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MONGOLIA – Weekly press review 10 August 2020

10/08/2020 - 10:44
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 293 and the total number of recovered patients reached 263 on 10 August. worldometers

Repatriation to take place through Altanbulag and Zamyn-Uud border checkpoints: According to Head of the Operative Staff, Colonel Uuganbayar, repatriation of Mongolian citizens will take place through Altanbulag border checkpoint on 7-10 August and through Zamyn-Uud border checkpoint on 10-11 August, allowing Mongolians stranded in Russia and China to return home. montsame

Hundreds of Mongolians stuck in Hungary due to coronavirus: Mongolia suspended entry to the country at all border crossings in March – even for its own citizens. Those who have previously travelled abroad on a scholarship, as a tourist, or on a business trip have not been able to return home for months, so thousands of Mongolians have been stuck in Europe, including Mongolian students who cannot return home from Hungary either. Despite demonstrating in front of the embassy, they received no answer as to when they could return home. hungarytoday  

Silent protest of Mongolians stranded in USA: Inscribed with messages such as “Shame on Mongolian Government,” “Stranded five months Citizens should be ‘Allowed to Return Home,” and “We miss our family and children,” the signs were a startling reminder of the COVID-19 pandemic’s far-reaching consequences. With the world on lockdown and every country an island, thousands of Mongolians and other foreign nationals have now been marooned in the United States for months—not quite Crusoe, but not far off, either. news

EU – Mongolia 

European Union brings relief to victims of flash floods in Mongolia: In response to a series of floods that have wreaked havoc across different parts of Mongolia since mid-June, the European Union is providing EUR 100,000 in humanitarian aid funding to assist the most vulnerable communities. The aid will directly benefit 3,700 affected people in some of the hardest hit areas in the provinces of Arkhangai, Khentii, Khuvsgul, Orkhon, Tuv and Uvs, as well as in Bayanzurkh and Sukhbaatar districts in the capital of Ulaanbaatar. eeas.europa.eu   

Foreign Minister Enkhtaivan receives Czech Ambassador Jiří Brodský: On 30 July Minister of Foreign Affairs Enkhtaivan received Mr. Jiří Brodsky, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Mongolia. The Foreign Minister thanked the Czech Government and the International Organization for Migration for arranging the charter flight, scheduled on August 10th, to repatriate Mongolians from the Czech Republic and touched upon the issue of protecting the interests of its citizens. mfa.gov.mn

Cooperation in vocational education and training sector to be developed with Germany: Ambassador Joern Rozenberg expressed willingness to strengthen current relations and focus more attention on vocational education and training sector. A project entitled “Partnership-based Technical and Vocational Education and Training” has been successfully implemented in 2013-2016, 2016-2019 and 2019-2021 to promote vocational education and training with support of the Government of Germany. montsame

16 Staff of Hustai National Park provided with apartment: The apartment project was financed within a project entitled “Biodiversity and Adaptation to Climate Change”, which is being carried out by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism through KfW Development Bank of Germany in accordance with Mongolia-German development cooperation. montsame

Foreign Minister receives Chargé d'Affaires a. i. of the  Hungarian Embassy: On 31 July, Minister of Foreign Affairs Enkhtaived received Chargé d'Affaires ad interim of the Embassy of Hungary in Mongolia Borbala Obrusanszky. During the meeting, the sides expressed satisfaction with the implementation of the renovation project of Biocombinat, and agreed to organize some events on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in compliance with the current situation of the pandemic, repatriate Mongolian students studying in Hungarian universities, and start talks on further cooperation projects. montsame

Hungarian Government takes care of Mongolian students stranded in the country: A total of 240 Mongolian citizens, including 78 Mongolian students, have been stuck in Hungary since the introduction of the restrictions since March 2020. At Ulaanbaatar’s request, the Hungarian Government has stepped in to provide financial support and accommodation to the Mongolian students who are stranded in the country. news

Darkhan Nekhii JSC prepares for export to Russia: In the first half of 2020, the company’s total assets have reached MNT 63.1 billion, 3.9% increase compared to the same period of last year. The company is now successfully carrying out two major projects and implementing quality management system for three of its subsidiaries by receiving consulting service on ISO9001:2015 quality management system with support from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. montsame

Political and internal developments

Irregular session of Parliament to convene during 17–31 August: The agenda includes the following nine items: 1. Draft of a budget and priorities for Mongolia's development over the next five years; 2. Cabinet’s draft of a 2020-2024 action plan; 3. Revisions and amendments to laws concerning the state budget, Social Insurance Fund, and health insurance for 2020; 4. Draft of a parliamentary resolution on state budget expenditure and Cabinet’s consolidated financial report for 2019; 5. Draft of a state budget agenda for 2021 and 2022-23; 6. Revised draft of amendments to the Law on the Management of Administrative and Territorial Units of Mongolia and its related legislation; 7. President’s partial veto of amendments to the Law on Parliament, dated May 26, 2020; 8. Draft resolution on the approval of a strategy for decreasing loan interest rates 9. Draft resolution on the approval of an agenda for Parliament's 2020 fall session.  amcham

