|Frontier's "Invest Mongolia Tokyo 2018"||Frontier Securities||Tokyo Japan|
|"Open to Export" ICC WTO International business award||ICC WTO||London|
By Amarzaya Naran, Mark Koenig
Bringing together a representative sample of an entire country in one room is not a simple task, especially in a place like Mongolia, where much of the population lives in small, often isolated communities, spread out over a vast terrain. For many citizens, a trip to the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, means a full day on a bus, often on unpaved and poorly maintained roads. But once the complicated logistics are figured out, the possibilities for dialogue and discussion that such diversity brings to one room is immense.
Deliberative Polling session in Mongolia
Plenary sessions provided an opportunity for citizens to hear the arguments in support of and opposed on each issue from independent experts.
On April 29-30, the Mongolian parliament did just that when it brought together 669 randomly selected citizens from across the country to Ulaanbaatar for the first-ever national deliberative poll on the future of the Mongolian constitution. Deliberative polling is an intensive research method that gathers a randomly selected and representative sample, rather than self-selected participants, and provides citizens with information in writing to ensure it is gathering informed opinions. The deliberative poll finishes with each participant taking an opinion survey to determine their views on the topics discussed. These opinions are then collected and help shape the process of constitutional amendment the government will undertake in the coming months.
The two-day event stimulated discussion and gathered citizen input on critical issues ranging from the powers of the president and ensuring the independence of the civil society, to the pressures of urbanization and the frequency of elections.
Citizens in the deliberative poll were organized into 49 small groups of (15 people each) to deliberate on each issue.
Mongolia’s constitution dates to 1992 when the country was just beginning its transition to democracy and a fully market-based economy. While the constitution has provided the foundation for Mongolia to become one of the region’s most robust democracies, in recent years politicization has crept into all levels of government, the independence of the courts and other independent institutions have been called into question, and successive governments have struggled to identify and implement key policies to continue Mongolia’s resource-based growth.
While a long list of such constraints has been raised, consensus on such complicated and contentious issues is extremely difficult to reach, and experts differ widely on which amendments to prioritize and how they should be combined.
The poll comes two months after Mongolia’s government passed a law requiring that the deliberative polling method be conducted before amendments to the constitution could be made. Deliberative polling, pioneered over 30 years ago by the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University, was first conducted at the Ulaanbaatar city level in 2015 with support from The Asia Foundation and Stanford University. Both Stanford and the Foundation provided capacity building and advisory support for this first national event.
Last weekend’s discourse clearly shows that the government has learned some lessons from the last round of constitutional amendment efforts in 2000, which were viewed negatively throughout the country, in part because they were made quickly and with minimal discussion and debate. In contrast, this event was highly publicized in advance, and the deliberative polling methodology brought clear advantages over other traditional consultation techniques.
Citizens from all walks of like and from every part of Mongolia gathered to participate in this first nation-wide deliberation on constitutional amendments.
Participants from across the country expressed excitement at the prospect of their voices being heard in this amendment process, as well as strong opinions about the wide range of issues being considered. For example, one participant who had journeyed from remote Huvsgal aimag (province) indicated that after the event she had a strong preference to have the power to elect her own local governor, rather than have the governor appointed by the aimag. She believed an elected governor would better understand local issues and concerns.
While the results of the dialogue are still being compiled, and exactly what amendments might result from this process will not be seen for some months, the event clearly shows the intention of the government to invest in citizen participation in the future of the constitution.
To politicians, observers, citizens, and others watching this deliberative event it became apparent that if people think their voice matters in a forum such as this, they will fully engage in fruitful discussion among themselves, ask the experts informed questions, and then make tough decisions on what is best for their communities. While many discussions included surprise and honor at being invited to the deliberation and visiting the Government House, and excitement at meeting people from different provinces, most would quickly, however, shift back to the constitution and how it can support their hopes for the country’s development.
Amarzaya Naran is deputy manager of The Asia Foundation’s Governance Program in Mongolia. Mark Koenig is the Foundation’s deputy director and urban governance specialist based in the Bangkok office. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and not those of The Asia Foundation or its funders.
China Inc. has just become the largest investor in Germany's biggest bank.
HNA Group, a deal-hungry Chinese conglomerate, now owns almost 10% of Deutsche Bank (DB), according to a filing Tuesday. That means it has overtaken the Qatari royal family to become the German lender's top shareholder, according to the latest disclosures.
The acquisition of a significant stake in a pillar of European finance is another example of China's growing global influence. Last year, Chinese firms announced around $220 billion worth of deals for foreign companies, far more than any previous year.
