1 FOREIGN RELATIONS OF MONGOLIA’S ROAD TRANSPORT SECTOR BROADENING WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/21      2 MONGOLIA EXPRESSES READINESS TO CONTRIBUTE TO STRENGTHENING ASIA-EUROPE COOPERATION WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/21      3 OYU TOLGOI FUNDED 35.1 KM ROAD OPENS IN KHANBOGD WWW.GOGO.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/21      4 POLYMER BITUMEN TO BE DOMESTICALLY PRODUCED WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/21      5 KHURELBAATAR CHIMED: 319 ENTITIES DREW LOANS FROM TWO FUNDS WWW.ZGM.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/21      6 CONSTRUCTION OF TAVANTOLGOI-GASHUUNSUKHAIT ROAD TO BE INTENSIFIED WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      7 OVER 30 MEASURES PLANNED FOR REDUCTION OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION WWW.MONTSAME.MN PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      8 MONGOLIA SAYS IT EARNS OVER 169 MLN USD FROM COAL EXPORTS TO CHINA IN JAN WWW.HELLENICSHIPPINGNEWS.COM  PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      9 RUSSIA’S GAZPROM TO START CHINA GAS PIPELINE BY DECEMBER 1 WWW.RT.COM PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      10 MONGOLIA'S FOREIGN TRADE UP 41.6 PCT IN JAN. WWW.XINHUANET.COM PUBLISHED:2019/02/20      УГСАРМАЛ ОРОН СУУЦНЫ ДУЛААЛГАД ЗОРИУЛЖ 12.7 ТЭРБУМ ТӨГРӨГИЙГ УЛСЫН ТӨСВӨӨС ГАРГАХААР БОЛЖЭЭ WWW.IKON.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/21     2018ОНД ЦАГААН БУДАА , ЭЛСЭН ЧИХЭР , ТАХИАНЫ МАХНЫ ИМПОРТ 24-32 ХУВИАР ӨСЖЭЭ WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/21     ДЦС IV: 2018 ОНД НИЙТ АШИГ 4.7 ДАХИН ӨСӨЖ , 4.48 ТЭРБУМ ТӨГРӨГ БОЛСОН WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/21     ТУСГАЙ САНГУУДААС ГАРГАСАН ЗЭЭЛИЙН 100 ОРЧИМ ТЭРБУМ ТӨГРӨГ ХУГАЦАА ХЭТЭРСЭН ӨР БОЛЖЭЭ WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/21     МОНГОЛ УЛСЫН БОРЛУУЛАЛТЫН МЕНЕЖЕРҮҮДИЙН ИНДЕКС СҮҮЛИЙН 12 САРД АНХ УДАА УНАЛТЫН БҮСЭД ШИЛЖИВ WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/21     2018 ОНД ХАМГИЙН ЧИНЭЭЛЭГ БҮЛГИЙН ХЭРЭГЛЭЭ ЯДУУ БҮЛГИЙНХНЭЭС 5.1 ДАХИН ИХ БАЙВ WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/21     ХОВД ГОЛД ОСОЛДСОН 6 НАСТАЙ ХҮҮХДИЙН ЭРЛИЙГ ЗОГСООЛОО WWW.MONTSAME.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/21     ДБНХ-НООС П.ОРХОНЫ БАРИЛДАХ ЭРХИЙГ 4 ЖИЛЭЭР ХАСАВ WWW.MONTSAME.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/21     УУХҮЯ: II САРЫН БАЙДЛААР НИЙТ НУТАГ ДЭВСГЭРИЙН 5.6 ХУВЬД АШИГТ МАЛТМАЛЫН ЛИЦЕНЗ ОЛГОСОН WWW.BLOOMBERGTV.MN  НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/20     300 ОРТОЙ ТӨРӨХ ЭМНЭЛГИЙН БАРИЛГЫН АЖИЛ 80%-Д ХҮРЧ ГУРАВДУГААР САРЫН 1-НЭЭС ДУЛААНД ХОЛБОГДОХООР БОЛЖЭЭ WWW.IKON.MN НИЙТЭЛСЭН:2019/02/20    

Events

Name organizer Where
“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

NEWS

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Coking coal price slumps again www.mining.com

The price of coking coal plunged again on Monday with the industry benchmark price tracked by the Steel Index dropping 6% or $12.40 to $199.40 a tonne as the impact of supply disruption following tropical storms in Australia appears to have been less than previously thought.

A trading note from Titus Zheng Shujian of FreightInvestors explains that buyers have stayed on the sidelines in the downward market, "hoping to liquidate their position first until prices settled at the pre-Debbie level":

Currently, the market is awash with supply due to end users’ first wave of restocking in early-April 2017.

An Australian trade source stated that some end users had simply bought too much as they expected the cyclone-related supply disruption to last longer and with greater impact in the market.
According to preliminary Chinese customs data released over the weekend, the country imported 24.8 million tonnes of coal (both thermal and met coal) in April. Volumes were up 12.2% from March and up 31.8% year on year. Total import for the first four months of 2017 jumped 33.1% compared to the same period last year to 89.5 million tonnes.

The steelmaking raw material is now trading more than $110 a tonne below its mid-April peak when the price of Australia free-on-board premium hard coking coal jumped to highest since the second quarter of 2011.

That price spike was also the result of flooding in Queensland that saw quarterly contract prices negotiated at an all time high of $330.

Most producers would probably be happy with a price around of $200 – 14 months ago they were coping with sub-$80.

A survey of economist and investment bank analysts by FocusEconomics show prices are expected to decline substantially later this year. The median forecast is for met coal to average $146 per tonne in Q4 2017 and $130 during the final quarter next year. Coking coal averaged $121 a tonne in 2016.

