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On July 24, the President of Mongolia Khaltmaagiin Battulga called on politicians, public servants and their relevant people on offshore account.
President’s call states: “Some politicians, public servants and their relevant people in Mongolia have been widely criticized for hiding their bribery, illegal profit and dirty money in offshore account to avoid taxes. The public media has uncovered news that some of their dirty money has already turned into luxury real estate.
List of 42 countries is considered as offshore financial centers by the International Monetary Fund and the Economic Cooperation Organisation. According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ report, a total of 49 Mongolian citizens have offshore accounts in these 42 countries.
Politicians, public servants and their relevant people, who are having offshore accounts to keep their money to avoid taxes, fueling public hesitation and harming people’s belief in justice. Mongolia did not have specific laws or regulations on having an offshore account until 2017. Therefore, I would like to call on the politicians, public servants and their relevant people who have offshore account to take back and transfer your money from offshore account into Mongolia.
As the President of Mongolia, I would like to call on the politicians, public servants and their relevant people who are holding offshore account to close down their offshore accounts and transfer the money into Mongolian bank within 49 days from July 24, 2017.
The people who refused to fulfill this requirement and did not transfer their money into Mongolian bank will be investigated and face legal obligation”.
The European Union plans to open a delegation in Mongolia this year, the 28-nation group said Tuesday, in a move that will expand its relationship with the resource-rich country wedged between China and Russia.
The decision to have a presence in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, marks a milestone in European-Mongolian relations, and will help enhance political dialogue and cooperation between Europe and Mongolia, the EU said in a statement.
High Representative Federica Mogherini said Mongolia has "an important role in a complex region, with a unique geostrategic position," according to the statement.
Following a peaceful democratic revolution in 1990 that removed it from the Soviet orbit, Mongolia has sought for decades to expand trade and diplomatic relations with "third neighbors" other than Russia and China, two powers that have historically exerted enormous political and economic influence.
The landlocked country of 3 million people boasts vast mineral wealth but has struggled in recent years to court foreign investment due to plunging commodity prices and high-profile disputes between the government and large investors such as mining giant Rio Tinto.
The government has also been weighed down by massive debt and recently obtained a $5.5 billion bailout led by the International Monetary Fund.
Earlier this month, Mongolia elected a populist business tycoon and ex-judo champion as its new president. In a runoff election, Khaltmaa Battulga of the Democratic Party edged out his establishment opponent, Miyegombo Enkhbold of the Mongolian People's Party.
Battulga said after his victory that he would boost ties with China and Russia but also seek to expand ties with "third neighbors."
KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 (Xinhua) -- China's growth will continue to be a key driver for a firming recovery of the world economy, the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Monday.
Maurice Obstfeld, the IMF's economic counsellor and director of research, made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Xinhua as the IMF revised up China's growth forecast for 2017 and 2018 to 6.7 percent and 6.4 percent respectively.
The updated World Economic Outlook report published here Monday, which came days after China posted a stronger-than-expected second quarterly performance, was a reflection of a solid first quarter underpinned by previous policy easing and supply-side reforms, including efforts to reduce excess capacity in the industrial sector, according to the IMF.
"We have seen very strong growth and especially beyond our update, second quarter number of 6.9 percent is also above expectation. So clearly growth is proceeding at pace," Obstfeld said.
"Strong Chinese growth drives growth particularly in Asian region but also throughout the world," Obstfeld added, noting that China is a big contributor to the overall growth and has a very large spillover effect to the world economy.
As China is transforming its economy from traditional manufacturing sector to service and consumption oriented sector, its structural transformation and the rebalancing of its economy should lower the growth rate and put growth on a firmer basis over time, the chief economist said.
"It's very important for the world economy not just that China grows at a strong rate, but that it grows in a stable fashion, dependable fashion without big fluctuation," he said.
The prestigious economist expressed the IMF's concerns on China's credit driven growth and some vulnerabilities in its financial systems that could derail growth, but he also pointed out that the Chinese government is clearly recognizing these issues and has taken actions.
The recent strengthened coordination between the People's Bank of China and the State Council on financial oversight "is a big step forward" that will lead to more effective oversight of the financial markets, he said.
China announced that it will set up a committee under the State Council to oversee financial stability and development during the recent National Financial Work Conference.
Obstfeld said China has entered the debate of globalization in a positive way, which will be helpful not only to major economies but also for other countries.
