Monday, February 13, 2017

[Erdenet taken into full state ownership; FM flies to Moscow; KCC raises C$0.5m; and DBM restructure paves way for IMF]

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Monday, February 13, 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

·         Kincora Completes C$0.5 Million Private Placement

·         SailingStone Capital Increases Turquoise Hill Holding to 11.3% from 10.6%

Local Market

·         MSE Top 20 -0.51%, ALL -0.36%, Turnover ₮18.3M Shares, ₮159.4M T-Bills

·         MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 -0.48%, ALL -0.33%, Turnover ₮115.6M Shares, ₮12.2B T-Bills

·         GoM offering ₮12 billion 28-week, ₮5 billion 104-week t-bills at 17.514%, 18% discounts on MSE

·         25 MSE Stocks File Fourth Quarter Financial Reports


·         MNT losing streak against USD extends to 8 sessions

·         BoM issues ₮96.5 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -5.5% to ₮526 billion

·         Bank of Mongolia finances ₮111.8 billion mortgages since November

·         Mongolia paves the way for IMF bailout

·         Parliament approves revised law on Development bank

·         Mongolian horse seeks white knight

·         How the World's Fastest-Growing Economy Went Bust

·         2016 Business Trust Index finds 40% of businesses unsure of expansion

·         S. Demberel: A Rookie mistake made by "Oldie" Columnist

Politics & Legal

·         Mongolia Parliament Votes to Nationalize Erdenet Copper Mine

·         Government to fully own Erdenet Mining Corporation

·         Parliament spring session agenda adopted

·         Parliament approves revised law on Naadam festival

·         Internal troops reinstated by Parliament

·         Draft new wording of Law on Public Service presented

·         National forum discusses seniors' issues

·         Anti-corruption experience of Singapore presented to practitioners from Moldova, Mongolia, Ukraine and Tajikistan at OSCE workshop in Vienna

·         Human rights defender profile: Otgonbaatar Tsedendemberel from Mongolia

·         AmCham Daily Newswire for February 10, 2017

·         Jargal Defacto: A mindset on life support


·         BCM Welcomes New Director of Policy & Advocacy

·         Mongolia Enacts New Law on Hygiene Affecting Employers

·         Transport deal to enable agricultural suppliers to sell goods at market prices

·         Dried milk production equipment to be installed in all soums and aimags

·         Mongolia: Mining Infrastructure Investment Support (MINIS) Project


·         UB City Council declares to comprehensively resolve city problems

·         Elevated levels of lead found in Ulaanbaatar children's blood

·         Scientists will submit proposals to reduce air pollution next month

·         Businesses discuss supporting anti-air pollution efforts

·         Protecting Ulaanbaatar wildlife with 'biotechnical measures'


·         Foreign Minister visiting Russia on February 13-14

·         Foreign Minister meets Turkish Ambassador

·         Polish Sejm hosts "Mongolia Through Lenses" exhibition

·         Hungary to admit 200 Mongolian students this year

Health & Education

·         HIV/AIDS project to continue until 2021

·         Rare dual lobe liver surgery gives new lease of life to Mongolian man

·         Asia Education Foundation: Mongolia Study Program

Culture & Society

·         Fellowships Deadline February 15,  ACMS Annual Meeting March 17th

·         Mongolian shearer's challenge

·         EU SWITCH-Asia Programme: Shear Innovation

·         Mongolia, Land of the Horse People

·         Mongolia's Naadam Festival and its 'Manly' National Sports

·         Mongolia – with Wild Women Expeditions

·         Social versus Spatial Mobility? Mongolia's Pastoralists in the Educational Development Discourse

Nature & Environment

·         A million animals at risk as Mongolia's brutal winter hits herders

·         Mongolia: Severe Winter Emergency Appeal

·         Mongolia: Severe Winter Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA)

·         Beavers fleeing destroyed habitats

·         Biocombinat needs urgent upgrade to avoid importing vaccines

·         Disease Threatens To Wipe Out Critically Endangered Population Of Saiga Antelope

·         Quarantines launched due to epidemic destruction of saiga antelopes

·         New data on the stratigraphy of the crystalline complexes of Mongolia

·         From prairie to Gobi in search of dinosaurs


·         Mongolia NOC's Olympic Districts Organise Games, Performances

·         S. Korean trail caretaker to open two hiking trails in Mongolia in June

·         Scots expats buy second-hand car in Australia and begin incredible 44,000-mile drive home

Art & Entertainment

·         7-year-old pianist wins gold at the 12th Ciudad de Huesca

·         S.Munkhbaatar to display his work at 2nd International Watercolor Biennale


·         Gobi Desert Expedition Challenge across Mongolia




Int'l Market

Announcement made after Friday close. KCC closed Friday -1.06% to C$0.465

Kincora Completes C$0.5 Million Private Placement

VANCOUVER, Feb. 10, 2017 /CNW/ - Kincora Copper Limited (the "Company", "Kincora") (TSXV:KCC) announces that it has now received the acceptance of the TSX Venture Exchange (the "TSXV") to its previously disclosed private placement (the "Private Placement") of 1,543,720 shares at $0.345 per share (gross proceeds of $532,584) and as a result has completed the Private Placement.

Notwithstanding the statement in the Company's December 20, 2016 news release (the "December 20 News Release"), the shares issued in the Private Placement are subject to a 4-month hold expiring June 11, 2017.

Proceeds from the Private Placement will be applied to advancing Kincora's exploration portfolio, which includes a unique multi-target, multi-stage pipeline, between and on strike from Rio Tinto's largest global expansion project, the Oyu Tolgoi mine, and the Tsagaan Suvarga Serven Sukhait development project in the Southern Gobi, Mongolia, and for working capital.

The Company paid finder's fees of $4,201 in connection with the offering.

Following completion of the Private Placement Kincora has 50,165,679 shares and 2,947,500 warrants outstanding. The warrants have an exercise price of $0.54, expire November 28, 2018 subject to potential acceleration of the expiry date under certain circumstances.

Further, notwithstanding the statement in the December 20 News Release, the issuance of 186,831 shares to HPX Techco Inc., an affiliate of High Power Ventures, on account of loans made in the course of the IBEX Transaction, has yet to occur and remains subject to TSXV acceptance.

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TRQ closed +0.85% Friday to US$3.56

SailingStone Capital Increases Turquoise Hill Holding to 11.3% from 10.6%

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Local Market

MSE Trading Report, Feb 10: Top 20 -0.51%, ALL -0.36%, Turnover 18.3 Million Shares, 159.4 Million T-Bills

February 10 (MSE) --

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MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 -0.48%, ALL -0.33%, Turnover 115.6 Million Shares, 12.2 Billion T-Bills

February 10 (MSE) --

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GoM offering 12 billion 28-week, 5 billion 104-week t-bills at 17.514%, 18% discounts on MSE

February 10 (MSE) Buy order of 28 weeks Government bonds with annual interest of 17.514%, 104 weeks Government bonds with annual interest of 18.00% starts from 10 February 2017 until 14 February 2017 through brokerage companies.

Click here to see detailed information of 28 weeks Government bonds

Click here to see detailed information of 104 weeks Government bonds.

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25 MSE Stocks File Fourth Quarter Financial Reports

February 10 (MSE) --

Company name



Publish date





2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Dulaany tsakhilgaan stants III


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Dulaany tsakhilgaan stants II


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports







2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Mongolian post


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Genco tour bureau


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports







2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Mon Nab


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Dulaan sharyn gol


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Buteelch Uils


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Mongol diesel


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Mongol Shir


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Khuvsgul usan zam


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Khorgo Khairkhan


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Ulsyn ikh delguur


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Erdenetiin dulaany tsakhilgaan stants


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Mongol savkhi


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Juulchin Gobi


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Khar khorum properties


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Hermes centre


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports







2016 year 4 Quarterly reports







2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Darkhan dulaany tsakhilgaan stants


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Machine mechanism


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports





Achit alkaby


2016 year 4 Quarterly reports




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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, February 10 Close










































































































































































Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,478 Sell ₮2,488), TDB (Buy ₮2,480 Sell ₮2,488), Golomt (Buy ₮2,478 Sell ₮2,488), XacBank (Buy ₮2,480 Sell ₮2,489), State Bank (Buy ₮2,474 Sell ₮2,488)

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

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BoM issues 96.5 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding -5.5% to ₮526 billion

February 10 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 96.5 billion at a weighted interest rate of 14.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

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Bank of Mongolia finances 111.8 billion mortgages since November

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 (MONTSAME) Bank of Mongolia approved a regulation on financing apartment mortgage on November 25. Today, a cooperation agreement was signed between the Bank of Mongolia, the Government, Mongolian Mortgage corporation, Xac Bank, Ulaanbaatar City bank, National Investment bank, Khan bank and Golomt Bank with a view to ensure stable continuance of the program on apartment mortgage loan with annual 8 percent interest.  

According to the regulation, the Bank of Mongolia finances apartment mortgage loans each month from the repayments of mortgage loan secured bond. A total of MNT111.8 billion has been financed for apartment mortgage by the central bank and mortgage applications of 1656 persons have been resolved since the approval of the new regulation.

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Mongolia paves the way for IMF bailout

Feb 10 (Reuters) Mongolia's parliament moved towards meeting the conditions of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout of $3-5 billion on Friday, as lawmakers voted to grant greater independence to the Development Bank of Mongolia.

The country is scrambling to avoid missing a $580 million sovereign-guaranteed debt repayment, issued by the Development Bank, due in March. The economy has been badly hit by weak prices for its coal and dwindling foreign investment.

The Mongolian government is in talks with both the IMF and China to refinance billions of dollars of debt issued since 2012 by the March deadline.

The law's passage fulfils most of the requirements for a bailout, according to Dale Choi, an analyst for Mongolian Metals & Mining.

"This removes a major obstacle for reaching IMF staff level agreement. I expect the agreement to be announced next week," Choi told Reuters.

Seventy-seven percent of Mongolia's lawmakers voted in favour of the new law on the bank's governance, Choi said, adding that the legislation should meet most of the IMF's demands.

Chimed Khurelbaatar, who heads the parliament's budget committee, urged lawmakers to pass the bill allowing the Development Bank to act independently of the government.

"Recommendations from the IMF ... suggested there should be separated control," said Khurelbaatar.

In 2009, the IMF pulled Mongolia out of economic crisis with a $230 million stand-by agreement.

Khurelbaatar told legislators that another bailout this time round was preferable to defaulting and said "the IMF is not a scary organisation," according to a research note by Choi.

"The IMF is an important organisation for economic stabilisation, to get the country out of debt," he said.

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Parliament approves revised law on Development bank

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ Parliament approved a revised law on Development Bank of Mongolia at today's plenary session. The Development Bank of Mongolia runs activities to finance projects and programs targeted to economic development of the country.

However, the bank has been too dependent on politics and lacked in professional personnel and ran improper activities, including financing social projects and programs which had low economic efficiency.  Therefore, the Government developed the revised bill to correct errors and improve the bank's activities.

The International Monetary Fund recommended to add 13 provisions to the bill and MPs supported it. The proposals included banning Development Bank to have savings from citizens and financing projects and programs jointly with foreign and domestic investors. Members of Board of Directors of the bank should meet criteria to not to have not held political office for the last five years and members can be re-elected once, according to the revised law.

The revised law will be effective on April 01 of this year.

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Mongolian horse seeks white knight

February 11 (IFR Asia) It wasn't so long ago that Mongolia was the darling of the international capital markets. The country's stratospheric economic growth – it hit 17.5% in 2011, the highest in the world that year – and its frontier market credentials made it second to none as a must-have investment.

But Mongolia's fall from grace has been swift and serves as a warning of the perils of "original sin" for countries tempted to fast-track growth thanks to the largesse of international debt market investors.

I have written before about original sin in this column and the bullet points of the concept should be pinned to the desks of any asset managers who are about to go breathless on the attractions of frontier market debt.

Of course original sin – the concept that a developing country dooms its exchange rate when it borrows excessively in hard currency – is rarely a straightforward affair. Indeed, when it comes to original sin it is difficult to divine whether the offshore borrowing is both necessary and sufficient for a subsequent collapse of the foreign exchange rate, or whether other factors are brought to bear.

In Mongolia's case, the sharp reversal of economic fortunes has been ascribed to the slowdown in neighbouring China, one of its biggest export markets, the collapse in the price of copper, one of its biggest exports, and waning foreign direct investment.

But one wonders if the fall of its currency, the tugrik, which plummeted 23% against the US dollar last year, would have occurred had Mongolia not made its forays into the offshore debt markets. The ruling Mongolian People's Party, which won a landslide victory in elections held last June thanks to its supposedly pro-business stance, has described the situation in the country as one of economic crisis.

In the face of a series of ratings downgrades last year, and a looming US$580m bond redemption next month for Development Bank of Mongolia (which carries a government guarantee and is now rated Caa1 by Moody's after two rapid-fire downgrades at the end of last year), the natural assumption would be that the country is going to struggle to meet this debt payment.

IN AN ECHO of 1997 Thailand, citizens are contributing to the looming debt redemption, donating gold, jewellery and that staple of Mongolian culture, horses, although this appears unlikely to be a game changer.

Multilateral institutions are being touted by market insiders as likely to step up to the plate as the day of reckoning approaches. That, of course, wasn't supposed to be the outcome when the bond priced, but you can't say that the country hasn't provided thrills worthy of a nerdy computer game to high-yield and distressed bond traders.

For example, the Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia's 2020 dollar paper jumped 25 points last year from a February low of near 75 cents on the dollar to surge to 101 on the election victory of the People's Party.

Meanwhile, with just a month to go before redemption, the Development Bank of Mongolia's 2017s are at a two-point discount to par to yield 22%, not bad as a money market rate of return, and better than any commercial paper you can see in the market. But I'm not sure I would take that risk, even if a mountain of gold and jewellery (to say nothing of horses) descends on Mongolia's Treasury between now and the redemption date.

Mongolia might seem like a somewhat irrelevant outlier in terms of its potential to provide a black swan event for global markets, but in this day and age of hair-trigger nerves you never know.

And, in the new political atmosphere around Washington, you would have to wonder whether the will exists for the IMF to emerge with a last-minute rescue package.

ANOTHER POTENTIAL WHITE knight could be the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Helping redeem a bond that financed Mongolian roads wouldn't exactly sit outside the AIIB's remit. It would also represent a kind of parachuting of the newly formed institution into the Mongolian project finance landscape, and yet another manifestation of China's global soft power grab.

Certainly, it might go some way towards preserving the credibility of the frontier sovereign bond as an asset class. A default from Mongolia would set that product back years, in my opinion.

But of course, to go back to the starting point of this column, the dangers of original sin would not be obviated by a rescue. Assuming Mongolia does escape default, the best thing that the AIIB could do as a follow-up would be to issue a benchmark in tugrik, to start the country on the long and necessary path towards weaning itself off the perils of offshore debt issuance.

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How the World's Fastest-Growing Economy Went Bust

February 12 (Bloomberg View) Not so long ago, Mongolia was the world's fastest-growing economy. Now, by nearly every metric, it's in a dire fix. Its debt has surged, its currency has plummeted, and its budget deficit has widened alarmingly. Foreign investment has dried up and economic growth all but ceased. Even the poor antelope are beset by plague.

Making matters worse, some staggering bills are coming due. The government, along with a state-backed development bank, is on the hook for more than $1 billion in maturing bonds over the next year, starting with a $580 million payment due in March. By one account, locals are so anxious they're donating their horses to help avoid default.

Thankfully, better options are available. This week, the government is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout, its sixth in less than three decades. China also may be willing to lend a hand, at a price. Yet even if it avoids default, Mongolia should stand as a cautionary tale for the ages.

Sitting on expansive mineral reserves, and sharing a long border with the world's second-biggest economy, Mongolia long looked like an appealing place to invest. Its economy grew by 17 percent in 2011, as its mines churned out huge amounts of coal and copper to meet Chinese demand.

Ominously, though, government spending rose by 56 percent the same year. With interest rates abnormally low, Mongolia was one of many not-so-creditworthy countries able to borrow on attractive terms as investors pursued higher yields. In 2012, it issued $1.5 billion in "Chinggis Bonds" to splurge on public works. It boosted pay for civil servants and subsidized mortgages. Politicians doled out cash. A flowering of luxury boutiquesfancy hotels and immodestly large statues dotted the steppe.

