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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

[BREAKING: GoM Offering Certain Cash Consideration to Exchange DBM Notes]

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- BREAKING NEWS -

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

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Mogi: name of PDF was named “Khuraldai”. I’m assuming the new notes are being called as such. Lucid Issuer in an email said the Exchange Offer Memorandum is only available for noteholders.

GoM Offering Certain Cash Consideration to Exchange DBM Notes with New Sovereign “Khuraldai” Notes

OFFER TO EXCHANGE GOVERNMENT OF MONGOLIA NOTES FOR UP TO US$580 MILLION OF DEVELOPMENT BANK OF MONGOLIA LLC’s OUTSTANDING 5.75% GUARANTEED NOTES DUE 2017

February 20 (Government of Mongolia) --

 ISIN

Common

Code

Coupon

Maturity

Amount

Outstanding

New Note Description

Exchange Consideration per US$1,000 of Old Notes

XS0755567301

075556730

5.75%

March 21, 2017

US$580,000,000

Notes due

US$1,000 of New Notes plus certain cash consideration (as described in the Exchange Offer Memorandum)

Upon the terms and subject to the conditions set forth in the exchange offer memorandum dated February 20, 2017 (the “Exchange Offer Memorandum”), the Government of Mongolia (the “Government”) is offering to exchange (the “Exchange Offer”) up to US$580 million of Development Bank of Mongolia LLC’s (“DBM”) outstanding 5.75% Guaranteed Notes due 2017 (the “Old Notes”) for the Government’s new debt securities (the “New Notes”). Capitalized terms not otherwise defined herein shall have the same meaning as in the Exchange Offer Memorandum.

THE EXCHANGE OFFER WILL COMMENCE ON FEBRUARY 20, 2017 AND EXPIRE AT 5:00 P.M., CENTRAL EUROPEAN TIME, ON MARCH 1, 2017, (SUCH DATE AND TIME, AS THEY MAY BE EXTENDED OR EARLIER TERMINATED AT THE SOLE DISCRETION OF THE GOVERNMENT, THE “EXCHANGE EXPIRATION DATE”).

Interest on the New Notes will accrue from the Settlement Date and will be payable semi-annually. Old Notes being tendered for exchange may only be submitted in a minimum size of US$200,000. The aggregate principal amount of New Notes to be issued to any holder in the exchange offer will be in a minimum size of US$200,000. As discussed in the Exchange Offer Memorandum, the total principal amount of Old Notes that will be accepted in this exchange offer is equal to US$580 million.

Valid tenders of Old Notes are irrevocable and may not be may not be withdrawn. Instructions in connection with the Exchange Offer are irrevocable. Once you tender Old Notes in the Exchange Offer, you may not withdraw from the Exchange Offer. The Exchange Offer may be amended, modified, terminated, withdrawn or extended. Notice will be provided of any amendments, modifications, withdrawals or extensions as and if required by applicable law.

You must make your own decision whether to tender your Old Notes for exchange in the Exchange Offer. Neither the Government, DBM, the Dealer Managers (as defined herein), the Information and Exchange Agent (as defined herein), nor any other person is making any recommendation as to whether or not you should tender your Old Notes for exchange in the Exchange Offer.

In making your investment decision, you should rely only on the information contained in the Exchange Offer Memorandum.

Copies of the Exchange Offer Memorandum describing the Exchange Offer may be obtained from Lucid Issuer Services Limited (the “Information and Exchange Agent”), at the addresses, website and telephone numbers set forth below.

The Dealer Managers for the Exchange Offer are:

Credit Suisse (Hong Kong) Limited

Level 88, International Commerce Centre

1 Austin Road West

Kowloon

Hong Kong

Telephone: +852 2101 6000

Email: list.ibprojectkhuraldai@credit-suisse.com

J.P. Morgan Securities plc

25 Bank Street

Canary Wharf

London E14 5JP

United Kingdom

Fax: +44 20 3493 1413

The Information and Exchange Agent for the Exchange Offer is:

Lucid Issuer Services Limited

Tankerton Works

12 Argyle Walk

London WC1H 8HA

United Kingdom

For information by telephone: +44 20 7704 0880

Attention: Thomas Choquet / Arlind Bytyqi

Email: mongolia@lucid-is.com

Link to offer

 

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

[BREAKING: GoM offers new sovereign notes to DBM bondholders]

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- BREAKING NEWS -

Sunday, February 19, 2017

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Government of Mongolia Offers to Exchange New Notes for Guaranteed DBM Notes

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, February 19, 2017 (Ministry of Finance) The Government of Mongolia (the "Government") is pleased to announce an exchange offer for the US$580,000,000 5.750% Senior Notes due 2017 issued by Development Bank of Mongolia LLC, which mature on March 21, 2017 (the "DBM Notes").  The exchange offer, which we expect to launch on February 20, 2017, provides existing holders of the DBM Notes the opportunity to exchange such notes for new sovereign bonds directly issued by the Government. We are confident that there will be strong participation in the exchange offer on the back of positive developments for Mongolia and against an improving outlook for commodities prices.

In addition, the Government continues to make progress with discussions involving the IMF and expects an official announcement soon with respect to an IMF-supported economic and financial aid program. We intend to engage the holders of Mongolian government and government-guaranteed debt with a view to improving medium-term financial stability.

Link to release

 

MEDIA COVERAGE OF IMF DEAL

IMF to Loan Mongolia $440 Million as Part of $5.5 Billion Bailout Package

by Michael Kohn

  • Facility will help Mongolia repay $580 million bond due March
  • GDP growth slowed to 1% last year amid commodity price drops

February 19 (Bloomberg) Mongolia reached an initial agreement with the International Monetary Fund for a three-year program that includes a $440 million loan package as part of a $5.5 billion bailout to help the north Asian country with looming debt repayments.

"The Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and bilateral partners including Japan and Korea are expected to provide up to another $3 billion in budget and project support, while the People's Bank of China is expected to extend its 15 yuan billion ($2.2 billion) swap line with the Bank of Mongolia for at least another three years," the IMF said in a statement on Sunday. "The total external financing package will thus be around $5.5 billion."

Economic growth in Mongolia slowed to 1 percent last year as commodity prices fell and growth slowed in China, the main buyer of the nation's copper and coal exports. The country also saw foreign investment collapse after a dispute with Rio Tinto Pl cover the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine.

The Extended Fund Facility (EFF) will support the government's plan to address balance-of-payment pressures and also help the government repay looming debts, including the Development Bank of Mongolia's $580 million bond repayment due in March.

This marks the sixth time since 1990 that the IMF has bailed out Mongolia, the most recent a stand-by agreement in 2009-2010, according to an e-mail from IMF spokesman Keiko Utsunomiya.

Restore Stability

The financing will support a Mongolian program, "which intends to restore economic stability and debt sustainability as well as to create the conditions for strong, sustainable and inclusive growth," according to the IMF statement. The agreement is subject to the confirmation of financing assurances, the completion of prior actions by the authorities, and the approval of the IMF Executive Board. The board is expected to consider Mongolia's request in March.

This is "great news, the market will receive this positively," Dale Choi, head of the research firm Mongolia Metals & Mining, said in an e-mail. It is the "bottom out everyone has been waiting for and the only way is up."

Ahead of the agreement, parliament amended the development bank law, making changes recommended by the IMF. The amendments were designed to depoliticize the bank and include a rule that board members can't have held political office in the past five years.

Central Bank

Mongolia's central bank had $1.3 billion in foreign reserves at the end of December, well below the $4.1 billion it held at the same time in 2012, when money was pouring into Mongolia's mining sector amid the commodities boom. The tugrik fell 20 percent last year, fifth-worst among exotic currencies tracked by Bloomberg.

"While many Mongolian businesses may feel the short-term pressure of a marginal increase in taxes, the successful implementation of the EFF arrangement in Mongolia will stabilize the domestic currency and boost confidence in the banking sector," Bilguun Ankhbayar, Chief Executive Officer of the Mongolian Investment Banking Group, said by e-mail. "This will likely result in increased activity in those economic sectors that have the most competitive advantage."

Foreign exchange reserves should rise to $3.8 billion by the end of the program, according to the IMF statement. By 2019, economic growth is projected to pick up to around 8 percent.

"Fiscal consolidation will leave room for the banking sector, over time, to extend more credit to the private sector, consistent with projected growth. These policies would also put public debt on a declining path over the course of the program," the IMF said.

The country's budget deficit at the end of 2016 tripled to 3.67 trillion tugrik ($1.5 billion), compared to a year earlier, while total external trade dropped 2.3 percent and non-performing loans in the banking system rose 25 percent.

"Attempts to stem the decline through expansionary policies proved ineffective after a few years, and the economy is now stagnating, weighed down by high debt and low foreign-exchange reserves," according to the IMF.

Link to article

Link to list of other articles

 

Mongolia agrees $5.5 billion economic bailout plan with IMF, others

By Terrence Edwards | ULAANBAATAR

February 19 (Reuters) Mongolia has agreed with the International Monetary Fund and other partners for a $5.5 billion economic stabilization package, according to a statement from the IMF on Sunday.

The landlocked nation saw its economy grow at a double-digit annual rate over 2011-2013 as foreign investors rushed in to take advantage of its vast untapped mineral deposits, but it has been hit hard by an economic crisis since 2016 due to government overspending and declining revenues from commodity exports.

To bailout the country - which is now scrambling to avoid missing a $580 million sovereign-guaranteed debt repayment due in March - the Asian Development Bank, World Bank and bilateral partners, including Japan and South Korea, will provide up to $3 billion in aid, the IMF said in its statement.

People's Bank of China will expand a swap line worth 15 billion yuan ($2.19 billion), while the IMF will offer three-year loans worth about $440 million, the latter added.

The bailout plan is pending formal approvals from the IMF board in March, according to the statement.

"Fiscal consolidation is a key priority, as loose fiscal policy in the past was a major driver for Mongolia's current economic difficulties and high debt," said Koshy Mathai, IMF's team leader for the package.

Paving the way for the bailout was a move by the country's lawmakers earlier this month to allow the Development Bank of Mongolia, which issued the $580 million debt that is up for repayment, to act independently of the government.

Under the bailout plan, Mongolia has pledged to implement fiscal reforms for greater budget discipline, maintain a flexible exchange rate and build a stronger regulatory environment for banking and finance.

The president of the Bank of Mongolia, Nadmid Bayartsaikhan, said the central bank would no longer bankroll fiscal policy programs, including a mortgage subsidy one that will now be self-sustaining rather than dependent on additional financing from the central bank.

Bayartsaikhan added that an independent study of the banking sector would be launched to identify weaknesses at institutions and the need for new regulations.

The Mongolian economy grew at 1 percent last year, its slowest pace in seven years, and may slip into recession when austerity measures imposed on the country for a debt bailout are rolled out.

However, the bailout terms will not affect Mongolia's social spending. It plans to subsidize some drug costs and a universal allowance for children will be given to those in need, Finance Minister Battogtokh Choijilsuren told reporters on Sunday.

With these structural changes in place, Mathai of the IMF said Mongolia could look forward to sustainable growth built upon its lucrative mining sector, as well as its growing industries in agriculture and tourism.

"I think we're looking at a pretty good outlook for Mongolia," said Mathai.

Link to article

 

Mongolia reaches $5.5bn IMF deal as debt repayments loom

Deal a relief for mining-dependent country but still needs final approvals

by: Lucy Hornby in Hong Kong and Tom Mitchell in Beijing

February 19 (Financial Times) Mongolia has reached a $5.5bn bailout agreement with the International Monetary Fund just weeks before the country's development bank faced repayments on a $580m bond.

The IMF will provide Mongolia funds totalling $440m, with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Japan and South Korea offering $3bn in preferential loans.

The mining-dependent country has been buffeted by the steep slump in coal, copper and other commodity prices over the past five years. It is now anticipating a recovery in the commodities cycle and new investment in giant mines in the Gobi desert.

Mongolia is in separate negotiations with the Chinese government over a three-year extension of an Rmb15bn ($2.2bn) central bank swap agreement, which has been its largest single source of foreign financing. N. Bayartsaikhan, governor of the Bank of Mongolia, told reporters that China has "agreed in principal" to extend the swap.

Mongolia has sought support from the US, Japan and Europe as part of its "third neighbour" policy to avoid domination by China and Russia.

In November, a Chinese border town raised transit fees on trucks, forcing Rio Tinto to suspend shipments from the massive Oyu Tolgoi mine.

"[Mongolia's] long-run future is promising," the IMF said in a statement. "But in recent years it has been hit hard by the sharp decline of commodity prices and a collapse in foreign direct investment."

The fund projected that economic growth will recover to 8 per cent by 2019 as foreign exchange reserves reach $3.5bn — a level not seen since 2012.

The Bank of Mongolia shocked international markets in August by raising interest rates 450 basis points to 15 per cent. Mongolia's currency, the tughrik, has fallen almost 30 per cent against the dollar since June.

Final approval of the IMF-led package is conditional on Mongolia's parliament approving fiscal discipline measures, including the repeal of a politically popular cash subsidy for all families with children.

"Fiscal consolidation is a key priority as loose fiscal policy was a major driver of Mongolia's current economic difficulties and high debt," the IMF said. It added that budget deficits would be "reduced steadily", but not at the expense of "priority" social spending.

The "staff-level agreement" is also subject to final approval by the IMF's executive board.

The IMF agreement comes a month before a $580m payment is due on a bond issued by the Development Bank of Mongolia. It is the first of several payments over the next year that together amount to about $2bn, or about one-sixth of the country's gross domestic product.

On Sunday the government said it planned to launch an exchange offer this week for the DBM bonds, swapping them for government debt. No maturity for the new bonds was given.

Extending the swap agreement with China — which Mongolia has mostly drawn down at interest rates of about 6 per cent — will allow Mongolia to defer a hefty repayment.

According to people familiar with the bailout negotiations, the ADB intends to lend Mongolia about $300m per year over the next three years in budgetary support. That will replace previous loans of a roughly equivalent amount that primarily went towards infrastructure construction and poverty alleviation programs.

Link to article

 

IMF PRESS RELEASE

IMF Reaches Staff-Level Agreement with Mongolia on Three-Year Extended Fund Facility

End-of-Mission press releases include statements of IMF staff teams that convey preliminary findings after a visit to a country. The views expressed in this statement are those of the IMF staff and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF's Executive Board. Based on the preliminary findings of this mission, staff will prepare a report that, subject to management approval, will be presented to the IMF's Executive Board for discussion and decision.

