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During the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit earlier this month in Qingdao, Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga said that his country is studying the possibility to upgrade the level of its participation in the SCO and a discussion on this matter has been launched in political and social circles in Mongolia. This is the first time that a Mongolia president expressed such a view.
Before the SCO, Battulga took part in a meeting on "The prospect of Shanghai Cooperation Organization-Mongolia's participation" in May together with Mongolia's former foreign ministers, security and strategy specialists and experts, foreign relations academics and senior diplomats. Soon after the meeting, Mongolia's leadership discussed the country's participation in the SCO. Such frequent discussion about this issue shows it is being mulled inside the country.
As the first observer state of the SCO, Mongolia enjoys stable internal security. Its important geographical position and abundant mineral resources lend it the potential to become the energy and transportation hub of the region. Meanwhile, the country has established good relations with surrounding nations, the UN and international society. Hence, Mongolia is qualified to become a SCO member.
If the SCO has Mongolia within its fold, it will expand the organization in Northeast Asia, connecting it with Central and South Asia. This will not only help SCO members plan and link their infrastructure connectivity, but promote members' common development with Ulan Batar's advantages in mineral resources, livestock farming and tourism. Therefore, China and Russia have constantly encouraged Mongolia to elevate its participation in the SCO.
However, Mongolia has not applied to become a SCO member, which may be due to three reasons. Strategically, Mongolia follows multi-pillar and "third neighbor" foreign policy. Proactively developing ties with the US, Japan and the EU is an essential part of its diplomatic and security policies and its strategic choice to balance relations with surrounding countries. It still has doubts about the positioning and development of the SCO, worrying about its diplomatic independence and relations with third neighbors after the participation.
Besides, Mongolia is not troubled by the three forces of "terrorism, separatism, and extremism." The security topics discussed at the SCO are not urgent for Mongolia. And Mongolia's economy mainly depends on trade ties with Northeast Asia and the Asia-pacific instead of Central Asia.
Ideologically, since the 1990s, Mongolia has established and implemented Western constitutionalism, sharing the same values as basis for its ties with the West. For instance, Mongolia has established a so-called democratic trilateralism with the US and Japan. Highlighting the uniqueness of Mongolia's values and ideology, some politicians and scholars inside the country wish it maintain distance from the SCO.
In spite of concerns and doubts, reasons attracting Mongolia to the SCO are developing. The SCO's underlying values, including mutual trust, respect, equality, respect for diverse civilizations and pursuit of shared development have been increasingly clear. The first expansion of membership revealed the organization's openness and inclusiveness over geopolitics. The SCO includes different cultures, religions and development paths and is not dominated by one power. Diversified development and innovativeness will to some extent alleviate Mongolia's concerns that its diplomatic independence and flexibility will be limited if it joins the SCO. With its third neighbor India included in the SCO, Mongolia can communicate and cooperate with surrounding countries and India within the framework of the organization, which will not prevent its multi-pillar diplomacy.
Besides, the SCO has grown to be more relevant to Mongolian development. The China-Mongolia-Russia trilateral meeting is built on the SCO and some cooperation agenda discussed in the SCO are related to Mongolia's development. Mongolia's deepening communications with Central Asian countries in recent years are also among the factors that prompt it to seek SCO membership.
Like adopting permanent neutrality, joining the SCO is relevant to Mongolia's diplomacy and security. As a landlocked and buffer state, Mongolia insists on maintaining a neutral and balanced foreign policy. Some Mongolian politicians not only worry that joining the SCO will affect the country's independence, but also want the country to keep a distance with neighbors to attract the attention of developed countries like the US, Japan and the EU. Hence, Mongolia is extremely cautious on this issue.
Whether Mongolia will join the SCO depends on when the country is able to dispel disputes and misunderstandings about the organization. The SCO's future development, relations with the US and links between Mongolia and Central Asia will affect Ulan Batar's decision.
The author is a junior research fellow from the Russia and Mongolia Research Institute at Inner Mongolia Academy of Social Science. email@example.com...
