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MONGOLIA – Weekly press review 11 January 2021

11/01/2021 - 06:07
MONGOLIA – Weekly press review

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Total number of confirmed cases reached 1442 and the total number of recovered patients was 896 on 11 January. Ikon (In MNG)

Strict lockdown eased on 11 January: The State Emergency Commission has announced to reduce the level disaster protection readiness. 18 types of businesses will remain closed during the high level of disaster protection readiness, such as:

  • All type of bars, mobile catering services
  • Game centres
  • Home cleaning services
  • Hotels, resorts, sauna, swimming pool, massage, spa centres, hairdressing, and beauty salons
  • Non-food and household goods sales
  • Public meetings, gatherings, fairs, expositions, arts, sports, entertainment, and religious venues
  • Trainings involving more than five people. Montsame (In MNG)

Restrictions on intercity traffic will continue: Vehicle movement in direction from Ulaanbaatar to other provinces will remain restricted. Montsame (In MNG)

Charter flight to be organised to South Korea on 15 January 2020. Montsame (In MNG)

About 1.2 million people involved in COVID-19 testing: A total of 1,170,370 people were tested nationwide, of whom 509,170 people were tested with rapid tests and 661,200 with Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests. Government (In MNG)

Mongolia confirms second death to coronavirus: 76-year-old year man with coronavirus died at the National Centre for Communicable Diseases. The man was suffering from chronic diseases including heart failure. News

Mongolia COVID-19 interactive dashboard is available in Mongolian and English.

EU - Mongolia  

Simple solutions campaign starts to call ger district residents to insulate their houses with materials at hand: Within the framework of the EU-funded “Switch Off Air Pollution” project, the Simple solutions campaign has been officially launched in Sukhbaatar and Songinokhairkhan districts with a call to insulate houses with the materials at hand. The aim of the campaign is to encourage the target group households to insulate their houses through low-cost simple solutions, and to raise public awareness about the importance of insulation. Montsame

Czech medical device suppliers and companies introduced: A virtual business meeting between Mongolia and the Czech Republic took place at the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce Industry (MNCCI). The meeting organized by the MNCCI, Embassy of the Czech Republic in Mongolia and Association of Manufacturers and Suppliers of Medical Devices. Medical device suppliers and companies in Czech Republic were introduced at the business meeting dedicated to Mongolian customers, healthcare organizations and businesses in health sector. Montsame

Political and Internal Developments

Draft Law on Courts being agreed for final discussion: The working group stressed that the draft law aims to bring into line with the 2019 Constitutional amendments. Members of Parliament voted on each 137 dissenting opinions and the draft proceeded for final discussion. Ikon (In MNG)

Addressing workplace harassment: Draft revision of the Law on Labour of Mongolia, which was amended 24 times since its enactment in 1999, is being discussed by Parliament. Most people enter into an employment relationship in order to work and earn a living. In this sense, the revised version of the law has vast implications on life in Mongolia, and impacts everyone. ub post

President Battulga submits draft resolution to support every household: The draft resolution states to allocate MNT 1 million (EUR 286.5) per household, and resolve the required financing with offshore sources. The money withdrawn from offshore accounts shall be deposited in a particular government account. Montsame

Lunar New Year not to be celebrated: The Cabinet decided not to celebrate the Tsagaan Sar - Mongolian Lunar New Year in conjunction with the pandemic situation. This year, Mongolian Lunar New Year will fall on 12-14 February. Montsame

Supreme Court hearing for former Prime Minister J.Erdenebat  and former Member of Parliament, Minister of Labour N.Nomtoibayar postponed: Trial for J.Erdenebat was rescheduled to 15 January and N.Nomtoibayar’s - 22 January. Both defendants have been sentenced to 6 years and 5.5 years in prison, respectively. News Ikon (In MNG)

Mongolia ranked 41st with budget transparency score: According to the Open Budget Survey (OBS) conducted by the International Budget Partnership, Mongolia ranked 41st out of 117 countries with transparency score of 56. Mongolia’s transparency score is moderately higher than its score in 2017. In OBS 2019, the global average transparency score is 45 out of 100. Open Budget Survey

