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Thursday, March 16, 2017

[Copper concentrator plan approved; coal exports soar 239%; IMF approval expected end-April; and TT expected to move in 2018]

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Thursday, March 16, 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

 

HEADLINES

Int'l Market

·         Cabinet approves plan to build copper concentrate plant in Umnugobi

·         Aspire Mining: Interim Financial Report, December 2016

Local Market

·         MSE Trading Report, March 15: Top 20 -0.48%, ALL -0.33%, Turnover ₮31.1 Million Shares

Economy

·         MNT gains for 8th day vs USD

·         BoM issues ₮50 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +4.7% to ₮1.1 trillion

·         BoM continues mortgage program until transfer to GoM in 2018

·         Mongolia Coal Exports Soar 239% to 4.86M Tons in Jan-Feb

·         Finance Minister: expect approval of IMF program by Executive Board by end of April

Politics & Legal

·         D. Zagdjav appointed Deputy Minister for Mining and Heavy Industry

·         OSCE to deploy election observers to Mongolia

·         Mongolian law scholars to convene in May

·         Mongolia Anti-Corruption Law: Overview of Prohibited Activity

·         Things to consider before visiting Government Palace

·         Reason to learn Korean

Business

·         Finance Minister says TT deal was estimated to move forward in 2018

·         Mongolian consortium selected to contract mine TT's West Tsankhi

·         WEF Selects Golomt Bank CEO Ganzorig Ulziibayar to Young Global Leaders Class of 2017

·         The opportunity for the establishment of a "financial irrigation system" in Mongolia

·         Best Buidan couches in great demand

·         BCM Monthly Meeting Recap, March 2017

Ulaanbaatar

·         Emissions from burning tires poison the human body for 8 years

Diplomacy

·         Mongolian parliament delegates visit Germany

·         New Permanent Representative to UN Office at Vienna appointed

·         Russian health ministry delegation visits Mongolia

·         Cuban biotechnological products arouse great interest in Mongolia

·         Vaccine against mites to be tested jointly with Cuban specialists

·         Mongolian peacekeepers rescue two-year-old child in South Sudan

Health & Education

·         Bayan-Ulgii opens blood center with ADB grant

·         Russian language center opens in Khuvsgul aimag

·         Australia Awards' Women's Leadership Program in Mongolia implementing four projects

·         Cadip.org: Volunteer in Mongolia

Culture & Society

·         The crisis in Mongolia you didn't know about

·         Tsaatan – The Reindeer Herders of Mongolia

·         Funny Thing Happened Last Week: John Oliver, Dalai Lama, Mongolia

·         Author L.Ulziitugs's book published in French, introduced in Brussels

Nature & Environment

·         Cabinet determines nature reserve boundaries in two aimags

Sports

·         Japan to train best of Mongolian fencing athletes

·         Mongolia the location for world's toughest motorcycle challenge

Art & Entertainment

·         Mongolian artist exhibits in Austria

Travel

·         Khuvsgul ice festival attracts tourists from 70 countries

·         Condé Nast Traveler Videos: The Mongolian Way of Life

·         Compass Expeditions – New Motorcycle Tour – Mongolia magic

 

 

ARTICLES

Int'l Market

TRQ closed +6.23% Wednesday at US$3.24

Cabinet approves plan to build copper concentrate plant in Umnugobi

Ulaanbaatar, March 16 /MONTSAME/ During its regular meeting on March 15, the Cabinet discussed and approved a proposal made by the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry regarding the establishment of a copper concentrate plant in Khanbogd soum of Umnugobi aimag.

Minister for Mining and Heavy Industry Ts.Dashdorj was assigned to select an investor to cooperate on the establishment of the plant and hold talks.

Not less than 10 percent of the plant's shares will be owned by the Government of Mongolia without making investment, and corresponding Ministers were also ordered to ensure Government representation in the ownership of the plant.

Also, Minister for Environment and Tourism D.Oyunkhorol was tasked to seek possible variants to comply the works of Oyu Tolgoi concentrator, Tavan Tolgoi coal washing plant, Tavan Tolgoi power plant and the copper concentrate plant with 'Orkhon Gobi', 'Kherlen Gobi' and 'Ongi Gobi' projects, and have the matter discussed by the Cabinet.

The Khanbogd copper concentrate plant will have an annual capacity to process 1 million tons of concentrate, and is planned to be inaugurated in 2020. With consideration of several factors, corresponding specialists and the Ministry saw that such a plant should be established in Khanbogd, Umnugobi aimag, next to Oyu Tolgoi mine.

Link to article

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AKM trading -4.35% mid-Thu at A$0.022

Aspire Mining: Interim Financial Report, December 2016

March 16, Aspire Mining Ltd. (ASX:AKM) --

Link to report

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Local Market

MSE Trading Report, March 15: Top 20 -0.48%, ALL -0.33%, Turnover ₮31.1 Million Shares

March 15 (MSE) --

Link to report

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Economy

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

BoM MNT Rates: Wednesday, March 15 Close

 

3/15

3/14

3/13

3/10

3/9

3/7

3/6

3/3

3/2

2/24

High

Date

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USD

2,457.12

2,458.38

2,458.80

2,461.32

2,464.00

2,466.88

2,468.55

2,470.25

2,470.84

2,470.83

2,498.75

1/10/2017

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EUR

2,614.01

2,615.22

2,629.93

2,607.65

2,595.95

2,613.91

2,616.42

2,598.95

2,604.14

2,617.84

2,681.43

11/10/2016

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JPY

21.42

21.35

21.44

21.33

21.51

21.67

21.69

21.62

21.64

21.92

23.49

11/9/2016

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GBP

3,005.06

2,983.49

3,005.02

2,992.60

2,995.36

3,015.51

3,029.40

3,030.01

3,035.80

3,100.15

3,183.26

8/13/2014

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RUB

41.58

41.69

41.61

41.57

41.85

42.35

42.31

41.91

42.33

42.67

54.32

6/27/2014

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CNY

355.49

355.30

356.03

355.82

356.41

357.53

357.91

357.85

359.01

359.62

363.02

1/5/2017

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KRW

2.15

2.14

2.14

2.13

2.13

2.15

2.13

2.13

2.16

2.18

2.18

2/6/2017

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SGD

1,739.74

1,737.19

1,741.17

1,735.16

1,736.07

1,749.50

1,750.12

1,746.44

1,751.75

1,758.66

1,758.66

2/24/2017

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CAD

1,825.16

1,825.08

1,827.09

1,823.13

1,826.88

1,842.12

1,841.24

1,844.09

1,850.82

1,888.08

1,908.84

1/18/2017

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AUD

1,862.87

1,855.22

1,862.05

1,851.40

1,853.05

1,877.67

1,871.53

1,866.15

1,892.17

1,906.25

1,913.20

2/16/2017

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HKD

316.29

316.42

316.65

316.99

317.26

317.67

317.95

318.18

318.29

318.40

322.21

1/10/2017

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CHF

2,438.95

2,435.12

2,431.45

2,430.69

2,427.47

2,439.32

2,446.41

2,439.39

2,445.65

2,456.83

2,497.77

11/09/2016

Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,445 Sell ₮2,458), TDB (Buy ₮2,450 Sell ₮2,460), Golomt (Buy ₮2,445 Sell ₮2,458), XacBank (Buy ₮2,445 Sell ₮2,457), State Bank (Buy ₮2,446 Sell ₮2,459)

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

Link to rates

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BoM issues 50 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +4.7% to ₮1.1 trillion

March 15 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 50 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 continues mortgage program until transfer to GoM in 2018

Ulaanbaatar, March 15 (MONTSAME) The Bank of Mongolia has stated that apartment mortgage program with 8 per cent interest rate will be transferred to the Government within 2018. New mortgage loans will be issued till the end of 2017, financed with monthly repayment income of loans. The remaining funding will be solved through reflecting it in the State Budget by the Government.

Last month, 396 persons received mortgage loan of MNT24.3 billion with 8 and 5 per cent interest. Since the new regulation approval on the apartment mortgage financing, the Bank of Mongolia has spent MNT142.3 billion for the financing of mortgage, solving mortgage applications of 2042 persons by February 2017.

Link to article

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Mongolia Coal Exports Soar 239% to 4.86M Tons in Jan-Feb

By Michael Kohn

March 15 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia exported 4.86m tons of coal in the first two months of 2017, compared with 1.44m tons in the same period a year earlier, the National Statistics Office says on its website.

