Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mongolia Brief June 19, 2014 Part II

O.Ganbat: Customs officers will be reshuffled every two years

June 19 (UB Post) The following is an interview with O.Ganbat, Head of the General Customs Office of Mongolia, about timely issues in the sector.

Last year, customs administrations and officers were reshuffled. What is the result of this work?
Last year, we did major innovations which the Customs Office has never done before and administrations and officers of customs were reshuffled in accordance to the law. We see this as a big step for ensuring the implementation of customs legislations. Reshuffling officers who worked in the same place for many years and commissioning them to other places is not an easy work. Despite all the gossip and complaints from many people, customs activities seem to function well.
For instance, if customs officers work in one place for a long time, their kinship and network become firmer and enables all sorts of fraud and illegal activities. We made this conclusion because we noticed that after the reshuffling operation implementation, many businessmen, entities and organizations started talking about how customs tax increased, meaning that they used to pay less tax. In other words, people didn’t pay the amount of tax they’re obliged to by taking advantage of their trade network. Although state turnover decreased and we’re facing economic decline and crisis, last year’s customs tax collection increased from 40 to 50 billion MNT compared to previous years’. Many people think that it’s the result of the reshuffling of customs officers. In fact, this isn’t true. It’s connected to exchange rate fluctuations. As of May, 52.2 billion MNT was accumulated for the state budget. We concluded that it’s best to reshuffle officers frequently, maybe every two years.
Even with the reshuffling of administrations and officers, customs officers of Zamiin-Uud border port had the most bureaucracy. Will you comment on this?
Traders and entrepreneurs of foreign businesses who are used to the old ways must have criticized in this manner when their habitual way of doing things changed. Administrations working in Zamiin-Uud border port are all highly experienced in managing since they worked for many years at customs. I’m confident that they wouldn’t do immoral things. However, traders and businessmen who’ve been doing things in one manner may disapprove of the new administration’s criterion.
The economy stumbled and the exchange rate of USD rose, causing drastic reduction in government turnover. How has this impacted large border ports?
Majority of Mongolian importation goes through Zamiin-Uud and Ulaanbaatar ports. From their situation, we can see the overall state of ports. For example, Zamiin-Uud port turnover decreased by 12 percent compared to the same period of last year. The amount of minerals from Gashuunsukhait and Shiveekhuren isn’t very satisfactory. According to statistics, Shiveekhuren exports 300 to 350 trucks of coal from ÌÀÊ, and some 1,300 to 1,350 trucks of coal from Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi are exported through Gashuunsukhait port. The government set the target to export 30 million tons of coal this year. No matter how many measures the government takes to increase coal exports, due to inadequate capacity of other countries to import and sell coal, Mongolian export level isn’t increasing to desired levels. As of June 5, Mongolia imported 2.2 billion USD worth of products. If you compare this to June 2013, the index decreased by 12.7 percent which is equivalent to 316 million USD. Although this index may seem as if it decreased when calculated in USD, when converted to MNT, it actually increased by 342 billion MNT. This is related to the exchange rate difference.
The Customs Office makes up 20 to 30 percent of the state budget revenue. What’s the state of customs revenue and clearance?
I don’t think of the Customs Office as an implementing agency. Our main objective is to collect taxes from equipment and products that come in and out of the country’s border and transfer it to the state budget. Yet, they order us to accumulate a specific amount of money which is considerably higher. This isn’t the objective of the 21st century Customs Office.
We’re working to facilitate and encourage trade. If we’re to fulfill this plan demanded by the government, we’ll have to do the same thing we did in the 1970s and 1980s which is to forcefully open and check every luggage and demand tax from everything we find. The Customs Office shouldn’t have these sorts of operations. We need to provide the people with fast services, away from property inspections. This will minimize time and cost, and hasten economic circulation. As trade turnover gains momentum, businesses will increase investment. When their fund increase, improve sales and get more income, we can provide for the state budget through taxation. This is how we should support Mongolia’s economy. We’re planning to provide 1.9 trillion MNT for the state budget. As of June 5, we’ve accumulated 625 billion MNT, which is around 40 billion MNT more than last year’s June. It’s obvious that the state will have plans but it’s unnecessary to increase the amount each year.
