|“Doing business with Mongolia”, “UK Investors show” бизнес хөтөлбөр March 27-April 02. 2019 ЛОНДОН ХОТ, ИХ БРИТАНИ||Mongolian Business Database||London UK|
|SYMPOSIUM ON GLOBAL MARKETS Nationalism and Protectionism: The United States in the International Arena June 17-18, 2019 The Center for American and International Law Plano, Texas, USA||The Center for American and International Law (CAILAW)||Plano Texas June 17-18 2019|
|"Open to Export" ICC WTO International business award||ICC WTO||London|
Cabinet, at its regular meeting yesterday, authorized Minister of Energy Davaasuren Tserenpil and Director General of the Energy Regulatory Commission Tleikhan Almalik to sign the agreement on establishing a power plant near Tavan Tolgoi deposits that will supply electricity to Oyu Tolgoi project.
Within the frame, Tavan Tolgoi thermal power plant with a capacity of 300 MW will be built and connected to the substation of Oyu Tolgoi project in two 220 kW power lines. Officials highlighted that the capacity can be increased in the future and the construction will start in March 2020 and finish by the end of June 2023. Tavan Tolgoi Power Plant LLC will be responsible for the necessary financing under its Investment Agreement.
On the other hand, Oyu Tolgoi LLC has agreed to draw electricity from domestic network as much as possible starting from next year.
Cabinet also approved the National Program on Supporting Intensive Animal Farming. Accordingly, the implementing activities will be added to the Government’s annual action plan and the required funding will be financed from State and local budget, as well as foreign loans and aids. The total cost of the program, which will be implemented in 2019-2023, is estimated at MNT 166.3 billion.
These will be spent on supporting intensive animal farmers, capacity building professional associations, transferring to cluster system, importing high-yield livestock and animals, ensuring food safety and introducing new technologies.
Later on, the Cabinet ratified the bill on health insurance. In 2019, the health insurance premium amount will be four percent of an individual’s monthly salary or an income equal to it. The amount will be divided in half between the employee and the employer.
New health premium to take effect in January
As for self-employed persons, herders, students and minors, the monthly premium will be MNT 3200, and MNT 6400 for foreigners, refugees and citizens whose only source of income is pension, members of a family in need of social welfare assistance, parents raising their children under the age of two (three for twins and triplets), military personnel and prisoners.
According to a study conducted by Tenkhleg Zuuch LLC, a total of 6,607 household accommodation were available in Ulaanbaatar as of 2018. Research institutions noted that the housing oversupply will prolong further due to low purchasing ability of households. While 24,773 household apartments were commissioned in 2013 when the eight percent mortgage loan was introduced; however, the number dropped to 12,277 households in 2017. As for 2018, about 12,000 household accommodation is expected to be built, of which 20 percent are already sold.
As of today, the average housing price stands at MNT 2.2 million per square meter in Ulaanbaatar, while the average purchasing power of households remains at MNT 1.2 million.
Tenkhleg Zuuch also expects housing demand to reach 33,102 in the next three years and supply to 38,514 households, creating 5,412 household housing surplus in the real estate market.
Housing price index fell by over 10 percent in 2015-2016 and slightly increased since the beginning of this year. The study also forecasted the average real estate prices to surge next year as the Government is planning to continue the eight percent mortgage program and to increase financial sources of the program.
The Trump administration is poised to propose maintaining Obama-era restrictions on mercury pollution from power plants, responding to opposition from electric utilities that have already spent billions of dollars to meet the requirements.
At the same time, the Environmental Protection Agency is set to propose changes that may make it harder to toughen mercury emissions standards in the future by disavowing the legal justification for the regulation and altering the way its health benefits are measured. The proposal reflects a balancing act for the Trump administration, which has struggled to address a rule loathed by coal producers
The proposal reflects a balancing act for the Trump administration, which has struggled to address a rule loathed by coal producers, viewed warily by EPA officials who object to how it was justified and yet has already been complied with by power companies.
“We’ve been in compliance for a number of years now, the equipment is operating and it is effective. We really see no reason at all to roll back the requirements," said John McManus, senior vice president of environmental services at American Electric Power Company Inc. “Retired plants aren’t coming back, and we see no reason to turn back the controls that are running on our existing plants.”
The 2012 rule prompted a wave of coal-fired power plant closures and drew the ire of a powerful foe: coal magnate Robert E. Murray, who has spent years crusading against the regulation in court. His coal company, Murray Energy Corp., argues its domestic sales have suffered as a result of the standards.
But power companies such as Duke Energy Corp. have implored the EPA and White House to leave the mercury standards intact. Utilities have already spent some $18 billion installing required technology to fulfill the requirements and satisfy April 2015 compliance deadlines that have long since passed, industry trade groups told the EPA this summer.