Then the good times ended, as they always must. China's economy slowed, commodity prices plunged, and Mongolia found itself in a bind. Growth halted and debt mounted. With foreign-exchange reserves dwindling, a balance-of-payments crisis was staved off only with help from the People's Bank of China.

A new IMF lifeline would avert an imminent default, but Mongolia needs more than that. Most of all, it must diversify an economy that depends on mining for nearly a quarter of its output and 90 percent of its exports. This in turn requires better schools and a new approach to foreign investors, whom the government has antagonized extravagantly in recent years. Reining in corruption would help. Budgets will have to be tightened so that revenue can be used to build up a sovereign wealth fund, which could eventually be used to smooth out the commodity boom-and-bust cycle.

Attend to all this, and Mongolia's future still looks bright. It has a young population, a mostly stable democracy, and even an embryonic startup scene. The IMF reckons its mineral deposits may yield $3 trillion over time. An expansion of the immense Oyu Tolgoi mine, now under way, should soon pay hefty dividends. Accepting some pain today will help ensure those riches are well used. It might also bring Mongolia's wild economic gyrations to an end.

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2016 Business Trust Index finds 40% of businesses unsure of expansion

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 (MONTSAME) Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry conducted its annual survey titled 'Business trust index – 2016' to find that about 40 percent of Mongolian businesses are unsure about intensifying their activities.

On February 9, Thursday, the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry presented the results of their survey at its building. The survey shows that expectations for improvement of business environment have been in decline since 2010, and the expectations increase in election years.

Since 2005, the survey has been conducted annually to determine the general outlook of Mongolian business environment, find the expectations of Mongolian business people, and identify the contributing factors.

The latest survey took place through interviews with business people from Ulaanbaatar and rural areas and online form, involving 862 individuals.

M.Sarandavaa, Deputy Director of the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry said, "About 40 percent of the participants of our survey are unsure about intensifying their business activities. 74.1 percent answered that they won't expand their businesses next year".

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S. Demberel: A Rookie mistake made by "Oldie" Columnist

By S. Demberel, former MP, economist

February 10 -- Until recently I did not know the existence and the meaning of the word " rookie". Then I read, by accident, the article entitled "Trump Trade Chief Makes a Rookie Mistake" by Noah Smith, whom I follow on twitter and who is, as I discovered recently, also a Bloomberg View columnist and a former assistant professor of Finance at Stony Brook University. The person mentioned in his article is Mr. Peter Navarro, who holds a PhD in Economics from Harvard University and is a Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Paul Merage School of Business, and who was recently appointed as the Chief of the new National Trade Council. This is information I found on Wikipedia, and I don't know anything more about these two distinguished gentlemen.

So, it is with complete neutrality that I read and now write about this article, in which Mr. Smith responds to the following short statement made by Mr. Navarro: "when net exports are negative, that is, when a country runs a trade deficit by importing more than it exports, this subtracts from growth." Here I would emphasize the word "growth" because we see here that the point of discussion is about the relationship between trade deficit and growth which is expressed always in volume terms. Mr. N. Smith writes that this statement is wrong and presents several arguments and examples of why it is wrong.  For that he works from the following equation, one of the three fundamental identities in national accounting.  I call those identities the "3 eyes" which every economist, or those who study economics, should be equipped with.

GDP=Consumption+ Investment+ Government Spending +Export- Import

Then he tries to explain why the value of imports has a negative sign by citing some examples. Most probably, he was trying to explain the important national accounting terms "economic territory" "resident /non-resident/", "the rest of the world" in simple language. He concludes: "In other words, imports don't count negatively in GDP. They amount to zero. This means that a higher trade deficit does not have to make US poorer…" To prove this he imagines that consumption and investment remain the same, but exports increase by $1 billion, and imports increase by $3 billion. In this case the trade deficit goes up by $2 billion, but GDP increases by $1 billion, i.e. the impact on growth is positive, as he calculates. (In his remark the last 2 sentences have "!" mark). In order to show that Mr. Navarro has made a mistake, he uses this equation,  which could be he written in the following form, to show more conceptually and clearly the meaning of this equation to readers:

GDP+Import=Consumption+Investment+Government Spending+Export

As we see here, we are talking about aggregate supply (the left hand side of the equation is domestic and external supply) and aggregate demand (the right hand side of the equation consists from domestic and external demand. Simple and beautiful equation, Isn't it? This is the first "oldie" mistake made by Mr. Noah Smith when he discovers a rookie mistake made by Mr. Peter Navarro. Why?

1.    As I emphasized in the beginning of my article, we are going to talk about how GDP growth changes when the trade deficit or surplus changes, i.e. whether or not a trade deficit subtracts from growth.  Since we are talking about changes in growth we have to calculate how the trade deficit contributed to the growth rate of a given year or quarter in comparison with a base year or previous period.  [In other words, growth is always estimated in volume or real terms. This is an internationally accepted rule that should be followed by every economics student, professor, or columnist]. 

2.    The contribution of each component in the same equation , including net export, to growth in simple form could be calculated by using the following formula: 


The starting point of this formula is the very same equation Mr. Noah Smith has put in his article. 

3.    As we see here, if we are talking about additions to or subtractions from growth due to a trade deficit we must use this formula and calculate how each of the components' own change contributes to overall growth change. This is quite different from the calculations mentioned by Mr. Smith, and also from Mr. Navarro's strict statement.

Now let us briefly consider some cases in which a trade deficit or surplus can contribute to growth.

Case 1. A country runs a trade deficit and its GDP is increased.  Trade deficit decreases in comparison to the base or previous year/quarter. In this case contribution by net export to growth would be positive, as we can see from the formula.

Case 2. Country runs trade deficit but this deficit is increased and GDP is also up. In this case contribution to growth by net export is negative (with minus) and it will be subtracted from overall growth rate.

Case 3. A country has trade surplus in the previous year/quarter and this surplus is decreased in the current period. GDP is up. In this case, contribution to growth is minus! (I should not put! mark here as Mr. Smith likes it).

Case 4.Both GDP and trade surplus increased, contribution to growth is positive indeed.

We can continue like this, even GDP is down, contribution to growth would be less by net export with positive or negative signs.

Now let us clarify what Mr. Smith said by taking an example, where export increased by $1 billion, import $3 billion. For this, let us use the real figures from U.S GDP and take Q1, 2015 figures. (Table1)

Table 1: Quarterly U.S GDP, Expenditure approach, USD in billions
















US $bln







2.Final consumption expenditure








3.Gross Capital Formation








4.External balances of goods and services








5.Exports of goods and services








6.Imports of goods and services








                                                                        Source: OECD.stat

In Q2 2015  GDP equals 4500=3710+917-127 where -127 is net export or the difference between export (575) and import (702).  What happens if we assume, as Mr. Smith suggested, that exports increase by $1 billion and imports by $ 3 billion, with others remaining unchanged?

Then: GDP equals 3710+917+576-705=4498.  The trade deficit has worsened to - $129 billion and GDP has fallen by the same amount. GDP is not increased and growth is negative. However, it is not so important; some misunderstanding and some miscalculation might occur with everybody. What is most important is GDP growth and how it breaks down by its components, in this case by net export. For  illustrative purpose, readers now may look at Table 2 where US GDP growth is broken down into its components, including net export.  By the way, as we can see from Table 1 that the U.S. trade deficit to GDP ratio is really tiny, between (-2,5 and -2,9% and "Trade openness" is not so high for the American economy.

Table 2: US GDP growth rate, seasonally adjusted, Contributions to growth (%, expenditure approach)






























2.Private Final Consumption expenditure (PFCE)










3.General Government  final consumption expenditure (GGFCE










4 Gross fixed capital formation (GFCF)










5 Export of goods and services










6 Import Export of goods and services Contributions to growth..










1.    PFCE










2.    GGFCE










3.    GFCF










4.    Changes in inventories …










5.    External balance of goods and services










6.    Exports










7.    Imports










Source: OECD. Stat

As we can see on Table 2, in the US the contribution to GDP by net exports is tiny. I think the main issue is how to increase this contribution by promoting and developing exports not by trying to decrease "mechanically" imports. Maybe I'm wrong as I am not an expert on U.S economy and trade at all.

So what are my concluding remarks? 

1.    Both Mr. Navarro's original statement (I should say that I don't know or didn't read his whole article: what is about etc.)  and Mr. Smith's correction are wrong; Smith is right to point out Navarro's error, but unfortunately he explained it in a wrong way. Both of them should have read carefully the clear and short message provided by Mr. Daniel J. Ikenson in his article ("Navarro's trade views 'misguided, dangerous'): "the identity is not a GDP growth equation".

2.    When we analyze trade patterns, we always talk about trading gain or loss and measure them in different ways using different methods. In this case, it would also be important to make reference to other indicators such as terms of trade, purchasing power of export and  trading gain/loss index, all of which are analyzed and reported very professionally in the U.S, by the BEA (Bureau of Economic Analysis,). They are professionals.

3.    The system of national accounts is a great analytical tool everywhere, in countries of widely varying degrees of development, no matter whether in the USA or Mongolia.  Where your economics degree was earned also doesn't matter, whether in Harvard, Stony Brook or the Mongolian National University. What matters is how and when to refer to the right institutions and instruments which deal with the subject matter at hand, and listen to what they tell us.

4.    The moral of this story is not whether we are looking at simple accounting relationships or at the complicated world when doing economics. They are linked to each other; these accounting relationships help us understand our complicated world and if we don't understand these simple relationships -- beautiful relationships born from beautiful minds of the last century -- we cannot judge about the complicated world.  At the same time these accounting relationships in themselves tell us little about the world, without rooting their application in real data and real events.  Using both we can work to make better analysis and find ways that we can all, mutually and multi-nationally, benefit from free trade. This is the moral of this story, I dare to think.  Isn't it or did I make my own rookie or "oldtimer" mistake?

S.Demberel , Economist from Mongolia

PS: Although I don't know the details of the dispute on US trade policy under Mr. Trump's administration, but if I were an American economist  I would read again Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" and think over and over about "Gulliver's effect",   about which, among others, Dr. Donald N. McCloskey, then professor of Economics and History at the University of Iowa published an article in Scientific American in September 1995. (I found it also by accident). By the way, I'm from Mongolia, "lilliput" country with great history, sandwiched between two giant neighbors China and Russia, and our trade policies always open to the rest of the world, because we as a nation, benefits from free trade.

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Politics & Legal

Mongolia Parliament Votes to Nationalize Erdenet Copper Mine

  • Parliament invalidates earlier sale, hands asset to the state
  • Probe into deal for Russian stakes in mine showed violations

by Michael Kohn

February 11 (Bloomberg) Mongolia's parliament approved a resolution to nationalize copper, gold and iron-ore assets in the country following a probe that found a $400 million transaction with a closely held company was illegal.

Parliament's resolution invalidates a previous government decision that had authorized the sale of 49 percent stakes in both Erdenet Mining Corp. and Mongolrostsvetmet LLC to Mongolian Copper Corp. The resolution was approved by a vote of 49 in favor to 12 against, according to a broadcast carried on Bloomberg TV Mongolia.

Former Prime Minister Saikhanbileg Chimed announced the sales on the eve of elections in June, declaring the purchases from Russia's state-controlled Rostec a victory for a country that wanted to put greater control of its natural resources in the hands of Mongolians. Still, Saikhanbileg's Democratic Party lost the election to the Mongolian People's Party.

The purchases of the 49 percent holdings in the two mining stakes by Mongolian Copper used illegal loans and violated the constitution, according to the probe conducted by a parliamentary working group. Trade & Development Bank of Mongolia LLC spearheaded financing for the deal.

"It appears that there were various legal, governance and transparency issues surrounding the transaction,'' Dale Choi, head of Mongolia Metals & Mining, said in an e-mail. "Moreover, it seems that public funding was used for private buyout and the government of Mongolia issued international bonds at an expensive 11 percent to supply FX for the transaction. While the privatization is desirable, the way it was done appears questionable and the rule of law should be applied.''

TDBM Chief Executive Officer Orkhon Onon said the loans weren't illegal and didn't violate banking regulations, according to an e-mailed reply to queries Jan. 30.

The Erdenet Mining and Mongolrostsvetmet joint ventures were set up by the former Soviet Union and Mongolia in the 1970s. Erdenet is focused on copper, while Mongolrostsvetmet mines metals, including gold and iron ore.

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Government to fully own Erdenet Mining Corporation

Ulaanbaatar, February 12 /MONTSAME/ On February 10, at its plenary meeting, the closing session of Parliament discussed the matter concerning the purchase of Russian Rostech-owned 49 percent of Erdenet Mining Corporation by the Mongolian Copper Corporation, and issued a resolution on some measures to be taken regarding the copper plant.

The resolution was worked out by  Parliamentary Standing committee grounded on the conclusion of the working group for examining the matter regarding the purchase of the 49 percent shares of the Erdenet plant. The working group and the Standing committee concluded that the deal has violated several legislations of Mongolia.

The resolution  sets out  to transfer 49 percent of Erdenet Mining Corporation to government ownership the previous Cabinet's step regarding the selling of the 49 percent of Erdenet Mining Corporation violated the Constitution of Mongolia, Law of Mongolia on Government, Law on State and Local Property, and an intergovernmental agreement between the Governments of Mongolia and the Russian Federation. The Parliament rescinded the previous Cabinet's resolution no 330 issued on June 13 on some measures to be taken on 'Erdenet Mining Corporation JSC and Mongolrostsvetmet LLC'.

The Parliament ordered the Parliamentary Standing committee on Justice and the Cabinet to take urgent measures to transfer of the 49 percent sold shares to government ownership, and operate the plant as a state-owned enterprise. According to the Parliament resolution, corresponding institutions will also be held responsible for their illegal activities.

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Parliament spring session agenda adopted

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 (MONTSAME) During its afternoon session on February 9, Thursday, Parliament discussed a draft resolution on 'Agenda for Parliament spring session of 2017'.

For the spring session, a list of 34 draft laws and regulations was submitted by Parliamentary Standing committee on State Structure.

During the discussion, Sh.Radnaased, Head of Parliamentary Standing committee on Legal Affairs said, "The bill on Internal troops is withdrawn from the spring agenda as it is under discussion today".

Thus, Parliament voted up the draft resolution on its spring session agenda which includes 33 bills including important documents such as 2018 national budget framework paper, 2019-2020 budget assumption, Cabinet financial report of 2016, draft resolution on 2018 scheme for social and economic development of Mongolia, draft bill on amendment to the Constitution, draft resolution on medium term program for development of statistical sector in 2016-2020, draft bill on Mongolia's foreign policy, draft bill on accountability of government higher officials either elected or appointed, revised bill on public service and others.

Parliament autumn session closes today, Friday.

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Parliament approves revised law on Naadam festival

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 (MONTSAME) On February 9, Thursday, Parliament held the first discussion on and approved a revised bill on national Naadam festival.

The revised bill reflects the awarding of titles to archers. In accordance with the revision, archer who claimed the second place at national-level Naadam will be bestowed with an Excellent archer title, and the third place with a Skilled archer title.

As for winners, one-time winner of national Naadam archery competition will become Mergen of Nation (literal meaning: marksman). If the archer wins again, his or her title will be upgraded in the following manner- national mergen will become Wide (Dayan) Mergen of Nation, national wide mergen will become Prominent (Dayar Duursakh) Mergen of Nation, and national prominent mergen will become Undefeatable (Darkhan) Mergen of Nation.

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Internal troops reinstated by Parliament

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 (MONTSAME) During its session on February 9, Thursday, Parliament held the final discussion on and adopted a bill on Internal Troops.

Law of Mongolia on Internal Troops was repealed on January 16, 2014, transferring the duties of internal forces to police.

The bill on Internal Troops was formulated in order to reinstate Mongolian internal troops to their lines of duty which include safeguarding highly-important objects or facilities, dealing with large-scale crowd control when necessary, ensuring safety of civilians, institutions and properties during internal conflict, executing special missions against terrorist activities, and partaking in control of emergency situations involving disaster, natural hazard, accident, wildfire and spread of disease highly contagious among humans and animals.

Parliament thus adopted the bill on Internal Troops which will take effect on September 1, 2017.