February 19, 2017 (IMF) A staff team of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) led by Koshy Mathai visited Ulaanbaatar during February 1-19 to continue discussions with the Mongolian authorities on a set of economic policies that could be supported by IMF financial assistance. At the end of the visit, Mr. Mathai made the following statement:

"The Mongolian government and the IMF team have reached staff-level agreement on an economic and financial program to be supported by a three-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF) for SDR 314.505 million (435 percent of quota), or about $440 million. Other international partners also plan to support the government's program: the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank, and bilateral partners including Japan and Korea are together expected to provide up to $3 billion in budget and project support; and the People's Bank of China is expected to extend its RMB 15 billion swap line with the Bank of Mongolia for at least another three years.

"The total external financing package will thus be around $5.5 billion and will support the authorities' "Economic Stabilization Program," which intends to restore economic stability and debt sustainability as well as to create the conditions for strong, sustainable, and inclusive growth, while protecting the most vulnerable citizens.

"This agreement is subject to the confirmation of financing assurances, the completion of prior actions by the authorities, and the approval of the IMF Executive Board. The Board is expected to consider Mongolia's request in March.

"Mongolia is well endowed with mineral resources, strong potential in agriculture and tourism, and a young and dynamic population. Its long-run future is promising, but in recent years it has been hit hard by the sharp decline of commodity prices and a collapse in foreign direct investment (FDI). Attempts to stem the decline through expansionary policies proved ineffective after a few years, and the economy is now stagnating, weighed down by high debt and low foreign-exchange reserves.

"Fiscal consolidation is a key priority, as loose fiscal policy in the past was a major driver of Mongolia's current economic difficulties and high debt. Budget deficits will be reduced steadily, while priority social spending will be maintained: for instance, the savings from better targeting the Child Money Program will be used entirely to increase spending on the food stamp program for the most vulnerable. Also, to boost revenue, the personal income tax will be made more progressive, with rates on only higher-income households increased.

"The Development Bank of Mongolia (DBM) will henceforth operate in an independent, purely commercial manner, as laid out in the recently passed DBM law, and the Bank of Mongolia (BOM) will not engage in additional quasifiscal activity, with the mortgage program now operating essentially as a revolving fund. In addition, the law on concession projects will be reformed, and the public investment program (PIP) will be rationalized and better aligned with national development priorities.

"The authorities will adopt a set of important fiscal reforms to ensure that budget discipline is maintained, building on the existing framework for fiscal responsibility. These include the creation of a Fiscal Council to provide independent budget forecasts and costings of new policy proposals, and provisions to give the government sole authority to determine the total amount of spending in the budget, as well as to require Ministry of Finance approval of any proposals to cabinet with a budgetary cost.

"Monetary policy will remain appropriately tight, given the objective of price stability. Over time, however, as the economy normalizes, it may be appropriate to cut the policy rate if external and inflation indicators permit. The exchange rate will continue to move flexibly, with intervention limited to smoothing excessive volatility and preventing disorderly market conditions. A major priority will be the adoption of a new BOM law to clarify its mandate, strengthen governance, and improve independence.

"Strengthening the banking system is a crucial part of the program, to ensure that the banks can support sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The authorities' first priority is to undertake a comprehensive diagnosis of the banking system to assess institutions' financial soundness and resilience. With the results of this diagnostic in hand, the BOM will engage banks to ensure appropriate restructuring and recapitalization, as necessary. The BOM will complement these actions by strengthening the regulatory and supervisory framework, and government is committed to improving the deposit insurance system. The authorities are also committed to strengthening the regime for Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT).

"The authorities intend directly to boost economic activity and prospects by attracting new investment to major mines, and by implementing an array of structural reforms to promote economic diversification and improve competitiveness, especially in agriculture and tourism. The broad range of reforms envisaged under the program have been developed in close collaboration with the World Bank and ADB.

"The authorities' adjustment and structural reform program, supported by the large package of external financing, is expected to stabilize the economy and lay the basis for sustainable, inclusive, long-run growth. By 2019, growth is projected to pick up to around 8 percent, as economic and financial conditions improve and key mining projects take off. Foreign exchange reserves should rise to a healthy $3.8 billion (above 6 months of imports) by the end of the program, similar to levels seen in 2012, before Mongolia was hit by external shocks. Fiscal consolidation will leave room for the banking sector, over time, to extend more credit to the private sector, consistent with projected growth. These policies would also put public debt on a declining path over the course of the program.

"The government's recently announced plan to engage with its private external creditors to secure financing assurances for the program should help restore debt sustainability. Specifically, the financing parameters of the program assume that external private creditor exposure will be maintained at its current level over the program period, on terms consistent with debt sustainability, and gross financing needs will remain at prudent levels during the post-program period.

"On behalf of the staff team, I would like to thank the authorities for their warm welcome, and the constructive discussions and excellent collaboration we have had over recent months, bringing us to today's successful conclusion."

Link to release

 

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[BREAKING: Mongolia agrees to $5.5B IMF Extended Fund Facility, including $2B PBOC swap extension]

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

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Mogi: apologies beforehand for not fully reflecting what was agreed. Some of the things may be incorrect and/or incomplete.. Took these notes as I heard them live

Mongolia agrees to $5.5 billion IMF extended fund facility

February 19 (Cover Mongolia) Finance Minister B. Choijilsuren, Bank of Mongolia Governor N. Bayartsaikhan and IMF head of team Koshy Mathai just finished holding a press conference announcing a "staff level" agreement on 3-year Extended Fund Facility.

IMF is giving $440 million, other donors, such as ADB and World Bank, is giving $3 billion. People's Bank of China has agreed in principle to a 3 year extension on $2 billion RMB-MNT swap. In total around $5.5 billion in financial assistance.

3 prerequisite measures needed before final approval:

1.    Budget amendment

a.     Reducing child money from 60% to 40% of children and converting from cash to food stamps. Government will cancel the delayed payment to other groups

b.    Increasing excise tax on fuel, tobacco

c.    

2.    Beginning of a diagnosis of the banking sector

3.    Ending quasi-budget activities at the central bank

Formal approval by IMF board of directors expected within March.

Some of the policy contents:

-       Loose fiscal policy was a key factor. Reducing budget deficit will be key.

-       Social welfare is protected.

-       Development Bank reform

-       Bank of Mongolia will now focus solely on monetary policy and not fiscal.

o    Such as transferring the subsidized mortgage program to the government from 2018.

o    World Bank is advising on how to further continue the program.

o    4 out of ₮8 trillion "fiscal" spending from BoM was used to finance mortgages. Repayments from this will now be given to the state budget. 2017 budget amendment will reflect this.

-       Extending the retirement ages in steps

The press conference was held live. IMF part was in English.

GoGo News: https://www.facebook.com/gogo.mn/videos/1275780405834582/

iKon News: https://www.facebook.com/iKonNews/videos/627496407435931/

Mogi: more full coverage within the day

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

[BREAKING: Mongolia avoids recession, GDP grows 1% in 2016, beating forecasts]

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- BREAKING NEWS -

Thursday, February 15, 2017

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Mogi: GDP fell 1.6% in Q3

UPDATE 1-Mongolia 2016 GDP grows 1 pct y/y, slowest in 7 years - stats office

ULAANBAATAR, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Mongolia's gross domestic product grew 1 percent in 2016 year-on-year, its slowest rate in seven years, the National Statistics Office said on Wednesday.

The growth rate was higher than some forecasts, with the International Monetary Fund predicting zero growth for the year.

After achieving double-digit annual growth over 2011-2013 as a result of a mining investment boom, Mongolia has been hit by an economic crisis caused by government overspending, falling commodity prices and a rapid decline in foreign investment.

Its currency, the tugrik , lost nearly a quarter of its value against the dollar last year, prompting interest rate hikes and austerity measures.

The cash-strapped country is in talks with the IMF and China to help refinance billions of dollars of debt as it scrambles to meet a $580 million sovereign-guaranteed debt payment due in March.

A deal with the IMF is expected to be announced soon after lawmakers voted last week to meet one of the key conditions of the bailout. 

Link to article

Link to NSO report

 

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Monday, January 30, 2017

[BREAKING: DP members elect caucus leader S. Erdene as its next chairman]

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- BREAKING NEWS -

Monday, January 30, 2017

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Mogi: S. Erdene is a member of former Speaker Z. Enkhbold’s Falcon Faction, the current DP caucus leader, and the former minister of social protection and population development. Bayangol District is his district

S.Erdene Elected Next Chairman of Democratic Party

Ulaanbaatar, January 30 /MONTSAME/ Member of Parliament S.Erdene was elected the chairman of the Democratic Party, as a result of the Democratic Party Chairmanship election took place on Sunday. Leaders of the DP officially announced the election result on January 30.

The Democratic Party, the opposition in the Mongolian Parliament, organized its first all-member election, which received ballots from members in 21 provinces and nine districts of Ulaanbaatar city, with a total of 30 polling stations.

S.Erdene claimed victory in 12 polling units, while his strongest rival and former Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag won majority of votes in 10 units. Most votes were casted for S.Erdene in Tuv (Central) province.

The Democratic Party held its VI Assembly on December 6-7, 2016, with 1,210 attendees, representing its all 180 thousand members. Most of the attendees voted for selecting the chairman through all-member election. The candidates were the former Minister of Industry D.Erdenebat, former Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag, S.Erdene MP, former Minister of Education L.Gantumur and J.Batzandan MP.

The all-member election for DP Chairman completed on January 29, having collected ballots at 361 polling stations, with 70 percent voter turnout. 

Link to article

 

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Monday, January 9, 2017

[DBM to pay on time; USD nears 2.5K; ICBC opening rep office; FRC to halve NBFI interest; and dzud takes over nation]

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Monday, January 9, 2017

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Jump to: Int'l Market - Local Market - Economy - Politics & Legal - Business - Ulaanbaatar - Diplomacy - Health & Education - Culture & Society - Nature & Environment - Sports - Art & Entertainment - Travel

Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

HEADLINES

Int'l Market

·         Mongolia promises to repay $580 million DBM bonds "on time"

·         E-Commodities Buys 1.392M Shares Through On-market Purchases

·         Investors give high-risk Mongolia a wide berth

Local Market

·         MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 -2.31%, ALL -1.63%, Turnover ₮148.1 Million Shares

·         GoM offering ₮6 billion 39-week t-bills at 16.99% discount on MSE

Economy

·         USD just ₮1.29 shy of ₮2,500

·         BoM issues ₮21 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +6.1% to ₮365.3 billion

·         Bank of Mongolia: Deflation will not continue for long

Politics & Legal

·         Mongolia seeks answers to killing of independence hero

·         Governors of local authorities sign cooperation agreements with each minister

·         Inspection agency seizes 482.3 grams of gold from illegal miners

·         President's office hands over revised manual to General Staff of Armed Forces

·         Why not nuclear?

Business

·         World's largest bank granted approval to open representative office in Mongolia

·         FRC vows to halve NBFI interest rates

·         Minister of Agriculture reports on SME Development Fund loans

·         Domestic tea manufacturers discuss new organic food law

·         Potato chips to be produced in Selenge province

·         Anti-Corruption Position Statement by the Business Council of Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar

·         100 Air Purifiers Campaign starting its distribution to hospitals tomorrow!

·         New solutions to air pollution to be showcased at expo

·         UB mayor proposes establishing sistership with Tokyo

·         Deputy Mayor receives South Korean Ambassador

·         UB launches monthly "Book Exchange Day"

·         Sukhbaatar Square decorated with "Apex of the Sky" statue commemorating ASEM11

·         License plates ending in 1 and 6 to pay vehicle tax within Jan

Diplomacy

·         China-Mongolia Relations: Challenges and Opportunities

·         Ambassador to Thailand extends President's invitation to Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

·         Mission duration of Mongolian diplomats to be extended to four years

·         New Japanese Ambassador vows to focus on Mongolia and Japan's strategic partnership

·         Prime Minister meets new Ambassador of Japan

·         Prime Minister receives new Cuban Ambassador

·         Foreign Minister meets new Cuban Ambassador

Health & Education

·         Prime Minister reports on food security in parliament speech

·         Laws on food and food security up for revision

·         Health Minister visits National Blood Center

·         Immediate Vacancies for IELTS Teachers in Ulaanbaatar Mongolia

Culture & Society

·         Discovering the Culture of Nomads of Mongolia in Winter

·         Cyrillic script monument to be built in Antarctica

·         Moms in Prayer: Making a Way in the Wilderness

Nature & Environment

·         Number of soums in dzud condition increases to 131

Sports

·         Sumo: Mongolian yokozuna out to reestablish dominance at New Year meet

·         Mongolian chess players ranked 58th in the world

·         11 Mongolian wrestlers ranked in UWW Top 20

·         Mongolian National Olympic Committee honours Rio 2016 medalists

Art & Entertainment

·         Mongolians' attitude towards fashion to be challenged with Mongolia's Next Top Model

·         Music and Dance College approved to become a conservatoire

·         Sarkunam-Madhavan film to be shot in Thailand and Mongolia

·         Russian circus tiger walks the streets of Ulaanbaatar

Travel

·         Foreign Minister warns Mongolian citizens in Turkey over terrorism threat

·         A Favorite Spot: A Holy Mountain in Mongolia

·         9 Reasons You Need to Visit Mongolia in 2017

·         10 great off-the-radar travel destinations for 2017

·         Worried about terrorism? Here's where to stay safe on holiday

·         Fabulous Terelj Hotel In Picturesque Mongolia

 

 

ARTICLES

Int'l Market

Mongolia promises to repay $580 million DBM bonds "on time"

Ulaanbaatar, January 7 (MONTSAME) "Mongolia will pay back a loan of USD580 million in the first quarter of this year. The Government has found a solution to repay the loan without delay, not causing pressure to the economy or imposing burden on the people. We will repay it on time" stated Prime Minister J.Erdenebat.

On January 06, in his speech addressing to a two-day seminar of Chairmen of Citizens representative meetings and Governors of provinces and the capital city, the Prime Minister also made a denial to information about Government's intend to sell 49 per cent of Tavantolgoi deposit with USD400 million and it would be sold to one company.

"I state that this information is false. The Government has established a working group, whose suggestions and conclusions will be submitted to the Parliament for discussion. We will not be making decisions that do not meet the interest of Mongolian people regarding this world scale deposit" said PM J.Erdenebat.

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1733 closed -0.94% Friday to HK$1.05

E-Commodities Buys 1.392M Shares Through On-market Purchases

January 7 (AAStocks) E-COMMODITIES (01733.HK) announced that it purchased 1.392 million shares through on-market purchases on 6 January at an average price of $1.0739, involving $1.499 million.

