Friday, July 25, 2014

Mongolia Brief July 24, 2014 Part III



‘Her Presence in Colors-XI’ international art exhibition 2014 opens
July 24 (UB Post) “Her Presence in Colors-XI 2014” international female artist exhibition, organized under the auspices of Mongolian President Ts.Elbegdorj, opened at Mongolian National Art Gallery on Monday.
The 11th “Her Presence in Colors” exhibition is on view through July 26. The event features 124 female artists from 18 countries, including England, Australia, Germany, India, Japan, China, Korea, Singapore, Thailand and the U.S.
The show is the first international exhibition of female artists held in Mongolia. The participating artists include well-known local talents and artists who have exhibited in many countries. The exhibition was organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism of Mongolia, International Women Artists Council (INWAC), Mongolian National Art Gallery, and Tenkhleg- Art NGO.
Chief of Staff of the President of Mongolia P.Tsagaan arrived at the exhibition and expressed his appreciation for the organizers and attending artists. He also conveyed President Ts.Elbegdorj’s greetings to the artists and attendees of the opening.
“There is a saying that art is a visible poem. Even as humans have faced the centuries for thousands of years, and as time goes by, art stays with humanity and retains its value. Only women can bear a whole new era to the world, and they fill the world with love, charity and welfare. I am very thankful for these women artists who are opening the ‘Her Presence in Colors-XI’ art exhibition in Mongolia. These women’s artworks are admired for their meanings, new forms, beauty and even their different customs around the world,” said P.Tsagaan. He added, “In Western Mongolia, in Altai Mountain crafts, there were around 70,000 cave paintings from 30,000 years ago discovered. It proves that Mongolia is a place of admirable artists, featuring the craft of art now and in the past. I hope this exhibition will give you a chance to discover Mongolian tradition and customs. Also, it will encourage women artists in Mongolia and give them inspiration to develop their work.”
P.Tsagaan also mentioned President Ts.Elbegdorj’s interest in art and that he has established the Elbeg Art gallery. At the end of his speech, he wished success to the organizers and participating artists.
The International Women Artist’s Council was founded in 1999 and its Asian/International Women Artists Exhibition has been held since 1993 around the world. In 2010, the 10th edition was organized in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