He said China could take concrete actions to promote the global system, and that the Belt and Road Initiative is "very important" in the context.
Proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa on and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes. It comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
It promises not only a lot of useful infrastructure investment but to lower trade cost between very important parts of the world, which promotes international trade and prosperity across the wide stretch of Eurasia, Obstfeld said.
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ During the Government’s inspection of the Development Bank of Mongolia, an MNT 1.3 trillion discrepancy was noticed and the bank was on verge of bankruptcy, losing both governance and financial independence. Accordingly, the Government took immediate actions to adjust the issues and appointed a new executive team. We met with Mr. Ch.Enkhbat, the First Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Development Bank of Mongolia to discuss the issues as well as the bank’s policy, aims and further actions.
- It has been some time since the Executive team was assembled. What has the Executive team accomplished since then?
- We received the office in September, 2016 and settled several issues since then. At the time, the bank’s asset quality and prudential rations were at a loss. Due to the loss of certain indicators, some foreign investment was retracted before the due date and the risk of cross default arose because of the bank's inability to repay. On the other hand, the loan portfolio was aggravated because of legislation and internal regulation violations. For example, the state of loan repayment and quality were unsatisfactory.
The new executive team focused on improving the bank balance first. As a result, negotiations were held on preventing foreign investments from withdrawing and paid special attention to reform, promote future actions, and improve its loan portfolio. The Parliament and Government provided support and approved a decree on the “Law on Development Bank of Mongolia” in 2016 and decided to increase the Development Bank’s assets by MNT 1 trillion.
The decree also included transferring the projects and programs financed from the State Budget through the Development Bank to the Government as a repayable loan and assigned a working team. Furthermore, the legal environments were improved and the revision included the the suggestions of other ministries. On February 10, 2017, Parliament and Government approved the Revision of Law on Development Bank of Mongolia, which includes independency, authority to self-select projects and programs, as well as high responsibility and inspections. The revision has started taking effect since April 1.
- What were the results of this revision? At the time, the legal refinement was considered the main issues that were slowing the operations of Development Bank. What can you say about the expected results?
- The previous law was approved in 2011 and implemented for six years. During this time, the Development Bank was heavily dependent on the Government. In other words, the governing political party and Government’s policy had too much influence in its operation. Other countries viewed Mongolia as the next Qatar or Kuwait. However, faulty monetary and budget policies of the governing political party, as well as the price drop of primary export commodities, the economic situation had gotten worse. As a result, negative effects such as leaving foreign investments, declining export revenues, decreasing currency reserves and the weakening exchange rate of MNT manifested.
When the economy was relatively good, the Government issued MNT 1.5 billion in Chinggis Bonds. They gave assignments on financing major projects and programs using foreign investments, including Samurai and Chinggis bonds. But the disbursement was less effective. The previous law stated to only implement projects approved by the Government.
The Government led by Ch.Saikhanbileg and N.Altankhuyag allocated a majority of the fund to street maintenance, infrastructure and road projects that were not approved by the Government. This affected the bank’s loan portfolio. In addition, several loans were issued by violating the bank’s rules. Therefore, in order to prevent the same mistakes from happening, we stated detailed requirements, inspection and accountability mechanisms of further projects and programs in the revision. On the other hand, the revision was prepared in accordance with the bank’s policy, regulations and created a secure, responsible, transparent and bureaucracy-free legal environment for project selection and financing processes. The revised law will have positive short-term effects on our operations.
- The Development Bank is responsible for financing major projects and programs aimed at Mongolia’s development. In the past years, a total of MNT 3 trillion were funded from the State Budget as a repayable loan. What is the current state of repayment now?
- As of December 30, 2016, before transferring the projects funded by the State Budget to the Government, the Development Bank has financed a total of MNT 6 trillion worth of projects in 6 years and MNT 3.3 trillion was funded from the State Budgetas a repayable loan. The remaining MNT 2.7 billion was issued directly from the Development Bank and through commercial banks. Obviously, repayment of the State Budget was paid to the budget. At the time, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the public criticized Mongolia for having multiple budgets, instead of one unified budget. The current governing political party, which was the opposition at the time, also made several demands on having a unified budget.