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Investors give high-risk Mongolia a wide berth

The borrower is on its knees, crippled by a huge debt burden and in need of an external lifeline. Only an IMF deal can improve its fortunes.

by Jeremy Weltman

January 6 (Euromoney Magazine) Five years ago, Mongolia was riding high, posting double-digit, breakneck-pace real economic growth, and attracting foreign investors seeking to exploit its rich resource endowment.

That growth has fizzled out on the back of the commodity price plunge and a shortage of government finance after years of debt-fuelled largesse, only a fraction of which has ended up in productive investments amid widespread embezzlement.

All this took place against the backdrop of a worsening investor climate dominated by the renegotiation of the Oyu Tolgoi copper project, culminating in a financing and tax dispute between the government and the private operator Rio Tinto.

And it shows.

Mongolia's risk score shed 10 points from 2011 to the beginning of 2016, and last year it continued to fall, chalking up the largest drop in Q4 of all the 186 countries surveyed by Euromoney (data are provisional ahead of publication next week):

That alone has taken the borrower down nine places in the global rankings in only the final three months of the year, to 123rd.

It extends a downward trend that has seen Mongolia plummet 43 places since 2011 into the lowest of ECR's credit risk categories: tier five – the highest default risk.

The fiscal deficit has ballooned to 20% of GDP.

And the tughrik has depreciated by around 22% against a resurgent US dollar since the end of June 2016, increasing the risk of inflation and debt servicing problems.

It is no wonder that scores for the government finances, and for bank and currency stability are extremely low (less than four out of 10 in Euromoney's survey).

Economic growth is crawling to a standstill, and unemployment – and the poverty that goes with it – is rising sharply, pushing the score for that risk factor downwards.

Scores for institutional risk, and the regulatory and policymaking environment have fallen sharply, too, and debt indicators paint a dismal picture.

Having raised more than $30 billion-worth of financing during the past five years, Mongolia is now saddled with a 70% of GDP debt ratio.

A $1 billion bond is due in 2018, with $580 million issued by the state Development Bank maturing in March that it has no hope of repaying.

However, there might just be a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

Talks are under way with the IMF to try to come to an arrangement on a financial assistance programme. It remains unclear if the new government has the political will to impose the austerity the IMF will require as the precondition for its lending.

Turning to China is an option, but it will not resolve the underlying problems, and, besides, bilateral tensions have increased after Mongolia entertained the Dalai Lama in November.

In that light, an IMF programme might be unpalatable, but it might be Mongolia's only realistic option, slowly turning around its fortunes.

Contributing expert Khashchuluun Chuluundorj, economics professor at the National University of Mongolia, agrees, saying "the fiscal situation is severe", but he believes the budget will under-finance government spending and will be amended to reduce the deficit. "The probability of an IMF deal is high," he believes.

However, as other high-risk defaulters have also found, the economy will continue to suffer, and it could be a long and precarious road back. 

This article was originally published by ECR. To find out more, register for a free trial at Euromoney Country Risk.

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Local Market

MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 -2.31%, ALL -1.63%, Turnover 148.1 Million Shares

January 7 (MSE) --

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GoM offering 6 billion 39-week t-bills at 16.99% discount on MSE

January 7 (MSE) Buy order of 39 weeks Government bonds with annual interest of 16.99% starts from 07 January 2017 until 10 January 2017 through brokerage companies.

Click here to see detailed information of 39 weeks Government bonds.

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Economy

Reds are when MNT fell, greens when it rose. Bold reds are rates that set a new historic high at the time.

BoM MNT Rates: Saturday, January 7 Close

 

1/7

1/6

1/5

1/4

1/3

1/2

12/28

12/27

12/26

12/23

High

Date

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USD

2,498.71

2,498.08

2,497.12

2,493.00

2,491.48

2,489.43

2,489.53

2,486.98

2,490.11

2,490.24

2,498.71

1/7/2017

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EUR

2,631.14

2,644.09

2,636.96

2,602.07

2,595.62

2,617.76

2,605.79

2,597.53

2,604.28

2,600.06

2,681.43

11/10/2016

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JPY

21.37

21.49

21.54

21.18

21.10

21.25

21.19

21.20

21.25

21.20

23.49

11/09/2016

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GBP

3,070.29

3,092.25

3,075.70

3,061.03

3,054.55

3,074.32

3,057.89

3,053.51

3,059.22

3,057.27

3,183.26

8/13/2014

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RUB

41.89

41.97

41.59

40.95

40.86

40.63

41.03

40.87

40.89

40.92

54.32

6/27/2014

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CNY

361.05

360.92

363.02

358.61

358.08

358.45

357.96

357.85

358.32

358.33

363.02

1/5/2017

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KRW

2.08

2.09

2.11

2.07

2.07

2.06

2.06

2.06

2.07

2.07

2.14

12/08/2016

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SGD

1,735.76

1,741.79

1,743.43

1,724.66

1,718.38

1,718.33

1,716.50

1,717.35

1,720.82

1,723.17

1,752.48

11/10/2016

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CAD

1,887.74

1,882.86

1,879.23

1,858.71

1,856.33

1,851.77

1,834.45

1,838.80

1,843.16

1,846.26

1,896.38

12/14/2016

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AUD

1,823.56

1,828.47

1,823.65

1,812.54

1,796.61

1,789.53

1,794.83

1,788.51

1,791.39

1,795.34

1,886.29

11/10/2016

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HKD

322.18

322.12

322.02

321.44

321.21

320.88

320.89

320.51

320.93

320.85

322.18

1/7/2017

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CHF

2,454.65

2,467.73

2,455.86

2,431.25

2,426.45

2,441.46

2,423.37

2,417.83

2,428.31

2,427.25

2,497.77

11/09/2016

Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,494 Sell ₮2,501), TDB (Buy ₮2,493 Sell ₮2,501), Golomt (Buy ₮2,493 Sell ₮2,500), XacBank (Buy ₮2,492 Sell ₮2,500), State Bank (Buy ₮2,493 Sell ₮2,501)

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

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BoM issues 21 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +6.1% to ₮365.3 billion

January 6 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 21 billion at a weighted interest rate of 14.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

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Bank of Mongolia: Deflation will not continue for long

Ulaanbaatar, January 6 (MONTSAME) The Bank of Mongolia observes that deflation will not continue for long period, said D.Ariunaa, senior officer of the Center for Public Education and Information of the bank. Deflation noticed last year was mainly caused by price fall of meat and vegetables, reported Bank of Mongolia prior.

"- Inflation overview by the Mongolbank predicted that effect of meat price fall on inflation would be kept till the first half of the year. It does not mean deflation will go on. It is expected that inflation will be in low level" she explained.

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Politics & Legal

Mongolia seeks answers to killing of independence hero

Many believe Sanjaasuren Zorig's 1998 murder was ordered by someone at the top  

By Lucy Hornby

January 7 (Financial Times) It is a grisly murder mystery that has cast a shadow over Mongolian politics for almost 20 years.

The east Asian nation has finally launched an investigation to identify who ordered the assassination of Sanjaasuren Zorig, a hero of Mongolia's independence from the Soviet Union who was stabbed to death in 1998, hours after being nominated as prime minister.

Two men and a woman were last month convicted of the murder in a closed court but the secret four-day trial failed to reveal who hired them — stoking conspiracy theories that the killing was a politically motivated hit carried out at the behest of someone at the top.

Mongolian media outlets have alleged that the mastermind's bodyguard was part of the gang who carried out the killing, before being murdered by one of the men sentenced last week. Amid mounting criticism over why the state has not revealed the names involved, Ulan Bator's state general prosecutor on Wednesday announced an investigation into who ordered the assassination.

Mogi Badral Bontoi of the Cover Mongolia consultancy said: "People are not convinced by this trial. It seems weird to sentence someone and then look for the guy who ordered the killing."

The bloody murder of Zorig, who was stabbed multiple times after he returned to his Ulan Bator home, is seen by many Mongolians as ending the idealism that accompanied the early years of their democracy. The secret trial, imprisonment of people suspected of involvement in the case, and even a state-sponsored kidnapping, have all fuelled the idea that a senior figure was behind the killing.

Oyun Sanjaasuren, Zorig's sister and founder of the Civil Will party, said in an email: "Our family has asked for a declassifying of the case and we have been calling for [an] open hearing. The requests have not been met. We do not think the case has been fully solved or closed."

Many in the landlocked country believe Zorig's murderer hailed from among his fellow Democrats, an uneasy coalition of idealists, businessmen and pro-market politicians that came to power in the mid-1990s. Others suspect the Communists, now back in power as the Mongolian People's Party after they defeated the Democrats in last year's election. Officials from the country's largest copper mine, Russian gangsters and common criminals have also been implicated.

Zorig's widow, Bulgan, was imprisoned for several months last year, accused of giving false testimony during an earlier investigation into her husband's murder. The assassins had tied her up in the bathroom while they waited for Zorig to come home.

Another unanswered question concerns a Mongolian man who was kidnapped in 2003 from a McDonald's restaurant in France before being drugged, transported across Europe and flown home to stand trial for Zorig's murder.

After those charges were dismissed, he and his lawyer were jailed for three years for leaking state secrets and the man died days after his release. A Mongolian intelligence agent was detained for several months in Germany on suspicion of ordering the kidnapping before Berlin dropped the allegations in 2011. He is now Mongolia's top security official.

Analysts believe Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Mongolian president and a veteran of the independence movement who was ousted as prime minister shortly before Zorig's death, is keen to close the book on the long-running case before he leaves office this summer.

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Mogi: funny tragedy of Mongolian politics

Governors of local authorities sign cooperation agreements with each minister

Ulaanbaatar, January 7 (MONTSAME) On January 06, a two-day seminar of Chairmen of Citizens representative meetings and Governors of provinces and the capital city concluded in cooperation agreements between the Governors of provinces and the capital city and each Cabinet member.

PM J.Erdenebat attended the seminar on the second day to give them topical information and instructions. "- Saving regime should also be followed in local areas. The Government made restrictions on official trips abroad. However, one can conduct visits abroad only with a view to attract foreign investment or that is significant to economic cooperation. The visits should be profitable enough to cover the costs of those visits up to several times" said PM.

Over 170 soums out of total 330 have no ambulance and the PM promised to provide all soum hospitals with an ambulance. He also noted that provinces should take measures to prevent from air pollution caused by smoke as an air pollution problem is not apparent in the capital city only.

The Prime Minister also instructed the authorities to spend 50 per cent of donations from companies and business enterprises for local development on measures to increase job vacancy as well as make preparations to start works including constructions and road buildings no later than April 1.

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Inspection agency seizes 482.3 grams of gold from illegal miners

Ulaanbaatar, January 6 (MONTSAME) On the margin of a complete inspection conducted by the General Agency for Specialized Inspection, 482.3 grams of gold, seized from illegal gold miners, have been handed to the Treasury of the Bank of Mongolia.

The amount of gold now becomes a state revenue in accordance with the Decision No. 3 and No. 4 issued on December 13, 2016 by the Council in charge of expropriation of properties under administrative rules.

In the past years, the General Agency for Specialized Inspection has handed in a total of two kilograms of gold to the BoM Treasury.

The agency also imposed a compensation fine of MNT 3.5 billion for the damages caused to the state gold reserve by illegal mining activities.

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President's office hands over revised manual to General Staff of Armed Forces

Ulaanbaatar, January 6 (MONTSAME) On January 5, Ts.Bayarsaikhan, Chief of Staff of the President handed over the improvised version of regulation on General Staff of Mongolian Armed Forces to its headquarter.

"Phased implementation of the package of Law on Defense, initiated by President of Mongolia and Commander-in-Chief of Mongolian Armed Forces and adopted by Parliament in 2016, is underway in the defense sector. In frames of the mission, I hand over the newly improvised manuals of the General Staff of the Armed Forces which were approved by a presidential decree", Bayarsaikhan said.

He continued, "The manual of the General Staff of the Armed Forces is a crucial document in managing operational coordination among government military organizations and ensuring an integrated and higher military authority".

In accordance with the regulation, the General Staff shouldn't only observe authority over Mongolian general purpose force, but also control border defense force, internal security force and other law enforcement organizations, he noted.

With adoption of the package of defense law, the functional scope and duties of the General Staff of Mongolian Armed Forces have become more specific and state military command is able to run an independent policy.

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Why not nuclear?

January 6 (UB Post) Debate concerning the use of nuclear power has divided many scientists, leaders, and countries ever since the establishment of the world's first nuclear power plant, the Obninsk Nuclear Power Plant in the Soviet Union. The destruction and havoc wreaked by a failed nuclear power plant has been well documented with the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster in 1986, and the more recent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011. Highly publicized disasters such as these have bred many skeptics and have even resulted in many countries, such as Germany and France, moving away from nuclear power. The anti-nuclear movement has even gained traction in Mongolia, with several demonstrations following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Is nuclear power as dangerous as it is perceived to be? Or are we losing out on the many benefits that it can bring by focusing on the opinions of outliers?

While negative perceptions of nuclear power tend to be overblown, there are many legitimate concerns that are valid. In contrast to other sources of energy, such as coal, nuclear power has a very small margin of error. Very careful and coordinated management of a plant is required. Small, seemingly innocuous errors can have massive consequences for both the population and the surrounding environment. This is evidenced most clearly by the Chernobyl disaster, which resulted in the surrounding area becoming inhabitable. Even barring disaster, nuclear power plants produce nuclear waste which needs to be safely stored, and as of right now, there is no guaranteed way of securely storing nuclear waste. There is also the matter of cost; nuclear power plants cost billions of dollars to build and maintain. There is an argument to be made that, as of right now, Mongolia is not ready to build and safely maintain a nuclear power station.

As mentioned, the risks of nuclear power plants tend to be overblown and exaggerated. The fact of the matter is, nuclear power is relatively safe. According to the World Nuclear Association (WNA), "The nuclear industry has an excellent safety record, with some 14,800 reactors with years of operation spanning five decades." According to authoritative United Nations figures, the Chernobyl death toll is currently 56 (31 workers at the time, more since the accident, and nine deaths from thyroid cancer). There were no deaths or cases of serious radiation poisoning resulting from the Fukushima accident. Currently, as reported by the WNA, there are over 440 commercial nuclear power reactors operable in 31 countries, with a total capacity of over 390,000 MWe. About 60 more reactors are under construction. They provide over 11 percent of the world's electricity as continuous, reliable base-load power without carbon dioxide emissions. The key point to note here is "without carbon dioxide emissions". This is especially important in Mongolia, where air pollution levels have reached toxic levels. While going nuclear will not immediately fix the pollution problem, it will help to lower the cost of electricity in the long run and will create a long-term, sustainable source of power.