Foreign Policy

The Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) enters into force in Mongolia: Participation in the APTA will enable Mongolia to enjoy reduced tax tariff barriers on certain types of export items. Mongolia expressed its interest to join APTA in 2009. As prerequisite for the accession, it had conducted several negotiations with member countries as well as adopting the Law on Ratification of Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement on 12 December 2019. Mongolia officially became the seventh member of the APTA. Montsame

Pentagon and Mongolian Ministry of Defence Conduct 17th Annual Bilateral Consultative Council: The officials reaffirmed their commitment to the U.S. - Mongolia bilateral relationship and agreed to advance defence cooperation on matters of common interest to support a free and open Indo-Pacific. The sides committed to enhance defence cooperation and collaboration to address current security challenges and to advance common interests. News

Oil refinery contractor visits the site: The representatives of JMC Projects India Ltd., which was selected as the contractor for the first phase of the construction of oil refinery plant to be built in Dornogobi province, visited the site. As part of the first phase of the project, it is planned to build 50 km-long stainless steel pipes to ensure water supply, as well as nine facilities, such as road, storage tank, etc. The oil refinery construction project is financed under USD 1 billion loan agreement established between the Government of Mongolia and the Exim Bank of India. Montsame

Meeting between Chairperson of the International Investment Bank (IIB) Management Board, and Ambassador of Mongolia to Russia took place in the Bank’s Moscow Branch. The IIB representative emphasized that currently the volume of the IIB loan and investment portfolio allocated in the interests of Mongolian projects is approaching EUR 80 million. In total, since the beginning of the Bank’s relaunch in 2012, the accumulated volume of IIB’s investments in Mongolia has exceeded EUR 242 million. News


Global Economic Prospects-World Bank revises GDP forecasts for Mongolia: 2020 -5.2%, 2021 +4.3%. Although global economic output is recovering from the collapse triggered by COVID-19, it will remain below pre-pandemic trends for a prolonged period. The recovery is expected to be fragile, and the materialization of a number of downside risks could derail the projected recovery. world bank world bank

Baganuur company to extract 4 million tonnes of coal in 2021: Last year the company with about 1200 miners overfulfilled the same plan target by extracting and selling 4 million 50 thousand tons of coal. The company is sole supplier of more than 60% of Mongolia's coal needs and 70% of thermal coal. Montsame

Business enterprises on the verge of bankruptcy: A joint statement has been made by companies, notifying that due to lockdowns they have exhausted all their financial resources to sustain their businesses. Companies urged the government for financial support. Montsame  (In MNG)

Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Report: Mongolia committed  to  implement  EITI  in  December  2005.  In February 2018 Mongolia became the second country to meet all the requirements of EITI standard among over 50 resource-rich countries joined the EITI. The report contains information on: Revenue stream of the extractive sector, Legal and budget policy, Contribution from extractive sector to economy, Mineral resource exploration, production and exports, State participation in the extractive sector, Licensing and contract transparency, An overview of mineral and oil resources, Social expenditures and rehabilitation activity, and Beneficial ownership. eiti

Import increased by 18.3%: The country’s total import reached to USD 84.9 million between December 28 and January 3, showing an increase of USD 13.1 million or 18.3% compared with the same period of previous year. Montsame

Losses at state-owned energy companies totalled MNT 100 billion (EUR 28.6 million) from 2011 to 2019: A profit and loss survey covering 22 state-owned energy companies over the past nine years has been published. The study consolidated the 2011-2019 financial reports for each enterprise. Almost all state-owned companies operated with loss, except those that distributed heat and electricity. Ikon (In MNG)


Mongolia’s successful business families subject to political persecution: Nomtoibayar Nyamtaishir, a former member of the parliament and cabinet minister, was detained in violation of the law during his running for the Parliament. Under the law, politicians are immune from criminal persecution for the time of the election campaign. In further blatant violation of the law, Nomtoibayar was arrested and put in custody without an indictment and unaware of the charges brought against him, nor was he given a chance to testify while the parliamentary elections were underway. The charges were read out to him only during the first hearing so that he was, in fact, denied the constitutional right to legal assistance guaranteed universally by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The hearing was held in camera. As a result, Nomtoibayar was served a prison sentence in the absence of a fair trial and without legal defence which represents a blatant violation of human rights on the part of appropriate judicial authorities, whose representatives are appointed and removed by the President. Net News Ledger