As a result, unified budget was created with the joint Government in 2015. Specifically, the list of projects and programs financed by Development Bank has started approving as a component of the Law on Budget. The repayable loans financed from the State Budget have started transferring to the Government and determined the interest rates. All related ministries formed working groups and closed the projects after transferring them. As for the sixteen major projects and over 1600 private entity loans financed directly from the Development Bank, they are making repayment now. Obviously, the issues concerning repayment still exist as the current state of economy is causing private businesses to operate at a loss.
- You mention the situation was dire when you took the office. How long did it take the Development Bank to increase its assets?
- When we started, the equity of the bank was around MNT 240 billion. The new executive team increased it to MNT 1.1 trillion. The previous executives didn’t take measures on preventing loss from the exchange range within time, so the bank suffered tremendous losses. We’re taking actions to prevent such irresponsible, non-professional and serious mistakes from happening in the future. This greatly reduced the risks as well.
- What are the major projects and programs that are being financed by the Development Bank right now? Are there any that qualify?
- With the previous law, the Development Bank financed projects approved bythe Parliament and Government. The new law provided an opportunity to independently hold project selections. The Development Bank is issuing long-term, low-interest and export-oriented loans in accordance with the Concept of Sustainable Development of Mongolia and medium-term development policy. Research on operational projects has been conducted with the related ministries, Chamber of Commerce and National Innovation Committee. Within frames of the research, 40 projects were selected after reviewing around 1000 projects.
- Which sector projects were selected?
- The selected projects in agriculture, mining, road and transportation and energy sectors are able to be implemented.
Practices of developed countries show that most of other countries issue low-interest rate bonds with a 30-40 year term to develop infrastructure. As for Mongolia, we set a record for constructing infrastructure with a 5-year bond with 5.1 percent interest rate. In other words, the majority of the Chinggis bond, which is USD 1.5 billion, was spent on dead assets such as roads. Did the new law include any articles to prevent this?
Indeed, Mongolia is the only country that builds roads with short-term high-interest rate commercial bank loans. Therefore, we included a specific article in the revision. Even IMF supported the article which states that the Parliament and Government are to not involve the projects financed by Development Bank. The projects financed by the Development Bank have to be economically and financially efficient. Furthermore, we’ve included an article to fully ensure the requirements of loan repayment. This means the projects that yield profits in 20-30 years, such as maintenance and roads will not be invested. An opportunity for investing in crucial projects that would increase exports such as railroads, is now available.
Previously, the Development Bank financed projects bearing 100 percent of the risk. The new law requires the Development Bank to co-finance all projects and programs. Accordingly, the risk will be split between the investors and project developers. Another mistake of the previous Government was the lack of feasibility studies and drawing foreign investment without any operational project. The government paid a meaningless interest rate because there weren’t any projects to work with. Therefore, we’re aiming to attract a necessary amount of loans for satisfactory projects to avoid such mistakes.
- In connection with implementation of the IMF’s program, was there any change in the Development Bank’s activities?
- One of the IMF’s requirements was to separate the Development Bank from the Government and independently operate, prevent the Government from making budget financing and attract investments without the approval of the Government. Also, in connection with the IMF’s three-year program “Extended Fund Facility”, certain restrictions could be made on Development Bank’s funding to ensure coherence of budget and monetary policies.
- Other countries take actions based on long-range research. How does the Development Bank consider projects based on research?
- Good question. In order to finance major projects and programs that impact the country’s economy, it is important to make well-grounded and accurate decisions. Therefore, our research team is formed of professionals and the decisions have to pass through several stages, requiring professional practices in the process. Furthermore, we are focusing to adapt software and research methods necessary for automating the research and assessing the results more accurately.
Project financing is a new concept in Mongolia that, instead of mortgages, focuses on the results and conditions for success. While the risk is high for the project implementer, it's reduced by a joint agreement of multilateral financial organizations. Therefore, we’re working actively on technical assistance and co-financing to expand cooperation with foreign and domestic financial organizations.
Last year, the Development Bank of Mongolia signed a memorandum of understanding with Sberbank of Russia. And we’re cooperating with number of countries’ development and export-import banks.
- It has been some time since Mongolia established a Free Trade Agreement with Japan. But the number of products exporting to Japan is very few. How does the Development Bank finance export-oriented projects and programs?
- Based on the Law on Development Bank, objectives on researching and financing major import-replacing projects are in effect. This includes “Gold-2” and “First Meat and Milk” campaigns supported by the government’s policy. We’re also researching and financing the qualifying projects of the private entites. On that note, the private entities are now open to cooperate with Development Bank. We updated our website and allowed project financing requests to be made online. Further information is available at www.dbm.mn.