ULAN BATOR, June 26 (Xinhua) -- Trade turnover between Mongolia and Japan in the first four months rose by 35 percent year on year, partly contributed by an economy-cooperation agreement between the two countries, said Mongolian authorities on Tuesday.
According to the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce, Mongolia-Japan trade turnover reached 152 million U.S. dollars in this period.
The Mongolia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement went into force on June 7, 2016 and was signed on Feb. 10, 2015 in Tokyo, with the aim to expand trade and strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries.
Thanks to the agreement, exports from Mongolia to Japan increased by 124 percent in 2017 year on year.
ULAANBAATAR — Every post had its price. About $400,000 to become a cabinet minister, $120,000 to be the director of a government agency, $4,000 for a senior specialist’s role within the bureaucracy. More than 8,000 jobs in Mongolia’s government and state-owned enterprises were being offered by the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) if it won parliamentary elections, in return for the money the party needed to run its campaign.
From the capital, Ulaanbaatar, alone, party officials planned to raise 60 billion tugriks ($25 million) in campaign financing from business elites and foreign investors, according to audio recordings released by whistleblower Ganbold Dorjzodov between 2016 and 2017.
What Mongolians call the “60 billion case” was one of the biggest political scandals to hit the country since it became a democracy in 1990, and it exposed the fundamental weakness at the heart of that democracy — arguably the fundamental weakness at the heart of many democracies around the world.
“Mongolians have realized that the source of corruption is campaign finance,” said a leading independent economist, Jargalsaikhan Dambadarjaa, who runs the influential Jargal Defacto website. “Those who give money through these political parties control all of Mongolia, control all the government.”
With business controlling politics, voters feel alienated. There is a disillusionment with democracy that is familiar across the globe and that lies behind the rise of populist demagogues from Asia to the Americas.
Inspired by events in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, thousands of young Mongolians demonstrated in 1989 and 1990 against the country’s authoritarian communist government, winning a peaceful transition to democracy that was initially greeted with tremendous enthusiasm and hope.
In 1993, turnout in the country’s first free presidential election was nearly 93 percent. In 2017, that figure slipped to just over 68 percent, with nearly 19,000 people out of 1.4 million voters casting blank ballots to protest the quality of candidates on offer.
The winning candidate, Khaltmaa Battulga, was a business tycoon and former wrestler who cast himself as an outsider — a populist, anti-establishment figure. The man he defeated, Miyegombo Enkhbold of the MPP, was one of the politicians allegedly caught on the famous audio recordings.
In India, severe restrictions on how political parties can raise money have driven campaign finance underground and fostered a culture of corruption and kickbacks, experts say. In the United States, the system is more transparent, but studies show that the need to raise money to finance election campaigns means business elites have vastly more influence over policy than average citizens.
In Mongolia, a law requiring political parties to report on their finances is simply ignored. And once businesses fund politicians, they expect something in return: tenders for government contracts and licenses to mine are often sold for bribes or given away to those who have already paid, experts say.
It is no coincidence that the proceeds from Mongolia’s vast reserves of coal, copper and gold flow disproportionately to the elite, while nearly 30 percent of the country lives below the poverty line.
Luvsandendev Sumati, director of the independent Sant Maral polling organization, says Mongolians still demonstrate strong support for democratic ideals, such as that everyone should be equally treated by the law and have the right to express their opinions freely.
But they are less impressed with the performance of their elected representatives.
Nearly 34 percent of respondents in Sant Maral’s latest poll said they believed that government policies mainly supported the rich, while a further 42 percent said policy was driven by “self-interested politicians” who lacked concern for society at large.
More than 6 in 10 said voters had little or no influence on political decision-making, and 87 percent said political parties did not represent public opinion.
Cynicism also breeds short-termism. Voters kick out incumbents at almost every opportunity, and many politicians make the most of their limited time in power to fill their pockets and those of their supporters. Bureaucrats are replaced whenever power changes hands, so cronies rather than impartial experts fill many of the top jobs.