On the road to the new Eldorado
July 24 (UB Post) By Amelie ESCHENBRENNER
The steppe that could be as rich as Dubai
Mongolia sits on vast raw material resources; each resident is theoretically a millionaire. So why can we still see thousands of gers and small houses built hurriedly, clumped together on the slopes rising above the capital, where about 60 percent of the 1.2 million inhabitants of Ulaanbaatar live? There is neither tap water, nor toilets, nor tarred streets. In the settlements, there are only a few proper roads and mostly dirt roads instead. The fact that the country is not rich yet, is an issue left up to the government and some others external factors. But it could happen fast, with the development of its plentiful natural resources in the last four years, the country with its 16 percent growth in 2013 is at a turning point in a strong economic expansion which has resulted in profound economic and social transformations.  If the GDP of Mongolia still remained modest in 2013 (11.1 billion USD for a nation with less than three million inhabitants), the dynamics of growth above the world average should allow it to continue its economic catch-up in the coming years. Mongolian resources are valuable and numerous, which lead many western countries to take part in the Mongolian gold rush and consider the country as a new, but not mythical, Eldorado
Because of the natural resources (estimated at a value of more than 1 trillion USD) still largely untapped, the country could quickly become a major energy player. The mining sector currently accounts for 20 percent of GDP and is expected to represent 50 percent of GDP in 2016 according to the World Bank.
By which means will Mongolia establish itself in globalization? 
To revive the economy, Mongolian Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag announced a 100-day action plan to stimulate economic growth. This plan seeks to promote foreign investment, as well as encourage the domestic economy with the construction of roads, thermal power plants, and the development of small and medium-sized businesses etc. This sprint-plan aims to promote very different economic sectors in the country and to strengthen Mongolia’s income. “Within these 100 days, we believe we should reduce bureaucracy, increase mining, and approve the re-issue of exploration licenses,” said the Prime Minister.
Despite the strong push to increase the mining sector, Mongolia will also offer concession projects in the tourism sector, which may increase soon in view of the opening of direct air service between Paris and Istanbul to Ulaanbaatar. Indeed, flights between Ulaanbaatar and other world capitals are infrequent and might be considered uncomfortable for some people due to the long flight and the use of inappropriate planes. But recently, MIAT Mongolian Airlines announced an order for 737-800 and 767-300ER jetliners, and marked the first time in more than two decades that MIAT Mongolian Airlines extended its route network. The exemption of 30 day entry visas required for citizens of 42 countries, primarily in South and Central America and Europe, from June 25 until the end of 2015, reflects the will of Mongolia to open its country to the world.
If we think of gold or uranium mining, we may first think of Australia or Kazakhstan but probably not Mongolia. But now, through the development of its abundant natural resources (including coal, copper, gold, and uranium), the “Blue Sky” country has entered a phase of expansion without precedent, which has resulted in profound economic and social transformations since 1991. The economic growth rate reached 17.3 percent in 2011 (against 6.4 percent in 2010) which is a world record, but the country is far from having explored its full capacity. These two numbers in growth attract a lot of foreign investors, especially in Europe. By courting Mongolia, the major European powers hope to enjoy the immense natural wealth with which the country abounds.
For example, in France, where nuclear power continues to occupy a prominent place in the energy mix, it is vital to ensure the supply of uranium, a key component of this technology. In view of the richness of Mongolian uranium reserves, it is easy to understand the interest of France to invest in the country, including Areva, a company established in Mongolia in 1997. The mining sector is indeed a central axis of Mongolian strategic policy. The diplomatic strategy known as the “third neighbor” policy tends to favor Western investors insofar as they allow Mongolia to fight against its growing dependence on China. The “third neighbor” policy includes mostly Europe, the U.S, Turkey, South Korea, Japan and India. However, these countries – especially those of the European Union – are not present, for the moment, in a large part of the country, although they could have several companies (Air Liquide, GDF Suez for France) with much to do there. The main suppliers of the country remain its close neighbors like China. At the end of 2011, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Ulaanbaatar with a delegation of business leaders to reinforce cooperation between Germany and Mongolia in the mining sector. At the end of 2013 it was the French Minister of Foreign Affairs’ turn to visit Mongolia and conclude several agreements in the fields of energy, tourism, healthcare, and aeronautics. More recently, in 2014, the Mongolian company Grandline LLC and the Turkish 216 YAPI signed an agreement for the construction of a residential complex on 124,000 square meters in Amgalan soum. Mongolia and Turkey truly hope to strengthen their cooperation in many fields, especially during this year’s 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The Turkish government and Turkish companies are willing to invest lots of money in the country in the near future, particularly in the construction sector.
Since 1989, the EU has developed and deepened its ties with the birthplace of Chinggis Khaan. The country maintains diplomatic relations with 41 European countries, as well as with the European Union. Europe sees this former communist country as an important partner country and participates in cooperative activities implemented at the national and regional level. Mongolia became a member of the World Trade Organization in 1997, which led the EU to becoming Mongolia’s third largest trading partner (8.4 percent of its external exchanges in 2013) and the country’s exporters enjoy an almost total exemption from customs taxes when accessing EU markets through the Generalized Scheme of Preferences. The country joined the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in July 2006 and more recently, in 2012, Mongolia became a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
In the coming years, the exploitation of large deposits at Oyu Tolgoi (copper/gold) and Tavan Tolgoi (coking coal) will provide significant tax revenue for the Mongolian government, which has negotiated partnerships with several foreign companies, including the Canadian/Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto for Oyu Tolgoi. Located in the Gobi, Oyu Tolgoi is one of the largest open pits and underground mines in the world and has outstanding reserves.  Its production should reach 450,000 tons of copper and 11 tons of gold per year by 2020. It should also represent by 2020 about 30 percent of the GDP. Its production began in January 2013. Sixty-six percent of this mine is owned by Rio Tinto and 34 percent by the Mongolian government. The operation of this mine leaves Canada as Mongolia’s second biggest trade partner.
What could slow down this expansion?
Of course, although Mongolia is a democracy and now has a market-led economy like many western countries, these are pretty new concepts for the landlocked country heavily influenced by its past under Soviet socialist governance and the economic dominance of its neighbors: China and Russia. Mongolia remains highly dependent on demand from China, a country to which nearly 90 percent of its mining products are exported. China has a virtual monopoly on Mongolian exports. But due to the slowdown of the Chinese economy, it is essential for Mongolia to broaden its trade relations and find new partners.
The economic transition is also one of the weak points for continued expansion. Forced to advance in the market economy, Mongolians lost their institutions inherited from the socialist era, such as the planned economy and common goods which were dismantled along with the cooperatives, the return to a form of private property, and the stronger role of the market in economic relations. Before, the USSR supported Mongolia with financial aid and the country became very reliant on this support. Since Russia does not contribute to the funding of economic sectors, Mongolia has become dependent on international aid. In addition, Mongolia has challenging infrastructure, small roads, a difficult climate, inaccessible natural resources, and land tenure marked by nomadic traditions. With its almost three million inhabitants, of whom 40 percent live below the Mongolian poverty line, for now, it seems difficult for Mongolia to rely on domestic demand to continue its development. But if the country counts only on mining exports to boost its economic growth, Mongolia could be vulnerable concerning the changing prices of raw materials.
According to the World Bank, Mongolia is ranked 76th in its “Doing Business” assessment. This ranking lists ten criteria for assessing whether or not countries facilitate business, entrepreneurship, obtaining building permits, loans, electricity connection, and investor protection. Mongolia ranks ahead of its neighbors, China and Russia. However, the Soviet influence exerted on the country for seventy years has contributed to creating a cumbersome bureaucracy that sometimes hinders investment. Foreign investment peaked in 2011, and in 2012, the flow of money suddenly dried up. Just before the parliamentary elections, the government passed a new investment law that put strict conditions on foreign investors. Foreigners would no longer be able to acquire more than 49 percent of a Mongolian project’s shares. This led to a sharp decline in foreign investment, about 44 percent, at the end of 2012 which made other foreigners investors afraid of the future.
These good macroeconomic performances remain fragile given the challenges of rural development, environmental issues and the country’s dependence with respect to the global economy. The poor distribution of wealth may continue to increase the rapid growth of the country.
On one hand, thousands of families are gradually driven away from their traditional environment and fail in the slums of gers that bloom around Ulaanbaatar because of the harsh winters called “dzud”, such as those in 2002 and 2003 which killed more than 10 million head of cattle. But there are other causes for this unprecedented rural exodus. Since 1991, the democratic government has promoted a de facto form of centralized government: the transition to a market economy drives some families to cluster near roads because today, the capital concentrates most of its administrative, social, educational and medical infrastructure within the city. It provides easier access to many for medical care, schooling, and the resources to create a small business, but it makes these richer resources more remote for others. The Mongolian capital was not the preferred destination for rural residents during the socialist period, because other cities offered the same services and comparable urban comfort. Finally, unoccupied residential land on the outskirts of the city promotes the migration movement. In order to approve the decision to open mines to foreign companies, Parliament passed a law in June 2002 giving each citizen the right to appropriate land of their own. In May 2003, land privatization began in Mongolia with an allowance of 0.07 hectares for each urban family. Rural households were allotted from up to 0.5 hectares. Mongolian citizens only have to register to acquire ownership, which costs only a few thousand tugrugs.
On the other hand, the new Mongolian gilded youth can enjoy cocktails in the bar on the 23rd floor of Blue Sky Tower, with a view of the more disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Foreign Minister of Canada starts visit
Ulaanbaatar, July 24 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada Mr John Baird Thursday began his official visit to Mongolia.
Mr Baird was invited by his Mongolian counterpart Mr L.Bold. This is the very first visit of Canada’s Foreign Minister to Mongolia.
The two Foreign Ministers held negotiations, reaffirmed the bilateral relations for a broad partnership, and exchanged views on the Mongolia-Canada cooperation at international and regional arenas.
During the talks and meeting, Mr Bold underlined that Canada bears an important role in the foreign policy of Mongolia, and proposed advancing a volume of the bilateral ties, enriching the cooperation with new contents by a way of strengthening the ties in mining, legal reform, agriculture, health and education spheres.
The visit of the Canada's Minister will continue until Friday.  

