Monday, January 23, 2017

[GoM reiterates DBM payment; TDB pays back dim sum; IMF team delayed; SMI shows improvements; and ETT selling at highest]

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Monday, January 23, 2017

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

Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original



Int'l Market

·         MoF: Mongolia will stay current on its March 2017 debt obligations

·         Trade & Development Bank of Mongolia successfully pays back CNY 700 million bonds

·         SouthGobi Subsidiary Claimed US$8.9M by Fuel Supplier Magnai Trade

·         China Cinda Cuts SouthGobi Stake Further to 17.99%

·         TD Securities Reiterates "Buy" Rating for Turquoise Hill Resources

·         New China-Mongolia Mining Deal: Economic Windfall or Environmental Threat?

Local Market

·         MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 +1.69%, ALL +0.44%, Turnover ₮790 Million Shares, ₮6.7 Billion T-Bills

·         GoM offering ₮10 billion 52-week t-bills at 17.935% discount on MSE


·         MNT gains 0.2% last week

·         IMF 'rescue' team arrival delayed a week

·         BoM issues ₮27 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +0.3% to ₮368.35 billion

·         BoM Monthly Statistical Bulletin, December 2016

·         Mongolia to increase its gold reserve to 150 tons by 2020

·         SMI: Mongolian Economy Suffers but Small Improvements Reported

·         Copper market focus shifts back to unpredictable supply: Andy Home

·         Coking coal price still falling

·         Iron ore prices slide ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations

·         Gold rises on weaker dollar, safe-haven buying after Trump inauguration

·         Oil prices edge up on market caution over OPEC cuts

Politics & Legal

·         Presidential Election to be organized under existing Law on Elections

·         AmCham Daily Newswire for January 20, 2017

·         Amendment to traffic security law removes duplicated penalties

·         Governments Use Coursera to Close Growing Skills Gaps

·         De Facto: Mongolica


·         Erdenes Mongol to implement coal-to-liquid project with US' Polaris Asset Corp

·         TT sells 300,000 tons of West Tsankhi coal at highest ever $71.5

·         Erdenes TT expects to settle Chalco debt in April

·         Darkhan solar plant to power 20 thousand homes

·         German bank foundation to train Mongolian bankers

·         An interview with Erik Versavel, country representative ING in Mongolia

·         Mongolia-China Investment Forum held in Beijing

·         Vancouver resources conference to highlight Central Asia's potential

·         MICC Report Analyzes the Tremendous Potential of Mongolian Meat Exports

·         Tengri selected 'Bright' ambassador for sustainable luxury fibres

·         Japan wants to export nursing care services

·         Wolarsen Cosmetics founder speaks about her startup

·         Tsagaan Sar 2017 Trade Fair Opens at Misheel Expo


·         Drinking and driving cases decrease thanks to alcohol-free four days

·         Silver Winter Sports Festival to take place at Ulaanbaatar National Park

·         MASA air pollution discussion focuses on past and present solutions


·         President Elbegdorj Addressed Davos Session "The Silk Road Effect"

·         Defense Minister receives new Japanese Ambassador

·         President of Mongolian Chamber of Commerce receives Ambassador of Cuba

·         Japanese Movie Days completes on January 20

·         Advancing strategic partnership is the key to Russia-Mongolia existing Relationship

·         Shifting Russian-PRC Relations and its Implications for Mongolian Foreign Policy

·         Russian and Chinese Influences in Shared Borderlands

Health & Education

·         TIKA donates ambulances to three western aimags

·         15 soums provided with new emergency vehicles to overcome difficult winter

·         Study: Bevacizumab monotherapy or combined with laser versus laser monotherapy in Mongolian patients with diabetic macular edema

·         Unimat Education opens young inventors training center

Culture & Society

·         Guardian dogs conserve ecology of Mongolian steppes

·         Why this 72-year-old Mongolian is not giving up her nomad way

·         Berkeley Event: Music and Song from Mongolia, February 2

·         Cartographic Anxieties in Mongolia: The Bogd Khan's Picture-Map

Nature & Environment

·         Global Warning: 24 hours on the climate change frontline as Trump becomes president – as it happened

·         The X Factor: Stopping the Killing of Snow Leopards

·         "The Valley of Lakes in Mongolia, a key area of Cenozoic mammal evolution and stratigraphy"


·         GP returns to Outer Mongolia to defend Ice Marathon title

·         Sumo: New Year champ Kisenosato beats Hakuho, set for yokozuna

Art & Entertainment

·         Miss Mongolia Anu Namshir is painting ''Marylin Monroe portrait'' with her lips

·         Mongolian film Amidralogy to screen at Seoul Cinema


·         Mongolia to introduce e-Passports in 2018

·         Lonely Planet Best in 2017: Top Countries

·         Top 10 Biggest Festivals In Mongolia

·         The One Thing You MUST Do In Mongolia: Nomadic Homestay

·         'Most beautiful place I've ever been' Extreme traveller says THIS remote country is best

·         Art Wolfe's Travels to the Edge – Mongolia: Mountain to Steppe

·         Indy Guide: Eagle hunting trip in Western Mongolia, 7 Days

·         Indy Guide: Trekking in Mongolia, 13 Days

·         New Del Mar photo exhibit offers global perspective




Int'l Market

MoF: Mongolia will stay current on its March 2017 debt obligations

by Ministry of Finance

January 20 (MONTSAME) The Ministry of Finance of Mongolia ("MoF") would like to clarify and respond to an interview made by Cabinet Secretariat J. Munkhbat, who was quoted and misinterpreted on the website of the UB Post today by saying that the "Government currently does not have enough capital to repay Euro Bond debt due in March 2017".

The MoF wishes to assure investors that the Government of Mongolia ("GoM") will stay current on all its debt obligations and that the liquidity position of the GoM is strong enough to fully repay the US$580 million notes coming due on March 21st. The GoM has no intention to embark on any avenue that would be considered unfriendly by the international capital markets.

Furthermore, the Ministry wishes to highlight that talks with the International Monetary Fund ("IMF") are continuing positive and expected to be concluded soon. 

The MoF is confident that these discussions will yield constructive results, allowing Mongolia's continued and opportunistic access to the international capital markets.

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Trade & Development Bank of Mongolia successfully pays back CNY 700 million bonds

January 20 ( Since its first USD75 million bond emission to the international market in 2007, the Trade & Development Bank of Mongolia has raised a total of USD 1.14 billion from five bonds.

Now, the TDBM has successfully paid back CNY700 million or USD 115 million in three-yearly tranches. This bond was first issued in 2014.

The TDBM, one of the largest lenders in Mongolia, was privatised in 2002.

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1878 closed flat Friday at HK$1.7

SouthGobi Subsidiary Claimed US$8.9M by Fuel Supplier Magnai Trade

January 20 (AAStocks) SOUTHGOBI-S (01878.HK)  0.000 (0.000%)   announced that SouthGobi Sands LLC (SGS), a subsidiary of the company, has received a lawsuit notice from the Khan-Uul District Civil Court of First Instance in Mongolia in relation to a claim from Magnai Trade (MT), a fuel supplier of SGS, of MNT22.2 billion (approximately US$8.9 million) consisting of MNT14.6 billion of outstanding fuel supply payments and MNT7.6 billion of late payment penalty and associated interest costs.

SGS strongly disputes the amount claimed by MT in the proceedings and has filed an application with the Court to dismiss the litigation, on the basis that if the dispute cannot be amicably resolved, it must be settled by arbitration in Mongolia, rather than litigation, in accordance with the express provisions of the fuel supply agreement between SGS and MT.

Link to article

Link to SGQ release

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China Cinda Cuts SouthGobi Stake Further to 17.99%

Link to release

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TRQ closed +1.79% Friday to US$3.42

TD Securities Reiterates "Buy" Rating for Turquoise Hill Resources 

January 20 ( Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd (TSE:TRQ) (NYSE:TRQ)'s stock had its "buy" rating reissued by investment analysts at TD Securities in a research report issued to clients and investors on Wednesday. They currently have a C$6.00 target price on the stock. TD Securities' price target suggests a potential upside of 33.93% from the stock's previous close.

A number of other research analysts have also recently commented on the company. Scotiabank restated an "outperform" rating and issued a C$6.25 target price on shares of Turquoise Hill Resources in a research note on Tuesday. Royal Bank Of Canada restated a "sector perform" rating on shares of Turquoise Hill Resources in a research note on Tuesday. Canaccord Genuity raised their target price on Turquoise Hill Resources from C$6.25 to C$6.50 in a research note on Monday, December 12th. Finally, CSFB raised their target price on Turquoise Hill Resources from C$4.75 to C$5.00 and gave the company a "neutral" rating in a research note on Tuesday, October 25th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the company's stock. The stock has a consensus rating of "Buy" and an average price target of C$5.63.

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New China-Mongolia Mining Deal: Economic Windfall or Environmental Threat?

The new agreement could be both, as it shifts much of China's coal production outside its borders and helps Mongolia pay down billions of dollars in debt


January 21 (WSJ) Mongolia recently reached a new deal to sell coal to China, helping it boost its faltering economy and start repaying billions of dollars it owes Wall Street lenders.

Under the landmark agreement completed late last year, Mongolia's state-owned mining company will sell coal to China at roughly double the previously agreed-upon rate.

The deal follows a devastating four-year period when Mongolian miners exported coal to China at...

Link to article (behind paywall)

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Local Market

MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 +1.69%, ALL +0.44%, Turnover 790 Million Shares, 6.7 Billion T-Bills

January 20 (MSE) --

Link to report

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GoM offering 10 billion 52-week t-bills at 17.935% discount on MSE

January 20 (MSE) Buy order of 52 weeks Government bonds with annual interest of 17.935% starts from 20 January 2017 until 24 January 2017 through brokerage companies.

Link to release

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

BoM MNT Rates: Friday, January 20 Close










































































































































































Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,482 Sell ₮2,495), TDB (Buy ₮2,483 Sell ₮2,495), Golomt (Buy ₮2,482 Sell ₮2,492), XacBank (Buy ₮2,480 Sell ₮2,492), State Bank (Buy ₮2,480 Sell ₮2,492)

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

Link to rates

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IMF 'rescue' team arrival delayed a week

January 20 ( Mongolia is facing a financial crisis caused by a collapse in commodity prices, mounting debt and years of off-budget spending. Since coming to power in June, the Mongolian People's Party has announced an economic reform plan containing spending cuts; it has also asked the International Monetary Fund to help.

An IMF team will visit Ulaanbaatar next week to carry out discussions with the finance minister and the president of the Central Bank of Mongolia. Originally, they had planned to arrive on 20th of January, but, have delayed until next week, according to Ministry of Finance of Mongolia.

The IMF implements two different programmes, namely, a 'Standby credit facility' or emergency aid for poor countries and 'Standby arrangement' or normal credit for medium income countries.

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BoM issues ₮27 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +0.3% to ₮368.35 billion

January 20 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 27 billion at a weighted interest rate of 14.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

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BoM Monthly Statistical Bulletin, December 2016

January 20 (Bank of Mongolia) --

Link to report

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Mongolia to increase its gold reserve to 150 tons by 2020

January 20 ( Mongolia plans to stock up on 150 tons of gold by 2020. Mongolia will continue the 'Gold-2' programme until 2020 as a means of recovering economic growth. As a part of the programme, gold mining will be increased by 2-3 tonnes annually. Mongolia is also expecting to generate MNT 33-59 billion in budget revenue from payments for accessing mineral resources.

Mongolia first implemented a 'Gold' Programme from 1992 to 2000. According to statistics, 2.6% of Gross Domestic Product came from gold mining and 9.1% from exports in 2015.

Link to article

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SMI: Mongolian Economy Suffers but Small Improvements Reported

  • Sales Growth Index remains in contraction territory but with positive
  • Prices charged for goods and services starts to grow
  • Job losses evident as economic challenges continue

January 17 (World Economics) The Headline Mongolian Sales Managers' Index (SMI) was 38.4 in January, an improvement from the level of 37.0 in December. Year-on-year, the January level represents a 6.5 point increase, which could indicate that the Mongolian economy is slowly showing signs of improvement. All sub index components with the exception of staffing levels registered improving levels in January. The Sales Growth Index is still in contraction territory but there has been an emerging trend of improving conditions, with the rate of negative growth dropping off slowly. Prices charged for new sales have now started to grow, which suggests higher price inflation is to follow. Managers' report that the prices increases have had a minimal impact on profit margins, indicating higher input costs are the driving force.

Headline Sales Managers' Index

Business Confidence Index

Sales Managers' Indexes Trends







Business Confidence



Market Growth



Sales Output



Prices Charged



Staffing Levels




Prices Charged Index

Link to release

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Copper market focus shifts back to unpredictable supply: Andy Home

By Andy Home | LONDON

January 20 (Reuters) Last year it was the strength of demand that caught the copper market by surprise.

Everyone had braced themselves for an expected hard metallic landing in China, the driver of global copper usage.

But that's not how things played out.

China itself, it seems, was not quite ready for the promised shift from the old model of fixed asset investment to what was touted as the "new normal" of slower, more consumer-oriented growth.

Infrastructure and property investment boomed again, as did the country's appetite for copper. Imports of both unwrought copper and mined concentrate probably hit record highs last year, judging by the preliminary figures released last week.

As for the supply side of the pricing equation, the biggest surprise was the relative lack of surprises.

The amount of global copper supply lost due to unscheduled production losses was 3.5 percent, compared with the historical norm of around 5-6 percent, according to research from Citi. ("Copper - a possible return to normal mine disruption in 2017", Jan. 10, 2017).

It was, in other words, a year of collectively good performance by the world's producers.

Can they keep it up this year against an expected backdrop of much slower, if not flat, mined supply growth?

Judging by the production guidance given by Rio Tinto, the answer would appear to be no.

The company, which has stakes in some of the world's biggest mines, expects to produce between 525,000 and 665,000 tonnes of mined copper this year, compared with actual output of 523,000 tonnes in 2016.

That's a wide range, wide enough in fact to encompass many analysts' global market balance calculations for the coming year.

Rio has given no further details but its own production uncertainty speaks to the potential for a more "normal" year, to quote Citi, in terms of mine supply disruption.


One contributor to Rio's "mind-the-gap" production guidance may well be the Grasberg mine in Indonesia.

Export shipments from Grasberg are again suspended as the mine's majority owner and operator, Freeport McMoRan, navigates yet another rewrite of Indonesia's resource rules.

An existing requirement to build a copper smelter within five years has been supplemented with a proposed shift to a new operating permit and the need to sell a 51-percent stake to local investors.

A new export license should be possible while talks are continuing but as of right now it's still sitting in the mining ministry's in-tray.

Underneath all this regulatory uncertainty is straightforward mining uncertainty.

Freeport downgraded its sales guidance at both its Q2 and Q3 quarterlies with third-quarter production at Grasberg below expectations due to "lower mining rates that affected the timing of access to higher grade ore and a deferral of production into future periods resulting from labor productivity issues and a 10-day work stoppage beginning in late September."

Rio has a complicated participation in Grasberg, being entitled to 40 percent of output above a pre-determined level of mine throughput from expansions since 1998.

It defers to Freeport in terms of reporting actual production at Grasberg but it noted that "productivity issues" continued in the fourth quarter to the extent that the mining threshold was not reached last year. Rio has therefore stripped 20,000 tonnes of notional attributable production back out of its January-September figures.


Two other pillars of Rio's copper portfolio are its 30-percent stake in Escondida, the world's largest copper mine in Chile, and the wholly-owned Kennecott operations in the United States.

Both have looming labor contract expiries.

And although Rio's guidance won't have factored in the potential for lost production due to strike action, the market is closely following events at Escondida, where the current contract expires later this month.

Union leaders are unhappy and already talking tough about the potential for a walk-out.

All part of the negotiating process or an ominous sign of things to come?

Time will tell but the sheer size of Escondida, which produced just under a million tonnes of copper last year, means potential price volatility, upwards in the event of a strike, however short-lived, and downwards in the event of a peaceful settlement.

The contract at Rio's Kennecott division expires in March by which time there will also have been contract deadlines at Vale's Sudbury and Teck's Highland Valley mines in Canada, according to Citi.

Indeed, Citi estimates that some 3.5 million tonnes of copper supply, equivalent to around 17 percent of expected output this year, is subject to labor contract renewal.

"We believe this represents the highest volume of mine capacity affected by contract renewals for 4-5 years, with the last year of significant strike-related losses being 2011 where around 170,000t of mined production was lost due to strikes."

The fact that copper prices are rising again brings potential negotiating gaps between unions anxious to keep the rewards earned in the good times and companies still in cost-cutting mode.


The market's renewed focus on supply and specifically the potential for supply to under-perform relative to plan reflects a changed view about copper's underlying supply-usage dynamic.

The much-feared wall of copper supply, resulting from a combination of new mines and expansions, seems to have already peaked.

The International Copper Study Group is forecasting mine supply growth to drop from four percent in 2016 to zero this year. For its part, Citi is forecasting just one percent growth.

The raw materials part of the copper supply chain is starting to tighten again, evidenced by the drop in smelter treatment and refining charges on 2017 supply contracts, still the best indicator as to what is happening in the copper concentrates market.

This wasn't supposed to happen so fast but last year saw not just existing producers largely perform well but new capacity come on much more efficiently than might reasonably have been expected.