Looking at the feasibility of a nuclear power plant in Mongolia, if managed properly, nuclear power could be a very reliable and safe source of energy. Delving deeper into the world's two major nuclear disasters, the Chernobyl disaster can be mainly attributed to poor management, and the Fukushima disaster was caused by the tsunami that struck Japan in 2011. Mongolia is relatively free of the risk of any major natural disasters, and it is likely, that in the event of a nuclear power plant being built, the government would be accountable for its management. If the government reaches a decision to go nuclear, there is no doubt that huge amounts of research will go into a plant before it is built. A feasibility study would be conducted, which would determine the best location for the plant. The location would most likely be outside of UB and would not fall on any fault lines or vulnerable areas.

Mongolia already has massive reserves of uranium. Geological studies cited in the Red Book suggest that Mongolia's uranium resources could be 1.39 million tU. This means that uranium would not need to be imported and could potentially be enriched domestically. Russia has already expressed their support for a nuclear power station being built in the country, and the Nuclear Energy Agency has tentative plans for developing nuclear power by 2021, using either Korean reactors or Toshiba 4S types. Three sites being considered are UB, Western Mongolia, and Dornod Province. In mid-July 2009, after consultation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, Parliament passed a Nuclear Energy Law to regulate the exploration, development, and mining of uranium, and to give the state a greater degree of ownership and control of uranium resources.

Going nuclear, while also simultaneously pursuing renewable energy such as solar and wind, is the most beneficial route in terms of energy. With our current technology, renewable sources of power do not produce enough energy and are not sufficiently reliable. Statistics show that nuclear energy is not nearly as dangerous as perceived, and looks to be the future of energy. As the world works to move away from coal and strives to decrease carbon emissions, Mongolia needs to be on the right side of history and get a head start.

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Business

World's largest bank granted approval to open representative office in Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, January 7 (MONTSAME) At its meeting on January 5, the Board of Directors of the Central bank of Mongolia has made a decision to grant Industrial and Commercial Bank of China /ICBC/ a permission to open its representative office in Mongolia in 2017.

For the past three years, ICBC is leading the list of the best banks in the world published by Bankers' Almanac and its A1 credit rating were assigned by Major Credit Rating Agencies. Also, ICBC has grown into the world's largest lender by market capitalization, with 400 branches and offices in 42 countries and territories and 14,000 employees abroad, only 900 of whom are from China.

According to the Banking law of Mongolia, the representative office of a foreign bank is prohibited to undertake banking activities without a license of the Bank of Mongolia. The office in Mongolia will engage in representational and administrative functions on behalf of the ICBC. 

Since 2008, there are several banking and financial organizations, such as the Bank of China, ANG bank of Netherlands, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd conducting their activities in Mongolia.

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FRC vows to halve NBFI interest rates

Ulaanbaatar, January 7 (MONTSAME) The Financial Regulatory Commission (FRC) has announced its policy task to lower loan interest rate of non-bank financial institutions twice in upcoming four years. In October, the committee released a resolution to raise minimum amount of share capital of non-bank financial institutions to MNT2.5 billion. Regarding non-bank financial institutions, which run credit service the amount should be MNT800 million, two times higher than previous level.

"- Mid-term strategy of our committee is to develop financial sectors through making policy regulations in financial market. We have a principal to make policy decisions and keep the flexible regulations stable for a long term, aiming to improve capacity and risk bearing capability of institutions and companies and to protect interest of customers. Within this policy, the first decision was to increase share capital. We released this resolution after conducting various studies, calculations and analyses, carefully considering all aspects. According to our estimation, 20 non-banking institutions will be newly established annually" said FRC chair S.Davaasuren.

She also underlined that, some 490 non-bank financial institutions out of all 520 have increased their share capital, meeting the criteria. Some of them even merged to accomplish the regulation increase the share capital.

Increased capital is important to ensure stability in financial market when economy faces difficulties, to improve capacity and accessibility of nonbank-financial institutions and to protect rights of customers as well as it will give actual influence to decrease loan interest rate. Study shows that there is direct relation between stock capital growth and loan interest rate decrease.

Non-bank financial institutions with capital less than MNT800 million have loans with interest rate of 4.5 per cent while those with capital more than MNT2.5 billion have loans with interest rate of 3.3 per cent. Average loan interest rate of non-bank financial institutions is 4.3 per cent monthly or 51.6 per cent annually as non-financial organizations with low capital dominate in the sector.

As a result of complete implementation of the policy to increase capital gradually, total balance asset is expected to grow up by 3.3 times reaching to MNT2.6 trillion and stock capital to reach MNT1.4 trillion by the end of 2020.

Financial regulatory commission noted that capable non-bank financial institutions will be supported giving possibility to re-lend loans to SMEs and other soft loans. It is estimated that after four years' efforts total loan amount by non- bank financial institutions could reach to MNT1.7 trillion, making more than 10 per cent of total loans by commercial banks. 

Non-bank financial institutions market share has increased in 2016.  In September, total capital of non-bank financial institutions were MNT676.5 billion, increased 22 percent compared with the same period of previous year, and the total income increased by 9.1 percent.

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Minister of Agriculture reports on SME Development Fund loans

January 6 (UB Post) During a meeting of Parliament's Economic Standing Committee, Minister of Food and Agriculture P.Sergelen reported on the implementation of the SME Development Fund law and developments in the agriculture and light industry sectors.

Minister P.Sergelen said, "Between 2009 and 2016, 745.5 billion MNT in discounted loans were issued through the SME Development Fund. Of the loans issued, 83.5 percent were used to increase cash flow and to buy equipment. This has resulted in an average 20 to 30 percent increase in the revenue of enterprises."

He went on to report that discounted loans with interest rates of one to three percent and a maturity period of three years were issued to SMEs through the Soum Development Fund. He high- lighted that these loans helped establish 9,272 new factories, expanded 13,909 factories, created 32,900 jobs, and helped retain 20,700 jobs nationwide.

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture also reported that 2,000 factories are operating in the food manufacturing sector, employing 13,000 people. Production in the food production sector reached 941.1 billion MNT in November 2016. The Ministry highlighted that 78 percent of the nation's eight primary food products are being produced domestically. In terms of light industry, there are a reported 2,000 factories employing 35,000 workers. Production in the light industry sector reached 1.1 trillion MNT in 2016, a 15.2 percent decrease compared to the same period in 2015.

After Minister P.Sergelen's presentation, the Head of SME Policy Implementation at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, M.Dondogdorj, answered a few questions regarding SMEs.

What is the current state of SMEs?

Sales are important. Some SMEs have large amounts of their product in storage. Some manufacturers have told us that they have reached a point where they have to sell their products at break-even prices. During the Economic Standing Committee meeting, we gave the committee members directions to promote cross-border trade. Mongolia has 14 border crossings, and we have discussed using these to promote crossborder trade. Secondly, a Mongolian-Chinese expo will be organized this coming fall. There is a need to increase the competitiveness of products. We are focusing on this.

Compared to other loans, SME loan repayment has reportedly been good. What is the repayment rate?

The repayment of the SME loans has been at 97 to 98 percent.

Has the number of SME owners increased?

In terms of numbers, there has not been a dramatic increase. The majority of the loans were issued to SMEs that employ one to nine workers.

Will the SME loans be continued? How much will be issued this year?

In the 2017 state budget, 24 billion MNT was allocated for SME loans. In 2016, 74 billion MNT was allocated for SME loans.

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Domestic tea manufacturers discuss new organic food law

Ulaanbaatar, January 6 (MONTSAME) The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry held this morning a workshop of national tea manufacturers. The event gathered some 25 individuals and companies engaged in tea manufacturing along with representatives of government bodies and academic organizations.

The participants discussed about the Law on Organic Foods as well as packaging design of the national tea products.

S.Maamankhuu, the Director of "Gobi Gurvan Saikhan" tea factory, based in Umnugobi (South Gobi) province, said she started her tea making business in order to avoid the burdens imposed on livestock herders. Gobi Gurvan Saikhan started operating in 2007 in Dalanzadgad soum of the province. The factory, of which total annual output reaches 10 thousand tea products, distributes its products at a provincial level. In 2004, S.Maamankhuu and her business partners visited tea factories in Africa to learn from their experiences and in an interview given during the workshop, she wanted to thank for people who helped her through the tea manufacturing process.

Consultant of the "Green Gold", a monitoring and evaluation project that conducts studies on pastoral lands and plants, U.Budbaatar said there are over 200 species of tea plants on the territory of Mongolia.

Private businesses and individuals often collect tea plants from Selenge, Khuvsgul, Umnugobi and Darkhan, according to Mr. U.Budbaatar and highlighted that the tea manufacturers are supplying their tea contents solely from domestic sources. 

There are reportedly about 40 tea manufacturers in Mongolia.

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Potato chips to be produced in Selenge province

Ulaanbaatar, January 6 (MONTSAME) 'Elit ur" (Elite Seed) Company of Khushaat soum of Selenge province is to open its potato chip factory, making preparations to launch operations this year.

Potato chips loved by children are mostly imported from China to Mongolia. The company has built this factory with a view to generate income domestically, halting the outflow of money. "- Our factory has a capacity to produce 50 tons of chips and French fries in a year as It is equipped with potato chip making machine from Germany. We estimate that the factory can provide potato chips equal to 20 percent of total imports of chips. Some 20 persons will have jobs and we will employ local citizens" said the company director S.Nyamjav.

'Elit Ur' company is a seed potato producing farm, which plants only seed potato and supplies them all over Mongolia. They use German machinery and Dutch technology in their cultivation, resulting in a high yield of crop. Last year, the farm planted on 50 ha land and harvested 252 centner crop per ha, or 1206 tons in total. The company produces 6 new sorts of elite seed potato and supplies to 260 soums of 21 provinces.

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Anti-Corruption Position Statement by the Business Council of Mongolia

January 5 (Mongolian Economy) Corruption, and in particular bribery, are increasingly relevant topics for businesses around the globe. Based on an estimate by the World Bank, USD 1 trillion is lost to bribes every year. This number shows the vast size of the problem. Corruption creates costs and risks for companies, and generates enormous negative impacts for political, economic, and social development. While corruption is frequently understood to be an exclusive problem of the public sector, companies often create the supply side to corruption. As the public and the private sectors are part of the corruption equation, they must also be part of the solution by working together to implement effective anti-corruption measures.

To this end, the Business Council of Mongolia (BCM) has established the Business Ethics Working Group (the Working Group) to help members enhance internal controls, promote best practices and responsible business conduct, advocate for a transparent, and enable a healthier business environment through capacity-building activities, peer-learning sessions, and collective action.

To achieve the Working Group's goals, we believe that Mongolia's leaders must undertake genuine effort to improve governance and anti-corruption reforms. Essential internal and external reforms will create the level playing field and business environment that generates sustainable growth. The recently passed National Anti-Corruption Strategy offers new reforms that can prevent corrupt behavior. However, concrete actions and enforcement need to follow this long-awaited expression of political will to tackle corruption. The group, therefore, will support government implementation strategies, particularly those related to the private sector. The Business Council of Mongolia further calls on the government to:

  • Create a strong legal framework consistent with international standards, such as the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), and encourages transparent, and ethical business practices;
  • Enforce laws and policies related to anti-corruption, with a focus on systemic issues;
  • Implement anti-corruption and integrity systems within government institutions and actively cooperating with business to tackle corruption; and
  • Strengthen the Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) by ensuring sufficient funding and securing it from political interference, giving it a stronger and more independent mandate.

Despite the important role the government must play in fighting corruption, companies must take responsibility for their actions. More and more national as well as international companies in Mongolia implement corruption-risk management systems and strive to operate with integrity. However, the private sector has more to do, and our business leaders must strongly encourage and materially support others' commitment to fight corruption. Therefore, the members of the Business Ethics Working Group commit to:

  • Continuous improvement of integrity standards within their own organizations and the promotion of these standards amongst peers and business partners—this will include the development of exemplary policies, guidelines, and tools that can be applied by the business community to improve their integrity standards and practices;
  • Active cooperation with the public sector to tackle corruption; and
  • Collaboration with international organizations with the focus of combating corruption and promoting ethical and transparent business practices.

December 19, 2016

Ulaanbaatar

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Ulaanbaatar

100 Air Purifiers Campaign starting its distribution to hospitals tomorrow!

The '100 Air Purifiers to reduce pollution mortalities' campaign is going to be distributing its first wave of air purifiers to three district hospitals (6 purifiers to each) on January 8th, 2017. The campaign is specifically targeting children's hospitals and children's wards in public hospitals, due to the unmatched level of harm air pollution has on babies and infants. 

Over a span of 20 days, this crowdfunding campaign organized by Mongolian volunteers, has raised over 20 million MNT in donations from people far and wide. Since the campaign has raised enough funds to distribute to 6 hospitals out of the total 18 hospitals that urgently need the purifiers, there is still a lot of fundraising left for them to do. 

This is the link to the campaign Facebook page and Crowdfunding page. The team will leave for the hospitals this Sunday morning at 9.30am from Rosewood cafe. Songinohairhan district hospital, which is one of the lowest income and worst affected hospitals in Ulaanbaatar, will be the first hospital they will visit.  

The campaign will be targeting 18 hospitals (9 children's district hospitals, 8 maternity hospital, and Ekh Nyalhas hospital). Just to illuminate the level of crisis that has hit Ulaanbaatar regarding air pollution and children's pneumonia and flu, there are 2000 sick children occupying the total 789 beds available in the district hospitals. This means that at least 1,211 children are on hospital floors. 

For questions about tomorrow's event, please call 99157064, 99471365, or 99492749. 

Thank you!

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New solutions to air pollution to be showcased at expo

Ulaanbaatar, January 7 (MONTSAME) More than 50 organizations and companies have been registered to partake in a technology expo themed 'Citizen Contribution in Reduction of Air Pollution' which aims to introduce technological solutions to air pollution and heat loss.

In relation to the decision to zero night-time electricity tariffs for ger districts which are one of the primary factors leading to the current alarming levels of air pollution in Ulaanbaatar, the exhibition is co-organized by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and Mayor's Office.