- 60 percent of other countries’ Development Banks focus on small and middle-sized enterprises and invest in them. Is it possible for the Development Bank to support SMEs and start-up businesses?
- The main purpose of the Development Bank is to provide long-term low-interest rate financing for major projects that are inaccessible from commercial banks. Within the framework of supporting SMEs, Development Bank issued loans through commercial banks to numerous small projects approved by the Government in the last 6 years. Proof of that is the provision of MNT 1.7 trillion loans funded to the private entities through commercial banks. In other words, commercial banks issue small loans for entities and Development Bank, as a policy bank, links the financial source to provide low-interest rate loans to commercial banks and they finance start-up businesses and SMEs. During the first bilateral government-level conference between Mongolia and Kuwait that recently took place in Kuwait, a negotiation was made to receive soft loans to support SMEs and job creating projects from Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.
- Is Development Bank seeking to raise funds from international markets in the mid-term?
- We’re cooperating with the development banks of Russian Federation, People’s Republic of China, Asia-Pacific region and European Union members. Considering the credit rating and economic state of Mongolia, attracting loans and issuing a bond will have require high interest-rates. Therefore, a profitable version for private entities is very limited. In March, 2017, the Government released a Khuraldai Bond with an 8.75 percent interest-rate. For instance, providing 9 percent interest-rate loans to private businesses will be fairly high when you include the expenses. So, instead of issuing a bond, cooperating with foreign financial organizations on certain project will have lower interest rate of around 4-5 percent. Which means, raising funds for a specific project rather than attracting meaningless large sum of capital will better benefit the loaners. Low-interest rate bonds will be available once the economy recovers and the credit rating improves.
- Since Mongolia is a country for young people, it is possible to accumulate savings. Foreign experts once mentioned that instead of receiving high-interest rate loans from other countries, it is highly possible to increase pension funds and use it for financing. In this scenario, how is the Development Bank reforming and relating it to the development policy?
- The previous executive team approved a mid to long-term plan of Development Bank in 2015. There is much to take and toss from the plan. We perceived it as a general plan of the bank and we’re preparing a mid to long term program. This strategic program will be a wide-range of plan for diversifying the economy and co-align it with Mongolia’s long-term development concept and mid-term policy documents.
- The public had high expectations for the Development Bank and its contribution to the economy. However, the bank failed to meet the expectations in the past few years. And now, the public expects the new executive team on conforming Development Bank’s operation to international standards. What’s your thought on that?
- A strong foundation decides the future of anything and everything. The Development Bank is almost like a six year old child if it was a person. Yes, there were some mistakes in the past but that opens more room for development as we learned from that mistake. Therefore, the new team organized the legal grounds and balance in a fairly short amount of time. I have to say that Parliament and the Government provided considerable support for these operations to be successful. By setting right regulations and law, the operation of this organization will not be disturbed by any successors.
We’re working to make that happen. Secondly, we’ll strengthen inspection, risk assessment and accountability systems. In the last 6 years, the internal inspection was weak and no monitoring was available for the Central Bank. The new law included an article to allow central bank’s monitoring. Furthermore, the Government will be biennially confirming whether if the bank has financed export-oriented projects and programs in accordance with the development policy or not. There is an internal inspection unit operating under the board of directors as well. It is safe to assume that Development Bank has become more supervised, transparent and responsible with the new law.
- How is the bank focusing on human resource policies?
- Human resource policy is the soul of an organization. The success of any organization is determined by their staff. In order to study major projects and making good decisions, a professional team is critical. Therefore, the Development Bank is focusing on forming experts’ team in our human resource policy. Many of the previous high-performance staff members are still working with us. As for employees with mediocre performance, we’re giving limited-time assignments and training. If they remain unsatisfactory, we’re replacing them with higher-skilled personnel. The job offers are announced online on www.dbm.mn, including the executives’ offer.
- Finally, what would you like to say to our readers?
- The public had mixed thoughts on whether the Development Bank was necessary. I believe only time will show that. However, we are working earnestly to prove its necessity. With the support of Parliament and the Government, we are striving to strengthen the legal environment, stabilize our activities and contribute to the development of our country. More specifically, I dully note that the Development of Mongolia is now on its right path.
