Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mongolia Brief June 18, 2014 Part II

Ambassador Meets Slovakian State Secretary

Ulaanbaatar, June 18 (MONTSAME) Ambassador of Mongolia to Slovakia D.Zumberellkham met with Peter Burian, the State secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic on Monday.

The sides spoke about signing several intergovernmental agreements aimed at enhancing cooperation opportunities and at refining legal environments of collaboration in trade, economy, investments, agriculture, culture and humanity, and presented draft treaties to each other.
Mr Zumberellkham said the Government of Mongolia is planning to provide conditions of visa-free travel to Mongolia for Slovakians to further boost the traditional, friendly relationship between Mongolia and the Slovak Republic.
They confirmed a mutual interest in continuing the existing cooperation and in supporting each other on fields of international organizations, including the European Union and United Nations.

Diplomatic Credentials Presented

Ulaanbaatar, June 18 (MONTSAME) The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Malta Mr Clifford Borg-Marks Wednesday presented his diplomatic credentials to the President Ts.Elbegdorj.
Majoring in law, Mr Borg-Marks became the very first Ambassador of his country to Mongolia. He told the President that he visited Mongolia first time in 1980s being a student. Then the dignitaries discussed ways of deepening the Mongolia-Malta relations.
The same day, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan Ms K.Baktygulova presented the diplomatic credentials to the President, and conveyed him greetingd of Kyrgyzstan’s President. In the letter, the leader of Kyrgyzstan Mr A.Atanbayev says he attaches a great importance to the Mongolia-Kyrgyzstan relations.
Ms Baktygulova said her country will fully support the Mongolian General-Consulate in Bishkek, which is to open soon, and added that their side is learning Mongolia's experiences in democracy, democratic elections and civil registration.

Draft Resolution of Parliament Submitted

Ulaanbaatar, June 18 (MONTSAME) The Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag Wednesday submitted to the Speaker Z.Enkhbold a draft resolution of parliament on some measures for ensuring an implementation of the state policy on railway transportation.
The draft has a clause on augmenting a number of railway ports near the Mongolia-China border by establishing an intergovernmental agreement with China, and of seaports in China to be utilized by Mongolia. It also says about making a long-time agreement with China on the railway transit transportation terms through Chinese territory.

Justice Minister Visits Germany

Ulaanbaatar, June 18 (MONTSAME) Justice Minister Kh.Temuujin has been paying a visit to Germany since Monday.
During the stay there, Mr Temuujin met with Dr Gunter Krings, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, and with Mr Jorg Ziercke, president of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. Mr Temuujin spoke about legal and structural reforms in law enforcement system of Mongolia, and shared views with them on relationship and cooperation between law enforcement agencies of the two countries.
He noted a need of training for the staffers at the newly-established and changing organizations of Mongolia, including the Criminal Investigation Bureau, the Taikhar (Marshall) Service, the Police Authority and Immigration Agency.
The sides also shared opinions on experience-learning and staff-exchange on combating newly appearing crimes in Mongolia such as illegal drug sale, terrorism and cybercrimes.
The Justice Minister met Wednesday with Christian Lange, permanent State Secretary for Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, to share views on boosting collaboration between the two ministries. He also visited a prison in Berlin to see bailiff activities there.

Croatian Ambassador Presents Credentials

Ulaanbaatar, June 18 (MONTSAME) Ambassador of Croatia to Mongolia Nebojsa Koharovic presented Wednesday afternoon his letter of credence to the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj in the State House.
After the ceremony, the leader of Mongolia had a brief meeting with the newly-appointed ambassador. Mr Elbegdorj noted his confidence in the contribution of the Croatian Ambassador to boosting of relationship and cooperation between the two countries.

Ambassadors Present Diplomatic Credentials

Ulaanbaatar, June 18 (MONTSAME) On Wednesday, the Ambassador of Uzbekistan to Mongolia D.D.Kurbanov and the Ambassador of Georgia to Mongolia Mr D.Aptsiauri presented their diplomatic credentials to the President Ts.Elbegdorj.
Mr Kurbanov emphasized that Mongolia and Uzbekistan have been cooperating actively and fruitfully within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and other international organizations.
The Ambassador of Georgia Mr Aptsiauri said Mongolia and Georgia have ancient ties, and promised to make all effort to expand the bilateral relations and cooperation.
The President Elbegdorj wished them successes and said that the Presidential Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will give support to their mission.

Graduates from NUM donate to National Cancer Center

June 18 ( Over 120 graduates from the School of Law, National University of Mongolia, are looking donate to the Department of Radiotherapy of the National Cancer Center of Mongolia on June 18th by saving money from the party they would usually throw in 2014.
These graduates received support from other law firms and collected 9.3 million MNT, that can be used to buy a defibrillator for the Department of Radiotherapy of the National Cancer Center.
The ceremony for the donation of the heart therapeutic defibrillator to the Department of Radiotherapy at the National Cancer Center is happening tody, June 18th.
There will also be a book donation that aims to create a library for children at the National Cancer Center.