That was, with hindsight, the big supply surprise for the copper market last year.

This year the "surprise" could be a different one, if copper reverts to its past form of predictable unpredictability.

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Coking coal price still falling

January 20 ( We're only three weeks into the new year, but the year to date fall in the price of coking coal has already topped 23%.

At $172.60 on Friday the steelmaking raw material is now $136 below its multi-year high of $308.80 per tonne (Australia free-on-board premium hard coking coal tracked by the Steel Index) hit in November.

There was a more than $100 differential between the spot price average and the fourth quarter contract benchmark, but that situation has now completely reversed. Benchmark contract prices for the Q1 2017 were settled between Australian miners and Japanese steelmakers at $285 a tonne.

A recent note from the Singapore Exchange predicts that volatility in the met coal market will continue even after average daily spot price volatility for coking coal more than doubled in 2016 from 2015:

With uncertainty around Chinese policy decisions over implementation of the 276-day rule, and with its primary focus being on thermal coal, price volatility may remain one of the themes in the international coking coal market this year.

Quarterly price fix settlements generally following spot pricing, and greater spot price volatility has resulted in major divergences between what different regional steelmakers are now paying for their coking coal, which is likely to cause strains for some market participants.

The Steel Index monthly review noted that supply is beginning to respond to higher prices.

The US is expected to increase its coking coal production in 2017 and that around 9 million tonne of US met coal will be added to the export market. Companies such as Warrior Met Coal, Rosebud Mining and Ramaco already plan to start operations in the new year.

Australian coking coal mines owned by miners South32 and Anglo American are expected to once again produce at full capacity in 2017 following force majeure stoppages in late 2016, while Conuma Coal Resources is restarting production at its Wolverine mine in BC, Canada exporting around 1.5 million tonnes of coking coal a year starting in April.

Despite the pullback metallurgical coal is up 130% from multi-year lows reached in February last year. Coking coal averaged $143 a tonne in 2016 (about the same as it did in 2013). Consensus forecast is for the price to average about the same in 2017.

In 2011 floods in key export region in Queensland saw the coking coal price briefly trade at an all-time high $335 a tonne.

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Iron ore prices slide ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations

January 23 (Business Insider Australia) Iron ore spot markets continued to retreat on Friday, undermined by a drop-off in activity and softer sentiment ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations.

According to Metal Bulletin, the spot price for benchmark 62% fines fell by 0.7% to $US80.41 a tonne, leaving it at the lowest level seen since January 11.

The losses for lower grade ores were even larger with the price for 58% fines sliding by 2.53% to $US59.17 a tonne.

Analysts at Metal Bulletin said that the weakness coincided with another decline in rebar futures on the Shanghai Commodities Exchange.

"Futures dropped again today with bearish sentiment dominating the market," said the group. "Meanwhile, sellers refused to cut prices despite few deals being concluded even at lower prices."

This stalemate between buyers and sellers was likely exacerbated by many users breaking for New year celebrations, beginning on January 28.

And it looks like thin market conditions continued to impact sentiment on Friday evening with rebar, iron ore and coking coal futures all tumbling for the session.

The May 2017 iron ore future on the Dalian Commodities Exchange slumped 2.31% to 612.5 yuan, well below the multi-year high of 666 yuan struck earlier in the week.

Rebar and coking coal futures also came under pressure, tumbling 2.86% and 3.69% over the same period.

Trade in Chinese commodity futures will resume at Midday AEDT.

Here's how they finished up on Friday evening.

SHFE Copper ¥46,740 , 0.32%
SHFE Aluminium ¥13,810 , 2.33%
SHFE Zinc ¥22,400 , 0.47%
SHFE Nickel ¥82,200 , -1.43%
SHFE Rebar ¥3,158 , -2.86%
DCE Iron Ore ¥612.50 , -2.31%
DCE Coking Coal ¥1,175.50 , -3.69%
DCE Coke ¥1,600.00 , -3.53%

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Gold rises on weaker dollar, safe-haven buying after Trump inauguration

January 23 (Reuters) Gold prices rose on Monday on a weaker dollar and safe haven buying on uncertainties over U.S. policy after Donald Trump was sworn in as president last Friday.

Spot gold rose 0.5 percent, to $1,215.30 per ounce by 0051 GMT.

U.S. gold futures were up 0.9 percent at $1,215.10 by 0051 GMT.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, fell 0.2 percent to 100.540.

Trump pledged to end the "American carnage" of social and economic woes in an inaugural address that was a populist and nationalist rallying cry, prompting investor concern about protectionist trade policies.

Gold shrugged off better-than-expected U.S. jobs, housing and factory data that reinforced the view that the U.S. economy is sufficiently robust to warrant interest rate rises.

Philadelphia Federal Reserve President Patrick Harker said on Friday he expected three interest rate increases in 2017 if the labor market improves further and inflation moves to the Federal Reserve's 2 percent goal.

A small parade of S&P 500 companies' chiefs have voiced optimism that U.S. President Trump's promised tax cuts, stimulus spending and deregulation will boost corporate profits.

Precious metal funds saw their biggest inflow in five months and bond funds notched a fourth consecutive gain over the last week, as investors continued to hedge "Trump trades" put on late last year that bet on stronger growth and rising inflation.

Fears of inflexibility and rising costs are sapping enthusiasm for the London Metal Exchange's new suite of gold contracts.

Hedge funds and money managers raised their net long position in COMEX gold contracts for the second straight week, in the week to Jan. 17, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) data showed on Friday.

Gold demand slowed in India as buyers postponed purchases on expectation of a cut in import duty and after a rebound in prices, while it was tepid across other major trading centers in Asia.

Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.15 percent to 809.15 tonnes on Friday from 807.96 tonnes on Thursday.

Russia's central bank kept its gold reserves flat in December, the first month that has happened in nearly two years, its data showed on Friday.

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Oil prices edge up on market caution over OPEC cuts

January 23 (CNBC) Oil prices are edging up in Asia on Monday after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said it was near its target of cutting 1.8 million barrels of crude oil a day, two months after committing to the deal.

Early in Asia, benchmark U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures were 0.1 percent higher at $53.27 a barrel while international benchmark Brent crude oil futures were also up 0.1 percent at $55.53 a barrel, reflecting caution even after the OPEC statement.

Vanda Insights founder Vandana Hari told CNBC's The Rundown said it was still early days at just a fortnight after the implementation of the cuts. A better gauge of their impact would be the full production and export data for January.

Hari's comments came as U.S. energy companies last week added the most rigs drilling for new production in almost four years, energy services firm Baker Hughes data showed on Friday. Drillers added 29 rigs in the week to January 20, bringing the total count up to 551, the most since November 2015, it said.

U.S. oil production has risen over 6 percent since mid-2016. Even though they are 7 percent below their historic 2015 peak, they are back to levels of late 2014 amid the crash in oil prices that started in the summer of the same year, according to Reuters data.

"Shale remains a very real danger in terms of its resurgence and what that does to OPEC's plan to keep prices in the $50-$60 a barrel band," said Hari.

Oil prices have risen about 20 percent since OPEC committed to an output cut but most of it has been sentiment-driven, a CNBC survey of strategists and forecasters showed as respondents warned of a stall in a the price rally should producers not deliver on the pledged supply cuts.

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Politics & Legal

Presidential Election to be organized under existing Law on Elections

Ulaanbaatar, January 20 (MONTSAME) Bill on Presidential Election has been returned to the initiators of the bill, as majority of MPs attended today's plenary session voted against discussing the bill further.

MPP group in parliament considered that the bill has not been developed properly, as it did not reflect how to invalidate currently enacting regulations and 149 proposals were put by MPs during the first discussion of the bill.  Moreover, even though the bill was approved, new regulations could not have been adhered due to time limitations.

The last parliamentary and local elections 2016 were held following to the unified law on elections and General elections commission claimed that it was difficult to organize different elections with one law. Some MPs initiated the bill on Presidential Election, beforehand to incoming Presidential Elections, explaining the other laws for parliamentary and local elections could be developed later separately.

General elections commission Chairman Ch.Sodnomtseren said that after the Presidential election, the commission would submit its proposal on developing bills on Parliamentary, Presidential and local elections separately to the Parliament and MPs' proposals during the discussion would be reflected in the bill.

Link to article


Presidential election bill withdrawnUB Post, January 20

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AmCham Daily Newswire for January 20, 2017


Parliament approves amendments to the Law on Road Traffic Safety

Summary: Parliament approved amendments to the Law on Road Traffic Safety and to the Law on Administrative Responsibility. Members of Parliament are continuing a review of amendments to the Law on Police and the Law on the National Guard. The new amendments to the Law on Road Traffic Safety raise the fine for driving under the influence after a driver's license has already been suspended by 2-4 times, and adds a 7-30 day prison sentence to the violation.

Keywords: public safety, traffic laws. The Century News /page 2/

Prime Minister receives the Chinese Ambassador

Summary: Prime Minister J. Erdenebat received the Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Mongolia, Xin Haiming, upon the Ambassador's request. The two sides discussed current cooperation and political relations, as well as ways to further develop the political, economic, and humanitarian ties between the two countries. The Ambassador passed on greetings from President of the Republic of China Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to the Prime Minister.

Keywords: bilateral relations, China. The National Post /page 1/


Erdenes Mongol set to cooperate with Polaris Asset Corp to implement a coal-to-liquid fuel ("CTL") plant project 

Summary: Erdenes Mongol will cooperate with Polaris Asset Corporation on launching a coal-to-liquid fuel ("CTL") plant project in Mongolia. In a preliminary analysis, it was determined that around 269.5 million USD currently being spent on imports can be saved by producing 10,000 barrels of liquid fuel a day. The CEO of Erdenes Mongol, Ts. Tumentsogt, noted, "This project is of vital importance, as it further develops economic stability, energy independence, and even safeguards national security." The project will be implemented in 3.5 years and a feasibility study, environmental impact study, technological licenses, and more will be carried out. The project will require an investment of over 1.15 billion USD, and the factory will be operational for 30 years. The CEO of Polaris Asset Corporation, Reza Hashampour, stated, "Countries around the world supply 30% of their diesel and gasoline domestically. The project to produce liquid fuel from coal is very suitable for Mongolia, as the country is very dependent on import fuel and has huge reserves of coal." 

Keywords: Erdenes Mongol, coal, energy.  The Official Gazette /page 11/


Executive Director of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi reports on the latest price for coal

Summary: The Executive Director of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, D. Ariunbold, stated, "Erdenes  Tavan Tolgoi will sell coal from the Tsanhiin Baruun mine at the mine site for 71.5 USD per ton. Previously, the coal was transported around 200 km to the port and sold at 70 USD. We studied the price relative to the market and we believe this is the closest to the market price. Our company only has the right to sell coal from the Tsanhiin Baruun mine and the price will be effective until March 31." 

Keywords: Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, coal.

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Amendment to traffic security law removes duplicated penalties

Ulaanbaatar, January 20 (MONTSAME) Yesterday, amendments to the law on road traffic security were approved by the parliament.  An official who is entitled to impose penalty of arrest was identified and duplicated penalties were removed by the law amendment.  

Section 27.3 of the previous law stated that " - In case a legal body, who has no valid driving license or has a suspended license, drives under the influence of alcoholic beverages, drugs or psychotropic drugs, will be fined two to four times the minimum wage and will be arrested for 7 to 30 days".  According to the amendment, if violation is repeated, the driver will get arrest penalty.

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Governments Use Coursera to Close Growing Skills Gaps

Coursera for Governments & Nonprofits launches with Partners in Egypt, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Singapore and the United States

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA--(Marketwired - Jan 22, 2017) - Coursera today launched Coursera for Governments & Nonprofits, a unique effort by a leading technology company to close current and emerging skills gaps in the global workforce. Coursera's initial partners include governments and nonprofits in Egypt, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Singapore and the United States.

"The skills gap can no longer be ignored as a major force driving world events," said Rick Levin, CEO of Coursera. "Millions of people lack the skills needed for new and better jobs, and increasing automation will only widen the gap. Governments and nonprofits focused on workforce development are eager to work with us and our university partners to deliver skills education to populations at unprecedented scale."

Coursera for Governments & Nonprofits can be used by organizations focused on workforce development to curate online learning programs aligned to their labor market needs. Learning programs range from Digital Manufacturing and Business English to Programming for Everybody and Data Science, from schools like Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania and University of Michigan. Government organizations can then instantly (and affordably) make university courses and certificates aligned to high-demand skills available to their constituents. To ensure successful implementation, Coursera offers consultation in learning model design, including how to blend Coursera's accessible online learning with in-person supports. Partners will also gain access to analytics tools to track learners' progress, skill acquisition and long-term impact.

Initial partners in Coursera for Governments & Nonprofits span seven countries.

Mongolia - Mongolia's Guren Graduate Institute has partnered with Coursera to train educators in business and communication skills. At scale, the initiative will give an opportunity to thousands of students from Mongolian universities to study courses subtitled in Mongolian from the world's leading higher education institutions through a blended learning model.

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De Facto: Mongolica

By Jargal "De Facto" Dambadarjaa

January 22 (UB Post) All the nations in the world can be likened to ships sailing on the sea. Among them, a small ship named "Mongolica" is riding the waves. Despite its original color of white, Mongolica now looks grey – almost black, due to the coal it is burning. The ship has five decks.

The top deck of Mongolica is very luxurious, where people compete with each other with how expensive the cars, clothes, and goods they use are; what food and drink they are consuming; and how big and beautiful their homes are. The passengers on this deck are mostly the leaders of political parties, their associates, members of political factions, heads of police departments and courts, and their partners. The nametags those people wear reveal the names of almost all our state-owned companies. Despite the top deck accommodating only two percent of all the ship's passengers, they own 80 percent of Mongolica's wealth.

The people living on the fourth deck are mostly high-ranking officials in ministries and government agencies, the executives of some companies, and a small number of actors and singers. You can also see some people who earn a high income thanks to the education and skills they have acquired. Every family on this deck has their own cabin. Nearly 10 percent of all passengers travel on this level. Many of these passengers have recently graduated from the lower decks, while others have decided to go travel on a different ship.

The third deck has people who barely manage to have their income exceed their expenditures, and they live in mortgaged cabins with their savings kept in a bank. They account for 20 percent of all passengers. The second deck carries the most people, people who make up 40 percent of Mongolica's population. Their income is not stable and they mostly rent rooms in accommodations owned by others. These people are barely able to find food for their table from day to day. The passengers on the first deck comprise 20 percent of the population, which explains why Mongolica is regarded as a less developed ship. The people on the second deck and the fifth deck know each other well, and regularly visit one another's levels.


Depending on how much water is accumulated at the bottom of a ship, all these ships on the sea have varying speed and power. Although every ship tries to make every effort to fix any holes in the ship, the outcomes of their actions are never the same. The ships that have managed to fix the corruption hole have greater speed and sail the sea more smoothly. These ships have most of their people living in the middle decks, as their economy flourishes and livelihoods improve. Their passengers choose the captain of the ship and carry out full oversight of the leadership's actions.

The 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International put Mongolia in 72nd place out of 168 countries. Our score (39) has not changed since 2014, which indicates that our ship still has a corruption hole in it. No significant change is expected for the 2016 index. If you achieve a score of 100, it means you do not have corruption (there's no corruption hole in your ship). If you score 0, it means you are full of corruption (the ship is full of water). Two-thirds of 168 ships scored below 50, meaning they are half-sunken. The ships that have virtually no water in them are led by Denmark (91), Finland (90), Sweden (89), New Zealand (88), and the Netherlands (87). The sinking ships include North Korea (8), Somalia (9), Afghanistan (11), and Sudan (12).

Those countries that have high levels of corruption have a few people getting wealthy, taking advantage of their positions and causing dire consequences for the majority. What is worse, is that they are not punished for their actions. What is common in these countries is the regular occurrence of conflict, non-transparent public governance, police and courts fully controlled by corrupt authorities, and a lack of press freedom.

In contrast, countries that do not have such high levels of corruption value the freedom of the press, allow people to oversee how public funds are being spent, and have a fair judicial system.


The main body of a ship is painted with a band of color that indicates whether a ship is sailing with the most optimal weight and speed. When the bottom of a ship touches the water only slightly, the ship can travel very fast, bringing about economic development. If there is a hole (corruption) in the ship, the ship starts sinking. If we fail to get the water (crime) out of the ship, we will have no choice but to keep gradually sinking.

Although large corruption cases make a lot of noise on Mongolica, they soon disappear. It is almost as if the media is more interested in chasing hot news stories to get paid for remaining silent about corruption.

In 2011, Ch.Sangaragchaa, then Head of the Independent Authority Against Corruption, said,  "Even though we discover cases involving corruption and billions of tugrug, they just disappear during the judicial and police processes. High-ranking government officials even got pardoned by the President and got away without facing any punishment." This situation remains the same today.

The corruption hole in Mongolica is not getting fixed, and only getting bigger. While we do not manage to get the water out of the ship, we are sinking. It looks like only a few people can see that when the ship sinks, all the decks will sink with it. How are we blind to the examples of what happens to corrupt countries, such as North Korea, Somalia, and Sudan? How long do we have to be taken advantage of by the thieves hiding behind the masks of political parties? When will we stop the political parties from breaking the law by not choosing to disclose their financing? They have sold Mongolia out in the name of donations. Mongolica has become the Titanic.

