|Frontier's "Invest Mongolia Tokyo 2018"||Frontier Securities||Tokyo Japan|
|"Open to Export" ICC WTO International business award||ICC WTO||London|
Ulaanbaatar, January 17, 2018 — The Asia Foundation announces the appointment of Mark Koenig as country representative in Mongolia. In this role, he oversees the Foundation’s development programs in Mongolia, focused on strengthening governance, empowering women, addressing environmental challenges, and improving access to information and education.
The Asia Foundation has played a unique role in the country’s development since 1990 as the first nonprofit organization to be invited into Mongolia. Today, Koenig leads a dynamic team in Ulaanbaatar working effectively with the government, civil society, and the private sector in Mongolia to strengthen democratic governance and build a foundation for long-term economic prosperity.
Koenig brings more than a decade of experience in governance issues across Asia. Most recently, he served as the deputy director and Urban Governance specialist for The Asia Foundation’s Program Specialists Group working out of the Foundation’s office in Thailand, where he designed urban governance programming in countries including Mongolia, Cambodia, Nepal, and Myanmar.
Mark Koenig has worked at The Asia Foundation in a full-time capacity since 2010, coming from the International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT) in Geneva, Switzerland. At the Foundation, he first focused on program design relating to urban governance, community policing, anti-corruption, and improving public policy processes in a range of countries including Nepal, Afghanistan, Timor-Leste, and Mongolia. In 2013, he became the Foundation’s assistant director for the Program Strategy, Innovation and Learning unit, where he played a leading role in the Foundation’s country strategic planning process, supported the Foundation’s strategic partnership with the Australian government, and implemented programs using innovative adaptive management techniques and political economy strategies to support public policy processes.
Koenig holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the Johns Hopkins University and a master’s degree with a concentration in Law and Development from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our work across the region addresses five overarching goals—strengthen governance, empower women, expand economic opportunity, increase environmental resilience, and promote regional cooperation.
Mining giant Rio Tinto has halted shipments of copper concentrate from its giant Oyu Tolgoi copper mine following a week-long dispute at the border crossing to China and a new tax bill from the Mongolian government.
A dispute between Chinese trucking companies and Mongolian officials over health insurance for drivers has halted coal and copper transport at the remote Gants Mod crossing for over a week.
The mine is once again under political pressure, with Mongolian politicians claiming the country has seen too little benefit from its massive expenditure. The high costs of financing the mine mean that the government will not see its share of profits for several years, although Ulan Bator does receive tax revenues.
Also this week, Rio Tinto’s Canadian-listed subsidiary Turquoise Hill, which holds the shares in the Oyu Tolgoi mine, revealed a new bill for $155m in back taxes, following a Mongolian audit of 2013-2015 tax payments by the mine. The company said it is disputing the assessment.
China's economy grew by 6.9% in 2017 according to official data - the first time in seven years the pace of growth has picked up.
The figure beats Beijing's official annual expansion target of about 6.5%.
China is a key driver of the global economy and so the better-than-expected data is likely to cheer investors around the world.
But many China watchers believe the GDP numbers are much weaker than the official figures suggest.
This month alone, the governments of Inner Mongolia and of the large industrial city of Tianjin have admitted their economic numbers for 2016 were overstated.
Taking the figures at face value, the 2017 growth rate is China's highest in two years. And it represents the first time the economy has expanded faster than the previous year since 2010.
However as Beijing ramps up efforts to reduce risky debt and to increase air quality, analysts said this may impact 2018 growth.
The numbers released on Thursday also showed that in the last three months of 2017, the economy grew at an annual rate of 6.8% - slightly higher than analysts had been expecting.
First, it looks like stronger exports - as the world economy picked up - and the final sputter of (another) government infrastructure investment spurt helped make 2017 better than expected.
But that's the model China is trying - gently - to get away from.
Second, is it true?
China's figures can be so stable, so in line with government targets, that it's hard to really believe them.
In the run up to these figures being published there's also been an unusual spate of honesty from several provincial governments, who've admitted faking their GDP or fiscal figures. All of which fed into the national picture.
China's debt has risen significantly in recent years, with worrying numbers around local government loans, corporate and household debt and non-performing bank loans.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said recently that the country's debt had ballooned and was now equivalent to 234% of the total output. It said Beijing needed to concentrate less on growth and instead help improve banks' finances, among other efforts.
Beijing meanwhile says it has been taking steps to contain risky debt despite the impact that might have on economic growth - efforts the IMF said it recognised.
The government has promised to continue tackling local government debt, among other efforts, and on Thursday vowed to help state-owned enterprises "leverage and cut debt ... and to repay their bonds on time this year".
China's strict anti-pollution measures, which were introduced across 28 cities last year, are also expected to hurt economic growth in the short term.