The full interview originally appeared on Mongolia Today magazine's issue No. 2/41/ for April-June 2017 and The Mongol Messenger newspaper's issue No. 29 for July 21, 2017.
Google's parent company, Alphabet, saw its net income fall in the April-June quarter, with an anti-trust fine imposed by the European Union hitting its bottom line.
Alphabet executives say revenue was about 26 billion dollars for the quarter. That's up about 20 percent from a year earlier with higher sales in advertising and cloud services.
But net income dropped almost 30 percent to about 3.5 billion dollars. That came as EU anti-trust authorities fined Google about 2.7 billion dollars last month.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai stressed his intention to continue investing in growing cloud services.
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The dollar held above a 13-month low on Tuesday after readings on U.S. factory and services activity beat expectations ahead of the start of a Federal Reserve meeting later in the day, but Asian stocks were subdued with few catalysts to drive them.
The dollar and U.S. Treasury yields rose on expectations the Fed will signal its readiness to begin reducing its bond portfolio at its September meeting.
The dollar index .DXY, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major peers, was steady at 93.951 on Tuesday, up from Monday's low of 93.823, its lowest level since June 2016.
The dollar was little changed at 111.065 yen JPY=D4 on Tuesday, after touching a six-week low on Monday.
The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield US10YT=RR was at 2.2499 percent on Tuesday, not far from Monday's close of 2.253 percent and above Friday's three-week low of 2.225 percent.
On Monday, Markit's U.S. manufacturing and services flash surveys both beat expectations, while euro zone business growth at the start of the second half of the year slowed.
The euro EUR=EBS, which posted losses on Monday after earlier hitting a near two-year high, inched up 0.1 percent to$1.1653.
"As Europe's business surveys continue to outperform those of the U.S., last night was a minor victory at best for the greenback," said Matt Simpson, senior market analyst at ThinkMarkets in Melbourne. "The expectation of a slightly dovish Fed and a White House seemingly in turmoil is likely to weigh further on the greenback for the foreseeable future."
Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor, told Senate investigators on Monday he had met with Russian officials four times last year but said he did not collude with Moscow to influence the 2016 U.S. election.
The ongoing probes into Russia's meddling in the election by congressional panels and a Justice Department special counsel, as well as weak U.S. economic data and reduced inflation expectations, have weighed on the dollar for much of the month.
In stocks, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS edged up less than 0.1 percent, with some markets looking for fresh impetus after hitting multi-year highs in recent weeks and few drivers in the region to guide them.
"Limited moves within global markets may leave Asian markets to chart their own course in the day," said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG in Singapore. "It would be no surprise to see markets holding once again for key items into the latter half of the week."
Australian stocks jumped 0.8 percent, clawing back all of Monday's 0.6 percent loss. But Japan's Nikkei .N225 slipped 0.1 percent, and South Korea's KOSPI .KS11 retreated 0.2 percent.
Chinese shares also fell, with the bluechip CSI 300 index .CSI300 down 0.3 percent and the Shanghai Composite .SSEC dropping 0.1 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng slightly advanced.
Overnight on Wall Street, the Nasdaq .IXIC set a record high as investors bet on solid earnings from technology companies. But the S&P 500 .SPX and the Dow .DJI closed in negative territory, following European stocks , which lost 0.2 percent.
In commodities, oil prices extended their recovery on a pledge by leading OPEC producer Saudi Arabia to cut exports in August to help reduce the global crude glut. Haliburton Co's (HAL.N) executive chairman also said the U.S. shale drilling boom would probably ease next year.
U.S. crude CLc1 jumped 0.6 percent to $46.63 a barrel, after closing up 1.25 percent on Monday.
Global benchmark Brent LCOc1 added 0.6 percent to $48.90, extending Monday's 1.1 percent rise.
The marginally stronger dollar kept gold's gains in check XAU=, with the precious metal pulling back slightly to $1,254.96 an ounce....
Harsh winters and dry summers are threatening the livelihoods of Mongolia's nomadic herders. Some are banding together to safeguard their herds - and communities - from the extreme conditions.
For centuries, nomadic families have driven their livestock across Mongolia's steppe, preserving a way of life that goes back generations. But changes in this vast, desolate landscape have forced them to adapt. Winters have become harsher, and extreme weather events more frequent.
