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Thursday, August 18, 2016

[BREAKING: Mongolia hikes policy rate by 4.5 points to 15%]

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- BREAKING NEWS -

Thursday, August 18, 2016

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Mongolia Hikes Interest Rate to 15% to Fight Economic Crisis

By Michael Kohn

August 18 (Bloomberg) -- The central bank of Mongolia raised the interest rate to 15 percent to protect the currency, reversing a cut in borrowing costs to 10.5 percent in May.

The Mongolian currency rose after the announcement, all but erasing earlier declines. The tugrik was at 2,256 per dollar as of 1:16 p.m. in Ulaanbaatar on Thursday after touching a record low of 2,272.50. The currency has fallen for the past 23 days.

The cut follows the new government’s decision today to freeze some spending as part of an economic recovery plan to stave off an economic crisis. Today’s decision was taken to improve yields on tugrik assets in order to protect the currency and ensure mid-term stability, the bank said in a statement on its website.

The landlocked nation between China and Russia has been hit hard by the slump in commodity prices and the slowdown in its larger neighbors. A newly elected government roiled markets when it announced this month that the nation was in a "deep state of economic crisis."

(BN)

Link to BoM Statement (in Mongolian)

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Friday, July 8, 2016

[Erdenebat is PM, today; MMC winding up Cayman co; former MP Batbold elected mayor; and 34 leaders to attend ASEM]

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Friday, July 8, 2016

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Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

ASEM 11

7th Model ASEM of youths launched

Ulaanbaatar, July 7 (MONTSAME) In the scope of the 11th ASEM Summit to be held on July 13-16 in Ulaanbaatar, the 7th Model ASEM of youths entitled "20 years of ASEM: Partnership for Future through Connectivity" started Thursday in the Central Youth Palace, Ulaanbaatar.

Opening remarks were delivered by L.Purevsuren, the Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs; Ambassador Zhang Yan, Executive Director of the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF); and A.Monkhbat, president of the Mongolian Youth Federation (MYF) and vice president of the World Assembly of Youth (WAY). The latter's speech detailed about functions and actions of the MYF and emphasized that youth need to discuss nowadays challenges such as environmental issues, climate change, resolving conflicts and wars and combating corruption. Noting about the differences between Asian and European cultures, Monkhbat underlined that every nation has to keep its distinctive features.

In his speech, the Foreign Minister identified Mongolia as a bridge between Asia and Europe. As the host of the 2016 ASEM Summit, Mongolia is proud itself of connecting the continents through not only economic ties, but also political and diplomatic relations.

"Asia-Europe cooperation and its frame have broadened, but we still face many challenges. It is vital to design ways of resolving any problems and difficulties.

Nowadays youth is confronted with many challenges such as terrorism and poverty, but I am confident that the young generation will master these challenges, standing against terrorism and will make this world better," he said. 

After a concert of Mongolian folk dance and music for the guests, a photo session took place.

The one-day Model ASEM is continuing with discussing of the ASEM Outlook report 2016-2017 and a panel discussion on the ASEM process. List of panelists included L.Orgil, ASEM senior official for Mongolia; Marco Ferri, Minister Counsellor and official from the political section at the delegation of the EU to China; Katharina Hoene, a trainer and lecturer at the Diplo-Foundation; Rebecca Stetter, project coordinator for ASEM Outlook Report from ASEF; and Yu Fei, an official from the ASEF University Alumni Network (ASEFUAN).

The Model ASEM is being attended by 100 young people who were selected out of 3,900 applicants of Mongolia and all over the world. All of the participants and guests were granted with certificate of attendance as well.

Link to article

 

ASEF Editors' Roundtable begins today

Ulaanbaatar, July 7 (MONTSAME) On July 7, the 8th ASEF Editors' Roundtable Meeting, one of the side events of the ASEM11 Summit, opened with around 30 media delegates from more than 20 ASEM member countries at the Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel. The meeting is being organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) in cooperation with the Confederation of Mongolian Journalists.  The opening ceremony was attended by Ambassador Zhang Yang, Executive Director of ASEF, L.Purevsuren, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Torben Stephan, Director of Media Programme Asia at KAS.

In his opening remarks, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia L.Purevsuren said Mongolia is a country respecting freedom of press and expression. With greater penetration of information technologies in our life, we have turned even more dependent on them. Mongolia has become one of the countries in the region that are leading by the use of digital technology and internet per capita. With a population of three million, Mongolia records 3.2 million cell phone and 3.1 million data users. By now, all mobile phone operators of Mongolia have shifted to 4G system. There are 2.4 million people in Mongolia who use internet on regular basis. Cable and IPTV are available in rural areas as well. Technological progress makes people closer. However, we need to think over how to manage the information flow in right way.

Addressing the meeting, Torben Stephan said, "Today, we talk about digital connectivity which is a very important topic. The media environment is changing very fast because of the internet and especially mobile usage which is growing very fast. Of course, there are good and bad developments in that, and my message for today is that let us see this as a chance for the media, not a threat".

The agenda of the meeting covers Asia-Europe Digital Connectivity Survey, the relevance and role of media as a major stakeholder, global stories through local stories, opportunities for connectivity, new audiences and ways to improve Asia-Europe Social Discussion under the theme 'Asia-Europe Digital Connectivity'.

The meeting is being attended by reputed media figures such as BBC delegate Adrian Van Klaveren, Joao Palmeiro, President of the Portuguese Press Association, Gie Goris, Editor-in-Chief of the Belgian Mondiaal News, Yury Kruchkin, Editor-in-Chief of the Russian magazine 'Mongolia Today', Wu Ting, Managing Director of the Chinese 'The paper.cn', as well as editors-in-chief, senior journalists and overseas special correspondents from the ROK, Singapore, Vietnam, Ireland, Poland, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, and India.

Link to article

 

Challenges in doing intercontinental business to be addressed at Asia-Europe Business Forum

Ulaanbaatar, July 7 (MONTSAME) On  13 and 14, Asia-Europe Business forum will be held with an aim to consolidate intercontinental business collaboration and share their best practices.

The forum which is the last side event of the ASEM Summit will bring together nearly 600 delegates from 51 ASEM member states and will provide a wide platform of addressing challenges businesses of intercontinental scale are confronted with and seeking best solutions. The forum will consists of four panel sessions under topics of inclusive economic growth, Asia-Europe interrelations, connecting small businesses to international value-added network, and investment and green development.

According to D.Nyamkhuu, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Industry, a total of MNT 258.830 million was budgeted for the upcoming event organization.

Mongolia will be represented by some 300 business delegates who are afforded an opportunity to promote their activity to foreign businesspeople.

The panel session on inclusive economic growth will hold a debate on ways the small economies like Mongolia can benefit from economic integrations and relations of larger countries in. The Asia-Europe connectivity session will focus on infrastructure connectivity, economic corridor, migrations and sustainable tourism.

The other two sessions will address challenges the small and medium businesses face in joining value-added networks, relations between small and national enterprises and transnational corporations as well as responsible business, creating and application of green technologies and renewable energy sources. The final document to come out from the forum will be delivered to the ASEM Summit.

Link to article

 

Background: 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit, 15-16 July, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

5 July (Council of the European Union) On 15-16 July, Mongolia will host the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). European Council President, Donald Tusk, European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, and High Representative Federica Mogherini will represent the European Union at the summit.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the ASEM. It was created in 1996 as a forum for dialogue and cooperation between Europe and Asia.

Every two years, ASEM heads of state and government, the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the Secretary General of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meet at a summit to set ASEM's priorities. These summits are held alternatively in Asia and Europe. The previous summit was organised in Milan, Italy in 2014.

Ø  Background brief on ASEM summit on 15-16 July 2016

Ø  ASEM factsheet (EEAS)

Link to release

 

Swiss President Schneider-Ammann in Singapore and South Korea, and at the ASEM Summit

Bern, 05.07.2016 (Swiss Federal Council) - Over the coming week, President Johann N. Schneider-Ammann will travel to Singapore for a state visit, followed by an official visit to South Korea, before completing his three-country tour in Asia in the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar, where he will attend the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).

The last stop on the president's trip to Asia will be the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar, where the 11th ASEM Summit will be held on Friday, 15 July, and Saturday, 16 July. The summit is dedicated to celebrating ASEM's 20th anniversary and will emphasise the promising partnership between Asia and Europe and ties between the two continents.

Switzerland has been a member of this forum for dialogue since 2012. ASEM has 53 members and holds summits every two years, alternating between Europe and Asia. Bilateral discussions with heads of state and government are due to take place on the fringes of the ASEM Summit in Ulaanbaatar.

Link to post

 

Zeman to lead Czech delegation at ASEM meeting in Mongolia

Prague, July 6 (CTK) - President Milos Zeman will lead the Czech delegation to the talks of heads of state and governments of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Ulanbaatar on July 14-16.

The sending of the delegation will be discussed by the government of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) on Thursday.

During the summit, there will be plenary sessions and informal debates behind the closed doors on the current regional and global topics.

Terrorism and climate change are expected to be on the agenda of the talks, too. There will be also bilateral meetings of individual countries.

The ASEM associates 51 European and Asian countries. The Czech Republic joined it in 2004.

Its summit is held once in two years alternately in Asia and Europe. Previously, it took place in Milan in 2014.

Link to article

 

Heads of state and government from 34 countries to attend ASEM

July 7 (MONTSAME) As of today, Presidents and Prime Ministers of 34 countries have confirmed their participation in the upcoming 11th ASEM Summit.

Heads of state and government of five countries will pay official visits to Mongolia that are expected to start from July 13. In particular,  Ms Park Geun-Hye, the President of the Republic of Korea; the Prime ministers of Singapore and Vietnam; Mr Donald Tusk the President of the European Council; Mr Jean-Claude Juncker,  the President of the European Commission; Ms Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy are going to visit our country.

On July 13, the Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Nguyễn Xuân Phúc will visit Mongolia. On July 14, the Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong is starting his visit.

Nine side events will be held ahead of ASEM Summit. As of today, five of them have already been organized. On July 7, Ulaanbaatar is hosting the 8th ASEF Editors' Roundtable Meeting and the 7th Model ASEM of youths entitled "20 years of ASEM: Partnership for Future through Connectivity".

More than 30 representatives from 24 countries are taking part in the Editors' Roundtable Meeting whereas over one hundred young people from 51 countries joined the 7th Model ASEM of youths.

Link to article

 

Int'l Market

MMC Files Winding Up Petition With Cayman Court

By Dominic Lau

July 7 (Bloomberg) -- Co. filed application for appointment of provisional liquidators on "soft touch" basis, petition for winding up of co. on July 7, according to statement to Hong Kong stock exchange.

* Co. remains in talks with creditors on its debt restructuring

* Co. proposes to issue new senior notes, perpetual notes and new shares to creditors, according to separate statement

* NOTE: In April, co. said it defaulted on $600m 8.875% notes due 2017 Link; lenders demanded immediate payment of $95.4m

(BFW)

 

Rio Tinto clashes with Bernstein over Mongolian mine report

July 6 (FT) Rio Tinto and Bernstein Research have clashed over a report that examined the investment case for the miner's flagship copper mine in Mongolia.