Mongolian and Canadian FMs issue joint statement
Ulaanbaatar, July 24 (MONTSAME) The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and of Canada Thursday issued a joint statement on the bilateral relations.
Mr Bold and Mr Baird said they had run the negotiations in a warm and friendly atmosphere and that they confirm the two countries' "Broad Partnership" that has been running in a way of close and expanding ties for the last 40 years.  
The two dignitaries highlighted that their countries intend to develop between them the sustainable and dynamic ties and cooperation which contain the same positions over regional and international urgent matters and are based on common values such as democracy, human rights and justice.
They emphasized that the countries have reached an agreement to bring the present bilateral relations into a comprehensive partnership level through cooperating in peace, security and good governance.
Mr Bold reaffirmed that Canada is one of the important “Third Neighbours” of Mongolia and is a close partner in North America.
Confirming that Canada’s government attaches a long-term importance to the relations with Mongolia, Mr Baird pointed out that the cabinet of Canada decided recently to include Mongolia in the list of special states to receive a developmental aid.
The bilateral cooperation will be focusing on ensuring the sustainable economic growth of Mongolia by fortifying its state service, including a management potential of minerals, the Ministers said, and expressed the mutual satisfaction with the collaboration in urban planning, rural development, court reforms and strengthening the police bodies.
“Trade and investments issues are still vital for the bilateral relations. Canada is one of the leading investors for Mongolia, and it has determined Mongolia as a high-level country in the action programme on world market,” the Ministers said.
They also appreciated refreshing of the talks for establishing an agreement on supporting and saving investments, and hoped that this agreement will be signed soon. The Ministers share the same opinion that this agreement will contribute to creating a sustainable environment for the investment cooperation.
At the international field, Mongolia and Canada are members of a number of international organizations. Canada decisively supported Mongolia’s efforts to become a Participating State of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). They are also partners within the NATO and the Community of Democracies (CoD), the Ministers said.
Mr Baird re-emphasized that his country will continue the support to Mongolia in line of Canada’s military exercises and cooperation programmes with the purpose of peace and security.
A support to the inter-citizen ties is vital in developing the long-year relations between the two countries, the Ministers underlined. They also reaffirmed an importance of the cooperation in the education sector, and said the countries aspire to widen this collaboration. Here Mr Bold expressed a willingness to augment a quota of Mongolian students studying in Canada.
The two Ministers also expressed a satisfaction with realization of high-level mutual visits, running in a scope of the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic relations, and with strengthening of the bilateral cooperation.