Court denies former Prime Minister M. Enkhsaikhan’s sentencing appeal: On July 30, the Capital City Criminal Appeals Court ruled against an appeal to the sentencing issued for former Prime Minister M. Enkhsaikhan, who was found guilty of abuse of power and sentenced to 4.6 years in prison and banned from holding public office for four years.  paxmongolica

Former Minister of Agriculture B. Batzorig pleads guilty, fined MNT 40 million for SME Fund scandal: Mr Batzorig was found guilty of abuse of power by the Bayanzurkh District First Instance Court for Criminal Cases, and fined 40 million MNT and prohibited him from serving in public office for five years. The court ruled him being guilty of abusing his power during his term in office to benefit himself and others when he authorized a one billion MNT loan from the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Fund. amcham

Democratic Party to amend its general rule: The National Policy Committee (NPC) of the Democratic Party (DP) convened from 3 to 4 August. During the conference, the committee decided to amend the party’s general rule to reform the party and establish a working group to draft the amendments to the rule. The NPC has scheduled a party congress for 16 November due to the COVID-19 pandemic and preparations for local election. Currently more than 10 people have applied to run for DP chair. theubposts

Sustainable forest management to be enhanced with FAO: Minister of Environment and Tourism D.Sarangerel met with Resident Representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Mongolia Vinod Ahuja to exchange views on bilateral cooperation in environment. Resident Representative Vinod Ahuja gave information on ongoing joint environmental projects and programs, and other projects the sides can work together in the future and voiced his hope that measures based on sustainable value chain will support local economic and social development, thus improving environmental protection and sustainability. montsame

Foreign Policy

“Green Gateway” temporary trade regulation with China comes into effect 1 August:  With implementation of the temporary regulation, freight vehicle drivers will have greater access to enter Mongolian and Chinese border checkpoints than before. In addition to it, it enables engineering and technical workers of the two countries, who are required for largest cooperation projects and programs, to mutually travel in the two countries. montsame

Mongolia-China Strategic Dialogue held virtually: The two sides agreed to maintain the frequency of talks at all levels, hold high-level reciprocal visits when the current situation turns the corner, and hold meetings of key mechanisms of bilateral cooperation in an appropriate manner in order to develop bilateral cooperation sustainably. Introducing the goals set by the Government of Mongolia to ensure sustainable economic development, Deputy Minister Munkhjin noted the importance of increasing trade turnover between the two countries as much as possible and revitalizing economic and investment cooperation at a time when the economies of the countries around the world is facing hardships due to the pandemic. montsame

China to provide CNY 600 million (+/- EUR 73M) as non-refundable aid to Mongolia: The People’s Republic of China has resolved to provide a non-refundable aid of CNY 600 million to Mongolia for the procurement of border inspection equipment. montsame

Mongolia to enjoy tariff discount on 10 thousand types of products by joining APTA: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed about the works to join the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) in regard with expansion of export market. The Parliament of Mongolia ratified this agreement in 2019 and its implementation will begin in 2021. By joining the agreement, it will become able to enjoy tariff discount of 5-100% on 10.667 types of products to import and export products to China, South Korea, India, Bangladesh, Laos and Sri-Lanka.  montsame

Mongolia officially joins Asian Forest Cooperation Organization: Chargé d'Affaires at the Embassy of Mongolia to the Republic of Korea N.Erdenetuya handed over the letter of ratification of “The Agreement on the establishment of the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCO)” to Executive Director of AFoCO Chencho Norbu in Seoul on 1 July. The agreement was ratified by the Mongolian Parliament on 21 November 2019. By handing over the letter of ratification, the agreement will enter into force for Mongolia starting 31 July. montsame

Mongolian-Korean cooperation centre to be built: The Ulaanbaatar Mayor's Office and the South Korean Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Start-ups signed a memorandum on 17 March to open a Mongolian-Korean cooperation centre in New Yarmag. In July, a Korean agency reported that a subcontractor for the project has been selected. The centre will focus on developing start-ups in Mongolia in various ways, such as developing entrepreneurship education, leading accelerator programs, and training human resources, all of which will help develop trade cooperation between the two countries. amcham

New Country Director at World Vision International Organization in Mongolia appointed: World Vision Mongolia has announced that Bolortsetseg Bold was appointed as the National Director of World Vision Mongolia effective from 3 August 2020. Bolortsetseg is the first Mongolian and first woman to hold this executive leadership position. montsame

Economy

Mongolia and China extend currency swap agreement: The Bilateral Currency Swap Arrangement of CHY 15 billion or MNT 6 trillion made between the Bank of Mongolia and the People’s Bank of China was successfully renewed on 31 July 2020 for three more years until 2023. news