Is Mongolia Ready for a Female President?: Ts. Oyungerel, a former member of the Parliament, announced to compete to be the Democratic Party’s candidate in the June 2021 presidential elections. She could possibly become the second-ever woman to run for Mongolia’s presidency following N. Udval’s unsuccessful bid in the 2013 elections. When Oyungerel revealed her ambition to become the head of state, it left some in shock. Critics could not help involving her past and her family in the matter of her political career. There are two common – and preposterous – arguments as to why she cannot possibly run for the presidency. One is the claim that since she once worked for Elbegdorj, she must still be in his circle. (The former president has had a bad reputation since leaving office.) The second objection is that she is married to an American. Up to this day, the mere fact of a Mongolian woman getting married to a foreigner remains somewhat controversial. But beyond these objections, a number of Mongolian men and women find the idea of having a woman as the president quite disturbing. The Diplomat

Kleptocracy Strikes Mongolia? A Batbold Advisor Replies: The Global Anticorruption Blog’s (GAB) December 8 “Kleptocracy Strikes Mongolia? The Batbold Case” prompted dozens of reader comments. The post recounts a recently filed New York civil case where it is alleged that, while he was Prime Minister, Sukhbaatar Batbold worked with a South Korean couple to embezzle hundreds of millions of dollars which went in part to buy real estate in New York and elsewhere registered in the couple’s name. To date the one response has been a letter from a Batbold advisor asking GAB to delete the two posts. The advisor’s letter contains a blanket denial of wrongdoing by Batbold and a claim the case is politically motivated. It points to no inaccuracies, however. The Global Anticorruption Blog

Batbold Sukhbaatar: If you are honest, “the ox cart will catch up with the rabbit”: It is no secret that every time there is an organized slander about Mongolian politicians, there is a hidden motive behind it. Accusing and distorting facts which are in front of everyone’s eyes and proven by numbers is unthinkable and a sign of made up slander. Deliberate misrepresentation of the facts in foreign news raises suspicions that may be they are opposing the policy of raising taxes and lowering interest rates. It is clear that slander is for political purposes. Law enforcement agencies must investigate where and for what purpose the large sums of money paid to the foreign private detective company were spent from, and by whose order. News

How did Mongolia get off the money laundering watch list in record time? In October 2019, the country was placed on the “grey list” by the Financial Action Task Force. Being on this list means that there are strategic deficiencies in the country’s regimes to counter money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing that need to be addressed. Within 12 months, Mongolia was off the list. This was extraordinarily quick for a developing country to undertake the reforms and actions needed to get off the grey list, particularly amid a pandemic. Combating money laundering and terror financing is extremely complicated, requiring international expertise across a wide range of government and private sector activities. Working with development partners who have expertise in this area is key to an informed response. Mongolia leaned into their network of experts to develop an effective strategy. Asian Development Blog

Mongolia to be competitive with its social and economic development in Asia and the Pacific region by 2050: Vision-2050’ is a ‘Mongol development model’ that brings together the history of the Mongol Empire, nomadic culture, and unique national characteristics with the modern development ideology being followed internationally. Prior to 1990, our development model was mostly replicated from those of the USSR, then began to follow the lead of western countries from 1992. Directly “copying” them without adapting them to our characteristics and condition was perhaps a mistake in the past 30 years. This was corrected in the ‘Vision-2050’ policy document. That is why it is being referred to as the Mongol development model. Some 1,500 experts from all sectors came together to work on the development policy for the course of over a year. For the coming 30 years, you could say that our objective is to make big changes in our economic structure by reducing the overdependence on mining, and transition from a consumer economy into a manufacturing and export economy. Consisting of 9 goals and 47 objectives, it will be implemented in 3 phases, each for 10 years. Mongolia expects to increase current GDP per capita of USD 4,000 to USD 12,054 by 2030, and over USD 38,359 by 2050. Nikkei Asia