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Draft new wording of Law on Public Service presented

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 /MONTSAME/ Draft new version of the Law on Public Service was presented to the Chairman of the State Great Khural (Parliament) M.Enkhbold by D.Togtokhsuren, D.Khayankhyarvaa, S.Chinzorig, D.Tsogtbaatar, L.Enkh-Amgalan, Ch.Khurelbaatar and N.Enkhbold MPs.

The Law on Public Service was adopted in 1994 and took force in June 1995, revises in 2004 and amended in 2008. The amendments and revisions mostly focused on shifting the focus from party-centered authority system to merit-based fair system. The initiators of the latest draft new version said that the bill was prepared in order to strengthen transparency, accountability, professionalism and stability in public service.

The law initiators have studied practices of legal regulations over public services in the USA, Canada, Germany, Russia, Japan, South Korea and other highly developed countries. 

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National forum discusses seniors' issues

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 (MONTSAME) National forum 'Rights, Employment, Social guarantee of Elders' was opened today at the State House. On the occasion of the 85th anniversary of the establishment of Mongolian senior citizens' organization, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare and the Mongolian Elders' Union are organizing the forum under the auspices of Prime Minister J.Erdenebat. 

Speaker of Parliament M.Enkhbold noted in his greeting that current Parliament, which was formed as a result of the 2016 Elections, has paid special attention to approve new law and regulations to protect elders' rights.

"- The Parliament approved amendments to the law on Social protection of Elders and legalized a twice a year grant for elders. We will strive to increase the grant amount and allotment in the future. We also have achieved our goal to reduce the interest rate of pension-guaranteed loan, as we promised during elections and its annual interest of 18 per cent has been lowered to 15 per cent. Further, 'State policy on elders' document is planned to be approved to address issues of social and health of elders in complex' said the speaker.

Some 500 delegates from the capital and 21 aimags and representatives from ministries, agencies, NGO's and international organizations attended the forum.

5.5 thousand seniors have got loans of MNT6.1 billion since the loan interest had been lowered. And 12.8 thousand seniors have chosen commercial banks themselves, where they get their pensions, as a result of changed system, said Minister of Labor and Social Protection N.Nomtoibayar. Prior to the change, pensions of all elders were used to transfer to the State Bank automatically.

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Anti-corruption experience of Singapore presented to practitioners from Moldova, Mongolia, Ukraine and Tajikistan at OSCE workshop in Vienna

VIENNA, 10 February 2017 (OSCE) – A specialized workshop on Singapore's anti-corruption experience and best practices concluded today in Vienna.

The two-day event, organized by the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA) in co-operation with the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau of Singapore, brought together senior representatives of anti-corruption agencies in Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Ukraine in charge of developing national anti-corruption policies.

"Measures aimed at curbing corruption require a comprehensive approach based on strong political will," said Wee Liam Chin, Deputy Director for Training Cum Public Sector and General Investigations of the Investigations Department of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau of Singapore. "Effective laws, independent judiciary, effective enforcement and a responsive public service are necessary components of an effective anti-corruption strategy."

The participants discussed best practices and lessons learnt in the area of anti-corruption, including examples of successful and effective strategies for corruption prevention. The workshop addressed challenges related to the investigation of corruption offences and the implementation of mechanisms to ensure the integrity and transparency of anti-corruption agencies. The participants shared relevant national experiences in combating corruption and acquired methodologies to prevent, curb, investigate and prosecute corruption crimes.

Andrei Muntean, Head of the Economic Governance Unit of the OCEEA, said: "For the first time, the OSCE presented Singapore's expertise in countering and eradicating corruption to selected participating States and provided a platform for fostering co-operation and facilitate inter-agency dialogue on corruption prevention".

The workshop was conducted by Wee Liam Chin and Chun How Bay, Assistant Director of Singapore General Investigations Branch 1 and Investigations Training Unit of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau of Singapore. 

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Human rights defender profile: Otgonbaatar Tsedendemberel from Mongolia

February 10 (International Service for Human Rights) UN Special Procedures and other human rights mechanisms have helped drive change for better protection of LGBTI people in Mongolia. Otgonbaatar Tsedendemberel provides reflections on how this was achieved.

You have advocated for the rights of LGBT persons in Mongolia for many years, can you tell us about what you do?

I am a co-founder of LGBT Center of Mongolia and worked as Advocacy Program Manager and then Executive Director from 2009 to 2014. We conducted workshops and training on LGBTI rights to raise awareness among the general public and  law enforcement officers, health professionals, NGOs, public and private schools, etc. LGBT Center also worked hard in cooperation with other organisations to become one of the leading rights-based civil society organisations (CSOs) in Mongolia, contributing to the overall civil society development in the country and the mainstreaming of LGBTI issues into human rights issues as a whole. One of the highlights of what we have done collectively is the successful use of UN mechanisms such as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Committee against Torture (CAT) and Human Rights Committee to make the Government of Mongolia acknowledge its sexual minorities for the first time, express its political will to protect our rights and commit to implement the UPR and treaty bodies' recommendations.

What motivated you to become involved in human rights work?

Having lived, studied and worked in Japan for 7 years, I felt that I needed to contribute to the development of my own country. As a young gay man who has seen the world, I was optimistically ambitious and daring enough to slip my hand into a tiger's mouth, as the Mongolian saying goes. However, the situation for the LGBTI community was quite bleak with no rights-based NGO for the community operating. Then I joined the Mongolian Red Cross Society and where I met other co-founders of the LGBT Center. My personal desire for a better future for LGBTI Mongolians, the invincible passions of the co-founders Robyn Garner and Anaraa Nyamdorj, and the remarkable feminists and human rights defenders of vibrant, active Mongolian civil society motivated and still inspire me to work on LGBTI issues at home and abroad.   

What risks, challenges or threats do you face as a human rights defender in your country?

Together with fellow activists I appeared on TV shows and gave interviews especially before, during and after UN and domestic advocacy efforts. Personal risks involved automatically "outing" my friends, family members and everyone around me, and in the process passively encroaching upon their right to privacy. They were so understanding and loving that they endured the negative attitudes, threats and attacks. Most of these threats come from a lack of information and misconceptions about LGBTI people and issues, as well as fear of being associated in any way with sexual minorities. I had to deactivate my Facebook account a few years ago to protect my family and what's left of my privacy. Nevertheless, the situation is getting better after all these awareness-raising activities and LGBT Center's work with the government and civil society, and I think now the private sector needs to join the cause for the sake of a better future for all.     

What is the legal situation for NGOs and human rights defenders in Mongolia? What changes would you like to see to create a fully enabling environment for their work?

The NGO Law of Mongolia allows many NGOs to emerge and operate. The LGBT Center struggled initially to be registered as a legal entity back in 2007-2009. Since then we have not had any issues with the authorities in terms of the NGO registration. However, there is no law that enshrines the rights of human rights defenders (HRDs). In addition to the challenges of engaging in human rights work, LGBTI activists further suffer verbal and physical abuse and intimidation, family pressure and violence, financial obstacles, housing difficulties and even terrible treatment by landlords of NGO offices. Therefore, we desperately need a state policy and legislation on human rights defenders.

Can you give some examples of how you have engaged with the UN Special Procedures?

Ms. Magdalena Sepulveda Carmona, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, made an official visit to Mongolia in 2012. I met her towards the end of her visit and updated her on the situation of the LGBTI community. Ms. Magdalena Sepulveda observed that "the recent economic achievements made in Mongolia has not benefited the country's poor" and highlighted vulnerable groups, including people living with HIV (PLHIV) and LGBTI persons.

In 2013, the Special Rapporteur's report was released, concluding that "there is a high level of inequality at a time when the country is experiencing a major economic boom." Given the pervasive inequality affecting the LGBTI community and the government's recently expressed political will, the Center was encouraged to collect our own data on how poverty affects the LGBTI community and its root causes so that our advocacy efforts would be better informed and effectively targeted. 

What have you achieved through this engagement?

The study – "Poverty and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community in Mongolia" – was conducted in 2014. Its main author Dr. A. Bulbul discovered that the unemployment rate of survey participants was 10.4%, higher than the official rate of 7.8% among the general population, and approximately 22% lived below the national poverty line. The study concluded that enabling a legal environment to ensure equal access to education and employment and changing public perception and attitudes was necessary. This study – inspired by the Special Rapporteur's visit – was significant since we got to utilise the UN Special Procedures and started to gather evidence to better inform the public and the relevant officials in the government and international organisations for better advocacy.  

How do you think using the international human rights system assists in achieving domestic advocacy goals?

International human rights norms and standards definitely guide defenders to identify gaps, to better use the mechanisms established and available for us and to network with other like-minded activists, scholars, diplomats and UN officials. I would also like to thank organisations such as ISHR, ARC International, OutRight Action International, ILGA, COC Netherlands, OSCE, Open Society Foundations and FORUM-ASIA which act as a bridge between us – local and national activists – and the international and regional human rights systems, allowing us to lobby our government and make our advocacy more effective through their financial and technical assistance and support.      

What if anything could the UN do to make the Special Procedures system easier/safer for you to engage with?

From experiences of working as an activist at the UN in Geneva and New York, I know that the UN is a political institution. However, it has been reformed to genuinely ensure the representation and participation of civil society. The UPR is a prime example because it brought LGBTI issues to the attention of our government, leading to legal reform. I would like to see those who work in the Special Procedures' teams be present both online and offline. Country visits by Ms. Magdalena Sepulveda and meetings with diverse stakeholders were truly amazing and productive. Online presence of UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly and Association Mr. Maina Kiai, who listens to activists' voices from the ground is absolutely impressive. And most importantly, I wish the UN work at the headquarters could be translated into the UN country offices as swiftly, effectively and efficiently as possible.  

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AmCham Daily Newswire for February 10, 2017

February 10 (AmCham Mongolia) --


Dairy products meeting international standards to enter the Mongolian market

Summary: In order to fully utilize the 60 million livestock in Mongolia, the government is implementing the nationwide Milk and Meat campaign. Under the slogan "Healthy Food - Healthy Mongolian", a training session and discussion on a new powdered milk processing facility was held at the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry. Prime Minister J. Erdenebat participated in the event and stated, "By utilizing this technology, prices will stabilize and herders will have supplementary income. In the future, the goal will be for domestic companies to fulfill domestic demand for powdered milk and to export their products." The processing facility's equipment was manufactured in Japan, and the factory is capable of processing 240-600 liters of milk within eight hours. According to estimates, Mongolian companies have the potential to process and export around 400 million liters of milk after meeting domestic demand, but Mongolia currently imports 4,000 tons of powdered milk each year. By successfully implementing the Milk and Meat campaign, 6,000-8,000 jobs could be created and products for export would be designed to meet international standards.

Keywords: domestic production, Prime Minister, dairy | Daily News /page 2/


State Department Store saw 5.4 billion MNT in sales revenue in 2016

Summary: State Department Store (SDS), a subsidiary of Nomin Holding, had 5.4 billion MNT in sales revenue last year. In 2015, SDS incurred 312.5 million MNT in losses due to foreign currency exchange rates, and in 2016, losses quadrupled to reach 1.2 billion MNT. At the end of 2016, SDS saw 841.9 million MNT in losses and will not be releasing shareholder dividends. According to last month's data, 61.19% of SDS stock was held by a limited amount of major shareholders and the remaining stocks are owned by 44,799 individual stockholders.

Keywords: Nomin Holding, retail sales | The Official Gazette /page 11/


TerraCom to start the sale of coal 

Summary: Australian Stock Exchange listed TerraCom announced that they will start selling coking coal from the Baruun Noyun mine. TerraCom successfully signed an agreement to supply coal to one of the biggest private energy companies in China, Kingho Energy Group. The shipment of coal is to start today, as the borders open after the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday. According to the contract signed by TerraCom, 7.5 million tons of coking coal will be supplied.

Keywords: TerraCom, coal | Today /page A6/


Parliament's fall session to close today

Summary: Parliament's fall session will close today. During today's session, MPs are set to discuss bills on Development Bank of Mongolia, Law on Compliance, and the sale of 49% of the shares of Erdenet Mining Corporation. These legislative items have been at the center of public debate. The fall session will officially close after closing remarks are made by Speaker of Parliament M. Enkhbold

Keywords: Parliament, legislation |

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Jargal Defacto: A mindset on life support

By Jargal "Defacto" Dambadarjaa

February 12 (UB Post) In 2006, when Columbia University's Professor Edmund Phelps accepted the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in Stockholm, Sweden, he stressed that the attitude of businesspeople is essential to economic growth.

When talking about how to develop and stimulate the economy, people often get focused on reducing taxes, changing the labor law, or finding cheaper sources of capital. Economic stimulus is being discussed by Mongolians today, as we are talking about getting rid of corruption, strengthening our political and economic institutions, and reviving our weakened economy.

These are important subjects that should be discussed. But, what we have not been talking about is the culture, attitude, and mindset of businesspeople, and what effect these things have on economic indicators such as unemployment, labor productivity, and growth. Values and attitudes are components of an economy – just like policies and institutions are.

The difference between developed and less developed countries can be explained by the attitude of a country's business people (how they approach accountability, teamwork, risk management, etc.), rather than policies on employee rights and unemployment benefits.


Entrepreneurship is the capacity and willingness to develop, organize, and manage a business along with its risks to make a profit. Entrepreneurship only results in profits when combined with land, labor, natural resources, and capital. This mindset, which is based on innovation and bearing risk, among a field of competitors, is an important ingredient for success in a globalized market with increasing competition.

Let's look at where Mongolia's entrepreneurship is today, and how the entrepreneurial mindset is shaping up in our country.

Compared to when the majority of fresh graduates wanted to start businesses in the 1990s, new graduates today are now more interested in working for the government and becoming politicians than they are in careers in the private sector. This  shows that Mongolians today have a less entrepreneurial mindset.

Mongolia's economy has become based on mining minerals using foreign capital and exporting the industry's raw products. Entrepreneurial thinking has been limited to exploring minerals, obtaining a mining license somehow, having a discovered deposit approved, and attracting foreign investment.

Our mining industry has been on a downward slide since the government started engaging in entrepreneurial activities itself, claiming that the resources beneath the ground belong to the people. The clearest example of this is Tavan Tolgoi's coking coal deposit. Businesspeople who follow political parties have spent many years fighting to obtain financial advantages through the ability to influence government decisions. In the meantime, state-owned Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi has become a debt machine, instead of a company that earns a  profit. Due to the absence of a clear vision and policy, the Tavan Tolgoi mine still does not have a railroad or power plant. A private company built a road for the mine, but the government purchased it to pay off its debt by transporting coal by truck for 270 kilometers.

The entrepreneurial mindset has not really found its way into sectors other than mining. The domestic market is limited by a population of   three million consumers. Although there is willingness to send products abroad, capacity to meet the demands of export is lacking. The only sectors that have direct access to the outside world are aviation and transport. However, the so-called "national airline",  which exclusively possesses all rights to conduct international flights, is a state-owned company and does not let competition enter the industry. It has been running deficits for decades. This is a clear example of how the entrepreneurial mindset is being shackled.


In order to develop the economy, Mongolia needs to revive the entrepreneurial mindset. In the absence of entrepreneurial minds, we will never be able to achieve long-term development and a strong economy, regardless of how much we borrow from abroad, pay off existing debt, and put food on the table each day.

A country like ours, which has relatively high welfare expenditures, can bring about flourishing development by ensuring that our economic institutions support entrepreneurship, and by building a culture where challenges and competition are acknowledged in the economy.

Without competition, our labor productivity will not improve. And, without improvement in labor productivity, we cannot expect improved livelihoods.

Our economy is not developing and the entrepreneurial mindset is not being brought back. This is another reason why Mongolians are leaving the country to do physical labor abroad for better pay. In order to change this situation, government policy should focus on reviving the entrepreneurial mindset, helping to change behavior, and encouraging activities that promote entrepreneurship.

Bringing back the entrepreneurial mindset requires ensuring free competition, freeing up prices, reducing the government's involvement in the economy, and offering broader opportunities to the private sector. The government must fulfill its key duties only: ensuring the safety and security of the people and their private property. If this happens, there will be innovation and creative thinking throughout society, which will create new jobs and challenges. It will gradually bring flourishing development to the country.