For instance, AEP has invested nearly $8.8 billion on environmental equipment retrofits at its coal-fired power plants since 2000, with much of that equipment contributing to its compliance with the mercury rule. The utility-owner has retired 7,200 megawatts of coal-fired generation from 2011 through 2016 as part of its effort to meet the more stringent mercury rules. Mercury emissions from its plants have dropped 95 percent since 2001.
Coal-fired power plants are the largest U.S. source of mercury, a metal that is converted in soil and water into a neurotoxin that can lower IQ, cause motor function deficits, damage the nervous system and lead to more heart attacks.
“More mercury in the air means more mercury in the water, which means more mercury in the fish, which means more mercury in people who eat the fish,” said Janet McCabe, an acting assistant administrator of the EPA’s air office in the Obama administration. “That is especially problematic for young children, pregnant women and the babies they are carrying.” The EPA is set to propose keeping the mercury limits in place while simultaneously withdrawing an assertion the requirements are “appropriate and necessary”
The EPA is set to propose keeping the mercury limits in place while simultaneously withdrawing an assertion the requirements are “appropriate and necessary” — a legal benchmark under the Clean Air Act.
The change would arm the rule’s opponents with ammunition for another lawsuit challenging the mercury standards in an effort to win a court-ordered repeal. It’s not clear any such litigation would prevail; a 2008 ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on another mercury rule sets a high bar.
Although the EPA is ensnared by the partial government shutdown, it has enough leftover funding to continue operating, at least this week. The agency is expected to issue the proposal as soon as Wednesday.
The EPA also is set to recalculate the cost and benefits of the mercury rule in a way that dramatically shrinks its estimated potential health gains — a change that could prevent the EPA from making the mercury pollution requirements more stringent in the future.
At issue are the broad health benefits that spring from regulations — not just those that directly flow from reducing a pollutant explicitly targeted by individual rules. In the case of the mercury rule, for example, the technology utilities employed to curtail mercury emissions also pared the amount of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide belched out of their power plants, which the EPA said would reduce asthma attacks, heart attacks and premature deaths.
Those “co-benefits” of the mercury rule were an essential figure in the Obama administration’s calculation of the its ultimate price tag. Although the EPA estimated it would cost industry $9.6 billion annually to install necessary technology, it said health benefits from reducing mercury and other non-targeted pollutants were worth nearly 10 times more.
As much as 89 percent of the 2012 rule’s health benefits came from reducing fine particulate matter — beyond the toxic air pollutants the measure actually targeted, according to the EPA.
Now, under President Donald Trump, the EPA is set to assert that because it is leaning on its Clean Air Act authority to regulate hazardous air pollutants, it is improper to consider the health benefits of paring other pollution.
The EPA may argue that pollutants regulated under other programs can’t be used to “justify a regulation that is only supposed to be about hazardous air pollutants,” said Jeff Holmstead, an assistant EPA administrator under former President George W. Bush.
By disregarding co-benefits, the new proposal is set to conclude that the rule’s costs exceed its benefits. Environmentalists say the change could preclude the agency from counting these benefits to justify the cost of toughening requirements in the future.
The Trump administration approach would limit “the EPA’s ability to recognize the full range of benefits that result from pollution control,” said Joe Goffman, a former senior counsel in agency’s air office. The result is “to limit the reach of the Clean Air Act as a tool for regulating air pollution and protecting public health.”
The mercury standards have been the subject of litigation for years. After they were imposed in 2012, the coal industry sued, ultimately forcing the EPA to revisit its conclusions. The Obama administration reinstated the regulation in 2016 and Murray Energy sued to block it, but a federal appeals court delayed the case so the Trump administration could reconsider the rule....
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean officials attended a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday for an aspirational project to modernize North Korean railways and roads and connect them with the South.
The ceremony at the North Korean border town of Kaesong came weeks after the Koreas conducted a joint survey on the northern railway sections they hope to someday link with the South.
The ambitious project is among a variety of peace gestures agreed between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in as they push ahead with engagement amid a stalemate in larger nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.
But beyond on-site reviews and ceremonies, the Koreas cannot move the project much further along without the removal of U.S.-led sanctions against the North.
During his three summits with Moon and a meeting with President Donald Trump in June, Kim signed vague statements pledging a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing how and when it would occur. But followup nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled for months over the sequencing of the denuclearization that Washington wants and the removal of international sanctions desired by Pyongyang.
About 100 South Koreans, including government officials and lawmakers, attended the ceremony. They were greeted by North Korean officials including Ri Son Gwon, who heads an agency dealing with inter-Korean affairs. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, executive secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and officials from China, Russia and Mongolia also attended the ceremony, according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry.