Bernstein recently commissioned Neal Brewster, a former general manager of valuation at Rio, to write a report on the $5.3bn expansion of the Oyu Tolgoi mine, reports Neil Hume in London.

It was due to hold a conference call with clients last week to discuss his report, which was based on publicly available information. But the dial-in never happened.

Bernstein decided to cancel the call after Mr Brewster pulled out following threats of legal action by his former employer.

"We unfortunately had to cancel our conference call on the Oyu Tolgoi Project, scheduled for 30 June, as Neal Brewster, was no longer able to participate," Bernstein said in a statement.

Mr Brewster, who left Rio last year and has set up his own consulting company, declined to comment. Rio also declined to comment.

In his report, Mr Brewster said the investment case for an underground mine at Oyu Tolgoi was "neither very compelling nor obviously flawed", although it was not clear how well this was "understood" by Rio's board.

"Judging the overall risk versus returns equation is not simple," the report concluded.

Rio gave the green light to the expansion of the deposit in the South Gobi desert last month. The project, which was overseen by Rio's new CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques, is a key part of the company's growth plans and will help reduce its dependence on iron ore.

"The Bernstein note was excellent in its detail… it brought up the aggressive assumptions made on grades, recovery rates, dilution, ramp up, pricing, Mongolia and China risk," said one hedge fund manager. "Are Rio really convinced this is the project they are telling us that it is?" he added.

Bernstein is not the only researcher to raise doubts about OT. In May, analysts at UBS said the project was high risk because of its location. They also highlighted a number of ongoing challenges including access to power, smelters and tax.

Link to article

 

Aspire Mining Investor Presentation, July 2016

A Unique Mongolian Met Coal and Rail Infrastructure Company

July 6, Aspire Mining Ltd. (ASX:AKM) --

Link to preso

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Local Market

MSE Trading Report: Top 20 -2.2%, ALL -1.24%, Turnover 4.6 Million Shares

July 7 (MSE) --

Link to report

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Economy

Historic low 2,050.85/USD set March 28, 2016. Reds are rates that set a new low at the time

BoM MNT Rates: Thursday, July 7 Close

7/7

7/6

7/5

7/4

7/1

6/30

6/28

6/27

6/24

6/23

6/22

6/21

6/20

6/17

6/16

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/611b76b6-2b0b-4a23-a444-02f9cb3dd75f.png

USD

2,012.24

2,007.44

1,993.87

1,995.62

1,992.76

1,982.25

1,962.53

1,944.46

1,938.76

1,941.72

1,941.90

1,947.12

1,950.34

1,952.72

1,956.76

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/d90344bf-7731-47f3-bffe-93a4596232a2.png

EUR

2,228.96

2,221.33

2,218.68

2,219.53

2,209.87

2,201.88

2,172.72

2,147.85

2,138.94

2,202.20

2,188.81

2,208.52

2,211.20

2,194.56

2,209.18

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/db4fa868-a5a2-4a14-9cd9-ef3b0081caa7.png

JPY

19.98

19.88

19.57

19.43

19.39

19.31

19.23

19.05

18.97

18.60

18.57

18.64

18.63

18.72

18.87

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/663d9297-6b7b-421b-a2c7-022882ec5691.png

GBP

2,608.37

2,596.42

2,628.72

2,649.48

2,649.87

2,663.95

2,613.21

2,616.66

2,637.97

2,863.45

2,851.97

2,864.80

2,841.16

2,780.77

2,767.25

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/a772b2ab-9007-499a-9c78-69d8ac652d26.png

RUB

31.33

31.00

30.99

31.32

31.17

30.98

30.22

29.92

29.36

30.05

30.55

30.34

30.12

29.83

29.76

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/ceaa3227-2aea-4575-9f0f-9374539b6e52.png

CNY

301.02

300.12

298.94

299.52

299.39

298.39

295.12

292.92

292.99

295.18

294.71

296.12

296.35

296.39

297.62

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/9366ea6f-cdc8-4c79-87a2-c6de37f4f2db.png

KRW

1.74

1.72

1.72

1.74

1.74

1.72

1.68

1.65

1.64

1.69

1.68

1.68

1.68

1.67

1.67

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/020a3b13-d459-4bf3-b596-f93ff6442059.png

SGD

1,491.10

1,482.98

1,477.93

1,485.55

1,480.18

1,469.15

1,448.25

1,435.29

1,426.87

1,451.32

1,447.83

1,450.80

1,450.61

1,444.69

1,450.37

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/e78a2df0-8efa-4dfa-adb2-9cf7540dfc08.png

CAD

1,553.43

1,542.64

1,548.34

1,549.51

1,537.74

1,529.87

1,510.39

1,492.52

1,486.49

1,516.49

1,519.72

1,523.09

1,519.13

1,509.76

1,509.79

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/ec21d929-99bc-4825-8f98-d8f66d0a4814.png

AUD

1,508.38

1,494.04

1,495.50

1,499.31

1,485.80

1,473.51

1,452.37

1,444.93

1,427.02

1,461.24

1,453.80

1,457.32

1,451.15

1,441.60

1,438.71

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/ce22f7ae-6e61-4961-b249-a66ee1a47c1a.png

HKD

259.35

258.72

256.98

257.22

256.86

255.48

252.93

250.65

249.83

250.31

250.33

250.92

251.34

251.64

252.19

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/4296ba475e0a2fd5de8e5bee5/images/9775661f-ece0-420b-843d-58b1b4b23546.png

CHF

2,061.51

2,051.97

2,052.36

2,048.47

2,040.19

2,021.67

2,008.11

1,997.19

1,986.33

2,026.42

2,021.76

2,028.25

2,032.87

2,025.75

2,042.44

Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,010 Sell ₮2,020), TDB (Buy ₮2,010 Sell ₮2,022), Golomt (Buy ₮2,008 Sell ₮2,020), XacBank (Buy ₮2,012 Sell ₮2,027), State Bank (Buy ₮2,010 Sell ₮2,025)

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

Link to rates

 

BoM issues 53 billion 1-week bills at 10.5%, total outstanding +3.9% to ₮663.25 billion

July 6 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 53 billion at a weighted interest rate of 10.5 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

Link to release

 

BoM sells US$28m at 2,014.31, CNY28m at 303.01, accepts $24m MNT, $1.5m USD swap offers

July 7 (Bank of Mongolia) Spot trade: Commercial banks bid for USD and CNY. The BOM sold USD28.0 million at the closing rate of MNT2014.31 and CNY28.0 million at the closing rate of MNT303.01.   

Swap and forward trade:  Commercial banks bid for USD24.0 million of MNT swap agreement and asked for USD1.5 million of USD swap agreement. The BOM accepted the offers.

Link to release

 

Ulaanbaatar Apartment Prices Decline 10% Y/y in June

By Michael Kohn

July 7 (Bloomberg) -- The price of an apartment in Ulaanbaatar has declined on average 10.3% y/y at the end of June, according to data published on the Bank of Mongolia website.

* Price of newly built apartment declined 8.7%, existing apartments declined 12.5%

* Report based on survey of prices conducted by Tenkhleg Zuuch real estate company

* A 10% decline is in line with expectations on the broader market, and in the luxury sector the decline is even more pronounced, says Lee Cashell, founder of real estate firm Asia Pacific Investment Partners in Ulaanbaatar

* "On the back of the new elections and the steep rise in foreign direct investment we are anticipating a strong rebound in housing prices led by a steady reduction in the housing inventory": Cashell

* NOTE: New apartments are classified as such if certificates of ownership of the apartment is released for the first time and/or State Committee for Commissioning Facility is inspecting and ready to issue  right of use permit

(BFW)

 

More than 4 million tons of coal exported to China through Gashuunsukhait

July 7 (UB Post) China reported that a total of 4.3 million tons of coal was exported through the Gashuunsukhait Port as of the first half of 2016.

The figure was up by 23 percent in comparison to the same period in 2015. Industry analysts say that coal supply from Mongolia is increasing as coal exploration is in decline in China. Despite the coal supply increase, coal reserves at Gashuunsukhait Port's warehouse have decreased over the past two months.

Chinese Customs reported that as of May 2016, Mongolia has supplied 46 percent of China's coking coal consumption. Even though export volume was high, income was lower than it was in 2015 due to the falling prices for coal.

The National Statistical Office reported that Mongolia earned 222 million USD from exports as of the first five months of 2016, which was a figure down by 20 million USD compared to 2015.

Link to article

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Politics & Legal

Mogi: SGK is set to vote him in today. Cleared standing committees at the time of sending

Mongolian President to Present New Prime Minister's Nomination

By Michael Kohn

July 8 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolian President Elbegdorj Tsakhia endorses Mongolian People's Party nominee Erdenebat Jargaltulga for prime minister, according to the president's website.

* Elbegdorj to present nomination Friday for approval by Parliament

* Erdenebat briefs Elbegdorj on plans for new cabinet, saying it would be "small in composition, but professional"

* Members of Parliament can serve simultaneously as ministers of foreign affairs, finance, justice and environment, other ministries to be headed by individuals from outside parliament: Erdenebat

* Elbegdorj urges cabinet of "competent people with high standard of ethics"

* Elbegdorj says many private businesses awaiting government payments for contract work and repayments are a priority, as is increasing job opportunities

* Successful ASEM-11 Summit in Ulaanbaatar next week is another priority, Erdenebat says

* NOTE: Erdenebat served as Minister of Finance during Saikhanbileg government (2014-15), he has been a member of Parliament since 2012 and was previously governor of Selenge Aimag.

* NOTE: Economy Woes Lift Mongolian Opposition to Power in Landslide

(BFW)

 

President Elbegdorj receives PM nominee Erdenebat

July 7 (gogo.mn) Today, July 7, President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj received J.Erdenebat Prime Minister nominee.

President Ts.Elbegdorj noted that if J.Erdenebat's nomination as prime minister passes through parliament, it will be a great opportunity for him to start his appointment meeting international high level officials at the ASEM Summit. President also advised him to focus more on people with disabilities and incomes of citizens more than social welfare.

He continued "It's important to pay attention to Erdenet mining corporation issues because employees of Erdenet mining corporation has long been the pillar of Mongolia's economy and it's only fair and right to look after them and get things back on track to ensure steady operation of the plant. Prime minister's duty is to always work for the best interest of the nation. Public is watching carefully, do not repeat the mistakes of the past."

"After election, I heard some rumors going around in ministries about lobbying positions. I hope you will stop this unethical act and follow strong moral and professional ethics in your work. Discussion of new government structuring will begin on July 18, so I advise you to comprise skilled, ethical and reliable professionals." said president Ts.Elbegdorj.

Link to article

Related:

President Ts.Elbegdorj meets candidate to Prime Minister's postMontsame, July 7

 

MPP's Nyamdorj, DP's Sanjmyatav appointed Vice Speakers

Ulaanbaatar, July 6 (MONTSAME) At its very first plenary meeting on Tuesday just after the swear-in ceremony of MPs, the newly-formed parliament discussed appointment of Vice Speakers.

The new parliament has two caucuses, and each caucus is eligible to nominate its Vice Speaker, thus the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) has proposed Ts.Nyamdorj, while the Democratic Party (DP)--Ya.Sanjmyatav.