33 short films entered into the Golden Reel International Film Festival

June 18 ( The Golden Reel International Film Festival, taking place in Ulaanbaatar on June 21st, has received 33 entries of short films so far. The “Underground Film Festival Mongolia” has been was organized once before in 2013, and is now being held as an international film festival.
The judges panel for the festival include Busan International Film Festival 2013 winner and Mongolian director, S.Byamba, co-founder of the art film NGO Golden Reel, film director Sh.Ikhbayar, art director Yo.Dalkh-Ochir, writer and poet G.Ayurzana, and Editor of Goodali journal, A.Amarmend.
During the Golden Reel International Film Festival the organizers will promote the local film industry as well as screening foreign underground, avant-garde films to Mongolian audiences with the official rights. The festival will also show Mongolian film makers` and the art-film NGO film makers` short films.
The opening of the Golden Reel International Film Festival will be held at the Student Theatre at the Mongolian University of Arts and Culture at 11.00 pm on Saturday, June 21st.

“Made in Germany” days

June 18 (Mongolian Economy) Today marked the last day of a three day discussion and exhibition held in Mongolia with German companies. Stefan Hanselmann, Director of Integrated Mineral Resource Initiative in Ulaanbaatar, opened German-Mongolian Business Day 2014, also called Made in Germany. This is the third time this event has been hosted. Hanselmann says that Mongolia has the potential to develop at the same rate as Dubai and Qatar. 
The event aimed to improve cooperation and collaboration between Germany and Mongolia as Mongolian businesses learned from German experiences. Over 30 companies from Germany participated in the program, whose standards are well known to the world. 
Gerhard Wackenhut, the Managing Director of CLEOS LLC, said that even though Mongolia is in recession, it is obvious that for an economy with such a small population, it can fall easily. On the other side, it has its advantage. With an economy of a small population, it can revive faster than others. Mongolia is a risky market, but if you manage this much capacity in a risky environment, there will be big opportunities.  
Currently, trade between both nations stands at 270.6 million USD. The main imports Mongolia brings in from Germany include technology, equipment, and cars. On the other hand, the main exports to Germany include raw materials from animals and rare earth minerals. This year also marks the 40th year of diplomatic relations between the two countries who have established a development cooperation of 20 years. The German government has supplied Mongolia with 280 million Euros in soft loans and grants. 
The 30 plus companies that arrived in Mongolia to participate in the event belong to three main sectors – engineering processing, infrastructure energy, and corporate management and business services. Other sectors include IT and renewable energy. Germany considers itself to be a non-mining country, thus its main interests in cooperating with Mongolia revolve around infrastructure, water management, renewable energy, and IT. 
German products that are imported to Mongolia, however, are expensive. The reasons for the high prices are contributed to the fact that these products are better, but there are also logistical problems. The custom taxes at the border of Mongolia are quite high, forcing prices of German products to go up. In a detailed comparison with China, German products are about 20-30% more expensive than imported Chinese products. 

South Korea to Send Its Troops This Week to Annual "Khaan Quest 2014" Multinational Peacekeeping Exercise in Mongolia

June 18 (infomongolia.com0 The annual "Khaan Quest 2014" multinational peacekeeping exercise is approaching that set to take place in Mongolia from June 20 to July 01, 2014.
Accordingly to Yonhap reported today on June 18, 2014, South Korea will dispatch its troops to an annual multinational peacekeeping exercise codenamed "Khaan Quest” this week.
Some 34 South Korean Marines as well as 8 service members of the Army, Navy and Air Force will participate in the Khan Quest 2014 multinational field-exercises to take place at Tavan Tolgoi (Five Hills) training area, the territory of Tuv Aimag in Mongolia.
During the drill, the South Korean troops are scheduled to practice how to carry out operations in conflict areas, provide humanitarian aid and perform their duty of supporting those facing calamities.
Mongolia has held the Khan Quest multinational peacekeeping exercise every year since 2003, with the help of the U.S. Pacific Command, where South Korea sent working-level officers as observers to the military exercises in Mongolia from 2006 to 2008 and became a full participant in 2009.
This year, about 1,200 troops from 21 countries, including the United States, China and Indonesia will join the drill, according to Yonhap sourced from the Marine Corps.