Global warming is affecting Mongolia faster than other parts of the world. "Over the last 70 years, the average air temperature has risen by 2.1 degrees Celsius [3.8 degrees Fahrenheit] - one of the highest increases recorded on Earth," said Tunga Ulambayar, director of Saruul Khuduu Environmental Research, Training and Consulting.
"By the end of the century, temperatures could rise 5 degrees Celsius," she said. "Extreme events are growing in some areas. Cases of 'dzud,' or extremely severe winters in the Mongolian language, are increasing. Some regions experience heavy summer rain, others go through increasingly intense winter storms."
A herder sets off early in the morning to take his livestock to the daily grazing pasture in the Gobi desert (Photo: Jacopo Pasotti)
Climate change is especially felt by those who live off the land
Mongolia is one of the last pastoral countries left on Earth. Its economy is dependent on the production of livestock, and around 80 percent of its territory is covered in grasslands. Living at the edge of the inhabitable world, pastoral nomadic people are highly vulnerable to changes.
In response, some herders are forming communities and pooling their resources, in hopes that this will allow their traditional nomadic lifestyles to survive.
Pastures at risk
Around 28 percent of the Mongolian population lives at or below the poverty line, and many people survive on a subsistence basis. Because of this, and the fragile nature of pastures, extreme weather events are often disasterous in Mongolia.
Experts are warning that pastures are at further risk due to overgrazing and climate change.
"A few centimeters more snow than average locks the forage under a thick frozen layer, and causes high mortality among the livestock," Ulambayar said.
"Nomads are forced to migrate to other districts, placing pressure on other fragile pasturelands and communities. Many herders have to move to the city."
The capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, is already reeling under the impacts of rapid urbanization, which include off-the-charts air pollution.
Due to dzud, the winter of 1999 to 2000 resulted in the country losing 30 percent of its herds nationwide. As reported by Ulambayar in the scientific journal "World Development," 2 million head of livestock, or 20 percent of the national herd, were lost in the dzud of 2009.
And dzud events are projected to increase due to climate change.
The nomads have also observed less obvious changes. "The Khunkeree river used to flow for 25 kilometers [15.5 miles], but these days it only goes 20 kilometers. So it is has shrunk," said Batkhuyag Tseveravajaa, head of the Uvurkhangai community in the Gobi desert.
Some of the nomads regret the end of the Negdel time, when herds and rangeland were state-owned. Livestock and pastures were equally distributed among herders, pastures were sustainably grazed, and seasonal moves were directed. On top of that, veterinary and social services were provided, and fodder was supplied in the event of a dzud.
But in the 1990s, the fall of the socialist regime resulted in the collapse of this system and the emergence of a market-driven economy.
"Herders found themselves alone, suddenly owners of their animals and the land - without support from the institutions. The number of livestock rapidly increased, and pastures degraded," noted Ulambayar. "After mining, sheep wool and cashmere are the highest traded goods from Mongolia," she added.
Before the market-driven economy, herders had no reason to scale up their production, as they had a fixed salary and the government provided them with social services.
Today, cashmere is a profitable resource. But it is exploited in an unsustainable way. Since the 1960s, the number of goats kept to produce cashmere has risen from 4.5 million to 23 million.
Some herders are trying to adapt by forming communities. This allows them to manage their pastures, pool their labor, and slow down - or even halt - the degradation of their land. Herders believe this could be a solution.
After the disastrous winters in early 2000, many herders formed communities for the management of pastures and natural resources, assisted by non-governmental organizations, explained Ulambayar, who studied herders' capacity to adapt in four districts. She found that those who banded together and pooled their resources significantly reduced household vulnerability to dzud.
The head of the Uvurkhangai community, Batkhuyag Tseveravajaa, is convinced of the benefits. "Together, we collect hay and forage for the winter. We grow vegetables, comb goats, sheer sheep and ensure our river remains clean. These activities are quicker when carried out together," he said.
Belonging to a community also comes with social support. Tseveravajaa's community has a fund of 5 million tugriks (about 2,000 euros) for members who have been severely hit by natural disasters.
"Finding adaptation strategies for Mongolian rural communities is an economic, social, and humanitarian priority," Ulambayar said.
Until now, communities have shown remarkable resilience, Ulambayar said. The solution to challenges posed by natural and societal changes lies within a dialogue between the herds and the institutions.
"So far, it has proven to work," Ulambayar concluded.