On January 9-10, various electric heaters, floor heating systems, compressed wood logs, renewable energy technologies, air purifiers and equipments to be used for reduction of air pollution will be exhibited by the participating organizations and companies in the building of National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The organizers encouraged citizens to visit the expo and contribute to reduction of air pollution by purchasing eco-friendly items and equipments. The opening ceremony of the exhibition is to be attended by J.Erdenebat, Prime Minister of Mongolia, D.Oyunkhorol, Minister of Environment and Tourism, P.Gankhuu, Minister of Energy and S.Batbold, Mayor of Ulaanbaatar.

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UB mayor proposes establishing sistership with Tokyo

Ulaanbaatar, January 6 (MONTSAME) On January 5, Mayor of Ulaanbaatar S.Batbold met with the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan, Mr. Masato Takaoka. The Mayor congratulated the Japanese Ambassador on being appointed as the head of the diplomatic mission and pledged his full support for the embassy's activities in Ulaanbaatar.

"I was appointed to Mongolia last year, and am honored to be meeting with the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar soon after receiving the office. The ties between Mongolia and Japan have remained close and tight for many years. This year is marking the 45th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic ties", said the Ambassador and expressed the Japanese sides' interest in upgrading the strategic partnership.

The New Ulaanbaatar International Airport, the idea of which had been discussed about ten years ago between the Mongolian and Japanese sides, is now near commissioning. "This is a true indication of the prosperous economic cooperation of the two countries", remarked the Mayor.

Mayor S.Batbold put forward an official proposal on establishing sisterhood between Ulaanbaatar and Tokyo in frames of the 45th anniversary.

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Deputy Mayor receives South Korean Ambassador

Ulaanbaatar, January 7 (MONTSAME) On January 6, D.Enkhtur, Deputy Mayor of Ulaanbaatar city received U Sung, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Republic of Korea to Mongolia.

Deputy Mayor, D.Enkhtur said that an action plan of Governor of Capital city and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar has set a major target "One family –One job" with an aim to support employability in the city. "The Administration of Ulaanbaatar city is interested in in sharing experiences and cooperation with a view to increase jobs, alleviate poverty and promote youth and family employment.

In response, Ambassador U Sung said that "Concerning our support on employment, the Last year, the Republic of Korea agreed to allow 2800 Mongolian workers to be employed in South Korea; however, the number of workers in the county has not reached the number. Therefore, it is possible to make up for the number of workers this year.

In addition, we will be working closely on settling an issue of illegal workers, as there are a large number of unpermitted Mongolian workers in South Korea.

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UB launches monthly "Book Exchange Day"

January 6 (news.mn) Mongolia is to organize a Book Exchange Day on Ulaanbaatar's main square. This is the first time such an event has been held. The official launch is scheduled for tomorrow, 7th of January, on Sukhbaatar Square. The Book Exchange Day is being organized by Ulaanbaatar City Art and Culture as part of the 'Happy City' programme. The event aims to support the benefits of exchanging books and to promote the national library services. During the event, the National Library of Mongolia will present its membership cards to the first 100 people.

The Book Exchange Day is planned to take place on the first Saturday of every month from 12.00 p.m to 13.00 p.m.

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Book Exchange Day to be held every monthMontsame, January 6

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Sukhbaatar Square decorated with "Apex of the Sky" statue commemorating ASEM11

January 6 (UB Post) Prime Minister J.Erdenebat, Ulaanbaatar City Council Chairman Ts.Sandui and Ulaanbaatar Mayor S.Batbold unveiled the Tengeriin Urkh (Apex of the Sky), a statue to commemorate the successful organization of the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM11) in Mongolia, in Sukhbaatar Square on December 28, 2016.

"The Apex of the Sky was created in commemoration of the historic events that took place in 2016, which marked the 55th anniversary of Mongolia's entry to the United Nations and 105th anniversary of the victory of the National Liberation Movement and the restoration of our nation's freedom and independence. It is also dedicated to the successful organization of ASEM in Mongolia for the first time. ASEM is a special event that countries can host once every century," Prime Minister J.Erdenebat stated during the unveiling ceremony.

"I'm happy to present the Apex of the Sky, which holds a big aspiration to raise public awareness about Mongolia's foreign relations achievements and continuity of the state policy, as well as to strengthen the reputation of our nation."

The giant blue globe-shaped statue supported by tree branches was designed by Mongolian artist A.Chadraabal, a Mongolian Arts Council award winner. Signatures of the state heads of 53 countries that participated in ASEM11 were embossed and carved on the front of the statue. The back of the statue depicts a view of the sky through toono, the opening and upper frame on top of a ger. The Apex of the Sky statue looks like an eye from the top and brain from its sides.

The Ulaanbaatar City Council decided to build a statue dedicated for ASEM11 on October 17, 2016 and passed A/32 Order.

"The Apex of the Sky statue will improve the facade of the capital. Mongolia successfully organized ASEM11 in July 2016. The Ulaanbaatar City Council gave permission to build the statue and place it in Sukhbaatar Square following requests from organizations to establish something to commemorate ASEM11," noted Chairman Ts.Sandui.

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License plates ending in 1 and 6 to pay vehicle tax within Jan

January 7 (gogo.mn) If your license plate number ends with 1 or 6, your vehicle tax must be paid within January, 2017.

Payment period of vehicle tax depends on the last digit of license plate number:

  • license plate number ending with 1 or 6 - January
  • license plate number ending with 2 or 7 - February
  • license plate number ending with 3 or 8 - March 
  • license plate number ending with 4 or 9 - April
  • license plate number ending with 5 or 0 - May. 

According to the law, vehicle tax must be paid each year within June 1. 

Visit www.smartcar.mn and get the information of your vehicle.

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Diplomacy

China-Mongolia Relations: Challenges and Opportunities

By Zolzaya Erdenebileg

January 6 (China Briefing) With the signing of the China-Mongolia-Russia corridor in June 2016, Sino-Mongolian relations entered a new era of economic cooperation that will be vital to Mongolia's economic recovery and long term stability. Mongolia has long aspired to become a logistics and financial center, using its location in North Asia and proximity to Chinese and Russian markets to its advantage. However, a recent visit by the Dalai Lama to Mongolia, and the resulting Chinese backlash, has once again revealed that economic partnership and recovery for Mongolia will be more difficult than the government expects.

A troubled economy

In the past six years, Mongolia's economic performance has been tumultuous. The country was the darling of emerging market investors from 2011 to 2012, when it boasted one of the fastest growing GDP rates in the world at 17.3 percent. Labeled "Minegolia", many expected the commodities boom to sail the country into newfound wealth and prosperity, and excited investors bet their money on it. In 2011, foreign direct investment (FDI) as a percentage of GDP reached about 44 percent, a record all-time high in Mongolia's post-communist era. Four years later, in 2015, this number shrunk to 0.8 percent.

Mongolia's economic difficulties can be attributed to various causes. First of all, a steady dip in global prices for commodities has dealt a major blow to Mongolia's export volumes. The price index for all types of coal supplied by Mongolia, its biggest export by volume, decreased by 15 percent from 2014 to 2015. Secondly, a less experienced government, led by the Democratic Party, took a series of protectionist steps to try and increase domestic control over expected riches, but ended up severely eroding FDI rates. In particular, government attempts to renegotiate a deal with mining company Rio Tinto over the terms of the large Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mining site took a toll on investor confidence.

Several developments, including a new agreement with Rio Tinto, have again placed the country in the limelight. However, to analyze what the future may hold for Mongolia, it is critical to look at the relationship between the country and its biggest economic partner, China.

China's economic influence in Mongolia

Like most neighbors, Mongolia and China have a long and complicated relationship. For most of modern history, this relationship has been contentious. In fact, until the transition to a market economy began in the early 1990s, Mongolia had been under heavy Soviet influence. Distrust of its large and populous neighbor to the south was widespread.

Nowadays, nowhere else is China's growing global economic influence felt more keenly than in Mongolia. By far, China is Mongolia's largest export market. As of early November 2016, about 80 percent of Mongolia's total exports went to China. By a smaller margin, China is also Mongolia's largest import market, making up about 30 percent of total imports by early November 2016. The second largest import market was Russia.

Due to economic restructuring within the past few years, Chinese demand for Mongolian exports has slowed. This has had serious repercussions in Mongolia, and 2015 and 2016 have both been difficult years for the country's economy.

With commodity prices starting to rise and a new government in place, Mongolia may have already reached the ebbs of its woes. However, it is clear that recovery will not be quick or easy.

According to the most recent statistics released by the Bank of Mongolia (BoM), total trade turnover by early November 2016 fell slightly, by 4.9 percent, compared to the same period the previous year. Exports rose slightly, by 0.8 percent, while imports fell by 11.9 percent. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) forecasts that GDP growth in 2017 will be slightly higher, at 1.4 percent, by no means anywhere near its peak in 2011, but much stronger than the predicted 0.3 percent it experienced in 2016.

Additionally, the new government will have to pay for the sins of the old government. At the peak of its growth, the government decided to issue what was called "Chinggis Bonds" in 2012, raising US$1.5 billion to spend on infrastructure, salaries and subsidized mortgages. However, due to the commodities glut, decrease in FDI and slowdown in demand from China, Mongolia now faces about US$2 billion in public and private debt payments, due as early as March 2017. The budget deficit rose to 20 percent of GDP in 2016, and total external debt is estimated to be US$23.5 billion, US$8.4 billion of which is government debt. In short, Mongolia needs money. To resolve the issue, the government submitted a request for a rescue loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in September 2016. It will still need additional support, however, and for this, the country has turned to its southern neighbor.

Rattled ties with China

The IMF loan request is seen as an attempt by the country to allay its dependence on China, of which Mongolia is wary. Nevertheless, China is still a major player in the Mongolian economy, and the two governments were prepared to negotiate a potential US$4.2 billion loan agreement.

Due to a visit by the Dalai Lama to Mongolia for a convention on Buddhist science, however, the talks were delayed. Afterwards, China released a strongly worded rebuke to Mongolia. In addition, transport surcharges on copper and fees on coal increased at several Chinese border towns through which Mongolian exports pass. Rio Tinto suspended shipments from Oyu Tolgoi over "safety and security concerns".

After the government assured China that a visit from the Dalai Lama would not occur again, relations stabilized somewhat. However, it is expected that Mongolia will receive a worse loan deal than before the visit.

Future outlook

With Oyu Tolgoi up and running, and loan talks underway, optimism has returned to Mongolia, at least from the long term perspective. The country still holds immense amounts of natural resources, and this will attract investors and buyers.

The short term still holds pitfalls that require careful navigation by the government. Mongolia will have to overcome numerous obstacles as it struggles to deal with debt, growing inflation, and stagnated growth. Of particular concern to the Mongolian government is the extent to which the economy will remain dependent on China. In many ways, Mongolia has always attempted to decrease this influence, mostly famously by espousing a "third neighbor" policy and looking to the U.S. for support.

However, it is clear that in order to grow sustainably, Mongolia will need Chinese support, and China, for the most part, is happy to supply it. The China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor, under China's beloved One Belt One Road initiative, will be critical in order to improve trade and logistics between the two countries.

The corridor is expected to increase customs clearance services and e-commerce between the three countries, and bring much anticipated trade activity to Mongolia; although, like many things about Sino-Mongolian relations, this has not yet been the case.

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Ambassador to Thailand extends President's invitation to Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

Ulaanbaatar, January 6 (MONTSAME) Ambassador of Mongolia to the Kingdom of Thailand Tugsbilguun Tumurkhuleg, had an audience with Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand at Royal Chitralada Palace in Bangkok on 27 December 2016 and presented to her a letter from President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj inviting her to visit Mongolia again at a time of her convenience.

In the course of the audience, the Mongolian Ambassador emphasized that the official visits paid by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to Mongolia in 1992 and 2009, have greatly contributed to development of friendly relations between Mongolia and Thailand and strengthened mutual understanding between the two peoples.

Ambassador also informed that the "School Lunch Project" initiated by the Princess for schools in rural areas of Mongolia has now been broadened to include five schools in Tuv, Dundgobi and Sukhbaatar provinces of the country.

Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn accepted the Mongolian President's invitation and expressed her satisfaction with successful implementation of the "School Lunch" Project in the Mongolian countryside. During the audience, the Princess recalled her previous visits to Mongolia and conveyed her best wishes for the progress and prosperity to Mongolia and its people.

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Mission duration of Mongolian diplomats to be extended to four years

Ulaanbaatar, January 7 /MONTSAME/ During its January 6 session, the Parliament held a preliminary discussion on a draft bill on the revision of Law on Diplomatic service, and the draft bill was decided to be submitted to the Parliament by a majority vote.

The bill reflects an extension of Mongolian diplomats' tenures with one year, meaning that if the bill is approved, the duration of Mongolian diplomatic mission will be 4 years.

Practically, it takes considerable amount of time for diplomats to settle down in a country, establish positive and professional relations with the government officials in the country, familiarize with their work and level their functions. Therefore, with due consideration of international reference, diplomatic mission length is proposed to be 4 years in the draft bill.

Moreover, the draft bill includes more clauses concerning the incentives and family members of diplomats such as refixing the rate of salary of diplomats every three years, and maintaining vacancy for the spouse of the diplomats if he or she is a public worker.

During the discussion, some Parliament Members made inquiries regarding the draft bill from Foreign Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil, and expressed supportive stances regarding the social protection issue of Mongolian diplomats. As such, the Parliament voted up the proposition of the draft bill on the revised Law on Diplomatic Service of Mongolia.

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New Japanese Ambassador vows to focus on Mongolia and Japan's strategic partnership

January 6 (UB Post) Speaker of Parliament M.Enkhbold received Ambassador of Japan to Mongolia Masato Takaoka on January 4, to talk about relations and cooperation between the two countries, and the Speaker's visit to Japan next month.

Speaker M.Enkhbold said that if the sides are able to reach an agreement on a mid-term cooperation program for strategic partnership during his visit to Japan in February, the visit will be successful.  He emphasized that the mid-term cooperation program will determine the two nations' cooperation in the upcoming years.

The Speaker asked Ambassador Takaoka to help organize his visit to Japan to see an optimal outcome, and said that he hopes Ambassador Takaoka will focus on supporting Mongolia's request for financial assistance from Japan.

During the meeting, the Japanese Ambassador noted that Japan deeply understands the current economic challenges facing Mongolia, and that Mongolia's discussions with the International Monetary Fund on acceptance of a credit facility is of importance to implementing Japanese financial assistance in Mongolia.  Ambassador Takaoka added that he will concentrate on successfully organizing Speaker M.Enkhbold's visit to Japan.

The Japanese Ambassador asked the Speaker of Parliament to focus on matters concerning the management of the New Ulaanbaatar International Airport, which is being built with Japanese financing.