And money corrupts in other ways, too: Nearly three-quarters of the most popular media outlets were either founded or are now owned by current or former high-ranking state officers, according to a survey by Reporters Without Borders and the Press Institute of Mongolia.
In turn, instability and corruption have left many Mongolians yearning for a strong leader to look after their interests. While 2 in 3 people said a democratic system was good or rather good in Sant Maral’s March poll, more than 3 out of 4 expressed approval for a “strong leader who does not have to bother with the parliament and elections.”
The current president, Battulga, wants to see the law changed so that no one involved in the mining business, which dominates Mongolia’s economy, is allowed to get into politics. His immediate predecessor wanted to introduce a law demanding more transparency in party finances.
But parliament is where the power lies in Mongolian politics, and it isn’t interested in passing laws that would threaten the two main parties’ cozy hold on power, experts say.
True, Mongolia’s anti-graft agency arrested two former prime ministers and a former finance minister in April over accusations of kickbacks during negotiations over a major copper mine. But the suspicion remains that corruption charges tend to be brought only after politicians lose power, not before.
Dorjzodov, the whistleblower, was working as chief strategy officer for an MPP-supporting businessman when he recorded audio of the campaign finance meeting on his iPad.
The National Institute of Forensic Science examined the recording and initially declared that it was genuine, but after the MPP won 2016 parliamentary elections it changed its mind and decided it was “fabricated,” Dorjzodov says.
MPP politicians in turn insisted that the audio had been “spliced together,” but independent expert analysis conducted in the United States concluded that it had not been tampered with.
For the past two years, Dorjzodov has been threatened by politicians, harassed by police, interrogated and detained by intelligence agents, and denounced in the media. Even today, he can’t find work.
“I felt the public should know what was being talked about behind the scenes,” he said in an interview in a private location. “My goal was to open voters’ eyes to what politicians are really like.”
So, if he could relive the past, would he do it all over again?
“Of course,” he replied, without a flicker of doubt. “I am still optimistic. I hope my action will bring other people out.”...
The Trump administration is expected to announce limits on Chinese investment soon — a move that is shaking the business world.
The news is a big deal. President Donald Trump's trade clash with China has already fed global economic uncertainty. The new restrictions would take that fight to new levels.
But how did we get to this point in the first place? And what about the restrictions makes Wall Street so worried?
Here's a look at what you need to know.
Trump piling pressure on China
The United States has long accused China of intellectual property theft, which it says has cost the US economy billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs.
The Trump administration is now seeking to pressure China to stop practices that it says unfairly extract tech secrets from American companies. Part of the US response includes imposing new tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods, some of which are set to go into effect next month.
But US authorities have also been looking into investment restrictions. In March, Trump directed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to devise a system that would limit Chinese investment "in industries or technologies deemed important to the United States."
The focus is thought to be on "Made in China 2025," which is Beijing's plan to dominate industries of the future such as robotics, electric cars and aerospace.
In May, the White House said that specifics of its plan — as well as stronger export controls that would stop US firms from shipping certain technologies to China — would be officially announced by June 30, which is this Saturday.
New details and a market sell-off
The public got a sense of those specifics late Sunday, when the Wall Street Journal reported how the new restrictions might work. CNN confirmed some of those details Monday.
Firms with at least 25% Chinese ownership would be barred from buying companies that are involved in technology that the White House considers important, according to a person familiar with the plans who spoke to CNN. That includes the aerospace, robotics and automotive industries.
The Trump administration is also working on new export rules that would prevent those technologies from being shipped to China, the person said.
The markets weren't happy. At one point Monday, the Dow fell almost 500 points.
Amid the sell-off, Mnuchin tweeted that reports on the investment restrictions were "false, fake news." He suggested that the measures would be "not specific to China, but to all countries that are trying to steal our technology."