Let's at least sue the leaders of the political parties that have been ruling the country. It is time to ban the people who have led or are leading the parliament and the government to own media. It is only natural to take action as we try to survive and not sink.

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Erdenes Mongol to implement coal-to-liquid project with US' Polaris Asset Corp

January 20 ( Erdenes Mongol LLC and Polaris Asset Corp., have agreed to cooperate on coal-to-liquids fuel industry project, which will be implemented for three and a half year. 

According to the preliminary estimates, Mongolian economy can save US$ 269.5 million annually, if the industry produces 10 thousand barrels of liquid fuel per day, reports Erdenes Mongol LLC. 

The industry is expected to have a capacity to generate 100-150 MW power and will use "Fischer-Tropsch" technology that are environmentally friendly.  

"In addition to ensuring sustainable development of the Mongolian economy, the coal-to-liquids fuel industry will support the fuel and energy independence as well as national security", highlighted by the CEO of Erdenes Mongol LLC Ts.Tumentsogt. 

According to the expected economic benefits of the project, 25 percent of the industry production will be fuel, 75 percent will be diesel fuel and by-product. The industry will able to reuse and sell by-product.

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TT sells 300,000 tons of West Tsankhi coal at highest ever $71.5

Ulaanbaatar, January 20 (MONTSAME) On January 20, D.Ariunbold, CEO of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC, a subsidiary of state owned investment company Erdenes Mongol met with Prime Minister J.Erdenebat to brief on a recent coal trade.

In accordance with a Cabinet instruction, the company resumed its exploitations at the West Tsankhi section of Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit last year, and has sold the extracted coal through an open auction.

"As a result of the auction, we have sold 300 thousand tons of coal at the price USD 71.5 per ton, earning USD 22.5 million. USD 71.5 is the highest price we've traded our coal since the establishment of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi", he said. It was also the first open auction and the first trade with 100 percent payment condition since the company was established in 2010.

"It has been about a month since Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC resumed its operations at the West Tsankhi. During this time, the company has exploited 1.2 million tons of soil extracting 400-500 thousand tons of coal", the CEO said.

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Erdenes TT expects to settle Chalco debt in April

Ulaanbaatar, January 20 (MONTSAME) In regard to his meeting with Prime Minister J.Erdenebat on January 20, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi CEO D.Ariunbold briefed reporters on the company's operations at Tavan Tolgoi deposit, one of the world's largest coal fields.  

Since 2011, Mongolia has been paying off its USD 350 million debt to Chinese aluminum company Chalco in the form of deliveries of coal from East Tsankhi section of the Tavan Tolgoi deposit. According to the CEO, Mongolia's debt to Chalco stands at USD 76.5 million.

Until March 31, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi will supply coal from East Tsankhi to Chalco at the rate USD 59.3. "We estimated that the Chalco debt will be settled by April this year", the CEO said.

About a month ago, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC resumed its operations at the West Tsankhi section of the deposit. During this time, the company has exploited 1.2 million tons of soil extracting 400-500 thousand tons of coal.

When asked how much coal the company plans to extract in 2017, he answered, "The Board of Directors of the company gave instructions to export 11.5 million tons of coal, and we see that it is possible".

Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC is a subsidiary of state owned investment company Erdenes Mongol which fully owns the Tavan Tolgoi deposit.

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Darkhan solar plant to power 20 thousand homes

Ulaanbaatar, January 20 (MONTSAME) "20,000 households will be able to consume renewable energy now. This reduces carbon dioxide emission by 14,764 tons per year", said B.Mandalbayar, CEO of Solar Power International LLC as Mongolia's largest solar power plant opened in Darkhan-Uul aimag.

The inauguration ceremony took place on January 19 to celebrate the official opening of the 10MW solar power plant with corresponding officials in attendance.

The guests of the ceremony included P.Gankhuu, Minister of Energy, Ts.Batbayar, Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Masato Takaoka, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Mongolia and other delegates.

Located in Khongor soum of Darkhan-Uul aimag and constructed by Mongolian Solar Power International LLC and Japan's Sharp Corporation and Shigemitsu Shoji Co.,Ltd, the brand new power plant now supplies energy to Central Energy System. The annual energy generation capacity of Mongolia's first large-scale solar power plant is estimated to be approximately 14,182MWh of electricity.

Officials noted that the power plant is capable of operating in as cold temperature as -30 to -40 degrees Celsius, a feature achieved with quality technology and equipments from Japan, Germany and Sweden.

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German bank foundation to train Mongolian bankers

Ulaanbaatar, January 20 (MONTSAME) On January 19, Bank of Mongolia and Saving Banks Foundation for International Cooperation of Germany established a memorandum of cooperation.

The memorandum was signed by A.Enkhjin, Head of General Management Department of the Bank of Mongolia and Mattias Fohs, Head of Division for Central Asia and Head of the Saving Banks Foundation for International Cooperation of Germany.

In the scope of the memorandum, the sides will cooperate on introducing international standards to the banking sector of Mongolia, upgrading skills of employees, who deals directly with customers and their ability to give advice. Also, double major trainings will be conducted for employees of banking industry.

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An interview with Erik Versavel, country representative ING in Mongolia

January 2017 (ING) Mr. Erik Versavel arrived in Mongolia in September 2016 and took the helm as the country representative for ING Bank in Mongolia. Previously, Versavel has held country manager and CEO positions for ING in Ukraine, South Korea, China, and Indonesia. He has extensive experience managing international corporate client relationships.

An interview with Breakthrough Communications, January 2017

What inspired you to go into banking?

I began my banking career in Belgium after graduating from university in the early 1980's. I was intrigued by international business, and was attracted to the industry that was playing a pivotal role in promoting development worldwide.

At the outset, I had offers from the three main banks in Belgium - and I ultimately settled on Bank Brussels Lambert. BBL had a very attractive profile in the market - it was young and dynamic. I started working internationally in 1989, and moved to Asia in 1993. BBL was acquired by ING in 1997 and I quickly integrated with this large, dynamic and expanding group.

Recall that in the early 1980's the emerging markets were gripped by economic instability. At the time, Belgium was relatively stable and I wasn't completely aware of the magnitude of the economic turmoil that was sweeping countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. This, however, was the backdrop that set the stage for my first years in banking which inspired my fascination with the varied paths and policies that countries pursued in an effort to promote economic growth.

Since then, over the past 30 years, I've traveled to and served in many of the countries that I observed as a young banker. I've taken away lessons and some general rules that I think are relevant for all transition economies struggling with the challenges of economic growth and development. 

Where have your worked and why?

London was my first overseas assignment. The proximity to Belgium was attractive, and the challenges of working in one of the world's most important financial centers early in my career also laid a very strong foundation that helped me hone my skills and develop as a banker. In London I felt comfortable and was promoted.

As a result of these early experiences in global finance I gravitated towards developing markets, and I now consider myself somewhat an emerging markets specialist after serving in Korea, Indonesia, China and other countries. As a banker, I am optimistic, but also realistic.

My last assignment, before moving to Mongolia, was as chairman of the management board of ING Bank in Ukraine. During my stay, Ukraine went through a political revolution, with the ousting of then President Yanukovitch. We faced a deep financial and economic crisis, and as a result a large and complex IMF program was adopted to support the system. We had to deal with all possible issues to ensure that our business survived, including military drafting, a steep devaluation and debt restructuring.

You served in Indonesia between 1995-1998. These several years must have been very exciting, but also very challenging

My years in Indonesia were indeed challenging because they coincided with the collapse of the Suharto regime, and also with the Asian financial crisis, which had very harsh implications for Indonesia. A very large currency devaluation resulted in an almost complete inability of most companies to repay their foreign currency debt.

Consequently, I spent a lot of time on debt restructuring for corporate clients. We and the foreign banking community also worked with the government to ensure that trade finance limits remained available for banks and companies. As a result of my years in Indonesia, I also developed my own skillsets working in markets in crisis.

What transaction have you been involved with that you consider your greatest achievement? How did the transaction make a difference?

The banking that we pioneered with the large Korean companies was highly successful, and illustrative in important regards. Beginning in the early 1990's we helped internationalize Korean companies' business, introducing them to new markets in central and western europe. We helped the carmaker Kia build a new plant in Slovakia, and we helped finance Hyundai's investment in the Czech Republic.

We led the transactions that helped these companies penetrate new markets, and as a result both expanded significantly. This expansion was consistent with the original Korean economic development approach prior to 2000, and which was ultimately adopted by the companies themselves.

Korean economic decision-making was heavily influenced by government plannning in the early years, which later gave way to private sector decision-making and leadership. This shift exemplifies the role of government in charting a path, and then the role of an independent private sector in executing the plan.

How do you compare and contrast Korea's development success with the challenges that Mongolia now faces on its own road to economic growth?

Koreans say they have no natural resources, and that they have only themselves, their aptitude, skills and hard work to create wealth and drive economic development. And they have been very successful. Koreans are obsessed with education. They invest heavily in training, and in their schools. They work very diligently and long hours. A colleague told me several times: "I am not rich, and all I can give my children is education". Investment in youth and education is critical to development.

It seems like an obvious observation, but of course Mongolia should also do everything possible to improve access to education. That is why ING in Mongolia has made it a priority to work with Unicef and other partners to develop new ger schools and "wash blocks".

In my experience, I have observed that countries with substantial natural resources tend to encounter greater development challenges. Managing underground wealth is really hard.

What are Mongolia's greatest prospects in the realm of diversificiation?

Mongolia's greatest opportunities begin with a good plan. As I said earlier, the Koreans are experts in road-mapping and planning. They set very ambitious and clear objectives with identifiable milestones. This is a great skill.

I think Mongolia can and should be more ambitious, but ambition does not go very far without road-mapping. Energy, infrastructure and agriculture are sectors that almost cry out for development, and investment in these sectors should strive to adopt the best available technology. Development must be sustainable and forward-looking.

Many countries, including the Netherlands, have developed great technology and equipment to make agriculture efficient in some of the most challenging circumstances. We tried doing the same in Ukraine - also a potentially very rich country thanks to its agricultural endowments - but which adds almost no value in the sector. Compare this with Mongolia's export of unwashed coal, which allows foreign importers to reap the highest profits by adding value through processing.

I am of course following very closely the financial developments in the country. When solutions are in sight and stability has returned, we need to start looking at export credit that will make financing possible. With Amcham, we are forming a Financial Services Committee. If all goes well, I will begin the process of organizing an Export Credit Agency conference in Mongolia in the 3rd or 4th quarter of the year.

What will turn Mongolia around?

Mongolia is facing a liquidity problem, not a solvency problem. It needs a mechanism to bridge the financing gap in the short term. At the time of this interview, the international community is waiting on an indication of support from the IMF. This will be very positive, and will restore confidence permitting the country to access international capital.

The country needs stability and the execution of its economic plans, including budget deficit reduction, the privatization of state-owned enterprises, and implementation of the infrastructure plans related to Oyu Tolgoi, Tavan Tolgoi, and energy sector projects. Foreign investors always require a well-enforced rule of law, economic and political stability, and a level playing field that underlies all decision-making.

What do you hope to accomplish in Mongolia? What are your personal goals?

After 30 years living and working in transition economies in Asia and Europe, I have experience and insight that can be shared with the government and civil society, corporate clients and other partners in an effort to assist the country develop economically. We have experience and an appreciation for what has worked in other countries, and for the measures that can and should be implemented in Mongolia.

What will it take for ING to succeed in Mongolia, and how will you position ING to contribute to future national economic growth and development?

ING is a global bank that has profound experience and institutional knowledge of Mongolia. We will continue to build on this competitive strength. Our business model is very focused, and it will remain so. If the economy grows and foreign investment returns, we will support and work with all relevant parties.

In summary, I would underline the importance of education, planning and ambition. From an economic perspective, the country should focus on adding value, and investing in sustainable and technologically advanced development.

It is my personal challenge to impart insight and share experience that can contribute to sustainable and more diverse economic development that creates more opportunities for international financial institutions. 

About Erik Versavel

Mr. Erik Versavel is a Belgian national who holds a Masters of Law from the University of Antwerp. He arrived in Mongolia in September 2016 and took the helm as the country representative for ING Bank. Previously, Versavel has held country manager and CEO positions for ING in Ukraine, South Korea, China, and Indonesia. He has extensive experience managing international corporate client relationships and has worked with regulators, central banks, and governments to ensure stable and sustainable growth, and recovery of emerging and/or struggling economies.

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Mongolia-China Investment Forum held in Beijing

Ulaanbaatar, January 20 (MONTSAME) "Importance of the Silk Road" international conference completed on January 17 in Beijing. The two-day event attracted some 200 delegates, including high-ranking officials, diplomats and businesspeople from more than 30 countries.

During the conference, the Mongolian Embassy in Beijing hosted the Mongolia-China Investment Forum. Maoming Ethilen Co.,Ltd. of China presented its "3+2" project, the main focus of which is the connection between Mongolia, China and Russia through highways and express rail systems.

The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the People's Republic of China, Mr D.Gankhuyag concluded that the investment forum was fruitful in terms of fostering increased investment to Mongolia from China, reviving commercial and economic ties and launching new tri-partite projects.

At the "Importance of the Silk Road" conference, Mongolia was represented by Ministed of Road and Transport Development D.Ganbat and other officials from the ministries of foreign affairs, finance, food, agriculture and light industry, mining and heavy industry and of health, the General Agency for Specialized Inspection and the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as the office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

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Vancouver resources conference to highlight Central Asia's potential

January 22 (Vancouver Sun) The main trade group promoting business relations between Canada and Central Asia sees China's recent infrastructure investment initiative in the region — which observers liken to the construction of a modern Silk Road — as a major opportunity for Vancouver's resource sector.

That's why the Canada Eurasia Russia Business Association (CERBA) will be hosting its Vancouver International Conference, held on the margins of the annual Association of Mineral Exploration Roundup, at the Deloitte Conference Centre downtown on Jan. 24.

This year's edition — the group's sixth — will focus a large part on the opportunities linked with Beijing's One Belt One Road plan as it stretches across the Eurasian continent, said Tatiana Domilovskaya, regional director of CERBA's Vancouver chapter. Such an initiative opens the door for small- and medium-sized businesses to gain access to markets such as Kazakhstan and Mongolia, she said, which would not otherwise be available.

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MICC's January 2017 Report Analyzes the Tremendous Potential of Mongolian Meat Exports

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, January 17 (MICC) – MICC presents a new report titled "Animal Health, Mongolian Wealth: Unlocking Mongolia's Other Treasure Chest" that details the tremendous potential of the domestic meat export industry. Mongolia's livestock population has grown to record levels in the past few years, rivaling the livestock population of major meat exporters like New Zealand. However, the total quantity of Mongolia's meat exports is less than 8,000 tons — MICC believes the industry's true potential is upwards of 700,000 tons annually, enough to make it a major global player. To reach this potential, downstream improvements to veterinary care and vaccination programs should be prioritized over modernizing Mongolia's slaughterhouses.

Please find a short report teaser here. For the full report, please contact our offices or email

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Tengri selected 'Bright' ambassador for sustainable luxury fibres

January 20 (Fibre2Fashion) Sustainable knitwear manufacturer Tengri, has been selected as the 'Bright' ambassador for sustainable luxury fibres. This is a part of the 'Bright' series been launched by Selfridges, British department store chain. The series launched in 2016 is an annual retail platform that focuses on new creative talent and sustainability in fashion.

Tengri is showcasing its signature noble yarns and fabrics in Selfridge's Material World campaign launched recently. The campaign is a series of consumer engagements to create awareness on sustainability. Tengri is demonstrating its innovation in noble yarns of the Khangai Yak, a species that roams in the remote Khangai Mountains of western Mongolia.

The Material World campaign will continue till March 2017. The campaign will host conversations around developments in sustainable fashion design and retailing, share stories of best future-gazing design and production, while honouring the strengths of traditional textile manufacturing practices in UK and beyond.

An exclusive line of sustainable knitwear has been created for the campaign, including a contemporary Varsity Jacket, and special edition marl beanies and scarves, which will be available at the Selfridges' department.

"As an innovator in noble yarns and the first brand to manufacture yak fibres here in the UK as a sustainable alternative to cashmere, we are honoured to be invited to take part in this high-profile creative initiative as the ambassador for luxury fibres. We are slowly seeing positive shifts in consumer attitudes to sustainability, but it's essential for influential retailers to drive the change for good to protect our planet and our future. We're proud to sit with so many talented brands selected for Material World, and to be spearheading a sustainable fashion revolution," said Nancy Johnston, Founder of Tengri.

With award-winning environmental credentials, Tengri champions sustainable manufacturing, using prestige noble yak fibres. These are hand-combed from an indigenous breed of yak, which has less impact on biodiversity than non-indigenous and domesticated animal species, such as cashmere goats, introduced and bred for their fibres. Overgrazing of cashmere goats is leaving nearly 90 per cent of Mongolia's pasture land in danger of desertification.

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Japan wants to export nursing care services

Public-private partnership intends to transfer country's expertise abroad

TOKYO, January 22 (Nikkei Asian Review) -- Japan's public and private sectors are joining hands to export nursing care services to Asian and other countries.

In February, the government as well as more than 100 nursing care providers, companies and industry groups will set up a committee for what they are calling the Asia Health and Human Well-Being Initiative. The Japan Medical Association and major medical corporations are expected to join the project.