On the other hand, in order to change our attitude, Mongolians need to study, learn, and practice the values and principles that have been created and forged by mankind over time – Aristotle's teachings on knowledge, Plato's laws on responsibility, Kant's teachings on jealousy, and Bergson's teachings on existence and change

Translated by B.Amar

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BCM Welcomes New Director of Policy & Advocacy

February 9 (BCM) Dear valued Member of the Business Council of Mongolia,

It is my pleasure to serve you as a Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Business Council of Mongolia (BCM). The BCM is a pre-eminent business association known and recognized for its core values – excellence, integrity, resilience, and belief in inclusive growth.

Upholding to above values, I will do everything possible for our esteemed members to ensure:

- Proactive representation of the needs and interests of the BCM members,
- Effective engagement of government, business, and thought leaders in promoting a stable, vibrant, and transparent economy; and
- Steadfast service.

Henceforth, if there are any need, recommendation, and opportunities, please contact me at your convenience. Through strong and bold cooperation, we can be a driver of a positive impact.

With best regards,

Chimednyam P.
Director of Policy and Advocacy
The Business Council of Mongolia


Phone: 99105877


Chimednaym P. joined the BCM team as a Director of Policy and Advocacy on 6 February 2017. He is responsible for the BCM advocacy efforts, identifying key policy initiatives, and as a primary contact in all interactions with the BCM advocacy counterparts including Government institutions, policy makers, policy developers, NGOs, research institutions, media, and the public.

Prior to the BCM, Chimednyam served as a Head of Sales and Business Development for Infinite Solutions LLC, a global information technology solution provider headquartered in Ulaanbaatar with branch in San Francisco, CA. From 2013 to 2015, he was a Business Development Officer at Minex Mongolia Co., Ltd, where he organized international investment conferences and exhibitions in mining sector. As part of the public service, Chimednyam was Public Relations Specialist of Millennium Challenge Account – Mongolia, an entity responsible to carry-out the Government's obligation in implementation of the Compact Agreement between governments of Mongolia and the USA.

Chimednyam holds Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and Marketing from Dickinson State University, ND, USA. Also, he completed Senior Managerial Training Program of trAIDe and RWTH International Academy, Aachen, Federal Republic of Germany. Currently, he serves as 2018-2019 President Nominee of Ulaanbaatar Peace Avenue Rotary Club. 

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Mongolia Enacts New Law on Hygiene Affecting Employers

February 10 (LehmanLaw) The Parliament of Mongolia nullified the Law on Sanitation adopted on May 07, 1998 and passed the Law on Hygiene on Feb 04, 2016. The laws warrant the Constitutional right of a citizen to live in healthy and safe environment.

According to the new law, organizations and employers shall have the following duties:

·         to demand employees and customers to comply with hygiene legislations;

·         to impose a penalty on employee who is in breach of hygiene legislations;

·         to comply with the order issued by a competent official or an authority with respect to standards and legislation on hygiene and to take all necessary actions to eliminate the offences and to respond;

·         to comply with the norms and requirements of labor safety and hygiene during all stages of activities;

·         to keep the public road and square free of garbage, puddle, snow or ice, to broaden green area and to keep stairs, walls and fences intact;

·         to prevent infectious and non-infectious diseases, occupational disease, industrial accident and injuries;

·         to include the employees to medical exam and screening;

·         to employ a personnel who is in charge of labor safety and hygiene in accordance with rules adapted by State Central administrative authority in charge of Health and Labor related matters if the organization and legal entity in production and service business employs 50 people or more. If the organization in manufacturing and service business employs 50 people or less, it may employ the personnel on the basis of  a contract;

·         to approve annual expenses to spend on hygiene safety;

Also the organization and the employer is required to cooperate with the relevant professional NGOs in organizing hygiene trainings and shall support by providing accommodation and other expenses related to the training.

According to the law, following activities shall be prohibited:

·         to take any actions and activities that has adverse impacts to human health and environment;

·         to sell open food and operate production and service on public streets, squares, points or places where such activities were prohibited by the competent authorities;

If the organizations or persons do not comply with the law authorities shall impose the following administrative sanctions i.e. fine if the violation does not constitute a criminal offence.

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Transport deal to enable agricultural suppliers to sell goods at market prices

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 (MONTSAME) The Agricultural Exchange and "Mongolian Transport Union" LLC signed a Memorandum of Understanding on February 10. The MoU will govern the relations between the parties, suppliers and consumers, and regulates that the agricultural goods will be transported into and out of storages on insured trucks that meet the international standards.

This MoU also enables the farmers, herders and agricultural companies to sell their products at market prices from site directly to the agricultural exchange.

The parties of the MoU will start exercising the new management from April 1st on wool and cashmere products. The Mongolian Transport Union incorporates 20 minor companies.

"As it is bringing about the general transport tariff within the agricultural business network, the process will be beneficial to suppliers and consumers alike. We will also be open to establish contracts with individuals. Our company intends to conduct crossborder transports", said Chairman of Board S.Ganbold.

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Dried milk production equipment to be installed in all soums and aimags

February 10 (MONTSAME) With an aim to provide healthy and safe food products to the public and to ensure the regular distribution of raw materials to manufacturers, the Government of Mongolia has launched the first "Meat and Milk" campaign throughout the country on January 1.

"MDM" company is supporting the campaign, which is continuing under "Healthy food-Healthy Mongolian" slogan. On February 9, the company organized a workshop-discussion to introduce its product – small-sized dry milk production equipment to manufacturers, farmers, and partners, representatives of professional associations and experts of academic research organizations.

Prime Minister J.Erdenebat attended the opening of the event to get acquainted with the equipment. The Japanese-made equipment is capable of drying 240-600 liters of milk in a 8-hour work day depending on the milk supply from local entities.

"Although Mongolia has over 60 million of livestock animals, dried milk is imported from overseas. By installing the equipment in rural areas, the number of customers of the product will increase, said PM J.Erdenebat.

Mongolia is capable of producing 400 million liters of milk per year. However, due to lack of proper infrastructure to process raw materials, outdated equipment and low circulation assets, the dairy industries are only utilizing some 10 percent of their total capacity. Mongolia imports around 400 tons of dried milks from abroad every year, which turns into 35 thousand tons of liquid milk.

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Mongolia: Mining Infrastructure Investment Support (MINIS) Project

February 10 (World Bank) --

What is the MINIS project?

The MINIS project provides technical assistance to help Mongolia build its capacity to apply international standards when analyzing and preparing infrastructure projects for possible investments.

Does it finance investments?

No. The MINIS project finances only technical assistance and therefore no infrastructure investments are eligible for financing under the MINIS project.

What does it finance?

MINIS finances the preparation of studies, including feasibility studies (technical and economic assessment), as well as environmental and social impact assessments. It also helps build local capacity to plan and prepare infrastructure projects.

What is the role of the MINIS Project regarding any planned hydropower projects on the Selenga river?

The MINIS project is financing feasibility studies as well as environmental and social impact assessments for a proposed hydropower project (Shuren Hydropower Project) on the Selenga River and a proposed water diversion project (Flow Regulation of the Orkhon River and Construction of Reservoir Complex) on the Orkhon River, a tributary.

Are the potential impacts of these projects properly assessed?

Yes. For each of the two proposed projects, a combined Regional Environmental Assessment and Environmental and Social Impact Assessment will be undertaken, as well as a Feasibility Study. The purpose of these studies is to make sure all impacts from potential investments are properly assessed. This includes potential impacts on communities, both in Mongolia and Russia, as well as impacts on the Lake Baikal ecosystem.

The ToRs for these studies are still undergoing a consultative process. The MINIS PMU, supported by the World Bank, is preparing for a series of consultations in Russia on the draft TORs. The timing of these consultations is under discussion with the Russian government. Once these dates have been confirmed, they will be posted on the MINIS project website consultation hub, along with consultation materials in Russian, including non-technical summaries of the ToRs, project briefs, fact sheets and presentations.

Once the ToRs have been finalized, a competitive bidding process for consulting firms to undertake the studies will begin. Once the studies begin, they are expected to take about two years to complete.

Will there be consultations with potentially affected communities?

Yes. As part of the assessments—and as required by World Bank operational policies in general and the World Bank's policy on environmental assessment (OP 4.01) in particular—there will be consultations with potentially affected communities both in Mongolia and Russia. The development of a Communications and Consultations program in both Mongolia and Russia will be part of the consultants' TORs.

What consultations have been held so far?

In 2015 and 2016, the project implementing agencies carried out eight consultation meetings with potentially affected people and other stakeholders on the project concept and draft ToRs – five for the proposed Shuren Hydropower Project and three for the proposed Orkhon diversion project. For each meeting, comments were received, a response matrix was developed, and the draft ToRs were revised in response to the comments and recommendations.

·         Consultations held to date for Shuren: In addition to the consultation event held in: (1) Ulaanbaatar on January 16, 2015, follow-up consultations were held in (2) Tsuuts Bag Selenge Soum, Bulgan Province, on May 23, 2015, and in (3) Atar Bag Selenge Soum, Bulgan Province on May 25, 2015. Further local area consultations were held on April 18 and 19, 2016, in (4) Selenge Soum and (5) Atar Bag.

·         Consultations held to date for Orkhon: In addition to the consultation event held in: (1) Ulaanbaatar on January 29, 2015, further local area consultations were held for Orkhon in (2) Khishingundur, Khangal Soum and (3) Khyalganat village near the potential project site on April 17-18, 2016. Reports on these most recent consultations are forthcoming. In addition, a review of the prefeasibility phase also identified that local area consultations had been held on the project concept in Tov Province, Dundgobi Province, Umnu-Gobi Province, Bulgan Province, and Arkhangai Province, from November 11 to November 17, 2013.

·         Consultations and technical meetings organized by Russian stakeholders held in Russia:Three main consultations were organized in Russia by Russian stakeholders:

o    Stakeholder consultation organized by the District of Kabanski, State of Buryatia, on February 28, 2016. The Bank as well as the MINIS Project Management Unit (PMU) received the meeting minutes and comments and recommendations on the draft ToRs.

o    Technical discussion meeting organized by the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in Moscow on April 11-12, 2016. The Bank as well as the MINIS PMU Director attended the discussions.

o    A regional conference on Rivers of Siberia was organized by regional CSOs in November 2015 in Irkutsk. Bank Management attended the conference and presented the Bank's safeguards policies. The outcome and recommendations from the conference were received by the Bank and shared with the MINIS PMU for its consideration in the finalization of the ESIA ToRs.

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UB City Council declares to comprehensively resolve city problems

February 12 (UB Post) The population of Ulaanbaatar hit nearly 1.4 million last December, which is almost half the total population of Mongolia.

Ulaanbaatar's population density nearly doubled over the last 17 years. The population density was recorded at 162 persons per square kilometer in 2000. This figure reached 297 in 2016. With a fast growing population, an array of problems – severe air pollution and traffic congestion – are arising at the capital.

Chairman of the Ulaanbaatar City Council (UCC) Ts.Sandui spoke about plans for addressing these issues in the interview below.

People say that the smog in Ulaanbaatar has reached a disaster level. What is the city administration doing to reduce air pollution?

Ulaanbaatar residents raise air pollution and smog issues every winter. Right now, our main focus is on finding solutions to reduce smog. The National Security Council met last January and accepted that the smog level has reached a disaster level. Instructions have been given to resolve this issue through a progressive course of action and a comprehensive policy, which will not end in just a year or one winter.

Residents have been encouraged to join this effort so that we can fight air pollution together. Last week, the UCC reviewed measures taken in the past 10 years to reduce air pollution. It was specified in the Ulaanbaatar Mayor's Action Plan that smog will be reduced by 10 percent every year, and by 2020, air pollution in the capital will be reduced by 30 to 40 percent.

A three-month plan targeted to improve air and environmental pollutions was approved just recently by the UCC. This is a very detailed plan instructing to enforce a special operational regime during the peak smog season. Air pollution reduction measures have been organized, and during the first three months, air purifiers and filters will be installed at kindergartens and schools with assistance from the World Bank. Masks are being distributed. Long-term programs will be constantly implemented even during warm seasons.

For over 10 years, Mongolia carried out countless projects to improve air quality, but there hasn't been much improvement. What's your opinion on these projects? Do you view them as failures?

To this day, we haven't had a comprehensive policy or strategy to combat smog. The short-term periodic measures we took weren't able to show as much result as we'd hoped. In fact, the air and environmental pollution levels increased and reached disastrous levels despite all the money we've spent on this issue. We must find the best and most accurate solution for this. We're trying to bring in modern methodologies to some of our old approaches and carry them out under a unified management. Not only the state but every individual and enterprise should help fight air pollution. For starters, people living in ger districts need to choose what they burn for heat more carefully. Like so, everyone should think of how they can contribute to anti-smog efforts, as well as be more supportive of government activities and actively participate in them. We need to work together.

Traffic congestion is another major problem in Ulaanbaatar. What kind of policy are you enforcing to moderate congestion?

I believe that Ulaanbaatar is facing seven kinds of challenges and that we need to find a comprehensive solution for all of them. We can make a significant improvement in cutting down pollution from cars and trucks by first reducing the number of old cars in the city. We will start restricting the use of cars with right-hand steering, those with a diesel engine and vehicles used for more than 15 years. We will give people a certain period of time to change their cars so that we don't put too much pressure on them.

Reducing the number of cars will not only moderate traffic congestion but also cut air pollution caused by cars. We're at a time when we have no choice but to make bold decisions to further develop the capital. This starts from limiting rural to urban migration.

Several Members of Parliament declared that the only option we have now is to relocate the capital. What's your opinion on moving the capital?

There's a need to improve Ulaanbaatar's legal system. Hence, the UCC plans to concentrate on jurisdiction and the legal environment, which is the foundation of the development of Ulaanbaatar. It's possible to change the capital to another city, but Ulaanbaatar will not be moved. It will stay exactly where it is now. Along with the legal system, we must provide opportunities to improve the independency of Ulaanbaatar so that it can expand and develop.

There have been some suggestions to create satellite cities to develop the capital. What kind of policy is being carried out for the city structure and infrastructure?

Strategies to build satellite cities and develop remote districts have been included in the Ulaanbaatar Mayor's Action Plan. We're following that strategy and focusing on developing a satellite city. In the future, there will be an agglomeration of Ulaanbaatar and its satellite cities and towns. They will all develop while supporting one another.

There have been many complaints regarding recent projects to relocate or close unauthorized Kiosk shops. The public condemned the city administration for failing to pay attention to increasing jobs and taking away people's source of income. Can you comment on this?

Food security in the city is the first priority. The work to close Kiosk shops that are unauthorized or don't meet sanitary requirements was put into operation. Locations of Kiosk shops were organized as part of the Khashaa project between 2008 and 2012, but the number of unauthorized shops suddenly jumped two years ago. Measures to close unauthorized shops will continue. There's also a policy to remove all Kiosk shops along the main road and restrict anyone trying to open new ones. Even so, we're relocating these shops so that the owners still have work and can maintain their livelihood.

Is it true that the Ger District Re-development project, initiated to house families, is at a standstill?

The Housing Program for families living in ger districts was discussed since 2005, and it was approved later in 2008. The foundation was laid when T.Bilegt served as the Chairman of the UCC. The program, aimed to construct apartments on lands occupied by ger districts, has been carried out in the form of redevelopment and re-planning during the last four years.

This program will resume. Failures and shortcomings found during the re-development will be fixed. Many people lost their land and became homeless because the fate of the ger district re-development project was left in the hands of land owners and companies. I admit that the policy failed when the city administration tried to move people living in ger districts to another apartment, build a new apartment on their land, and then have them move there. The city administration was supposed to guarantee their apartment order. We will work on said failures and mistakes, and carry out the housing plan once again.

Why did the online allocation of land stop? What is the UCC doing to encourage people to participate in land privatization?

The Law on Allocation of Land to Mongolian Citizens for Ownership was passed in 2003 and has been implemented to date. Step-by-step measures have been taken, such as buying land of families in ger districts and allocating land in new residential areas. Online allocation of land must be carried out correctly. Lands were distributed regardless of mountains or hills on the land. For instance, when you actually go to see the land, it happens that it's impossible to live in because the infrastructure is under-developed and there aren't any roads. As this wasn't working, we stopped online land allocation.

A directive was issued to determine the exact size of Ulaanbaatar and restrict further expansion. In accordance with the directive, the land allocation will be continued in the future based on available land resources. If it's deemed necessary to expand the city through the city development strategy, we can increase residential areas again.

People protest that the "glass account for transparency" has shattered as perfectly good projects and programs have been halted. What are you doing to ensure continuity of state policies and projects?