During crisis, the customs tax plan can drop because the government supports businesses and industries through tax plans when facing economic crisis. The government supports industries by exempting them from customs duties and VAT. This is a countermeasure for recovering the economy by increasing GDP. Even now, the government is applying this measure. For instance, just recently, the parliament approved a law to exempt taxes from equipment and spare parts for small and medium-sized industries from, give two-year extensions as well as two year installations to pay for customs duties and VAT on equipment and construction sets used for implementing big projects. This is an opportunity given by the government in times of crisis as well as a mechanism for recovering the economic and supporting businesses.
Lately, many historical monuments, gold, jewels and rare wildlife raw materials are smuggled through the border. How is the General Customs Office combating this?
During the first five months of 2014, 1,329 cases of customs violation were discovered. Last year, 990 violations were discovered. This 34 percent increase in detection is one of the results of reshuffling customs officers. The Customs Office isn’t the only organization that inspects prohibited and restricted goods for importation and exportation. All law enforcement agencies are involved. Compared to historical artifacts, there were more violations of smuggling precious stones. This year, only one historical artifact was confiscated. On March 3, a large amount of religious items were discovered from two train passengers at Zamiin-Uud border port. We also received a tip off that stones with red markings are being imported in large amounts from Umnugobi Province. It’s uncertain whether this stone is valuable or not. The laboratory tests indicated that it wasn’t a precious stone. However, this sort of stone is sold at high price in China so we believe it is the same type of stone. There’s information that some men dug up a large field as large as a sports hall in Umnugobi Province and are illegally mining this stone. There were also many cases of garnet and chalcedony smuggling at Russian-Mongolian border. Lately, young people seem to be trying to make profit from transporting precious stones from Umnugobi Province to Dornogobi Province.
Until recently, you’ve been working at southern borders. What was your duty there?
The government established a working group for trade facilitation and customs infrastructure development issues. Under the orders of Ch.Saikhanbileg, cabinet secretary, this working group came under the management of law enforcement agencies. In cooperation with the border administration and the Chamber of Commerce of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, we were introduced to both countries’ border activities. During this period, we worked on reducing border development and operation related issues and to increase trade. We resolved many issues. For example, inspectors disappeared twice aday to rest and during lunch break at Gashuunsukhait. We stopped this as it held up exportation. When there’s four inspection areas at both exits and entrances, three of them were closed for no reason and only one was operating. Now, all of them are functioning properly.
We resolved Chinese workers’ visas and issues related to road expansion for importation and exportation. We were also introduced to the new border point in Tsagaan Del Uul. Both sides agreed that it should be built with finances from the Chinese government through a concession contracts.
Third country cars can now enter Inner Mongolia through Zamiin-Uud. In other words, residents of Mongolia can go to Erenhot with their own cars. They will also establish a trade center for local residents around the border. We discussed and agreed on management structure for this, other inspection agencies and related regulation issues. Some aspects will be decided during the official visit of the Chairman of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Party Committee to Mongolia in late June. Furthermore, issues in need of significant investments will be decided during the official visit of President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping for a bilateral discussion between the two governments in October.