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro later appeared on CNBC, where he also cast doubt on news reports and added to the uncertainty over what will be announced this week.
"There's no plans to impose investment restrictions on any countries that are interfering in any way with our country. This is not the plan," he said. "So this whole idea that somehow there's gonna be investment restrictions to the world, please, discount that."
That seemed to reassure investors somewhat, though the market anxiety didn't completely disappear. At the close, the Dow was down 328 points, or 1.3%, while the Nasdaq dropped 2.1%.
Still, investors fear Trump's China trade fight could hurt the US economy, setting off a series of escalating retaliatory moves by both sides.
The new investment rules could cut off access to some foreign capital — exactly the type of government intervention that scares businesses.
Chinese investment in the United States is already declining.
Investment plunged more than 90% in the first five months of 2018 compared with the same period a year earlier, according to a report last week by Rhodium Group, a research firm that tracks Chinese foreign investment.
The rules would also represent a major departure from the way foreign investment in the United States has been regulated for years.
Right now, that duty falls to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS. The inter-agency panel, which is chaired by the Treasury Department, scrutinizes some deals that could allow a foreign investor to take control of a US business, and looks for potential risks to national security.
That panel has become more aggressive under Trump, especially on China. Experts say CFIUS has examined a greater number of deals, while paying particular attention to partnerships that could give foreign companies access to sensitive technologies or personal data on Americans.
CFIUS could become more powerful in the near future. Congress is considering legislation that would expand the panel's authority. The measures have bipartisan support and the backing of top Trump administration officials.
That effort has already faced tough lobbying from businesses, according to one of its sponsors. In corporate America, a unilateral approach by the Trump administration to restricting investment could be even more unpopular.
-- CNN's Jethro Mullen, Matt Egan and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report....
Petro Matad, the AIM quoted Mongolian oil explorer, has provided an operational update for its planned 2018 work programme:
Rig mobilisation has been completed ahead of the drilling of the Snow Leopard-1 well in Block V. The well is expected to spud during the week commencing 9 July 2018
Permits are in place for the second well, Wild Horse-1 in Block IV. The well will be drilled after operations are completed at Snow Leopard and site preparation is scheduled to start during August with well spud forecast in September 2018
Negotiations on the rig contract for Block XX drilling are at advanced stage, with drilling on track to commence in late Q3 / early Q4 this year
Management will be hosting a presentation for investors in the week commencing 9 July 2018, a notice and further details will be issued closer to the time
All permits, including foreign worker visas, are in place for Snow Leopard-1 drilling operations. Well site construction has been completed and an onsite water well has been drilled to supply the rig's operational requirements. The circa 1,100 kilometre rig move is 100% complete and the drilling camp is substantially in place. The rig is approximately 35 per cent rigged-up. Spud of the well is expected during the week commencing 9 July 2018.
Key Company personnel have been on location for several weeks to ensure Company policies in relation to environmental protection and safe working practices are followed during the unloading and rigging-up process. They will remain on location throughout the drilling programme, augmented by the Company's technical and supervisory specialists.
The Snow Leopard-1 well, which is targeting 90 MMBO, is planned to drill to a total depth of circa 3,350 metres and is expected to take up to 70 days to complete.
Immediately following the drilling of Snow Leopard-1, the rig will be moved circa 300 kilometres West to the Wild Horse-1 well location in Block IV. The Wild Horse-1 well, which is targeting 480 MMBO, has been named by industry specialists Wood Mackenzie as one of the top 20 exploration wells worldwide to watch in 2018. Well-site construction is due to commence in August 2018. Wild Horse-1 is expected to spud in September and to be completed before the end of the 2018 drilling season in late November.
Pending shareholder approval of the recently announced fundraise, being sought at the General Meeting on the 3 July 2018, the Company intends to enter into negotiations with Sinopec to extend the rig contract for drilling of the Fox prospect in Block V. Subject to these negotiations the Company anticipates drilling the Fox-1 well at the start of the drilling season in early Q2 2019. The Fox prospect is a large three-way dip closure against normal faults in a basin with a proven petroleum system and has mean prospective resource potential of 200 MMBO. It has been matured to drillable status based upon interpretation of the high-quality 3D seismic survey acquired in late 2017.