* Value of those exports increased 645% to $327.4m from $43.9m a yr earlier

* Copper concentrate exports fell 12% to 240,500 tons from 273,800 tons; value fell 26% to $246.3m from $334m

* Crude oil exports fell 21% y/y to 1.13m barrels; value rose to $58.6m from $43.9m yr earlier

* Mongolia exported 0.8 tons of gold in Jan.-Feb. compared to 1.7 tons in the same period a year ago and 2.5 tons in the same period of 2015; value of gold exports fell to $30.8m compared to $63.5m a year ago

* Total exports rose 35% to $825.3m in Jan-Feb. from $613.3m yr earlier

* Value of exports to China was $762.6m, 92% of the total value of exports

(BFW)

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Finance Minister: expect approval of IMF program by Executive Board by end of April 

Analyst: Dale Choi, MSc.

March 15 (Mongolia Metals & Mining) Finance Minister: I expect approval of IMF-compliant budget amendment first thing during Parliament Spring session and of IMF program during Executive Board by end of April

According to interview published on Mar.15th by major news portal news.mn, Finance Minister B.Choijlsuren clarified regarding latest IMF program situation:

Regarding why there will be no irregular Parliament session and delay in submission of 2017 budget amendment bill

Finance Ministry had Cabinet Meeting introduced to initial discussion and support the bill. Within IMF program framework, in order to use funding of international financial organisations and donor countries, it is necessary to reflect in detail additional items in the budget.

Very soon those will be finalised and budget amendment will be submitted. In regard to irregular Parliament session,  because of Parliament recess, it's co-inciding with MP-s working in their districts, hearing opinion of voters, introducing and explaining regarding IMF program. Therefore, the bill is to be debated first thing in Spring regular session.

Regarding date for meeting of Executive Board of IMF

In the middle of next month, there will be spring meetings of IMF. During these meetings , the Board does not convene. Therefore, the Board meeting will probably take place by end of April. It's fully possible during this period or at the beginning of Spring session for us to discuss and approve budget amendment and introduce the issue during next meeting of the Board.

Regarding political opposition to IMF program and possibility of not getting out of crisis

It is necessary to view our country's condition not from political point of view, but from economic one. Foreign investors and other donor countries are watching us carefully. I want here to mention that imminent implementation of IMF program has become main condition for positive perception of Mongolia in international capital market.

Work of exchanging DBM bonds by GoM bonds underwent with great success. Going forward, by beginning of implementing of program, it is certain that externally and internally positive changes will start in the economy. It is likely that MP-s will understand well this condition and they will approve budget amendment.

Regarding risk for Mongolia if Mongolia will not able to enroll in IMF program

If we will not enrol in IMF program, our country's economic condition will deteriorate even further. Assistance and investment from World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other organisation, donor countries, who have conditioned those on IMF program enrolment, will become uncertain. Credit rating of Mongolia might decline yet again. There will be many risks indeed such as no increase in FDI and increase in exchange rate volatility.

Dale: Another good, more or less comforting guidance by Finance Minister, in line with my expected timeframe, unfortunately covered in very minor way by Mongolian media. Guess we will have to be just patient and wait. Of course, dynamic, opportunistic leadership would have been much preferable and clearly with time&opportunity value benefit, but not much we can do at this point, really, it is what it is, so guess just need to play along for "few weeks". As long as it is done, guess have to be satisfied whatever progress there is. In days ahead, will be watching closely how MPP will provide national leadership on IMF program, don't really see much of that.

Multilaterals: goal is sustainable growth rate of ~8%

Leading Mongolian Business Stakeholders Partner, Business Council of Mongolia(BCM) has finally published Recap of its March Monthly Meeting with highly viewed Panel Discussion "IMF Extended Fund Facility (EFF) and its implications on the private sector of Mongolia" with panelists Deputy Governor of the Bank of Mongolia B.Lkhagvasuren (BoM), IMF Resident Representative for Mongolia Neil Saker (IMF), and the World Bank's Country Manager for Mongolia James Anderson (WB).

I liked following refreshing comments and left out what we all know already, more or less.

Sustainable growth

  • Working with government to achieve a growth rate of around 8%. We don't want to see 17% growth again (IMF)
  • The progress that you make during the boom times […] can be stopped or reversed if growth is not kept on a stable path.(WB)
  • The last boom period was a double-boom of investment and mining.(WB)

Khuraldai bonds success

  • Key result from the bond exchange was the amount of confidence that was voiced by investors in Mongolia's future(WB)
  • We are not reducing debt, just restructuring it. But this buys necessary time to readjust economy.(BoM)

BoM pre-conditions for IMF program

  • Asset Quality Review (AQR) is a condition of the IMF program. BoM has experience doing this from the 2009 IMF program. Will announce tender and select audit company. Not worried about this. (BoM)
  • BoM Law will be revised. There will be more checks and balances. BoM will vote on certain key decisions(IMF)
  • Anti-money laundering will be strengthened, which will help address corruption regarding projects (IMF)
  • Need banking that supports SMEs(IMF)

Fiscal issues

  • There must not be off-budget spending. Honest accounting is the first step (WB)
  • Savings during boom period is crucial.The sovereign wealth fund law to be implemented in a few years will take money off the table(IMF)
  • OT-2 coming on stream in early 2020s will be a huge increase in government revenues(IMF)
  • Interest rates will fall after confidence returns, which in turn will help address poverty(IMF)

Mining

  • Mining is the backbone of the economy. Long-term prospects are still optimistic. Revenues need to be saved(IMF)

Diversification

  • Need to understand the obstacles and support needed.Animal health is vital.Trade facilitation needs to be improved. Look for the low-hanging fruit (WB)

Spending cuts and raising taxes

  • Don't want economy to collapse through sudden, deep cuts. Two-thirds of the program entail cutting spending, one-third raising taxes(IMF)
  • Cutting capital expenditures will disincentivize imports, which will improve balance of payments (IMF)
  • Salary freezes on government workers, but inflation is low at the moment so it should not be too worrying(IMF)

Dale: great stuff from multilaterals and good job by BCM in getting them all into one panel. Especially like sustainable, long term growth target ~8% mentioned by IMF. During past 25 years, lack of such sustainable, stable growth is one of key reasons for all Mongolian problems.

References: http://www.news.mn/r/327425

Link to MMM FB page

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Politics & Legal

D. Zagdjav appointed Deputy Minister for Mining and Heavy Industry

Ulaanbaatar, March 16 /MONTSAME/ During its regular meeting on March 15, the Cabinet appointed former Secretary of State at the Ministry of Environment D.Zagdjav as Deputy Minister for Mining and Heavy Industry.

Zagdjav Deleg was born in 1964 in Khovd city, Khovd aimag. After graduating from the 1st School of Khovd city, he studied at the Military Institute of the former Ministry of Protection of Society. He holds a Master's Degree in Administrative Science and Doctor's Degree in Political Science.

During his career, he worked as a Member of Parliament in 2008-2012, President of Mongolian Democratic Socialist Students Association, Governor of Khan-Uul district and President of Mongolian Peace and Friendship Organization.

Link to article

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OSCE to deploy election observers to Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, March 15 (MONTSAME) Delegates led by Michael Georg Link, Director of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) are working in Mongolia. On March 15, the OSCE delegation was received by Ch.Sodnomtseren, Director of the General Election Commission of Mongolia.  

During the meeting, the ODIHR Director said "The OSCE observers are interested in working in Mongolia for election observation as elections in Mongolia are conducted in a competitive manner. Furthermore, other member states of OSCE learn a lot of things from the experiences gained by Mongolia and from how Mongolian electoral organizations implement the recommendations and reports developed by our observers". 

He further informed that a research team of the OSCE will arrive in Mongolia to observe the preliminary situation of the election in Mongolia and will publish a report on this for the public soon. "The OSCE will be giving support to Mongolia by sending specialists and observers from OSCE and giving out publications for Mongolian voters". 

Ch.Sodnomtseren, Director of the General Election Commission emphasized that the OSCE observers and their recommendations and reports make a great contribution to the organization of the elections and improving the electoral activities in the country and expressed his willingness to implement the carry-out the recommendations in the near future.

Link to article

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Mongolian law scholars to convene in May

Ulaanbaatar, March 15 (MONTSAME) By the initiative of S.Byambatsogt, Minister of Justice and Home Affairs, the first assembly of Mongolian law scholars is going to be held in May.

The working group in charge is led by G.Bayasgalan, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs and held its first meeting on March 15, Wednesday.

The first assembly of Mongolian law scholars aims to strengthen the relationship between law scholars, introduce their works to the public, and convey their thoughts and voices. Not only is the assembly going to unite Mongolian law professors, it will also feature an exhibition of the works of Mongolian law scholars.

