Delegation of the European Union to Colombia

MONGOLIA – Weekly press review 20 July 2020

20/07/2020 - 12:02
Mongolia – Weekly press review

DELEGATION OF THE EUROPEAN UNION TO MONGOLIA This information is based on media reports found in the open sources/via subscription, and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.

COVID-19

Total number of confirmed cases was 287 and the total number of recovered patients reached 213 on 20 July. Montsame

The government has extended the high alert period until 31 July. Ikon

Charter flights to be organised in July to: Seoul – 20 July; Tokyo – 21 July; Frankfurt – 26 July. Montsame

Mongolian peacekeepers repatriated from Afghanistan. Montsame

 

EU – Mongolia 

Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE): Statement by the Spokesperson on the re-appointment of the senior leadership: As the world’s largest regional security organisation, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is a cornerstone of the multilateral rules-based order and the European security architecture. The effective functioning of the OSCE is central to ensuring that our European continent develops into a pillar for peace, prosperity and justice for the rest of the world. While an overwhelming majority of OSCE participating States supported the proposal of the Chairmanship-in-Office, no consensus could be found on these reappointments. The decision of a limited number of participating States to oppose this proposal undermines the effectiveness of the Organisation and weakens the much-needed multilateral approach to security in Europe that the OSCE embodies. A fully functioning, proper and stable leadership is even more essential given the numerous current challenges in our shared continent, which the coronavirus pandemic has made even more urgent to resolve. Preserving the institutions and their strong mandates is the responsibility of all participating States. It is therefore essential that a consensus on the appointment of the OSCE leadership is reached without further delay. The European Union will continue to support the OSCE in its vital work. EEAS

In a world of disorder, Europe needs partners by HRVP Josep Borrell: As we battle the pandemic and its consequences, Europe must protect the openness of our model and the democratic nature of our system. They have been the source of our success. We are not ‘imposing’ anything on anyone. But we cannot accept that our choice for democracy is derided or undermined. “Europe feels somewhat lonely, trying to hold the multilateral ring. For sure we know that we need partners.” While the diagnosis must be sober, we must also avoid fatalism and paralysis. Europe feels somewhat lonely, trying to hold the multilateral ring. For sure we know that we need partners. EEAS

Political and internal developments

Minister of Foreign Affairs N. Enkhtaivan assumes his duties on 8 July: Minister Enkhtaivan graduated from Beijing University of Trade and Industry of China in 1993, received Master’s degree from the Mongolian National University in 1999, and Master’s degree from the Strayer University, USA in 2006. Minister N. Enkhtaivan has 23 years of experience in public and diplomatic services. He speaks English and Chinese. Montsame

Deputy Ministers appointed: the list is available here

Former Minister of Finance sentenced to 10 years in prison: The court concluded its ongoing trials for the Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement and the OT underground development agreement, known as the Dubai Agreement. The court sentenced former Minister of Finance S. Bayartsogt to 10 years in prison for abuse of power for personal gain when developing the Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement in 2009. The court found him guilty of engaging in insider trading when he bought 150,000 shares of Ivanhoe Mines and then sold them on an international stock exchange to earn a profit of USD 1.3 million, which he transferred to a bank in Switzerland, engaging in money laundering. B. Byambasaikhan, former head of Erdenes Mongol, and D. Ganbold, former head of Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi, were each sentenced to four years in prison and a three-year ban from holding public office. Former tax authority executives B. Ariunsan and B. Badral were sentenced to 1.6 years in jail and a two-year ban from holding public office after being found guilty of abusing their power to reduce the amount of taxes Oyu Tolgoi owed to the state. AmCham

Mongolia's traditional Naadam festival goes online due to coronavirus fears: In Central Asia, Mongolia's Naadam sporting festival kicked-off at the weekend but without the usual crowds of spectators due to Covid-19 fears. For the first time in its 800-year history, only a handful of guests - including top politicians - were permitted to attend in person. At a ranch near the capital Ulaanbaatar, contestants in the traditional games demonstrated what's known as the "three manly skills" of horsemanship, wrestling and archery. Most Mongolians were only able to watch the games on live broadcasts. Euronews  

Mongolia’s Virtual Naadam: For the first time in history, the competitions will be held without a live audience. With only just over 200 cases of coronavirus, all imported, and zero deaths, Mongolia has had tremendous success in their containment efforts, which the government has decided to extend to the Naadam Festival.The first official Naadam was held in 1206, the Year of the Tiger, when Temujin, the man who the world would come to know as Genghis Khan, inaugurated the largest celebration that had ever taken place on the Mongolian steppes. According to Jack Weatherford, author of Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, the Great Khan called together hundreds of thousands of soldiers, wrestlers, archers, horse racers, women, families, and camp followers for several days of celebration and sports competition. This year’s Naadam Festival commemorates the 2,229th anniversary of the foundation of the first Mongolian state, 814th anniversary of the founding of the Great Mongol Empire, and the 99th anniversary of the Mongolian People’s Revolution. The Diplomat 

Foreign Policy

Federation Council approves ratification of Mongolian-Russian Treaty on Comprehensive Strategic Partnership signed in September 2019, during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s official visit to Mongolia. Montsame