Deeltei Mongol-375 Festival to take place in Bayankhongor Province

June 19 (UB Post) The Deeltei Mongol has become a customary event following the National Naadam Festival.
This year, Bayankhongor Province will organize the Deeltei Mongol-375 Festival at the valley of Duursakh on July 24.
During the festival, participant wear the most elaborate Mongolian national garmets, the deel.
Awards will be given to participants with the best deel. The categories include, best dressed boy and girl, best pair dancers wearing deel, best couple wearing deel, the most beautiful deel, and the most active organization.
Winners of the festival will receive a cash prize of 50,000 MNT to 375,000 MNT.

‘Mohanik Amarbayasgalantad’ CD release exhibition

June 19 (UB Post) The release of a new single by the band Mohanik, is being celebrated with a photo and art exhibition presented from June 15 to 19 at Blue Moon Art Gallery. Photo albums, video and other interesting pieces from the collection of Mohanik are on display and the band will introduce their new CD and sell its singles.
Each attendee of the “We Support Mohanik” concert held on April 3, will be able to buy the new CD for 10,000 MNT, at a 50 percent discount, by showing their concert ticket at purchase.
Mohanik will perform a concert in the gallery during exhibition days.

‘A Beautiful Body’ photo exhibition: Will you celebrate your unique beauty or be judged by others standards?

June 19 (UB Post) As I stepped into the gallery for “A Beautiful Body” photo exhibition, a confident yet emotional speech was being given. I joined the crowd to hear a part of the monologue “The Good Body” by Eve Ensler being read by Oyundari, one of the participants in the opening reception. Every word touched me and seemed to touch everyone in the room, regardless of gender. The monologue was powerful, as it reminded us how we are wasting our precious time and giving ourselves a hard time about superficial beauty standards. Against this global epidemic, we only need the courage to accept ourselves, but we cannot do it alone. “A Beautiful Body” captures images of Mongolian women who are taking on the challenge.
To help look more closely at body image in Mongolian society, “A Beautiful Body” is on view at Grand Art Exclusive Gallery from June 15th to 22. The show was organized by Young Women for Change NGO and IC Creative Vision. Prior to the photo exhibition, Young Women for Change has organized other women-centric events such as a performance of the internationally renowned “Vagina Monologues”, every year since 2011, and the “My Short Skirt” march in 2013. Young Women for Change NGO is an organization with a mission to build a violence-free society and for young women to become empowered and expand their networks.
During the opening ceremony, participant Ch.Bat-Uyanga spoke about how she became a part of the exhibition. She said, “My reason to participate is that I gained 45 kilograms during my pregnancy with my daughter, who is walking amongst you now. This experience challenged me to accept my body as it is, a body which weighed more than 100 kilograms. However, even if it was not for my daughter, I would have still loved my body, as I have realized that I’m not beautiful in comparison to any other person. I am beautiful myself, without any reference point.”
Afterwards, a consultant from the Mongolian Women’s Development Foundation, Chinchuluun, compared women to gemstones with different crystal formations; she said every gemstone is beautiful in its own way. She also mentioned that growing up in a closed society (socialism) it was very hard to accept her body when conventionally beautiful women were considered better at almost everything, but a new century of body acceptance is coming, and she was happy that Mongolians were going at the same pace as the rest of the world.
Photos from the exhibition can only be seen at the gallery. No photos will be shared on social media as not to intrude on the privacy of the participant’s privacy. Beside the photos are descriptions of the images written in Mongolian, giving them life and allowing the audience to build emotional connections to the photos.
Bodies of different sizes and shapes, with scars and tattoos, old and young, bodies that have through been a lot, and bodies which have more to experience – our most vulnerable body parts were shown. The ultimate message from the exhibition seems to boil down to this: Be proud of what is unique to you. Embrace and love your body marks, they are proof of a life lived. Every stretch mark, every splinter made you who you are now. Your body is a living book of your life. “A Beautiful Body” is a wakeup call to all of us to embrace our true nature.