The UCC discloses everything related to finances through its glass account. We've already made statements about political activities of some officials. The state policy continuity will be maintained, but errors and shortcomings will be fixed.

There have been talks about making Ulaanbaatar a cultural and tourism hotspot of the Northeast Asia. Can you elaborate on this?

A working group was formed and plans are being developed. Everything will become transparent when the working group submits the plan to the UCC. I expect this to happen quite soon.

Will any large development project kick off this spring?

There's a lot of need for construction and development work. However, we lack adequate financial sources and investment. The city isn't doing well financially. We're looking for new financial sources. The concessional loan list will be approved shortly.

The issue of lack of schools and kindergartens in Ulaanbaatar will be resolved within the next four years. We plan to do many things for the public, starting from improving initial health assessment and diagnostics.

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Elevated levels of lead found in Ulaanbaatar children's blood

February 12 (UB Post) A recent study indicates that the blood lead levels of children in Ulaanbaatar were twice the standard amount, announced D.Naransukh, the Head of the Environmental Health Faculty of the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences, on February 8.

"We took blood samples from children under the age of five who are living in five districts of Ulaanbaatar to measure the level of lead in their blood. The results were shocking as we found up to 22 micrograms per deciliter of blood in some of the children. The World Health Organization and most experts use a reference level of five micrograms per deciliter to identify children with elevated blood lead levels and determine if the lead level will influence children's neural development. Yet, blood lead levels of children who live in apartments were 3.7 micrograms per deciliter, while children living in relatively heavily polluted ger districts had an average of 10.8 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. This is two times higher than the standard amount," D.Naransukh urged.

The Public Health School tested 15 children from Bayankhoshuu, Da Khuree, Narantuul, city center, and Zaisan areas for the research. Even though the levels of lead in these children were high, experts assured that it wasn't to the extent of concern. Reportedly, treatment is advised when a child has elevated lead level in their blood that is greater than 45 micrograms per deciliter.

D.Naransukh highlighted that air pollution could be the main cause of elevated blood lead levels in children. He said that children can get in contact with lead through not only food but also due to environmental pollutions in their surroundings.

Experts say that there is no safe blood lead level in children as even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect intelligence, the ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. It's said that the effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected. Researcher E.Undarmaa elaborated on the dangers of exposure to lead.

"Lead is a dangerous material that affects neural activity. The neural activity and development of cells are highest among children under the age of five. During this period, contact with lead can damage children's brain cells and in some cases, damage nerve cells so badly that it affects their memory skills and slow their development and growth. As nerve cells can't rejuvenate, this can permanent damage their mental ability," she stated.

At present, there are three public hospitals and a private clinic in Mongolia where you can get your blood lead level tested.

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Scientists will submit proposals to reduce air pollution next month

February 10 ( Prime Minister J.Erdenebat issued regulation to establish a working group consisted of scientists and obliged them to submit proposals on reducing air pollution. 

We interviewed with T.Gan-Erdene, deputy chairman of the working group on their activities and further plan. 

-Scientists are working togther for the first time to find solution for reducing air pollution. When did you start?
-A number of people approached us after establishment of our working group. We have discussed the proposals and initiatives to reduce air pollution at our first meeting. We will study more the necessary proposals. 

The main goal of the working group is to find and develop scientific solutions to reduce air pollution. Now we are conducting research in following three areas;

  • Electric heating solutions,
  • Heat supply solutions, 
  • Reducing toxic emissions from vehicles.

We have established working groups for each areas. Leading scientists have built up their team already. 

If we find a way to reduce air pollution of Ulaanbaatar city, we can easily solve the pollution of aimags. The main target area of our study is ger-district. 

-Give us more details on working group to find electric heating solutions, please?
-The working group is seeking a way to produce more heat using less energy. Moreover they conducting comparative study on cheap electric heaters. We are not striving to use electric heaters designed by Mongolian engineers. Parts of the heaters can be brought from abroad and assembled here.  

Working group on heat supply solutions are developing diagram. For instance, they are calculating how many sub-stations and transformers should be constructed in Khailaast, how much energy shall be supplied those households, what is the standard for electric wires. Implementation of the diagram is likely to need large amount of investment.

Heat loss of new apartments is relatively low. There are 210 thousand households are residing in ger-district of which 100 thousand of them are living in a ger. Working group on heat supply aims to determine insulation material for gers and size of ger barn.  

Ger district households need heat collector as free nighttime electricity tariff for ger district households was enabled. Thus they should collect heat at nighttime and heat their homes during daytime. 

-Many people suggest to decrease the number of vehicles. However vehicles became our daily usage. Families with children really need a car. What is the good idea to reduce toxic emissions from the vehicle?
-Working group on reducing toxic emissions from vehicles are studying the possibility to use natural gas for transportation and install air filter in car exhaust system. Also they are considering to raise awareness of eco-driving among bus. For instance, speed up and sudden braking emits much smoke.

-Turkey reduced its air pollution in a short period using natural gas for heating during 1950-1960. Have you learned from this experience?
-We need infrastructure for that experience. Other countries supply gas through pipes which costs high. Also gas can be packed for sale. However it is dangerous for households to use gas for heating and cooking. It has high risk to explode. Thus we can not suggest this experience to households. 

-What else has planned to be done?
-We have planned to visit Huhhot and Almaty, Kazakhstan to learn solutions on tackling air pollution. 

We were obliged to submit the proposals to the Government within the first quarter of 2017. We need MNT 150 million to conduct the study on heaters. If we test the heaters in warm season, we can not get the best result.

-Thank you for the interview.

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Businesses discuss supporting anti-air pollution efforts

February 12 (UB Post) Members of the Ulaanbaatar Chamber of Commerce (UBCC) addressed air pollution during their first meeting of 2017, with Mayor of Ulaanbaatar S.Batbold joining as a special guest.

Since the founding of the UBCC two years ago, it has focused on increasing jobs and improving the public's living standards. The UBCC has organized several meetings to seek solutions for improving Ulaanbaatar's business environment, as well as procurement and investment challenges.

During Wednesday's meeting, UBCC President J.Oyungereal stated, "Entrepreneurs are concerned about air pollution. We'll continue to introduce international practices and carry out projects and programs for fighting air pollution. When doing so, we will cooperate with the Ulaanbaatar administration, experts,  and the National Air Pollution Reduction Committee."

Mayor S.Batbold presented some facts related to air quality in the capital.

"Eighty percent of air pollution in the city is caused by ger districts. The development of heavy industry is usually the main cause of air pollution in heavily polluted cities around the world. In our case, it's related to the use of normal stoves that don't meet standards. It could be said that it's easier for us to resolve this problem. I believe that it's possible to reduce air pollution by changing our lifestyle and changing our old technologies. We will fight this issue in various ways. Most of all, it's crucial for us to work together," he told the meeting's attendees.

The Mayor underlined that boosting economic growth is a key strategy to rid Ulaanbaatar of air pollution because poor living standards and poverty are two of the main causes of the pollution problem. He said, "If people have jobs and a regular salary, their living standards will improve. I hope that UBCC members also pay attention to this area."

S.Batbold also talked about the three directives on air pollution reduction that he has issued as the mayor.

"I set a restriction on rural to urban migration after evaluating residential zones based on their air quality. In particular, people living in the 4th zone – located in the city center – have been ordered to stop releasing smoke from chimneys by October 1. Starting on October 1, Baganuur coal will be prohibited from being burned in Ulaanbaatar. The government will distribute clean coal, instead of raw coal, to families eligible for government support. The involvement of businesses in these activities is very important," he said.

According to S.Batbold's presentation, the city will enhance monitoring and encourage the public to participate in the city's air pollution reduction efforts. City officials say that anyone who reports individuals or companies violating the new directives or significantly polluting the air will be rewarded.

"People can buy land only in the Bagakhangai, Nalaikh and Baganuur districts. New factories and businesses will be opened in Tuv Province soums that border Ulaanbaatar to create jobs. I encourage you all to support this work," the Mayor added.

Representatives from several UBCC member companies shared information about their initiatives for fighting pollution. One presenter suggested developing the economies of the provinces and increasing the number of jobs available outside of the capital to keep its ger districts from expanding. Another presenter suggested that restarting construction and loan projects is the best solution for fighting air pollution. Other ideas included using LPGfueled buses for public transportation to reduce vehicle emissions, encouraging ger district residents to use thermal energy solutions to eliminate the use of raw coal, and expanding cooperation between the city's administration and local businesses to engage in air pollution reduction efforts.

Mayor S.Batbold listened to the ideas presented by UBCC members and gladly accepted the offers of entrepreneurs to work closely with the city's administrators on reducing air pollution in Ulaanbaatar.

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Protecting Ulaanbaatar wildlife with 'biotechnical measures'

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 (MONTSAME) The Environment Department of Ulaanbaatar city took the first biotechnical measure to protect wildlife species in the green zone near the capital such as red deer, roe deer and argali or wild sheep by putting hays, fodder and saltlicks for them. 

According to the Law on Fauna, the biotechnical measures are defined as the activities aimed at improving the habitat and conditions of fodder and hays for wildlife animals. The law states the animal foods shall be given in compliance with instructions by a specialized organization using local budget.

During harsh winter times or dzud (Mongolian term for extreme winter), wild animals are forced to enter settlement areas looking for forage, which leads them to lose their lives to dogs or become victims of human activities. With this reason, the number wild species decreases. Therefore, biotechnical measures are crucial in protecting fauna.

Environment Department of Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian University of Life Sciences, Hunting Association, specialized organization and forest rangers were involved in the measure. The Environment Department of Ulaanbaatar informed that the biotechnical measure is to be taken annually by involving the public.

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Foreign Minister visiting Russia on February 13-14

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 /MONTSAME/ At the invitation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ts.Munkh-Orgil is paying a visit to the Russian Federation between February 13 and 14.

During the visit, official talks between the Foreign Ministers are expected. Also, the Foreign Minister of Mongolia is planning to exchange views on a wide range of issues, such as the development of bilateral trade, economic and investment ties with the authorities of the Minister of Economic Development of Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union.

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Foreign Minister meets Turkish Ambassador

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 (MONTSAME) Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ts.Munkh-Orgil received Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to Mongolia Muhittin Ahmet Yazal on the occasion of the latter's appointment. 

During the meeting, Ambassador Ahmet Yazal expressed his pleasure of representing Turkey in Mongolia and stated his willingness to enhance the bilateral relations in all fields of cooperation.

Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil congratulated Ambassador Ahmet Yazal on his appointment and wished for success in his endeavors. Minister noted the importance of enriching economic and trade relations within the framework of comprehensive partnership between Mongolia and Turkey.

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Polish Sejm hosts "Mongolia Through Lenses" exhibition

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 (MONTSAME) "Mongolia Through Photo Lenses" digital exhibition opened on February 8 at the Building of Sejm (Parliament of Poland). The opening ceremony was addressed by the Mongolian Ambassador, Mr N.Bataa, the Polish Ambassador to Mongolia, Mr M.Labenda and head of the Mongolia-Poland Friendship Group in the Sejm Marek Dzonsa.

Also, the Deputy Marshall of the Sejm B.Dolniak conveyed greetings on behalf of the Sejm.

The exhibition is displaying over 800 photographs reflecting Mongolia's history, culture, livestyle and natural landscape. The photographs come from private collections of the Mongolian Embassy in Warsaw, President of the Mongolians in Poland Association P.Enebish, Mongolian professor at the Warsaw University R.Byambaa and Head of the Polish-Mongolian Association Grzegorz Cessak.

Present were members of the Sejm and Senate, leaders of the Polish Chamber of Commerce and Industry, staff of the Mongolian Embassy and representatives of the Mongolians in Poland Association.

The exhibition is being organized under the auspices of the Marshall of the Sejm, Mr Marek Kuchciński, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to Poland, Mr N.Bataa and the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Poland to Mongolia, Mr M.Labenda. The exhibition will last for a week.

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Hungary to admit 200 Mongolian students this year

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 (MONTSAME) In the academic year 2017-2018, 200 Mongolians will be admitted to Hungarian universities to study various programs including in agriculture, social science, information technology, law, economy, engineering, medical science,  methodology, natural science and culture under the Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship of the Hungarian Government.

A document on the revision of cooperation agreement was signed by J.Batsuuri, Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Sports and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Hungary to Mongolia Akos Madari on February 9, Thursday.

In accordance with the revision, Hungary plans to admit 70 Bachelor's students, 75 Master's students and 30 Doctoral students from Mongolia. In addition, 15 Mongolians will be able to study a short-term courses.

The document of cooperation agreement between the Mongolian Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports and Hungarian Ministry of Human Capacities was first signed on April 15, 2015.

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Health & Education

HIV/AIDS project to continue until 2021

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 (MONTSAME) Since 2003, Mongolia has received USD 57.9 million from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria' on actions to fight AIDS and tuberculosis and strengthen health system. Out of that investment, around USD 21.5 million has been spent on measures to prevent from HIV and AIDS.

The non-refundable aid of the Global Fund made great contribution to fulfilling international objectives, national policy and implementation of the plan against HIV/AIDS. On February 10, a consultative meeting took place with the partakers formulating the next stage of the project against HIV/AIDS and discuss the national program to prevent and monitor infectious diseases between 2017 and 2021. The meeting was attended by Deputy Minister of Health L.Byambasuren.

The Deputy Minister said "Around 70 percent of the total investment on national measures comes from the Global Fund. Civil organizations and health and other sectors are involved in the implementation of comprehensive HIV prevention steps to keep the HIV rate at a low level".

The current project funds are being used on expanding the prevention program of a specific group, improving the quality and accessibility of care services of all level and strengthening the system-monitoring of the program.

Source: Ministry of Health

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Rare dual lobe liver surgery gives new lease of life to Mongolian man

February 12 (Hindustan Times) A team of doctors performed the rare dual lobe liver transplant on an overweight patient, where parts of livers from two donors were grafted in to the recipient's body.

The 38-year-old patient, Purevsuren Dorj, a Mongolian national, had been suffering from constant stomach pain. In June 2016, the doctors diagnosed a liver ailment. Dorj was recommended to undergo a surgery in October, which was finally realised this month.

However, doctors came across a road block when it came to a normal liver transplant surgery. Dorj's excess weight posed the problem. He weighed 130 kilogram, which was why liver from just one donor proved insufficient.

However, the issue was resolved when Dorj's two brothers, aged 31 and 35, agreed to donate a part of their livers to their brother. Doctors from the liver transplant department of Jaypee Hospital in Noida Sector 128 took around 16 hours to conduct the life-saving surgery.

"His brothers agreed to donate a part of their livers to the patient, which solved the issue. Dual lobe liver transplant is a very rare kind of surgery, where liver two donors is transplanted in one recipient. In normal cases, only one donor would be enough. But if the recipient is overweight or sized huge, liver from single donor becomes insufficient to perform the normal body functions," explained Dr Abhideep Chaudhary, senior liver transplant surgeon.

"In dual lobe liver transplant, three surgeries are performed simultaneously, which poses extreme complexities and challenges," Dr Chaudhary said.

Meanwhile, Dorj thanked the team of doctors and his brothers for giving him a new lease of life.

"Prior to the surgery, my life was miserable because of the liver failure. When Dr Chaudhary informed me that I will need two donors for the transplant, I was tensed as I hadn't heard of anything like that before. But he explained to me how it will be done and assured that I could lead a normal life post surgery. It boosted my courage to undergo the transplant. Both my brothers donated their livers, so that I could lead a normal life. All thanks to the doctors and my brothers, I am back to my normal life today," he said.

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Asia Education Foundation: Mongolia Study Program

Immerse yourself in the rich historical culture that is Mongolia by participating in an international professional learning program designed to support educators in leading the development of intercultural understanding in their school community. 

This in-country study program will provide participants with the opportunity to visit local sites of Mongolia including Ulaanbaatar, Terelj National park and Khustai National Park to experience, firsthand, traditions of the past that are still practiced today by hardy nomads dwelling on the country's vast steppes and deserts. Participants will also engage with education experts from the local institutions including schools, an orphanage and the Ministry of Education to further develop their understanding of the traditional and contemporary Mongolian history, geography and society. 

When: 9 - 17 April 2017
Cost: $3500.00 (Twin share land cost and single room supplement $440.00)

For the full itinerary or further information, please email (Opens in a new window).

Register now

Registrations close 5pm Tuesday 14 February 2017.