"Law scholars emerged in Mongolia in the late 1960s, and today, there are about 160 law scholars. Mongolian Bar Association will assist the first assembly of law scholars in all possible ways", said B.Gunbileg, President of Mongolian Bar Association.

Link to article

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Mongolia Anti-Corruption Law: Overview of Prohibited Activity

March 15 (Lehman Law) Mongolian law prohibits certain activities by public officials, while other activities are restricted. These prohibitions and restrictions are intended to prevent conflicts of interest in public service and to eliminate opportunities for bribery and other forms of corruption. However, even in the face of legal prohibitions and restrictions, sometimes officials will in communications with our clients suggest "options" or "solutions" that amount to barely disguised violations of these laws. Foreign invested enterprises in Mongolia should "keep an eye out" for these kinds of activities so they are not caught up in an illegal scheme.

Mongolian public officials are prohibited from disclosing in a manner not related to their official duties, information that has been acquired via official capacity. Unfortunately, violations of this prohibition are widespread as politicians and unelected officers will often seek to share or trade in private information gained through their position of privilege. Officials will seek to use this information to further their own interests, or to spread damaging propaganda about opponents.

Public officials are also prohibited from utilizing their official position to issue a decision, or to control, supervise, inquire or impose liability on another for the private purposes of themselves or their friends and family. They are also prohibited from using their official position to put pressure or influence on others. While this is not as common as the information sharing described above, one would not be surprised when encountering an official who seeks to wield their power in this way.

An official is prohibited from using the power of public office in any kind of advertising, except in connection with their official duties, and where participation is in favor of activities in benefit of the society.

Public officials are further prohibited from utilizing public service to represent their own private interests, or those of other individuals, organizations, or companies they are directly or indirectly associated with. Even so, many members of parliament are successful in business and continue to be involved with a private business. For many a primary reason to become a member of parliament is to enhance or extend to their business opportunities and income. Parliamentarians have been known to introduce new laws and regulations which are beneficial to their private business or their personal interests.

Officials are prohibited from accepting any payment or supplementary payment, or gifts in connection with the performance of their official duties, however, this is another common violation which is often performed discretely.

With regard to an official's accepting a gift, there is a legal obligation for an official to file a written report within 30 days in the event the value of a one-time gift or service received exceeds the equivalent of that official's salary for one month, or where the value of gifts received from a single source in the course of one year exceeds the equivalent of that official's salary over three months. If the value of a gift or service received by an official is in excess of that official's salary over 6 months, the gifted items shall become the property of the State. The official can accept or redeem these gifts only by way of paying the government the value in excess of the official's six month total salary.

This is a strange arrangement per western standards as a gift of 6 months total salary may still be a substantial amount. Keep in mind that while a gift of this nature may be legal in Mongolia, foreign companies and individuals may still be subject to anti-corruption laws in their home country, such as FCPA in USA.

Public officials are further prohibited from participating in the business of a company or serving in a management role of a company. Additionally, officials are subject to a two year prohibition on being a shareholder, stockholder or a partner in a legal entity for which the official had been involved decision making on awarding such company government procurement contracts, allocation of central government, provincial or municipal funding, or where the public official had exercised official supervision or control over such company in connection with the official's public duties.

This is only an introduction to official prohibitions on actions of public office holders. Future blogs will continue our review.

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Things to consider before visiting Government Palace

March 15 (gogo.mn) The Government Palace is located on the north side of Sukhbaatar Square in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. It houses various state organizations such as the State Great Khural and offices of its members, as well as the offices of the President and Prime Minister.

People who are visiting the Government Palace of Mongolia for the first time shall remember following tips:

  • Come to a meeting before the scheduled hours and enter to the Government Palace through its back door.
  • Bring your identity card, foreign passport or employee ID.
  • Wear business suits or traditional clothes. Jeans, t-shirt, sneakers, short skirt, sports wear are not allowed. 
  • Do not bring large luggage, bag or sharp and liquid items.
  • Note that drunk people are not allowed to enter. 
  • If you plan more than one meetings, you should report it to the Ceremony Department staff and wait for the staff at the first meeting room. 
  • It is not allowed to wander in Government Palace before or after your meeting.

Link to article

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Reason to learn Korean

March 15 (Mongolian Economy) Registration for the Korean language test was held nationwide March 6-9. A few months ago it was announced that registration would open for 8,000 people willing to work in South Korea under a labour contract. Thus, labour departments and in provinces as well as the city were the busiest places last week. Eight thousand people can be registered for the test in accordance with the bilateral memorandum, and 7,968 people have already done so. However, not all those taking the exam will go to South Korea. The highest scoring 1,500 people will pass the language hurdle and go on to the next step. The test is organised only by the Industry and Human Resources Authority of South Korea, and organisers have warned that only those who know the language well should register.

Test registration was held only for three days because there were complaints and issues related to registration in previous years. Therefore, labour departments had to use the buildings of some secondary schools and other places with large halls. Naturally, healthy people aged 18-40 apply more commonly. In addition, a police background check and certain other documents were not required. Each registrant paid MNT 60,000 (USD 24). Although payments from almost 7,968 people amounts to about MNT 470 million, officials said that the money will be spent on test registration and operational costs. In other words, six out of the 24 dollars are to be spent on Mongolian-side activities and the remaining 16 dollars on Korean-side activities.

Many young people have registered for the Korean language proficiency test, wishing to land a high-paying job. The test schedule will be announced on March 27 on the official website of the Labour and Welfare Service Agency: hudulmur-halamj.gov.mn.

Link to article

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Business

Finance Minister says TT deal was estimated to move forward in 2018

March 9 (BDSec) Finance Minister B.Choijilsuren was interviewed by news.mn journalists, where he talked about the upcoming IMF bailout and other matters. He said "After its establishment, the cabinet worked to have one budget. The cabinet stopped the program at Bank of Mongolia, which was similar to the budget, and transferred to the GoM. We hope this signaled to foreign investors that 'GoM is putting efforts to create financial discipline in Mongolia'. Secondly, the IMF bailout is strengthening this indication again. As a results of these 2 factors, foreign investors' trust in Mongolia is restoring." 

On the implementation of planned projects, Finance Minister said "Projects like railway will be financed by taking out soft loans. We will loan US$ 300m from Turkey, US$ 500m from South Korea, which was US$ 300m before, and US$ 1b from China. We estimated to take out the soft loans in the next three years." According to the Finance Minister, the soft loan terms will be less than 2% interest rate and 20 year tenor. 

Regarding mega-projects, Finance Minister said "2017 budget outlined to implement 5 mega-projects to ensure 3% economic growth. Includes, Tavan Tolgoi deposit project with its railway, TPP III expansion, Gatsuurt project and Power Plant project. This time, we approached the issue carefully and estimated to move only the Gatsuurt project this year, and others in 2018." 

Source: news.mn

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Mongolian consortium selected to contract mine TT's West Tsankhi

March 15 (news.mn) Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi has reported that geological exploration at the block have resumed again after a break of nearly two years. A consortium of Mongolian companies, 'Olborlolt" LLC, "Khishig Arvin Industrial" LLC and "Mera" LLC have been selected as the main operators at the West Tsankhi mine. The total resources of this mine are estimated at around 4.5 million tons.

Mongolia has been intermittently paying off its USD 350 million debt to China's aluminum company Chalco since 2011 in the form of deliveries of coal from the East Tsankhi mine. Now that coal prices are picking up and export demand is increasing, it will be easier for the country to pay back its debt.

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WEF Selects Golomt Bank CEO Ganzorig Ulziibayar to Young Global Leaders Class of 2017

Developing gene editing technology, building computers that recognize human emotions, leading multi-billion dollar companies to renewable energy, and rebuilding civil society in a war torn nation. These are some of the Young Global Leaders Class of 2017 awardees who are making outstanding contribution to their field and society. Each year, we select the most innovative, enterprising and socially minded men and women under the age of 40 who are pushing boundaries and rethinking the world around them. This year's class of Young Global Leaders gives hope that they are ready to tackle the world's most complex and pressing challenges. They are invited to join a community and a five-year leadership journey that we believe will help them break down silos, bridge cultures and use their collective skills to get things done for positive impact across private, public and civil society organizations.

Ganzorig Ulziibayar | Mongolia

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, GOLOMT BANK LLC

The head of one of the largest and leading financial groups in Mongolia who works across business and government on education and developing standards for the financial industry in Mongolia.