The measures have included shutting down or cutting back production at factories in heavy industry like cement and steel.
Households have also been asked to switch to natural gas and electricity from coal, in an effort to curb pollution.
However this policy left millions without proper heating, and so was temporarily abandoned in December.
Chinese officials have said Beijing's air quality improved sharply in the winter of 2017 and heralded their efforts as a "new reality" for the country....
The Chairman of the State Great Khural (parliament) of Mongolia M.Enkhbold and his spouse will make an official visit to Vietnam from 20 to 23 January.
The visit is made at the invitation of National Assembly (NA) Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, said the NA Committee for External Affairs.
Vietnam and Mongolia have developed long-standing friendship and multi-faceted cooperation in various fields since they established diplomatic ties in November 1954.
Rio Tinto has hit more turbulence in Mongolia, with blockades near the Chinese border stopping Rio's Oyu Tolgoi mine from delivering copper to customers.
The disruption, caused by protests on the Chinese side of the border, come barely 48 hours after it was revealed that Mongolia had sought $US155 million of allegedly unpaid taxes from Oyu Tolgoi.
The Rio subsidiary that operates Oyu Tolgoi, Turquoise Hill Resources, said the protests had been underway for 10 days and had forced the company to declare force majeure on its copper shipments to Chinese customers.
"The placement of protesters vehicles prevented any traffic from safely traversing the border...and has continued to do so," the company said in a statement.
The focus of the protest was unclear, but Turquoise Hill described the protesters as coal transporters.
It is not the first time tensions on the border between Mongolia and China have caused problems for Oyu Tolgoi.
In December 2016 the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia, which shares a border with the nation of Mongolia, imposed new tariffs on Mongolian goods entering China.
That incident caused copper shipments from Oyu Tolgoi to be temporarily interrupted.
Turquoise Hill owns 66 per cent of Oyu Tolgoi, with the Mongolian government owing the balance.
Rio owns 50.79 per cent of Turquoise Hill, and an expansion of Oyu Tolgoi ranks as arguably Rio's most important growth project worldwide.
The European Union (EU) has announced its first-ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics recycling. It followed China’s ban on imports of waste from Western countries.
All plastic packaging in the European market will be recyclable by 2030, said the EU Commission in a press release. The consumption of single-use plastics will be reduced and the intentional use of microplastics will be restricted, it added.
Bottles, bags or cups: single-use plastics represent half of the items found on EU beaches but can take 500 years to breakdown into smaller pieces. Later this year, we will come forward with a proposal on single-use plastics #PlasticsStrategy
An additional fund of €100 million ($122.4 million) has been committed to finance efficient recycling technology, and to boost innovation in plastic recycling.
Global production of plastics has increased twentyfold since the 1960s, according to the EU. It estimated that every year Europeans generate 25 million tons of plastic waste, of which less than 30 percent is collected for recycling.
“If we don't change the way we produce and use plastics, there will be more plastics than fish in our oceans by 2050. We must stop plastics getting into our water, our food, and even our bodies,” said EU Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans.
We also want to restrict the use of microplastics intentionally added in cosmetics so that they don't end up in the sea and eventually in our food. #PlasticsStrategy
Last month Beijing banned the import of 24 types of waste from Western countries, saying the US and EU countries have flouted waste standard rules.
Notifying the World Trade Organization about its waste import ban, Chinese authorities said “that large amounts of dirty wastes or even hazardous wastes are mixed in the solid waste that can be used as raw materials. This polluted China's environment seriously.”
In 2017, Chinese manufacturers imported a whopping 7.3 million metric tons of waste metal, plastics, and paper worth $18 billion mostly from developed countries, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The UK exported over 2.7 million tons of plastic waste to the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong-based recyclers in the last five years. Data showed that over one million ton of plastics worth $495 million have been exported to China by the US last year. The EU countries alone shipped 87 percent of the recycled plastic to China.
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ The Economic Policy and Competitiveness Research Center’s annual report on the Competitiveness of Provinces was released on January 17, showing decline in several indicators.
The annual study aims to give the 21 aimags of Mongolia a chance to identify their advantages and disadvantages, evaluate their capacities and determine their long-term development policies.
Opening the press conference on Wednesday, P.Tsagaan, Chairman of Board of the Economic Policy and Competitiveness Research Center said, “Competitiveness isn’t the name of financial capacity, it is a different characteristic. There is a common model of self-improvement based on such reports and assessment.” The study took account of 181 different indicators on each aimag based on statistical reports and survey. The Competitiveness of Provinces report has been released for the sixth time this year.
According to P.Tsagaan, who briefed the outcome of the study, the average competitiveness score of aimags decreased to 66 last year. The western region of Mongolia has seen the most significant decline in terms of competitiveness. “The governance performance indicator has also seen a major decline. In other words, the people’s trust in government is declining,” he said.