The key to overcoming this economic crisis

June 19 (UB Post) The “Citizen’s Participation and Best Agency” competition was hosted by Eagle News, News Agency, and Morning Newspaper, from April 1 through June 10. Pictures of chairpeople from the winning agencies are now all over social media. Each certificate for “The Best Agency” came with an award of 10 to 15 million MNT. In order to recognize the best businesses, an estimated 90-135 million MNT in taxpayer money was spent. Taxpaying entities and enterprises work so hard to create new jobs for people and dedicate months of labor to paying their taxes. Can anyone measure how much effort that truly is?
Money which is earned easily is worthless. Likewise, those who are employed under the name of the state and earn their salary thanks to taxpayers thought they could buy a reputation as “the best”.
After this selection of businesses, the Mongolian government and Mongolian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) organized awards for the “Top 150 Enterprises of Mongolia”. There was no prize money involved and it was unnecessary to give millions of MNT to MCCI to be the best. The only one and worthy requirement for selection was to have contributed to society. Does the enterprise contribute to the state budget? How many new jobs have they created? How well do they implement their social responsibility and pay their taxes?
This is the real competition between the nation’s top enterprises and representative of a reputation that matters. If an enterprise earns the honor, it becomes famous and can promote their company proudly, anytime and anywhere.
The reason for this is that the top 150 enterprises compose 77 percent of the Mongolian gross domestic product (GDP) and the taxes they have paid over the last five years totals 2.2 trillion MNT, which is 31.4 percent of the state budget in 2013. The list of companies includes MCS LLC, gold miner MAK, Newcom LLC, Bodi Group, and Monpolyment Group.
The above mentioned 2.2 trillion MNT is equal to 12.5 years of wages for 27.2 general education school teachers and the cost of 500 beds for 53 hospitals.
For paying so much in taxes, implementing their social responsibility, and contributing to the Mongolian economy, they deserve such fame. We accept that these companies are the nation’s best enterprises, selected from 77 thousand companies active in Mongolia.
But it is still unclear how these selections and awards benefit them and the public? The Government and the Prime Minister attended the ceremony for the selection of the nation’s top 150, which was hosted for the 13th year, and said very warm and encouraging words. Can these speeches be of any actual help to them?
Why do we select the best? It is not to give them certificates and praise them. As I see it, it is placing more trust in them and announcing that they are state partners. Especially when looking at data from the last five years:
MCS LLC, which has been selected as one of the nation’s top enterprises for the last 13 years, contributed 888.8 trillion MNT to the state budget, MAK contributed 358 trillion, and Newcom Group 196.5 trillion. During the planned economy, only a few state companies used to contribute to the state budget. In order to implement their plans they used to compete with each other and were appraised by state. But now, the company with the best management earns the most income.
These companies have carried economic risk on their back and reached success through their own efforts for the last 20 years. They have proven themselves to the public since they could make big investments with their own capital and develop their products into national brands. They have faced recognition and criticism. We complain that few companies are doing projects. Looking back, the activities these companies have engaged in are now becoming Mongolia’s calling card around the world.
It is a bit difficult for companies to operate when the economy is so bad. Most companies are trimming their expenses, according to the reduction of jobs. But at times like this, the top companies are still creating opportunities for employment. Also, they are trying to implement big projects and programs worth billions. These are very brave steps which are only conducted by big and top ranking companies. Looking past an economic crisis and towards future possibilities is a great skill of the world’s best businessmen. This shows that our companies have started developing such skills too. They are striving to implement big projects: producing coal and liquefying it; starting a housing material industrial complex, building the 5th Thermal Power Plant, and building the Altanbulag-Zamiin-Uud highway. If the government supports and truly and trusts them, we have the chance to turn crisis into possibility.
The government is taking further steps to enhance the state’s poorer companies by cooperating with the private sector. For instance, the ferrous metal factory in Darkhan, and the reopened cement and lime factory in Khutul soum. If the state continues to support them and provide an environment conducive to production, our talented businesspeople will have the capacity and resources they need for success. Cooperating with the private sector is the best method the state can choose during this economic crisis.
Economic leaders, such as the U.S., France and Germany, believed in and supported their companies so they could overcome the economic crisis of 2008 with low risk. Our national companies will be the key to overcoming this situation and the nation’s productivity shows us this chance.

Parliament Approves Later Discussion on Transparent Account

Ulaanbaatar, June 19 (MONTSAME) The agenda of Thursday’s parliamentary meeting includes ten issues including transparent account, public holidays, free trade zone, tobacco control, and a dismissal of a government member.
According to the schedule, the first issue the MPs discussed this day was the one on transparent account, submitted to the parliament Speaker by the President of Mongolia on June 9.
The draft gives public officials opportunities to inspect budget spending of the agency they work for. The same opportunity will be given the public, as the draft advises the governmental organizations to regularly inform about their budget spending at their website or on an open panel in the organization.
J.Batzandan MP explained three reasons to support this draft--clearer financial principles of public bodies, possibilities for internal and external audits, and inspections pursuant to citizen’s claim.
At a poll, overwhelming majority of the MPs approved a proposal on a later discussion of the draft and agreed to submit it to the Standing committee on budget for the further discussion.