Economy

Registered unemployed decreased by 15.1%: At the end of June 2020, the number of registered job seekers reached 30.3 thousand, of which 19.6 thousand (64.5%) were registered as unemployed and the remaining 10.7 thousand (35.5%) were employed but looking for a new job. Registered unemployed decreased by 3.5 thousand (15.1%) from the same period of the previous year and by 226 (1.1%) from the previous month. Out of the total registered unemployed, 10.0 thousand or 51.1% were women. Montsame

Tavan Tolgoi Railway LLC extends their Tavan Tolgoi-Zuunbayan railway project agreement:  A cooperation agreement was signed with Mongolian Railways in June 2019, but the agreement expired this month. Last week, the parties agreed to renew the agreement and Tavan Tolgoi Railway LLC will continue overseeing the project. Tavan Tolgoi Railway LLC will continue to enforce the quality, standards, and regulations for project construction. Ikon/AmCham

Pandemic hits Mongolia’s economy growth: Mongolia’s economy has been a different story. Economic growth—a respectable 5.1% in 2019—is expected to fall sharply in 2020. The OECD originally forecast that Mongolia’s 2020 economy would grow at 5.% , but in May it revised its estimate dramatically downward, to minus 1 percent. The nation’s heavy reliance on export earnings from extractive industries makes matters worse. This lack of diversification is likely to hobble employment, investment, productivity, and longer-term recovery from the pandemic in an economic future that is “subject to unprecedented uncertainty” for Mongolia and many other developing nations. News

State budget deficit reached MNT 2.2 trillion in the first half of 2020: According to preliminary data for the first half of 2020, the state's budget revenue and aid totaled 4.4 trillion MNT, and budget expenditure and net lending reached MNT 6.3 trillion, resulting in a budget deficit of MNT 2.2 trillion. June's budget revenue and aid totaled MNT 794.7 billion, which was 14% higher than in May. June's budget expenditure and net lending reached MNT 1.4 trillion, which was 14.1% higher than in May. Total tax income for the first half of 2020 reached MNT 3.7 trillion, which is MNT 703.3 billion lower compared to the first half of 2019, affected by reductions in tax income, non-tax income and fees, social insurance payments, value-added taxes, and excise taxes.  AmCham

Mongolia's balance of payments account saw an USD 869 million deficit as of May rising by 77% (USD 378 million) compared to the same period in 2019. The deficit was mainly affected by a trade balance deficit for services of USD 569 million and a primary income account deficit of US 260 million. The financial account balance showed a deficit of USD 11.3 million during the reporting period, decreasing by USD 625.6 million compared to the same period last year. The balance of payments, which showed a surplus of USD 233.6 million in the first five months of 2019, deteriorated by US 1.4 billion, resulting in a deficit of USD 1.1 billion as of May. AmCham

Commentary

Cabinet Observations by Julian Dierkes: Given November 2019 constitutional amendments, there is some possibility of the relationship between parliament and cabinet being significantly reshaped. Why? Because in addition to PM Khurelsukh who also just won his seat in parliament in this election, only four more MPs can be appointed to parliament. Some of the intention behind the reduction in double deel-appointments was to strengthen parliament as a deliberative and legislative body that may act somewhat more independently of the government and also provide somewhat more oversight. The super-majority that the MPP won makes that somewhat less likely, but still, the possibility is there, especially with the large group of new MPs coming into parliament for the MPP (27 of them). These new MPs may not be looking at any reasonable chance to be appointed to cabinet, so they might look at their parliamentary work in a different light. Mongolia Focus 

A Renewed Khurelsukh Cabinet by Byambajav Dalaibuyan: Like the composition of MPP’s candidates for the parliamentary elections, a number of new, young people were included in the new cabinet. The only remaining ministers from Khurelsukh’s previous cabinet are L.Oyun-Erdene, Ch.Khurelbaatar and D.Sarangerel. 8 of 16 ministers are people aged between 37 and 46. Minister of Health T.Munkhsaikhan is the youngest (37) and D.Sarangerel, now Minister of Environment and Tourism, is the oldest (57). The MPP seems to have taken careful consideration about professional competence and experience of new ministers, which has been a major problem in previous governments. However, questions will remain over the capacity of ministers to act independently and in transparent manner. Mongolia Focus

Mongolia and the Belt and Road Initiative: The Prospects for the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor by Antonio Graceffo: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—and specifically, its primary Mongolian component, the China-Mongolia-Russia-Economic Corridor (CMREC)—promises to facilitate trade between Mongolia and its neighbors, as well as granting Mongolia access to overland routes to the European Union and sea ports in Asia. Amid its benefits, one of the most salient potential drawbacks for the BRI/CMREC is the implications that it bears for Mongolian sovereignty. The completion of CMREC would require a large investment in transportation infrastructure, thereby increasing Mongolia’s external debt, which already stands at 221% of nominal GDP (CEIC Data, 2020). Such a prospect carries the possibility of Mongolia being subjected to a BRI-related “debt trap” of the sort faced by countries such as Sri Lanka. The Jamestown Foundation

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Prepared by Edina Bartalová

Delegation of the European Union to Mongolia

ICC Tower, 6th floor, Jamiyan Gun Street 9

1st khoroo, Sukhbaatar district, Ulaanbaatar

https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/mongolia_en