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The opportunity for the establishment of a "financial irrigation system" in Mongolia

By B. Naidalaa

March 16 (Mongolian Economy) One of the biggest banking and financial institutions, London-based HSBC has suffered major reputation damage and financial losses due to a loan extended in 2012.[1] The loan covered consulting services plus a GBP 100 million loan provided to its client based in Sarawak, Malaysia. However, the bank did not conduct proper due diligence and did not sufficiently consider the environmental and social consequences of the project. This incompliance with its policies has led to this damage. The client has been witnessed destroying the rainforest in Malaysian Borneo and expanding its businesses through corruption. Hence, HSBC became one of the convicts for supporting the client's wrongdoing by providing lending and helping its efforts to causing significant social damage. This is a warning for banking and finance institutions that their traditional "blindly chasing profit" attitude is not going to fit well in the present circumstances.

Although there has not been such an overt case occurred in Mongolia, there are several cases similar to this. For instance, it is visibly clear for everyone to see that the buildings constructed with no green areas, parking space or passenger roads are the results of short-sighted decisions made incompliant with the fundamental requirements for urban planning and building construction. Consequently, the capital city has become a chaotic and dusty urban planning mess. The pursuit for mining, gold, sand and gravel without reclamation has led to dried up rivers and streams and destroyed mountains. Even though everyone is witnessing this and complaining, neither the state nor the citizen is taking appropriate measures. Are we going to continue this?

In order to break this vicious cycle, banks led by the Mongolian Bankers Association united to approve the 8 Mongolian Sustainable Finance Principles in 2013 and thereby named it the Mongolian Sustainable Finance (MSF Initiative). The implementation of sustainable finance will require the borrower to be environmentally and socially responsible. The banks will not only review the financial feasibility of the project but also the social and environmental impacts.

Mongolians have an inherently traditional mindset of respecting and protecting the environment stronger than that of any civilization. We did not initiate the MSF Initiative to serve someone's interests or under someone's pressure or with directions from regulators. It is designed to be an initiative which fits the desires, opportunities and features of Mongolians. Therefore, the MSF Initiative has received a lot of support and is being implemented progressively and successfully. It is becoming a movement relevant to every Mongolian and fits the fundamental mindset of a Mongolian person. We believe that this movement and initiative will not be limited to the banking sector, with other business sectors following the lead by launching initiatives such as sustainable insurance, sustainable mining, sustainable construction, sustainable telecommunications and many more.

Although the government, businesses, citizens support the MSF Initiative, in order to make sustainable financing more constructive and inclusive, there is an imminent need to establish a financial incentive mechanism that promotes green project developers. Based on this need, the working group is focusing on the creation of a Green Credit Fund as the next phase of the MSF Initiative.

There are many examples of green credit funds created in different countries. For instance, the Government of Egypt established a Social Fund for Development with the aid from international institutions in 1992.[2] The Government of South Africa founded a Green Fund[3] with capitalisation of USD 60 million and started providing soft loans for sustainable and green projects. Rwanda established its Fonerwa Fund[4] in 2012 and attracted investment from the Green Climate Fund. It is successfully financing green projects. Most of these funds are established by the leadership and decision-making of the government. The Indonesian Tropical Landscapes Finance Facility[5] founded in October 2016 is initiated and managed by the private sector. Although the Government of Indonesia provided guarantees and policy support, a professional fund manager, international institutions and investors are collaborating on the business model, financing sources and management of the Fund. This business model resulted in a faster, valuable and broader project.

Based on the global goal to fight against environmental and climate change and the availability of increased investment and financial resources to help governments meet the green development goals, the establishment of green credit funds, especially under public private partnership, is becoming popular.

Typically, Mongolia is always behind other countries, duplicating and learning from their practices.  However in terms of implementing sustainable financing practices and the establishing a green finance mechanism, Mongolia is becoming a role model in certain aspects. It can be seen from the events below that the time has come for Mongolia to establish a Green Credit Fund.

1.    Mongolia is committed. Mongolia joined the Paris agreement and is committed to reducing CO2 emissions by 14 percent of its expected level by 2030. In order to achieve this, Mongolia has to make drastic policy changes and implement new projects in various sectors.

2.    The source of funding is increasing. Green funding and financing sources are increasing all over the world. For instance, more developed countries declared to fund USD100 billion through 2020 via the Green Climate Fund.

3.    Mongolian policy framework is ready. The MongolianSustainable Development Vision, Green Development Policy and the laws and regulations on renewable energy and energy efficiency have been approved.

4.    Green funding and financial products are needed. New green loan products such as green loan guarantees, green bonds and risk management solutions need to be introduced. The financing source is increasing in the foreign market. However it is in shortage in the domestic market.

5.    Demand for financing is increasing.  In order to achieve national green development goals, at least USD2.5 billion is required for funding projects. Also, there is market demand for USD100 million in energy efficiency on an annual basis.[6] Interest in green investment is increasing.

6.    Initiative and engagement from the private sector. This includes the successfully implemented Mongolian Sustainable Finance Initiative by banks and the Green Credit Fund project at its feasibility study stage.

7.    Support from international institutions. Good practice and collaboration experience with international institutions. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), Dutch Development Bank (FMO), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) have been supporting the Mongolian Sustainable Finance Initiative since the beginning. The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) is cooperating on the establishment of the Green Credit Fund.

Establishing the Green Credit Fund in Mongolia is unique compared to other countries. This project is being developed within the Sustainable Financing framework as a financing leverage.

In other words, the Green Credit Fund that we are planning to establish is not merely for funding green projects, but also it is becoming a broad, multi-stakeholder structure for developing our own standards of providing funding support and attracting investment for sustainable initiatives. For example, the Green Credit Fund is not merely a financial institution, rather an 'irrigation system' for supplying sustainable development.

The planned Green Credit Fund will be different from many state funds operating in Mongolia. This is neither a welfare fund nor a company established by banks for profit. It is a public- private partnership with good governance and the potential to become a good practice model for other projects. For example, today air pollution in the capital has reached a disastrous level, and there are lot of discussions around power generated heating solutions in ger districts. In the past, these were subsidised from the state budget or funded by government loans. These solutions were not productive. If a professionally managed private Green Credit Fund is established, loan products for leasing energy storage technologies and heating equipment could be developed. These products can be sustainably funded from the Green Climate Fund. As a result, the smoke in Ulaanbaatar city will be decreased; residents will be able to purchase equipment with a long-term low interest loan. This will contribute to the global goal to decrease CO2 emission levels, and everyone will be satisfied with the win-win outcome. The financing structure to support and fund projects contributing to the development of Mongolia on a sustainable basis is in fact metaphorically named the Green project "irrigation system."

In any development, it is important to have a policy with long-term vision, the right management for successful implementation and suitable financial leverage available for everyone. The Green Credit Fund will be a financial structure which attracts financing from increasing global investment to Mongolia case by case available for all businesses, citizens and borrowers. It will be self-sustaining with the ability to generate funding with independent and professional management. Without the correct system for green financing, we cannot diminish the current monopoly of the "hungry for money" culture. In the future, we will proudly not have to answer our kids' questions: "Why is Ulaanbaatar so polluted? What did you do?"

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Best Buidan couches in great demand

March 15 (MONTSAME) Mongolian national manufacturer "Best Buidan" Company is producing more than 15,000 sofas and 2,000 other furnitures per year, while partnering with China's "Hebei Chang An Plastics", "Hong Yan Leather" and "OuNuoYa Textile" and Russia's Viniltex and Lumitex companies.

In 2013, Best Buidan expanded its operations by establishing subsidiaries named "Best Style" in field of commerce, "Best House" in construction assembling and "Best Service" in maintenance of coaches and furniture. Best Buidan's special set for living rooms is one of the factory's most demanded product, which is distinguished from other brand of furniture by its unique designs inspired by Mongolian traditional style.

In Mongolia, where children and youth constitute over 60 percent of the population, living room couches are children's playing area and the favorite place to sit back and watch TV. Therefore, "Best Buidan" has always been trying to make the cushions, covers and wooden parts of coaches out of the best materials there are, and constantly tries to improve quality. The company, as a caregiver to the society, launched a much appreciated humanitarian project named "Call of Compassion", through which 10 families in-need have been granted housing apartments of "Best House".

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BCM Monthly Meeting Recap, March 2017

March 14 (BCM) The Business Council of Mongolia's (BCM's) monthly meeting was held on Monday, 13 March 2017 at the Best Western Tuushin with BCM Chairman Byambasaikhan Bayanjargal hosting for an audience of 170 members and invited guests.

BCM UPDATE:

Executive Director Mergen Chuluun opened the meeting with an introduction of the newest members of the BCM management team.

  • Chimednyam Purev-Ochir – Director of Policy and Advocacy
  • Tuvshin Orlokh – Research Analyst and Editor of Newswire
  • New Working Group chairs – a complete listing can be found here. Executive Director Chuluun encourages any member who is not part of a Working Group to join one.