Last year, a special mission committee of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party began coming up with a global health strategy. The committee, chaired by LDP upper house member Keizo Takemi, decided the strategy would include taking Japan's nursing care services overseas.

The government has determined that Japan's expertise in nursing care -- its insurance programs, collaborative efforts with medicine and its fostering of care managers -- can be transferred abroad.

Mitsubishi Corp. and other trading houses as well as nursing care providers are likely to join the project, which could give a boost to exports of food and other products suited to nursing care.

Also, care givers would come to Japan for training, then return home to be put in charge of nursing care facilities. The plan includes setting up Japanese language schools in Vietnam and Mongolia as early as this summer.

Electronics maker Panasonic and nursing home operator Orix Living are expected to participate in the project. They are developing nursing care robots, information systems and other technologies. The Japan International Cooperation Agency, meanwhile, plans to provide financial support to nursing care providers.

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Wolarsen Cosmetics founder speaks about her startup

January 22 (UB Post) Most Mongolians know Kh.Namuun as the eldest daughter of famous comedy-actor D.Khurelkhuu, who brought laughter to many with his brilliant comedy skits and films. Now, she has become a passionate entrepreneur after establishing Wolarsen Cosmetics Startup Company nearly nine months ago.

Kh.Namuun strives toward her dream believing that every obstacle she overcomes is a reward. In the interview below, she spoke about her ambition and the start of her startup company.

Congratulations on opening your very own cosmetics shop. It seems that Wolarsen Cosmetics is gaining a lot of attention among young women lately.

Thank you very much. I have spent quite a long time studying and researching cosmetic and beauty products. I was finally able to make my products open to the public only eight months ago and set up my first store three months ago. These past eight months have been extremely busy for me.

Didn't you study accounting in university?

It seems that a lot of people assume that I'm an actress like my father, who is a brilliant actor. I actually graduated as an accountant. My mother works in the banking sector as well. Although I didn't pursue a career in accounting, I still make use of my knowledge by handling the finances of my small business.

It's easy to misunderstand because you played in "Tagnuulch Aav" (Spy Dad) with your father and in other films, such as "Shuugian Tarigch" and "Galzuu Zugaalga", in 2016. Do you get many offers to play in a film since you were a child actress?

Yes, I do. I actually get tons of offers. I'm very grateful to directors and film producers who choose a nonprofessional like me to participate in their projects and give me plenty of words of encouragement. I never studied acting so I obviously lack acting skills compared to other actresses. However, I don't like to create another person inside of myself through acting. The most important thing in acting is listening to the director and following his or her advice and instructions. I immediately get into character when I think about what I would do in a particular situation (laughs).

Does your father give you advice on acting?

I sometimes perform in films without telling my dad (laughs). My father is not keen on me having a career in acting, but he does advise me to be realistic, show authenticity through my eyes, not to mumble and speak clearly. Besides that, we don't sit down together to discuss film scripts and go over lines together.

Your father played many roles both on stage and screen. Which of your father's roles was most impressive to you?

I love every single role my father played. I especially enjoyed his roles in "Shine Usgiin Bagsh" and "Yaduugiin Zovlon". Those were the roles he created in his early career when he was young. The latest film he took part in was "Yaduugiin Zovlon 2".

Do you enjoy comedy shows and films?

I watch comedy plays without skipping a single one. Most recently, my father performed in a comedy show with artists of X-Tuts Production.

You reportedly went to several countries, including Singapore, South Korea and Turkey, to research cosmetic products and other brands. Is it true that Mongolia doesn't have professionals or the necessary equipment for producing cosmetic products?

I have yet to find a Mongolian expert in beauty product production. But I can't deny the possibility that that kind of Mongolian specialist might approach me and even ask to work together after reading this interview. It's possible to domestically produce skin care products in Mongolia. Domestic production of cosmetic products, on the other hand, hasn't developed yet. We don't have ingredients, specialists or equipment necessary for making cosmetic products. Therefore, I'm searching for ways to first work with foreign companies, and then, introduce the technology in Mongolia.

Besides, I lack experience in this area. The beauty and cosmetics field is very broad and requires extensive knowledge and skills. I face obstacles at every step I take. As a matter of fact, I have tried and tested all sorts of beauty products on myself. I first got my hands on the recipe and ingredients for making a homemade lipstick during my trip to South Korea. Later, I tried making it myself, analyzed my work, and went to Turkey to have it checked. Afterwards, I tried packaging and making boxes for the lipstick in Hong Kong. My one-year work contract ended just recently. I will soon go to South Korea to work in cosmetics production.

Every woman would want to have her own beauty brand. Was it your idea and desire to launch Wolarsen or did someone propose a collaboration?

This was purely my idea to start a cosmetics company and brand. I set it up with my own strength. I was a little bit upset when no one helped me set up the store and I still am. I never wanted to give up even if I came across a tough obstacle. In fact, I realized that people do whatever they can to achieve what they truly want. I was very proud of myself and felt a bit of accomplishment when I was able to start my business on my own.

Wolarson sounds very unique. What does it mean?

A brand needs to be unique. You can't find our products anywhere in the world because it is made with exclusive recipes and have one-of-a-kind packaging designs. As for the name, it doesn't have a specific meaning so it can't be translated.

Four years ago, I tried to create an Instagram account with my own name but it wasn't accepted so I changed an existing name and forgot to change it since. In a way, it can be said that Wolarson is my Instagram name. My close friends call me Wolarson as well.

Wolarson Cosmetics is receiving good reviews and feedback from girls and young women. Is it true that you're planning to open another branch? Is your family supportive of your business?

My family didn't understand what I was trying to do in the beginning. It seems that they couldn't grasp the idea that well and though it would fail. When I first told them my idea, they disregarded it and told me to focus on my work instead. Now, they are very supportive both mentally and financially. It's been three months since I opened my store. I plan to open my second store very soon. I'm glad that my plans are working out well one after another.

Nowadays, Mongolian girls pay a lot of attention to beauty products. Can you share any of your beauty tips with them?

I noticed that most girls and young women in Mongolia are very interested in beauty products. They are gaining a lot of knowledge about cosmetics and beauty products. Makeup looks really good on clear skin. So I recommend that they maintain a healthy and clean skin. Obviously, the secret to perfect skin is a healthy diet. There's no use applying thousands of good makeup products if the canvas, or the skin, isn't good. Clear skin is the most important thing. It's one of my concerns too.

Recently, you made a statement related to your brand on Facebook. What was it about?

Like there are no roses without thorns, people started spreading various rumors about me. Some people wrote that I made products at places I've never been to and that I imitated other brands. They were so outrageous, unexpected and extremely upsetting. In the past, I would have just ignored them because I cared about my work more than anything else. But these rumors are getting worse so I decided to make a statement on my Facebook page.

It seems that young people are split into two groups right now. One group works hard to contribute to the nation while the other group does nothing yet criticize and discourage those who are trying to accomplish something. The latter group is denying other people's efforts. I hope they find some kind of hobby even if they are unemployed and have nothing to do.

Have you received collaboration offers from foreign companies?

It's been almost nine months since I launched my brand. I don't like to immediately get to the top no matter what it is. I prefer getting through every step of the way and experience the satisfaction from overcoming obstacles and challenges. Of course, this might take a long time. In my case, I will never leave my brand – I will continue to develop it.

So far, I have received offers from Japan, China and Russia. Moreover, numerous Mongolians living abroad are requesting to use my products. A Japanese cosmetics company asked to collaborate just recently.

Wolarsen Cosmetics was founded not long ago. Even so, it launched over 20 types of products in 2016. Can you tell us what new products you're working on?

The first thing I wanted to make was matt lipsticks, which everyone is interested in these days. I never thought that I would make another product back then. Yet, many women started supporting and encouraging me, and helped me expand my brand. Wolarsen is quite successful right now thanks to all the support I received. I want to make all kinds of beauty products suitable to the skin types of Mongolians in the future.

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Tsagaan Sar 2017 Trade Fair Opens at Misheel Expo

January 20 ( Misheel Expo Center is hosting the annual "Tsagaan Sar 2017" trade fair, where you can bargain Mongolian traditional clothes, souveniers, dairy products, cashmere products and many other made in Mongolia products. 

"Tsagaan Sar 2016" trade fair will continue until Jan 22 and opens from 11AM to 7PM everyday.

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Mogi: LOL

Drinking and driving cases decrease thanks to alcohol-free four days

Ulaanbaatar, January 20 (MONTSAME) The UB City administration has resolved to ban the sales of all kinds of alcoholic beverages from 6 pm of January 17 until the end of January 21, due to an unfortunate case where five people died of alleged alcoholic poisoning.

Further investigation and laboratory tests are being carried out to identify the cause of the five's death.

After the first day of exercising the ban of alcohols, the number of drunk drivers was reduced by 56.8 percent compared to the daily average, reports the Traffic Police Department. Also, the number of accidents caused by drinking and driving was decreased by 83.3 percent.

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Silver Winter Sports Festival to take place at Ulaanbaatar National Park

January 20 ( Located in the hills on the south side of the Mongolian capital, the Ulaanbaatar National Park is blessed with crisp, fresh winter air and seems a place far removed from the smog of the city below. This beautiful place will be the location of the 'Silver Winter' festival this weekend. The Physical Culture and Sports Authority of Mongolia is organizing the event. Sport institutions such as the sports centers of 21 provinces and members of Mongolian Sports Press Union will compete in three different categories.

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MASA air pollution discussion focuses on past and present solutions

January 22 (UB Post) Representatives from multiple sectors joined the first discussion of Let's Discuss It, a bimonthly seminar series on air pollution and other relevant issues, on January 18 at Blue Sky Hotel.

The seminar was organized by the Mongolian American Student Association (MASA) and opened by Jennifer Galt, the US Ambassador to Mongolia, who expressed her gratitude to the organizers, and said, "MASA is truly the ambassadors for development, working to bring about positive change across Mongolia."

The ambassador said she was especially happy to see air pollution as the first topic of the discussion series and encouraged people to wear air filtration masks by wearing one herself. The opening was followed by a UNICEF video on air pollution's health impacts on children.

Roberto Benes, Representative for UNICEF Mongolia Office, called for behavioral change and the use of immediate no-cost solutions such as breastfeeding to decrease infant mortality.

"We have to give opportunity to the newly elected officials to give their best efforts and to accelerate efforts [as] we're seeing measures we hadn't seen before. This is a fight that needs each and every one of us. We know what to do, so that's a big advantage. This is the tipping point. We have to keep this debate alive even after we enter spring," he urged.

B.Tsogtbaatar, the Head of the Public Health Institute, encouraged Benes' words, telling mothers to breastfeed in the first six months.

"This is a pressing issue because the number one cause of mortality in under-five children is ambient air pollution," he said.

B.Tsogtbaataradded that banks need to help out mask and air filter producers and distributers by giving them loans.

Ts.Purevkhuu, a representative from the Association of Parents Against Air Pollution, said she has seen efforts after the demonstration of 4,000 activists, but underlined that the group wanted urgent action.

"One of the requests for Parliament was to hold one of their sessions at Bayankhoshuu, one of the most polluted areas in Ulaanbaatar. They haven't responded yet," she said. The association plans to hold their second demonstration on January 28.

Director of Eco Banking Department of Xac Bank G.Tuul noted that Xac Bank outlined the strict requirements for loans as well as other funding options through the bank.

She discussed "clean" stoves and the reasons it didn't bring about the results politicians promised. G.Tuul claimed that at the moment, air pollution has decreased by 20 percent.

"We had only conditioned for the stoves to burn Nalaikh coal. But Baganuur coal was brought forward, and its usage increased. Our air quality monitoring until 2014 shows that air quality has degraded since Baganuur coal burning increased," she added.

N.Boldkhuu, Head of the Fuel Policy Implementation Management Department at the Ministry of Energy, noted that Khas stoves, which cut coal usage from 3.7 tons to 1.1 tons for a single household, were given to 100,000 households.

"Only 53,000 stoves remain in the city. The rest has been sent to the countryside. Citizens have exercised their rights but they didn't fulfill their responsibilities. I am not blaming anyone here, but I don't know whether Xac Bank had to supervise this or the City Municipalities," he said.

N.Boldkhuu added that off-the-grid households without registration try to share the grid with other households, and that his department plans to improve and expand heat distribution networks.

G.Batdorj from the Little Air campaign noted that everybody has to contribute to the change. He believes the campaign, which used for fundraising, has introduced a new way of fundraising and empowering young people to take action and be a part of the help.

"Abundance of information helps us move towards action and activation," he said.

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President Elbegdorj Addressed Davos Session "The Silk Road Effect"

January 20 (President's Office) On the sidelines of the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, the President of Mongolia Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj participated in the session themed "the Silk Road Effect".

At the session, the parties discussed political and financing issues of the new Silk Road project which connects Asia and Europe and shared their thoughts on the future impacts of the project to the regional integrity.

President Elbegdorj emphasized the importance of using green technology in the construction project of the new Silk Road, for instance, trains that will travel between Asia and Europe should run on renewable energy.

President Elbegdorj noted: "In 2016, I had a trilateral meeting with the President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the President of China Xi Jinping, where we signed an important agreement on creating economic corridor between the three countries. As you know, Mongolia is located between these two big countries. Mongolia has vast territory of 1.5 million square kilometers and ranks among the top 10 resource-rich nations in the world.

Last year, Mongolia hosted the 11th Asia-Europe Summit /ASEM/ and welcomed the Heads of State and Government of 53 different countries. Concluding the Summit, we adopted the Ulaanbaatar Declaration and one of the core goals of this document was to be connected and to cooperate through the Silk Road. Indeed, Mongolia has a plan to be included in this huge project. Mongolia was one of the founders of the Silk Road. The Silk Road, the ancient trade route between Asia with Europe, was established during the Mongol Empire. As you know, under the leadership of the Chinggis Khaan and the Uguudei Khaan, Mongolians created the largest land empire in world history. Therefore, Mongolians should be included in the Silk Road project and this is one our future ambitions in the region".

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Defense Minister receives new Japanese Ambassador

Ulaanbaatar, January 20 (MONTSAME) On January 19, B.Bat-Erdene, Defense Minister received Masato Takaoka, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Mongolia.

At the meeting, Minister B.Bat-Erdene said "As Japan is Mongolia's main partner in Asia, Mongolia attaches great importance to the bilateral relations of Mongolia and Japan that have a long history. The two countries' defense collaboration is intensifying and reaching for a new level after a memorandum of understanding between the Ministries of Defense was signed in 2012".

"The sides are developing bilateral cooperation by organizing reciprocal visits at all levels, holding consultative meetings, exchanging views on regional security issues and training army specialists.

The Defense Minister believes that the Japanese Ambassador will contribute to strengthening the relations with new content and maintaining the traditional figures of bilateral cooperation in the future.

In response, Masato Takaoka said "This year marks the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations established between Mongolia and Japan. During the past years, the two countries have been cooperating in the fields of politics, society, economy, culture and so on. Especially, defense sector plays main role in bilateral ties. A new Japanese military attaché will be appointed next March. I hope the Mongolia's Ministry of Defense will support the activities of the Embassy of Japan". In conclusion, the Japanese Ambassador underlined the necessity to develop cooperation in all possible spheres in the future.

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President of the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Mongolia receives the Ambassador of Cuba

MONGOLIA, January 20, 2017 ((Cuba MFA) - Mr. Lkhagvajav Baatarjav, President of the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Mongolia received the Cuban Ambassador Sr. Raúl Delgado Concepción with whom he exchanged the possibilities of expanding cooperation between the two countries. At the meeting the President expressed his satisfaction with the visit to Cuba last November when he participated in FIHAV 2016, invited by his Cuban counterpart.

Mr. Baatarjav said that his participation in the International Fair of Havana allowed him to hold meetings with Cuban institutions and their businessmen, as well as to evaluate the business possibilities between the two nations.

The meeting also addressed aspects of cooperation in the health sector, biotechnology and agriculture, as well as the potential of the ZEDM for Mongolian investors in the Caribbean area.

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Japanese Movie Days completes on January 20

Ulaanbaatar, January 20 (MONTSAME) Tengis cinema is showing two Japanese films "Silver Spoon" and "A Drop of the Grapevine" free-of-charge on Friday at 3 pm and 6 pm. The Japanese Movie Days kicked off on January 18. The 10th annual event is being organized by the Embassy of Japan in Ulaanbaatar and The Japan Foundation.

During the first two days, the audience enjoyed watching award-winning films "The Garden of Words", "Akanezora", "Kara-age" and "There is no Lid on the Sea".

The event is to wrap up on January 20.

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Advancing strategic partnership is the key to Russia-Mongolia existing Relationship

By Dr. Vaishali Krishna

January 20 (The Dialogue) Of late, bilateral relations between Russia and Mongolia have witnessed a sea change in terms of comprehensive cooperation in varied areas largely due to advancement in their strategic partnership. Unlike Soviet period when dependence and domination were the two fundamental features characterising bilateral ties between Russia and Mongolia, the post-1991 period has been observing quite a different pattern that is based on 'equality' in the overall relationship. Moreover, it was Putin's visit to Mongolia in 2000 that proved to be meaningful for comprehensive cooperation between the two sides in succeeding years. But the year 2006 gave a new direction when the two sides agreed to move from a "good-neighbourly partnership" to a "strategic partnership".