After considering the issue, Ts.Nyamdorj was selected as the Vice Speaker with 97.1% votes of MPs, and Ya.Sanjmyatav also became another Vice Speaker with 95.8% votes.

On behalf of all parliamentarians and himself, the Speaker M.Enkhbold congratulated the new Vice Speakers, and pointed out that the next plenary meeting will consider new compositions of Standing committees.

Link to article

 

Mongolian President Calls for 'Discussion' of Erdenet Mine Deal

By Michael Kohn

July 7 (Bloomberg) -- President Elbegdorj Tsakhia of Mongolia has called for a "public discussion" on the sale of 49% of Erdenet mine from Russian-state owned Rostec Corp. to the Mongolian Copper Corporation, according a television broadcast.

* MORE: Rostec Agrees to Sell Copper and Gold Ventures to Mongolian Bank

(BFW)

 

Erdenet employees want to own company shares

July 6 (UB Post) During a press conference held yesterday, Chairman of the Trade Union of Erdenet Mining Corporation (EMC) N.Batbaatar announced that he believes that the staff of EMC should be entitled to own a percentage of the shares of the Mongolian-Russian JSC that were recently wholly transferred to Mongolian ownership.

Last week, Prime Minister Ch.Saikhanbileg announced that Mongolia had acquired 100 percent ownership of EMC, a Mongolia-Russia joint venture. In the past, the Government of Mongolia owned 51 percent of EMC, and Russia's Rostech Corporation owned 49 percent. The Prime Minister said that as a result of negotiations with the Russian side, Mongolia will continue owning 51 percent, and the remaining 49 percent will be owned by Mongolian Copper Company, on behalf of Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia.

At the press conference, N.Batbaataar underlined that he was making the statement on behalf of over 6,000 employees of EMC, over 2,000 EMC retirees, and 500 former employees who had suffered from industrial accidents and injuries.

In 1992, the Government of Mongolia made a decision to issue 15 percent of the shares of EMC to the public, in order to provide them with ownership, and issued blue and pink share certificates.

Batbaatar said, "Once EMC's ownership belongs to Mongolia, its workers and senior workers need to own the company's shares. Beginning in 1990, the government issued blue share certificates to the public. There are still some people who kept them to use it for EMC's privatization. It is fair to allow EMC's workers to own 15 percent of the company's shares. At that time, Director of EMC Sh.Otgonbileg tried to privatize EMC, and even former Prime Minister P.Jasrai supported the issue, but it remains unresolved today.

"We collected 10,140 blue certificates for EMC's privatization, which were saved with a brokerage in 1994. In 1996, Mongolia decided to include Erdenet on a list of strategically important deposits that would not be privatized, and we had no other choice but to keep our certificates. Unfortunately, someone used around 4,000 certificates for the purchase of State Department Store, but more than 6,000 tickets were still saved. People didn't forget that the price for blue and pink certificates was 10,000 MNT, and the blue one alone was valued at 7,000 MNT.

"We demand to transfer the value of the blue certificates to today's market valuation and to index them, distributing 15 percent of EMC's shares to its employees so that they have their own property," said Batbaatar.

He said that when Erdenet Carpet Factory was privatized, people were given company shares in exchange for their blue EMC certificates, and claimed that the same principle can be used now for EMC employees.

Batbaatar emphasized that the total value of EMC stands at around one billion USD, and said that 15 percent of its value can be equally distributed among its 8,500 workers.

After the press conference, the trade union leader was interviewed by local media outlets.

There were rumors going around that Mongol Copper, which acquired 49 percent of EMC, is a company with foreign investments. Have you looked into this?

I don't know much about that company, but it is true that Russia has sold its 49 percent ownership. Everything will become clear soon.

Is it possible to privatize 15 percent of EMC's shares when nothing is definite yet?

The issue of how to privatize 15 percent of EMC is under the government's and Mongol Copper's authority. But the government needs to implement and continue its previous decision on privatization.

What would be the advantages of acquiring 49 percent ownership of EMC?

Previously, when we were cooperating with Russia, there were many advantages, but also several difficulties. For example, when one of the sides didn't finalize the selection of its board members, the joint venture council couldn't hold meetings to review its operations and approve plans for the next year. By transferring ownership to Mongolia, the board will now be able to hold regular meetings and make decisions without wasting time. It is important to not forget about the salaries and social protection issues of the company's employees, and to not lower tax contributions to the state budget in the future.

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New MPs must declare their income and assets by August 6

July 6 (news.mn) The new members of Great State Hural (Parliament) and the City Assembly are required to release statements of their income and assets before 6th August. Mongolia's Government ratified the Anti-Corruption Law, according to which members of parliament, judges, central bank governors, auditors, prosecutors, civil servants working in ministries, local government authorities, and state-owned entities are required to submit their yearly "Asset and Income Disclosure" (AID). According to the law, the new MPs must submit their income and asset statements within 30 days to the Independent Authority against Corruption (IACC).

Yesterday, (5th July) the new Mongolian Parliament was sworn in and held its first session; the Ulaanbaatar City Assembly held its first session today.

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Compositions of some Standing committees approved

Ulaanbaatar, July 7 (MONTSAME) A plenary meeting of the parliamentary session approved Thursday a draft resolution on new compositions of Standing committees, which is based on proposals from political parties' factions at parliament.

In accordance with the resolution, every lawmaker is expected to join 1-3 Standing committees, therefore one Standing committee will have 14-16 members.

The State Great Khural has 7 Standing committees, particularly, on security and foreign policy, on environment, food and agriculture, on social policy, education, culture and science, on petitions, on budget, on budget, on economy, and on state structure.

Currently, the Standing committees are appointing their chairs.

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Mogi Badral Bontoi: Mongolia's new government could be in for a short honeymoon

Nikkei Asian Review, July 7 Print Edition

July 7 (Nikkei Asian Review) The resounding defeat of the Democratic Party in Mongolia's election came down to two key issues: the economy and unemployment.

The left-wing Mongolian People's Party has capitalized on this to return to power after a four-year absence. Upon taking office on July 5 as speaker of the State Great Hural, the country's unicameral parliament, MPP Chairman Miyegombo Enkhbold said that with the country's outlook at its darkest since the global financial crisis, the first task of the incoming government will be to formulate an economic stability program.

The MPP governed the country for most of the 20th century but lost power in 2012 when Mongolia was declared the world's fastest-growing economy. The former communist party won 65 out of 76 parliamentary seats on June 29, as well as all but one provincial election. The MPP's victory echoes the 2000 election, which saw the party sweep the Democrats out of power by capturing 72 out of 76 seats in parliament.

Opinion polls ahead of the election showed the MPP to be the clear favorite, but many analysts were surprised by the size of its victory. Not even outgoing Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg nor Speaker Zandaakhuu Enkhbold managed to keep their parliamentary seats as voters appeared to blame them for the deteriorating economy and growing unemployment. The Democrats' minority coalition government had been mired in an internal power struggle, resulting in Saikhanbileg replacing Norov Altankhuyag as prime minister in late 2014.

What perhaps was the tipping point was the government's admission, just a day before the election, that it had approved the sale of Russia's 49% stake in the Erdenet copper mine to an affiliate of Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia, a private commercial bank. Erdenet was for decades Mongolia's largest taxpayer until the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine claimed that honor last year.

Despite having significantly improved the legal framework for foreign investors in the last four years, it was too little, too late for the Democrats. The government had also been engaged in a dispute over cost overruns with Rio Tinto, Mongolia's largest foreign investor, which halted the expansion of Oyu Tolgoi.

In many ways this election demonstrated the growing maturity of Mongolian voters. Most of the more "populist" and "resource nationalist" politicians lost their seats despite being ranked highly in polls as recently as March.

The ruling government had rolled out several subsidy programs aimed at reversing falling confidence among voters, such as a buyback of shares owned by citizens in Tavan Tolgoi, Mongolia's largest coal mine.

FALTERING GROWTH 

The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank have all forecast that Mongolia's economic growth this year will be near zero, the worst since the 2008 global financial crisis, but will pick up slightly in 2017.

Although prices of Mongolia's major exports, copper and coal, are not expected to recover for some time, the $5.3 billion underground expansion of Oyu Tolgoi is expected to help revive growth. Oyu Tolgoi began open-pit operations in 2013 and is projected to become the world's third-largest copper producer when it reaches peak production by 2030.

Despite this, the MPP, which oversaw Mongolia's earlier mining boom, will have to struggle with low single-digit growth over the next few years.

In addition to turning around the $12 billion economy of 3 million people, the new government will also have to deal with growing government debt, a depreciating currency and a record budget deficit, all while finding ways to repay more than $1 billion in sovereign bonds over the next 18 months.

Other challenges include reviving foreign direct investment and improving the country's sovereign credit rating. The new government must also move forward with stalled major projects, including Tavan Tolgoi, several power plants and railways to improve access to key mining areas.

The MPP has a lot on its plate and is hoping that its image of "stability" will convince investors to return. It is also committed to Mongolia's long-standing "Third Neighbor Policy" of maintaining balanced ties with neighbors China and Russia while fostering closer relations with Japan and other regional powers.

Mongolia is also preparing to host its largest-ever international event, the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting leaders' summit, on July 15-16. Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe of Japan and Dmitry Medvedev of Russia are expected to attend, along with 5,000 delegates from 53 Asian and European countries.

Mogi Badral Bontoi is the founder and CEO of market intelligence company Cover Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar.

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Mongolia's election – a protest vote for the good

By Lee Cashell, Asia Pacific Investment Partners

July 6 (FT) Amidst the chaos sown by Brexit, one country's protest vote is being greeted with relief by investors. In a landslide election, 3m Mongolians opted to end an era of policies that contributed to a fall off in foreign direct investment and economic growth.

After clinching an 85 per cent majority in the election, the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) hopes to reinvigorate the economy through a more permissive operating environment and friendlier attitudes toward investors.

Landlocked between Russia and China, Mongolia's vast natural resources have stood neglected in recent years as disputes halted Rio Tinto's $5bn investment plans for the Oyu Tolgoi mine, one of the world's largest copper reserves. With little to buffer this commodity dependent nation, a people who only a few years ago lived in the fastest growing economy suffered diminishing livelihoods.

In the run-up to the election, Chimed Saikhanbileg, the outgoing prime minister, attempted to repair the damage, restarting Rio Tinto's mining concession along with Tavan Tolgoi, one of the world's largest untapped coking and thermal coal deposits.

Then, weeks before voters took to the polls, the government made a last-minute deal to pay Canada's Khan Resources $70m in compensation for a revoked uranium license. But it was all too late for the Democratic Party.

The combination of the commodities downturn and perceived hostility toward foreign investors has resulted in economic growth shrinking from 17.5 per cent in 2011 to 2.4 per cent last year.

The dearth of opportunity has triggered unemployment, inflation and a currency devaluation. A darling of the investment world a few years ago had became a punch line for bankers who once jetted in from Hong Kong, Singapore and London to compete for project finance deals.

But since the election, there's a palpable sense of optimism on the streets of the capital, Ulaanbaatar. A proud nation with a heritage dating back to the Mongol empire, most here understand the need for technical know-how from the thousands of expats that foreign companies send to manage mines – principle drivers of the Mongolian economy.

