Delegation of the European Union to Mongolia

MONGOLIA – Weekly press review 23 November

23/11/2020 - 08:34
MONGOLIA – Weekly press review



Total number of confirmed cases reached 640 and the total number of recovered patients was 340 on 23 November. The total number of COVID-19 domestic transmission cases in Mongolia have reached 204, 51 cases in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, 20 in Darkhan-Uul aimag, each 17 in Dornogobi and Orkhon aimags and 98 in Selenge aimag. Montsame

COVID-19 updated: A total of over 100,000 PCR and rapid COVID-19 tests have been performed, including 50,000 in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, until 22 November. More than 20,000 people have taken the test voluntarily and no positive cases has been confirmed, which possibly implies that there is no uncontrolled outbreak of local transmission of the virus among the public. 700 close contacts and 6,000 secondary contacts of COVID-19 patients, who have been confirmed, have all been tested, and plan of further detailed measures on the transmission dynamics of COVID-19 will be developed based on their final test results. Montsame

Public transport hours extended amid COVID-19 lockdown: public transport in Ulaanbaatar will return to normal, from 6 AM to 10 PM, to reduce crowds on public transport. Only essential businesses and services are allowed to remain open. Residents are urged to stay at home and only to leave if it is necessary. Residents can also use their private vehicles from 6 AM until 10 PM, but only for essential purposes and medical emergencies. Montsame

Visa and Residence Permit Extension Requests Temporarily Accepted Online: In connection with Mongolia’s state of public emergency preparedness, foreigners whose visa/residence permit expires between 12 November 2020 – 1 December 2020 can submit extension requests online at


EU - Mongolia  

Third EU-Mongolia Subcommittee on Trade and Investment will be held on 23 November in a virtual format. The provisional agenda is available here

Mongolia has already received following funds and assistance: EUR 16 million of grants as budget support as part of the European Union’s EUR 50.8 million of assistance for Mongolia’s COVID-19 related short, medium, and long term projects. USD 1.5 million from Germany for PPE and medical equipment as well as improving vocational education in Mongolia. Montsame

Germany to provide EUR 22 million to Mongolia for technical cooperation projects in the field of sustainable economic development, energy efficiency and biodiversity. The German-Mongolian intergovernmental negotiations on development cooperation took place on 18-19 November 2020 via video conference. Montsame 

President Battulga sends letter to his German counterpart seeking support for COVID-19 vaccine procurement. Montsame

Foreign Minister holds phone call with Spanish counterpart and discussed issues regarding bilateral and multilateral cooperation and response to COVID-19 pandemic. Montsame

OSCE launched a two-day roundtable: Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) launched a two-day round table meeting on 17 November to present and discuss assessment report released on the situation of human rights defenders in Mongolia and given recommendations. The participants openly discussed the assessment and recommendations given by the ODIHR while exchanging views on concerning issues and further cooperation. Furthermore, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Ms. Mary Lawlor participated as a guest speaker, sharing her views. In 2018, the ODIHR launched assessment of the situation of human rights defenders in OSCE member states. Within it, UN Special Rapporteur visited Mongolia on 24-28 September, 2019 to define the situation of human rights defenders in Mongolia, their achievements and challenges, give recommendations to the Government and seek cooperation possibilities. Montsame

Political and Internal Developments

Cabinet meeting in brief: Following decisions were made at the Cabinet meeting convened on 18 November: To complete construction of railroad en route Tavantolgoi-Zuunbayan in the third quarter of 2021, construction of railroad between Tavantolgoi and Gashuunsukhait in the third quarter of 2022, to develop blueprint of railroad construction en route Zuunbayan-Khangi  next year and complete its construction in 2024. To finish repairs of 58km auto road from Ulaanbaatar to Uvurkhangai, 67km auto road in route of Tosontsengel-Uliastai, ensure traffic safety of 126.7km paved road in route of Bayankhongor-Gobi-Altai and make the road accepted by the state commission. To formulate proposal on measures to be taken in stages to ban extraction of widely spread minerals on Tuul River basin. Montsame  