Working Groups update:

Business Ethics Working Group

The Business Ethics WG held a meeting on 7 February on Anti-Bribery Management Systems and the new ISO standard. The WG also developed the BCM's anti-corruption position statement. A summary of the meeting can be found here.

Energy and Environmental Working Group

The Energy and Environmental WG held a meeting on 8 February to discuss air pollution. Mr. Chuluun noted that Wagner Asia is making air pollution its key CSR initiative in 2017. The BCM guideline for companies to combat air pollution was sent to all members and printed in various media outlets on March 2.

Upcoming events

  • Digital Business Conference 2017 organized by MLC Content LLC – March 15 at IT Park (20% discount for BCM members).
  • Mongolia Gold 2017 organized by InfoMine – March 17 at the Chinggis Khan Hotel (20% discount for BCM members).
  • Mongolia Economic Forum 2017 – March 30-31 at the State Palace (10% discount for BCM members).
  • Jiu Jitsu Open Day Event organized by the Mongolian Jiu Jitsu Association – April 1 at Garuda Club (free, registration was held at monthly meeting).
  • 6th Mongolia London Business Forum organized by the Mongolian British Chamber of Commerce and Bloomberg – April 5 at City House Gate in London, UK (online registration).
  • Mongolia Mining 2017 organized by Minex Mongolia – April 5-7 at Buyant Ukhaa (free).
  • 27th Annual NAMBC AGM & Investors Forum – April 27-28 in Washington, DC (online registration).
  • 2nd Annual BCM Summit – July 19-20 in Ulaanbaatar (theme is "Regional Connectivity in Asia").
  • TUNSHLEL 2017 Malaysia-Mongolia Investors Forum organized by Hillcrest LLC and Crest Global Resources – July 4-5 at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (Mitec). There is a 15% discount for BCM members registered before March 31. Please contact saruul@bcmongolia.org for more info.

NEW MEMBERS:

6 new members introduced:

·         Asian Way – In operation since 2000, it is an international logistics and transportation service with a worldwide agency network.

·         Discover Mongolia Travel – A tourism company offering tours and excursions, car rental, and ticket bookings, among other services.

·         Landbridge – An international freight forwarder operating in air, sea, rail and truck and is a licensed customs broker.

·         Mongolian Jiu Jitsu Association – The MJJA has been around for 10 years in Mongolia. Jiu Jitsu is a form of martial arts that has been around for a century. The Association is hosting an open day for BCM members on Saturday, 1 April at Garuda Club.

·         PMI Mongolia Chapter – The local chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI), which is a not-for-profit professional membership association for project, program, and portfolio management professionals. It offers PMI training, PMP preparation and certification, and various networking opportunities.

·         Steptoe and Johnson – An international full-service law firm specializing in international trade, intellectual property, tax, complex regulatory, compliance, and dispute resolution.

PRESENTATIONS:

Remarks by Australian Ambassador to Mongolia John Langtry on the Women's Leadership Program

The Women's Leadership Program (WLP) is an extensive of the Australia Awards program, which has been running in Mongolia since 1994. "There are 440 Australia Awards graduates already working and contributing to the development of Mongolia, all the way up to members of parliament and also in areas of business and civil society," noted the Ambassador. Seventy percent of these are women, and the WLP aims to "improve their leadership skills and enable them to compete successfully for senior leadership and decision-making positions."

Since the beginning of the Australia Awards program, 60 women have participated in the WLP, with 18 in the course currently. They are working on four projects currently:

1.    Improving safety of children traveling to school by improving awareness and safety planning.

2.    Wheelchairs for Kids – 60 mobility impaired children are to receive wheelchairs specially made for kids who have a range of disabilities.

3.    Reducing risks in childbirth by improving mothers' awareness of prenatal care during pregnancy

4.    Improving pre-school education of herders' children in Uvs Province by providing mobile libraries.

"I've got no doubt that these projects will be successfully implemented and will make a significant contribution to the targeted communities," stated Ambassador Langtry. As a final appeal, Mr. Langtry added: "Any support you can provide by sharing your business experience, and yes, by some sponsorship, would be most welcome. Thank you very much."

Revised Law on Arbitration

Anthony Woolley of Hogan Lovells Mongolia, and Co-Chair of the BCM Legislative Working Group, gave members a briefing on important aspects of the revised Law on Arbitration, which was on approved on 26 Jan 2017 and entered into force on 27 Feb 2017. This revised law is based on the 1985 UNCITRAL Model Law. Eighteen other pieces of legislation were amended accordingly, including 15 laws which were revised to allow disputes to be resolved by arbitration. A detailed presentation on the revised Law on Arbitration by Anthony Woolley can be found on the BCM website.

Panel Discussion: "IMF Extended Fund Facility (EFF) and its implications on the private sector of Mongolia"

BCM invited D.Jargalsaikhan (Jargal DeFacto) to moderate a panel discussion on the topic of "IMF Extended Fund Facility and its implications on the private sector of Mongolia." On the panel were Deputy Governor of the Bank of Mongolia B.Lkhagvasuren; IMF Resident Representative for Mongolia Neil Saker; and the World Bank's Country Manager for Mongolia James Anderson. State Secretary of the Ministry of Finance B.Nyamaa unfortunately could not attend as planned.

Q. How do you see the overall situation regarding the EFF?

Neil Saker

  • Need to break the boom-bust cycle.
  • Working with government to achieve a growth rate of around 8%. "We don't want to see 17% growth again."
  • The EFF is a longer-term arrangement than the Stand-By Arrangement and still has a relatively low interest rate of about 2%.
  • Repayment period is much longer: program lasts for 3 years, but the repayment period will be up to 10 years.
  • Development Bank of Mongolia's bond issue has been settled. March 21 is no longer a pressing deadline.

Q. How do you see the implementation of the Khuraldai bond (which was bought because of the IMF package). How do you see this case of paying off debt with debt and its effect on the overall market situation, as well as economic diversification?

James Anderson

  • IMF program is Mongolia's program, Mongolia's vision
  • From World Bank's perspective, twin goals are eliminating absolute poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity
  • "The progress that you make during the boom times […] can be stopped or reversed if growth is not kept on a stable path." "Key result from the bond exchange was the amount of confidence that was voiced by investors in Mongolia's future"
  • Borrowing terms are determined by previous cases as well as government deficit. Making debt level sustainable requires paying attention to the fiscal side, seeing prospects for growth, supporting the private sector

Q. How do you see the USD 2 billion from Japan, South Korea and other partners as a condition of the IMF package? Please also address the expectation on the central bank's side to review the strength of commercial banks.

B.Lkhagvasuren

  • Previous government spent nearly USD 8 billion. BoM had USD 4 billion in 2012, and then government raised the Chinggis bond, bringing another USD 1.5 billion, as well as other bonds and swaps.
  • Already used the USD 1 billion swap with Bank of China, and swap has been extended until 2020
  • -1.6% growth in Q3 of 2016, but back to positive now, signs of recovery
  • Asset Quality Review (AQR) is a condition of the IMF program. BoM has experience doing this from the 2009 IMF program. Will announce tender and select audit company. "Not worried about this."
  • Non-performing loans of commercial banks has reached around 9%. 

D.Jargalsaikhan

  • What we do today is take out debt, and pay it off with another debt.
  • Worried current legislators and leaders will continue this trend.

Q. Previous central bank governor had a special contract with the government on a price stabilization program. Is there any guarantee that your (BoM's) team will not once again collude with the government in extending money in the economy?

B.Lkhagvasuren

  • Don't want to repeat past mistakes, so BoM is following the IMF program and heeding advice of other international financial institutions.
  • We are not reducing debt, just restructuring it. But this buys necessary time to readjust economy.
  • Central bank now has a review team; 3 governors have changed; new board members; will implement more internationally standard practices.

Q. How will tax hikes conditions of the IMF program affect poverty?

James Anderson

  • Fiscal rules, such as 2% of GDP deficit rule, are good on paper, but ignored in reality. Deficit was 18% of GDP last year. Off-budget spending leads to bad calculations.
  • There must not be off-budget spending. Honest accounting is the first step.

Q. How do you see strength of political and economic institutions in society? There is a crisis in governance on top of economics. What are your thoughts on the government reshuffling (new structure, agencies, etc.) after every election?

Neil Saker

  • Savings during boom period is crucial.
  • The sovereign wealth fund law to be implemented in a few years will take money off the table.
  • OT-2 coming on stream in early 2020s will be a huge increase in government revenues.

