Saturday, September 6, 2014

Mongolia Brief September 5, 2014 Part III

Overview of Putin’s visit
By Ch. Khaliun
September 5 (UB Post) After their one-on-one meeting, Mongolian President Ts.Elbegdorj and Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin attended a signing ceremony for documents on bilateral relations and cooperation.

The following documents were signed between the governments of the two countries:
1. Intergovernmental agreement on visa-free travel for the citizens of the two countries.
2. Intergovernmental agreement on deporting illegal immigrants.
3. Intergovernmental agreement on protection against forest fire.
4. Memorandum of understanding on cooperation in civic aviation between the Ministry of Roads and Transportation of Mongolia and Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation
5. Agreement on renewing Ulaanbaatar Railway JSC and the development of a strategic partnership between the Ministry of Roads and Transportation of Mongolia and Russian Railway Community of Russia.
6. Agreement on developing partnership between the Ministry of Justice of Mongolia and Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation.
7. Memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development of Mongolia and Ministry of Construction Industry, Housing and Utilities Sector of the Russian Federation.
8. Memorandum of understanding on developing Mongolia-Russia economic partnership between the Ministry of Economic Development of Mongolia and Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation.
9. Agreement between the Ministry of Education and Science of Mongolia and Russian oil company Rosneft OAO.
10. Protocol on extending the intergovernmental agreement on Russia’s military and technical assistance to Mongolia.
11. Memorandum of understanding on technical cooperation between the Ministry of Finance of Mongolia and Russian Federal Property Fund.
12. Memorandum of understanding between the Mongolian Immigration Agency and Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation.
13. Memorandum of understanding between MNB National Public Radio and Television of Mongolia and the international new agency Russia Today.
14. Memorandum of understanding between MIAT Mongolian Airlines and Aeroflot Russian Airlines.
Nine of twenty-four Russian Ministers and Russian business leaders accompanied Vladimir Putin and signed these and other major documents: Minister of Foreign Affairs S.Lavrov; Deputy Minister Yu.Petrovich; Minister of Far East Development A.S.Galushka; Minister of Mineral and Ecology S.Ye.Donskoy; Minister of Justice Konovakov; Minister of Construction, Housing and Utilities Mikhail Men; Minister of Energy A.V.Novak; Minister of Regional Development Igor Slyunyayev; Minister of Transport Maksim Sokolov; Deputy Minister of Defense Arkady Bakhin; and representatives of Rosneft, Rostech, Russian Railway, Aeroflot and Russian Direct Investment Fund.
President Putin signed the honorary guestbook and took a photo with President Ts.Elbegdorj.
Towards the end of the day, Putin laid a wreath on the monument to the four-time Hero of the Soviet Union, Hero of Mongolia, Marshal Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov and visited G.K.Zhukov’s museum. The Mongolian Military Song and Dance Academic Ensemble performed.
President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin left Mongolia on a chartered flight from Chinggis Khaan International Airport at 8:00 p.m. Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag, Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Bold and other officials were present to see off the honored guests at the airport.
President Elbegdorj emphasized that the one-day working visit of President Putin gave great impetus to the development of bilateral relations between the two countries.
The Russian President invited President Ts.Elbegdorj to a pay a visit to the Russian Federation. President Ts.Elbegdorj officially responded to the invitation, and said that he will visit Russia in May 2015, for the 70th anniversary of Russia’s Victory Day, celebrating the Russian victory over Nazi Germany and the end of WWII.

Over 100 students food poisoned in Ulgii soum
By M. Zoljargal
September 5 (UB Post) A total of 103 school children in Bayan-Ulgii Province’s Ulgii soum were delivered to a hospital, after getting food poisoning from a dormitory dinner on Wednesday.
The students live at School No.6’s dormitory. They were served their regular dinner – Mongolian noodle soup with bread – at 7 p.m. and the first child showed symptoms of food poisoning ten minutes after the dinner, while the last one fell ill within an hour, reported Bayan-Ulgii Province Specialized Inspection Agency (BPSIA).
As of Thursday, 58 of the hospitalized students returned to their dormitory after taking treatments. Doctors are still monitoring their health condition at the dormitory.
Two of the remaining 45 students at the hospital are in serious condition, while the rest are recovering, although they are suffering temporarily from tongue cramps, suffocation, nausea, headache, stomach ache and pain in joints.
The Special Commission of the province took samples from the dinner that reportedly poisoned the students, as well as green tea, bread, yeast, salt, meat, water and vegetables which were used for it to have them inspected at BPSIA central laboratory.
The laboratory experts are also inspecting kitchen tools, equipment, utensils and dining area samples to detect the cause.
The dinner was served to 126 out of 130 students living in the dormitory and 27 children didn’t show signs of food poisoning, while the remaining four students were on leave.