In 2017, economic indicators of five aimags increased in terms of amount whereas those of 15 aimags decreased. Orkhon aimag took the first place with 13.6 percent economic growth. Umnugobi aimag saw a 0.7 percent decline in its economy.
Mineral Resources and Petroleum Agency of Mongolia (MRPAM) presented 13 prospective projects in the mining industry. One-third of the projects consist of major gold deposits and the others include projects on tungsten-molybdenum, copper, rare-earth elements, lithium and uranium.
One of the deposits is a lithium deposit of Khukh Del. Alkali Metal Mongolia LLC has been granted the special permission to operate in the surveyed part of the deposit. However, the company is yet to start operations at present. Located in the Ulziit soum of Dundgobi aimag, the deposit has an estimated resource of 644.3 tons of ore with average grade of 0.153 percent lithium (992.2 thousand tons). Lithium is considered the lightest metal and is highly reactive. Therefore, it is mainly used for smartphone and electronic instrument batteries.
Along with the lithium deposit, a project on rare-earth elements is being implemented in Zavkhan soum, Uvs aimag. Geo-Info LLC, a national geological consulting firm, holds the special permission of the deposit, which reserves zircon and other rare-earth elements. The MRPAM informed that a report is being prepared on the exploration of the licensed area.
Another prospective project is the Uranium deposit in Ulaanbadrakh soum, Dornogobi aimag. Areva Mongol LLC holds the operating license of the deposit and is facing local resistance; thus, delaying the project significantly.
In addition, investments projects on copper and gold deposits in Kharmagtai has been increasing continuously. Xanadu Mines, an ASX-listed company, disclosed the drilling report near the end of 2017 and assessed “satisfactory”.
The list continued with two deposits in Uvs and Gobi-Altai aimags, where geological and exploration surveys were least conducted. Mongolian Resource Corporation owns the special permission to operate in the molybdenum and tungsten deposits.
Furthermore, Ivanhoe Mines Mongolia LLC has conducted an exploration between 2004-2009, which was then bought by Kincora Copper Ltd in 2012. The exploration of Bronze Fox Project has identified ore samples containing 0.5-1.5 percent copper. MRPAM also informed that a significant amount of gold can be extracted from the deposit. Presently, 1.5 grams of gold were found per ton of soil at depths of 1200 meters.
The main challenges for these projects have become the social licensing and local resistances. If these problems are resolved, the projects will attract guaranteed investments.
Marketinfo.mn reports that the growth index for the construction sector has shrunk by 2.1 percent since the beginning of 2018.
Industry representatives say that companies are taking out loans in order to expand their operations and they end up with a deficit because of interest owed on loans.
The director of News Remicon LLC noted that the construction sector is expected to be back on track due to prices for exported building materials rising in 2018.
Investment in construction and building repair services in Mongolia totaled 3.1 trillion MNT in 2017 based on the preliminary results of an industry analysis.
A team of election experts from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) presented the final report of the ODIHR limited election observation mission for the two-round presidential election in Mongolia, on 26 June and 7 July 2017, during a visit to Ulaanbaatar on 16 and 17 January 2018.
The report’s findings and recommendations were discussed with representatives of state authorities, including the election administration, the parliamentary working group on the election law and the media regulatory authority, as well as civil society representatives. Discussions focused on specific steps that can be taken to follow up on ODIHR recommendations.
ODIHR experts and the authorities discussed the need for a comprehensive review of the legal framework for elections to address existing gaps and to empower relevant institutions with effective oversight powers and clear jurisdiction on activities throughout the electoral process. Particular emphasis was given to granting the General Election Commission broader authority to issue regulations and provide additional guidance to lower-level commissions.
Other recommendations discussed were to introduce well-defined and transparent criteria for the appointment of lower-level election officials and to broaden reporting requirements for campaign finance.
“The window between elections in Mongolia is open and we encouragingly look to the authorities for initiatives to enhance the conduct of democratic elections,” said Steven Martin, Senior Adviser of the ODIHR Elections Department. “A meaningful and inclusive review of electoral legislation could further strengthen confidence in the institutions responsible for elections and serve as an example of good practice in the OSCE region. ODIHR is ready to support these efforts.”
The expert team also discussed recommendations related to lifting undue restrictions on the right to stand for office, including the prohibition of candidates who are independent or from non-parliamentary parties. They drew attention to the need to enhance the media’s coverage of elections and improve the process for addressing complaints and appeals.
The discussions also covered possible next steps for co-operation between the authorities and ODIHR, including through the provision of expert opinions on future legal amendments and support to Mongolia’s initiative of establishing a regional training centre for election observation.
The follow-up visit followed an official invitation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. All OSCE participating States have committed themselves to following up on ODIHR's election assessments and recommendations.