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ULAANBAATAR, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Mongolia could “multiply” food exports to its southern neighbour China but needs to offer more financial and policy support to enable its producers to compete, the country’s president said in a speech.
Thinly-populated Mongolia, sandwiched between Russia and China, is trying to ease its economic dependence on mining after a collapse in commodity prices sent its economy into a tailspin last year.
But President Khaltmaa Battulga said at a forum on food security in Ulaanbaatar on Tuesday that Mongolia was not doing enough to protect agribusinesses, and should raise import taxes and provide more credit to the sector.
“Mongolian food producers use only 30 percent of their capacity, and the government doesn’t move its fingertips to support them,” he said.
Under Mongolia’s parliamentary system, the prime minister is the head of the government while the president can veto legislation and propose his own policies.
Battulga, a populist businessman elected in June, owns stakes in Mongolian food processors Mahimpecs and Talkh Chhikher.
Battulga went on to say that only 1 percent of Mongolian land is used for farming, but if favourable policies pushed that to around 3 percent, the country could become an exporter of healthy, organic wheat or potatoes.
He said Russia and China both levied high rates of tax on food imports, leaving Mongolia at a disadvantage, and local producers have also struggled to get loans.
Mongolia, traditionally a pastoral economy, has potential meat surpluses, with a population of 3.1 million people and over 70 million heads of livestock.
Beef imports into China are expected to increase as wealthier urban Chinese purchase more meat, with the country’s own herds likely to be limited by land and water constraints.
However, Battulga said Mongolia exported only 4 tonnes of beef to China in 2016 and has done nothing to address problems raised by China about the prevention of livestock diseases.
Gombo Nyamjargal, assistant representative of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Mongolia, said the country’s meat export business has been held back by animal health issues and hygiene requirements, as well as a lack of trade agreements.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) pushed Mongolia to diversify its resource-based economy as part of a $5.5 billion rescue package agreed earlier this year.
Agriculture accounted for 11.7 percent of Mongolia’s total gross domestic product in 2016, second only to the mining sector’s 20 percent. However, agriculture is vulnerable to desertification as well as long freezing winters known locally as dzuds.
Two years ago, when it was just a bunch of smart young people with no clients in an office under London’s Westway, I wrote about the location app What3Words.
Its product was so left-field that, although optimistic about its chances, I thought it might yet fail.
What3Words divided the world’s surface into 57tn three-metre squares and gave a unique, three-word name to each.
So if I arranged to meet you in, say, the pub by my office, the address “Firm. Belong. Zooms” would direct you to a specific part of the bar. “Shave. Pops. Sweet” would place me in the pub garden, by the fence.
According to What3Words, 75 per cent of the world’s population has no formal postal address.Its invention would help those people to join the world of online shopping, or to direct a fire engine to their burning kitchen. Even in countries such as Japan and the United Arab Emirates, they say, people sometimes lack postal addresses.
This week, What3Words will reveal the biggest success of its short life. At the Frankfurt Motor Show, Mercedes will announce that the GPS in some new cars will incorporate What3Words from 2018. Drivers will be able to find their destination’s three words on their smartphone, then type or speak those words in 14 languages to find an exact destination.
The system is more accurate than UK postcodes, which most car GPS systems accept. Postcodes take you to a spot which can include as many as 100 premises. In the US, the basic five-digit Zip Code can cover much of a town.
Founder Chris Sheldrick told me about the Mercedes deal on the phone from Tanzania, as he was about to give a TED Talk on how the app could help the developing world.
“The question of how to put an address into a car is recognised to be a big pain point,” Mr Sheldrick said. “Twisting dials to select town and street names, or saying ‘Church Road London’ when there are 14, clearly isn’t great.”
Mr Sheldrick might have added that Mexico City has 632 streets named Juárez, 624 Hidalgo and some 500 called Zapata. With spoken GPS input, pronunciation is another problem. Even most British people do not know that, for example, the Cambridgeshire town Godmanchester is pronounced “Gumster”.
Mr Sheldrick would not tell me how much Mercedes has paid to use What3Words, or how the company is doing financially. But he did say it is gaining credibility in Germany, where the railway company Deutsche Bahn is now an investor.
A deal with Mercedes may not signal much on the social inclusivity front, but What3Words is also making progress with its more altruistic applications.
Last year, Mongolia’s Mongol Post became the first national mail carrier to use What3Words. Postal services on Sint Maarten in the Caribbean, Djibouti, Solomon Islands, Ivory Coast, Tonga and, most recently, Nigeria, have followed.