Renewed Geopolitical Rivalries: Challenges and Options for Mongolia: Ideally, the best option for Mongolia is to maintain friendly ties with all the great powers and to benefit economically as it sits at the merging point of different geopolitical strategies. In fact, this has been the case to a certain degree. The most likely worst-case scenario has China alone or together with Russia entering into conflict with the United States. This circumstance would force Mongolia to limit its relations with the United States and even to stand with its neighbours against the United States and its allies. The other worst-case scenario, which is less likely at the moment, is the emergence of Sino–Russian geopolitical tension. This would create the direst situation, in which Mongolia could easily fall into the control of either neighbour or become a battleground. The best-case scenarios are also possible and would create a favourable overarching setting for Mongolia to manoeuvre and maintain its sovereignty. The best-case scenarios have all the great powers seeking strategic stability because they are intertwined with domestic challenges or geopolitically distracted elsewhere. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung

A high-speed railway through Mongolia: Connecting Beijing with Brussels: China's "Silk Road" program, now known as "Belt and Road Initiative" (BRI) around the world encompassed Mongolia and around 30 projects were proposed in the beginning. By 2018, Mongolia refined its proposal into three components backed by studies of Mongolian researchers. Eastern provinces of Mongolia would focus on animal products and tourism as part of BRI. Central provinces would connect to the Chinese infrastructure and western provinces would develop tourism and cross-border trade. Obviously, Mongolia is a small country compared to its two big neighbours. But it has become apparent to both countries that their cooperation would be meaningless if they do not get active participation from Mongolia. The high-speed railway through Mongolian territory would be around 4,000 km, which will bring stability and prosperity to the region connecting Europe with Beijing through a hard infrastructure stretching 7,000-8,000km. Mongolia Weekly

Unimpeded trade and the construction of the China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor: problems and prospects: Since being included in the overall framework of the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative in 2014, the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor, one of the six economic corridors, has become an important part of China’s international economic and trade cooperation with neighbouring countries. Although China, Mongolia and Russia are all developing countries with a number of common interests and needs, there are also considerable differences between them in their international status, economic development, scale of foreign trade etc, and these differences are bound to have a direct or indirect impact on their cooperation. R Economy

India pressures Mongolia to complete oil pipeline on time: The Indian government has reaffirmed its commitment to building Mongolia's first oil refinery, but has also subtly pressured the Mongolian government to ensure an accompanying pipeline is constructed on time. The refinery, which is largely funded by the Indian government through a line of credit extended during high-level visits in 2015, is being built near the town of Sainshand. It is scheduled for completion in 2022. Interestingly, the refinery is apparently the largest project India is undertaking through its Lines of Credit program, which suggests New Delhi is keen to strengthen ties with Ulaanbaatar. The project is managed by the state-owned Engineers India Ltd. However, the fact that the Indian government has gone public with its request for Mongolia to complete the pipeline before the refinery opens suggests it may be concerned about project slippage. Mongolia Weekly

Despite producing and exporting thousands of barrels of oil per day, Mongolia depends on imports of finished petrochemicals from Russia to meet domestic demand.

Growing Mongolian coal exports alarm dry bulk owners: Dry bulk owners are watching customs data out of Beijing closely to see where China is sourcing coal from to replace banned Australian products – the choice will have enormous ramifications for the overall tonne-mile picture of the sector. Relations between Canberra and Beijing have soured in recent months after Australia called for an international probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading the government of Xi Jinping to ban a range of Australian products including coal. Most worrying for dry bulk owners is the growing exports by land from Mongolia into China – volumes have leapt during 2020. News

From the Steppe to the Slum: As mass livestock deaths threaten Mongolia’s nomadic culture, we meet the herders trying to survive and those who have abandoned their traditional ways. Weather conditions on Mongolia’s steppes are notoriously extreme, with temperatures ranging from minus 40 degrees Celsius in the northern hemisphere winter to 35 degrees Celsius in summer. But climate change is bringing on more severe weather patterns and with average temperatures rising at three times the global rate, the soil is becoming less fertile, leading to significant livestock death events known as “dzuds”. Al Jazeera

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Prepared by Geser Ganbaatar

Delegation of the European Union to Mongolia

ICC Tower, 6th floor, Jamiyan Gun Street 9

1st khoroo, Sukhbaatar district, Ulaanbaatar