Q. Is there any power on your side to make sure Mongolia saves during the boom period, as a condition?

Neil Saker

  • Fiscal Stability Law is good on paper, ignored in reality
  • BoM has committed to stop spending on behalf of the government on quasi-fiscal activities
  • New measures aim to stop MPs from radically altering the state budget. MPs may change the composition of a proposed budget, but not the level of the budget.
  • Interest rates will fall after confidence returns, which in turn will help address poverty

Audience Q&A

Q: Is there anything that will address lending of money to contractors who have unreasonably high costs on projects, who aim to pocket state funds by giving figures much higher than actual costs?

B.Lkhagvasuren

  • There has been a two-tier banking system for 27 years. Central bank has an examiner's unit to check banks' assets.
  • Main purpose is to check banks' health. Don't check every detail. Mainly look at standards, financial ratios, etc.

Neil Saker

  • BoM Law will be revised. There will be more checks and balances. BoM will vote on certain key decisions.
  • Anti-money laundering will be strengthened, which will help address corruption regarding projects.

Q: How much of the 7-8% growth sought is in mining, how many new mines will be put into operation?

Neil Saker

  • Mining is the backbone of the economy. Long-term prospects are still optimistic. Revenues need to be saved.
  • Measures to strengthen agriculture and tourism are in the framework for economic diversification.
  • Need competitive exchange rate
  • Need banking that supports SMEs

James Anderson

  • The last boom period was a double-boom of investment and mining.
  • On diversification:
  • Need to understand the obstacles and support needed
  • Animal health is vital
  • Trade facilitation needs to be improved
  • Look for the low-hanging fruit

Q: What do you say to complaints about not spending cuts while raising taxes?

Neil Saker

  • Don't want economy to collapse through sudden, deep cuts. Two-thirds of the program entail cutting spending, one-third raising taxes.
  • Cutting capital expenditures will disincentivize imports, which will improve balance of payments.
  • Child money will be retargeted, with the savings going to food stamps.
  • Salary freezes on government workers, but inflation is low at the moment so it should not be too worrying.

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Ulaanbaatar

Emissions from burning tires poison the human body for 8 years

March 15 (gogo.mn) As air pollution concerns National security of Mongolia, City Inspection Agency conducted investigation on individuals, services and entities operating in 129 khoroos of Ulaanbaatar city that are using air pollution sources. 

Total of 1962 objects were examined, of which 78 of them ordered to use electric heaters and six entities changed their stoves with complete combustion stoves. 

City Inspection Agency warns that large amount of persistent organic pollutants including furans and dioxins emit when burning used tires, plastics and waste.

Such types of pollutants are stored in air for 32 days, in soils for 10-12 years and in the human body for more than 8 years while it will cause cancer, reduce immune system, harm fetal and brain development. 

Thus every citizen should contribute to reducing air pollution by reporting the offenses at (976) -77775000. 

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Diplomacy

Mongolian parliament delegates visit Germany

Ulaanbaatar, March 15 (MONTSAME) Delegates led by head of Standing Committee on Economics and head of Mongolian-German Parliamentary Group MP D.Terbishdagva visits Federal Republic of Germany by the invitation of Bundestag of Germany (legislative body) between March 8 and 10.

Among the delegates were the head of Mongolia-Germany parliamentary sub-group MP D.Gantulga and MPs D.Tsogtbaatar, B.Undarmaa and D.Murat.

The members of the Parliament discussed the issues on Mongolia-Germany relations and cooperation with Vice President of the Bundestag Michaela Noll, Director of Defense Committee of the Bundestag Wolfgang Hellmich, Chairman of German-Central Asian parliamentary group Manfred Grund along with other members of the group, Committee on Foreign Affairs of Bundestag, Committee on Economic Cooperation and Development and State Secretary of the Federal Foreign office Dr. Markus Ederer respectively. The delegates also met with the representatives of the federal foundations of Germany that are operating in Mongolia.

On March 10, delegates visited a federal state in central Germany, Thuringia where they shared experience on mine reclamation. Then, the delegates attended a business event in the area and MP D.Terbishdagva gave a presentation to the business owners. 

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New Permanent Representative to UN Office at Vienna appointed

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ During its regular meeting on March 15, the Cabinet resolved to appoint Battungalag Gankhuurai, Ambassador-Designate of Mongolia to Austria as the new Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations Office in Vienna.

Her predecessor Batjargal Gunaajav worked as Mongolia's Permanent Representative to the UN Office at Vienna since March, 2013.

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Russian health ministry delegation visits Mongolia

March 15 (news.mn) A Russian health delegation led by Olga Knorre, member of the Coordinating Council for Tobacco Control and Victor Zikov, Deputy Head of the Federal Research Institute for Health Organization and Informatics of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation has visited Ulaanbaatar at the invitation of A.Tsogtsetseg, the country's Health Minister. This visit aims to support Mongolia within the principles of the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) whilst supporting the Mongolian Law on Tobacco Control.

During the visit, the two sides exchanged views on the legal environment for tobacco control and emphasised a demand to make amendments to the Mongolian Law on Tobacco Control in compliance with social needs. The Russian specialists shared their experience on tobacco control and expressed their willingness to work with officials from the sector in Mongolia.

The Law on Tobacco Control of Mongolia was approved in 1993 and revised in 2005, 2012 and 2015 respectively.

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Cuban biotechnological products arouse great interest in Mongolia

MONGOLIA, March 14, 2017 (Cuban Embassy in Mongolia) - With the presence of the Minister of Defense and President of the Cuba-Mongolia Parliamentary Friendship Group, Mr. B.Bat-Erdene, Dr. Eulogio Pimentel, Director of the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology held a business meeting with Mongolia's leading institutions, companies and health authorities.

Also were present the President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Mongolia, Mr. B.Lhkhagajav, the President of the Medical Academy of Mongolia Dr. PhD. G.Oyunbileg and CEOs of leading state and private pharmaceutical companies, medical and health research, and Mr. D.Gansukh, Director of America Africa and Middle East of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The meeting was organized by the Cuban Embassy and aimed to welcome the Director of the CIGB and the delegation that accompanies him as part of his working week in Mongolia. Ambassador Raul Delgado Concepción, in the opening remarks, stressed the importance of the visit to consolidate the cooperation relations between the two countries.

The authorities with whom the delegation had the opportunity to exchange showed great interest in some of the products like Gavac (tick vaccine in cattle), Heberprot-P (therapy for diabetic foot ulcers), vaccines against Hepatitis B, among others. In the program of tomorrow the delegation plans to continue its work week with visits to different Hospitals and Health Centers of the city of Ulaanbaatar.

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Vaccine against mites to be tested jointly with Cuban specialists

Ulaanbaatar, March 15 (MONTSAME) Vaccine against mites will be tested on animals in Mongolia and the result will be studied jointly by Mongolian and Cuban specialists. Mr. Eulogio Pimentel, Director General of the Center for the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology of the Republic of Cuba, executive manager of the center and experts of biotechnology projects are paying a working visit in Mongolia.

Yesterday, March 14, they visited the National Center for Zoonotic Diseases, introducing some of their products. The authorities of the National Center held a meeting with the Cuban specialists and agreed to implement the abovementioned research project jointly as well as to establish cooperation agreement with the "Pedro Kouri" Institute of Tropical Medicine. 

Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba to Mongolia Raul Delgado Concepcion attended the meeting and vowed to support the project.

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Mongolian peacekeepers rescue two-year-old child in South Sudan

March 15 (news.mn) Mongolian peacekeepers, participating in the UNMISS in South Sudan, have rescued a two-year-old child. On the evening of 8th March at 9 pm, two sergeants of the Mongolian Army, T.Buyanzul and O.Tsend-Ayush discovered a small child wandering alone who was clearly lost in the dark, some 150 meters from the their barracks. Three worried locals later came to barracks in search of the child. The Mongolian peacekeepers reported the situation to UN Police and the child, whose name is Nia Ghaak, was returned child to the family.

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Related:

Mongolian peacekeepers return lost boy to parentsMontsame, March 17

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Health & Education

Bayan-Ulgii opens blood center with ADB grant

Ulaanbaatar, March 15 (MONTSAME) Bayan-Ulgii aimag, the remote western part of Mongolia now has a Blood center with modern equipment granted by the Asian Development Bank. A blood department used to operate here and it has been expanded to a center, as new equipment of MNT400 billion had been installed and renovation of MNT70 million had been made in the building.

New center will process 120-150 liters of blood and 6 types of blood products, including a product that influences to Factor 8, a blood clotting protein, which has not been produced in the western province. Bayan-Ulgii aimag marks 3rd of every month as a Blood granting day.