In a meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Ts.Munkh-Orgil, Ambassador Takaoka stated that he will work to strengthen and maintain the intensity of the strategic partnership between Japan and Mongolia.

Minister Ts.Munkkh-Orgil confirmed that he will actively collaborate with Ambassador Takaoka to further develop the strategic partnership between the two countries. He noted that commemorating the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Japan by boosting art and culture exchanges, as well as economic and investment activities, is important.

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Prime Minister meets new Ambassador of Japan

Ulaanbaatar, January 7 (MONTSAME) On January 7, Prime Minister of Mongolia J.Erdenebat received newly appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Mongolia Mr. Masato Takaoka.

The Ambassador noted that a number of events will be organized on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Mongolia and Japan, which is being marked this year.

In turn, Mr. J.Erdenebat noted the importance of maintaining the level of strategic partnership with increased frequency of reciprocal visits and mutual political trust and bringing the current state of bilateral ties up to the next level. He also pointed out that the Japanese financial assistances and other types of support played a significant role in deepening of democratic reforms and in laying the foundation of modern development in Mongolia.

Afterwards, he expressed his satisfaction with the realization of the issues discussed with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Ulaanbaatar and requested the Ambassador to pay attention on those issues.

A committee to organize celebratory events of the 45th anniversary headed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been set-up recently.

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Prime Minister receives new Cuban Ambassador

Ulaanbaatar, January 7 (MONTSAME) On January 7, Raul Delgado Concepcion, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cuba to Mongolia paid a courtesy call on J.Erdenebat, Prime Minister of Mongolia.

After congratulating Raul Delgado Concepcion for his appointment as Ambassador to Mongolia, Prime Minister J.Erdenebat, Prime Minister mentioned that Mongolia and Cuba have potential to develop close cooperation and strengthen people-to-people ties with the help of modern high technologies despite the geographical distance.

"A visit by President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj Cuba in 2016 was a high-level milestone after over three decades and I believe that event will pave the way for future development of the bilateral ties between Mongolia and Cuba" said the Prime Minister.  

In response, Ambassador Raul Delgado Concepcion pointed out that the educational cooperation stands an important role in the bilateral relations of the two countries.  The Cuban government has granted scholarships to over 140 Mongolian students since 1994 and the Ambassador vowed to increase the number in the future.

The both dignitaries noted that Mongolia and Cuba have a broad experience in collaborating within the sports field and the Cuban side reiterates that Mongolian athletes are able to conduct their training exercise in Cuba.

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Foreign Minister meets new Cuban Ambassador

Ulaanbaatar, January 7 (MONTSAME) On January 6, Ts.Munkh-Orgil, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia met with Raul Delgado Concepcion, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cuba to Mongolia in accordance with presenting his diplomatic credentials to the President of Mongolia.

After congratulating Raul Delgado Concepcion for his appointment as an Ambassador to Mongolia and wishing him success in his works, the Minister for Foreign Affairs highlighted that an official visit of Ts.Elbegdorj, President of Mongolia to Cuba played a main role in intensifying traditional and friendly relations between Mongolia and Cuba.

"As a result, a large number of works have begun, such as increasing the number of Mongolian students to study in Cuba, identifying academic fields Cuban students to study in Mongolia for and inviting specialists from Cuban Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology to Mongolia" underlined the Foreign Minister.

In turn, Cuban Ambassador Raul Delgado Concepcion expressed his gratitude for the government of Mongolia for paying attention to the development of bilateral relations and rendering support to Cuban Ambassadors works. Confirming his readiness to intensify bilateral cooperation in every possible field, the Ambassador informed about his plan to hold meetings with the authorities of the relevant government ministries and agencies to exchange views on issues concerning bilateral ties.

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Health & Education

Prime Minister reports on food security in parliament speech

Ulaanbaatar, January 7 (MONTSAME) "Food security is an essentially important area of focus for every country. The Government of Mongolia sees that ensuring a secure supply of food and safe living conditions are imperative in promoting a healthy Mongolian citizen", said Prime Minister J.Erdenebat during his food security report to Parliament on January 6.

"In the frameworks of relevant laws and regulations adopted by the Parliament, the Government has been functioning to ensure safety in raw material preparation, food production, transportation, storage, trade and consumption", said the Prime Minister before proceeding to present relevant statistics on the current food demand, consumption and supply of the country.

In 2015, Mongolia suffered harvesting loss due to extreme weather which led to import 69 percent of wheat demand, 52 percent of vegetable and 20 percent of potatoes. But the 2016 harvesting results show that Mongolia can fully supply its domestic demand of flour, potatoes and vegetables this year. In accordance with food security indicators, 78 percent of basic food commodities demand was fulfilled by domestic production in 2016.

Reflected in the current Cabinet's 2016-2020 action plan is a national program themed 'Healthy food - Healthy Mongolian' which will soon be formulated. The Prime Minister's report continued with the current state of food security regulations and rules and the result of the inspection by the Specialized Inspection Agency of Mongolia in regard to food safety. "Ensuring food safety is an issue that matters to everyone, and requires coordination between government and non-government organizations working in the sector and active participation of private sectors. There's a need to improve public awareness on food safety", remarked the Prime Minister.

Then, he introduced the measures the Cabinet is planning to realize in regard to food security. The Cabinet's upcoming actions include creating and utilizing an integrated registration database in order to ensure the implementation of food law, food security law and the organic food law; boosting the implementation of the food law and the food security law; proposing draft bills on enriched food and functional food; formulating and realizing the 'Healthy food – Healthy Mongolian' national program; organizing 'The first campaign on meat and milk' in order to ensure stable supply of healthy food in every season; regularizing proper production and sanitary practice in food processing factories, and adopting a relevant instruction; realizing organic food law, and promoting the production and trade of organic foods; taking measures directed at upgrading public awareness and knowledge on food safety; and resolving the issue of standard storage of perishable fragile food items.

"The Government has constantly paid attention to food security issue. Furthermore, we will work towards securing food safety, and supplying population demand with healthy, safe food", concluded Prime Minister J.Erdenebat.

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Laws on food and food security up for revision

Ulaanbaatar, January 7 (MONTSAME) During its January 6 session, the Parliament held a preliminary discussion on draft bills of the revision of food law and food security law of Mongolia, and transferred the bill to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment, Food and Agriculture to be prepared for the first discussion.

The draft bill on the food law encompasses three articles. The first article reflects banning the plantation and production of genetically modified foods and raw materials and imposing import standards, and the second concerns regulations on genetically modified foods whereas the third articles is about the day of enactment of the draft bill.

In other words, the draft bill was formulated in order to ban the plantation and production of genetically modified foods within the territory of Mongolia and impose restriction over the ingredients of the genetically modified foods being imported to Mongolia.

Members of Parliament made inquiries into the draft bill, and voted up to continue the discussion. Thus, the draft bill was transferred to the Standing Committee on Environment, Food and Agriculture for preparation.

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Health Minister visits National Blood Center

Ulaanbaatar, January 6 (MONTSAME) On January 5, Minister of Health A.Tsogtsetseg and L.Munkhtulga, Director of the Pharmaceutical Industry and Technology of the Health Ministry visited the National Blood Center to get acquainted with the activities of the Center.

During the working tour, N.Erdenebayar, Director of the National Blood Center introduced about the Center and the new technologies it has been equipped with as well as measures being carried-out within the framework of the E-Center project for 2016-2017.  Last year, the National Blood Center received 108 pieces of medical equipment cost MNT 7.3 billion.

Moreover, local branches of the National Blood Center in provinces were provided with 60 types of equipment and medical devices worth MNT 9.9 billion and have been renovated with a funding of MNT 2 billion in order to create a comfortable environment for blood donors. Upon the resolution of the Health Minister, blood centers of some provinces have started transporting blood sample to the National Blood Center Ulaanbaatar.

After getting familiarized with the activities of the center, Health Minister A.Tsogtsetseg informed about the government's action plan and works carried-out and exchanged views with medical staff of the Center on issues concerning the health sector.

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Immediate Vacancies for IELTS Teachers in Ulaanbaatar Mongolia

By: Santis Educational Services <mongolia@santis.mn>

January 6 (ESL Café) Santis Educational Services in Ulaanbaatar have immediate vacancies for IELTS teachers at their Schools in the heart of the City.

No better time than now to act, Mongolia is in need and waiting for you.

You will be a native English speaker, with an academic degree or suitable business experience and CELTA/TESOL qualification or similar. Your English speaking proficiency will be native to those countries who speak English as their first language. You will be capable of teaching international students of mixed ages to a high level of IELTS, TOEIC and TOEFL language proficiency. You will be enthusiastic, be open to learning new teaching techniques, be flexible and motivated. You may be young or mature but not retired, with initiative to perform the task in hand in a professional manner. You will be of reasonable health. You will be a professional trainer, with leadership qualities. You will be able to start immediately, or very soon.

You will need to be available for at least 1 year without restriction. You will also have at least 18 months before the expiry of your current passport.

In summary suitable applicants will be: 
ESL qualified with IELTS experience 
Holder of a Bachelors Degree or higher 
Able to commit to and fulfill a one year contract 
Able to provide two academic or professional referees 
Reasonably healthy without need of medication 
Young professionals or newly qualified trainees.

Teachers Salary Package includes: 
* Competitive salary paid local currency 
* Fully furnished housing within walking distance to work 
* 10 days paid vacation plus 10 days paid National Holiday 
* Longer term Contracts 
* International Community of Native ESL teachers employed by SES 
* Modern purpose built learning environments

If you fit this requirement and would like to apply please submit a short letter of introduction to Andrew Orgill and email it to mongolia@santis.mn, requesting an application pack which includes further details, together with your curriculum vitae and other documents required for international employment.

Come and help with Santis 

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Culture & Society

Discovering the Culture of Nomads of Mongolia in Winter

January 6 (Fubiz) Photographer Joel Santos is a traveler who loves to discover new cultures. He often travels in rares and autonomous population on our planet. His latest travel was the with the Mogolia nomads and their reindeers. The artist and reporter could discover and plunge himself in their culture and customs, in the snow-covered landscapes and very cold weather.

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Cyrillic script monument to be built in Antarctica

Ulaanbaatar, January 7 (MONTSAME) The erection of a Cyrillic script monument on joint Mongolian-Bulgarian base on Antarctica is the one of the important projects of the 25th Bulgarian research expedition in Antarctica in 2017.

The monument that stands at 2.3 meters and weighs 100 kg is now almost complete and was built with high-quality material to withstand harsh Antarctic weather and to pose a minimum risk to the environment.

Recently, the Embassy of Mongolia in Sofia hosted a news conference with Bulgarian prominent archaeologist Nikolay Ovcharov and Mongolian Ambassador to Sofia Lkhamsuren Dugerjav as well as and Mladen Stanev who designed the monument and members of the Mongolia-Bulgaria Friendship Society in attendance. An idea to erect the monument is initiated by Mongolian Ambassador to Bulgaria L.Dugerjav and Bulgarian scientists.

The Cyrillic writing to be placed in Antarctica has a long history as cooperation between Mongolia and Bulgaria on Antarctic research started ten years ago. A similar Cyrillic writing monument was erected in Ulaanbaatar city last year. Mr. Ovcharov thanked Ambassador L.Dugerjav and the authority of Khan-Uul District of Ulaanbaatar city for their comprehensive support on building the monument in UB. He highlighted that many people also donated money for building the monument to be erected in Antarctica and expressed gratitude for them.

Ambassador Mr. Dugerjav informed about two Mongolian engineers D.Tuvshinbayar and Kh.Bayaraa, who are taking part in 25th Bulgarian scientific research team on the continent. They will be working for other projects to establish Mongolian base and setting-up weather station on Antarctica and will be attending Bulgarian international projects on Antarctica research. Mongolian scientists have been participating in the Bulgarian expedition at the base since then.

The monument is to be placed at the Sofia University in Bulgaria for public display before being transported to Antarctica on January 15 and will be erected on Antarctica within this year.

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Moms in Prayer: Making a Way in the Wilderness

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.  1 John 5:4 (ESV)

January 6 (Moms in Prayer) Centuries ago, Mongolia was one of the largest land empires the world had ever seen—more expansive than even that of Alexander the Great— with some of the most savage conquerors in history! Today, with a population of only 3.2 million, Mongolia is a land nearly forgotten by most of the world, yet not forgotten by God.

It is still hard for me to believe that it was only five years ago when God began Moms in Prayer in Mongolia. Before this, women in this nation were not meeting to pray for their children and schools. At the first Moms in Prayer conference in 2011, mothers shared that they had been crying out to God to help them learn how to pray. The Lord heard their cries. Through Moms in Prayer, the women of Mongolia are learning how to pray powerfully and effectively, to have hope for their children and schools, and to know God more intimately.

Today there are more than 100 Moms in Prayer groups meeting regularly throughout every region of Mongolia and new groups are continually forming. What God began in 2011—the ministry of Moms in Prayer in Mongolia—is now flourishing. As women, young and old, gather across Mongolia to pray scripturally and in one accord, God is opening the floodgates of heaven and answering their prayers in amazing ways. His glory shines through their testimonies:

  • "For 18 months, our Moms in Prayer group (in the countryside of Mongolia) prayed specifically for a 4th grade class. All 24 students became believers along with the teacher! We also prayed for other teachers at this school and two more became believers."
  • "As soon as I became a believer in 2012, I joined a Moms in Prayer group. My group has received so many answers to our prayers; God's peace, joy, provision, security, and guidance. I learned how to pray scripturally for the first time. It helped me so much that I reached out to help others and became a leader."
  • "It is amazing to hear my children say with joy, 'Mom, I believe in God and that your prayer is answered!' This is God's work through Moms in Prayer!"
  • "Through our prayer group, we have seen our married daughters, who were not able to conceive, become pregnant and a child healed of tuberculosis."
  • God is indeed making a way: the desert that was barren and dry is now being filled with living water. Women are growing in their faith and are being encouraged as other mothers join with them to pray for their children. Salvation, deliverance, freedom, restoration, and healings are ringing out and being proclaimed throughout the land, drawing more and more women into Moms in Prayer groups.
  • In 2015, while meditating on Isaiah 43:19, God gave me a powerful vision to encourage the praying moms of this nation. The vision was of a river flowing throughout Mongolia. As I looked intently at the river, I saw that there was no water but, instead, it was filled with white stones! There were countless white stones in an endless river. As I asked God to give me understanding, it became clear that this was a picture of Moms in Prayer in Mongolia. The white stones symbolized each of the praying women and, through their tears and cries lifted up to God in one accord, a river of hope and life was being brought to their children and to their nation.