HNA now holds a 9.92% stake -- worth €3.4 billion ($3.7 billion) at Tuesday's closing price -- through C-Quadrat Investment, a European asset manager. It has built its holding from an initial stake of just over 3% in February.
The investment is one of a series of big money moves around the world by HNA, which has interests in a wide-range of industries, including airlines, hotels and technology.
Last year was its most acquisitive yet, including a $6.5 billion deal for a 25% stake in Hilton Worldwide.
It's also racked up a lot of debt in the process. HNA and its subsidiaries owed $13.3 billion as of April 12, according to Dealogic.
Beijing's recent moves to stem the flood of money pouring out of China has led to tougher policing of overseas deals by Chinese companies this year.
Despite this, HNA has remained a busy buyer of foreign businesses, signing more than 10 deals worth over $5 billion in the first three months of this year, most of them overseas.
It has done this partly by using its existing operations abroad to raise money for deals, a route some Chinese companies are taking in order to skirt the country's capital control rules.
Deutsche Bank isn't its first move into the finance sector
HNA already holds stakes in asset managers, banks, insurance companies and a hedge fund. Its financial-services arm, HNA Capital, claims to have more than 340 billion yuan ($49 billion) in assets.
Earlier this year, it reached a deal to buy Skybridge Capital, a U.S. hedge fund business, from Trump campaign fundraiser Anthony Scaramucci.
Chen Feng, a former provincial bureaucrat, set up Hainan Airlines with three other people in 1992 with a loan from the local government. That's the business out of which HNA grew to become a huge conglomerate.
Now HNA's chairman, Chen is also a Buddhist scholar and a big advocate of traditional Chinese culture. The 63-year-old wants to help the country become more respected globally.
His company became the subject of a Harvard Business School case study in 2015, which details his habit of visiting each business HNA buys and teaching its staff about the company's "Ten Commandments," which include compassion, integrity and modesty.
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ Today, May 04,Head of Cabinet Secretariat, Minister J.Munkhbat met with the World Bank representatives, headed by Jason Allford, the Executive Director of the World Bank Group representing Mongolia and some other countries. Minister J.Munkhbat noted that protecting investors’ rights in legal frame is one of the priorities of the Government and a council in charge of protecting investors’ rights was established by an order of Prime Minister. He expressed his thanks to the World Bank for granting financial support within the IMF program to Mongolia.
Mr Jason Allford said “- We know that economic conditions were tough when you took power. We are also happy that the economy tends to revive. It would be a good example to other countries that the Government of Mongolia has established a certain structure for the protection of investors’ rights at a policy level. Mongolia needs to increase foreign investment to overcome its economic difficulties. However, restriction of the investors’ transaction, making it to pass only through Mongolian banks has much negative impact on the economy”. Asking whether parliament is reconsidering its decision concerning the matter he said that if parliament makes its decision certain, IMF and WB are ready to conclude their decision within a short period.
“- The majority group in parliament has made its political decision to reconsider and change the parliamentary resolution, which regulates income from some big projects to pass through Mongolian banks. Within this week, the parliament will finalize it. After that, we believe the IMF will confirm its official decision on implementing its program in Mongolia” said Minister J.Munkhbat. He also emphasized Mongolia’s active collaboration with IMF and WB and high expectations, including positive effects to economy as a result of the cooperation this time too.
HOHHOT, May 3 (Xinhua) -- Nearly 5,000 firefighters are battling a fire in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
The fire has spread to 10,000 hectares, said Shen Dongsheng, an officer with the forest detachment at the Greater Hinggan Mountains.
Four temporary helicopter landing spots have been set up for artificial precipitation, and armored vehicles are also mobilized.
The fire broke out at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday in the Bilahe Beidahe forest in Inner Mongolia.
Initial investigations found the fire was caused by illegal dumping of burning residue by a local furnace worker, who has been detained for further investigation.
Doing the same thing and expecting different results: Mongolia plans to curb air pollution with more coal www.bankwatch.org
A new law on air pollution recently adopted by the Mongolian government is in part the result of massive demonstrations that swept the streets of Ulaanbaatar during the winter months, when pollution in the capital is at its worst. Mobilised under the umbrella movement ‘Moms and dads against smog’, the protestors signed petitions calling on the government to come with an urgent plan for tacking the overwhelming situation in the city, where emissions from the coal burned in the surrounding ger districts and three combined heat and power plants reached some of the highest levels in the world this past winter.