The people's desperation for change underpinned a 72 per cent voter turnout, no mean feat for this nation three times the size of France across which nomads herd livestock across vast vistas of open steppe.

One herder trekked for seven days to reach his nearest polling station in the Gobi desert – accompanied by 2,000 sheep, goats and horses.

As a nation, voters handed a stunning 65 out of 76 seats to the opposition MPP (including 13 new female MPs.) This absolute majority sets the stage for fast action in parliament.

While the Democratic Party was genuinely thought of as well meaning, it lacked the experience of running a country. The MPP, which has governed outright or through coalitions from 2000 to 2012, has no such problem. Among its top ranks, Chairman Miyegombyn Enkhbold – a former Prime Minister with a Masters degree in economics – has been appointed Speaker of the State Great Khural, Mongolia's Parliament.

Potential candidates for PM include J. Erdenebat, a former Finance Minister, and former Deputy Prime Minister U. Khurelsukh. The MPP's rule won't be without its challenges – foremost of which will be a perceived lack of transparency.

With the overwhelming parliamentary majority that the MPP now possesses, the party will be in a position to pass legislation without meaningful opposition or public discussion.

This opacity could spell trouble down the road for a ruling party in a country whose population is weary from tales of government corruption and mismanagement. But for now, the mood is buoyant.

Shares of Turqoise Hill Resources, the Rio Tinto unit handling the Oyu Tolgoi project, have climbed 4.3 per cent on the Toronto Stock Exchange since the election last week. Activity at its copper mine is expected to contribute over 30 per cent of Mongolia's GDP by the time it's fully operational in 2019.

While copper is Mongolia's biggest export, it was overtaken between 2010 and 2013 by coking coal. Additionally, a total $1bn comes from zinc concentrates, crude retail oils and, most significantly, gold.

Although most commodity prices, particularly copper, have remained in the doldrums, Brexit has delivered Mongolia something of silver – or gold – lining.

Bullion prices have rocketed since Britain's June 29 vote to leave the European Union, extending the best two-quarter gain since 2007, with a 26 per cent rally in the first half of this year.

Even before this latest surge, export revenue from gold products more than tripled in three years to $420m in 2015. Along with over 37m tonnes of copper, the Oyu Tolgoi mine in the southern Gobi Desert is estimated to contain more than 1,431 tonnes of gold.

And that's with only 30 per cent of the country's surface area so far explored. Gold is another reason for optimism that the bad times are behind us – at least in Mongolia.

Lee Cashell is the Founder & CEO of Asia Pacific Investment Partners and Mongolia Properties

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Mongolia's opposition party won 85 percent of the seats in parliament with only 45 percent of the vote

By Boldsaikhan Sambuu

July 6 (Washington Post) On June 29, Mongolia held its seventh parliamentary elections since transitioning to multi-party competitive rule in 1990. The preliminary results are now in. The main opposition, the Mongolian People's Party (MPP), has won a landslide victory, securing 65 seats in the 76-member parliament, the State Ikh Khural, with "only" 45 percent of the popular vote.

The ruling Democratic Party (DP), which has controlled nearly all government institutions since 2012, received 33 percent of the total votes and won just nine seats. Mongolia's third party, Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP), and an independent candidate each claimed one of the remaining two seats.

Pre-election polls were predicting a closely contested race between the two major parties in Mongolia. Here's how this surprising, lopsided result came about and why it matters for this relatively young democracy.

Voters punished the incumbents

The ruling DP party was defeated because voters blamed it for mishandling the economy during its 2012-2016 tenure. In a pre-election survey conducted by the International Republican Institute (IRI) in March, 92 percent of the respondents rated the current economic conditions as bad or very bad, 61 percent said the country is headed in the wrong direction, and 83 percent assessed the DP government's performance as poor or very poor.

The DP came into power at the peak of economic growth, which reached 17 percent in 2011. Under DP's leadership, growth declined in the following years to a single digit, foreign direct investment dried up and the national currency plummeted. The economic downturn resulted, in part, from a bitter dispute between the DP government and Rio Tinto Mining Corporation over the financing of a multi-billion dollar expansion of the Oyu-Tolgoi copper/gold mine.

Mongolia's mining dependent economy continues to be in crisis, a consequence of the global commodities price slump and the steep decline in China's demand for copper, coal, and other minerals, which make up more than 95 percent of the Mongolia's exports. In the context of rising unemployment and a looming debt crisis, the election outcome should be interpreted as voters blaming the incumbent DP for the country's economic ills and then voted the bums out of office, an illustration of what political scientists call "retrospective voting."

Moreover, the voters' wholesale rejection of DP's senior leaders – including two former prime ministers and a former speaker of parliament – calls into question the DP's entire reason to exist, at least in its current form. So far, the DP has been defined solely by its leaders' personalities and charisma. This "personalism" has given way to breaks in the party. These breaks or factions in the DP have contributed to political instability and poor governance.

The old boss is the new boss – the MPP returns

In contrast with the outgoing government, the incoming MPP benefits from strong internal party discipline and a robust organizational structure. This former communist party ruled Mongolia from 1921 until 1996, even winning the first democratic election held in 1992. Since democratization, the party has abandoned Marxism, and dropped the word "revolutionary" from the party name. In this election, the party put forward a record number of new candidates. At a time when the vast majority of voters are tiring of recycled elites, this was a smart move: 36 out of the 65 MPs elected from this party are first-time officeholders.

The MPP has interpreted their huge win as a clear mandate. Yet if the retrospective voting interpretation offered above is correct, voters elected the MPP not because the party offered distinct stances on issues or policy platforms that voters believed in. Rather, they voted for the opposition to express their disappointment and anger with the government.

The last minute changes to the electoral system end any hope for third parties

As I wrote in the pre-election report for Mongolia, this year's election was held under new electoral rules. The last minute change in the electoral laws followed a Supreme Court ruling that tossed out the party-list proportional representation portion of the former electoral system.

[Four things you should know about Mongolia's election]

What has escaped both international and Mongolian media attention is that the Chief Justice of the court was ousted just one month before the court's ruling. The timing of these events raises suspicion that political maneuvering drove the electoral change. Mongolia's new rules create a "winner take all" electoral system, one that is used in the United States and the United Kingdom but has generally gone out of fashion.

The new electoral system put minor parties at a disadvantage and raised the barrier to entry for independents. Of the record number of independents–69 candidates — only one was elected. A former country singer turned politician, Javkhlan Samand, who is an unapologetic nationalist and outspoken critic of foreign miners, will be the sole independent voice in parliament. After winning, he went to the opening session of Parliament on horseback, wearing Deel, a traditional Mongolian form of dress.

Along with independents, the failure of third party candidates diminishes any hope of reshaping Mongolia's unpopular two-party system. The MPRP, a party created by an MPP breakaway faction in 2012, lost all but one of its 11 seats. The party's leader and former president of Mongolia, Enkhbayar Nambar, was barred from running after being convicted of corruption and embezzlement.

Mongolia's election was one of the most disproportional in the world

Although the MPP won 85 percent of the seats in parliament, it only received 45 percent of the popular vote. On the flip side, 33 percent of the votes were cast for the DP, but it won just 12 percent of the seats. In other words, the election produced a large disparity between the percent of the popular vote received by each political party and the share of seats they won.

To put these results in perspective, consider the results from the 2012 elections, when a mixed majoritarian-proportional system was used. In that election, the DP received 35 percent of the popular vote and won 45 percent of the seats. The MPP lost the election by a close margin. It secured 34 percent of the seats with 31 percent of the popular vote. The MPRP became the first among minor parties to disrupt the two party system by winning 14 percent of the seats with 22 percent of the total vote. With less than a majority of the seats in parliament, the DP had to rely on the support of MPRP and Civil Will Green Party, which also won 2 seats.

The level of disproportionality between votes and seats in Mongolia is extreme, according to Michael Gallagher's study of more than 1000 elections held in over 100 countries. Elections more disproportional than Mongolia's occurred only in Hungary, where the ruling party has used their supermajority to enact sweeping political changes.

It is hard to say what would have happened in this year's elections had the electoral system remained the same. One can only speculate that voters and parties would have had different strategic incentives under a closed PR party list system. Nevertheless, given the 2012 outcome, it is unlikely that the MPP would have won more than two-thirds of the seats with less than half of the electoral support nationwide.

The election was orderly and competitive, though not entirely free from "irregularities"  

The election overall was free and fair. International observers noted it was "orderly and competitive." Turnout increased to 72 percent, stemming a long-run decline in electoral participation since Mongolia's founding democratic election of 1992.

However, there were several major irregularities.

First, in the final hours on Election Day, several polling districts ran out of paper ballots and photocopies had to be used. Once the results were announced, the DP claimed that votes in these districts were miscounted.

Second, several DP candidates have launched an official complaint with the courts. They allege that their MPP opponents illegally transported thousands of out-of-district voters into their district on election day. In these districts, MPP candidates won with narrow margins — by a few hundred votes.

Third, on the eve of election day, the DP prime minister announced that the Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia purchased the Russian 49 percent stake in the Erdenet mine, which is a significant contributor to Mongolia's GDP. By law, all political campaigning within 24 hours of voting is prohibited. MPP protested that the government was trying to sway votes. Voters appear to have agreed with the MPP, and likely recalled the corrupt privatizations under previous DP governments in the 1990s. The election results suggest that the announcement backfired for the DP.

Fourth, a few weeks before the election, MPRP's campaign published a secret audio tape in which the MPP party boss can be heard discussing with his aides their plan to raise campaign funds by selling public sector jobs. "We can make approximately 60 billion tugrugs (roughly $30 million) from the capital city alone," said one of the aides.

What's at stake for Mongolian democracy?

With enough seats to override a presidential veto, the new government in Mongolia will be able to enact any changes to the constitution, if it chooses to do so. They will appoint a new Chief Justice and the head of the powerful Anti-Corruption agency. Political scientist Nancy Bermeo's research shows that incremental de-democratization, rather than dramatic democratic breakdowns, has been on the rise in recent years, especially in countries where a single party dominates government. The outcome of Mongolia's election likely raises the risk of this kind of democratic backsliding.

Boldsaikhan Sambuu is a graduate student in the School of Political Science & Economics at Waseda University in Tokyo.

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New SPEAK Survey Reveals Political Parties Most Corrupt in Mongolia

July 6, 2016 (Asia Foundation) — The Asia Foundation, in collaboration with Sant-Maral Foundation, released the results of its 17th Survey on Perceptions and Knowledge of Corruption (SPEAK) in Mongolia, a nationwide survey of citizens in rural soumsaimags, and the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. The SPEAK survey is an integral part of the Strengthening Democratic Participation and Transparency in the Public Sector in Mongolia (STEPS) project implemented by The Asia Foundation, generously supported by Global Affairs Canada.

Building on an earlier semi-annual benchmarking survey under The Asia Foundation's previous anti-corruption projects, the SPEAK survey presents important nationwide perceptions of corruption at the household level, captures data on citizens' perceptions of corruption, their actual experience of corruption at the household level, and grand corruption.