As I thought of the countless number of white stones in the vision, I believe God was revealing that many more women would become a part of His plan to bring revival and restoration to the land. However, I pondered why the stones were white. A few months later, while reading the book of Revelation, I suddenly stopped at Revelation 2:17. The words popped out at me, "To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it" (Emphasis added). Wow! This was the answer to why the stones in the vision were white: the white stones were the victorious ones! The praying women are victorious! What a beautiful, loving picture of how God sees His daughters in Mongolia and in all nations.

As I meditated more on what it meant to be victorious, God reminded me of Revelation 12:11; "And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death." It is by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus, that we are conquerors. The Bible declares in 1 John 5:4 that everyone who is a child of God through faith in Jesus is an overcomer. An overcomer is a victor, a conqueror, and is able to defeat the enemy. That is who we are as His children; we are overcomers! As Christ lives in us by His Spirit, we have power to defeat the enemy, to overcome each trial, and to conquer the battles that come against us and our children. As we put on Jesus, our salvation, take up the sword that is the Word of God and pray, there is power and there is victory!

God has seen the tears and heard the cries of women on behalf of their children and He is raising up a new army of conquerors. He is raising up moms who are fighting on their knees, unleashing the power of God against the enemy, and seeing the victory. His Glory is arising!

To every praying mom who is reading this blog, may you know and be encouraged that God also sees you as a victorious one and has given you a white stone with a new name on it! He hears your cries on behalf of your children and schools. He is making a way in your world. He desires to flow from you in order to bring life and refreshment to the dry and barren land in which you live; to fill it with streams of living water and gardens of fruitfulness.

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Nature & Environment

Number of soums in dzud condition increases to 131

Ulaanbaatar, January 6 (MONTSAME) "As of December 31, 65 soums of 15 provinces are in dzud and 66 Soums of 14 provinces are in dzud-like condition", revealed the latest report by Information and Research Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment.

The Government Resolution No. 286 concerning the procedure for transmitting forecast on extreme and dangerous weather conditions states that dzud is an extreme weather condition in which livestock loss is heavy due to lack of water and pasture. Based on its intensity, dzud is classified as either dzud or dzud-like with the latter indicating a milder situation.

On January 3, the Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment released a report on wintering situation over the last 10 days of December, 2016. The snow cover remains the same amount as the Institution's November report with increase in number of Soums at risk. About 70 percent of the total territory of Mongolia is covered in snow, and the depth of snow cover is 21-50 cm at its deepest with high density.

"So far, we've measured lesser area of snow cover than last year. But in certain places, especially in the northern parts of Mongolia, the snow cover is extremely deep. Domestic animals can't dig through 30 cm deep snow which is high in density to graze. Herders reported that they began feeding their reserved forage and hay to the herd as soon as in November", said Erdenetsetseg Baasandai, Head of Department of Agrometeorology at the Information and Research Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment.

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Sports

Sumo: Mongolian yokozuna out to reestablish dominance at New Year meet

January 6 (Kyodo) Mongolian yokozuna Kakuryu and Hakuho are gearing up for the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament starting Sunday, looking to shore up Mongolia's place atop the sport after a year of promising performances from Japanese wrestlers.

A third career title in November seems to have boosted Kakuryu's confidence, which has played out with lively training sessions ahead of the tourney at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo. He was handed a favorable first day opponent at Friday's draw when he was paired with Georgian komusubi Tochinoshin, against whom he has a 19-1 record.

Hakuho, who missed the September tourney with injuries and managed just 11 wins in November, is back to full fitness and will look to add to his record 37 championships to stamp his authority again.

Hakuho, however, drew a trickier opening tie in the shape of new sekiwake Shodai. The up-and-coming 25-year-old is aiming to continue his fine form near the top of the pile following an 11-win November that saw him handed the fighting spirit award.

"This could be the most important bout of the year for me," said Shodai, who lost his only meeting against Hakuho to date and also suffered 10 straight defeats against the yokozuna in a training session late last month.

"I'll try not to leave myself with regrets. I want to try to unsettle him, even just a little bit," he said.

Another Mongolian yokozuna, Harumafuji, has injury concerns with pain to both ankles, while ozeki Kisenosato seems to be the safest bet among Japanese wrestlers to get into the title mix -- and revive his yokozuna promotion bid -- after he finished 2016 with the most wins in the top division.

Fellow ozeki Kotoshogiku and Goeido both won their maiden titles last year to leave Kisenosato as the only ozeki with an empty trophy cabinet, but the two fell well short in their respective yokozuna promotion chases.

Kotoshogiku, in fact, is fighting to save his ozeki status for the seventh time having again slipped to a losing record in November.

Among the Mongolians, ozeki Terunofuji is still battling to shake off injuries to both knees but his compatriot Tamawashi could be the next wrestler to rise.

The 32-year-old Tamawashi reached the third-highest rank of sekiwake in his 77th tournament, the fifth slowest in history, sitting in stark contrast to Shodai's 17-tourney ascent which is the second fastest since the six-tourney-a-year format was established in 1958.

Tamawashi, who won 10 as komusubi in November to win the technique award, will test Kisenosato on the opening day and the Japanese ozeki, who has been suffering right-foot discomfort of late, can take nothing for granted despite his 7-0 record against the Mongolian.

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Mongolian chess players ranked 58th in the world

January 6 (MONTSAME) FIDE - World Chess Federation has updated the world rankings of chess players. Mongolia was ranked at 58th from 179 countries for the ratings of its top 10 chess players.

The first places of the rank are held by Russian, the US and Chinese players. In the rankings of Mongolian chess players, Ts.Batchuluun led by 2522 points and  B.Munguntuul came in second with a rating of 2431.

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11 Mongolian wrestlers ranked in UWW Top 20

Ulaanbaatar, January 6 (MONTSAME) United World Wrestling has announced its year end rankings and five male and six female wrestlers from Mongolia ranked in the top 20 in their weight category. D.Otgontsetseg, world silver and bronze medal winner ranked in third place in the women's 55 kg category, while  G.Mandakhnaran, who claimed fifth place at the Rio 2016 Olympics is listed in the fifth place in the men's category.

In the men's rankings, World bronze medalist 57 kg E.Bekhbayar is placed at 15. The ranking continues as T.Tuvshintulga at 14th (61 kg), P.Unurbat at 12th (74kg) and O.Uitumen at 17th (86 kg).

Other women wrestlers in the rankings are: P.Orkhon ranked at 7th (58 kg), B.Shoovdor at 9th (60 kg), world gold and silver medalist S.Tserenchimed at 17th, Olympic Bronze medalist and world gold medal winner S.Battsetseg at 10th and world bronze medalist O.Nasanburmaa ranked at 11th.

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Mongolian National Olympic Committee honours Rio 2016 medalists

January 6 (Inside the Games) Rio 2016 medallists were recognised as the Mongolian National Olympic Committee (MNOC) held its annual "Burte Chono" awards event.

The ceremony, held at the SS Club in capital city Ulaanbaatar, was part of the organisation's 60th anniversary celebrations.

A total of 73 sports journalists from the Mongolian Sports Press Union voted to pick the winners with Olympic and Paralympic athletes classed together.

The best male athlete prize of the year went to boxer Dorjnyambuugiin Otgondalai, winner of a bronze medal in the men's lightweight division at Rio 2016. 

Second place went to Paralympic powerlifting bronze medallist Sodnompiljee Enkhbayar, who competed in the men's under-88 kilogram class.

Uugankhuu Bolormaa, winner of Mongolia's only other Paralympic medal in the men's 60kg judo, was placed in third position.

He also won bronze at Rio 2016. 

In the women's category, the top prize went to Mongolia's only other Olympic medallist, Dorjsürengiin Sumiyaa.

She claimed the silver medal in the under-57kg judo competition after defeat to Brazil's home favourite Rafaela Silva in the final.

Weightlifter Munkhjantsangiin Ankhtsetseg, eighth in the Olympic under-69kg competition, placed second with wrestler Otgontsetseg Davaasukh coming third.

She claimed a bronze medal in the 55kg category at the United World Wrestling World Championships for Non-Olympic Weights in Budapest. 

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Art & Entertainment

Mongolians' attitude towards fashion to be challenged with Mongolia's Next Top Model

Ulaanbaatar, January 6 (MONTSAME) With an aim to reinforce Mongolian fashion industry with new outlook and expression, private channel Edutainment TV is bringing the international 'Next Top Model' reality television show format to Mongolia with an official license from CBS Studios International.

The first cycle of the 'Mongolia's Next Top Model' will premiere on the Edutainment channel on January 14, to air a total of 16 episodes. According to the organizers, more than 220 young women applied for the show, and after a three-stage selection process, 22 ladies have been qualified to enter the show.

 "I believe that the entire fashion industry and the people of Mongolia are pleased and excited with the arrival of 'Mongolia's Next Top Model'. Personally, I am overjoyed to be a part of the show as a presenter and a judge, and to collaborate with the show-makers", said professional model Nora Dagva at a press conference held by the organizers yesterday. Alongside her, T.Nansalmaa, CEO of 'On'n Off' Production and actor/model N.Orgil will be on the panel of judges.

"Mongolia's Next Top Model' will be a big contribution to the evolution of Mongolian fashion sector. It will also change Mongolians' perceptions and attitude towards fashion and models. Our show will expose who a model is, what he or she does and what's behind the curtain in fashion industry", the model added.

After a series of contest, the winner of the show will earn a one-year commercial contract with national mobile phone operator G-Mobile, cash prize MNT 20 million, a certificate of Paris tour and a two-year contract with 'Looque' fashion agency in Singapore.

"Global fashion industry evolves fast. Though Mongolian fashion industry is progressing every year, we haven't produced a model or designer working in Milan, Paris, New York or London, the fashion capital cities of the world. We think, our show will help us get there. For that reason, the best of Mongolian fashion industry are participating and collaborating in the show which is why we are confident that the show will come out as a quality entertainment element in Mongolian media landscape", explained U.Sodgerel, Executive Producer of the show during the press conference. She introduced Buro 24/7, an online fashion and lifestyle platform founded by Russian entrepreneur, journalist Miroslava Duma to Mongolia.

The 'Mongolia's Next Top Model' organizers have invited British producer Martyn Redman, Executive Producer of 'Britain's Next Top Model' who accepted to work as a Consulting Producer for the Mongolian adaptation of one of the longest running reality shows. "It's honor to work on 'Mongolia's Next Top Model'. For 12 years, I produced 'Britain's Next Top Model', and it's a great show. As such, I am sure that the show will be a booming success in Mongolia", he said to reporters during the press conference of January 5.

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Music and Dance College approved to become a conservatoire

Ulaanbaatar, January 7 (MONTSAME) J.Batsuuri, Minister for Education, Culture, Science and Sports visited and met the staff of Music and Dance College of Mongolia which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year.

Having resolved the issue of changing the status of the educational institution to a conservatoire during his visit to the Russian Federation, the Minister exchanged views on the matter with the staff. Accompanying the Minister at the meeting were N.Bold, Head of Cultural Policy Department at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports and Kh.Saranchimeg, Acting Principal of the Music and Dance College.

Despite of having expressed its request to become a conservatoire to the previous Cabinets for more than 20 years, the Music and Dance College of Mongolia hasn't seen any progress. Now, the intentions of the college have come true. The college staff expressed their gratitude to the Minister's valuable contribution to the development of professional arts in Mongolia.

In upcoming February, a Russian delegation will arrive in Mongolia to work at the Music and Dance College, and conduct a study on the curriculum, equipments and technology and instruments of the college.

Mongolian Music and Dance College, named after legendary composer S.Gonchigsumlaa was established on April 10, 1937 with a name 'School of Art'. Later in 1996, the name was finalized to 'Music and Dance College' after several changes.

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Sarkunam-Madhavan film to be shot in Thailand and Mongolia

January 6 (Sify) Madhavan is all set to commence his new film with director Sarkunam of Vaagai Sooda Va and Kalavani fame. In an official statement, Sarkunam has said that the yet untitled film will an action adventure set in forest backdrop. 

"My story has forest backdrop and it will be shot in Thailand, Mongolia and Tajikistan. Ghibran has been roped in as the music director and we will soon confirm the rest of other cast and crew",  said Sarkunam.

Talking about the genre of the film, Sarkunam said "It will be a combination of action and adventure, focussed mainly on kids. It will be an absolute family entertainer". 

Common Man Ganesh of Rekka and Orange Mittai fame is bankrolling the film. 

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Russian circus tiger walks the streets of Ulaanbaatar

Ulaanbaatar, January 7 /MONTSAME/ Yesterday, a 3-year-old female tiger 'Magda' of the Demidovs Circus, Russia took a walk around the streets of Ulaanbaatar, attracting children's and youth interest. The Demidovs Circus is performing a show at ASA Circus in Ulaanbaatar on January 6-8, where performances of tigers and lions as well as motorbike artists are entertaining the Mongolian audience.

'- I started to train Magda tiger at her age of 6 and she is the gentlest and most tamed beast in our circus. Magda has staged her performance in Germany and Italy, besides Russia. Our circus has two tigers, four white tigers, and two white lions. Magda has a weight of 130 kg. Tigers eat 6-8 kg of meat daily and keep diet once in a week" said trainer Rostislov.

Mr. Rostislov learned to train animals from his childhood, as her parents are trainers with 20 year experience.

The circus needs 250 kg beef, 10 kg carrot and 250 eggs weekly to feed its tigers and lions.

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Travel

Foreign Minister warns Mongolian citizens in Turkey over terrorism threat

Ulaanbaatar, January 7 (MONTSAME) On January 6, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia issued a warning to Mongolian nationals living in Turkey to be careful over increased terrorist threats in the country. 

In particular, on January 5, two attackers clashed with police and detonated a car bomb in front of the courthouse in Izmir city, Turkey. As a result, two police and court employees were killed and 11 people were wounded.

Before that, 39 people, including at least 15 foreigners were killed and 69 were injured in a terrorist attack at a Reina night club in Istanbul, Turkey on January 1.

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A Favorite Spot: A Holy Mountain in Mongolia

December 28 (The Longitude Blog) Kindly contributed by Jack Weatherford, author of several books about Genghis Khan and Mongol culture, including Genghis Kahn and the Making of the Modern World and The Secret History of the Mongol Queens. His latest book, Genghis Khan and the Quest for God  delves into the great leader's tactics off the battlefield, in the world of religion. Here the historian shares a favorite spot to write, live and be in Mongolia.