Vice Speaker Meets OSCE Delegation

Ulaanbaatar, June 19 (MONTSAME) A Vice chairman of the State Great Khural (parliament) M.Enkhbold Wednesday received Mr Janez Lenarcic, a director of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and Mr Bostjan Sirnik, a consultant to the OSCE/ODIHR.
Mr Lenarcic underlined that the OSCE's observation over the 2013 Presidential election of Mongolia was an important action to fortify the Mongolia-OSCE cooperation, and said they arrived to present the official final report on this election.
He hoped that Mongolia will utilize recommendations, listed in the report, in considering related draft laws, and said that several measures should be taken further in election matters.
The Vice Speaker thanked the OSCE for supporting Mongolia in forming democratic elections and said Mongolia will focus on a realization of the recommendations. He also emphasized that this report will play its role in bringing our elections' legal environment into international standards. The report will be passed to a working group in charge of formulating a general law on the elections of President, parliament and localities, he added.
Mr Lenarcic advised the Mongolian side to set up a special service that promptly solves any election-related complaints, requests and disputes and to form its legal environment prior to next elections.

Mongolian Minister Nominated to UN Environment Assembly Chair

Ulaanbaatar, June 19 (MONTSAME) Environment and Green Development Minister S.Oyun has been nominated for the chair of the United Nations Environment Assembly.
Ms Oyun has been invited to the First United Nations Environment Assembly that is to take place in Nairobi, Kenya on June 23-27, with over 1,200 participants, 170 national delegations and 40 events.
The first session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) of the UN Environment Program will convene at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi with more than 1,200 participants, including Environment Ministers, Government delegates and representatives of major groups and stakeholders. 
The overarching theme of the first session is “Sustainable Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Agenda, including sustainable consumption and production", which is designed to inform ongoing discussions on the formulation of a set of targets and indicators that would succeed the Millennium Development Goals. 
Ministers will also discuss the illegal trade in wildlife, an issue that is generating increasing global attention due to its adverse impact on biodiversity. Other issues range from environmental rule of law to UNEP program of work and budget.    
UNEA is a result of the call made by world leaders at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Brazil in June of 2012, to strengthen and upgrade UNEP as the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda and by establishing universal membership in its Governing Council.

Here Comes "Mongolia Business Summit"

Ulaanbaatar, June 19 (MONTSAME) This action is to kick off in Ikh Tenger on Thursday evening.
The three-day summit will convene with representatives of some 20 countries such as Australia, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Jordan, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, United Kingdom and United States, along with leading businessmen from Mongolia.
This high level event will serve as an excellent platform for participants to directly interact with international investors, banker and local business leaders.
During the event presented will be such projects as Tsagaan Suvarga, Xanadu Mines, Nomads, Gatsuurt, Logistical service and meat processing center, Meat Processing Facility, Eg River Hydro Power Plant, Тavan Tolgoi Power plant, Highway project, Cement project and New Railway.
Site tours are offered including day trip to APU Food and Beverage Company, Gobi Cashmere Factory, MAK Cement Plant in Nalaikh and an overnight tour to Oyu Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi mining sites.

Budget Performance of 2013 Submitted to Parliament

Ulaanbaatar, June 19 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Finance Ch.Ulaan MP Wednesday submitted to the Speaker Z.Enkhbold the 2013 budget performance of Mongolia.
The balanced revenue and aid result of Mongolia’s master budget reached 5,940.1 billion togrog, showing a performance of 92.8% or 459.5 billion. The 2013 budget revenue performance showed an increase of 1,076.9 billion togrog or 22.1% against the year of 2012.
The previous year, 46.9 billion togrog were placed in the fund for stabilization in accordance with the law on budgetary stability. The tax-revenue performance reached 5,072.8 billion togrog, showing a performance of 89.3%. The underperformance of 607.3 billion directly affected a cut of the master budget revenue for 2013.
The performance of non-tax revenue reached 863.9 billion togrog, over fulfilled by 120.4% or 146.5 billion. It was mainly due to increases in revenues from interests and fines (MNT 70.6 billion), from oil (MNT 25.9 billion), and from own revenues of budgetary organizations.
In terms of classifying types of revenues, the performance of state budgetary revenue showed  88.0%, the local budgetary revenue--100.6%, revenue of human development fund--99%, and revenue of social insurance fund--103.5%.