Conducted in March 2016, the 2016 SPEAK survey conducted interviews with 1,360 households in eight districts of Ulaanbaatar and in 24 soums of six aimags. The survey revealed that corruption remains a major problem and more than 65 percent of respondents indicated that corruption is a common practice in Mongolia. Political corruption is emerging as a strong concern. For the first time since 2006, political parties topped the list of most corrupt institutions. Until this year, the land authority had continuously led the ranking. Similar to 2015 findings, three political institutions are ranked in the top five most corrupt: political parties, parliament, and the national government. Perceptions of these three institutions have steadily increased since the March 2010 survey. The survey's longitudinal design provides long-term analysis on changes and trends in perceptions and attitudes, and new information on citizen views on grand corruption.

SPEAK is one of a few regular, nationwide surveys in Mongolia, and its results are widely cited and used by civil society and government organizations. Mr. Tserenjav, Head of the Partnership for Transparency Initiative states: "The survey reveals citizens' perceptions and actual experience of corruption at the household level as well as knowledge of administrative practices and grand corruption. Thus, it serves as an effective tool for civil society groups to raise awareness and educate the public."

Under the STEPS project, a series of surveys will be conducted in the education and law enforcement sector to provide a comprehensive view and analysis of corruption in Mongolia. The Asia Foundation since 2012 has also conducted the Study of Private Perceptions of Corruption (STOPP) to better understand the perceptions of private sector actors. The Foundation believes that the various empirical research contributes to important discussions on issues of transparency, accountability, and corruption in Mongolia.

SPEAK Survey 2016 key findings:

§  Similar to 2015, more than half of the respondents said that corruption has increased over the past three years (59 percent in 2015, 58.8 percent in 2016). Optimism about the next three years has grown, however.

§  A quarter of respondents in 2015 indicated corruption would decrease in the next three years (24.4 percent) compared to one-third of respondents in 2016 (34.9 percent).

§  The most valued anti-corruption initiatives are the "introduction of new technology" to limit human interference and the "transparent accounting law."

§  Almost half of the population (48.1 percent) have difficulty estimating the impact of grand corruption.

§  The average size of petty corruption bribes paid by Mongolian households has increased from 277,000 MNT in March 2015 to 336,000 MNT in March 2016.

§  Respondents working in the private and non-government sectors report higher levels of unfair treatment from state institutions than respondents working in state offices and state service.

In conjunction with the release of the SPEAK survey findings, The Asia Foundation, in collaboration with the IAAC launched the www.khamtdaa.mn website, an updated one-stop portal on corruption information for citizens. The website was previously funded by USAID and Mercy Corps in 2012. The Asia Foundation and the IAAC redeveloped and redesigned the website for all major organizations working on anti-corruption to provide updates on a wide range of public awareness, advocacy information, and important research on fighting corruption. The website provides interactive and user-friendly content and information for citizens, including a built-in option to allow for sorting and filtering the contents by time, organization and type.

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Czech Republic presents 1:50,000 scale geological maps to the MRA

July 6 (UB Post) Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Czech Republic to Mongolia Ivana Grollova and Deputy Ambassador Oldrich Zajicek handed over 1:50,000 scale geological maps to Deputy Head of the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) D.Uuriintuya.

In 2013, the MRA and Czech Geological Survey established an agreement to create 1:50,000 scale geological maps of Munkhkhairkhan, Zereg and Mankhan soums of Khovd Province and conduct general research funded by non-refundable aid from the Government of the Czech Republic.

Ambassador Grollova said, "Czech geologists have been cooperating with the MRA for many years. In collaboration, they have made geological maps for certain territories. A total of 600,000 EUR was spent on making the geological maps in three soums of Khovd Province. The project was completed within three years, and today we are delivering the results to the MRA. We hope to cooperate on more projects in the future."

The MRA reported that Mongolia now has geological maps for around 40 percent of its territory.

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D.Delgertsogt: After cashmere and mining, energy

By D. Bekhbayar

July 6 (Mongolian Economy) Our magazine sat down with the State Secretary of the Ministry of Energy, D.Delgertsogt.

- You say the management of the energy sector's plants and companies must consist of professionals. Can the current executives of plants be considered professionals?

- Energy production, transmission and distribution are professional jobs. What is produced in power plants reach consumers through large distribution lines and a professional process. In this sense, real professionals do indeed this work. On the other hand, the sector's physical capital has depreciated and become obsolete. Thermal Power Plant IV(TPP-IV) is over 30 years old. Knowing how to work with its outdated equipment has almost become a specialised occupation in itself. The professionals know about possible failures and able are to diagnose and fixit. The plant's operations have been highly dependent on technical experts and engineers.

On one hand, I am proud of the employees, but on the other hand, there is elevated risk and potential for failures. Hence, there is a need to introduce equipment of international standards that will work reliably with minimal disruptions. That would also lessen the need for manpower. We should move in that direction, but such upgrades would require significant investment. Although there have been big developments in recent years, there is a dire need to change the system. It will take time, and we cannot cut off the power while waiting.

I believe that certain measures are progressing well. TPP-V, the Tavantolgoi Power Plant and the Baganuur and Eg River hydropower plants are being discussed. There will be major changes in the energy sector when these plants start working. It will be 3-5 years until just one or two of these plants enter into operation, but until then, we should focus on the reliability of the current sources of energy.

There are 26 companies licensed to produce, transmit and distribute energy. Professional managers and professional staff operate these companies.

- How are the operations of those plants? Furthermore, what policies are being implemented in order to make state-owned firms operate like regular businesses?

- In recent years, installed generating capacity has increased by 20 percent. Transmission, distribution and heating lines were also expanded. All of these are interrelated. It means that the reliability of power and heating supplies has drastically improved. Something unique about its economic and financial system is it is a single-buyer system. In other words, the whole energy sector is like one big company. TPP-IV and TPP-III would seem like separate companies, but these two companies are heavily interdependent. It will produce energy and heat and will transmit and distribute it. There would be no transmission or distribution if there were no production and vice versa. However, TPP-IV cannot be compared to TP-II, even though it has the same model of procurement.

Dornod and Erdenet need a plant. Thus, it is an integrated system which compensates the good and bad. Today state-owned enterprises are being operated as joint stock companies. It is a step towards making them operate like a company, by forecasting results and improving governance and capacity. It was decided that 30 percent of energy companies would be privatised. People have this understanding that doing so means companies can be restructured and operate more successfully. However, this is not necessarily the case for all energy companies, because every country's energy sector is tightly regulated. The state policy measures to privatise a certain percentage of the companies are meant to create competition, increase efficiency and improve the utilisation of assets.

- How is human capital in the sector?

- Today, 12-13 thousand people are working in our sector. The majority of them are professional staff. There are engineers who were trained in the former Soviet Union. Today, there are hundreds of students studying at the Mongolian University of Science and Technology's School of Energy, with which the Ministry of Energy closely cooperates. Many future engineering and technical professionals are also pursuing studies in developed countries. When big projects and programmes start to be implemented in the future, human resources policies to prepare and train the staff will accompany them.

- How do you see the future of the energy sector's development? What issues need to be addressed, and what trends do you foresee?

- We need to look at the global trend. Domestic consumption is not that high, but we have vast resources of primary energy raw materials such as coal, gas, solar, hydro and wind energy. Nowadays, most nations have an aim to reduce coal consumption. The main issue to focus is the reliable supply of domestic energy. I see the future of the sector brightly. Not only are we in the middle of two giant energy consumers, but we also have the possibility to supply unmet demand in Northeast Asia. This is why regional integration is important. There are major initiatives in which Mongolia is involved, such as Gobitec and the Asian Super Grid. Last March, China launched an initiative to establish a global energy network. Energy policies and technology are rapidly changing.

Primary raw materials of energy and distribution of resources vary for each country. We have an opportunity to develop the country in a short time by producing finished products and exporting them. There is no need for a customs and tax policy on the export of energy. Regarding projects like OT and TT, people are worried that the coal, gold and copper will be finished without much use. This is not a concern when it comes to energy. Electricity passes through the border via high-tech lines, and money comes into the budget; it is simple as that. I would like to say that we are nearing the day when, like cashmere and mining, energy becomes an export brand of Mongolia.

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"The Fashion Show": Four Designers on One Stage

July 7 (news.mn) For the first time in Mongolia, four well-known designers will be presenting their collections on one stage. The event is called "Fashion Show" and will be held 8th July. Designers from Michel & Amazonka, Queen Fashion House, Monalun and Muse Art House will unveil their 2017 summer & autumn collections. Many top models and singers will be participating in "Fashion Show". Tickets will be limited.

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Fashion designer A.Tuvshinzaya targets Chinese market

July 5 (UB Post) Best Young Designer award winner of Mongolia's biggest fashion event, Goyol Festival, E.Tuvshinzaya released her summer collection in China on July 1.

Her designs are noted for their distinct Mongolian traditional styles and feature wide variety of traditional patterns.

Winner of Miss Mongolia 2013, and participants of Miss World 2015 N.Anu wore E.Tuvshinzaya's designs and played in the collection's commercial.

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Mongolia's online cinema MIYE.mn opens

Ulaanbaatar, July 6 (MONTSAME) Internet Cinema WWW.MIYE.MN has started streaming Mongolian video contents, including TV shows, movies, short films and documentaries, with high definition.

At the official opening ceremony of the website on July 5, the founder A.Miyegombo explained that the objective is satisfying the needs of Mongolians living and studying abroad.

The website has been operating since last May, while advertising Mongolian-made contents to the world.

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Ulaanbaatar Businesswomen Center opens

Ulaanbaatar, July 6 (MONTSAME) Ulaanbaatar's first  Businesswomen Center opened Tuesday on the first floor of the Capital City Administration Building Number 4, the Asia Foundation website published.

The center welcomes new and existing female business owners to avail of the center's business, marketing, and select financial support services. This center is being established under a three-year pilot Women's Business Center and Incubator Project, funded by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and implemented by The Asia Foundation jointly with the City Municipality and other partners including Development Solutions, Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Golomt Bank and Golomt Securities LLC.

Women in Ulaanbaatar continue to face a range of cultural, financial, and legal barriers to their ability to start and grow businesses. In response, The Asia Foundation aims to foster women's entrepreneurship, improve gender equality in the business sector, while also boosting economic growth and supporting the city's small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector.

The center is expected to support a rising number of women-owned businesses, and provide an enabling environment for women entrepreneurs to receive high-quality business support services. WBC clients will have access to facilities, including computers, high-speed internet, and meeting and co-working space. The center will be open Mondays to Saturdays from 9.00-21.00 hours during summer and 9.00-19.00 hours during winter.

In addition, the center offers comprehensive business services such as business information, regular business training, targeted consulting services including financial consulting and training, incubation, mentoring, networking events and workshops. These services will be provided through collaboration with a number of local partners.

The center will support the WBC Project's goal to increase the contribution of women's entrepreneurship to the urban economy in Mongolia. The main impacts of this project are to promote gender equality, increase job creation, contribute to women economic empowerment, and support the Ulaanbaatar Economic Development Strategy, particularly the aim to create a better enabling environment for SMEs.

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Trade agency urges enhance energy cooperation with Mongolia

SEOUL, July 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Mongolia must work to enhance their economic cooperation, especially in the energy and natural resources sector, to help ensure the countries' joint development, a trade promotion agency said Thursday.