The drilling programme scheduled for Block XX remains on track. Contract negotiations with the preferred bidder to supply and operate a rig are in the final stages. Formal award of the contract is expected by the end of July. The selected rig is in country, is operating close to Block XX and is available from Q3 2018. Permitting for drilling is progressing and the first well, on the Gazelle prospect, is planned to spud in late Q3 or early Q4 2018. The target for the second well will be selected shortly, upon completion of detailed seismic remapping. The Company intends to complete both Block XX wells before the end of the 2018 drilling season, which ends in late November, and to retain the services of the rig to drill the Red Deer prospect in Block XX at the start of the 2019 drilling season. Red Deer has 48 MMBO of prospective resource potential in a basin which the Company believes to be stratigraphically analogous to nearby producing basins in Mongolia and northern China.
The Company is also negotiating a contract with a well testing specialist operating in Mongolia. The contractor has a dedicated service rig and equipment that will allow, where appropriate, the drill stem testing of any zones of interest identified in the wells drilled in Blocks IV, V and XX.
In parallel with operational efforts, the farm out process has progressed and discussions are continuing with potentially interested parties. There is no certainty that a deal will be completed at this stage and a further update will be provided as appropriate.
Mike Buck, the CEO of Petro Matad said:
'I would like to thank shareholders for their continuing support. It has been a long road travelled to get to the point of drilling, which is finally upon us. With the funding the Company secured in January and, pending shareholder approval of the fundraise conducted earlier this month, the next twelve months will see us execute a multi-well, high impact drilling programme utilizing two rigs and targeting prospects in a number of risk independent basins. This campaign will tell us a lot about the potential of our extensive acreage portfolio in Mongolia and we are very keen to get started. It is my intention to hold a meeting/conference call for shareholders in the week commencing 9 July to present details of the programme and to answer questions arising. Details of this event will be announced shortly.'...
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ The Ministry of Road and Transport Development is working on establishing intergovernmental agreements on international road transportation with Germany, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania and Georgia.
In this frame, a group led by S.Batbold, head of the Road Transport Policy Implementation and Coordination Department of the Ministry of Road and Transport Development worked in Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia on June 18-22.
During the working trip, the Mongolian delegation met with representatives of transport ministries of the three countries to share views on finalizing the draft agreement, exchange consent notes on executing freight transportation and discussed joint actions to be taken to sign the document.
As of 2017, Mongolia and Germany made trade of about USD 160 million. Russian and Belarusian freight forwarders are carrying freight from Berlin to Mongolia once to twice a week. Therefore, there is necessity to increase volume of trade turnover as well as to make legal regulation regarding transit transportation. The regulation will make it possible to expand bilateral socio-economic cooperation, S.Batbold said at the meeting with delegation of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.
As for the trade turnover between Mongolia and Czech Republic, it reached USD 8.3 million in 2017. In exchanging views on finalizing the draft agreement, the parties expressed their interest in expanding cooperation in training personnel and sharing practices.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Slovakia and the sides shared views on signing the agreement during the celebration of the anniversary.
As a result of discussing the draft agreement with the three countries and agreeing to launch transportation as per consent note, Mongolian freight forwarders have got able to transport freights to these countries.
The Ministry plans to hold meeting with authorities of corresponding Ministries of Hungary and Poland on international road transportation.
Currently, Mongolia has established intergovernmental agreements on international road transportation with nine countries.
Four renewable energy power plants with a total of 120 megawatts (MW) will be put into operation in Mongolia's southeast province of Dornogovi within this year, Xinhua reported citing provincial governor's office.
A solar power plant with capacity of 15 MW opened on Friday in Zamiin-Uud soum in Dornogovi province. Other two solar power plants with the capacity of producing 30 MW and 20 MW of electricity each will be put into operation by the end of this year in the province.