I live and write in my favorite spot on planet Earth.  It is an eight-kilometer long valley on the eastern side of the Bogd Khan Mountain in Mongolia, located at 47°47'20.0″N 107°06'47.9″E.  It has been a sacred site since the Bronze Age three thousand years ago.  In 1699 the Buddhist leader of the country, Zanabazar, named it Tur Hurah, the National Assembly, designating it as the place where the nobles would gather each summer away from the prying eyes of the Manchu officials in the city and to enjoy the special airag, fermented mare's milk produced from horses raised in the sacred valley.

In the summer verdant patches of land on the mountainside blossom with a delicate carpet of edelweiss and explosive bursts of feather grass, asters, lilacs, forget-me-nots, majestic veronica and beautiful fireweed. In the summer, the fields swarmed with bees, black and orange butterflies and spiders frantically spinning silk webs between flowers. Fat flies clustered as soon as the wind subsided, and the crisp, clear call of the cuckoo echoed from the cliffs.

Few foreigners come to the valley, but in the summer, people come from the city to camp, and hikers make the trek up the mountain to its peak. Wrestlers fill the valley in June in order to drink the sacred mountain waters and practice for their national competition, Naadam, that beings each year on July 11.  In late summer young people come from the small village at the mouth of the valley and gather wild strawberries, mushrooms and pine nuts.

Every day in every season some 200 cows and horses parade into the valley to graze, and unaccompanied, they return down to the village at dusk.  They dare not linger in the valley at night because of the large pack of wolves that roam the hillside.  In the summer the wolves cause few problems, but in the winter they prey on the cows and horses, and the herders have to frequently come searching for stray animals in hope of finding them before the wolves.  Because the zone is sacred, the wolves are protected from harm and are left free to hunt unmolested by humans.

The valley has been sacred at least since the time of the Huns, two thousand years ago, and every day I walk past their graves. Still today shamans frequently visit the valley with their worshippers for ceremonies that may be as short as a few minutes or last for weeks.

Despite the beauty and popularity of the place in the summer, my favorite season is winter—undeniably incredible and spectacular.  As the beauty and bounty of summer and fall quickly gave way to the relentless cold of winter, the visitors cease to come.  The stream in front of my home freezes and animals disappear into the earth. The green needles of the larch trees turn yellow and cover the ground with a golden flooring that is soon blanketed with snow.  Springs that feed the stream continue to bubble up forming a frozen lake that expands every day for six months, twisting and turning over the landscape.

This time of year I like to get up before 5:00 A. M.  At this hour the world is incredibly cold, typically about minus thirty in January.  The air is crystal clear without a drop of moisture, and there are no clouds.  At this hour, the moon and stars reflect off the ice with such intensity that it seems like day.  The stars across the sky drop to the horizon in every direction, and I begin each day staring at them and marking how far they have moved in their constant rotation around the North Star.  The bitter wind whips around the edge of the cliffs with such force that it could peel the skin from an exposed face or cause toes to break off. Wolves howl through long nights that were so cold the moonlight itself seemed to have frozen.

Usually, I write until noon, eat some mutton soup with noodles, and by 2:00 in the afternoon I am bundled in several layers of clothes, boots, hats and gloves for my walk, the climax of each day.  I rarely see anyone in the two hour walk.  Occasionally a herder rides by in the distance on one of  the constant tasks that keep them moving.  Every few days a vehicle ventures into the valley, more often poachers from the city come to hunt illegally in the park or sometime just to get drunk.  If I see anyone, it is usually one of the gleaners who come up from the village to gather wood.  Although no cutting or trees is allowed in the national park, by tradition they can glean fallen wood and take dead trees, but only a small hand-cart load per day.  In the isolation of the valley I come to know the tracks of most of their carts or their unique boot prints as well as the paths they usually follow.  Sometimes one joins me for part of my walk since by this late in the day they usually head home.  Sometimes we talk or sit silently and watch the animals, and occasionally I go home with one of them for salty milk tea before returning to the isolation of my home.

My wife and I fell in love with Tur Hurah, its dramatic, yet peaceful, clash of seasons, the animals, and austere beauty.  After her death it became my refuge, the only place in the world where I did not feel her absence, where I did not miss her.

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9 Reasons You Need to Visit Mongolia in 2017

January 6 (VOGUE) Travelers often overlook Mongolia for its bustling neighbors, China and Russia. But in Mongolia—one of the world's most sparsely populated countries—by venturing into the wild with epic horse rides through the valleys, climbing up to Buddhist villages and temples, hiking through the mountains, luxurious yurt stays under a canvas of stars, and homey dishes that are truly farm to table, one finds the perfect antidote to the intensity of, say, Shanghai or Moscow. Still relatively untouched by modern life, the country offers visitors a true look into life off the grid, but a slowly growing number of tour providers are making it easier to navigate the vast wilderness. Here, nine reasons to visit that will quickly catapult Mongolia to the top of your bucket list.

The Gobi Desert

One of the largest deserts in the world, the vast Gobi Desert encompasses much of northern China and southern Mongolia. Bordered by the staggering Altai Mountains and the vast grasslands of northern Mongolia, the views you get from atop a camel or standing on a towering sand dune will vary depending entirely on which way you look. Like the deserts of North Africa or the Middle East, the Gobi offers a range of unique ways to explore its rolling and endless horizon—via camelback, in a 4×4 Jeep, or by foot. However, once you get there, spend a few hours climbing to the top of the Khongor sand dunes, which offer panoramic views of the expansive desert. Also, be sure to explore the dinosaur remains petrified in Bayanzag. Excavated in 1922, it's one of the only places besides North America where fossils are still being discovered.

The History

Few places in the world have the rich, albeit complicated, history of Mongolia—ranging from the imperialist reign of Genghis Khan to the intertwined Communist rule. Khan's kingdom once stretched from the edges of Eastern China to Persia, and he is still remembered as one of Mongolia's fiercest warriors. Today, his likeness is used on everything from vodka to hotels, but more noble tributes exist as well, like a staggering 130-foot-tall statue of him on horseback on the banks of the Tuul River or a museum at his birthplace of Dadal (in Mongolia's northeast Khentii region).

Nearly 100 years after the Mongolian Revolution, which led to Communist rule in Mongolia, the country still bears vestiges of its political past. The buildings in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar feature the gray and concrete facades associated with Soviet architecture, and the museums, such as the Victims of Political Persecution Museum—dedicated to those who fell prey to the purges of the era—are stark reminders of that period. Even though much of the older generation still reveres their Communist roots, many of the younger residents focus on the democratic future of their country.

The Adventures

With the ever-changing terrain, the nearly constant blue skies, and the incredibly beautiful landscapes, most people are flocking to the wilds of Mongolia for the chance of some heart-pumping adventure. From climbing up the steep and craggy terrain of Bogd Khan Mountain to hiking around the crystal blue Ugii Lake, and horseback riding from Ulaanbaatar to the majestic Orkhon waterfall, there are plenty of ways to experience the rugged Mongolian countryside. For those truly serious about seeing the most remote parts of the country, there's the annual 100-mile trek through the Altai Mountains that follows the movements of the hundreds of Kazakhs who brave the minus-25-degree temperatures to reach western Mongolia. The Kazakhs, who are mostly hunters, gatherers, and farmers, brave the harsh climate every spring in order to gather food and herd their animals.

The Camping

It's free to camp throughout Mongolia, but experts recommend doing plenty of research before plotting your course and making sure you are thoroughly outfitted—you can easily go for days without seeing another person (especially a person who speaks and understands English). Another alternative to tent camping is to seek out one of the country's many yurt campsites, which often feature luxurious amenities like saunas, heated tents, warm handmade yak blankets, and even rain showers. Many of these campsites also offer activities, from sunrise horseback rides around the mountains to archery lessons.

The Unique Gastronomy

When most people think of Mongolia, there's a strong chance the culinary scene doesn't come to mind. The capital of Ulaanbaatar has quite a global array on offer, from North Indian to Mediterranean fare (and global chains like KFC), but outside of the city is where you'll find the true cuisine of the country. Most villagers live on sheep's milk, sheep's cheese, and mutton (ask for the mutton fried and served with buttery dumplings known as buuz, or with the flaky khuushuur pastries), though camels, yaks, goats, and horses are other common sources of protein. You'll also find hearty stews (tsuivan) with mutton and even noodle dishes that reflect a bit of Chinese culinary influence. However, don't expect many fresh vegetables—the rural people of Mongolia need as much animal protein and starchy carbs as they can to withstand the freezing winters.

The Great Outdoors

With one of the lowest population densities in the world, most of Mongolia is comprised of nearly pristine natural landscapes. Imagine endless untouched space punctuated only by an occasional hut or herd of sheep. Not only that, but the landscape is incredibly varied: the sand dunes of the Gobi desert; rolling grasslands that make up more than half of the country's terrain; soaring Altai Mountains; thick forests of northern Mongolia; and beautiful lakes, like Khövsgöl Nuur, which give the country 65 percent of its freshwater.

The Lack of Tourists

Due to the country's extremely harsh winters (temperatures can dip well below minus-25 degrees) and relatively remote and unchartered landscape, most tourists opt for neighboring Russia and China, and even Nepal. However, with more flights being offered from the U.S. to Ulaanbaatar, and more adventure tour groups, like Intrepid, sponsoring backpacking trips around the country, it won't be long before this unchartered land becomes the next place to be. So book a ticket, a tour, or a trek as early as you can in 2017 to enjoy the unspoiled landscapes before the rest of the world figures them out.

The Spirituality and Serenity

Despite the country's Communist past, more than half of the residents are proudly Buddhist. The most important Buddhist site in the country is the Erdene Zuu Monastery, which was built from the rubble of Genghis Khan's former headquarters and now sits near the center of Kharkhorin. In the capital, don't miss a visit to Buddha Park or the Gandan Monastery. It's easy to find a deep sense of calm not just at the monasteries themselves but also from the humbling vistas that surround them.

The Festivals

One of the best ways to soak up the country's history and culture is to visit during the annual Naadam festival, which takes place every July. It combines some of the most important and traditional aspects of Mongolian culture, from wrestling competitions and horse races to cultural performances and culinary offerings. The country also celebrates its New Year with parties and feasts.

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10 great off-the-radar travel destinations for 2017

January 6 (USA Today) If you've resolved to make 2017 a year of travel, there's no reason to visit the same places as everyone else. Follow the lead of Lee Abbamonte, who at 32 became the youngest American to visit all 193 United Nations member states, and is just six destinations shy of completing an even more select list of 325 territories, islands and lawless enclaves maintained by the Travelers' Century Club. "I'm just a regular guy that does cool stuff." He shares with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY some of his favorite off-the-radar destinations.

Mongolia

Expect to find yurts, yaks and adventure at this legendary central Asian nation. "It's one of the most beautifully deserted places in the world. There are few paved roads outside of the capital," Abbamonte says, although that city, Ulaanbaatar, is worth visiting too. "You can take advantage of some primitive tourism now, as opposed to waiting until the Four Seasons builds a desert resort." visitmongolia.com

Oman

Dewey Beach, Del.

Namibia

Fort Worth

Bolivia

Moab, Utah

Kiawah Island, S.C.

Palau

Alberta, Canada

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Worried about terrorism? Here's where to stay safe on holiday

January 5 (Derby Telegraph) Icy winter weather and grey skies make many Derbeians think of one thing - summer holidays.

Online holidays searches go crazy at this time of year as people longing for warmer days and a change of scene consider their options.

It's always good to get something booked as half the fun is looking forward to your trip. But, following a string of horrific terror attacks in 2016, where are the safest destinations for Derby's holiday makers?

In the past year, many Brits have cancelled holidays to popular destinations like Tunisia, Turkey and Egypt following atrocities.

In the past 12 months, there have been horrific terror attacks in Berlin, Nice and Istanbul. The terror threat is also "high" in Egypt, where a Russian aircraft was bombed last year.

The Foreign Office uses four ratings when judging the threat of a terrorist attack in its travel advice: high, general, underlying and low.

Of some of the most popular holiday destinations, the FO says Spain has a "general" level of terrorism and France, Turkey, Tunisia and Belgium are at "high".

Here's a list of 15 peaceful (and beautiful) alternative holiday destinations with a low threat of terrorism you could consider booking instead. Plus, we tell you how easy (or otherwise!) it is to get there from East Midlands Airport.

1. Iceland

2. Switzerland

3. The Czech Republic

4. Mongolia

Mongolia, a nation bordered by China and Russia, is known for vast, rugged expanses and nomadic culture. Its capital, Ulaanbaatar, centres around Chinggis Khaan (Genghis Khan) Square, named for the notorious founder of the 13th and 14th century Mongol Empire.

The threat of terrorism is low, although foreigners should avoid going out on foot alone as they can be targeted because of their comparative wealth.

No direct flights from EMA to Mongolia unfortunately but, if you don't mind a few stop-offs, it is possible to get a return trip starting from our local airport for £971.

5. Fiji

6. Poland

7. Vietnam

8. Malta

9. Hungary

10. Cambodia

11. Honduras

12. Bolivia

13. Japan

14. St Lucia

15. Derbyshire

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Fabulous Terelj Hotel In Picturesque Mongolia

January 6 (Luxe Feed) Situated right within China to the south and Russia to the North, the landlocked sovereign state of Mongolia is one of the most picturesque places in East Asia. For those who are accustomed to the finer things in life, this country offers a generous selection of high-end hotels, and today we're going to focus on the amazing Terelj Hotel, which is located at the center of Mongolia's Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. During your stay, you'll be able to learn a few things about Mongolian culture, and you'll also be able to experience some of its most interesting aspects.

In close proximity to the Terelj River, the hotel provides amazing panoramas of its surroundings, but you won't spend your time there simply admiring the views, as there are plenty of other activities available. A fine example is horseback riding, which offers perfect opportunities to explore the establishment's grounds. The rooms impress with antique furnishings, local art elements, and marble floors, to say nothing of the high-end amenities, comfortable fabrics, and unique decors. When it comes to dining, the Terelj Hotel offers plenty of local and Western-based delicacies, including a Mongolian barbecue with a French twist.

And after an engaging day spent exploring and taking in the local sights, you can always head back and spend some time at the Tea Lounge, Cocktail Lounge or Cigar Lounge. Doesn't sound bad at all, does it?

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Suite 303, Level 3, Elite Complex

14 Chinggis Avenue, Sukhbaatar District 1

Ulaanbaatar 14251, Mongolia
Email: info@covermongolia.com

Office: +976 7711 6779

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