In order to give a boost to this agreement, in 2009 a 'Declaration on the Development of Strategic Partnership' was formally signed. Several critics and political analysts pointed out that, "signing of the declaration on strategic partnership development signifies the progress of vital importance scored by Russia's diplomacy towards Mongolia". Following this Declaration the two sides had been planning to establish a strategic partnership since September 2014, when the Russian and Mongolian Presidents met in the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar. At that time, among notable eco­nomic deals Putin and Elbegdorj agreed to include a protocol that provided for visa-free travel of both Russian and Mongolian pass­port holders between the two countries for up to 30 days. This agreement marked the return of diplomatic relations to the level the two sides enjoyed dur­ing the Cold War years and is, as such, a remarkable and symbolic development so far as advancing strategic partnership is concerned.

However, in order to reinforce the plan of establishing a strategic partnership last year in April 2016, Russia and Mongolia signed a medium-term program for the development of strategic partnership. This document was most needed in the ongoing circumstances because under the existing regulations, the planning of bilateral relations was being carried out only on a yearly basis based on the protocol of the Russian-Mongolian Intergovernmental Commission, which was not enough to realize the full potential of the strategic partnership. Another noteworthy component of Russia-Mongolia strategic partnership has been Russia's positive posture for Mongolia's efforts of making its presence felt in the world for the simple reason of developing democratic culture in the Asia-Pacific region. The success of democratic transition has indeed taken Mongolia to the new stage of development not only at home but also at foreign front in strengthening its bilateral and multilateral relations.

Since Russia-Mongolia relations have been developing in a spirit of strategic partnership and on the basis of mutual benefit and mutual trust, it has been observed that Russia remains supportive in Mongolia's engagement with regional organizations, such as OSCE, NATO, TAC, ASEM and CICA, while at the same time seeking membership of APEC. However, Russian support to Mongolia's engagement with regional organisations is more visible in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) where it has an observer status since 2004. Recently, there have been indications that Mongolia would now seek full membership in the SCO. Even both Russia and China are insisting that the observer status of Mongolia in SCO should be changed to the status of a full member. In terms of regionalisation efforts in Asia, Northeast Asia has been one region where both Russia and Mongolia have enduring interests. The two countries' interests in the Northeast Asian region have contributed much to strengthen their bilateral and multilateral relations of which the regional factor has its own significance. By supporting Mongolia for its involvement in the Northeast Asian regional integration process, Russia looks for an opportunity to find its own place in the region.

Russia's engagement with Mongolia in the framework of developing strategic partnership is also important because both the countries have distinct geopolitical needs: For Russia, Mongolia traditionally provides a strategic buffer from China, while Mongolia increases Russia's stake in Sino-Russian relations and offers leverage for Moscow when dealing with Beijing. In recent years, Russia has resumed its military assistance to Mongolia quite actively through training, equipment and exercise. For Mongolia, Russia has been the only source of political, economic, and military support in the face of an assertive China. Nevertheless, advancing strategic partnership with Russia also ensures Mongolia's importance in China's "One Belt, One Road" project under which the three sides agreed to create a economic corridor. For Mongolia, a trilateral agreement with Russia and China provides a far more bal­anced approach to regional security, economic exchange, and political affairs.

Yet, considering Russian foreign policy it is in Russia's interests that Mongolia, as its immediate neighbour, remains a politically stable and economically prosperous state so as to establish a good-neighbour zone around the perimeter of the Russian borders. Similarly, despite Chinese economic dominance Russia as a significant strategic partner remains to be a credible necessity in matters of Mongolia's bilateral and multilateral security concerns. In addition, although China is by far the bigger trade partner, Russia is the more popular of the two. Mongolia is now looking to Russia for further investment in the jointly owned railway network to benefit from continental trade with China. Since Russia has already agreed to write off the vast majority of Mongolia's outstanding debt to Russia, a total of $174.2 million, it may open interesting opportunities for Moscow as well. This is so because Mongolia is a major importer of refined petroleum from Russia in addition to importing goods worth billions of dollars. Hence, Mongolia will continue to be seen as an opportunity for Russian state and private firms. In such a scenario, advancing strategic partnership appears to be the key in Russia-Mongolia existing relationship.

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Shifting Russian-PRC Relations and its Implications for Mongolian Foreign Policy

By: Charles Emmett

January 18 (Asia Eye, Official Blog of the Project 2049 Institute) Mongolia has long been a place of interest for foreigners.  From the early 13th century until the fall of the Yuan Dynasty, the Mongols ruled over the largest land empire the world has ever known.  Almost three hundred years later during the Qing Dynasty, Mongolia fell under Manchu rule and remained so until a People's Revolution gained nominal independence with the assistance of the Soviet Red Army in 1921. After the 1945 Yalta Conference, the Sino-Soviet Treaty guaranteed Outer Mongolia's formal independence, marking a permanent division of Greater Mongolia.

For the next 70 years, Mongolia was a satellite state, politically under the control of the Soviet Union until the fall of the USSR. As Mongolia quickly turned to democracy and capitalism, it adopted a "third neighbor" foreign policy to expand its relationship with countries beyond its borders.  As a result, the U.S. played a larger role in supporting a budding democracy in Mongolia.  The U.S. provided assistance through USAID, the Peace Corps, and direct contact between members of Congress and their Mongolian colleagues. U.S. NGOs worked with Mongolian counterparts to address issues ranging from the rule of law and corruption to women's empowerment.  Militarily, the U.S. has worked with the Mongolian Armed Forces (MAF) to help them train for United Nations peacekeeping missions through the annual Khaan Quest exercises.  As a result, Mongolia now contributes the second largest number of troops from Northeast and Central Asia to peacekeeping missions around the globe.  The military cooperation also allowed Mongolia to provide assistance to the U.S. missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and led to Mongolia's membership in the Partnership for Peace under NATO. Though the U.S. and Mongolia enjoy a deepening relationship, Mongolia's geographic location is limiting. Surrounded by Russia to its north and the People's Republic of China (PRC) to its south, Mongolia occupies a complicated geopolitical position.  Russia fears the U.S. influence in Mongolia, while the People's Republic of China believes the U.S. is trying to encircle it.  Historical mistrust between Russia and the PRC induces both countries to compete for influence in Ulaanbaatar.  So far, Mongolia has been able to successfully play one power against the other to prevent one side from gaining too much influence. But with the evolving relationship between Russia and the PRC, Mongolia has had to change its strategy. 

With shifting relations in Northeast Asia, The Project 2049 Institute and Dr. Alicia Campi discussed Mongolia's strategy and its future relations with the United States. Dr. Campi is a former diplomat involved in the preliminary negotiations to establish U.S.-Mongolia relations, now a visiting scholar at The Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies and author of  "The Impact of China and Russia on United States-Mongolia Political Relations in the Twentieth Century."

What is Mongolia's current relationship with the People's Republic of China?

In 2016, the new government (Mongolian People's Party[1]) will likely continue with the same foreign policy.  Since 2014, Mongolia has been looking at a new strategy of a trilateral Russia-Mongolia-China policy.  There have been three trilateral meetings between the countries held on the side of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit; the most recent leading to an agreement on the new economic corridor which will run through Mongolia.  This new strategy stemmed from the fact that the Mongolian government increasingly believes bilateral relations do not work.  Additionally, the government has concluded it is no longer efficient to play one country (Russia) off the other (China), given that the Russia-China relationship has become more comprehensive.  But, Mongolia is aware this new relationship between the two powers will likely be short.  Russia is looking east because of the sanctions resulting from Ukraine, while China is looking west with its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.  China wants Russian oil and gas, and it knows Russia is desperate for customers, so China is squeezing Russia on the issue.  Mongolia's new trilateral strategy, though, has caused its friends in the West to start asking questions, so this prompted Mongolia to initiate another trilateral relationship in 2015 with the U.S. and Japan to balance its relationship with Russia and China.            

President-elect Donald Trump has said he will improve relations with Russia. How will this affect Russia's current relations with the PRC, and what could it mean for Mongolia?

For Russia, a better relationship with the West will bring back customers, meaning Russia will no longer need to rely on China.  Under the agreement for the new economic corridor, for every Chinese gauge line that is built going south there must also be a Russian gauge line built going north.  Right now, the Chinese are funding the entire project due to Russia's tenuous economic situation.  However, China cannot afford to do this.  In the past Russia and China circumvented Mongolia, but given the terrain and increased distance it is much more expensive. Hence the agreement was made to go through Mongolia, making it shorter and cheaper. China also has to focus on the Manchurian provinces, which are not covered under OBOR. In that region, China has prevented Japan from contributing to the development of the area which has placed the financial burden on China. If the U.S. and Russia start to build a better relationship, this will make room for Japan to come in and help fund the Russian rail lines.

If relations between the U.S. and Russia do not improve, what will happen to the rail agreement?  If Russia does not have the money to fund rail lines going north, and it results in only Chinese gauged rail lines, won't the PRC's influence over Mongolia increase?

Mongolia will never allow just a Chinese rail line. 

So, then Mongolia will just end the agreement?

Yes they will; Mongolia has done it in the past and will do it again.  Ulaanbaatar is good at finding other ways to influence China.  For example, ten years ago, Mongolia and North Korea made an agreement to allow North Koreans to work in textile factories, construction, and to build rail lines, all providing important hard currency for North Korea.  Mongolia could decide to end this agreement.  Doing so would put pressure on China due to its concern about the potential collapse of North Korea, which would cause refugees to flood across its borders.

Given its location, is it possible for the U.S. to boost its relations with Mongolia as it increases its focus on Asia? 

The U.S. has a very weak economic relationship with Mongolia.  Historically, the United States has protected its interests, but there are few economic interests for the U.S. in Mongolia.  Although there are a lot of natural resources located in Mongolia, they do not really benefit the United States.  Instead, the U.S. and Mongolia have built a dynamic military relationship.  Through the U.S.-Mongolia-Japan trilateral arrangement, the U.S. is benefiting militarily while Japan benefits economically. 

The Mongolian government has stated it would like to increase its role in the region, specifically in dealing with North Korea.  What role could Mongolia play in helping the international community resolve the North Korean nuclear issue?

Mongolia has a historical relationship with North Korea.  During the Korean War, Mongolia took in child orphans from the North.  Mongolia was also the second country in the world to recognize North Korea.  While this does not seem like much, it is very important to the North Koreans.  In addition, Mongolia is not a Confucian society; it is a nomadic society, so it has an alternative way of thinking.  This difference has allowed Mongolia to establish the relationship with North Korea that is maintained today.  During the Six Party Talks, North Korea felt like its "friends" were not backing it anymore; Russia was no longer buying its loyalty, and China saw this and decided it could be less generous with its money.  People think China has more influence over North Korea then it really does.  North Korea first fell under Chinese rule during the Han Dynasty so China knows it would be better to retake North Korea then to let it collapse, and the North Koreans know this as well.  Furthermore, in China today, Koreans are one of the 56 officially recognized minority groups.  How do you think this affects North Korean thinking?  Given all these factors, North Korea felt like it was on its own.  There was no one there to listen to them or vote on their behalf.  Mongolia realized this, and after the death of the Six Party Talks, Mongolia started the Ulaanbaatar Dialogue.  The dialogue has been successful thus far with the North Koreans attending both the first and third meetings.     

Charles Emmett was a former Intern at the Project 2049 Institute. He completed his M.A. at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, where he focused on China and U.S. National Security.  

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Russian and Chinese Influences in Shared Borderlands

January 2017 (PONARS Policy Memo) The political and economic relationship between Russia and China has been intensifying over the past decade, particularly as Moscow has attempted to "pivot to the East." While their bilateral political and trade relations have experienced a recent honeymoon of sorts, Russia's largely resource-based economy and economic downturn keeps its potential far behind China's. One way to analyze the complex China-Russia relationship is through their respective projects and influence on neighboring states. In the three borderland cases examined—Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and North Korea—Russia continues to preserve its political and cultural influence, but there is a shift toward greater Chinese influence.

China has been influencing cross-border cooperation projects in transportation, goods/manufactured products, and raw materials. What are the key features of Russia's and China's cross-border cooperation with these three states? Does China contribute or hinder Russia's (long-standing) role? As China's economic power swells, its influence could seriously affect Russia's relations with these borderland states, but Russia's ties to most of these countries are strong enough to sustain a dominant role for years to come.

Russia's Cooperation with Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and North Korea at a Glance

Each borderland country is very different in terms of length of land border with Russia, economic potential, and political system. The contrasts are apparent in the following table:




North Korea

Length of a land border with Russia (km)








Per capita GDP

US$ 25,900

US$ 12,200

US$ 1,800

Bilateral trade turnover with Russia (2015)

US$ 15.5 billion

US$ 1.1 billion

US$ 80 million

Russia's ranking as a trade partner for each country




China's ranking as a trade partner for each country




As the table clearly demonstrates, the importance of the three countries for Russia as an economic partner varies greatly. Kazakhstan and Russia have the most significant economic partnership by far of the three. The two share the longest uninterrupted land border in the world; there are many large industrial centers on both sides of the border; Kazakhstan is a core member of the Eurasian Economic Union; it has a comparable per capita GDP to Russia; and there is virtually no language barrier between Russians and Kazakhs (unlike with Mongolians and North Koreans). Even though the Mongolian economy has been rapidly growing over the last ten years, its small industrial sector and consumer market keep it far behind Kazakhstan in terms of economic potential. Russian cooperation with North Korea is especially weak. This results from North Korea's isolationist policies and hypercentralized economy and was exacerbated by the 2016 UN sanctions imposed on Pyongyang in response to its nuclear and missiles tests. The Trans-Korean Railway project connecting South Korea with Russia through North Korea could potentially boost Russian-North Korean economic cooperation, but implementation efforts in the 2000s and 2010s were thwarted by North Korea's unpredictable and protectionist policies. Despite differences, Russia's economic cooperation with Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and North Korea has some important common features. For all three, Russia is a major export partner (overwhelmingly for Mongolia and North Korea).

However, Russian economic relations with the three have been significantly affected by the Russian economic crisis. Between 2013 and 2015, Russian trade turnover with Kazakhstan dropped by 34 percent and Russian trade turnover with Mongolia by 31 percent. The crisis has reduced Russian companies' investment capabilities and assets. Notably, in June 2016 the Russian company Rostekh decided to sell its shares in the Mongolian-Russian Erdenet Mining Corporation and the Mongolrostsvetmet Corporation to the Mongolian Copper Corporation. These Russian assets were among the three largest shareholdings in Mongolia. Because of Russia's increased domestic challenges, it lacks the capability to boost cooperation and increase economic influence over the three states. The inclusion of China in cross-border projects augment the chances of enhancing Russian regional trade, but it may also introduce conflicts due to Russia's traditional and strategic interests in its neighborhood—Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and North Korea are explicitly mentioned in Russia's Foreign Policy concepts as states that Russia seeks closer ties with.

China as a Contributor to Russia's Cross-Border Cooperation with Its Neighbors

In some cases, China can significantly contribute to Russia's cross-border cooperation with Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and North Korea. This would mainly be in the realms of transportation projects, free trade zones, and tri-state cooperation projects. China's investment and leadership in such projects could be mutually beneficial for all parties, bringing modernized roads and infrastructure, more intense cross-border flows, and new logistic centers to the border regions.

The Chinese-led "One Belt, One Road" project envisages railroad linkages across the Russia-Kazakhstan border areas (Atyrau-Astrakhan, Uralsk-Saratov, Aktobe-Orenburg, and Petropavlovsk-Kurgan) connecting to the trans-Siberian railroad. In 2009, Russia, China, and Kazakhstan already launched the "Europe-Western China Highway" project to connect Orenburg (Russia) with Aktobe (Kazakhstan). In 2016, Chinese investors showed interest in funding some segments of this route between Russia's Orenburg and Bashkortostan provinces.

At the Russia-Mongolia borderland, virtually every region wants to host or further develop a major transportation route connecting Russia with China, since such a passage could potentially be a crucial contribution to local prosperity. It makes sense that the Republic of Tyva, one of the poorest and most isolated Russian regions, is especially active in this respect. At present, the most important transportation routes from China to Russia via Mongolia pass through the Republic of Buryatia with a railway through Naushki and a motorway through Kyakhta. The Naushki railroad is part of the "One Belt, One Road" initiative, but its capacity is relatively small. Further east, a route through Manzhouli and Zabaikalsk in Russia's Chita province bypasses Mongolia and connects Russia and China directly. All in all, the importance of trilateral transportation and customs cooperation projects was stressed during 2015 and 2016 SCO summits, and a trilateral economic corridor was announced during the Tashkent SCO Summit in June 2016. This initiative envisages boosting tri-lateral cross-border cooperation by launching more than 30 investment projects alongside an improved transportation and customs regime.

Another kind of cross-border cooperation with Chinese participation is the creation of special economic zones in border areas. In 2002, the Mongolian government implemented a border economic zone in Altanbulaq near the Russian town of Kyakhta to cater to intermediary trading between Russia and China. However, implementation of this project was delayed because of poor infrastructure and slow adjustments in Mongolian legislation and it has not been successful thus far. Still, the project has not been abandoned and Altanbulaq Expo, a major international business forum, was held in May 2016.

Regarding the China-North Korea-Russia borderland, an ambitious "Tumen River" project was proposed a while back in the 1990s to boost development, but the project collapsed due to Russian and North Korean worries about Chinese domination.