Mongolia to build 2022 km of highways: Financing for this new programme will be delivered through a combination of state funding, loans from international sources and by Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs). New stretches of highway will connect Darkhan with Altanbulag and Nalaikh with Bayan, featuring two lanes in either directions. The 58km road linking capital Ulaanbatar with Uvurkhangai will be improved, as will the 127km route connecting Bayankhongor with Gobi-Altai. Construction will also be carried out on the 67km route connecting Tosontsengel with Uliastai. News

New members of Human Rights Commission assume office: Five candidates chosen through open selection were approved on 6 November 2020, by the Mongolian Parliament. Montsame  

Mongolian president submits financial proposal for households amid pandemic: The president said that the government should develop a program to provide financial support of MNT 1 million (EUR 296) for each household in the country by 1 January. Xinhua

Foreign Policy

The Government of Mongolia has signed loan agreements for its COVID-19 response measures worth USD 299.5 million: Out of the total proposed international funds, USD 199.5 million has already been received, including USD 100 million from the Asian Development Bank's COVID-19 Rapid Response Program and USD 99.5 million under the Rapid Financing Instrument of the International Monetary Fund. The remainder USD 100 million loan from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is expected within the fourth quarter of 2020. Montsame


GDP decreased by 7.3% in first 9 months mainly due to 20.7% decrease in value added of the mining and quarrying sector and 7.0% decrease in value added of the service sector. Montsame

In October 2020, the gross industrial output increased by 14.3% from the previous month. This increase was mainly due to MNT 180.8 billion 14.8% increase in mining and quarrying output. Extraction of iron ore and gold increased by 4.7-31.3% compared to the same period of the previous year. Montsame

Tax revenue down 14.3%, budget expenditure up 30.3% in first 10 months: In October 2020, the equilibrated balance of the general government budget was in deficit of 519.7 billion, increased 6.3 times compared to the previous month. The General government budget revenue was comprised of 83.1% of tax revenue, 8.4% of non-tax revenue, 8.0% of the future heritage fund, and 0.5% of the stabilization fund. Montsame

Nation's inflation rate remains low at 2.4%: Next year, the Bank of Mongolia will reduce its inflation target by two percentage points to six percent with two percentage point intervals, which has been approved by Parliament. AmCham

Oyu Tolgoi announces performance results for third quarter 2020: OT paid USD 201 million in the form of taxes, fees and other payments to the Government of Mongolia as of the end of the third quarter of 2020. Since 2010, Oyu Tolgoi has paid USD 2.8 billion in taxes, fees and other payments including VAT to Mongolian suppliers. Mined copper production from the open pit was 28% higher than the same quarter of 2019. Montsame

Daniel Worrall: There are three immediate priorities for Rio to resolve with the Government of Mongolia: They include OT long-term power supply, underground project funding and approval of Resources and Reserves report. Mongolian Economy

Mongolia's coal exports fall in January-October: Mongolia exported 23.86 million tonnes of coal in January-October period, falling 26.19% year on year, with total value of USD 1.77 billion, slumping 35.46% year on year, according to latest data from Mongolian Customs General Administration (MCGA). My Steel

Mongolian coal shipment to China drops on environmental check: Mongolian coal shipments to China declined recently, mainly affected by China's air pollution control measures at border crossings instead of more COVID-19 infections in the landlocked country. The daily arrivals of Mongolian coal month-to-date are lower compared with the peak over September and October, owing primarily to China's policy to restrain air pollution at Ganqimaodu border crossing. SX Coal