In a report, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency or KOTRA insisted now was the right time for South Korea to boost its investment in the East Asian country as Mongolia is increasingly opening up its energy market in the face of a prolonged slump.

"Mongolia is a high-risk market that has also been struggling with a long economic slump," the report said, adding the country's economy was expected to grow 0.4 percent this year.

Against such a backdrop, the country is going all out to develop its rich resources market, it noted.

"The countries must boost their bilateral cooperation in the energy, natural resources, manufacturing, transportation and infrastructure sectors before anything," the report said.

In 2015, bilateral trade between the two countries came to US$300 million, while South Korea was Mongolia's third largest trade partner in 2014.

However, South Korean investment in Mongolia only accounted for 2.7 percent of the total, according to the report.

"There countries still need to improve their economic compatibility, but there are many areas they can work together for joint development and co-prosperity," it said.

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Frontier Markets: Will The Mongolian Election Make A Difference?

By Peter Kohli, CEO of DMS Funds

July 7 (NASDAQ) It was an old fashioned blowout. Not even close. The Mongolian election shocked everyone, from pundits who have more degrees than a thermometer to mere mortals like me. No one predicted such a lopsided result. Indications leading right up to the eve of the election were that it was too close to call. But when the votes were counted, the Mongolian's People's Party (MPP) won a super majority in parliament by taking 65 seats out of 76. Of course, this has been taken, maybe a little unfairly, as a massive repudiation of the current Democratic Party and its leader, Prime Minister Chimediin Saikhanbileg, who was also further humiliated by losing his own seat.

I wrote an article in March on this website about Mongolia in which I suggested that if the ruling party didn't win the election, then foreign investors should look elsewhere in the developing world. Was I right in my call? If so, I will celebrate with a steak, and if I'm wrong I will confine myself to eating vegetarian for one week.

The Democratic Party made some major errors that cost them dearly in the realm of FDI. One was taking aim at Rio Tinto, the Anglo American mining company, with regards to the Oyu Tolgoi mine. That move spooked foreign investors and the flow of money all but dried up.

But when Saikhanbileg came to power as Prime Minister, he realized the errors that had been made and set about correcting them. He made a high profile visit to the U.S. where he met not only with politicians in Washington, but also with the investment banking community in New York. Additionally, there was a high profile visit from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who pledged $1 billion for infrastructure construction.

Mongolia has also been very reliant on China for exports, and new markets need to be opened so that they can give themselves some immunity against that risk. It is essentially a commodity exporting nation and has suffered because of a downturn in the global economy.

However, as a result of the inroads Saikhanbileg has made, FDI has picked up and GDP growth rose in the first quarter of 2016. So it was my opinion that the ruling party would be given the benefit of the doubt and be reelected. However, it appears that too much damage was done to the psyche of the Mongolian electorate, and whatever changes were made were a little too late.

So the question is, will the new government make a difference? Well, it depends if the incoming government reverts to its center-left ideology. If it does, then I recommend investors stay clear, and what I said in my March article would remain as my investment philosophy. Only time will tell. So for now, other countries in that neighborhood such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines would be a better bet. And I will keep eating steak until I've been proved wrong.

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Ulaanbaatar

Batbold Sundui becomes new Governor of Capital City and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar city

July 7 (gogo.mn) Citizens' representative khural held it's first plenary session on July 6, 2016.

S.Batbold was nominated as the new governor of capital city and mayor of ub city and his credential was sent Prime Minister of Mongolia for approval.

Prime minister issued a decree on July 6, 2016, approving the appointment of S.Batbold as the governor of capital city and mayor of ulaanbaatar city. 

S.Batbold today visited governor's office and received the governor's seal from his predecessor, 31st Mayor of Ub city E.Bat-Uul.

At the presenting ceremony, cabinet secretariat of government of Mongolia S.Bayartsogt read prime minister's decree and former mayor E.Bat-Uul informed him on some of the significant developments, budgets of the city.

New governor of capital city and mayor of Ulaanbaatr city S.Batbold said: Public service must continue nonstop. We have lots of work waiting ahead of us, organizing Naadam and hosting ASEM Summit. Therefore, we must not rest and lose any moment. May our capital Ulaanbaatar city continue to prosper and develop.

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Related:

New Mayor of Ulaanbaatar receives sealMontsame, July 7

 

Speaker M.Enkhbold receives new UB leaders

July 7 (news.mn) Today (7th July), the new Parliamentary Speaker, M.Enkhbold, met S.Batbold, the newly-appointed city mayor and D.Amarbayasgalan, head of the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) Group at the Citizens' Representative Council (Hural) of Ulaanbaatar. The Speaker congratulated the new leaders of the capital city and wished them success in their job.

As a result of the last month's elections, the MPP won 34 seats at the City Council, and the Democratic Party (DP) -11 seats.

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UB Citizens' Khural presidium appointed

Ulaanbaatar, July 6 (MONTSAME) At the first meeting of the freshly assembled Citizens' Representatives Khural of the Capital city (council), members of its presidium were elected.

Majority of the Khural members backed MPP (Mongolian People's Party) group's proposal on setting the number of presidium members at 11.

As a result of the polling, MPP takes 9 nine seats, whereas the Democratic party secured 2 seats in the presidium.

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Diplomacy

Mongolians attend Montreal Canada Day Parade

Ulaanbaatar, July 6 (MONTSAME) Mongolians living in Canadian Montreal demonstrated their culture at the annual Montreal Canada Day Parade held on July 1.

Annual since 1977 just months after the separatist political party, Le Parti Quebecois, first came to power back in November 1976, this event involves multinational people, organizations and institutions in order to promote their culture, national clothes, arts and to strengthen people's ties, understanding and solidarity.

As being a country of multination, Canada, its government, states and cities always support such measures for solidarity. Famous people and officials from 72 organizations such as Stephane Dion, the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs; Denis Coderre, the Mayor of Montreal; and other officials attended the parade. Apart from Mongolia, it also attracted 40 thousand participants from Japan, China, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines, Iran, the Republic of Ireland, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Greece and Armenia.

The Mongolia-Canada Cultural Society, the Embassy of Mongolia in Canada and Mongolians in Quebec presented their national costumes and traditional songs and music.

As of today, some 5,300 Mongolians are residing in Canada, and over 200 of them are living in Montreal.

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North Korea's Lucrative Labor Exports Come Under Pressure

Rights groups say workers abroad raise hundreds of millions of dollars for Kim Jong Un's regime

By ALASTAIR GALE

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, July 7 (WSJ)—Across this capital city, more than 1,000 North Koreans are working in factories, construction sites, restaurants and medical clinics, helping to keep money flowing to the regime at home.

Activists say they are part of the human-rights crisis in North Korea that prompted the U.S. on Wednesday to personally sanction leader Kim Jong Un for the first time.

Alongside Pyongyang's repressive rule and network of prison camps, human-rights activists point to the workers it sends abroad, many of whom they say toil under slave-like conditions.

Wages are paid directly to North Korean officials, raising hundreds of millions of dollars each year for the state, according to estimates by human-rights groups.

Attention to the roughly 50,000 North Koreans working abroad has risen as the U.S. and others try to apply financial pressure to force the regime to negotiate over its advancing nuclear and missile program.

An executive order from President Barack Obama in March blacklisted any person connected to the export of workers from North Korea.

In its annual report on human trafficking, the State Department included North Korea's labor exports among its reasons for keeping the country at the lowest ranking on the global survey.

Harsh working conditions, appropriation of wages and lack of freedom of movement amount to a system of forced labor, it said.

A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman called the allegations in the June 30 report fabrications, according to state media.

Most North Koreans working abroad are in construction, factory or other blue-collar jobs in China, Russia and the Middle East. Mongolia, which has historically close ties to North Korea, has an agreement with Pyongyang to take up to around 3,000 workers, with many in Ulaanbaatar, a city of 1.3 million.

North Koreans are hard-working and cheap to hire, said a labor broker for construction companies in Ulaanbaatar. He said North Koreans typically earn around $700 a month but receive around $150-$200, with the rest withheld by their government. Human-rights researchers cite similar figures.

One North Korean construction worker who moved to Mongolia in 2011 said he worked 12 to 14 hours each day. He said his pay had been reduced due to an economic downswing and he hadn't been able to send any money to his wife and daughter in Pyongyang for a year.

Some North Korean workers found life hard in Mongolia, he said. But he said he hoped for another foreign posting after the end of his contract this year because of the relative freedom compared with life back home.

The International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency, has raised concerns with Mongolia about the rights of North Korean workers, says Tim De Meyer, ILO country representative for Mongolia. 

While the government and businesses have been receptive, there has been little noticeable improvement, he said.

The Mongolian Foreign Ministry didn't respond to requests to comment.

U.S. and South Korean diplomats say they also have raised concerns about North Korea's export of workers, but add it isn't easy to persuade other countries to crack down.

Some North Koreans in Mongolia work in factories producing cashmere garments for export and others in three restaurants run by the North Korean government in the center of Ulaanbaatar.

Many of their customers are South Korean tourists, although Seoul recently advised its citizens not to eat there as it joins the U.S. in trying to squeeze Pyongyang's finances.

Two North Korean medical clinics operate in Ulaanbaatar, offering basic consultations and treatment such as acupuncture and massage for around $10-$20. The head doctor at one clinic, which had five other doctors, said he first came when it opened in 2004, and now was on his second five-year posting from the North Korean Health Ministry. The second clinic opened in April.

After diagnosing a patient with a liver ailment, he recommended a $100 course of injections with medication that North Korean state media says can also be used to treat viral diseases such as Ebola and AIDS. "Yes, it really works," he said.

The system of sending medical professionals overseas echoes a program used by Cuba for decades to raise cash and trade services for oil. South Korea's intelligence service estimates there are around 1,250 North Korean doctors and nurses working abroad, most of them in Africa.

Go Myong-hyun, the co-author of a study into North Korea's overseas workers based at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, a Seoul think tank, said that doctors also provide North Korea with soft-power influence that may be beneficial in securing trade or arms deals.

North Korea has had close ties with several African countries that have included trade in military hardware. South Korea has targeted those links in recent months, including during a visit by President Park Geun-hye to Africa in May. Uganda, one of North Korea's closest allies, said it would end all military cooperation with Pyongyang after Ms. Park's visit.

Early Friday local time, North Korea's foreign ministry called the new U.S. sanctions "the worst hostility and an open declaration of war." It said all channels of contact would be cut off unless Washington retracts them, and threatened additional but unspecified countermeasures.

North Korea's ruling family are treated as quasi-deities at home and criticism of the leadership is a taboo.

The new sanctions were welcomed by South Korea and human-rights advocates.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, said the U.S. was "leading the international community to send a clear message to mid-level North Korean officials that obeying orders to violate rights could have very negative consequences for them."

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Health, Education

Taiwan doctor on medical exchange trip in Mongolia

TAIPEI, Taiwan, July 7 (CAN) -- National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) Superintendent Ho Hong-nerng is currently visiting Mongolia to promote medical exchanges between Taiwan and Mongolia, an NTHU spokesman said Wednesday. 