The Seoul government plans to conduct further surveys on North Korean railways and roads before drawing up a detailed blueprint for the project. Actual construction will proceed depending on the progress in the North’s denuclearization and the state of sanctions against the country, the ministry said.
“We plan to hold detailed negotiations with the North to coordinate on the specific levels we want to achieve in the modernization of railways and roads and how to carry out the project,” said Eugene Lee, the ministry’s spokeswoman.
Even if the North takes concrete steps toward denuclearization and gains sanctions relief, some experts say updating North Korean rail networks and trains, which creak slowly along the rails that were first built in the early 20th century, could take decades and massive investment.
Seoul said it received an exemption to sanctions from the U.N. Security Council to proceed with Wednesday’s ceremony as it involved the usage of South Korean transport vehicles and goods. The Koreas’ joint survey of North Korean railways in November, which also required U.N. approval, marked the first time a South Korean train traveled on North Korean tracks.
The Koreas in December 2007 began freight services between South Korea’s Munsan Station in Paju and the North’s Panmun Station to support operations at a now-shuttered joint factory park in Kaesong. The South used the trains to move construction materials north, while clothing and shoes made at the factory park were sent south. The line was cut in November 2008 due to political tensions over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
The Kaesong factory park was shut down under the South’s previous conservative government in February 2016 following a North Korean nuclear test and long-range rocket launch....
Mass production of Russia’s new Aurus limousine, developed for the presidential motorcade, will begin in the eastern region of Tatarstan. The first vehicles will roll off the production line in 2020.
The project will be implemented at the production facilities of Russia's automobile company Sollers in the special economic zone of Alabuga, Tatarstan Republic, according to the Trade Minister Denis Manturov.
The automaker is set to provide production capacities for manufacturing some 5,000 Aurus cars per year, the minister said.
Aurus vehicles are currently produced as a limited series by the Russian state-run Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Engines Institute (NAMI).
The maximum annual output totals 250 vehicles. So far, the institute has been producing only limousines and sedans. The current production levels are reportedly seriously lagging behind demand. An off-road vehicle Aurus Komendant will see the light in 2021-2022.
Aurus was born out of a project dubbed “Kortezh” (cortege), which was aimed at giving a boost to the domestic automobile industry by investing taxpayer money into developing a domestic presidential car line.
The goal was to have many components of the vehicle produced domestically, importing expertise and know-how as needed. Kortezh is estimated to have cost about $190 million over five years, according to the minister.
Mongolia’s effort to get its citizens to pay taxes by enrolling them in a lottery is delivering a big payout -- for the government.
The north Asian country between Russia and China has expanded its tax base by almost half since 2016, according to government statistics, partly by printing a lottery ticket on every retail receipt when the 10 percent value-added tax is paid. The gimmick has consumers insisting they pay the tax at the register so that they have a chance at winning a jackpot.
Mongolia has struggled to crack down on the so-called shadow economy -- transactions made when retailers cut costs by failing to report sales to the tax office. Informal markets such as the Narantuul black market in Ulaanbaatar are filled with vendors selling everything from blenders to animal skins -- much of it off-the-books. That had Mongolia’s tax authorities looking for innovative ways to grow its tax base.
Every receipt that comes from a purchase when VAT is paid can enter consumers into a lottery that pays out prizes from as little as 50,000 tugrik ($18.99) to jackpots that can equal thousands of dollars. In 2017, one woman won 500 million tugrik, or 500 times the average monthly household income, according to local media reports.
Last year, Ulaanbaatar paid out 5.05 billion tugrik in prizes to 119,254 citizens, according to the government website for the Information Technology Center of Custom, Taxation and Finance.
The National Statistics Office in a December report said a 32.7 percent expansion in VAT over the previous year was a main driver for tax revenue growth.
Shadow economies are tricky to pin down and estimates vary, but the IMF reckons Mongolia’s gray economy was as high as 15.9 percent of GDP in 2015.
To play, consumers download a smartphone app to scan bar codes printed on receipts. Tax payers get the added bonus of a 2 percent tax refund the following year from all the receipts they’ve scanned.
While Mongolia isn’t the first to experiment with such a program, with governments in Europe trying similar ones, this lotto has widened the spotlight on the informal retail business in the country.
By Terrence Edwards
Seismic activity is relatively low in and around the Mongolian capital as compared to the western parts of the country. This year, a total of 873 mini-quakes occurred in Ulaanbaatar – mostly too small to be felt – however, this represents an increase of 200 on 2017. The epicentres have been in Emeelt, Khustai and Avdar Mountain. Furthermore, seismic activity has been increasing in Mungunmorit and Dzuunkharaa, a town in the Selenge province.