Vice Speaker meets Canadian FM
Ulaanbaatar, July 24 (MONTSAME) The inter-parliamentary ties between Mongolia and Canada have been activating recent years with a regularization of high-level visits, and Mongolia wants to boost the bilateral cooperation in other sectors based on investments and mining collaboration.
It was said by the Vice Chairman of the State Great Khural Mr M.Enkhbold on Thursday at a meeting with visiting Mr John Baird, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada. He also noted that this official visit is running successfully.
In response, The Canadian FM Mr Baird expressed his country’s willingness to widen the cooperation with Mongolia not only in the trade, economy, investments and mining sectors, but also in the fields of education, agriculture and health.
The two sides also exchanged views on other matters.

President meets chair of Friendship Group
Ulaanbaatar, July 24 (MONTSAME) In frames of the working visit to Japan, the President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj Wednesday received Mr Satsuki Eda, a leader of the Mongolia-Japan Parliamentary Friendship Group at the House of Representatives (lower house), in Tokyo.
Mr Eda said he will continue to enhance inter-parliamentary ties and emphasized that the countries reached an agreement in principle to establish the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), Here he added that the Japanese parliament will give its support to approving it. 
After this meeting, the President received Mr Heita Kawakatsu, the governor of Shizuoka Prefecture. They discussed such matters as preparing staffers and engineers for the coal sector of Mongolia, ways to widen ties between Mongolian aimags and other Prefectures.

President Elbegdorj receives some officials in Japan
Ulaanbaatar, July 24 (MONTSAME) The President Elbegdorj Wednesday met with Mr Ito Naohiko, a vice chairman of Friendship Exchange Council of Japan (FEC), within his working visit to Japan.
Mr Elbegdorj said Mongolia and Japan have reached an agreement to sign the Economic Partnership and there will be ample opportunities for cooperation. “It is very important to inform the people of the two countries that the opportunities must be taken. I hope that our cooperation with the Friendship Exchange Council will be fruitful, on the initiatives of conducting joint research, project and work,” he said.
FEC undertakes surveys to enhance economic cooperation in the region, organizes trainings and meetings with the representatives of public and private sectors of a certain countries to discuss issues related to economy, cultural relations and partnership.
The same day, the President received Mr Tsuneo Kita, a president of the Nikkei Group. Mr Kita invited the President to the "Future of Asia" annual conference. 

“Domog” group to perform with Swiss counterpart
Ulaanbaatar, July 24 (MONTSAME) One of the famous folk groups of Mongolia, the “Domog” /Legend/ will give a concert together with the "Jodelchorli alpsteinblick abtwil" group from Switzerland.
This concert will be staged only once, on July 26 in the Academic Theatre of Drama on occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Mongolia-Switzerland diplomatic relations and 10th anniversary of the Mongolia-SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) cooperation.  