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Russian language center opens in Khuvsgul aimag

Ulaanbaatar, March 15 (MONTSAME) A Russian language center, a branch of the Russian Science and Cultural Center has opened in Khuvsgul aimag. The language center will conduct courses of Russian language, prepare and support youth for scholarships in Russian universities and institutes, jointly organize Russian language olympiad at aimag level and organize trainings and workshops for Russian language teachers, inviting leading professors from the Russian Federation.

The center was established according to an agreement between the Science and Cultural Center of Russia in Ulaanbaatar and the Department of Education, Culture and Art of Khuvsgul aimag.

Attendees at the opening ceremony were General Counsel of the Russian Federation in Erdenet city R.R.Rakshaev, Director of the Science and Cultural Center of Russia in Ulaanbaatar E.G.Michailov, Governor of Khuvsgul aimag L.Ganbold, and Deputy Governor of the aimag A.Erdenebaatar.

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Australia Awards' Women's Leadership Program in Mongolia implementing four projects

Ulaanbaatar, March 15 (MONTSAME) The Women's Leadership Program (WLP) is an extensive of the Australia Awards program, which has been running in Mongolia since 1994. Since the beginning of the Australia Awards program, 60 women have participated in the WLP, with 18 in the course currently and they are working on four projects.

The projects include, Improving of safety of children traveling to school by enhancing awareness and safety planning; Wheelchairs for Kids – 60 children with mobility impairment are to receive wheelchairs specially made for kids who have a range of disabilities; Reducing risks in childbirth by improving mothers' awareness of prenatal care during pregnancy and Improving pre-school education of herders' children in Uvs Province by providing mobile libraries.

Australian Ambassador to Mongolia John Langtry made remarks on WLP during a meeting of the Business Council of Mongolia held on March 13. "There are 440 Australia Awards alumnae already working and contributing to the development of Mongolia, all the way up to members of parliament and also in areas of business and civil society. I've got no doubt that these WLP projects will be successfully implemented and will make a significant contribution to the targeted communities," noted the Ambassador.

Seventy percent of Australia Awards graduates are women, and the WLP aims to improve their leadership skills and enable them to compete successfully for senior leadership and decision-making positions.

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Cadip.org: Volunteer in Mongolia

DEVELOPING A SUMMER FARM CAMP FOR CHILDREN

DEVELOPING AN ECO-FARM AND TRAINING CENTER

SUMMER CAMP FOR MONGOLIAN CHILDREN

TEACHING ENGLISH TO STUDENTS IN ULAANBAATAR

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Culture & Society

The crisis in Mongolia you didn't know about

March 4 (Zoomin.TV) In Mongolia, a typically rare climate crisis has unfortunately become not so rare. Herds are dying by the millions and the Red Cross is stepping in.

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Tsaatan – The Reindeer Herders of Mongolia

March 14 (Caravan Outdoors) Tsaatan is a Turkic nomadic tribe of people living in the northern Mongolia. They are mostly popular for their lifestyle revolving only around the Reindeer. A smaller community comprising of nomadic people have a simpler lifestyle.

Overview

Tsaatan or Dukha people belong to a small Tuvan Turkic community of reindeer herders living in northern Khövsgöl Aimag of Mongolia, formerly USSR. The name Tsaatan means 'those who have reindeer' in the local dialect. They invest their entire life rearing, herding and taming the Reindeer.

There are only about 40 houses or around 300 Tsaatan people left in the region who still practice their nomadic lifestyle. The dwindling number of reindeer in the wild is the major reason for the shrinkage of the community.

The reindeer are mostly tamed for commute and riding around. They aren't used for pulling the sledge. The practice of rearing reindeer is to produce milk, cheese and butter for daily consumption. The lack of vegetation and other meal substitute makes Tsaatans to depend entirely on their pets for food.

Children are taught to tame reindeer at the young age, as the early part of their life revolves around controlling the beasts for various purposes.

If there were no reindeer we would not exist

History

Originally from the Tuva region of Russia, the Tsaatan are the last groups of nomadic reindeer herders in the world. They practice the Shaman religion; they are indebted to their local environment and perform many mystical rituals to help cater their nomadic lifestyle.

Present Day

Tuva was annexed to the USSR in 1944, hence the border was closed and monitored. During and after WWII, most Tsaatans fled from their homeland to settle in the nearby Mongolia. Moving out of USSR had many benefits; they shared trade and cultural relations with the Mongolian herders, elevate food shortages during the time of war, save domesticated animals from being requisite by the USSR, diseases and famine, etc.

After constant deportations from the Mongolian government, they finally received the official status to stay in Monglia in 1956. Today, they still practice their nomadic lifestyle in peace.

Meet the Tsaatan Nomads @BoredPanda

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Funny Thing Happened Last Week: John Oliver, Dalai Lama, Mongolia

By Julian Dierkes

March 15 (Mongolia Focus) One of the reasons I encourage graduate students to be strategic about communicating their research results is that you never know when and on what topic the public comes knocking on your door.

Sometimes the public comes in the form of a John Oliver interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, viewed more than 4.5 million in the first five days since it was posted.

Obviously, the Dalai Lama is well-known for his sense of humour, so perhaps not surprising that he would be interviewed for a comedy news show.

In this vein, perhaps it is also not so surprising that he ended up talking about fermented mare's milk in Mongolia. Hey, why not?

And as Tsogtbaatar B says (more about that below),

Well, who am I to judge Dalai Lama?

Sudden Interest in Alcoholism in Mongolia

Obviously, when the Dalai Lama mentions something, and even more when he does so in response to a John Oliver question, the world appears to get interested.

In the case of our Mongolia Focus blog, that means the world suddenly got interested in a post that Mendee wrote in 2012: "Mongolia – Without Vodka, Cheers with Milk".

Now, as blogs are organized chronologically, a 2012 post is buried pretty deeply on our blog. We have written over 450 posts in the 5 1/2 years of operation of our blog until today (March 2017), so it is highly unlikely that anyone would find this blog post by clicking on <next post>.

But, somehow, someone found the post and posted a link on a scientific skepticism site. I can't quite figure out whether it is this post that has driven traffic, but more than 500 people read that post in the days after the John Oliver segment aired.

Just to put this in perspective, apart from election coverage when we see huge spikes in readership, a regular blog post does well when it gets over 100 readers in the first couple of days after posting. There are exceptions, like Marissa Smith's recent guest post on the Erdenet NoSale which has been read more than 500 times since it came out already, but 500 readers for a 2012 post is a very big number, even in the grand scheme of things, i.e. the over of a quarter million page views that our blog has had since we started writing.

In the world of blogging about Mongolia, that's about as viral as you're going to get, even if it is only 0.01% of the viewership of the John Oliver video.

And then, the Media

Not surprisingly, as John Oliver's brand of news comedy seems to be popular with journalists and the public, this mention of Mongolian alcohol abuse also caught the attention of journalists.

And sure enough, some days after the interview, a post showed up on U.S. National Public Radio's Goats and Soda blog: "Looking into the Horse Milk Story that the Dalai Lama Told John Oliver". An aside: the name for this health blog "Goats and Soda" apparently derived from some travel in Africa where goats and carbonated sugar water seemed ubiquitous, but obviously, any blog that has "goats" in the name seems an appropriate place for writing about Mongolia.

Since Pres. Elbegdorj' office didn't respond to a request for an interview (perhaps, the Dalai Lama remains too controversial a topic for officials following the recent spat with China over HHDL's visit in November 2016), NPR's Angus Chen turned to blogging experts on Mongolia. The story thus cites Mendee J, co-founded and frequent contributor to this blog, but also Tsogtbaatar B. Not only was I a member of Tsogoo's dissertation committee, but he has also written for this blog in the past while now serving as the director of the Public Health Institute of Mongolia. Since his work is directly related to this story, I hope that the sudden media attention raises awareness of public health issues Mongolia is facing in Mongolia itself and abroad.

Who Cares?

Allyson Seaborn along with many other people most likely, was somewhat annoyed by the John Oliver-HHDL hoopla after a few days.

I will note here that the substance of the Oliver-HHDL interview is not really quite worth commenting on.

Of course, the Dalai Lama did not cure alcoholism. Of course, horse milk is typically consumed as airag, i.e. fermented, and thus alcoholic. Of course, Mongolians and many other people have been consuming fermented mare's milk for many centuries. And of course, Oliver and HHDL both capitalize on the exoticization of Mongolia as "Outer Mongolia" and of fermented mare's milk.

But the fact that Mendee's very old blog post has found hundreds of readers is of interest to me. Some of those readers were hopefully interested in other blog posts. Maybe some of them even got more interested in Mongolia than an initial "oh, how exotic way". That is often not easy to achieve when you're offering analysis of contemporary Mongolia.