Ho and Ts. Tumur-Ochir, head of the Third Central State Hospital in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar, co-hosted a ceremony to mark the initiation of an annual Taiwan-Mongolia medical exchange program at the Ulaanbaatar hospital.

As part of the NTUH-HOPE Taiwan-Mongolia Medical Exchange Program that was launched in 2009, NTUH began helping to train physicians from Mongolia and sending medical professionals there between June and September every year since 2010 to give clinical practice guidelines and help to provide medical treatment, according to the spokesman.

Under the cooperation program, around 80 physicians from Mongolia have received training at NTUH, while about 50 NTUH doctors have visited Mongolia to participate in the program.

Ho also attended an academic seminar at the Third Central State Hospital that day. The following day, he signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation with the Mongolian hospital.

While in Mongolia, Ho will also visit other hospitals with cooperative ties with NTUH, including Mongolia's State Second Central Hospital, and will meet with important medical professionals.

Taiwan's representative to Mongolia, Huang Kuo-jung, who also attended the ceremony, said the medical exchange program has not only helped enhance medical standards and improve medical care in Mongolia, but has also demonstrated Taiwan's role as a major contributor of humanitarian aid in the world, according to the spokesman.

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Culture, Society

Railbus to serve from Dund gol station to Khui doloo khudag during Naadam

July 7 (gogo.mn) Transportation routes during the Mongol Naadam festival.

  • On July 11-12, 159 buses in 24 routes will run from east and north areas to Dunjingarav Market through Olympic street and Namiyanju street
  • 55 buses in 8 routes will run from west and south areas to Misheel expo centre
  • Also Dunjingarav - Central Stadium route will have 15 service bus; Dund gol station - Central Stadium will have 3 buses with 3-5 minutes return time, serving free-of-charge to Naadam visitors
  • 20 buses will serve in route to Khu doloo khudag from bus station in Mahatma Gandhi street behind the Central stadium on July 11-12; and from Mongolian National University of Education (MNUE) on July 13; also 20 microbuses will run from 3rd, 4th khoroolol, 7 buudal, 5 shar, XMK and "Officers' Palace" bus stations.
  • RAILBUS will serve in Khui doloo khudag route from Dundjingarav Market on July 10-14. While 5 buses will serve free-of-charge from Davaa Urtuu train station to horse racing field. 
  • Taxis will serve in around six stops near central stadium
  • 702 buses are to run in public transportation during Naadam festival

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Naadam festival tickets available on sale starting today

July 7 (gogo.mn) Naadam festival to commemorate 2225th anniversary of statehood, 810th anniversary of Great Mongolian Empire, 95th anniversary of the People's Revolution will be held on July 7-12.

Naadam festival tickets are available for sale at Central Palace of Culture, Wrestling Palace starting today, July 7.

Tickets' price range from 16 - 24 thousand tugrug depending on seats, and tickets for tourists cost $25. Tourists' ticket price has been the same since 2011.

Naadam festival will take place on July 11, 12 and 13.

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Tickets for the National Naadam Festival now availablenews.mn, July 7

 

Naadam starts with Uriankhai Archery

July 7 (news.mn) The Mongolian national 'Eriin 3 Naadam' - which means the three manly games - starts today (7th July) with the Uriankhai Archery competition. The Buryat archery competition will be held Tomorrow (8th July). Mongolians compete in three categories: Khalh, Buryat and Uriankhai, which have differences in the bows and arrows used, as well as the distance of the target. This year Mongolians are marking the 95th anniversary of the People's Revolution and the 810th anniversary of establishment of the Great Mongolian State by Chinggis Khan.

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Public restaurants, dining place, bar and cafe work schedule during Naadam holiday

July 7 (gogo.mn) Food production services, public restaurants, and bar, cafe, dining places will work according to their working hours on July 10.

But on July 11-12, public places will be closed down because it's a public holiday and resume their normal working hours on July 13. 

As for special I class restaurant, factories, and dining places within organizations, they will abide the respective organizations working hours.

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Great Naadam Festival: Mongolian Horse Races

July 7 (gogo.mn) Mongolian horse racing is unique as it deeply reflects the nomadic culture and tests the Mongolian sturdy steeds in nature. The origin of the Mongol horse races starts thousands of years ago when the Mongol nomadic tribes competed with each other to see whose horses are the best from time to time. Hence, the nomads have perfected their techniques of horse training/racing and have passed the tacit knowledge from father to son over the centuries, so that the beautiful tradition still lives on. 

The Mongol style of horse training and racing commences with breeding as the fundament, which is nearly the half of the work. Legend says that some renowned horse trainers even used wild horse stallions to refine their own special horse breed in the olden days. The next step is selecting the race horses, trainers carefully hand-pick their steeds based on the horse physical features (and of course, the origin!). The Mongol horse trainers divide horses into several subgroups such as wolf-horse, moose-horse etc, and then each of the subgroups requires a different type of training. Nowadays, some trainers are mixing the pure Mongol breed with English, Arab and other breeds, and the Federation of Mongolian Horse Racing Sport and Trainers decided to organise separate races for the mixed breeds.

Race horses are trained from colt age, and racing distance varies for different age groups (depends on the season too). Horse racing venue is always the open steppes that Mongolia is famous for.  And race horses first get registered at a spot then go to the starting line (which is some 10-25km depending on the horse ages), and finally starts from there to the finishing line – so in fact, the racing distance is doubled. Mongolian horses might look small in size but they have amazing stamina and are greatly strong, therefore, good for long distance rides. 

Interestingly, the Mongolian horse jockeys are young boys and girls often aged between 5-12 years old, and today it's causing controversy due to child right issues. Therefore, now there are regulations stating that all jockeys must be insured, and are required to wear riding helmets.  

Great Naadam Festival 2016 horse racing schedule:

Dates

Timing:

Event

Venue

10 July:

 

08:00-11:00     

4 y/o (khyazaalan) horse races

Khui Doloon Khudag

14:00-16:20

3 y/o (shudlen) horse races

11 July

08:00-11:40

Stallion races

Khui Doloon Khudag

14:00-17:00

Adult horse races

12 July

07:00-09:20

5 y/o (soyolon) horse races

Khui Doloon Khudag

10:30-12:30

2 y/o (daaga) races

Prepared exclusively for GoGo Travel by Zola 

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N.Naranbaatar: This year's Naadam festival will take you through four historical eras of Mongolia

July 6 (gogo.mn) Director of National Academic Drama Theatre, State Honored N.Naranbaatar has been selected to direct and produce this years Naadam festival.

He briefly give Naadam visitors some insights on what to expect from this years festival.

N.Naranbaatar: "Mongolia has great and rich history. Spending lot of money doesn't necessarily mean the festival will be amazing. Since our economy is in slump, we have no other choice but to limit our budget and be resourceful.

Our ancestors had great tradition, customs that we should still follow and value today. In the old days, Mongolians valued water like one's eyes, they never washed their head in river, and never wasted any water.

So this year's Naadam will take visitors through four historical eras of Mongolia -- starting from Hunn era, the Great Chinggis Khaan era, Bogd khaan era and People's revolution era. The main idea of this year's Naadam festival is try to give people "what will we do without water, and how important water is to our lives". Let's stop here because it is no fun to reveal everything before the festival. You should come and see what we have for you."

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Mongol Huushuur Festival 2016

July 7 (gogo.mn) In scope of advertising and promoting traditional Mongolian food to foreign delegations and tourists, "Mongol Huushuur Festival 2016" will be organized on July 11-12.

The festivial is co-organized by Ub city governor's office, district governor's offices and Mongolian Cooks Association at the Central Stadium.

Also "Most tasty huushuur" poll, artists' plays, and "Who can eat more huushuur", "Who can make most huushuur" competitions, and quiz entertainment events will be held among naadamers as well.

Owners and entities running good business will be nominated and awarded in "Most special huushuur", "Most tasty huushuur", and "Most clean tent" nominations.

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Otgontenger Mountain worshipping to be held on July 19

Ulaanbaatar, July 6 (MONTSAME) The sixth official state worship for the Otgontenger Mountain, the summit (4008 meters) of Khangai Mountains conquering northwestern region of Mongolia, is being held July 19. The sacred mountain's "Tengri (Deity) Worship" takes place every five years.

During the worshipping ceremonies, killing animals and use of alcoholic beverages are tabued. The surrounding areas of the mountain will be cleaned and rehabilitated before and after the ceremonies, say the Zavkhan Province authorities.

Otgontenger ("youngest sky" in Mongolian) is the highest peak in the Khangai Mountains. Its summit is currently calculated to reach 4,008 meters above sea level (some earlier topographic maps record a maximum elevation of 4,021 m). The mountain peak is the only peak in the Khangai range that is capped with a permanent glacier.

The Government of Mongolia has named Otgontenger one of the "state worshipped" mountains in 1992.

The people of Mongolia have started worshipping the mountain long before the establishment of the Great Mongol Empire. A legend says that the name Otgontenger, "youngest sky", derived when the cavalcade of Mongol Empire, after the passing of Chinggis Khaan in 1227, brought the great emperor's remains to the snow-capped mountain top to cool it off, on the way to Burkhan Khaldun from Tangut. Otgontenger was the "last Tengri" to see off Chinggis Khaan the last.

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National museum showcases horse culture from Hun Empire until today

Ulaanbaatar, July 6 (MONTSAME) "Mongolian horse heritage and culture" exhibition opened today (July 6) at the National Museum of Mongolia. The exhibition boasts more than a hundred artifacts, showcasing history of horse culture, origins, designation and instructions to instruments, unique styles of ceremonial saddles and bridles.

Among the treasuries are a horse head from 2,000 years ago, saddle and other accessories found in Buutsagaan soum of Bayankhongor province, which have been enlisted as the explicit cultural heritage, and horse accessories dating back to late 19th-early 20th centuries.

Instruments and gears used by the nomadic nations in the animal husbandry have been under constant process of sophistication for many centuries. Gears such as bridles, halters, saddles, hobbles, cruppers, whips, collars, scrapers and brushes, are used while accessorizing horses. Great number of horse gears, namely, silver and bone bits, rings of the bits made of animal bones, breast straps, bronze-studded saddles and accessories are found in tombs of Hun Empire.

The most ancient evidence of Mongolians' use of bridles and saddles date back to the establishment of Hun Empire, which celebrates the 2225th anniversary this year.

The exhibition will last until September 4, 2016.

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Mongolian reindeer herders – in pictures

July 6 (The Guardian) One of the last remaining nomadic groups of reindeer herders has been tracked down and captured on camera in northern Mongolia. Japanese photographer Madoka Ikegami visited the Khövsgöl province last year in order to gain her amazing images of the Tsaatan community.

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Nature, Environment

State emergency commission meets on hot weather

Ulaanbaatar, July 7 (MONTSAME) At its meeting held Wednesday, the State Emergency Commission (SEC) discussed some current issues.

According to weather forecast, air temperature will reach up to 38 degrees in Celsius on July 7-10, and rain is expected on the days of the Naadam festival. From July 13, the air temperature will drop to 21C, and heavy rain with thunderstorms are expected as well, said D.Tsogt-Ochir, head of the Authority of Meteorology and Hydrology.