The new policy will soon be followed by a yearly action plan for reducing emissions, but the protestors and civil society groups working for cleaner air in the country should remain cautious. That’s because the government’s plan involves even more reliance on coal – hauled in from the massive Tavan Tolgoi mine in the south and then cleaned in as yet constructed processing plants before being burned in the ger districts that are now responsible for 60 per cent of total emissions in the capital. So the plan does not appear to tackle the underlining problem in Mongolia, which is its dependency on coal.
A new Bankwatch report presented this week in Ulaanbaatar argues that the energy plans of the Mongolian government – which have the backing of international financial institutions – are disconnected from the urgent need to improve the efficiency of an ageing energy system and at the same time address the massive potential of solar and wind energy in the country. The report also shows how the 12 gigawatts of electricity that would be produced by the power plants planned by the government by the year 2030 exceed even its own projections for electricity demand in the country.
The report surveys a number of Mongolia’s coal power projects in the pipeline, including the 600 MW Tavan Tolgoi power plant in the South Gobi region, which would benefit mostly just three mines close to the Tavan Tolgoi deposit, including the EBRD and IFC-financed Oyu Tolgoi mine. In the capital, plans for a new combined heat and power plant supported by the Asian Development Bank and with potential involvement by the EBRD, would only add to emissions while not tackling the problem of burning coal in the ger districts, as these are not connected to the public utilities.
To better understand what is at stake with the governments’ plans for the continued use of coal, more than 40 members of civil society groups from the country gathered on 1 May at the Water Conservation Centre in Ulaanbaatar to discuss the risks of coal-based energy and the involvement of financial institutions in pushing for coal-based energy projects in the country.
Mongolia is at a crossroad, and the movement started by civil society this past winter is a sign for international financiers like the EBRD and the ADB to rethink their energy strategies for Mongolia and prioritise energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions for the the ger districts, rural areas and the people of Mongolia....
YOKOHAMA -- The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank hopes to obtain an international credit rating by the end of the third quarter of this year, a move which will take it a step closer to being able to issue bonds.
"We recently finished talking to the international credit rating agencies," Soren Elbech, the director general and treasurer of AIIB, who joined the bank in December last year, told Nikkei Asian Review on Wednesday. "We have a clear expectation to be rated before the end of the third quarter this year." He added that the bank expects to obtain "the highest rating that we can achieve," given its financial and business profile.
The AIIB, a Chinese-led initiative, has so far approved approximately $2.5 billion in loans, funding the disbursements with the paid-in capital from the member countries. Elbech said that the AIIB was in no rush to issue bonds to finance the loans, as it had received around $9 billion in paid-in capital up to now, which gives the bank "more than enough and ample capital" to service the loans for the next four to five years.
But Elbech, former treasurer of the Inter-American Development Bank, said the AIIB would look to issue bonds to "build up the bank's credibility in the market, pricing, [and] awareness with the investors." The Dane did not give a specific schedule on issuing the bonds, saying it depended on market conditions, but the size of the issue will be "a minimum of a billion [U.S. dollars]".
Issue 'has to be credible'
"My experience tells me that [for] a name like ours, the newest multilateral financial institution, to be positioned within its peer group, the size of the issue has to be credible. We want to firmly establish the bank's name," he said. "ADB just did a $4 billion three-year deal -- its largest ever. In order to be recognized within our peer group, we don't need to do these kinds of sizes, not yet at least."
Despite China's heavy involvement, Elbech said he expected the bank to issue its initial bonds in dollars, not renminbi. "U.S. dollar is our functional currency so that points to the initial issue to be in dollars," he said. "However, I'm sure we are going to be issuing in renminbi also at some stage and when it makes sense for the bank." He believed AIIB bonds would be attractive for international investors as they offered an opportunity to invest in a multilateral development bank other than the likes of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
AIIB added 13 new member countries in March, expanding its roster to 70 nations. However, the U.S. and Japan have thus far not applied for membership, out of concern that the international lender will be a tool to fund Chinese ambitions. China has contributed about 30% of the AIIB's $100 billion in capital and has around 25% of the voting rights, holding effective veto power over key projects.
Elbech dismissed these claims. The AIIB "is there to finance projects in all our member countries -- as long as it benefits Asia." He said he expected that lending to projects in China would be modest and, predominantly, to non-sovereign borrowers....
Japanese government officials have pitched the positive economic effects of adopting the country's Shinkansen high-speed train system at a briefing session in the Malaysian capital.
About 600 people from Malaysia's public and private sectors attended Wednesday's session in Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia plans to build a 300-kilometer high-speed rail line from Kuala Lumpur to neighboring Singapore. Trains will cover the distance in 90 minutes. The government seeks to start the service in 2026, and will conduct bidding this year.