Overview of Invest Mongolia conference
By B. Mendbayar
September 5 (UB Post) “Friends of Mongolia have gathered here in this hall…” said CEO of the Representative Office of Standard Chartered international bank in Mongolia, Shin Bonggun on stage at the two-day Invest Mongolia conference held at Blue Sky Tower. As of the first half of this year, foreign direct investment to Mongolia has decreased by 61 percent from the same period of last year, to 561.9 million USD. Shin says this figure testifies to the fact that only friends of Mongolia have stayed. He quoted the Mongolian proverb “help of needle in times of despair is better than help of camel in times of prosperity,” and continued his speech about Mongolia’s position on the debt market.
Investors interested in Mongolia convened at Blue Sky tower on September 2-3. The conference was organized at a favorable time, when several laws intended to intensify investment were amended and the Oyu Tolgoi project started operating at a profit. Private sector entrepreneurs and ongoing project implementers who have already invested in Mongolia shared their experience and the challenges they face with investors, rather than promoting future investment. Questions such as how election results affect the progress of mega projects with long-term implementations and what kind of challenges infrastructure projects face were raised and begged for answers. Readers may easily conjecture the scene at the conference from the tones of the questions investors asked. Prospective investors asked questions regarding the credibility of Mongolia, sustainability of its legal environment and accuracy of statements made by parliament members and authorities from businessmen who underwent such challenges and proceeding with caution.
In July alone, Mongolia attracted 82.4 million USD in foreign direct investment, which is the highest amount in the past six months, according to figures released by Mongol Bank. Policy makers and the government have been trying to amend the Minerals Law, Securities Law and Investment Law in order to improve the legal environment. CEO of Frontier Securities Masa Igata noted that the considerable increase in investor interest shown at the conference is the incarnation of an improved legal environment.
One of the few representatives of the government attending the conference, Vice Minister of Economic Development O.Chuluunbat, was perpetually encountered with questions regarding policy. It has not been long since Mongolia first stepped into the debt market. But the fact that evaluation agencies have demoted Mongolia’s credit rating and Mongolians have been debating debt issues created a fear among foreigners that Mongolia might repeat Argentina’s great depression that was noticeable in the hall. In response, O.Chuluunbat emphasized, “The government has a total foreign debt of 2.2 billion USD. Compared to its GDP of 10 million USD, Mongolia’s fully capable of advancing to pay its debt,” In addition to O.Chulaanbat’s comment, a representative of Standard Chartered international bank assured that bonds Mongolia has released were determined to be healthy and fine to buy in a recently conducted study.
Investors repeatedly highlighted their readiness to invest in Mongolia once state policy becomes definite and familiar, and once the Oyu Tolgoi dispute is settled. Most analysts agreed that urgently implementing mega projects labeled as significant to the national economy is the only means to re-attract lost investment. An investor underscored the railway gauge issue as being a significant obstacle in attracting further investment. However, Head of the Project Department of Mongolian Railway SOSC A.Zorig assured that the railway gauge issue would be settled during the upcoming fall parliamentary session.
Speculation that the longer the Oyu Tolgoi underground mine development is delayed, the more severely the Mongolian economy would be affected was also perceptible during the conference. Underground mine exploitation of the project, which is currently on hold awaiting several issues aside from its feasibility study concerns to be settled, is expected to start in 2016. A businessman commented that it’s hard to believe that exploitation of a mine, whose feasibility study is not even finalized yet, would start in 2016.
Investors who have been operating in Mongolia for a considerable time freely shared the challenges they face. CEO of Prophecy Coal Corporation John Lee said, “The biggest obstacle in running an enterprise in Mongolia is the lack of a centralized plan.” He added that the Government of Mongolia needs to take a definite position and has numerous unresolved and unplanned issues. He provided the fifth thermal power station as an example and commented that constructing it close to the city, which is struggling to reduce its air pollution, is inappropriate.
Referencing the Tavan Tolgoi and Oyu Tolgoi projects at every domestic and international investment conference has almost become a convention. Accordingly, a challenging duty to preach positive news and creating a favorable impression about these two projects is imposed on Da.Ganbold and Ya.Batsuuri. CEO of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC Ya.Batsuuri noted that operations at Tavan Tolgoi mine are intensifying and four million tons of coal was exported this year, doubling the amount exported in 2013; the mine is estimated to export 12 million tons of coal next year. The CEO of Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi JSC explained that the Oyu Tolgoi project, in which 9.6 million USD was invested as of 2013, will not be stopped, and negotiation meetings between the parties are advancing normally.
During the conference, several criticisms, such as discussing projects for too long a time, weak planning and failure to implement the numerous projects it discusses, were directed at the government.
Foreign exchange of 1.6 billion USD was attracted to Mongolia in 2010. Funding equivalent to 45 percent of GDP was attracted in 2011 and 2012. However, capital flow this year equals only six to seven percent of GDP. Chief Economist of Mongol Bank S.Bold explained positive repercussions, such as attracting investors and maintaining the balance of payments, implementing strict monetary policy and increasing policy development.