When it comes to environmental protection and other non-commercial activities, Chinese participation can be a positive factor in the shared borderland areas. In 2003, the "Our Common Home Altai" Coordination Council was established as a forum for Chinese, Kazakhstani, Mongolian, and Russian parliamentarians, officials, scholars, and activists to focus on environmental protection issues, cross-border tourism, and cultural and educational exchanges. (The Dauria International Protected Area nature preserve straddles the Chinese-Mongolian-Russian regions.) At the China-North Korea-Russia border, the three states cooperate in protecting the endangered Amur Leopard and all three have been discussing (since 2014) ways to establish a joint tourist zone.

China as a Competitor and a Bone of Contention

The clout of China is large and it can be a challenging force for Russian bilateral cross-border cooperation with its neighbors. In some cases, Chinese interests can create rivalries and tension among counterparts. For the most part, China has the largest share of trade in the borderlands. In particular, it dominates trade in Mongolia and North Korea and in the majority of the Russian regions bordering these states. This domination could be largely explained by Chinese consumption of raw materials. In the cases of Mongolia and North Korea, the overwhelming share of raw materials goes to China while Russian raw material imports are minimal. The case of Kazakhstan is more complex: Russia buys relatively large amounts of oil (some of which is returned as processed gasoline and as return deliveries), gas, and metals—but China is still ahead of Russia both in the overall consumption of Kazakhstan's exports and in the consumption of Kazakh oil.

At the Russia-Kazakhstan borderland, China dominates trade in only one region, Russia's Aktobe province, because the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) controls the main local oil-and-gas producer, Aktobemunaigas. As a result, China became the leader in the province's trade turnover, accounting for about 40 percent of its foreign trade in 2015. Moreover, at the end of 2015, Chinese companies proposed building cement- and methanol-producing plants in the province, which would reduce its dependence on imports from Russia.

In the Russian-North Korean borderland, China absolutely dominates—in overall trade in North Korea, and in the Rason free economic zone. This domination could limit Russia's economic opportunities if the UN sanctions against North Korea are relaxed or abolished in the future. Even more important, according to some Russian experts' estimations, China is an intermediary for more than 90 percent of all Russian-North Korean trade. In the case of Mongolia, China currently dominates foreign trade turnover in two of five Russian border regions, Buryatia and Chita.

Officials tend not to mention potential contradictions but rather emphasize compatibility among cooperation projects involving China, the Eurasian Union, and others. Yet, some large-scale cross-border transportation projects initiated by China may induce tensions between Russia and its neighbors. For example, within the "One Belt, One Road" project, Kazakhstan plays the role of a key node—some routes go westward through Russia while some other routes bypass it. If Kazakhstan prefers a Trans-Caspian or Trans-Iranian route, this could complicate its relations with Moscow.

Mongolia seeks to become a transit country—namely for the "Altai Gas Pipeline" project and for rail freight from eastern China to and through Russia. As of now, however, China and Russia decided to bypass Mongolia in gas pipeline projects and to prioritize a railway route that connects Manzhouli (China) and Zabaikalsk (Russia), about 40 km to the east of the Mongolian border. On the North Korean front, if political conjuncture becomes more favorable, the construction of a railroad from South Korea to Russia via North Korea has two competing routes: a railroad via the Russian Far East bypassing China or a railroad via China to Zabaikalsk. If the Chinese route is prioritized, Russia's Primorsky region that borders North Korea would be left out.

Chinese influence on Russia's cooperation with Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and North Korea is ambiguous. On the one hand, the Chinese contribution empowers many cross-border cooperation projects, specifically transportation routes connecting eastern Asia and Europe via Russia and its neighboring territories. These types of projects are not possible without China's involvement, and Russia explicitly welcomes Chinese investments in transportation infrastructure in the shared neighborhood. The economically weak regions in Mongolia and Russia would benefit from China's cooperation and efficiency.

On the other hand, Chinese economic influence in some border regions (such as in Aktobe, Kazakhstan) is so strong that it weakens Russia's cross-border cooperation, influence, and profit with its neighbors. China tends to bind the respective states and regions to itself and diverts them from large-scale cooperation projects with other countries. While Russia cannot compete with China as a consumer of Kazakh, Mongolian, and North Korean natural resources (and does not necessarily need to as it has vast natural resources itself), Chinese large-scale investments in extraction companies in the three bordering countries can affect these companies' imports and increase Chinese lobbyist influences on these countries' foreign trade policies. Chinese processed goods seriously compete with Russian ones. Furthermore, Chinese leadership in trans-border projects can lead to clashes among participants depending on Beijing's demands. All of this reduces Russian opportunities for achieving serious growth in foreign trade with the three respective states.


In the foreseeable future, neither the positive nor the negative facets of Chinese influence will prevail. Even if Chinese interests may, in the future, contradict some of Russia's interests, it is unlikely that Chinese economic power could suppress Russian influences in the Kazakhstan and Mongolia borderlands, though far less so for North Korea. Russia still has considerable political and, especially, cultural influence, nourished by the deep reach of Russian media and intensive daily communication between ordinary citizens, businesspeople, and politicians. In the economic domain and regarding the heavyweight of the three, Kazakhstan, the Eurasian Customs Union is a serious Russian competitive advantage that Chinese exporters cannot easily neutralize. Thus, though China is an increasingly strong economic competitor to Russia—in transportation projects, raw materials exports, and manufactured goods—Russia continues to hold the borderland regions under its sway.

Serghei Golunov is Professor at the Center for Asia-Pacific Future Studies at Kyushu University, Japan.

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Health & Education

TIKA donates ambulances to three western aimags

Ulaanbaatar, January 20 (MONTSAME) The Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency rendered an aid of ambulances, medical equipment and folding beds to Gobi-Altai, Khovd and Bayan-Ulgii aimags. This ceremony to deliver the assistance was held at the central square in Ulaanbaatar on January 19. 

During the time of extreme winter conditions, medical staff sometimes are required to use the governors or residents' personal vehicles, when the ambulance cars are broken down. According to a survey, there is a shortage of some 300 ambulance vehicles across the nation in 2017.

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15 soums provided with new emergency vehicles to overcome difficult winter

Ulaanbaatar, January 20 (MONTSAME) Fifteen vehicles were granted to the emergency departments of 15 soums of 11 provinces today in order to improve the public and health services to herders and citizens living in remote areas with much wintering difficulties.

About 70 percent of the territory is covered with snow as of today. Wintering conditions are reported to be critical in 127 soums of 17 provinces and one district of Ulaanbaatar.

Present at today's ceremony to render the vehicles were, Deputy Minister of Health L.Byambasuren, Chairman of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Brigadier General T.Badral and other related officials.

To diminish the disaster risks, the government also resolved to distribute the 2,410 tons of hay preserved in the state reservoirs free-of-charge and 1,700 tons of animal fodder with 50 percent discount, NEMA reports.

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Study: Bevacizumab monotherapy or combined with laser versus laser monotherapy in Mongolian patients with diabetic macular edema

10th International Conference on Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology

November 21-23, 2016 Dubai, UAE

Anaraa Toishubai, Uranchimeg Davaatseren, Sun Taek Lim, Baasankhuu Jamyanjav, Bulgan Tuvaan, Munkhzaya Tsengenbayar, Munkhkhishig Batbileg, Oyunzaya Luvsantseren, Urangua Jamyansuren, Munkhsaikhan Munkhkhuyag, Chimidsuren Ochir, Unurtsetseg Chandaga and Yerkyebulan Mukhtar

Third Central State Hospital, Mongolia

Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences, Mongolia

Eye choice LST Eye Clinic, South Korea

Infinity Eye Clinic, Mongolia

Bolor Melmii Eye Clinic, Mongolia

Posters & Accepted Abstracts: J Clin Exp Ophthalmol

DOI: 10.4172/2155-9570.C1.049


Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of bevacizumab monotherapy or combined with laser versus laser monotherapy in Mongolian patients with visual impairment due to diabetic macular edema. Design: Prospective, randomized, single-center, a 12 month, laser-controlled, clinical trial. Participants: One hundred twelve patients aged ≥18 years, with type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus and best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) in the study eye of 35 to 69 Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study (ETDRS) letters at 4m (Snellen equivalent: 6/60 or 6/12), with visual impairment due to center-involved diabetic macular edema (DME). Methods: Patients were randomized to one of the three treatment arms: intra-vitreal bevacizumab (n=42), and intra-vitreal bevacizumab with laser (n=35), or laser alone (n=35). Bevacizumab injections were given for 3 initial monthly doses and then pro re nata (PRN) thereafter based on BCVA stability and DME progression. Laser photocoagulation was given at baseline then PRN as per ETDRS guidelines. Main Outcome Measures: Average change in BCVA from baseline to months 1 through 12, central subfield thickness (CST) and safety over 12 months. Results: Bevacizumab monotherapy or combined with laser were superior to laser monotherapy in improving mean change in BCVA letter score from baseline to months 1 through 12 (+8.3 and +11.3 vs. +0.06 letters; both p<0.0001). Although the improvement was greater with bevacizumab combined with laser than with the other two arms (p<0.0001 for bevacizumab combined with laser vs. laser monotherapy and p<0.006 for bevacizumab combined with laser vs. bevacizumab monotherapy). At month 12, greater proportion of patients gained ≥10 and ≥15 letters and with BCVA letter score >73 with bevacizumab monotherapy (23.8% and 7.1% and 4.8%, respectively) and bevacizumab + laser (57.1% and 28.6% and 14.3%, respectively) versus laser monotherapy (0% and 0% and 0%). The mean central subfield thickness was significantly reduced from baseline to month 12 with bevacizumab (−124.4 μm) and bevacizumab + laser (−129.0 μm) versus laser (−62.0 μm; both p<0.002). Patients received a mean of 8.1 and 6.3 bevacizumab injections in the bevacizumab and bevacizumab + laser arms. Conjunctival hemorrhage was the most common ocular events. No endophthalmitis cases occurred. Bevacizumab monotherapy or combined with laser was not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular or cerebrovascular events in this study. Conclusion: Bevacizumab monotherapy or combined with laser showed superior BCVA improvements over macular laser treatment alone in Mongolian patients with visual impairment due to diabetic macular edema.

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Unimat Education opens young inventors training center

January 20 (MONTSAME) 'Unimat Education' company has opened youth inventors training center, which aims to prepare future engineers from their childhood, creating appropriate environment for development of their technical understanding and thinking.

'Unimat Education' company was established in 2011 to develop technical and inventory ability and skills of youth and is a distributor of 'Cooltool' company of Austria. Trainings will be conducted on UNIMAT innovative and technical convincing small scale machinery.

The training system is modular as the machine components. The UNIMAT modular system can be converted into a wide range of different machines. The UNIMAT system grows with the students experience and knowledge. From simple jig saw works in elementary school and first steps in engineering right up to working on 4 axis CNC machines - always the same modules.

"In developed countries, engineers and scientists direct the development. Therefore we are striving to make our contribution in training Mongolian engineers" said the company director E.Enkhgerel.

Palace of Youth technicians used to lead youth-future of Mongolia to develop their innovative thinking, creativeness, but it changed its duties and functions during social transition, stopping its classes and club courses. 'Unimat Education' training center intends to fill these gaps.

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Culture & Society

Guardian dogs conserve ecology of Mongolian steppes

Livestock protection eases human pressure on predators and reduces overgrazing

January 22 (Nikkei Asian Review) ULAANBAATAR -- Bruce Elfstrom got a first-hand look at the fragility of Mongolian nomads' existence while producing a documentary in 2004.

Elfstrom, a biologist and outdoor adventurer, was camping with a film crew and some nomadic herder families on the vast steppes of rural Mongolia. He was awakened one freezing, star-filled night by the sound of slaughter. A wolf pack had attacked the grounds, killing 17 horses and 30 other animals.

Such losses are devastating but common for Mongolian nomads, who maintain a millennia-old lifestyle of small family units residing in mobile yurts, and are dependent for subsistence on livestock -- traditionally horses, camels, yaks, sheep and goats.

Livestock predation can ruin nomadic families, which often retaliate by hunting the culprits -- primarily gray wolves, lynx and snow leopards. High-powered rifles and off-road vehicles have greatly increased the capabilities of nomad hunters in recent years, leaving predator populations under threat. Conservationists estimate, for instance, that only 500 to 1,000 snow leopards survive in Mongolia, putting them on the endangered species list.

Wolves are by the far the biggest threat to livestock, and the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society has reported that they are "almost certainly declining in number." A wolf pelt and body parts can command more than $300 in China, further incentivizing retaliatory killings.

The loss of livestock by struggling herders shocked Elfstrom, as did the threat posed by the wolves. But as a conservationist, he thought to himself, "How can I fix it?"

The solution to both livestock predation and retribution hunting, Elfstrom soon discovered, was already available, and had long been part of the nomadic lifestyle: Mongolian Bankhar livestock guardian dogs.

"It's a Mongolian solution for a Mongolian problem, based on ancient Mongolian tradition," he said.

Bankhar dogs, native to Mongolia, are considered livestock guardian dogs -- one of many such breeds developed over the centuries. The Bankhar and breeds such as the Great Pyrenees and the Anatolian Shepherd have proven highly effective in deterring predation and reducing the need for lethal control of predators in places ranging from South Africa to Australia and the U.S.

Livestock losses to predation often decline by 80%, or are even eliminated, following the introduction of livestock guardian dogs.

Mongolian lore indicates that Bankhar dogs have long been used as livestock guardians. However, the turmoil created by 70 years of collectivization and modernization imposed on nomadic communities by the Soviet Union and its Mongolian proxies resulted in the loss of vital traditional knowledge, including the capabilities required to train and employ Bankhar dogs.

According to Mongolian herders and field biologists, Bankhar dogs were actively destroyed under communist rule because of a misconception that the dogs spread disease to livestock. The dogs survived only in the most isolated herding communities.

To reintroduce the Bankhar to nomads around Mongolia, Elfstrom raised $40,000 in seed money through Kickstarter, a crowd funding platform, in 2011, and added a larger sum of his own to establish the Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project. The project located 10 Bankhar dogs living with isolated herders around Mongolia, and those animals form the core breeding population.

Lethal control

Zoe Lieb, a conservation biologist and anthropologist who took over the program in Mongolia in November, said that restoring the breed is a priority. She said the project has so far reared nearly 40 puppies, most of which have been deployed as livestock guardian dogs or are in training.

To increase its impact, the project has also teamed up with several domestic and international conservation organizations.

The Wildlife Conservation Society recently began working with the project as part of its Sustainable and Wildlife-friendly Cashmere Project, which partners with global luxury brands to source cashmere wool from herders who have pledged to engage in sustainable herding practices. These include refraining from lethal control of predation.

"We are definitely taking a bet" on the Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project, said Onon Bayasgalan, the sustainable enterprise officer for WCS Mongolia. "Supporting our bet is that we have a history of guardian dogs here," she said. "That's a good foundation to work off."

Bankhar dogs can also mitigate desertification, which has increased in recent years because herders now primarily raise goats for cashmere wool to sell on the open market. Goats have voracious appetites and damage pastures more than other livestock, resulting in pasture depletion and increasing desertification. The Gobi Desert is estimated to be growing at 3,000 sq. km a year, with vast sandstorms contributing to smog levels throughout East Asia. Pasture productivity has deteriorated.

Three times as many goats now roam Mongolia's steppes as in the 1980s, and herders are keeping ever-larger livestock herds as a hedge against predation and weather-related losses. But reducing the risk of livestock losses can spur herders to keep smaller herds in the expectation that more will survive.

Further, the use of the dogs encourages predators to focus on natural prey such as the Asiatic wild ass and Mongolian gazelle. The increased threat encourages these wild ungulates to herd and graze in more compact units, helping to reduce pasture damage.

"This one dog, as a tool, can satisfy a number of different things," Elfstrom said, "including ecological balance, sustainability, security, as well as cultural aspects."

The use of Bankhar dogs, however, will not address all of Mongolia's looming ecological threats. Poaching has had a dramatic impact on wildlife populations in the country.

According to Mongolian government estimates cited by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the population of critically endangered saiga antelope fell by 85% to just 800 animals during a five-year period in the late 1990s. The number of red deer plummeted by 92% between the 1980s and early 2000s, and argali mountain sheep numbers dropped by 75% in roughly the same period. The loss of prey species is likely pushing predators to hunt livestock, further exacerbating threats to predator populations.

Meanwhile, the effects of climate change are already being felt in Mongolia, with colder and drier winters, falling water tables and more violent storms.

Despite its limitations, the Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project is showing tangible results. Elfstrom said that herders have seen predation losses fall from between 20 and 80 sheep a year to single digits.

Elfstrom envisions one day putting Mongolian management in charge of the project and hopes that the use of Bankhar dogs will become part of normal herding practices.

"Once that momentum builds and it's in the hands of Mongolians," he said, "it will cause a chain of emulations that will create a healthier ecology and economy."

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Why this 72-year-old Mongolian is not giving up her nomad way

January 16 (Time Travel Turtle) Inside a traditional Mongolian tent, 72-year-old Nanjilmaa serves a fermented milk drink and passes around a plate of dairy candies. She is a nomad – in the way that the people of her land have been for centuries. And she's invited me in to learn a bit more about her culture.

It would be easy to, at first glance, think of Mongolia's nomads as somehow old-fashioned or impoverished. But that would be wrong. They live on the land not for necessity but because of choice. This is a Mongolian way of life and these people are the backbone of the country's heritage.