At the session, Japan's transport minister Keiichi Ishii said the Japanese bullet train system has contributed to regional growth and is a driving force for the country. He expressed hope that the system will also help Malaysia to develop.
Executive Vice President of East Japan Railway Yuji Fukazawa explained at the following symposium how the Hokuriku Shinkansen line helped to boost tourism. The line, which connects Tokyo and Ishikawa Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast, opened in 2015.
Fukazawa said the prefecture drew about 3 million more tourists annually after the launch of the line and jobs were created along the line.
An official at a Malaysian railway operator said he believes the Shinkansen system can contribute to high-speed railway networks in his country.
He noted that Japan has been operating the system safely for more than 50 years.
China is also stepping up efforts to win a contract in bidding for Malaysia's high-speed railway.
A gas explosion at a coal mine in northeastern Iran has left 21 miners dead. More than 30 are trapped.
Iran's media outlets report that the explosion in Golestan Province injured 69 miners on Wednesday afternoon.
The media also report that 32 other miners are trapped underground.
Military personnel and Red Crescent officials are carrying out rescue operations. But the efforts have been slowed by the presence of gas inside the mine, which could trigger another explosion.
Coal production in Iran is mainly for use in steel plants.
A gas explosion at a coal mine in the central province of Yazd 5 years ago killed 8 people.
Facebook's profits have jumped in the first three months of the year, as the social network closes in on two billion users, according to its latest results.
The number of people using Facebook each month increased to 1.94 billion, of which nearly 1.3 billion use it daily, the company said.
The US tech giant reported profits of just over $3bn (£2.4bn) in the first quarter, a 76% rise year-on-year.
However, it warned that growth in ad revenues would slow down.
The company has also come under sustained pressure in recent weeks over its handling of hate speech, child abuse and self-harm on the social network.
On Wednesday, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced it was hiring 3,000 extra people to moderate content on the site.
A quarter of the world's population now uses Facebook every month, with most of the new users coming from outside of Europe and North America.
Speaking after the results, Mr Zuckerberg said the size of its user base gave Facebook an opportunity to expand the site's role, moving into TV, health care and politics.
"With that foundation our next focus will be building community," he said. "There's a lot to do there."
The company grew its revenue from advertising, which accounts for almost all of Facebook's income, by 51% to $7.9bn in the period.
However, chief financial officer David Wehner said ad revenue growth would come down significantly over the rest of 2017.
He repeated previous warnings that Facebook was hitting a limit on the number of ads it can squeeze onto users' pages.
Martin Garner, an analyst at CCS Insight, said: "It's now clear that last year's stellar results from Facebook represented the peak of online advertising growth, as Facebook had warned."
Mr Garner said the company needed to start showing it could make more money from its other products, including Video, Instagram, Whatsapp, Messenger, and virtual reality.
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ Following their registration of 6 presumptive nominees for the upcoming Presidential Election on May 2, Democratic Party held an all-member poll nationwide on May 3, Wednesday, the preliminary result of which was disclosed last night that Battulga Khaltmaa was elected as the party’s presidential candidate.
The presumptive nominees from the Democratic Party were 27th Prime Minister Altankhuyag Norov, 21th Prime Minister Amarjargal Rinchinnyam, former Minister of Industry and Agriculture Battulga Khaltmaa, Member of Parliament, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Bold Luvsanvandan, former Minister of Justice Dorligjav Dambii and former Minister of Industry and Trade, former Chairman of Mongolian Republican Party Jargalsaikhan Bazarsad who recently rejoined the Democratic Party.
The poll was conducted from 10 AM to 8 PM, engaging the party’s all supporters in 21 provinces, 330 soums and 9 districts and 152 khoroos of the capital city majority of whom voted for Battulga Khaltmaa to represent the party.
In specific, Kh.Battulga led the poll with 2740.94 marks, R.Amarjargal ranked second with 2374.85 marks, D.Dorligjav third with 1058.64 marks, N.Altankhuyag fourth with 1044.20 marks, L.Bold fifth with 917.30 marks and B.Jargalsaikhan sixth with 213.66 marks.
Mongolia has an upcoming Presidential Election next month, and May 2-6 are the designated dates for political parties to nominate their candidates. There are three political parties eligible to nominate a candidate for the election – ruling Mongolian People’s Party, Democratic Party and Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party.
Mongolian People’s Party has nominated its Chairman Enkhbold Miyeegombo whereas Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party is expected to hold its convention on May 5, Friday to name their candidate. On the other hand, the Democratic Party’s 8th Congress will be held on May 6 to formally name the party’s presidential candidate.