Speaker receives teachers of University of Denver

Ulaanbaatar, June 18 (MONTSAME) The meeting between the Speaker Z.Enkhbold and a delegation of the US University of Denver took place on Wednesday.
The Speaker expressed a satisfaction with seeing the university’s teachers and gave them some information about a present economic situation in Mongolia, business sector and developmental tendencies. Mongolia has been included in the list of 10 countries that have good conditions for making investments, he emphasized.
The Speaker also answered questions the delegation asked and then exchanged views on some issues.
Mr Enkhbold is one of the alumni of the University of Denver. He graduated in 2004, defending a master degree.

Mongolia ad France to cooperate in defense

Ulaanbaatar, June 18 (MONTSAME) Amid his working visit to Paris, the Defence Deputy Minister A.Battor attended ‘Eurosatory 2014’, the international land and air-land defence and security exhibition on June 17-18.
During his visit, he also met with Mr Kader Arif, State Secretary for War Veterans and Memory at the Defence Ministry, to speak about implementation and further tendency of defence cooperation and relationship of the two countries, and to sign a technical agreement on defence collaboration. The agreement has become the first-ever document in defence cooperation between Mongolia and France.
This year, 58 countries took part in the exhibition to display some one thousand army technique and equipments. During the exhibition, Mr Battor met with management teams of globally operating companies such as Thales, Airbus, Safran, MBDA, Vaylon and Thalys.

Stock exchange news for June 18

Ulaanbaatar, June 18 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades held Wednesday, a total of 12 thousand and 379 shares of eight JSCs were traded costing MNT 32 million 529 thousand and 912.50.
"Berkh Uul” /9,785 units/, "Remikon" /2,164 units/, "State Department Store” /149 units/, "Merex" /133 units/ and "APU” /100 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Berkh Uul” (MNT 31 million and 312 thousand), "UB-BUK" (MNT 360 thousand), "APU” (MNT 357 thousand and 500), "Remikon” (MNT 326 thousand and 764) and "Eermel” (MNT 79 thousand and 762).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 532 billion 153 million 892 thousand and 839. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,126.28, decreasing by MNT 39.41 or 0.26% against the previous day.

Press release: World comes together to combat desertification

June 17 (Oyu Tolgoi) Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia - The world’s deserts, while beautiful, are growing with unwelcome speed as over-demand for water and climate change cause increased desertification of previously wet land.
As the problem has become better recognised by Government, business and NGOs, since 2007, the world has come together on the 17 June to seek common agreements and approaches to the problem This year, World Day to Combat Desertification takes place under the slogan: “The land belongs to the future.”
Mongolia joined the UN Convention on desertification in 1996 and, each year, raises public awareness about the causes and impact of desertification. With a high desert area – 42.5 per cent of Mongolia falls in the Gobi – and a growing mining industry, Mongolia is at higher risk of desertification than most other countries. Around 90 per cent of Mongolia’s pastureland is thought to be at risk. Although, desertification is natural phenomena, the rate and speed at which it takes place is very much dependent on human activity.
The Mongolian government recognized this with the adoption of a national anti-desertification programme, with a strong focus on the protection of water sources, land rehabilitation and good forestry management.
Increasingly, responsible mining companies recognise the role that they need to play in these efforts. Operating in the Gobi, Oyu Tolgoi could only work sustainability if it took these commitments seriously.
As well as only utilising water for the mine’s operations from a previously undiscovered deep saline aquifer, separate from shallow water sources used by local people and animals, the company uses world-leading technology to limit the water it uses.
In the first four months of the year, Oyu Tolgoi used 0.549 cubic metres of water per tonne of ore processed, less than half the average of 1.22 cubic metres for similar mines worldwide. Over the same period, water recycling at Oyu Tolgoi averaged 86.4 per cent. This means that, on average, each drop of water is reused more than five times.
Oyu Tolgoi is also committed to undertaking significant rehabilitation of the area surrounding the mine. Last year, the company planted saxaul trees across six hectares of Khanbogd soum, with an 80 per cent survival rate and more planting planned throughout 2014.
To mark World Day to Combat Desertification, Oyu Tolgoi ran an essay competition for students, academics and scientists to publicise and promote their ideas to combat desertification related to the mining industry. Around thirty articles were submitted, with the competition won D.Budragchaa, Metallurgical analyst at Oyu Tolgoi.
In his essay, D.Budragchaa noted that five per cent of Mongolian territory faces a very high risk of desertification, 18 per cent a strong risk of desertification, and 26 per cent a moderate risk. He warned that: “If everyone pays conscious attention to their actions and loves and cherishes every piece of natural environment, we can maintain a natural balance, and nature will be generous to us to the same extent. We should always remember that we ourselves will be the victims otherwise.”