Looking around Nanjilmaa's tent – or 'ger', as it's called here – it's clear to see that this is a home. Comfortable couches covered in rugs, a small cupboard, a table with family photos, a wood stove – and even a fridge and a television. For a nomad, a ger is not temporary, even if the location is.

Nanjilmaa proudly introduces herself by saying she has 2 horses, 20 cows, 50 sheep… and 8 children and 16 grandchildren. Her husband has passed away so she now lives in her ger alone. But her youngest son and his family live in separate ger that they always put next to hers.

The easiest way to think of Mongolia's nomads is as animal farmers. But because the harsh seasons of the country mean dramatic changes in weather conditions and food availability, these farmers move locations throughout the year to the most appropriate spots. In winter, they often move in front of a mountain for shelter. In spring, it's closer to a river, in summer right next to a river for water supply, and in autumn up a hill to collect hay for winter time. Most nomads move at least four times a year but some might move up to 30 times in a year, especially if they have a lot of animals that eat through the available food quickly.

Nanjilmaa has dressed up today in one of her best homemade traditional outfits. She knew she would have visitors and I think she's honoured to have us – although I'm the one who feels honoured to be here.

At one point, as she's talking about how she likes the clothes she has on because they have big pockets, she pulls her mobile phone out of one of them. It's a reminder that living in a ger does not separate you from the modern world.

The television against the side of the tent also demonstrates that. Nanjilmaa watches a lot of Korean soap operas – she loves them. Her favourite show, though, is Mongolia's Got Talent (yes, that's a real thing). I try to imagine what it would be like, sitting in a tent at night, snow all around, watching a singing competition. (If you're wondering where the power comes from, in some of the spots she camps (particularly the winter ones) she can connect to the electricity of local towns – otherwise she has a solar power device.)

There are some aspects of modern life that Nanjilmaa misses, though. For example, she tells me that she would like to have a proper shower because she has to heat up water in a pot and wash herself with that. It's not enough to make her want to change her lifestyle, though. She loves it out here.

"I don't like cities," she says. "Too crowded, too stressful."

"It's so free here. I get out and see the mountains and there's nothing to be bothered with."

"In the cities, to be alone you go into your apartment. Here, to be alone, you go outside."

The only time that Nanjilmaa really wishes she was in a city is when she unexpectedly runs out of things like flour or rice and the shops are so far away. Then again, her children often bring her supplies when she needs them. Other than the one who travels with her, the other children live in Ulaanbaatar – there's an economist, an engineer and a lawyer amongst them.

They also come and help her move when it's time to change the location of her camp. It takes about an hour to take everything down, about an hour to move it, and then about three hours to put it all up again. She often just moves to the same seasonal spot she was in the year before. The gers tend to leave a mark on the ground for at least a year and, out of respect, nobody else would set up camp in the area if they can see one.

Mongolia is in a period of rapid change. It's becoming increasingly urbanised as more and more of its citizens move to Ulaanbaatar, seeking an education and a professional job over the traditional nomadic life. That is creating pressures in the city but it's also making things difficult in the countryside as the size of family units drop and less people are left to do the work.

But Nanjilmaa still sees a bright future. She will encourage some of her grandchildren to live on the land and continue the family traditions. She doesn't see the nomadic lifestyle disappearing.

"It will still be strong because the main reason is our livestock is the main economic sector of Mongolia,"she says. "This brings the most income to Mongolia, so it will still be there. But maybe it will become a bit more modernised and maybe people will move less."

It's hard to know whether her prediction will turn out to be accurate. Nanjilmaa is correct that livestock has been Mongolia's main economic activity… but mining and other industries are increasing and that could have an effect.

For now, though, those thoughts don't bother her. She's had a happy 72 years and sees only more happiness ahead of her on the land with her 2 horses, 20 cows, 50 sheep… and, when they visit, her 8 children and 16 grandchildren.

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Berkeley Event: Music and Song from Mongolia, February 2

Performing Arts - Music | February 2 | 7:30 p.m. | Cal State University, East Bay, Recital Hall (MB1055), Music Building

SponsorsInstitute of East Asian Studies (IEAS)UC Berkeley Mongolia InitiativeMusic Department, Cal State University East BayDepartment of Music

An exploration of the diversity of Mongolian music, from traditional folk to folk-inspired hip-hop, mixing ethnographic video and audio recordings, narration, and live musical performance.

Performers and speakers include:

Charlotte D'Evelyn, Loyola Marymount University
Urtaa Gantulga, Musician
Tamir Hargana, Northern Illinois University
Peter Marsh, California State University, East Bay
Dimitri Staszewski,
Jennifer Post, University of Arizona

Event contact:, 510-642-2809

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Cartographic Anxieties in Mongolia: The Bogd Khan's Picture-Map

Uranchimeg Tsultemin, University of California at Berkeley

December 2016 (Cross Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review) --


This article extends cartography into ethnographic and representational practices for territorial inclusion (Hostetler 2005) and nation building (Krishna 1994). Outer Mongolia, a vassal state of the Qing Empire until 1911, produced ethnographic paintings intended as new cartographic visuals around the time of its independence. Mongolia's last ruler, the Bogd Khan (1870–1924) commissioned the artist Balduugin Sharav to produce a large painting of the Mongol countryside titled Daily Events, a work that constitutes an unusual cartographic "picture-map" (Paul Harvey 1980) intended for a special public display. The work (now known as One Day in Mongolia) depicts the Mongolian people as a distinct ethnic group in quotidian scenes of Central Mongolian (Khalkha) nomadic life. This article demonstrates how the covert connections between the scenes together construct a Buddhist didactic narrative of the Wheel of Life, and argues that this picture-map was the result of the Tibetan-born ruler's anxieties over ethnic identity, national unity, and the survival of his people, who strove for independence from the Qing, as well as their         safe positioning vis-à-vis new political neighbors.

Keywords: Bogd Gegeen, Bogd Khan, Jetsundampa Khutukhtu, Sharav, Mongolian painting, Mongolian Buddhist art, Khalkha

Anxieties, Cartography, and Picture-Maps


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Nature & Environment

Global Warning: 24 hours on the climate change frontline as Trump becomes president – as it happened

January 20 (The Guardian) With climate change deniers moving into the White House, the Guardian is spending 24 hours focusing climate change happening now. After reporting from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas, we're now focusing on how warming temperatures will affect the Asia-Pacific region 

• Our partner, Univision News, is hosting a parallel event in Spanish today. Follow it here 

• The Tumblr community is joining us with personal posts about climate change. See them here

Now we move to Mongolia, which is experiencing a disaster called a dzud, an extreme weather phenomenon commonly comprising heavy snow falls and temperatures below -40C.

The dzud starves livestock as they are unable to graze, which in turn can devastate Mongolians, a third of whom are entirely dependent on livestock.

The country used to suffer dzuds every decade or so but recently they have been occurring with growing frequency. This one is the second in a row.

The full extent of the dzud will not be known until the end of spring but last year's killed more than 1.1 million livestock and left hundreds of thousands of Mongolian herders living on the brink.

Months of consistently heavy snow coverage and arctic temperatures have sparked fears of another devastating humanitarian crisis. The government has called for donations of warm clothing, food, medication for livestock, coal, hay, animal feed, insulation materials and other useful items for herders to help them survive the winter while preventing livestock deaths.

Some areas of the country have already recorded temperatures as low as -50C and local media reports that more than 70% of Mongolia is covered with thick snow and ice.

dzud typically arrives after a summer drought or an early winter snow that melts then freezes over the land, cutting off food for livestock. Experts say the rising frequency is due to a combination of climate change and insufficient grasslands for large herds of livestock.

Telmen Erdenebileg, Save the Children's humanitarian program manager in Mongolia, is leading the organisation's dzud response and has just returned from one of the worst affected provinces, Arkhangai.

"The coming months are critical for herder families in the most heavily impacted areas. The end of winter is when stores of hay and fodder run out, and if there's another large snowfall or temperatures remain so low we could see massive numbers of animals dying of starvation once again," he told the Guardian from Ulaanbaator.

"Just last week herders told me how they lost half or even three quarters of their herd last winter, and they are worried about what awaits them in the next few months. Livestock are everything out there: a source of food, nutritious milk, warm clothing with their skins and a commodity for trade or sale. Without animals, herders have no livelihood.

Last year, Save the Children's response to the dzud included distributing animal fodder and veterinary packages, fuel to help hospitals and schools, and cash grants for the most vulnerable families to buy essentials like warm clothing and nutritious food.

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The X Factor: Stopping the Killing of Snow Leopards

Combatting snow leopard poaching & trafficking is one of the keys to conserving Asia's high mountain ecosystems. Environment ministers from snow leopard range countries are meeting in Nepal to discuss joint strategies.

Kathmandu, Nepal, 20th January 2017 (Snow Leopard Trust) —As scientists and government officials considered new evidence of cross-border migration of snow leopard individuals, a presentation of TRAFFIC's research on poaching and trade emphasized that poachers and traffickers also have no boundaries.

There are possibly as few as 4,000 snow leopards surviving in the wild. Contrast that figure with estimates that hundreds of the elusive big cats are being killed illegally each year across their range in Asia's high mountains and it is clear that the clock is ticking.

TRAFFIC's synthesis of available information based on seizures and expert opinion was delivered to the Steering Committee of the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection program (GSLEP) which met in Kathmandu this week.

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Introduction to the special issue "The Valley of Lakes in Mongolia, a key area of Cenozoic mammal evolution and stratigraphy"

Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments, Jan 2017

Gudrun Daxner-HöckUrsula B. Göhlich

Located at the eastern end of the Central Asian Plateau between China and Russia, Mongolia is a mountainous country with glaciers on the highest peaks and forests covering the northern and central part. From north to south, Mongolia passes through several habitat zones, from forested landscapes along the northern border to steppe and semi-desert in the middle part, to wide grasslands of the great eastern steppe, and finally to Gobi desert along its entire southern part. Mongolia covers an area of 1,566,500 km2 , which is roughly the size of Western Europe. It is a plateau landscape with an average elevation of 1580 m, and mountain ranges exceeding 4000 m elevation. Our working area, the Taatsiin Gol- and Taatsiin Tsagaan Nuur region, ranging from 100° 55′ to 102° 05′ longitude and 45° 11′ to 45° 45′ latitude, is part of the Valley of Lakes, which itself is an intermountain depression with a NW–SE longitudinal axis. It is bounded by the Khangai Mountains in the north and the Gobi Altai Mountains in the south (Fig. 1).

The initial geological research and discoveries of rich fossil beds made during the Central Asiatic Expeditions by the American Museum of Natural History in the 1920s was followed by comprehensive geologic and palaeontological research in the frame of several joint expeditions. These include the Soviet-Mongolian Geological and Paleontological Expeditions, the Polish-Mongolian Paleontological Expedition and finally the Mongolian-American joint expeditions of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences and the American Museum of Natural History, in the 1990s.

After participating in the International Geoscience Programme (IGCP, Project 326) in 1993, which focused on the Oligocene-Miocene Transition in the Northern Hemisphere, one of us (GDH) started a new Mongolian-Austrian project in the Taatsiin Gol and Taatsiin Tsagaan Nuur region. The geology of these regions was rather unstudied at that time, but the interlocking of deposits rich in vertebrate fossils and several datable basalts were promising preconditions for interdisciplinary geological and palaeontological investigations. Throughout the past 20 years, three major projects with differing programs of emphasis and scientific objectives have been conducted. For all these projects, which were all exclusively granted by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF-projects: P-10505-GEO, P- 15724-N06 and P-23061-N19), G. Daxner-Höck (Natural History Museum Vienna) was the project leader and coordinator. In collaboration with the Mongolian Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Vienna, fieldwork was carried out during eight field seasons (1995–1997, 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2011–2012).

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GP returns to Outer Mongolia to defend Ice Marathon title

January 19 (The Scotsman) A Scottish doctor due to defend his title in the gruelling 2017 Genghis Khan Ice Marathon held in temperatures of minus 34C in Outer Mongolia has revealed his secret training tips ahead of next week's race.

Dr Andrew Murray, an endurance athlete who works as a sports medicine doctor at the University of Edinburgh, who won the men's inaugural 26.2 mile (42km) race in 3 hours and 7 minutes last year, said he had learned from past mistakes and had fine-tuned his techniques.

His key "weapons" for the race in one of the most remote locations on Earth include a plastic card normally stashed in his wallet, taking two ski masks, specially-commissioned running shoes a size too big complete with spikes...and extra pairs of socks and Jelly Babies squirrelled away in his gloves.

The race which is hosted in the Terelj National Park starting on 25 January and finishes on 31 January. It is held in brutally cold conditions involves running along frozen rivers and rugged mountain valley terrain while special patrols with huskies guard competitors from wild wolves roaming nearby.

Competitors will also attend two Burns Night suppers - one with local Mongolian people and an official one in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar.

"Experience is the best teacher. If you've done something before you know how to go about things the next time round.

"One of the first things to tackle was how to stop my ski mask misting up and freezing while I was running. You have to cover every inch of flesh because it is very, very cold, " said Dr Murray who is competing to raise money for a number of charities, including legacy work for projects in Outer Mongolia.

"Then it hit me. If I took two ski masks and a plastic card I could scratch away at the ice on one while I've got the other one on and still running, sort of like de-icing a car windscreen."

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Sumo: New Year champ Kisenosato beats Hakuho, set for yokozuna

TOKYO, January 22 (Kyodo) -- Ozeki Kisenosato came one step closer to becoming yokozuna as he twisted down hard-shoving Mongolian grand champion Hakuho on Sunday, the final day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament.

The win was the icing on the cake for Kisenosato (14-1), who had secured his maiden championship the previous day, and gave an added boost to the 30-year-old Ibaraki Prefecture native's chances of reaching sumo's pinnacle rank.

In Sunday's final bout at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan, Hakuho drove Kisenosato to the edge with forceful thrusts but the ozeki withstood the attacks and calmly countered with a decisive arm throw.

Hakuho, who missed out on a championship for four straight tourneys for the first time since being promoted to yokozuna in 2007, fell to his fourth loss of the 15-day meet.

"It took a long time, but I was able to come this far thanks to the support from various people," said Kisenosato, who had the second-best record in a basho 12 times since debuting in the top makuuchi division in November 2004 before he finally clinched the Emperor's Cup.

"I will train harder and become stronger and work hard so that I will be able to be in good form," he added.

With his promotion all but decided, Kisenosato would be the first Japanese-born wrestler to become yokozuna since Wakanohana was promoted in 1998.

In a battle of two ozeki with dismal 4-10 records, 2016 New Year champion Kotoshogiku edged out Mongolian Terunofuji but will be demoted to sekiwake having finished the November meet in Fukuoka at a lowly 5-10. Terunofuji will need at least eight wins in March to avoid relegation.

The Outstanding Performance Prize went for the first time to Mongolian No. 10 maegashira Takanoiwa (11-4), who defeated Hakuho on Saturday, handing the yokozuna his third loss of the tourney that sealed Kisenosato's first-ever championship.

The Technique Prize went to 10th-ranked Sokokurai (12-3) from China's Inner Mongolia, praised for his strength when in a grasp lock with his opponent, and top maegashira Mitakeumi (11-4) who beat two yokozuna and two ozeki during the New Year tourney. Both won the honor for the first time.

At 33 years and 13 days old, Sokokurai became the fourth oldest wrestler to win one of the three special prizes in the top flight for the first time.

In Sunday's bouts, Sokokurai defeated Takanoiwa while Mitakeumi beat No. 8 maegashira Chiyonokuni (9-6).

Komusubi Takayasu (11-4) earned his fourth Fighting Spirit Prize after defeating two yokozuna and three ozeki this month, and went on to wrap up his tourney with a win over fourth-ranked Endo (7-8).

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Art & Entertainment

Miss Mongolia Anu Namshir is painting ''Marylin Monroe portrait'' with her lips

January 20 --

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Mongolian film Amidralogy to screen at Seoul Cinema

January 19 ( 'Amidralogy', a Mongolian romantic comedy, is to be screened at the Seoul Cinema, South Korea on 20-22st of January. It is the fourth film to be produced by top Mongolian actress G.Undarmaa. The film will hit US cinemas in the near future.

The cast includes Mongolian student, B.Yanjindulam, who recently won the 'Best Alumna' award at the Korean National University of Arts as well as G.Undarmaa, J.Munkhsaikhan, O.Enkhtuul, D.Enkhbayar and N.Onon.

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Mongolia to introduce e-Passports in 2018

Ulaanbaatar, January 20 (MONTSAME) On January 19, R.Sodkhuu, Director of General Authority for State Registration and Intellectual Property met with the delegates of Hungarian Banknote Printing Shareholding Company regarding the issue of digitalization of Mongolian foreign travel passport.

"We announced a tender with an aim to shift to a system of e-Passport or biometric passport in line with international standards with introduction of an electronic chip. The Hungarian Banknote Printing Shareholding Company has been selected for the task of printing the new passports", said R.Sodkhuu.

"We've signed an agreement with the company to update the foreign travel passports of about 1 million Mongolians", he said.

"The world is shifting to e-system, and Mongolia will start updating the foreign travel passports beginning in the first season of 2018, said R.Sodkhuu who also didn't deny the possible price increase in acquiring e-Passport due to its high encryption feature.