Mongolia is the only territory where What3Words is up and running. With almost no formal postal addresses, Mongol Post normally delivers letters to rented PO boxes at local post offices.
But the carrier was struggling to deliver packages from Amazon, the local internet marketplace MMarket and even Asos, the British online fashion retailer. Many parcels were returned to the US and UK undelivered.
Ganhuyag Chuluun Hutagt, the Mongol Post board member who persuaded the company to go with the service, told me: “Mongolia has a nomadic culture. Much of the population is on the move. We used to go by our names and clan and addresses were not an issue. Then the Soviets abolished our family names and built cities without street names.”
“Having an address is almost a human right, because without an address you are overlooked by government, you can’t receive basic services.”
Some nomads are receiving mail for the first time. Khan, the country’s biggest bank, uses the service to send out credit cards. Pizza Hut promotes it for deliveries. And if you rent a yurt through Airbnb, the owners will now give you the location in a What3Words address.
It is still not hard to pick holes in the service. The addresses look odd to the conservative eye, although so did URL addresses in the 1990s. This quirk might stop big companies and countries from adopting the system. Critics have complained about overly restrictive terms and conditions.
And the company has not found a way to customise addresses. If, say, Apple, wanted to name a spot in its new headquarters “Apple. Technology. Corporation”, it could not. That name is taken by a square in the South China Sea and cannot be changed.
But it is still only four years since What3Words was just a gleam in Mr Sheldrick’s eye. In another couple of years it could be a Major. Business. Success — a spot I see from my app is just off the A3 highway near Bandar Mahshahr in Iran....
Billions of dollars have been allocated by the World Bank for infrastructure projects in the Chinese Silk Road Economic Belt, according to the bank’s president Jim Yong Kim at the 1+6 roundtable meeting in Beijing.
“Investments, particularly in infrastructure, are extremely important. The Chinese initiative of the economic belt of the Silk Road catalyzes infrastructure investments,” he told the heads of major international organizations.
“The World Bank will help the countries within the initiative to take maximum advantage of the opportunities provided, in accordance with their own development strategies,” he added.
According to the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), an extra $1 billion is expected to be raised within a year as part of a planned $5 billion infrastructure investment fund for China’s Road and Belt program.
“We have raised the first $1.1 billion, we are going to raise the next billion probably within the next year, that’s my guess,” IFC Chief Investment Officer for infrastructure and natural resources Ram Mahidhara told Reuters.
The fundraising plans are part of IFC’s so-called Managed Co-Lending Portfolio Program (MCPP) that seeks to raise more than $5 billion from investors by 2021, he said. A large part of the funds will be deployed for Belt and Road related projects, the official added.
The Belt and Road Initiative was first proposed by China in 2013. It envisions two components: the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road that are expected to cover more than 60 percent of the world’s population and more than a third of global economic output.
The Chinese proposal envisages the creation of six economic corridors: Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar, China-Mongolia-Russia, China-Central Asia-West Asia, China-Indochina Peninsula, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Eurasian Land Bridge.
In 2015, Russia and China agreed a “new platform” for economic development of the Eurasian Economic Union and the Silk Road Economic Belt.
A Mongolian delegation from the Financial Regulatory Commision has flown to the Egyptian city of Sharm El Sheikh, for the 2017 AFI Global Policy Forum (GPF). The event will take place from 13th-15th September. The Mongolian delegation is being led by S.Davaasuren, director of the Financial Regulatory Commision and Ts.Altantuul, director of the Department of Confederation and Credits.
The Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) has more than 100 member institutions representing over 90 nations across the globe, making the GPF the most important and comprehensive forum for regulatory institutions with an interest in the promotion of financial inclusion policy. The forum focuses on the development and improvement of national financial inclusion strategies and policies, and is used as a platform for senior financial regulators to exchange ideas and engage in peer-to-peer learning activities.
Mongolian oil explorer Petro Matad Ltd announced Monday that Executive Director Amarzul Tuul has left the company with immediate effect, citing personal reasons.
However, she will continue to work for the company as a consultant and will remain Petro Matad's appointed representative at the Mongolian Petroleum Exploration and Production Association.
Shares in Petro Matad were down 2.2% at 10.38 pence on Monday.
Robert Friedland is mining’s most consummate promoter and the executive chairman of Ivanhoe Mines yesterday grabbed the opportunity to advertise his latest venture – the Kamoa-Kakula project in the Congo – with his usual gusto.