Although the quakes are very small, the fact that the Mongolian capital is experiencing such an increase is causing concern. What would happen if a major earthquake hit the city? There are worries that many buildings in Ulaanbaatar, would be unable to withstand a big earthquake if it struck. The General Agency of Specialized Inspection has conducted and audit and concluded that 445 of 6627 buildings nationwide would be unable to withstand a major earthquake.
A total of 531 foreign nationals from 29 countries have been expelled from Mongolia due to illegal stay or violating visa regulations. Most of them were Chinese (972), North Korean (42) followed by Americans (15), Russians (14), Australians (10) and Germans (8).
According to the Mongolian Immigration Service, fines for visa violations and illegal working have been raised under a new law. As a result, there appears to have been a decrease in the number of violations.
As of 21 December, 2018, a total of 23,486 foreign nationals from 123 countries have been residing in Mongolia.
Cabinet held an extended irregular meeting last Friday to review the actions on air pollution reduction and made relevant decisions, including the transfer of State ownership stakes of Tavan Tolgoi Fuel LLC, which is producing enhanced fuel as raw coal consumption will be banned next year.
At the meeting, the Cabinet decided to transfer the stakes of Tavan Tolgoi Fuel LLC to be held by the State to Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry and Ministry of Energy. Accordingly, the related ministers are now responsible for the annual production of 600,000 tons of enhanced fuel, monitoring the supply and reporting the results to the Cabinet.
Ministers were also ordered to install advanced technology and equipment of deep processing coal in order to create reserves and manufacturing international-standard enhanced fuel. A study determined the annual consumption of enhanced fuel in Ulaanbaatar city to be 600,000 tons. Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC will be responsible for financing the necessary funds under a strict monitoring of law enforcement in a publicly transparent manner.
Tavan Tolgoi Fuel LLC currently has 8,099 tons of enhanced fuel reserves and is expected to manufacture 600,000 tons by September 15, 2019.
As a pilot run, the early production was sold to 1,876 households of 28th khoroo of Sukhbaatar district, conducting several surveys. The study found that the product has already created demand as users had positive feedback for the fuel.
Additionally, the Cabinet further reviewed other actions on air pollution reduction. As exempted from customs duty, over 2,300 air purifiers and energy-efficient heaters were imported this year. A total of 862 air purifiers were installed at 142 medical centers, district hospitals and children’s cabinets of maternity hospitals under the Ulaanbaatar Clean Air Project, as well as another 5,200 air purifiers from the State Budget. As a result, PM 2.5 components in the air reduced by 13-29 percent in hospitals.
According to officials, 45 stoves and 68 boilers were dismantled in the last one year, and by connecting 10 stoves to district heating network, raw coal consumption was reduced by 70,000 tons, PM2.5 emission by 510 tons and sulfur emission by 560 tons.
Enhanced fuel has already created demand as users had positive feedback in early production
Report shows that MNT 8.3 billion was spent on night-time electricity discounts for 118,000 households of ger districts and about 15 percent of total households in ger districts have shifted to electrical heating appliances within the last one year. Furthermore, technical capacity of providing 4 kWt electrical heating appliances to 421,000 households have been completed so far.
Six entities have been selected to supply 80,000 tons of enhanced fuel to over 26,000 households in Songino khairkhan district. This is estimated to cut raw coal consumption by 150,000 tons and PM2.5 emission by 150 tons.
Around 65,000 children and 117,000 children of target group were included for influenza vaccinations and necessary changes were made to student holiday schedules.
The Cabinet also informed that MNT 1 billion worth financial support was granted to seven provinces with the highest pollution, which allowed them to prepare Air Pollution Reduction Program and set the areas in need for air quality improvement....
The Japanese government has approved a set of policy measures to make it easier for foreigners to live and work in Japan.
The package approved Tuesday is in line with a revised immigration law set to take effect in April marking a major policy change. Residential status now available only to high-skilled workers will become available to a much wider range of lower-skilled workers.
The measures include ones to prevent brokers from taking unfair advantage of foreign workers. To alleviate a labor shortages in rural areas, checks will be put in place to prevent an excessive concentration of foreigners in cities.
Up to 345,000 foreign workers are set to be allowed into 14 sectors of the economy over a five-year period starting in April. The limit will stay in place until economic needs change.
Among the 126 specific measures in the package are provisions for multilingual support in public services.
A Japanese-language proficiency test required for the new visa status will be offered in nine countries: Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, China, Thailand, Myanmar, Mongolia, and Nepal.
To prevent a concentration of workers in cities, the government will periodically announce information on the number of foreign workers in different regions and sectors.