Mongolia sets out to provide its citizens with e-Passports acceptable anywhere in the world by 2019.

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Hungarian firm to produce biometric passports for MongoliaPlanet Biometrics, January 20

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Lonely Planet Best in 2017: Top Countries

Ten destinations you cannot afford to miss

7. Mongolia

In 2017 Mongolia will raise the curtain on a brand-new capital-city airport, a state-of- the-art facility that symbolises the country's rapid modernisation. Ulaanbaatar has been the biggest beneficiary of the economic boom, its transformed skyline bristling with glass and steel towers. At the centre of this development is a US$500-million Shangri-La complex, which will be completed by 2017, featuring a 290-room hotel, an IMAX cinema and a Hard Rock Café. Beyond the capital lies Mongolia's stunning countryside, highlighted by Lake Khövsgöl, the Blue Pearl of Asia. In 2015 the lake was connected to Ulaanbaatar by paved road, cutting driving time by 10 hours.


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Top 10 Biggest Festivals In Mongolia

January 14 (Artger) Mongolian Most Interesting Festivals in our Top 10 List! Including Golden Eagle, Naadam, Ice, Reindeer, Camel, Winter Horse etc.. Enjoy!

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The One Thing You MUST Do In Mongolia: Nomadic Homestay

(Food Fund Travel) Heading out into the Mongolian wilderness you never know what you're going to get. We knew that things could be rough but this time around we found ourselves face to face with an eagle who looked like he could give human flesh a go and on the receiving end of a family feast difficult to stomach (because it mostly was stomach, lambs stomach!)…'s what happened.

How it Began

One of our major goals while in Mongolia was to be able to homestay with a real nomadic family, to observe how they live and possibly enjoy a home cooked meal with them. After a couple of weeks in Mongolia we seemed to have only experienced "tourist gers" where the family will offer you mares milk and cheese biscuits with one hand and then hold out the other hand immediately for payment, once you've paid you then get the overwhelming feeling that they would like you to leave and the sooner the better!

We didn't let this experience put us off as we believed there had to be real nomadic families out there interested in meeting other people and willing to open their homes to us so that we can have a mutual learning experience. Luckily for us when we arrived in Olgii, late, after a crazy overcrowded taxi ride from Khovd, we met a driver named Japaar who happened to speak English very well and who also grew up in the area so knew many of the local families.

We agreed to pay $50 USD per day plus fuel, as always this would have been a cheaper experience if we could find others to share the cost with, but whether it was bad timing or just the fact that not many independent travellers get as far as Olgii, we couldn't find anyone to share with! Saying that, about 5 minutes after agreeing to hire the van solo we bumped into a couple of American girls who had also just agreed to pay full price to hire a van to themselves… F-ing typical!

So just the two of us and Japaar headed off into the countryside not only to visit local families but to visit the Altai Tavan Bogd National Park which has the Potanin Glacier and is also where many of the famed Eagle Hunters live. 

Please meet our trained slaughterer of creatures large and small … I mean our pet eagle … You can hold it if ya' want?

At the time we were there though, sadly, much of the National Park was closed due to a severe outbreak of foot and mouth disease. This meant that there was only a small portion that we could visit and even then we were advised that if asked by police where we had travelled to we by no means were to say the national park!

Another disappointing fact we learned was that the summer months are not a time when the eagle hunters will be in action (double boo) the season begins early October with hunters gathering for the annual Golden Eagle Festival of Mongolia, but Japaar assured us he knew a hunter and we could stop by for tea (of course) and we could hold the eagle for 5000 Tughrik (total for the two of us) which is about $3.70.

After being thrown around the back of Japaar's Russian van for a couple of hours we arrived at the eagle hunters family ger, which was one of the nicest gers we had seen so far (it hardly smelled of fermented milk at all)!

The family was lovely and spoilt us with a full table spread of wafer biscuits, chocolates, yak butter, a cream similar to clotted cream and an almost doughnut like bread that is dipped into the tea. In the summer months "chai" (black tea) is the tea of choice but it's still mostly water and milk with a little chai added. Upon asking what milk was used for the tea Japaar responded "all of it…milk is milk right?" So we are guessing it was some sort of goat/sheep/yak concoction, either way its quite tasty and not horribly salty like the tea served in other parts of Mongolia.

Of course the cheese biscuit were still there on the table but at least we could politely avoid them with so many other options available. What is cheese biscuit? Well it's actual name is "Qurut" or "Aaruul" and is made of drained sour milk that has been left outside to dry and then served as a kind of desert. Cheese biscuit is not something we enjoy at all, its flavour and smell is pungent and each piece is so rock hard its practically impossible to bite into. Everyone from Mongolia seems to love it!  We figure its a thing you have to be brought up on to love… just like us Australians and Vegemite!

Full to the brim with tea we headed out into the field to meet "the eagle".

The family also had a baby eagle that was only 3 months old that they were planning on training. It was here that we learnt where the term "spread eagle" came from, I don't think any animal could be more spread out than this youngster!

The eagles, in the winter while they are at prime, lean hunting weight, are around 5-6kgs. This eagle was currently at its summer "fattened up" weight, about 8-9kgs, and lifting this fatty with one hand is not an easy feat! Of course, we wore the super thick glove so his talons wouldn't rip our arm to shreds, but still, coming face to face with such a mighty killing machine is a slightly daunting experiencing….oh who am I kidding, I was shitting myself!

Tommo seemed to quite enjoy the experience but me with my weak little girly arms and the fact that it was around lunch time and the eagle just seemed to be staring right into me while I was holding it…well, I was happy to put some distance between us!

It was time to hit the road and haul some ass as we were running late to get to the ger where we would be spending the night! One delay in particular is the fact that where we were travelling was right along the Mongolian/Russian border so there were certain military checkpoints we were obligated to stop at to obtain permits or for them to check our permits in order to continue (the Russian permit cost 5000 total for the van).

We were starting to lose daylight and no one wants to be on one of these crazy Mongolian dirt roads in the dark. Luckily we came over a ridge and below was a cluster of about 5 gers, one of which was where we would be spending the night.

Everyone Loves a Muso

Upon arrival we met the daughters all busy with their chores (no x-boxes here! kids have too much work to do). The eldest was busy preparing our dinner of meat (mutton…..always mutton) and hand made noodles. The parents were off visiting friends elsewhere and were on their way, we were assured. It turns out they had visited 10 different gers in total that day….that's a lot of tea drinking going on!

Once again the ger was surprisingly nice and also had quite a high door frame which was awesome as we have spent most of our time here in Mongolia smacking our heads hard getting in and out of gers.

It was here, in this ger, that we were to finally experience what it's like staying with a Real nomadic family.

We spent the night enjoying the company of the two parents and their three young daughters, even the neighbours dropped in for a visit to meet us. Tom had mentioned to Japar that he plays guitar. As everyone loves a muso, it didn't take long before the Mongolian equivalent of a guitar was brought out and thrust into Tommo's hands for him to try and figure out how to play this foreign instrument which only had two strings instead of the more common six of a western guitar.

Strangely enough it Turns out that they knew The Kinks and Tommo's random version of " you really got me" was a HUGE hit!  He followed this up with 'Johnny B Goode" and he had the family and all the neighbours cheering and clapping wildly! Some of the family and neighbours also had a turn playing traditional Kazakh songs which allowed everyone else to join in in song, proudly singing what words they could remember of old classics.

It was getting late so the neighbours excused themselves and we sat down to dine on the lamb and noodle soup. We'd had the same dish before at dingy rest stops on the road where the meat is questionable, so it was a pleasant change to eat the premium, home cooked version! It was now 11:30pm – bedtime. Floor carpets were rolled out for us to insulate us against the cold ground. However, by the time the fire died died away at 3am and when it's 6 degrees celsius outside, these floor mats didn't do enough to restrain the encroaching freeze!

We were advised before travelling to Mongolia that temps don't go below 10 degrees in the summer, so we, and many people we met along the way were massively unprepared for these actual temperatures of 6 degrees or less at night.  Layering of whatever clothing we had was futile and at 4 layers I had run out of pairs of socks to wear! Thank God the first thing Mongolians do in the morning is get the fire going again. You can eventually defrost from the night before but don't expect a good night's sleep!

After being filled with a traditional breakfast, which is pretty much what we had been served the previous day as a snack: tea, wafers, donut thingies and, did I mention tea? It was time to prepare for our visit to the Potanin Glacier. This would be a 30km roundtrip hike taking about 8-9 hours in total but that story is for another time……..

The second night of our trip we were to stay at the national park rangers ger. However, we noticed that this ger was lacking a fire and after the previous night of freezing our asses off in a ger (and that one had a fire) there was no way we were staying!

So, Japar offered to take us to stay with some family members of his. In Mongolia it's funny how everyone knows everyone! Even on our own travels we would randomly run into certain drivers again or wives of people we had stayed with, and not in the town we met them in either! But with such a small population I guess it's not too surprising that everyone is related to each other in some way… fact apparently 8% of men in Central Asia are direct descendants of Genghis Kahn!


Five Fingers: A Meal to Remember

This night we were treated to the famous "Five Fingers" dish! It's essential everyone washes their hands with warm water that had been boiled on the stove and then a large plate of sheep bits is placed on the table, then everyone digs in…just grab it with your hands and shove it in your face! Now when I say sheep bits I really mean this!

There was stomach, some meat (not sure from where) tonnes of fat and of course the prize of the dish….the head! This was disassembled expertly by the eldest man at the table. He grabbed his knife and threw onto the plate cheek flesh, other meaty bits and of course the eyes, one of which was quickly grabbed up by a family member and the membrane promptly devoured!

It was great that we were able to have these evenings with the two families, this was exactly what we wanted in a true nomadic home stay experience!

Each home cost 10,000 Tughrik (around $8 USD) per person, for us to stay the night and this included a place to sleep and a warm meal in our bellies, but it's the added experiences that makes a homestay in Mongolia so special.

We met people who live off the very basics of the land, who heard cattle from pasture to pasture for their entire lives. They opened up their home to us and offered us tea, food, and a family experience!

They welcomed us as if we were one of the family and even though we don't speak the same language it is so amazing to connect with people on a different level, a level that does not need language and we still joked, laughed and enjoyed each others company……and this is what a true homestay is about: Feeling like you've found a home, when you are far away from your own.

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'Most beautiful place I've ever been' Extreme traveller says THIS remote country is best

MONGOLIA remains shrouded in mystery to most of the world, but Dr Andrew Murray believes it's the experience of a lifetime.

January 22 (Daily Express) The Edinburgh-dwelling extreme traveller has been to Mongolia before and this week, he'll be back. 

Dr Andrew Murray isn't just extreme in his travels - he's extreme in all aspects of his life. 

Aside from being a GP and author, the 36-year-old likes to run marathons in his spare time. 

But not just any marathons - the endurance athlete has competed in the harshest climates around the globe. 

This week he'll be adding to that impressive portfolio in Mongolia. 

Andrew is returning to defend his title in the Ghengis Khan Ice Marathon. 

On January 27, he'll set off with a handful of other runners to tackle some of the most unforgiving terrain humans can access. 

Participants will battle through -35 degree temperatures, dodging dangerous wolves and staving off nasty medical conditions like frostbite and hypothermia along the way. 

This might not sound like everyone's cup of tea, but according to Andrew, it's the best place on the planet. 

He told "I love it - it's definitely the single most beautiful and impressive place I've ever been."

Mongolia hasn't only blown Andrew away - Lonely Planet has voted it one of the top 10 places to visit in 2017

And Andrew thinks everyone should have the chance to see it. 

He explained: "I definitely recommend it to someone who's travelling.

"Just going out and spending time with local families for some kind of genuine cultural interaction is wonderful."

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Art Wolfe's Travels to the Edge – Mongolia: Mountain to Steppe

Known for its arid steppes, skilled nomadic horsemen and Genghis Khan, a visit to Mongolia feels like a trip back in time. At the annual Naadam Festival, contestants vie to be the victor in the centuries-old pursuits of wrestling, archery and horse-racing. In episode twelve, Art Wolfe pursues prehistoric wild horses as they roam the steppe, rides in the mountains with a Kazakh tribesman who hunts with golden eagles and catches up with nomadic reindeer herders at their summer camp near the Siberian border.

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Indy Guide: Eagle hunting trip in Western Mongolia, 7 Days

Unique tour with Kazakh nomadic eagle hunters, real hunting, horse riding and try to train an eagle.

Day-1 drive to Altantsogts village to meet an eagle hunter who's name is Sailau, famous veteran eagle hunter in this village. will stay with family and you will be offered separate house room. (2hrs drive, local cuisine)

Day-2 Hunting with the eagle hunter on horseback good opportunity to take a photo and train the eagle while hunting.  (3-4hrs, local cuisine)

Day-3 Hunting and visiting another eagle hunters family, gain experiences of nomadic life as well as the eagle hunting. Visiting different mountain, different place. (3-4hrs, local cuisine)

Day-4 Drive to Sagsai village. To visit another eagle hunters family, named Kaizim. Another veteran eagle hunter with a hunter's face. Good chance to take a photo of him with his eagle hunter sons and daughter. If wanted, it's possible to hunt and horse ride. Separate house room and local cuisine.  (drive 2,5 hrs, cuisine)

Day-5 Hunting accompanies with eagle hunter and your guide on horseback. (3-4hrs, overnight house room with family, cuisine)

Day-6 Drive to Olgiy check-in at a hotel. Exploring Olgiy, local market, souvenir shops if one want to buy gifts back to home. (3-4hrs, cuisine)

Day-7 Transfer to local airport and fly back to Ulaanbaatar. (breakfast)    

But keep in mind, that we can customize your trip and discount possible by the numbers of people.

What to bring 

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Indy Guide: Trekking in Mongolia, 13 Days

Nomadic Altai Trekking

One of the most attractive and unusual tour type here in Mongolia is Trekking. Following trekking adventure will take place in Western Mongolia specially in Altai Tavan Bogd National Park.  In this remote corner where Mongolia, China, and Russia meet, we discover a beautiful swath of untouched wilderness. And you will have opportunity to feel real nomadic life & tradition during this epic journey. With Bactrian camels and powerful  horses to carry our luggages and team staff , we camp by alpine lakes, hike to glaciers, explore ancient burial mounds and petroglyphs that are haunting testaments to Mongolia's shamanic traditions, and experience a pristine mountain world where Kazakh nomads still hunt with golden eagles.

Let the adventure begin! 

Day 1: Fly from Ulaanbaatar to Ulgii & Altai Tavan Bogd National Park

Day 2: Tavan Bogd Massif ( 15km up to Base camp )

Day 3: Climb to Malchin peak(4050m)

Day 4: 15km down back to Tsagaan Gol Valley

Day 5: Hike to the Khar Airikh Valley

Day 6-7:Altai Mountains(3300m) crossing & Bear Valley

Day 8: To Green Lake

Day 9-10: Free day & Trek to Aral tolgoi

Day 11: Day with nomads

Day 12: Drive back to Ulgii

Day 13: Catch an early flight to UB

Day 1 Ulgii & Altai Tavan Bogd National Park

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New Del Mar photo exhibit offers global perspective

January 20 (Del Mar Times) Armchair travelers will have a field day with a new photography exhibit on display at Del Mar's Herbert B. Turner Gallery at Southfair.

The exhibit features 64 photographs by San Diego photographer Michael Orenich, focusing on images from Mongolia, Cuba and Morocco. Also included are shots from Greece, Italy, Spain and France.

The photos went on display this month, and the exhibit will continue through March 4. A "grand reception," open to the public and billed as black-tie optional, will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28. The gallery is located at 2010 Jimmy Durante Blvd.

One unique aspect of the gallery is that the artworks, in this case Orenich's photos, are housed in glass-fronted display cases in the complex's inner courtyard. That means the gallery is essentially open at all hours of the day and night, as the viewing area is outdoors and not enclosed in the building.

The complex, which houses a number of businesses, including a fitness center, was designed by the gallery's namesake, architect Herbert B. Turner, who during his career designed some 50 homes and commercial buildings in Del Mar. The complex and gallery are now owned by Rachel Turner Thomas, the architect's daughter.

"Herb's wishes were to always use this space for local artists to display their work," said Bob Coletti, who, along with Orenich, has been coordinating exhibits at the gallery for the past year. 

In 2016, the gallery hosted a series of themed exhibits, on such topics as equine and surf art, with each show featuring the works of multiple artists. This year, the gallery will host solo shows, the first of which features Orenich's photography.

"It requires a large body of work," said Orenich of the solo exhibit.

For this exhibit, Orenich chose works primarily from the countries of Mongolia, Cuba and Morocco. 

He considers himself to be a "narrative photographer," meaning, "I'm trying to communicate elements of the culture."

Orenich traveled to remote areas of Mongolia in 2013, getting around by jeep with a driver, translator and a British photojournalist.

The group flew into the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar, then embarked on a 300-mile journey, partly over roads and partly across country, Orenich said. Their destination was an Eagle Festival, where participants showed off their skills working with trained eagles in hunting and horsemanship. The festival also included such competitions as archery, camel racing and flogging, in which female riders whip their male counterparts, while both partners are on horseback, Orenich said.

The striking scenes show the hunters with their raptors, and also the gorgeous backdrop of snow-streaked mountains, as well as the round tents, called gers or yurts, where the nomadic herders of Mongolia reside.

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