China and Mongolia: A Comprehensive and Never-Ending Strategic Partnership: Mongolia’s strategic policy through the “Mongolia Steppe Road Program 蒙古国草原之路” is largely in line with the belt and road initiative, which is a road connecting Mongolia, China and Russia. Consequently, Mongolia, a country that mainly depends on the agricultural sector, will be a center for economic communication between China and Russia, and thus will witness a great economic development. The Steppe Road Program aims to boost Mongolia’s economic standing and create an advanced network of infrastructure for communication with China and Russia and build an oil and gas pipeline. In 2014, during his historic visit, Chinese President Xi Jinping raised the level of relations between the two countries to “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Relations”. Since then, bilateral cooperation has begun to move faster. Modern Diplomacy

Development selection: Mongolia is still struggling to turn the surplus revenue derived from the mining sector into advantage. In the past, the Government has only been transferring cash as means of allocating wealth derived from natural resources. This measure has been elevating the consumer prices instead of improving the living standards. The central bank misses its inflation target due to Government decisions to inject the economy with cash. No wonder why people are furious and economists are critical of the soaring debt of Mongolia regardless of abundant natural resources. Mongolian Economy

Why Mongolia matters to Joe Biden by Ewen Levick: There are a few reasons why Mongolia’s leaders should be optimistic. First, Joe Biden has said he wants to try and re-join the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Mongolia isn’t a member, but the lesson here is that Biden believes trade is an important part of international relations. Second, Biden was vice-president when Mongolia sent troops to Afghanistan in 2009. This means Mongolian officers would’ve built personal relationships with American commanders who may now have risen through the ranks towards top positions under Biden as commander-in-chief.  Third, Mongolia is becoming more strategically important for the US, no matter who is in the White House. It is one of the only true democracies in Asia, something Joe Biden pointed out when he visited in 2011. This makes Mongolia a natural partner in American efforts to contain China, and those efforts won’t go away with a Biden administration. Mongolia is one of the only countries – possibly the only country – to maintain decent relations with Russia, the US and China at the same time. It is seen as neutral ground, and as the Asia-Pacific becomes more polarized, neutral ground will be a hot commodity. Mongolia Weekly

What China’s five year plan means for Mongolia by Ewan Levick: The emphasis on a green economy, combined with China’s recent promise to go carbon neutral by 2060, means that Mongolia may need to diversify its energy industry to remain relevant to Chinese consumers. nalysts say the document is evidence of a sort of ‘siege mentality’ amongst China’s leadership. In other words, Xi believes the country is destined for rivalry with the US, which brings ‘new challenges and opportunities’. For Mongolia, this means the two superpowers are likely to continue seeking influence in Ulaanbaatar through new infrastructure programs, trade, education, and more. Mongolia Weekly

Mongolian journalist shortlisted for Transparency International Anti-Corruption Award 2020: Through her campaigning and journalism, Bolortuya been a driving force behind accountability for high-level officials, and a motion of no confidence in the Cabinet. Her work has inspired a huge reaction among the public and shown that those who occupy the highest political office are not untouchable. “For democracy to be strong, it is important that citizens, civil society, and the media have evidence-based information and knowledge. It is possible to increase citizen participation with strong knowledge and information. I am confident that this nomination will be a great inspiration not only for me and our team but, also for Mongolian civil society and the media.” - Bolortuya Chuluunbaatar. Montsame

Asian Review of Books podcast with Aubrey Menard, author of “Young Mongols Forging Democracy in the Wild, Wild East”: Mongolia is sometimes seen as one of the few examples of a successful youth-led revolution, where a 1990 movement forced the Soviet-appointed Politburo to resign. In Young Mongols: Forging Democracy in the Wild, Wild East, Aubrey Menard profiles many of today’s young activists in Mongolia, in a wide array of different areas like pollution, feminism, LGBT rights, and journalism. Link to podcast

* * *

Prepared by Edina Bartalová

Delegation of the European Union to Mongolia

ICC Tower, 6th floor, Jamiyan Gun Street 9

1st khoroo, Sukhbaatar district, Ulaanbaatar