Conclusion

As researchers, we should be ready to leverage the attention that sometimes random connections might bring, to raise awareness of our analyses and the issues we care about.

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Author L.Ulziitugs's book published in French, introduced in Brussels

Ulaanbaatar, March 15 (MONTSAME) The Embassy of Mongolia to the Kingdom of Belgium in collaboration with the European Institute for Asian Studies organized an introductory event of the "Aquarium" story collection of Mongolian author L.Ulziitugs' in Brussels, Belgium on March 13.

The event was opened by a speech of O.Och, Ambassador of Mongolia to the Kingdom of Belgium. The book was published by a French publishing company "Borealia" and is the fourth Mongolian book to be translated to French.

Also, author L.Ulziitugs and his husband G.Ayurzana, who is also a famous Mongolian writer attended a book exhibition took place in Brussels on March 9-13. The exhibition annually takes place in order to promote literature that are being published into French language and well-respected writers from France, Switzerland, Luxemburg and Canada participate in the event.

It is perceived from the fact that Mongolian authors attending the exhibition was of great importance in promoting the Mongolian literature.

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Nature & Environment

Cabinet determines nature reserve boundaries in two aimags

Ulaanbaatar, March 16 /MONTSAME/ During its regular meeting on March 15, the Cabinet approved the boundaries for nature reserves in two aimags.

Firstly, the boundary of the Tost, Toson Bumba Mountain Nature Reserve in Gurvantes soum of Umnugobi aimag was determined as 743058.00 ha area.

In connection with the decision, corresponding officials and ministers were ordered to reach consensus on termination of mining licenses within the nature reserve boundary with the license holders. The Cabinet's decision increases the total area of nationally protected areas by 0.4 percent.

Secondly, the Cabinet defined the boundary of Noyon Mountain Range Nature Reserve which covers territories of Mandal soum, Selenge aimag and Bornuur and Batsumber soums of Tuv aimag. The nature reserve's boundary has been finalized as 11127.05 ha area in Selenge aimag and 650.0 ha area in Tuv aimag.

Thus, 11837.05 ha area surrounding the Noyon Mountain Range Nature Reserve is now protected by the Government, increasing the total area of protected areas by 0.04 percent. There are 5 special mining and exploration licenses in the now protected area.

The Noyon Mountain Range is rich in historical and archaeological remains. Corresponding organizations and governors were assigned to hold talks with related sides on the issue of nature reserve compensations and register them to database.

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Sports

Japan to train best of Mongolian fencing athletes

Ulaanbaatar, March 15 (MONTSAME) Mongolian best fencing athletes to leave for Japan on Friday, March 16, to have a 10-day joint training with Japanese fencers.

The Fencing Association of Mongolia and Imabetsu town in the Aomori prefecture, Japan signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2015 with an aim to increase cooperation between two sides in the build-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Within the framework of the cooperation, Mongolian fencers are involved in joint training in Japan annually and this year is the second time of the training.

Previously, only around 40 people were engaged in fencing and now the number have increased to over 300 as more and more people in Mongolia are becoming interested in this sport.

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Mongolia the location for world's toughest motorcycle challenge

BMW owners can get involved by signing up to the Spring Bank Holiday qualifier in Ystradgynlais, South Wales

March 16 (Press Association) The next edition of one of the world's toughest motorcycle challenges will take place in Mongolia, with amateur riders set to battle their way through mountains, deserts and rivers.

The sixth BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy, due to be held in early summer 2018, will pit teams of non-professional riders from all over the world against one another, to complete riding, adventure and teamwork challenges in the sparsely populated wilds of Mongolia.

BMW riders in the UK are invited to attend the qualifier over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend (May 28 – 29) in Ystradgynlais, South Wales, where they will undertake a series of tasks and challenges, which mimic those of the Trophy.

Enduro specialist Simon Pavey, who runs BMW Off Road Skills, where the UK qualifier will take place, commented on the news of the location for the challenge.

"Mongolia is a pretty interesting choice for the Trophy as it's quite a remote location," he said.

"It will be amazing for the competitors as it's not like a motorcycle race, it's more like a gymkhana – like the Camel Trophy was for four wheel drives back in the day.

"The Trophy is always about having surprises and getting competitors to think, and there will definitely be surprises."

Previously, the biennial expeditions have been held in North and South Africa, North and South America and Southeast Asia. In the 2016 event, 19 teams of riders covered more than 1,400km in seven days, through treacherous terrain in brutal temperatures.

Teams from 16 countries, including Argentina, France, Russia and South Korea are so far confirmed to take part in the 2018 event, with an international female team also set to compete following a successful introduction in 2016.

The top performers in each national qualifier will go through to a final, where three will be selected for positions on their country's team. Meanwhile, the highest-scoring two women in each qualifier will be put forward for an international final, to fight for a spot on the female team.

The chosen riders will then be kitted up and flown to Mongolia, where they will take part in the challenge on GS motorcycles.

To be eligible to take part in the GS Trophy qualifier, riders need only be current owner of a BMW motorcycle, aged over 21 and hold a full motorcycle licence and British passport. A £99 entry fee is required.

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Similar:

GS challengers gun for Mongolia in sweltering Storms River sunCxpress, March 15

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Art & Entertainment

Mongolian artist exhibits in Austria

March 15 (news.mn) Mongolians living in Austria in cooperation with the Administration of the Schruns municipality of the federal state of Vorarlberg has organized a cultural event entitled 'die Mongolei zu Gast in Montafon' ('Mongolia visits Montafon') for promoting Mongolian traditions. Montafon is the name of a beautiful Alpine valley in Vorarlberg.

On the sidelines of the event, the 'Mongolica' art exhibition by the artist S.Purevkhuu, opened on 10th of March at the MAP gallery. On display are over 30 works of art. The exhibition was officially opened by Vorarlberg State Cultural Director and Member of the Austrian Parliament K.Burkhart and J.Sereenjav, who is a coordinator of tours from Mongolia to Austria. The Mongolian folk band 'Kukh Mongol' performed during the opening ceremony.

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Travel

Khuvsgul ice festival attracts tourists from 70 countries

March 15 (news.mn) Last week, more than 10,000 Mongolians and foreign tourists and some 2,000 vehicles congregated at the village of  Khatgal in the northern Khuvsgul aimag (province) . The reason - the 'Blue Pearl - 2017' ice festival which took place on the frozen Lake Khuvsgul. The lake is truly beautiful and is an ecological gem.

The Ice Festival has been organized since 2000, with the aim for promoting winter tourism. This year's highlights included a show performed by the Hockey Club of Mongolia and dogsled tours.

Festival-goers also enjoyed taking photographs with the reindeer, the sixth type of livestock in Mongolia (along with the horses, cows, yaks, sheep and goats). They also had the opportunity of witnessing the lifestyle of the reindeer herders, native only to the Khuvsgul taiga. Amateur competitions, such as an ice-knuckle-bone throwing contest, a race of sled horses, tug-o-war, sumo wrestling and traditional costume shows, were held.

Five Ambassadors and professional photography teams from 12 countries participated in the ice festival. The number of festival-goers has almost doubled compared to that of 2016.

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Condé Nast Traveler Videos: The Mongolian Way of Life

March 15 (Condé Nast Traveler) Conde Nearly half of Mongolia's population of 3 million lives in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar—but there's still a thriving nomadic culture crossing the vast countryside. There are eagle hunters, farmers, and families living in ger (or "yurts") with horses and goats in tow. More and more travelers are exploring Mongolia's natural beauty, but to really understand it, you have to travel off-road through the mountains and steppes and meet its people.

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Compass Expeditions – New Motorcycle Tour – Mongolia magic

Only if we get to stay in a yurt.

March 15 -- Compass Expeditions is excited to announce our latest unique riding destination, Mongolia.

"This is definitely one of the most exciting, remote and rarely visited regions left on earth, its true last frontier stuff", says Compass Expeditions director Mick McDonald, "Mongolia is always a standout highlight for our riders on the epic 105 day Road of Bones Expedition" continues Mick.

Mongolia has one of the last surviving nomadic societies left on earth with over 50% of the population still living a nomadic lifestyle totally dependent on the remote summer pastures; riding Mongolia perhaps offers riders the last glimmer of total riding freedom on earth and a wonderful disconnect from our manic world.

Compass Expeditions has a great knowledge of Mongolia and is offering a 14-day all-inclusive ride of this stunning landscape of towering mountains, crystal clear lakes, vast open grasslands dotted with ger camps and Buddhist monasteries.

For more details on this rare opportunity to ride this "last frontier" in 2018 please contact craig@compassexpeditions.com or call 1300 887 327 (within Australia) or +61 3 9747 2379 (outside Australia)

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