SDC development cooperation with Mongolia: a spotlight on agriculture, decentralisation and small-scale mining

June 18 (SDC) Ten years ago the SDC opened a cooperation office in the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar. Diepak Elmer, deputy director of the SDC’s cooperation office in Mongolia, explains the priorities of Switzerland’s activities there and the political and economic challenges faced.
What are the main areas of focus in Mongolia for Swiss development cooperation?
There are three main ones: agriculture and food security; vocational education and training; and decentralisation. There is also small-scale mining, which is becoming increasingly important in Mongolia and which the SDC would like to give more weight to in the future.
In the area of agriculture, food security is a top priority. Mongolia is not self-sufficient in staple foods, even though it covers an area half the size of Western Europe, has about 50 million livestock and a population of barely 2.9 million. The climate is partially to blame. From November to April the ground is frozen solid, so vegetables can be grown for only half of the year. During the growing season the population must produce enough vegetables to tide them over during the winter, otherwise they must rely on imports from neighbouring countries. The SDC has helped Mongolia to rebuild its potato sector, introducing new varieties of potato and new seed. Mongolia is now practically self-sufficient in potatoes.
In winter the Mongolians are heavily reliant on the meat from their livestock. The country is regularly affected by dry summers followed by extremely hard winters with heavy snowfall and temperatures below 40°C – a phenomenon known as the dzud. The herds can then no longer find enough pasture under the snow to graze. They then die in huge numbers. For herdsmen with only a few hundred animals this can quickly endanger their livelihood. In its cooperation programme in Mongolia the SDC has therefore concentrated on the challenges of livestock raising and pasture management from the outset. The country is now better equipped to deal with such extreme situations.
Vocational education and training is a new SDC focus area in Mongolia. The country has a very high number of young people – a major driver for the economy. And yet, although the economy is booming – growth was almost 12% in 2013 – they cannot find work. Unofficially it is estimated that around 20% of young people leave university or complete an apprenticeship to find themselves jobless. Skilled tradesmen such as bricklayers, plumbers, metalworkers and welders are highly sought after in Mongolia. But the training available in these trades is not good enough to meet the requirements of a modern economy. This is where Switzerland comes in. Swiss aid is strengthening the vocational education and training system, concentrating on the skilled trades.
Let us turn now to the third focus area of decentralisation: what can you tell us about that?
Decentralisation is something that the Mongolian president, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, is keen to promote. The thinking behind it is that the most efficient use is made of public resources when decisions are taken locally. To illustrate this, the official in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar cannot be as well informed of the specific needs of a school or hospital a thousand kilometres away as the local population would be. The point of decentralisation is to move the funding and the decision-making away from central government and out to the local level.
The SDC has introduced a programme to support Mongolia in its first steps towards decentralisation. In 2013 the country went through an initial reform and introduced new budgetary legislation. For the first time a proportion of the investment budget is being transferred to what are known as local development funds. Decisions are then taken with citizen participation at the local level to determine in which projects to invest the funds. Switzerland is helping the government to implement the new law and advising it how to accommodate the wishes of the people.
The SDC is also involved in small-scale mining. Small-scale mining is a source of jobs and opportunities to earn an income for rural and poorer parts of the population. The sector came into being in the 1990s; today up to 100,000 Mongolian families are estimated to earn an income from seasonal employment in small-scale mining. Regulations and guidelines are often non-existent – people simply take a shovel or a pickaxe and start to dig, sometimes in hazardous conditions. Small-scale mining was prohibited up until 2010, when it was made legal. Since 2005 the SDC has been supporting Mongolia in formalising the sector in an environmentally and socially responsible way.
What are the political and economic factors in Mongolia that influence Swiss development cooperation?
A major challenge facing the country is how to manage its new-found wealth. In recent years Mongolia has had double-digit economic growth. The main reasons for this have been investments in the mining sector and exports of raw materials. Mongolia is rich in gold, coal and copper resources. Far more money is now flowing into the country than before. The question is how the government and people manage it.
The wealth of commodities provides the country with exceptional development opportunities, but also brings with it some major challenges. Mongolia has to find a way of taking the revenue from the commodities sector and investing it in the country’s development, sustainably and equitably. If it can achieve that, then within one generation Mongolia will become one of the world’s richest nations. Sustainable management of its resources will be vital for Mongolia if it is to make progress in all other areas. That is the overriding challenge, also for Swiss development cooperation in Mongolia.
The SDC has had a cooperation office in Mongolia since 2004. What were the circumstances surrounding Switzerland’s decision to commence development cooperation activities in Mongolia ten years ago?
From 2001–2004 the SDC was providing humanitarian aid in Mongolia, in response to a UN appeal. Mongolia had just experienced three consecutive dzuds in 1999–2001. Over 160,000 families lost more than half of their livestock and the economy was weak. Many people moved to the capital, Ulaanbaatar, and at the same time poverty shot up. At the turn of the millennium around two thirds of the population was living below the poverty line. The humanitarian aid programmes concentrated on the livelihoods of herdsmen and their families.
Link to interview

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