Japan and Mongolia Signed a Free-Trade Deal to Improve Relations
July 24 (Mongolian Economy) Japan and Mongolia signed a free-trade deal on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 in an effort to help Japan take a role in Mongolia’s growing economy and tap into its natural resources. This free-trade deal aims to further relations between both countries as Mongolia is one of the very few countries that maintains formal diplomatic ties with Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. 
Mongolian President, Ts. Elbegdorj, and Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, held talks this past Tuesday evening to reach an agreement to sign the deal. It calls for Mongolia to scrap 5% of tariffs on Japanese car imports. In return, Japan will reduce its levies on Mongolia beef by introducing a quota-based system. These measures are important as used passenger vehicles make up 45% of Japan’s total exports to Mongolia. 
This trade deal is important to deepen economic ties, since trade between both nations rested at USD 307 million as of last year. Last year, all-inclusive exports from Japan were valued at USD 288 million. Mongolia exports to Japan totals USD 21 million. 
Negotiations began in 2012, with recent rounds of negotiations lasting since Saturday this past week. There is also an investor-state-dispute settlement clause that allows businesses to pursue compensation claims if it is believed that government policy damaged their investment.
Japan also hopes to receive help from Mongolia in terms of resolving issues with North Korea. North Korean agents have kidnapped Japanese citizens during the 1970s and 1980s in order to create more spies, which have darkened relations between both nations for many years. Stronger relations between Mongolia and Japan can pave a pathway to improved ties between Japan and North Korea. 

Mongolia on the List of “Development Countries of Focus”
July 24 (Mongolian Economy) Today, John Russell Baird, the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, met with N. Batbayar, the Minister of the Economic Development Ministry to announce that Mongolia is on the 2014-2019 list called Development Countries of Focus. Every five years, Canada chooses between 20 and 25 countries to put on this register in order determine which countries to send foreign aid to.
The list was confirmed last week. As a part of this five-year development plan, 25 countries including Mongolia will receive 90% of total foreign development aid. Other Asian countries include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. The last list included 20 countries. Canada sent 80%, or USD 5.2 billion, in total of foreign aid. 
In terms of economic relations between both countries, Mongolia exported a total of USD 135.5 million worth of products to Canada. In return, Mongolia imported USD 80.3 million worth of equipment and machinery. Since 1990, Canada has invested in 136 companies that are operating in Mongolia including foreign-invested Mongolian and Canadian companies and strictly Canadian-owned businesses. 
Canadian investment to Mongolia is equivalent to USD 498 million, or 3.5%. This places Canada as the 6th country to provide the most investment to Mongolia. Most of Canada’s capital flow goes to geology, exploration and mining, totaling 89% of its total. 1.76% goes to financial banking and the other 8.2% goes towards trade and cafeteria. 

Vladimir Putin Visits to Mongolia
July 24 (infomongolia.com) The Head of Mongolian part of the Mongolia-Russia Intergovernmental Committee, the Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia D.Terbishdagva have met with the preparatory committee people for the 75th anniversary of the victory of the Battles at the Khalkh River and gave some instructions while after seeing current conditions and ongoing processes in there.
Commemoration of the victory of the Battles of Khalkhyn Gol has its great importance to introduce immeasurable value of the victory and consolidate historical longstanding friendship between Mongolia and the Russian Federation in terms of reshaping the memory of the warriors and veterans to increase loving nature of motherland to the young generation of Mongolia.
The 75th anniversary of the victory of the Battles at the Khalkh River will be held between August 22 and September 04, 2014.
Most notably, the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin will also visit to Mongolia during the first week of coming September 2014.

Mongolia-Canada roundtable meeting runs
Ulaanbaatar, July 24 (MONTSAME) The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia L.Bold and his visiting Canadian counterpart Mr John Baird held a roundtable meeting on Thursday together with business delegates of both countries.
The meeting also brought together O.Erdenebulgan, the Vice Minister of Mining; Ts.Bayartsetseg, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, and others from the Ministry of Economic Development.
Mr Bold spoke about nowadays economic development of Mongolia, its policy and measures in the mining and investments sectors. After this, the gathered ran a wide discussion. 
The Foreign Minister of Canada Mr Baird named the roundtable as well-timed, and shared views with the participants on several matters.
Link to article

No comments:

Post a Comment