This story is a part of the Shared Horizons journalism project, which focuses on community-based management of resources as a tool to adapt to changes in the environment. Funding support was provided by the Innovation in Development Reporting Grant Program, operated by the European Journalism Center.
The UK’s anti-fraud investigating body said Monday it is probing Rio Tinto’s dealings in Guinea involving the giant Simandou iron ore project.
"The Serious Fraud Office has opened an investigation into suspected corruption in the conduct of business in the Republic of Guinea by the Rio Tinto group, its employees and others associated with it," the SFO said in a statement on Monday.
In November last year Melbourne-based Rio fired two executives involved in the project after an internal investigation uncovered a $10.5m payment in 2011 to a French national acting as a go-between with the West African nation’s government.
Simandou hasn't only dented Rio Tinto’s reputation
Rio, the world’s second largest mining company, announced in October it was fully exiting the project by selling its stake to former partner Chinalco for up to $1.3 billion. Rio has spent more than $3 billion advancing the project (including a $700m payment to the Guinea government to resolve "outstanding issues" in April 2011) having first acquired the property in the late nineties.
Shares in Rio Tinto lost nearly 2% of its value in London on Monday amid a generally positive day for the mining sector, reducing its market valuation to $79 billion. Rio stock is up just over 5% year to date in line with a better trading environment for miners.
Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz is fighting allegations of bribery when it acquired the rights to one half of Simandou (stripped from Rio over development delays) in 2008 when Guinea was under military rule.
BSGR, the mining arm of the diamond magnate, signed a multi-billion dollar deal with Brazil's Vale in 2010 to jointly develop the project, but Guinea stripped BSGR’s rights in 2014. BSGR is seeking international arbitration over the loss of its rights and has also sued George Soros for $10 billion, accusing the hedge fund billionaire of running a defamation campaign against the company.
Rio last year had its lawsuit for damages against BSGR and Vale dismissed in a New York court.
In June, ex-Wall Street banker Mahmoud Thiam who served as Guinea’s mining minister during 2009–2010 was convicted of laundering $8.5 million he was alleged to have taken to help a Chinese company gain mining concessions. Guinea is one of the world's largest producers of bauxite, the primary ore used in the production of aluminum.
With complete control of Simandou, Beijing-based Chinalco may revive the stalled project for the southern block of the 2 billion-tonne deposit of high-grade iron ore.
The original $20 billion agreement signed in 2014 with the backing of the World Bank (which has since withdrawn support) called for a new 650km railway to Conakry, Guinea's capital in the north, plus a new deep water port at a conservatively estimated cost of $7 billion, and infrastructure investments that would double the economy of the impoverished country.
China June coal imports from Mongolia, Russia rise - customs www.energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com
BEIJING: China's coal imports rose in June from Mongolia and Russia as utilities and steel mills sought out more cheap raw material even as the government tried to curb purchases of foreign fuel.
Coal-fired power demand rose last month during a prolonged heatwave in the north ahead of the peak consumption period.
Since mid-February the two nations have helped fill a supply gap left by China's ban on coal from North Korea. In the first half of the year, imports from Mongolia were up 79.5 percent from last year's 10.4 million tonnes, customs data showed on Monday.
The European Union will, following a decision by Federica Mogherini, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, open a Delegation to Mongolia.
With its new Delegation in Ulaanbaatar, the EU will have a total of 140 Delegations around the world.
The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker said: "The European Union is delivering on a promise to open a fully-fledged delegation in Mongolia – a democratic country strategically located between China and Russia and an important partner for us. I have visited Mongolia three times, the first in 1998 and most recently in 2016. The wonderful progress of this country and its development deserves our warmest congratulations, and certainly merits a full-time European Union presence."
The High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini said: "Mongolia has an important role in a complex region, with a unique geostrategic position. This Delegation represents an investment for the European Union in view of strengthening our relationship with Mongolia, and a commitment to the people of the country. Soon we will also conclude* our new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which is a further demonstration of the importance we place on developing our close ties."
The decision by the High Representative/Vice President follows the agreement of the Commission and the Council of the European Union and will be implemented in the course of 2017.
The decision to open a Delegation in Ulaanbaatar underscores the significant progress that has been made in developing EU-Mongolia relations. The establishment of an EU Delegation in Ulaanbaatar will allow both sides to step up their political dialogue and cooperation and will pave the way for the further strengthening of the partnership.