A wind farm with a total capacity of 55 MW is planned to commission in late 2018 nearby Sainshand city, capital of the province.
Mongolia, a landlocked country with a population of 3 million, enjoys more than 250 days of sunshine a year. The country's renewable energy capacity nearly doubled last year, reaching 155 MW, according to the Ministry of Energy.
Mongolia's first large solar power plant, with a capacity of 10 MW, was installed in the country's northern province of Darkhan-Uul in January 2017. The country's second wind farm, the 50 MW Tsetsii Wind Farm, also opened in October that year.
So far, Mongolia gets less than 5 percent of its power from renewable energy, including solar and wind. The government aims to make renewable energy use account for 20 percent by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030.
According to Mongolia's Ministry of Energy, the country has a potential wind capacity of 1,100 gigawatts.
South Korean retail giant Lotte's fast-food chain, Lotteria, opened its first Mongolian store in the country's capital city of Ulaanbaatar last week, its operator said Monday, as the company moves to expand its presence in the global market.
The launch of the new store came after Lotte GRS Co. signed a franchise agreement with cinema equipment supplier Eugenetek Mongolia LLC in September last year.
Lotte GRS said it plans to operate up to 10 Lotteria outlets in Mongolia by 2022.
Founded in 1979, the food affiliate of South Korea's fifth-largest conglomerate has thousands of stores under six brands nationwide, including the hamburger chain Lotteria and the cafe chain Angel-in-us Coffee.
The latest inroads into Mongolia raised the number of overseas countries with the firm's presence to eight, including Vietnam, China and Indonesia. (Yonhap)
The outlook for lithium continues to shine, with demand from companies that produce batteries to power electric cars, laptops and other high-tech devices, expected to increase more than thirtyfold by 2027, a new study shows.
While the next nine years will drain less than 1% of the reserves in the ground, battery makers will need more lithium to support their production, which will boost demand for the key metal almost 16% to reach 1 million tonnes, according to Roskill’s 15th edition market outlook report.
Expected supply, however, is far from the astronomical figure forecast by the research firm, with Canada’s Bank of Montreal expecting between 80,000 and 91,500 tonnes of lithium coming from mines by 2025. And BMO’s numbers include recently up-sized expansion plans by the market leaders, Chile’s SQM, China’s Tianqi Lithium, Albemarle and FMC, as well as Nemaska Lithium’s plans to build a spodumene mine in northwestern Quebec, Canada.
Roskill estimates that demand from lithium-ion battery manufacturers will grow from 46% last year to 83% by 2027. Use of lithium hydroxide, in turn, is also forecast to become more prevalent, increasing from 25% of lithium compounds used in rechargeable batteries in 2021 to 55% by 2027.
The analysts expect the market for battery-grade lithium compounds to remain tight, however, as installing new battery grade capacity has proven complex and forecast demand growth is greatest for these products.
In terms of lithium prices, they are expected to peak in 2018, as greater supply availability of mined and refined lithium will enter the market in coming years, causing prices to briefly fall back in 2019, with a floor of $11,000/t battery grade lithium carbonate, Roskill says.
Beyond 2021, the research firm expects lithium prices to rise above 2018 levels again, as continued demand growth for battery grade lithium compounds will apply greater demand-side pressure on prices.
On June 22, Bank of Mongolia held an irregular foreign currency auction and supplied 88.7 million USD to commercial banks.
Since June 15, the central bank has received requests from commercial banks to purchase a combined 290 million USD in foreign currency. The Bank of Mongolia reported that Mongolia's foreign currency reserves are sufficient to prevent sudden fluctuations in the currency market. As of April 2018, the official reserves had reached 2.98 billion USD, an increase of 142 percent compared to the same period in 2017.
Analysts forecast that Mongolia's foreign currency inflow could increase as 836 million USD will come through the financing scheme for the International Monetary Fund’s extended fund facility program.