Friedland transformed what could have been a set of exciting drill results into 43 holes of “global significance in the copper world”.
Not that he doesn’t have a lot to work with.
Ivanhoe’s May update lifted Kamoa-Kakula’s resource base above a billion tonnes for the first time and thanks to grades that are a distant memory for Chile’s giants, the in-situ value is an eye-watering $193 a tonne at today’s prices.
Friedland said he’s looking forward to giving shareholders a “substantial” resource expansion in time for Christmas:
“Kamoa-Kakula already is independently ranked as the fifth-largest copper deposit in the world. Seeing the unprecedented rate of growth of high-grade copper resources since drilling began at Kakula in May 2016, I am confident now that soon it will be among the top three.
“The remarkable consistency of the ultra-high-grade copper mineralization at the Kakula Discovery is unlike anything geologists have ever seen in the DRC’s Copperbelt. The discovery remains open in virtually all directions, so the real question is, how much bigger and better is Kakula going to get?” Mr. Friedland added.
Eleven of the 14 rigs at the project are drilling to define resources over the entire strike length of Kakula which now extends at least 12km – an increase of roughly 60% since May.
Ivanhoe is clearly working the project hard. An updated preliminary economic assessment for two mines of 6m tonnes per year each is expected during the fourth quarter as is a base case pre-feasibility study for the the first phase of development of the deposit which Ivanhoe discovered a decade ago.
If things pan out as predicted Kamoa-Kakula would only be topped by Escondida in Chile and Australia's Olympic Dam in terms of sheer size. The DRC project (close to another venerable copper name; Kolwezi) will at the same time overtake Grasberg in Indonesia and Chile's Collahuasi in the rankings.
Ivanhoe and joint venture partner Zijin Mining each own just under 40% of the project and the DRC government 20%. China's Zijin came on board at the end of 2015 for what now seems a steal at not much more than $400m. Even considering at the time copper was barely holding above $2 a pound ($4,500 a tonne).
On Tuesday the bellwether metal was trading just above $3 / $6,650 consolidating a sparkling run since the beginning of June.
(Reuters) - Brian Acton, co-founder of WhatsApp, now owned by Facebook Inc (FB.O), will leave the messaging service company to start a new foundation, he said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
Acton spent eight years with WhatsApp, which Facebook bought in 2014 for $19 billion in cash and stock.
A Stanford alumnus, Acton co-founded WhatsApp with Ukrainian immigrant Jan Koum in 2009. The duo worked at Yahoo before starting WhatsApp.
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Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ S.Byambatsogt, Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs, received a delegation headed by Khamad Ali Am, Head of Criminal Investigation Department of the Ministry of Interior of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on September 12.
S.Bayartsogt talked about current activities of the Ministry in fighting against crimes, detection of crimes and ensuring the public order, and then said Mongolia wanted to cooperate with the UEA in strengthening the collaboration between the Ministries, sharing experiences in law enforcement and training the human resource and providing them with mid-career training.
The Minister said that the two countries started their cooperation in the law enforcement sector and made an agreement to collaborate in empowering the law enforcement and police bodies and exchanging experience during his participation in an international forum of the Interpol held in Abu Dhabi and official meeting with Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.
At the meeting, the Mongolian side put forward a proposal to establish a cooperation memorandum between the Ministries and presented to the UAE a draft of the memorandum.
By the visiting program, the UAE Interior Ministry delegation will hold a meeting at the General Authority for Implementing Court Decisions and will get acquainted with activities of the General Police Department, the National Institute of Forensic Science as well a prison.
NHK has learned that 4 major state-owned banks in China took measures to restrict the financial transactions of North Korean citizens.
Sources familiar with the situation said that the banks sent a notification to the North's embassy in Beijing and its consulate general in Shenyang.
They said it demanded the bank accounts of all North Koreans, including diplomats, be emptied by the end of August.
Since then, financial transactions involving North Koreans are said to have almost ceased.
The sources added that North Koreans in principle aren't allowed to open new accounts.
It is rare for the Chinese banks to take such strict measures on North Korean diplomats, as even under UN sanctions each is allowed to open one account.
In June, the US government unilaterally punished a bank in Dandong, Liaoning Province, for allegedly facilitating the transfer of money for companies involved in the North's missile development.
The latest move is seen as China's attempt to show that it's taking a tougher line on the North.
However, it remains to be seen how much impact the measures would have on Pyongyang.
Many North Korean merchants in China are said to be doing business in cash or using the accounts of Chinese trading partners.