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Culture & Society

Fellowships Deadline February 15,  ACMS Annual Meeting March 17th

Dear ACMS members and friends,

This is a reminder that applications for our 2017 Field Research and Library fellowships will be due next week (February 15th). Information, including application instructions can be found at

Also, please know about our upcoming Annual Meeting, Friday, March 17th, 2017! As usual, this year's meeting will be in conjunction with the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) annual meeting, and this year that is at the Sheraton Centre Toronto (123 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario). Our event will be at 7:30pm, Friday, March 17th, in the Provincial Ballroom South.

The program will begin at 7:30pm, with a membership meeting by ACMS leadership including updates by UB Resident Director Marc Tasse and US Director David Dettmann, followed by a cultural program and poster session.

The event is free and open to public and all interested parties. Registration to AAS is not required for this ACMS event.

We also have a call for posters and displays for the Annual Meeting. To propose a poster or display for the session, please send a brief abstract or description (no more than 250 words) to me at before March 1, 2017. Posters and displays will be accepted on a rolling basis (more information on that can be found here).

Again, the details for our meeting are:

ACMS Annual Meeting
7:30pm Friday, March 17st, 2017
Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, Provincial Ballroom South

Please help us spread the word, and hope to see you there!

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Mongolian shearer's challenge

February 13 (Otago Daily Times) Not only did he have to come to grips with using a shearing machine but he was also learning to speak English at the same time.

Fast forward a few years and Mr Chuluunbaatar represented Mongolia at the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill last week, in a one-man team which was managed by his Kiwi wife Zoe Leetch.

It was the first time Mongolia had had a team in the championships and it was a proud moment for the pair, who were accompanied by their children Tushinbayar (4) and Temulen (2).

"It's an honour, really," Ms Leetch said.

The couple met in 2007 at a small goldmine in Mongolia where they were both working. Ms Leetch's job was mine administrator, which included keeping track of fuel usage, and her future husband's job was refuelling.

Despite the language barrier — she could not speak Mongolian and he could not speak English — the pair hit it off.

"We just enjoyed each other's company," Ms Leetch, who comes from Golden Bay, said.

Mr Chuluunbaatar, known as Nasa, came from a nomadic family and she spent time with them when the mine closed down for winter. Life was very different from Golden Bay but it was an "amazing" experience, she recalled.

"I had seen some movies of Mongolia ...  I kept telling myself 'it's not going to be like the movies'. It is just like the movies," she said.

His family was very welcoming; Mongolian people were very understanding and did not expect foreigners to know a lot of their language or understand their customs.

Mr Chuluunbaatar came to New Zealand in early 2011 and the couple married in Mongolia later that year.

At the end of that year, they came back to New Zealand and he did a shearing course. He had not used a shearing machine before.

His family were herders and owned sheep but they were shorn with large scissors — not like blade shears — with their feet tied. They were shorn on one side and then turned over and shorn on the other, Ms Leetch explained.

One advantage was Mr Chuluunbaatar knew animals and their physiology and how they behaved, despite having never used a machine before.

That first year he was learning English at the same time.

"You can imagine the English he learned in the shearing sheds," she said, laughing.

He was now shearing in the Golden Bay area and farmers had been very welcoming and generous, she said.

The couple hoped to find a way  to spend time living in both Mongolia and New Zealand. They would like their children to do some of their primary schooling in Mongolia, get to know their Mongolian family and learn about the culture.

They also hoped to introduce machine shearing to Mongolia. Wool there had very little value; sheep were shorn outside, in the dust, and the multi-coloured fleeces were not separated in any way. Ms Leetch hoped a way would be found to increase its value.

The next world championships were being held in France and the pair would like to be involved again, but would have to find a sponsor, Ms Leetch said.

"That's a big trip but we'd love to represent Mongolia there."

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EU SWITCH-Asia Programme: Shear Innovation

February 10 -- In the harsh climate conditions of Mongolia, good building insulation is of paramount importance. Whilst a growing number of citizens is moving from traditional yurts ("ger") with poor living standards to urban buildings in the midst of a growing urbanisation process, high quality insulation can be provided by a product that Mongolia has a wealth of but which has never been used before for building insulation purposes: sheep wool.

With the support of the EU-funded SWITCH-Asia project Sheep Wool Building Materials, pastoralists, SMEs, authorities and residents have explored the properties and benefits of sheep wool as an energy-efficient, safer and cleaner building insulation material and started applying it to domestic buildings.

By the project's completion in 2016: 
• 200 herders were trained on wool preparation 
• 130 tons of raw wool were transformed into more than 3200 m3 of Sheep Wool Building Insulation (SWBI) 
• 4 demo buildings were set-up 
• 180 houses were isolated with SWBI, preventing the emission in the atmosphere of 636 tons of CO2 
• 6 domestic companies started producing SWBI 
• 2 SWBI-related technical standards were approved .

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Mongolia, Land of the Horse People

February 12 (Dave's Travel Corner) It's almost impossible to tell the story of Mongolia without inevitably mentioning Chinggis (Genghis) Khan. Seven centuries ago, he exploded onto Mongol and world history with a sonorous impact that still reverberates throughout the nation today. But there is far more to Mongolia than our fanciful musings of green, pastoral steppes trampled by marauding hordes of nomadic warriors on horseback. Indeed, Mongolia is a study in contrast, a traveler's delight full of scenic nature, rich culture and modern development. [Note, Chinggis is the more modern and phonetically accurate spelling of Genghis.]

While Mongolia is on the fast-track towards modernization, especially in its capital of Ulaanbaatar, the country is nevertheless still steeped in ancient tradition and history. The majority of the population lives in gers, traditional round tents of wood and wool that have housed its people for eons. The horse is inextricably tied to Mongol identity. In fact, Mongols call themselves the "the horse people" – a claim few, save perhaps America's Comanche tribe, would dare challenge. The horse hair fiddle is each family's proudest possession and people routinely ride Mongolia's half-wild horses for leisure. Riding them is a thrilling experience, especially for novice riders. The animals are extremely sensitive to movement from the rider and will react with a gallop at even minor motions. If you're, like me, a novice rider, I strongly suggest having an experienced Mongol guide close to your side.

Meat is central to the Mongolian diet, particularly red meat, which can also include any number of pack animals. Mongols joke that their diet excludes vegetables as they receive all their greens directly from the grasses the animals have previously consumed. This comes as somewhat of a shock to my mindset of prioritizing vegetables over meats. But if you're going for a Mongolian restaurant, don't expect much in the way of plant-based side dishes. And all those Mongolian barbecue joints we go to in the US? Turns out they're not quite as authentic as I had imagined….

Most of us envision that Mongolia as a land of wide open steppes and grasslands. And while that is accurate, the landscape is yet vastly more diverse. Ulaanbaatar itself is nestled in a valley surrounded by low rolling hills. But the land changes dramatically after just a short drive only about 45 minutes to the east. As you enter the massive Gorkhi Terelj National Park, constant rain feeds a lush countryside that is reminiscent of a mini-version of Colorado or Switzerland. Occasionally, the low-lying grey clouds part to reveal rolling hills that give way to rocky outcroppings, small mountains and pine forests. On the way, one can pay homage to history's greatest monarch at the colossal monument to Chinggis. At 40 meters (~44 yards) tall, it is the the largest equestrian statue in the world and visitors can climb several hundred steps to the top to get a breathtaking panorama view. The statue has been erected on the very spot where legend claims Chinggis found the golden whip that signified his future ascendancy to world domination.

Conversely, take the highway to the west of Ulaanbaatar and you'll find a dramatically different landscape yet again. The vastly drier climate only about an hour's drive from the city is immediately apparent as trees swiftly give way to semi-arid grasslands. The sparsely populated countryside to the west of Ulaanbaatar offers little to view beyond low-lying hills while the pothole-ridden highway disappears in a straight line to nowhere into the setting sun. No objects, man-made or natural, obstruct the view, allowing one to appreciate the voluminous breadth and majesty of the blue Mongolian sky. No wonder then that the sky takes a central role in the Mongolian shamanistic religion, known as Tengrism.

Stand at the top of a hill in the middle of the Mongolian steppe to gaze at the vast horizon and you'll quickly understand why Mongols worshipped Tengri, the eternal blue sky. Even today, people suspend a small blue cloth to the top of their ger to symbolize it. This form of Mongolian shamanism, in addition to Buddhism, represent the two major religious belief systems today. Ironically, my new-found Mongol friend and guide Mörn, joked that the third major religion today in Mongolia is basketball. True enough, the sport is practically a national obsession. Drive by any village, town or random farm in Mongolia and you'll inevitably find children and teenagers playing basketball on a paved court, no matter in what dilapidated state it may be. The American pro basketball league (NBA), so Mörn claims, is Mongolia's favorite sport to follow.

Coming back to nature, about 100 km to the west of Ulaanbaatar is Khustain (Hustai) Nuruu National Park, home to one of the rarest large mammals in the world, the Prezwalski's wild horse. This species of horse had actually gone extinct in the wild in the 20th century. Through the joint efforts of Mongolian and European conservationists, the horse was re-bred in captivity (from only about a dozen surviving animals) and introduced back into the wild in the early 1990s. The herd has slowly but steadily grown, representing a shining example of success in the story of modern conservationism. An estimated 130 or so animals roam free today in Hustai preserve. I have actually seen this horse on numerous occasions before, roaming the open range of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in California. However, viewing the majestic animals in the wild, in their native environment, serene and undisturbed by tourists or human intervention, is a special experience. Prezwalski's horses are notoriously reclusive – and the stallion can be rather aggressive when he feels disturbed – so visitors to the Hustai are by no means guaranteed a glimpse of the animal. Count your blessings if you do.

In fact, count your blessings if you go to Mongolia at all. For most travelers, it is considered completely off the beaten track. For Mongols, however, it is the center of the world. We should be fortunate enough to see it from that perspective.

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Mongolia's Naadam Festival and its 'Manly' National Sports

February 10 (The Culture Trip) Mongolia: the country that got greedy when it came to picking a national sport. Instead of settling on one, like most other countries in the world, Mongolia managed to stockpile three sports – archery, Mongolian wrestling and horse racing – and the country has dedicated an entire national festival to them for good measure.

Mongolia's Naadam festival

The Naadam festival is an annual three-day event that commences on July 11. Festivities are enjoyed locally throughout the whole country but the main event takes place in Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital. The festival is a celebration of the country's independence from China in 1921, at the time of the Qing dynasty. As well as celebrating the country's autonomy, the Naadam festival offers attendees the opportunity to appreciate ancestral Mongolian attire (deel); enjoy traditional Mongolian food, like deep-fried meat dumplings, or khuushuur; as well as commemorating the Mongols' traditional nomadic lifestyle.

Revelling in national heritage is the official purpose of the Naadam festival but for many who attend, sport is the main attraction. All three Naadam sports – archery, Mongolian wrestling and horse racing – were initially intended to select men for military combat in formidable cavalry armies of great Mongol leaders like Genghis Khan. Any entertainment factor was both secondary and coincidental in the original Naadam. After Mongolia gained autonomous statehood in the 1920s, Naadam began to take its modern form as a celebration of national independence, leaving its original battle orientation to the realms of history. Although the festival is sometimes referred to as 'the three manly games', nowadays women compete in the archery competition and girls can ride as jockeys in the horse racing event.

Mongolian archery


Originally, bows and arrows served as hunting tools before they were incorporated onto the battlefield. However, they quickly became one of the most symbolic weapons of warfare, and remained so until they were replaced by the invention and widespread dissemination of gunpowder and firearms. Archery served to distinguish individual warriors with strong eyesight and good hand-eye coordination. Although many Mongols of the past were horse archers, Chinese domination of Mongolia from the seventeenth century involved a systematic pacification of the natives. This saw them forced into Buddhist monasteries where they were made to abandon their horses and could only secretly practice their battle skills with miniature crossbows in their yurts. When Mongolia regained its independence, the new government sought to establish Mongolian culture by re-establishing Naadam and, with it, the the great Mongol tradition of archery.

Culture and traditions

Archery is regarded as an advanced form of mental and physical training. Archers of all ages compete, wearing traditional Mongolian attire, in any of three categories. Khalka archery refers to the form practised by Mongolia's majority ethnic denomination of the same name, from the country's central region. Meanwhile, Buriat and Urianghai are variations which respectively originated within two eponymous minority groups in northeastern and western Mongolia. Tradition demands that judges, singing the ancient uukhai, stand near the target and use hand signals to indicate the score of each competitor. The form of archery practised governs the style of the vocals involved. Winners are rewarded with the title of mergen, or marksman, with subsequent victories earning additional epithets, ranging from 'Super', 'Miraculous' and 'Most Scrupulous' through to 'Nationally Memorable' and 'Invincible'.

How it works

Hitting a ground-based target, made from hide or sinew, is the aim in all three archery categories. Differences include the distance of the target and the bows and arrows used. While men, women and children compete in separate competitions in Khalka and Buriat archery, the Urianghai variation is reserved for men. The distance a competitor shoots from is determined by their gender and, if relevant, their age and the category in which they are competing.

Buriat archers shoot from a range of 35 meters and Uryankhai from 45 meters, while Khalah archery involves the greatest distance, with men standing 75 meters from the target in the zurkhai (target area), and women standing 65 meters away. Meanwhile children under eighteen have their range dictated by their age, based on multiplying a boy's age by four or a girl's age by three to get a distance in meters.

Mongolian wrestling


Archeologists have discovered rock carvings depicting a wrestling activity in Ulziit, Dundgovi. They are believed to date back to the Mongolian Bronze Age (2,500 BC – 700 BC), which suggests that early manifestations of Mongolian wrestling preceded even the ancient Greek Olympics and were around long before the gladiators of ancient Rome. Wrestling was recognised by the Mongols as a practical way of identifying individual warriors who were skilled in terms of strength, movement and flexibility.

Culture and traditions

Mongolian wrestling is laden with references to the country's Mongol past. Participants don traditional costumes, including somewhat impractical boots, and perform the time-honoured 'eagle dance' before every match. Male participants compete in traditional bare-chested costumes; this is because an old folktale tells of a woman who won the Naadam wrestling event disguised as a man. The wrestlers' exposed garbs are intended to prevent any such deception from ever happening again.

How it works

Only wrestlers with a national ranking can compete in Mongolia's largest wrestling competition in Ulaanbaatar. However, men, women and children as young as four years old participate in wrestling events at a local level. The rules are fairly straightforward – one wrestler contends against another, using strength to force each other to the ground. The bout continues until one wrestler touches the ground with their head, knee or elbow and they are forced to accept defeat. Notably, Mongolian wrestling has no weight classes so it is not unusual to find a slender sixteen-year-old boy tenaciously grappling with a muscular forty-year-old man.

Mongolian horse racing


Many elements of contemporary Mongolian culture stem from the long, nomadic history of the Mongols. These range from rural Mongolians living in gers – temporary yurt-style structures that are easily erected and collapsed – to the Mongolian people's traditional affinity with horses. In the past, endurance horse racing was an activity that served to test the patience and bravery of individual warriors. Besides their use in warfare, horses were reared to provide transportation, sustenance, companionship and racing contenders. Above all, horses were working animals with which Mongols felt a strong spiritual connection. This bond still exists between Mongolians and their horses today.

Culture and traditions

Horses and jockeys alike undergo several months of training in the lead up to the Naadam festival. Victory aside, there is a lot to be gained for horse trainers because they are rewarded with accumulative lavish titles if their horse wins the main event in Ulaanbaatar. During the festival, hundreds of thousands of horses race all over the country, throughout Mongolia's 21 provinces and 329 soums. While horse trainers are adults and often have decades of experience participating in Naadam, jockeys are children, usually aged between five and thirteen.

How it works

At the Naadam festival, horses race in different categories according to age, and distances covered can range from ten kilometers to twenty-six kilometers. In hope of victory, jockeys indulge their horses with a gingo, a special song to boost their horses' spirits. Winning jockeys are bestowed with the title Tumenii ekh, or 'leader of ten thousand', while horses which come last are consoled with a song wishing them luck in next year's race.

Eclipsing the Naadam horse race in terms of international fame, the Odyssean 1,000-kilometer Mongol Derby was inaugurated in 2009. Jockeys come from far and wide to participate in the race, which emulates the extensive postal route of Genghis Khan's empire. It's not a trail for the faint-hearted.