UB City to Host Japan Culture Day

Ulaanbaatar, June 19 (MONTSAME) The Embassy of Japan in Ulaanbaatar, in collaboration with the Japanese Culture Enthusiasts Association and ASA Circus are planning a Japan Culture Day event on July 5.
At the event, Japanese pop singer Kio Sakai, together with Mongolian bands will entertain the gathered. The program also includes a series of competitions including Japanese song singing, manga drawing, cosplay (costume play) contest, where five winners will be granted a 7-day trip to Japan.
During the event, the Mongolian youth will be presented Japanese popular culture that not only reflects the attitudes and concerns of the present but also provides a link to the past, as Japanese cinema, cuisine, television programs, anime, manga, and music all developed from older artistic and literary traditions, and many of their themes and styles of presentation can be traced to traditional art forms.

Traditional Costume Festival Expected in Bayankhongor Province

Ulaanbaatar, June 19 (MONTSAME) Following the Naadam Festival (July 11-13), a so-called "Deeltei Mongol" (roughly "The Mongol in Deel") traditional costume event is to take place in central Bayankhongor province on July 24.
This event has become an annual celebration of the traditional costumes promoting designs and use of the cloths that have been worn by the Mongolians since centuries.
During the event, organizers will award participants dividing them in six nominations including best dressed boy, best dressed girl and best dressed couple.
A deel  is an item of the traditional clothing commonly worn since centuries ago among the Mongols and other nomadic tribes of Central Asia, including Turkic peoples, and can be made of cotton, silk, wool or brocade. The deel is still commonly worn by both men and women outside major towns, especially by herders. In urban areas, deels are mostly only worn by elderly people or on festive occasions. The deel appears similar to a caftan or an old European folded tunic. Deels typically reach to below the wearer's knees and fan out at the bottom and are commonly blue, olive, or burgundy, though there are deels in a variety of other colors.

Prosecutors Involved in Training

Ulaanbaatar, June 19 (MONTSAME) A training to prepare administrative instructors is running these days in the Training and Research Center affiliated to the Prosecutor-General’s Office.
A total of fifteen prosecutors from the city and provinces are attending the training under moderating of Prof Kunte from Germany to learn subjects including "Administrative body structure and functions", "Job specification of administrative officers", and "Basic and advanced trainings for administrative officers". 

“Playtime-2014” music festival

June 19 ( On the occasion of the 375th anniversary of the founding of Ulaanbaatar City, Playtime-2014 Mongolian Live Music Festival will take place under the theme of “We are starting friendly Ulaanbaatar!” on July 19th and 20th.
The Mongolian Live Music Festival has been held annually since 2002 and has become a much-anticipated popular event among live music lovers. The festival has seen big growth and success over the past years. In recent years the numbers of festival goers attendance has increased from 600 to 5000.
This year 30-35 bands will perform on two separate stages, consisting of new and upcoming artists and already established artists, performing a range of genres to suit the tastes of all music loving festival goers.
Playtime 2014 introduces for the first time the world famous Russian band ‘MUMIY TROLL’ and the Japanese band ‘ENVY’ as guests from oversees.