Mongolia’s budget deficit reaches 9.8% of GDP: Mongolia’s budget deficit currently stands at 9.8% of GDP amid the coronavirus crisis. According to Finance Minister Khurelbaatar, in the amendment to the 2020 State Budget, the deficit would be MNT 3.8 trillion. The budget revenue fell by MNT 2 trillion in the first half of 2020 and tax revenue flow was curtailed by MNT 3.4 trillion due to coronavirus stimulus package which zeroed most taxes. news

Bank of Mongolia purchases 11.3 tonnes of gold: The Central Bank of Mongolia reported that it had purchased a total of 11.3 tonnes of gold as of July 2020. Mongolia’s foreign exchange reserves stood at 3.6 billion U.S. dollars at the end of the first half of this year, enough to cover imports for nine months. news

Mongolian Cabinet extends coronavirus stimulus package from 1 October to the end of 2020. All entities and companies are exempt from paying social insurance contributions for six months from 1 April until 1 October. However, the taxes will be cut by 50 percent until end of 2020; enterprises with revenues of less than MNT 1.5 billion are entitled to exemption of corporate tax; the Child Benefit Allowance of MNT 20,000 for children aged under 18 is to be raised to MNT 100,000. news

Mongolia's coal export drops nearly 50% amid COVID-19 pandemic: Mongolia exported a total of 11.2 million tons of coal in the first seven months of this year, a decrease of 46.4% compared to the same period last year. The sharp decline, said the Mongolian Customs General Administration, is largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a bid to boost cooperation with China amid the pandemic, Mongolia has introduced a temporary regulation called Green Gateway, which came into effect on 1 August, according to the Mongolian Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry. xinhuanet

First 50km of 414km Mongolian freight line completed:   According to a post on Mongolian Railways website on 17 July, preliminary construction of foundations for the new line are 91.4% complete, with pipeline work 79.2% complete and bridges 44.2% complete. The Mongolian government reportedly scrapped a planned IPO for the Tavan-Tolgoi mine due to coronavirus pandemic in April. railpage

Commentary

The people that Covid-19 has cut off from home: Mongolians are some of the hardest hit. The only way home is via a government evacuation flight, but these only run once a month from Frankfurt and Istanbul. The tickets are expensive, and passengers must also pay for a mandatory 21-day stay in a government quarantine facility on arrival.  Even for those who have the money, demand outstrips supply. Thousands apply for seats on each plane, and most are rejected, amid rumours that those with government connections are given priority. the guardian

Mongolia’s Response to Increasing U.S.-China-Russia Rivalry in Asia: In the last few years, especially during the Trump administration, Mongolia has developed a strategy, in the face of a growing competitive environment throughout Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific, to maximize its relations with its only two border neighbours, China and Russia, while still strengthening its ties to the United States. vimeo

Mongolia and the Survival of Democracy in an Authoritarian Neighbourhood: Although the newly passed amendment was intended to annul the President’s new powers and protect the judiciary from that political influence, the recent charges against prominent political figures suggest otherwise. Sandwiched between Russia and China, Mongolia will host its 9th Presidential election next year in 2021. According to the constitutional amendment, the President will serve only one six-year term. The resilience of democracy will once again be put to the test. ispionline

Ecological Aspects of Mining Enterprises in the Areas of the China–Mongolia–Russia Economic Corridor: the study presents the results from investigating the environmental impact of the mining industry in the Baikal region and Mongolia where in accordance with the tripartite international agreements it is planned to create the China−Mongolia−Russia transport economic corridors.  link.springer

Arvo Ott: We Conclude That Current Level Of Mongolian Digitalization Is Relatively Good – Interview: Delegations from the Estonian e-Governance academy had visited state agencies for further cooperation last February.  mongolianeconomy

Was it worth it? What actual and potential human rights violations has the government of Mongolia or in other words, the ruling party, MPP committed? The most recent potential human right’s violation we all have witnessed is that the authorities let a young Mongolian woman and a Mongolian male driver stay in no-man’s-land for two days, refusing to let them enter their home country. theubposts

Global norm domestication and selective compliance: The case of Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi mine: Mongolia is in the midst of one of the world's largest mining boom and the Gobi Desert is the construction site of what is expected to become the World's thirdlargest goldcopper mine: Oyu Tolgoi. The paper follows the case of Oyu Tolgoi to analyse how a complex array of global norms are being domesticated in the particular context of Mongolia. onlinelibrary

Mongolia: The Land of Eternal Blue Sky: We don’t know the full impact of the pandemic, but we know it’s significant. For example, the economy contracted by 10.7% in the first quarter of 2020 and government revenue fell by 8.6% year on year, while expenditure increased by 19.3%. Mongolia has a large amount of debt, which means that there is an increased risk of default on debt. According to the IMF, GDP is also expected to fall sharply to minus 1% this year, down from 5.3% in 2019. thediplomaticaffairs

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Prepared by Ganchimeg Mijiddorj

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