Attend Naadam

The opening ceremony of the Naadam festival in Ulaanbaatar includes shows that are intended for the enjoyment of tourists who flock from all over the world to see Mongolian culture in all its authentic glory. You can contact the festival organisers to get your tickets.

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Mongolia – with Wild Women Expeditions

"Jennifer Haddow is the woman behind Wild Women Expeditions – for 25 years they have led women on some extraordinary and life changing adventures."

Not it is time for Mongolia!

February 12 (Women Travel the World) They are offering two itineraries – one horse riding trip and another tour that is more of a multisport, with hiking, kayaking, cultural activities and some beginner friendly riding.

2018 is your chance to visit Mongolia

If you are seeking a unique adventure in one of the most remote, wild places on the planet, click here to see all the trip info

Mongolia is in many ways what you imagined: sprawling, dazzling displays of mountainous terrain. Packs of horses pounding over the earth. Bubbling hot springs. Intricate temples. But no matter how many photos you might have Googled – no matter what it might have said in the guide books – nothing prepares you for the wild, raw spirit of this ancient land.

Whether you are hiking the banks of "the great white lake", trekking on the back of a pony through a valley of Agad Sar, or perched atop a camel as you scale a caramel-colored sand dune, Mongolia is an otherworldly delight to the senses.

This is a place pulsing with the past: with the ferocious Ghengis Khan, and the infamous silk road. You feel both humbled and awestruck to be standing here, as if you have stepped into the pages of a history book. Yes, time has marched on, but it seems the essence of Mongolia has remained the same. Life here means moving through a fierce kind of beauty, in harmony with other animals of the earth. It is a wonder, and a delight, to your wild, nomad heart.

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Social versus Spatial Mobility? Mongolia's Pastoralists in the Educational Development Discourse

Ines Stolpe

(Vol 4, No 1 (2016), Open Access Journal) --


When it comes to education for mobile pastoralists, Mongolia is an exceptional case. Until fifty years ago, herders comprised the majority of the Mongolian population. Although a satellite of the Soviet Union, the Mongolian People's Republic was a state in which mobile pastoralism was not challenged, and herders were not constructed as social outcasts. Equally exceptional was the country's modernisation, witnessed in its decided alignment with equal opportunities. In Mongolia, it was not 'nomadism' that was associated with backwardness, but illiteracy. Policy-makers aimed to combine spatial with social mobility by building schools further and further out in the grasslands, employing locals as teachers, and fostering interplay between modern formal education and extensive animal husbandry. Yet after 1990, when development discourse pigeon-holed post-socialist Mongolia as a Third World country, the so-called shock therapy led to severe cuts in education. Herders were essentialised as 'nomads', which caused donor-driven policies of educational planning to construe pastoralists as challenges. Ironically, during the initial decade of Education for All, the younger generation had—for the first time in Mongolia's history—less educational opportunities than their parents. This article discusses narratives of inclusion and the political consequences of ascribed social identities.

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Nature & Environment

A million animals at risk as Mongolia's brutal winter hits herders

February 11 (AM, ABC Radio) Aid workers in Mongolia say an unusually harsh winter is killing millions of livestock and putting an enormous strain on the nation's herders.

Mongolians are used to bitterly cold weather, but this year is being described as a rare weather event that plunged some parts of the country to below minus 50 degrees.


Daariimaa Bileg, herder, Altanbulag district, Mongolia

Mitsuaki Toyodo, Mongolian country director, Save the Children

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Mongolia: Severe Winter Emergency Appeal 

February 10 (IFRC) This Emergency Appeal seeks a total of 655,512 Swiss francs to enable the IFRC to support the Mongolian Red Cross Society (MRCS) to deliver assistance and support to some 11,264 people for 10 months, with a focus on detailed assessments, immediate household needs, heath, livelihoods, community preparedness and disaster risk reduction. The planned response reflects the current situation and information available at this time of the evolving operation, and will be adjusted based on further developments and more detailed assessments. Details are available in the Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) <click here>

The disaster and the Red Cross Red Crescent response to date

17 December 2016: An Information bulletin was issued highlighting the upcoming dzud and its potential impacts. The bulletin informs that more likely, it is the northern part of the country that will be most affected. It also indicates that shortage of food is already impacting more than 16,000 families that had to move to new pastures.

20 December 2016: The Government of Mongolia officially sent letters to the MRCS and other humanitarian actors in the country to request international assistance for the most vulnerable herder households who are experiencing extreme winter conditions.

4 January 2017: 117,349 Swiss francs allocated from the IFRC's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF).

December-January 2017: IFRC disaster risk management coordinator from Beijing country cluster support team (CCST) and IFRC operations coordinator from the Asia Pacific regional office (APRO) are deployed to assist MRCS team with assessments and operational support.

10 February: IFRC issues Emergency Appeal for CHF 655, 512 francs to assist 11,264 people.

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Mongolia: Severe Winter Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA)

February 10 (IFRC) --

A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Dzud (Mongolian term for a severe winter), which is a slow onset winter condition has now been affecting some 157,000 people (37,000 herder households) across 17 out of 21 provinces in Mongolia. A drought during the summer of 2016 has depleted herders' reserves of hay and fodder in the eastern and northern parts of the country putting at risk millions of livestock which are the only source of food, transport and income for almost half of the Mongolian population. Multipurpose unconditional cash grants to support life-saving basic needs, emergency agricultural inputs and first aid kits have been identified as priority needs by the Mongolia National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other humanitarian actors.

On 20 December 2016 following the verbal request on 15 December 2016, the Deputy Prime Minister, on behalf of the Government of Mongolia requested humanitarian actors to provide assistance to the dzud affected herders in Mongolia. Afterwards, the government sent official letters to the Mongolian Red Cross Society (MRCS) and other humanitarian actors in country to request international assistance for the most vulnerable herder households who are experiencing extreme winter conditions.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has established a task force (from January to May) to coordinate the humanitarian actors' response to the harsh winter conditions. MRCS is one of the members of this task force amongst the humanitarian actors together with UN Mongolia.

The dzud of 2015-2016 was particularly harsh and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), in support of MRCS launched an operation to support the affected communities. Currently, 127 soums (townships) in 17 aimags (provinces) and two Ulaanbaatar districts, which is around 35 per cent of the total number of soums2 in country, are starting to experience hardship. The weather forecast predicts that temperatures in some areas could fall to between -40 and -50 degrees Celsius in early February. Continuous snowfall throughout January and expected snowfall in coming February and March will certainly exacerbate the adverse situation in which thousands of migrating herders can find themselves in weeks to come. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) estimates that it is 82 per cent prepared in terms of hay and fodder at aimag3 level, but they also estimate that the preparedness level in soums is less than 70 per cent due to the budgetary constraints at the local level.

Shortage of pasture leads to livestock loss and in some areas, as of 18 January, NEMA has reported already 25,831 livestock loss. Given the developing situation this figure is expected to grow exponentially in the coming months when a long harsh spring takes over the extremely cold winter. In spring time when animals give birth to young off springs and when the livestock is already exhausted throughout the winter, they are in high risk of death without adequate feed, shelter and veterinarian care which does not exist in remote areas of country.

Approximately 16,000 households (HHs) (ten per cent of total number of HH with livestock) with some seven (7) million livestock has to move to new pasture lands within their or neighbouring provinces that will create create further pressure on the scarce local resources of grass, hay and fodder; this is locally named otor4 as households carry scaled down versions of traditional ger during otor for a simple transportation. Livestock is being affected by animal diseases and as a result, those areas are quarantined, prohibiting animals to move from those locations. Hay and fodder are widely available at the local markets, brought from other parts of Mongolia, but many vulnerable herders lack cash to buy it to salvage their livestock.

There are approximately 2,500 pregnant women, 26,000 children and 8,000 elderly people who are living in winter pastures and they are the most vulnerable groups that will be targeted to receive support5 .
According to forecasts from the Mongolian Information and Research Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment, the heavy snowfalls and snowstorms are expected to continue through March. Average temperatures below -20-30 degrees Celsius during daytime and below -35 degrees during the night are still expected in the coming weeks. In the northern part of Mongolia, Uvs is one of the provinces targeted within this plan of action, that will experience temperatures of below -40 degrees Celsius and daytime temperatures below -35 degrees Celsius.

In December and January sharp and short increases of daytime temperatures formed a layer of hard ice which covers pastures in many areas which make it difficult for animals to scratch down to the grass. This leads to mild to severe injuries to livestock, deteriorating health and eventually leading to death in spring. The livestock death toll tends to increase significantly during spring months.

Last year in mid-winter, dzud disaster was slowly developing and the lowest temperatures were reported in January. However, the death toll of the livestock was very low, equal to 118,400 deaths. The livestock health started to weaken and the death toll was raised to 1,039,900 as of April and further increased to 1,236,700 in June. Therefore, in addition to extreme winter, long and harsh spring is the season when higher deaths of livestock are registered. The table below shows the livestock death toll of 2016 by months.

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Beavers fleeing destroyed habitats

February 10 (Mongolian Economy) One of the rarest animals, beavers that breed in a small area along the Bulgan River of Khovd Province, is facing the risk of extinction. According to local sources, the number of beavers in the Bulgan and Khovd Rivers of Khovd Province had dramatically declined due to the degradation of their habitat. Specifically, families and herders home to the soums of Erdeneburen, Jargalant, Myangad and Buyant of the province are increasingly using twigs and branches to build livestock shelters, which is the reason behind the falling number of beavers.

Due to this situation, beavers began migrating to Chinese territory by following the flow of the Bulgan River and are becoming unable to come back, according to local sources.

This extremely rare animal known as a "water engineer" is included in the Red Book of Mongolia which lists endangered species, and the researchers who studied the beavers living along the Bulgan and Khovd Rivers confirmed that the existential danger to the animals. Thus, they hold that it is necessary to take measures such as setting nets near the border to halt the migration.

According to the study, the main habitats of beavers living along the Bulgan River are spread over to Khar Us (Black Water) Lake. Currently, a total of 128 beaver colonies breed along the Bulgan River.

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Biocombinat needs urgent upgrade to avoid importing vaccines

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 (MONTSAME) Vaccines for animals are being produced with 90 per cent manual operation due to lack of technical renovation in 'Biocombinat', animal vaccine and medication producing state-owned enterprise since its establishment in 1973. Today, the Department of veterinary and breeding introduced current situation of the enterprise to State Emergency Commission.

Just 20 per cent out of 350 equipment and facilities in 'Biocombinat' have been renovated and 200 of equipment are in unusable condition, explained Head of the Department of veterinary and breeding P.Gankhuyag. It means, there is no way other than importing vaccines against animal infectious diseases.

The Department calculated that MNT85 billion will be needed to import just 82 million doses of anti- foot and mouth disease vaccines in 2017-2013. If vaccines are produced at home, MNT59.5 billion will be required, saving MNT25.5 billion. Therefore renovation project with investment of USD25 million financed by Hungary should be completed immediately.

Veterinary and breeding Department considers it efficient to carry out anti-foot and mouth disease vaccination twice a year, precisely in April and September, not in cold season and regarding vaccination against goat and sheep pox and goat plague in June.

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Disease Threatens To Wipe Out Critically Endangered Population Of Saiga Antelope

February 12 (Tech Times) Mongolia's iconic antelopes are facing extinction after more than 2,000 had died from a disease that originated from livestock.

Thousands more of the critically endangered are feared to die as the disease will spread during winter when free-ranging saiga herds migrate and mix. It might result to an upsurge of deaths in the spring.

Scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said that 2,500 Saiga died in Western Mongolia from a disease caused by a virus known as Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR).

PPR is a deadly virus which kills 90 percent of infected animals. It is also called a goat plague because it affects sheep and goats with symptoms of infections include diarrhoea, fever, pneumonia, and mouth sores.

The disease was first reported in 1942 in Côte d'Ivoire. It is a livestock disease afflicting sheep and goats in Africa, Middle East, and Asia.

In Mongolia's Khovd province, 900 more saigas have disappeared — approximately 10 percent of Mongolia's endangered antelopes. Saiga antelopes (Saiga tatarica) populated the grasslands of Europe and Asia. Their numbers have dwindled from 1.25 million to 50,000 for the last 40 years.

The first outbreak of PPR in Mongolia was in September 2016.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said the virus spread from China affecting the free-ranging saiga population at shared grazing grounds.

Experts do not rule out other possible causes as they also eye Pasteurella multocida bacteria. The equally deadly bacteria had wiped out more than 200,000 of Kazakhtstan's saiga antelope two years ago.

Scientists Warn Of Impact On The Grassland Ecosystem

The PPR outbreak does not only threaten to wipe out the endangered antelopes but threatens the whole grassland ecosystem as well.

Scientists from WCS said the outbreak is the first to have occurred among antelopes and described its spread as "alarming".

"The first case of PPR was confirmed in the Saiga on only 2nd January this year," WCS scientist Dr. Enkhtuvshin Shiilegdamba told BBC News.

She warned that the PPR outbreak in saiga has raised concern over its impact on the grassland ecosystem in general.

Dr. Shiilegdamba noted that "many other species share this same range" with saiga especially during winter.

Scientists feared it will affect the food chain once the virus spreads toward the eastern part of Mongolia where an estimated 1.5 million Mongolian gazelles migrate every year.

The disappearance of the wildlife in the area will result to a lack of prey for the endemic snow leopard, which will drive them to prey on domesticated livestock. These carnivores will also have greater risk of being shot by farmers.

Saving The Mongolian Saiga From Extinction

To save the saiga population from extinction, it is a must to immunize goats, sheep, and other domestic livestock in the area.

Dr. Amanda Fine of WCS wildlife health program said there is "a need to ensure the disease does not spread to unaffected populations" in order to save the critically endangered Saiga antelope.

FAO and the World Organization for Animal Health launched last year a program for the eradication of the disease. Aimed to eradicate PPR worldwide, the program's measures include vaccination, movement control, and quarantine.

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Quarantines launched due to epidemic destruction of saiga antelopes

Ulaanbaatar, February 10 (MONTSAME) At the State Emergency Commission meeting held today, the issue of destruction of saiga antelopes caused by goat plague was discussed. According to the latest data, 3,818 saiga antelopes and 24 black-tailed gazelles were killed by the disease.

The working group, formed in accordance with an ordinance of Deputy PM U.Khurelsukh, paid site visits to the epicenters in Gobi-Altai and Khovd provinces. Afterwards, the group gave directions to the local emergency departments to work in quarantine regime until March 1 and to immediately collect data on the number and locations of the livestock herding families in Shargyn Gobi, Khuisiin Gobi and Durgunu Steppe.

It has been reported by specialists that the herds of saiga antelopes are in great risk of being hit by sepsis in the upcoming spring due to weakened immunity.

About 8,000 livestocks of 12 herding households were vaccinated, and the vaccinations are being carried out in Biger, Erdene and Chandmani soums.

Emergency departments have been working to limit saiga migration from safe zones to epicenters, protect 22 healthy antelopes in Durgunu soum, 44 in Khomyn Steppe and over a hundred healthy saigas in Mankhan soum and Adgiin Khudag, Duguin Am and Talyn Khar. Awareness-raising actions are being organized for herders.

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New data on the stratigraphy of the crystalline complexes of Mongolia

Authors: Ch. Erdenejargal, B. Enkhbaatar

December 2016 (Paleontological Journal) --


At present, in Mongolia crystalline complexes are reliably established in almost all major structural elements. The largest field of these complexes is recognized in the Early Caledonian structures of the North-Mongolian Folded Belt, in the Tarbagatai and Baidarik blocks. The crystalline complexes of the South Altai Belt have previously been interpreted as fragments of the Precambrian basement. Recent geochronological and isotope geochemical data have shown that pre-Riphean and Early Hercynian formations can be recognized in the Precambrian of Mongolia. These complexes show evidence of similar metamorphic processes, but are different in structural position and geological history. The paper contains new stratigraphic schemes for metamorphic complexes of the Baidarik and Tarbagatai blocks and also the South Altai Metamorphic Belt (SAMB).