Mongolian craftsman Ch.Enkhbold launches unique exhibition
By D. Sergelen
September 5 (UB Post) Dariganga soum craftsman Ch.Enkhbold opened his first exhibition yesterday at Naiman Sharga Center. Unuudur interviewed him about his exhibition and artwork.
You have kept your promise that you would present an exhibition one day. Can you talk about your exhibition?
It is the first exhibition that I have presented since graduating as a craftsman in 1980.
My exhibition presents over 10 works such as glasses decorated with gold, coffee cups and a matching tray, candle holders, and ash boxes.
Craftsmen usually craft gold and silver items by request and that is why our crafts do not stay with us and we are unable to present exhibitions.  In other words, our crafts are unique.  Even though crafts are a type of art, somehow it is our main source of income.
Pieces that are presented in the exhibition represent two to three years of work.
Most artists choose famous galleries for exhibiting their work and emphasize presenting their exhibitions to many people. Why did you choose Naiman Sharga Center?
I am not a person who desires to show my work to the public. My exhibition will last three days, and it is better to host it in a crowded place since it is also part of a fair.  I want people to visit my exhibition, become acquainted with the skill of Mongolian craftsmen and become my regular customers and subscribers.
The decorated coffee cups look cool. Is creating them a complicated task?
Yes it is. They are featured since it includes Mongolian traditional characters. People have broad choices for furnishing their homes. Why don’t they reflect Mongolian tradition in them?
I had my idea to decorate glass with precious metals in 2009. While I was working at a coin and jewelry factory, we were decorating stone cups but glass cups were never decorated like this before in Mongolia. It is quite complicated because it is made by hand. Even small pieces require very skillful talent. Making thin metal wire, cutting the pieces equally and twisting them demand complicated skill. Besides having talent and skill, craftsmen have to dedicate their heart to what they are creating.
How much do your crafts cost?
It depends.  They can be quite expensive if crafts are decorated with gold and silver. In order to deliver my work to more people, I decorate with copper and then cover the copper with silver. Four decorated silver glasses, a tray and candle holder costs 400,000 MNT and a copper set costs 100,000 MNT.
How did you learn to make crafts?
My father’s grandfather used to make carriages for lords and there was a famous craftsman on my mother’s side. I was always interested in drawing and talented at making things by hand.
I learned many things while I was studying at a technical professional institute.
How long does it take to craft one work, and what is the difference between molded and handmade work?
Mostly it depends on the style, but I spend a week on average.  The craftsmen in my workshop are discussing duplicating works through manufacturing methods and making many crafts in a shorter period.
Wares that are molded are fragile, but melting and working with silver enhances its durability. Handmade work is unique and precious.
I like to make candle holders. I dream of crafting hundreds and hundreds of unique and elegant candle holders. Also, I want to train one or two people. Nowadays, the youth undervalues the earnings of a craftsman and leave our soum. I want to find people who can dedicate themselves to the wisdom of Mongolian craftsmanship.
Source: Unuudur
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