetseg is experienced in participating in pageantries, as she took part in Miss International 2014 and Miss Earth 2015.
She has been selected as one of ten girls, who will be dancing in the first row at the finale introduction, and has made it to the semi-final of the talent show.
Washington DC, December 5 (Missosology.org) It has been more than a week since the 120 delegates from all over the world have gathered in the American capital, but we still have to see the official photos of the delegates apart from the photos that they share in their social media accounts. Despite the absence of photos coming directly from the Miss World organization, we are very much contented with the updates given to us by the contestants themselves. Heaps of them are being shared in our official forum. The clear standouts and favorites, however, do not seem to change and they are the reasons why millions of fans from all over the world are following the developments of this year's Miss World competition.
The Philippines' very own, Catriona Gray, is currently on the lead.
Tímea Gelencsér of Hungary is currently in second place, and she has been gaining a lot of fans from all over the world after her amazing talent performance.
In third place is Puerto Rico's Stephanie del Valle Diaz, who was our pre-arrival top pick.
Ana Girault, the controversial anti-bullying advocate from Mexico is gaining a lot of attention lately, and is currently in fourth place.
Meanwhile, completing our Top 5 and is in fifth place is the Marco Polo Season 2 star Bayartsetseg "Bela" Altangerel, from Mongolia. While Mongolia only has around three million people scattered all over the world, Bela managed to amass hundreds and thousands of viewers for her introduction video, and it has been gaining praises both by Mongolians and non-Mongolians alike. If Bela wins, this will forever change the Mongolian modern history, and will surely bring hope to their heavily battered national economy. At Miss World 2016, she has been very helpful and friendly towards everyone, and is gaining a lot of respect from fellow contestants.
By B. Tungalag
December 5 (UB Post) Mongolia's biggest annual fashion festival Goyol took place on December 1 at the Central Cultural Palace.
Goyol Festival usually awards the top models of the year, but this year's festival didn't present the award, leaving many visitors disappointed.
Secretary-general of the Mongolian Designers' Association Kh.Baigalmaa said, "The 29th Goyol was held successfully. Seeing from the festival, designers and their designs are getting better and better. Unfortunately, we didn't select the top model this year, because no one met the criteria.There are so many models in Mongolia, but there is no top model this year."
Designer at Ertnii Mongol Khiits fashion salon O.Urantsetseg won the designers'Grand Prix.
The Mongolian Designers'Association organized the Goyol 2017 Festival.Asistradition, designers and fashion houses taking part in the festival introduced their designs at the show.
The best model, photographer, make-up artist, hairdresser, and designer were awarded at the festival.
Winners of the festival:
Best Male Model – N.Azjargal
Best Female Model – D.Dolgion
Best Make-Up Artist – G.Narmandakh of Narumi Studio
Best Photographer – M.Tsoggerel
Best Photo Model – O.Ariunzul and N.Anu
Best Hairdresser – D.Odongoo of Vidal Salon
Upon receiving the best female model award, D.Dolgion said, "Goyol is the first and biggest fashion festival in Mongolia. It is my pleasure to receive this honorable prize. I will try harder in the future."
Best male model N.Azjargal said, "I am very happy. It has been 12 years since I entered the fashion world. I participated in Goyol Festival 10 times. I am very happy that the organizers valued my hard work and gave me this prize."
December 5 (It's Nice That) While still studying at the London Institute, photography duo Sean and Seng shot their first campaign for Vivienne Westwood. That campaign won the pair a near-permanent place in the pages of magazines such as Arena Homme+, T, Dazed, Pop, Marfa and 032c.
Since then, Sean and Seng have graduated from inside pages to front covers, shooting scores of models, musicians and actors (recently Tinashe and Sasha Lane for Dazed).
The pair are quick to break rules, not least by using animals in shoots. For the A/W issue of Arena Homme+, Sean and Seng travelled to Mongolia, where they shot Mongolian boys wrestling, tree-climbing and yak-riding, all the while dressed in Prada. Naturally.
Link to article (and photos)
Sean and Seng Take Mongolia in a Stunning New Series – FourTwoNine, December 5
December 6 (MONTSAME) In support of Mongolia's objective to develop winter tourism, the "Terelj-Jargal" company is offering both foreign and domestic tourists to enjoy dogsledding over ice and through snow.
A team of reporters of the MONTSAME News Agency has made coverage about the extreme travel of the Terelj-Jargal company operating in the Terelj national park located in 68km from Ulaanbaatar.
Young entrepreneur Kh.Tuvshinjargal along with his spouse and children has started up this new business in here where he was born and grown. The 27-years old young artist Tuvshinjargal having graduated from the Institute of Fine Arts welcomes guests with a great hospitality along with 80 husky dogs who can run for over 160 km of distance with a speed of 18 km per hour. The young man and his friends offer an overwhelming and breathtaking tour through the picturesque sites on dog sled made by him. Snow quadricycles which are also made by him are a good alternative to get adrenaline rush.
Tuvshinjargal offers his clients extreme travel programs for all four seasons and promises to make traveler's day.
December 4 (Matter) Today Mongolia's ancient Silk Road is alive with wild nomadic culture. We spent a short time exploring the rough lifestyle and warm hospitality of these traditional communities. Find yourself racing alongside wild horses, trekking with desert camels, building yurts and exploring a life perfected over centuries of art and tradition.
Thank you to the people at TourMongolia for a once in a lifetime experience.
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Ulaanbaatar 14251, Mongolia
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