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From prairie to Gobi in search of dinosaurs

Presenting our first guest blog post from paleontologist Victoria Arbour, an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Evans Lab at the Royal Ontario Museum and University of Toronto. 

by Victoria Arbour

February 10 (Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs) I've been interested in the palaeobiology and palaeobiogeography of Mongolian dinosaurs for more than ten years, since my graduate school days at the University of Alberta. Much of my research has focused on the ankylosaurid dinosaurs, the weird, spiky, armoured dinosaurs with tail clubs. Ankylosaurid fossils are always rare, but two of the best places to find good specimens of this unusual group of dinosaurs are Alberta and, you guessed it, Mongolia. The biodiversity and relationships of Albertan and Mongolian ankylosaurids were a major part of my doctoral research, and Mongolian dinosaurs continue to be an important part of my research program.

I am very fortunate to have had the chance to first visit Mongolia as a Masters student way back in 2007, as part of the Nomadic Expeditions Dinosaurs of the Gobi expedition. Over the course of a little over two weeks, I had a whirlwind tour of Mongolian palaeontology. My visit to Mongolia began with a visit to the museum and collections in Ulaanbaatar, where many superstar dinosaur specimens reside: Big Mama the nesting oviraptorosaur, the great arms of the at-the-time still-enigmatic Deinocheirus, the incredible Fighting Dinosaurs locked forever in deadly combat, and, of course, beautiful ankylosaurs like the skull of Tsagantegia, an incredible skeleton with its armour still in place, and a gigantic tail club.

Canada is pretty empty in the middle, and the seemingly neverending prairies of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are like a western doppelganger to the great steppes south of Ulaanbaatar. But instead of grain terminals and bright yellow canola and cows, there are herds of goats, camels, and sturdy little horses, bright white gers, and green grass.

Eventually the steppe dried out and we were in the Gobi Desert proper. Here we mostly prospected for dinosaurs in the Nemegt Basin, where two rock formations are found – the Nemegt Formation and the Baruungoyot Formation, both of which record time running up to the end of the Age of Dinosaurs. My good friend and colleague Federico Fanti of the Universita di Bologna in Italy made an amazing discovery here during this expedition: an oviraptorosaur sitting on its nest of eggs! This beautiful dinosaur, called Nemegtomaia ("Nemegt mother"), was described in a paper published in 2012, which is free to read and download at PLOS ONE. This specimen was clearly the highlight of the expedition, but we also discovered many excellent smaller fossils of hadrosaurs, theropods, ankylosaurs, lizards, and mammals along the way. We even got to visit a bonebed of juvenile ankylosaurs (Pinacosaurus!) and collect a few new specimens!

Mongolia is a special place and there are still so many questions to answer about its dinosaurs. My 2007 visit was the first time I had been exposed to the reality of fossil poaching, and it broke my heart to see the number of specimens that were, in all likelihood, ruined by illegal collecting. That's why I've been so happy to support, in a small way, the work of the ISMD, and encourage others to do the same. Mongolians deserve to know about their amazing natural heritage, and Mongolia deserves to have its own cadre of home-grown palaeontologists.

Victoria Arbour is an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow at the Royal Ontario Museum studying dinosaur biogeography and the evolution of animal weapons. She blogs about dinosaurs and paleontology at

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Mongolia NOC's Olympic Districts Organise Games, Performances

Mongolia NOC's Olympic districts organise games, performances

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, February 11, 2017 (Olympic Council of Asia) Mongolia NOC, in collaboration with its Olympic district councils around the country named after Olympic Games host cities, organised Olympic activities in the Umnugovi and Uvurkhangai districts.

Mongolia's 'Athens' Olympic Council, headed by Director S. Tuvshinjargal, staged the 'South Desert Champions' mini-tournaments in national wrestling, tug of war, basketball and athletics among kindergarten and middle school children. Engineers and miners from 'Oyu Tolgoi' were also involved in the community event.

In the central western part of Mongolia, children performed a colourful rhythmic gymnastics display under the guidance of the 'Montreal' Olympic Council of Uvurkhangai province. Director B. Chantsaldulam congratulated the NOC representatives, local sporting figures and media and demonstrated a sports-arts show named 'Childhood and the Olympics'.

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S. Korean trail caretaker to open two hiking trails in Mongolia in June

JEJU, South Korea, Feb. 13 (Yonhap) -- The Jeju Olle Foundation, the caretaker of the Olle Trail on South Korea's largest tourist island of Jeju, said Monday it will launch two hiking trails in Mongolia starting June that it has developed in cooperation with the state-run Jeju Tourism Organization and a tourism agency in the Northeast Asian country.

The foundation and the Jeju Tourism Organization have teamed up with the travel agency affiliated with the government of Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, and the capital's travel agency association in the development of the trails in the Mongolian Olle due to open June 18-19.

According to the foundation, the trails are designed to familiarize walkers with the way-markings and trail signs of the Jeju Olle Trail and to offer them a chance to experience Mongolian nature, people and culture.

On the 14.5km first trail, travelers set out from a village of traditional Mongolian huts called gers in the vicinity of Ulaanbaatar and return there after seeing a small forest by walking on the dirt path while appreciating the country's nature and culture with the backdrop of the imposing Mother Nature.

The 11km second trail involves a one-night stay at a ger in Terelj National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site considered the most scenic national park in Mongolia.

Jeju Olle is arranging for a five-day tourist program for hikers who wish to participate in the opening of the two trails through travel agency Pongnang.

Under a pact, the foundation will help the Mongolian side develop the Mongolian routes, manuals for maintenance of the trail and facilities for trail guidance. Development of two additional trails on the Mongolian Olle are scheduled to be made by 2019.

The Olle Trail, the construction of which began in 2006, stretches about 422 kilometers along the coastline of the island off South Korea's southern coast. The word "Olle" comes from the old Jeju dialect meaning a very narrow alley or path from a public street to the gate of a house.

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Scots expats buy second-hand car in Australia and begin incredible 44,000-mile drive home

Lisa and Phil Armstrong have already driven through more than 20 of the 35 countries that their expedition will see them visit.

February 12 (Daily Record) When Lisa and Phil Armstrong packed up their lives in Australia to return to Scotland after 11 years of living abroad, they decided against jumping on a plane home.

Instead, the keen travellers bought a map, a second-hand Toyota Land Cruiser and started out on the 44,000-mile drive home across the world.

The couple have already driven through more than 20 of the 35 countries that their expedition will see them visit.

They have driven alongside the Great Wall of China, battled through a sandstorm in the Gobi Desert, almost been washed away crossing a raging river to get to Russia and accidentally camped in an area being swept for landmines on the Afghanistan border.

Lisa and Phil have also braved temperature extremes ranging from 35C to -19C.

They were even forced into a treacherous 10-hour dash to hospital after Phil broke his wrist at a remote beauty spot – a freak accident that eventually led to them being flown back to Australia for specialist surgery.

But the couple say every one of the dramas has only added to the adventure of their journey home, which will conclude in May.

Lisa, 43, who grew up in Gullane, East Lothian, said: "Neither of us can remember the moment we decided this was how we would travel home to Scotland but we've always had a love of road trips and thought it would be an adventure.

"We're not the most intrepid travellers in the world. We are just very ordinary people who decided to look into how difficult such a journey would be. The more we found out, the more we were inspired."

Lisa and Phil, 44, gave up their jobs in banking and finance and started their journey with a four-month tour around Australia before putting their Land Cruiser – Troopy – on a cargo ship to Singapore.

From there, the couple drove through Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar and Laos, before arriving in China at the end of March last year.

Phil, who is originally from Hertfordshire, said: "China blew me away. We anticipated a heavily industrialised country with a 
downtrodden population but found the absolute opposite."

Lisa added: "Highlights for us were hiking through Tiger Leaping Gorge, the terracotta warriors and the Great Wall,

"The people of China made our trip. They were so welcoming and interested in our journey. We were asked for selfies and given gifts, escorts into towns and invitations to homes and restaurants. We felt like celebrities every day."

From China, the couple drove to Mongolia, a country famed for its vast wildernesses and nomadic culture.

Lisa said: "From the moment we arrived until the moment we left, Mongolia challenged us. The Mongolians are tough, proud and a little crazy.

"We were invited into their homes, shared their food, rode their horses, helped them build their yurts and I even did some 
goat-herding, which involved catching and throwing goats across a river."

While Phil does most of the driving on the trip, Lisa was forced to take over control of their 4x4 after he fell and broke his wrist at Lake Khovsgal in northern Mongolia.

Lisa said: "Ironically, we had gone for a walk to be fit and healthy. We couldn't have been in a more remote place so, after I did my best to patch Phil up, we worked out we had pretty much a 10-hour drive to the town, which I kid you not was called Moron."

Phil added: "I was in agony and poor Lisa had to nurse the truck along some of the worst roads we had encountered.

"She had to drive through rivers, heavy mud and across broken bridges, all the while trying to minimise the bumps for my sake."

Phil ended up receiving treatment at two hospitals before their insurance company expressed concern about the care he had been given and insisted they fly back to Australia for the broken bones to be surgically fused together in Sydney.

It was two months before they could fly back and continue their journey.

The couple, who have been married for six years, admit one of the scariest encounters on their trip came while trying to leave Mongolia.

Lisa said: "We had to do a river crossing between us and the Russian border. We thought the river would be a little trickle but the snow had melted, turning it into a raging torrent of water. Halfway across, we realised the tractor towing us couldn't get up the steep mud bank. It was wheel-spinning and at a dangerous angle above us – so Phil and I were stuck.

"The water was up to our windows and we knew if the car stalled, flipped or drifted, we would be stuffed."

The couple were able to reverse to safety only after the tow rope attaching them to the tractor snapped. They later crossed the river 1km up stream.

Another scary encounter came as they camped in Tajikistan, just 50m from the Afghanistan border.

Lisa said: "We had camped up after dark, which we don't normally do. In the morning, a couple of military trucks pulled up and 
we thought, 'Oh look, that's lovely – they're picking up litter'.

"We were eating our cereal when it suddenly dawned on us that they were sweeping for landmines. We can laugh now but it wasn't our best moment."

The couple have driven everywhere from Kazakhstan to Iran.

Lisa added: "A touch of altitude sickness and camping in -14.5 degrees couldn't detract from the beauty of the Pamirs and Wakhan Valley, which run along the Afghanistan- Tajikistan border and has to be one of the most beautiful places we've seen. In November, we crossed into Iran so it was time to hijab-up. But I didn't mind wearing the head scarf – you can hide bad hair plus it's an extra layer against the cold.

"Everyone we met told us about the Iranian hospitality and they weren't wrong. We were invited into house after house to take tea, meet people and eat food.

"Our strangest encounter was staying with a Kurdish family near the Iran/Iraq border. They found us in freezing conditions, about to camp, and insisted we go to their house.

"We agreed, had a lovely dinner and a chat. Then at bedtime all these mattresses were brought out and we all slept in the same room, side by side with our new friends snoring."

The couple travelled on to Armenia, Georgia and Turkey before stopping in Greece, where they are now staying with a couple they crossed paths with earlier.

They will take in another 15 countries before returning to East Lothian, where they plan to host a huge party.

Lisa said: "We are having a wonderful trip but are looking forward to going home too.

"We haven't seen our families for four years. And after two years off work, we are looking forward to hopefully restarting our careers and living like grown-ups again".

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Art & Entertainment

7-year-old pianist wins gold at the 12th Ciudad de Huesca

February 12 (UB Post) Seven-year-old Mongolian pianist O.Nandin earned a gold medal at the 12th Ciudad de Huesca International Piano Competition, which was held in Huesca, Spain, from January 23 to 29.

Students of the Music and Dance College, State University of Culture and Arts, and Mongolian Children's Palace participated in the competition under the guidance of pianist S.Sayantsetseg.

O.Nandin won the competition in the 13 and under category. This was her second gold medal win in Spain, she also claimed a gold medal in the U9 category at the 11th Ciudad de Heusca International Piano Competition in 2015.

E.Tsogt, a student at Hobby School, captured a silver medal, and Sant School student G.Enkhtsetseg earned a bronze medal in the same category O.Nandin topped. Six-year-old pianist D.Enerelt won first place in the U9 category this year, and 17-year-old B.Bat-Amar took third place in the U17 category.

The first Ciudad de Huesca International Piano Competition took place in 1999. Young pianists from over ten countries, including Japan, China, South Korea, Canada, Poland, Russia, Italy and Spain, competed this year.

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S.Munkhbaatar to display his work at 2nd International Watercolor Biennale

February 12 (UB Post) The second Tirana International Watercolor Biennale 2017 exhibition will be held at the National Historical Museum of Tirana, Albania from March 12 to April 12.

Mongolian artist S.Munkhbaatar's art work was selected as one of the top 10 works of the exhibition.

The International Watercolor Society of Albania announced an arts competition for the exhibition in six categories: portrait, still life, composition, conceptual, figure and landscape. S.Munkhbaatar's "Amt" (Taste) portrait was selected as one of the top 10 portraits of the competition.

The top three artists of all categories will be awarded a trophy and the top 10 artists will be presented with medals and certificates during the opening ceremony of the Tirana International Watercolor Biennale 2017.

S.Munkhbaatar previously won a prize from the first International Watercolor Biennale in Iran in 2016. His painting titled "Eagle" won first place.

Artist S.Munkhbaatar was born in 1984, in Uliastai, Zavkhan Province. He earned his bachelor's degree in fine arts instruction at the School of Fine Arts of the State University of Arts and Culture in 2005.

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Gobi Desert Expedition Challenge across Mongolia

The Gobi Desert Expedition 2016 and 2017.

Gobi Desert Expedition Mongolia potential team members please watch the video at end of this page before applying. UPDATE 2016 expedition completed 1050 miles in 50 days!

Gobi Desert Expedition and 1000 Mile Journeys founder Peter Syme was part of a twelve person international expedition of from eight different countries. The Gobi Desert Expedition had an age range of eighteen to fifty plus. The team came from diverse backgrounds. All wanted the challenge of the Gobi Desert Expedition to cross Mongolia on foot. Seven of the team completed the expedition in 51 days completing a distance of 1136 miles on foot. Camels were used for carrying heavy gear and water.  A Russian 4×4 provided safety and local support. Peter used the Gobi Desert Expedition as part of his research for the project of 1000 Mile Journeys. He was injured on day sixteen by a camel kick which did something interesting to his hip. However, being Scottish and stubborn he dragged, limped and cursed all the Worlds camels every day onwards. The huge distance and challenges were dealt with as they occurred. The objective was reached with seven other team mates. Experiencing first hand the daily challenges a expedition such as this presents provided invaluable research and lessons were learned.

Mongolia is a vast country with a tiny population. It is stunning, it is remote, it is challenging. It has very few roads. However, it is rapidly developing as their is mineral wealth. Communications are improving even for the most remote of remote nomads. This is a country that will make a very lasting impression on anyone who ventures into the huge vastness by 4×4. To take on the Gobi Desert Expedition challenge of crossing it on foot or by bike will change lives!

We will do the Gobi Desert Expedition again during 2016 and 2017 on foot. These of these will be full 1000 Mile Journeys. The Gobi Desert Expedition crossing on foot we aim to complete in fifty days and again from West to East. Both of these Gobi Desert Expeditions will be supported by Russian 4×4 and local support staff as well as guides from 1000 Mile Journeys.


Due to weather considerations both these Gobi Desert Expeditions will start in the month of May 2016 and 2017. We are looking for a team of 8-12 individuals who have the ambition and drive to apply themselves to this journey.  Each individual will be required to undertake a phone interview. Do not be put off by this, a journey like this is more about mental attitude than anything else.

Cost of this once in a lifetime Gobi Desert Expedition experience is £5500 2017 and £6000 2018

If we do not have a minimum of 8 committed people by 31 Dec 2016 the 2017.Gobi Desert Expedition will be cancelled any deposits paid will be returned at a rate of 100%. Payment Profile Deposit to book is 31 Aug 2016 £500 Non refundable. 30 Oct 2015 £2500 31 Jan 2016 £2500


This is a unique challenge and expedition that will only appeal to a small number of committed individuals who want to experience something different in life. Please get in touch if you dream of such a journey and have the ability to commit to this undertaken well in advance. 

This type of expedition on first reading can seem intimidating, however, with the right focus and commitment it can be done by a very wide range of people. Get in touch there is no commitment we are happy to spend time with you and discuss if it is the right thing for you. Even if you have not done much expedition style traveling we can advise on where to get some experience to build up to these Unique Expeditions.

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Suite 303, Level 3, Elite Complex

14 Chinggis Avenue, Sukhbaatar District 1

Ulaanbaatar 14251, Mongolia

Office: +976 7711 6779

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