S.Enkhbold, Department head of the Ministry of Health and Sport informed of works and results of an emergency working group responsible for analyzing a measles spread, measures for preventing and combating the disease.

Colonel M.Enkh-Amar, the secretary of the SEC reported about works done by the commission in first half of this year and financing for planned works.

Ts.Oyunbaatar, the Deputy Premier and head of the SEC pointed out the working group has been disbanded, and then tasked officials to continue vaccination works. Moreover, orders were given to the officials to start earlier winter preparation works.

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Int'l Maritime Rescue Federation chairman visiting Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, July 6 (MONTSAME) Chief of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Brigadier-General T.Badral received Wednesday visiting Udo Helge Fox, Chairman of the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF).

The NEMA head briefed about the present state of under-water rescue service and skills of rescuers, and expressed a willingness to cooperate with the IMRF in enhancing the potential of rescuing works in Mongolia.

He invited the IMRF chairman to get familiar with activities of the emergency department of Khovsgol aimag. This aimag is hosting these days joint exercises on water accidents and rescue operations co-organized by the IMRF and the Maritime Division of the Mongolian Ministry of Road and Transportation.

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Breeding populations of white-naped cranes on decline in Eastern Mongolian stronghold

July 7 (Phys.org) A new study by WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) says that breeding populations of white-naped cranes have decreased by 60 percent in Ulz River basin - an important stronghold for the species in Eastern Mongolia.

Survey data from 2000-2001 recorded 42 territorial pairs while the most recent data by WCS documented only 17 pairs.

Eastern Mongolia supports one of the world's most important breeding populations of the white-naped crane, a species classified by the IUCN as "vulnerable," with an estimated total population at 5,500-6,500 individuals. Among the threats to the birds are habitat loss and fire.

Between 2010-2011, WCS visited a 270-kilometer (167-mile) section of the Ulz River basin where (Bradter et al, 2005) surveyed in 2000 and 2001. Additionally, during the same period, WCS extended the survey to more historic crane breeding sites with locations provided by from the Mongolian Academy of Sciences. Those sites are Kherlen River, Onon River catchment and the Khurkh Khuiten Ramsar site.

"Wetland ecosystems across the steppe grasslands of Eastern Mongolia represent critically important breeding habitat for white-naped cranes," said Martin Gilbert, WCS Wildlife Veterinarian. "By revisiting areas surveyed by other researchers ten years earlier, we were able to assess how numbers had changed during a decade of severe drought."

Despite standing over 4 feet tall, the researchers found that the cranes were surprisingly difficult to observe, even in the open habitat of the Mongolian steppe. After observing 234 cranes, the scientists used occupancy modelling to estimate 867-1017 cranes inhabit the survey area, suggesting that Mongolia supports almost half of the world's breeding white-naped cranes.

In the ten years between surveys, using spatial modeling, the scientists noted that an extended drought affected Eastern Mongolia's wetland systems. Additionally, models performed by the scientists indicated that the birds prefer areas of tall wet vegetation and low grazing pressure (to allow for nesting). Several lakes and whole stretches of river that supported cranes in 2001 were completely dry by the 2010 survey, and unsuitable for breeding cranes.

Gilbert said, "Although white-naped cranes may be one of the most visible inhabitants of Mongolia's wetland communities, their habitat is critical for a whole suite of highly threatened flora and fauna. The declining numbers of cranes is alarming, and may signal wider problems, affecting many more species."The study findings, combined with declines noted in wintering counts in China, "do strongly suggest that global white-naped crane populations may indeed be in decline."

Said WCS Mongolia Country Program Director Enkhtuvshin Shiilegdamba: "These shrinking habitats represent a lifeline for nomadic herding communities and their livestock. Management of remaining water resources will become increasingly important as climate change progresses. Management decisions must be made with engagement of local stakeholders and be well informed by sound science if we are to meet the needs of both the cranes and local people in the decades ahead. Some of the wetland habitats are well managed and protected by herder communities who have been an active part of the WCS project work. This practice needs to be extended to other communities that share the landscape with cranes."

More information: MARTIN GILBERT et al. Declining breeding populations of White-naped Cranes in Eastern Mongolia, a ten-year update, Bird Conservation International (2016). DOI: 10.1017/S0959270915000301 

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"My dream is to conserve all the living things on earth"

July 6 (Snow Leopard Trust) 40 local school kids had an unforgettable nature experience this past month in the heart of the newly designated Tost Nature Reserve in Mongolia. They spent 5 days each in an outdoor eco-camp, where they playfully learned about the plants and animals around them.

At first glance, Mongolia's Tost Mountains are a harsh, barren landscape. But look closer and you discover an incredibly diverse and rich ecosystem, with dozens of plant species and animals of all sizes – and the majestic snow leopard as the region's most iconic species. This spring, after years of hard work by our Mongolian team and other environment advocates, Mongolia's parliament has declared this area a State Nature Reserve.

In order to foster an appreciation and a sense of stewardship for this environment among local school kids, we invite a total of 40 sixth and seventh graders from schools in the area each year to participate in 'eco-camp' adventures; five-day camping trips into snow leopard habitat where the kids engage with nature in a playful, hands-on manner.

Our eco-camps in Mongolia are supported by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, Disney Conservation Fund, Partnership Funding by Fondation Segre, managed by Whitley Fund for Nature, and dozens of individual donors who gave to the camps through our new funding platform for priority projects, fund.snowleopard.org. Thank you very much.

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Sports

5-0 N.Togstsogt to have next fight this month

Ulaanbaatar, July 6 (MONTSAME) Professional boxer and Olympic silver medalist N.Togstsogt nicknamed "King Tug" will have his next fight on July 15 in the Horseshoe Tunica Hotel & Casino, Mississippi, USA.

His opponent is 38-year old Rafael Vazquez nicknamed "Dynamite" from Puerto Rico. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York, Vazquez has made 18 bouts so far. He gained 16 wins, of which 13 were KO.

Started his professional career after the London 2012 Olympics, N.Togstsogt has had five fights all of which are wins of KO. The forthcoming bout will be the very first fight for him with 10 rounds.

The fight of the two boxers will be aired on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 6 pm PT and 9 pm ET.

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Women judokas keep leading IJF rankings

Ulaanbaatar, July 6 (MONTSAME) The International Judo Federation issued the latest rankings of judokas on July 4.

According to the rankings, State Honored Sportswoman and World champion M.Urantsetseg kept her leadership in the women's -48 kg division with 2,834 points. She was followed by Japanese judoka Ami Kondo who collected 2,263 points. An international master of sports, D.Sumiya also maintained a top position in the women's -57 kg category, having 3,071 points.

In the men's -60 kg category, a 2014 World champion, G.Boldbaatar and D.Amartuvshin were ranked in 2nd and 4th places, respectively. D.Tomorkhuleg IMS is still in the 2nd position in the men's -66 kg division, while D.Altansukh IMS advanced to fifth place in the men's -66 category, collecting 1,638 points.

An Olympic bronze medalist S.Nyam-Ochir fell to 14th place in the men's -73kg with 1,174 points, whereas his countryman G.Odbayar kept his 10th place, having 1,384 points in the same division.

N.Dagvasuren IMS went up to ninth place in the men's -81kg category, while L.Otgonbaatar IMS maintained his eighth in the men's -90 kg. An Olympic champion N.Tuvshinbayar also kept his 14th place in the men's -100 kg category.

State Honored Sportswoman Ts.Munkhzaya (woman's 63 kg) held her seventh place with 1,674 points.

As confirmed, Mongolia will compete in the Rio 2016 Olympics with 13 judokas.

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Borussia Dortmund to train Mongolian children

Ulaanbaatar, July 7 (MONTSAME) Delegates of the Borussia Dortmund, one of the top football clubs of the German Bundesliga, are visiting Mongolia these days at the invitation of the Mongolian Airlines company (MIAT) on occasion of the company's 60th anniversary.

While staying in Mongolia, the German team held a friendly match with Mongolian athletes on a pitch of the Mongolian Football Association (MFA). In the German team is Lars Ricken, a former midfielder of the German national team and the Borussia Dortmund, who scored the golden goal against the Juventus at the finals of 1996/97 Champions League.

The MIAT, Borussia Dortmund club and the MFA pursue with their cooperation an ambitious goal to bring Mongolian football sport to the global level and to train world competitive footballers in Mongolia. In this regard, coaches from the Borussia Dortmund will hold training for 60 children, distinguished ones will have continue their training in Germany.

Pursuant to a contract the parties have concluded, the MIAT has decorated its Boeing 737 800 airplane with the Borussia Dortmund logo. The MIAT's logo will be placed on the Signal Iduna Park, home stadium of the Borussia Dortmund as well.

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Art, Entertainment

Mongolian child contortionists stretch for international success

ULAANBAATAR | BY NATALIE THOMAS

July 7 (Reuters) Nine-year-old Mongolian schoolgirl Suvd-Erdene spends four hours a day perfecting the art of doing a head-stand on a pole clenched with her teeth and push-ups without her feet touching the ground.

She and about a dozen team mates are training in a basement in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, to be contortionists, a revered art that Mongolians say was developed in the palace of 13th century warlord and national hero Genghis Khan.

Usually performed by females, the discipline involves twisting and stretching the body to the extreme.

The diminutive Suvd-Erdene makes the moves look easy having completed years of grueling training that began with intensive stretching exercises when she was six.

"I cried when my teacher made me do the stretching exercises, at that time I felt really discouraged," she told Reuters.

The girls are given time off school to train down a drab Ulaanbaatar back street under the guidance of 22-year-old Urangoo, a third generation contortionist.

Urangoo took up training young contortionists after her own hopes of hitting the big time and performing abroad ended when she suffered an injury at the age of 12.

Mongolian contortionists are in high demand and performers may be vaulted into an international career if they are lucky enough to be spotted by scouts from theatrical producers like Cirque du Soleil.

For Suvd-Erdene's team mate Shinezul, becoming a contortionist is also a matter of national pride.

"It's the Mongolian people's dream to introduce Mongolian national culture and art to the whole world, so that's why I want to be the best contortionist in the world," she said. 

Link to article (and video)

 

Mongolian contortionists plan to break Guinness World Records

July 6 (news.mn) Contortion is the well-known part of Mongolian circus culture. Tomorrow (6th of July), everyone is expecting the Guinness World Records to be broken. A special performance will be held on Chinggis Square in which 350 contortionists, from all across the country will participate. Young contortionists from six years of age will perform seven shows.

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Mongolian circus artists win Master award

July 7 (MONTSAME) Circus artists of Mongolia won a prize in the second International Circus Award MASTER which took place on 1st to 5th of July 2016 in Sochi, Russia.

At this prestigious festival, the artists of the Mongolian circus competed with two performances for the Best Performance and the Best trick prizes. Thus, the performance with the name "Nomadic Mongolians" was acknowledged as the Best trick at Circus Award MASTER in 2016, leaving behind 49 best circus performances from other countries. 

With winning the most prestigious in the world circus art prize, Mongolian circus artists presented a gift to the Mongolian circus art on its 75th anniversary, says Mr N.Erdene, the producer and head of Center for Development of Mongolian Circus.

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