Global Peace Index 2014: Mongolia

June 19 ( On June 18, 2014, the Institute for Economics and Peace in association with the Economist Intelligence Unit has released the annual Global Peace Index for 2014 measuring peace in 162 countries according to 22 indicators that gauge the absence of violence or the fear of violence.
This is the 8th edition has been produced that analyses the state of peace around the world. It identifies the most and least peaceful countries, trends in violence and conflict, and calculates the economic impact of violence. This year the report includes a section on countries at risk of becoming less peaceful in the new two years.
The 2014 Global Peace Index shows a continuation of the seven year trend for declining levels of peace globally.
- Since 2008, 51 countries have improved while 111 countries have deteriorated in peace
- The world has become 4% less peaceful since 2008
- Europe remains the most peaceful region, with 14 of the top 20 most peaceful countries
- Syria has replaced Afghanistan at the bottom of the index, with its Global Peace Index score falling 84% since 2008 
- Georgia showed the largest improvement in peace levels
- The total economic impact of containing violence is estimated to be US$9.46 trillion in 2012
The top three most peaceful countries are Iceland, Denmark and Austria. Small and stable democracies make up the top ten most peaceful countries. New Zealand, Canada and Japan are the only non-European countries in the top ten.
The three least peaceful countries are South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria. Levels of peace in South Sudan deteriorated the most since 2013, falling 16 places from last year.
Economic Impact
The economic impact of containing and dealing with the consequences of global violence last year was estimated to be US$9.8 trillion. This is equivalent to 11.3% of global GDP – twice the combined GDP of African countries.
This years’ Global Peace Index includes a new statistical modelling risk tool which identifies countries at risk of descending into violence and unrest in the next two years. The new methodology analyses a data set stretching back to 1996, and compares countries with the performance of states with similar institutional characteristics.
The ten countries most likely to deteriorate in peace in the next two years are Zambia, Haiti, Argentina, Chad, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nepal, Burundi, Georgia, Liberia and Qatar.
Mongolia is ranked at the 41st place out of 162 states surveyed with a score of 1.778, which is decreased by 0.17 compare to 2013 Index and Mongolia’s ranking in the 2014 GPI improved by 25 places. The score change was primarily affected by a lower level of organized conflict, as well as political instability and political terror. In all three cases, these were brought down to scores of 1-2, close to the lowest possible.
Over the past year, the country has benefited from general political stability, aided by the re-election of Tsakhia ELBEGDORJ of the Democratic Party in June 2013. Externally, although an increase in military spending and nuclear and heavy weapons capabilities eroded the score, the continues to benefit from a highly pragmatic foreign policy with its much larger neighbors, Russia and China, while also strengthening relations with regional powers such as Japan, South Korea and also with the US.
Despite this, the country remains at risk of political turbulence, while high inflation and nationalist sentiment over the presence of foreign mining firms keep the door open to potential unrest.

Draft Amendment to Law on Remarkable Days and Celebrations Backed

Ulaanbaatar, June 19 (MONTSAME) A meeting of the parliamentary session on Thursday discussed whether must be discussed draft amendments to the laws on public celebration and remarkable days, on diplomatic service, and a bill on annulling some clauses of the law on the Naadam.
Reports of the draft initiators were given by Ch.Saikhanbileg, the head of the Cabinet Secretariat for Government, and by R.Burmaa, a head of the Standing committee on petitions.
After a Q&A process, a majority of MPs (70.3%) considered as necessity to back these drafts and transferred them to related Standing committees for a first discussion.

FM Meets Mexican Ambassador

Ulaanbaatar, June 19 (MONTSAME) Foreign Minister L.Bold held a meeting with Ambassador of Mexico to Mongolia Mr Jose Luis Bernal in the State House on June 19.
After congratulating the Ambassador on being appointed as such, Mr Bold emphasized a full opportunities to boost the Mongolia-Mexico relationship, especially in the fields of tourism, petroleum production and education. He also noted the importance of supporting each other within multilateral collaboration, and expressed a confidence that the Government of Mexico will support Mongolia in its seeking a membership in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
Mr Luis Bernal promised to make efforts to promote the Mongolia-Mexico ties, enrich them with new contents. He further spoke about his plans to organize joint measures aimed at encouraging direct business contacts between the peoples of the two countries.
The parties also touched upon issues related to the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries next year, and agreed to involve fifteen Mongolian students in programs of Mexican universities in the next academic year. 

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