While coking coal is returning to more expected levels, iron ore's unnerving decline – down 37% from its February peak – took a breather on Monday.

The Northern China import price of 62% Fe content ore was steady $59.50 a tonne according to data supplied by The Steel Index. The recent slump has been blamed on domestic Chinese miners returning to the market.

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Mongolia to strengthen ties with Vietnam www.montsame.mn

 
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ On May 8, Monday, President Ts.Elbegdorj received Vice President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Ms Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh who arrived in Mongolia on May 7 on an official visit.
 
Welcoming the Vice President into the country, the President appreciated how the visit of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to Mongolia on the occasion of the 11th ASEM Summit last year helped strengthen bilateral ties which continue to grow stronger.
 
Conveying the greetings of the President of Vietnam, the Vice President remarked on the friendly relations between the two countries, the foundations of which were laid by Yu.Tsedenbal and Ho Chi Minh. “I am confident that this visit will facilitate continuation of existing negotiations and agreements and activate more cooperation in the future”, she said.
 
The Vice President mentioned about her meeting with Prime Minister J.Erdenebat earlier in the day, expressing Vietnam’s intentions to export agricultural products, rice, sugar and sea products to Mongolia, and import mining and meat products from Mongolia. “We wish to cooperate with Mongolia on oil sector and intensify bilateral cooperation in culture, education and tourism”, she said.
 
On behalf of the President of Vietnam, the Vice President invited President Ts.Elbegdorj to revisit Vietnam at his convenience. President Ts.Elbegdorj visited Vietnam in November, 2013. “Mutual high level visits are regularizing between Vietnam and Mongolia”, she noted.
 
Sides exchanged views on bilateral relations and opportunities for cooperation during the meeting.
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Three candidates to run for President election 2017 www.gogo.mn

The president of Mongolia is elected for a four-year term nationwide since 1992, using the two-round system. 
On June 26, the 7th presidential election will be held in Mongolia. Current President Ts.Elbegdorj will not be running for re-election as he has been president for two terms. The President can be re-elected only one time.
Powers of the President:
Nominate a candidate for the office of Prime Minister, who is then approved or rejected by the State Great Khural (parliament). 
Veto the Khural's legislation (can be overridden with a two-thirds majority).
Approve judicial appointments.
Appoint the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of Mongolia. 
Chair the national security council.
Act as commander in chief of the armed forces.
Nominate the Prosecutor General, the official in charge of implementing the laws, who is then approved or rejected by the Khural.
According to the Law on Elections, three political parties seated in Parliament are eligible to nominate a candidate for the Presidential Election 2017; the Mongolian People's Party (MPP), the Democratic Party (DP) and the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP). In regards, three parties have officially announced their presidential candidates on May 6. 
Candidates to run in the election will receive candidacy certificates on May 27. Election campaigns will be commenced from June 6 to June 25. Mongolian citizens living abroad will vote at relevant embassies and consulates on June 10 and 11.

M.ENKHBOLD, A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE OF MPP

On May 3, MPP, which holds 65 out of 76 seats in Parliament, selected its candidate for the Presidential election at its members` meeting. Speaker of the Parliament M.Enkhbold won over Deputy Speaker of the Parliament Ts.Nyamdorj, collecting a majority or 85.7 percent of votes from the members and officially announced as a candidate to represent MPP in the Presidential election. 
M.Enkhbold was born on 19 July 1964. He is currently the chairman of the Parliament of Mongolia, the State Great Khural. In 2016, when the MPP gained control of parliament, he was elected as chairman of the State Great Khural. Enkhbold is married and has two children. 
Education:
In 1982, he graduated from the 1st secondary school of Ulaanbaatar, 
In 1987, he graduated the National University of Mongolia as planner-economists, 
In 1996, he earned diploma in Japan in Public management and organizational issues,
In 1998, he earned diploma in Germany in Local self-governing bodies,
In 2000, he earned Master degree in economy,
In 2002, he became member of International academy of information science, UNICEF,
In 2003, he earned Doctoral degree from South Korea in state authority, 
 In 2006, he earned Doctoral degree from Orkhon university.
Employment:
From 1987-1989, he worked as an economist with the Services Office of the Executive Authority of the Assembly of People's Deputies of Ulaanbaatar.
From 1989-1991, he worked as a specialist to the Department of Planning and Service Mechanics of the Public Services Ministry. 
From 1991-1992, he worked as head of the municipal Services Office of the Executive Authority of the Assembly of People's Deputies of Ulaanbaatar.
From 1992-1996, he worked as Deputy Governor of the Chingeltei District of Ulaanbaatar. 
From 1996-1998, he worked as Chairman of the Presidium of the Chingeltei Districts Khural of Citizens Representatives.
From 1999-2005, he elected as Mayor of Ulaanbaatar city. 
Since 2005, he is serving as MP. 
From 2006-2007, he appointed as Prime Minister of Mongolia. 
From 2007-2012, he appointed as Deputy Minister of Mongolia. 
From 2012-2016, he appointed as Deputy Chairman of State Great Khural. 
From 2016, he is working as Chairman of State Great Khural. 
Political positions:
In 1990, he joined MPP,
In 1991-1992, he selected as a chairman of city 214th MPP slot, 
In 1992-1997, he selected as a head of MPP committee in Chingeltei District,
In 1997-2006, he selected as a head of MPP committee,
In 2005-2007, he became a chairman of MPP, 
 In 2007-2012, he became a secretary of MPP, 
 In 2013, he became a chairman of MPP.

KH.BATTULGA, A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE OF DP

DP, which holds 10 seats in Parliament, selected its presidential candidate through votes from all members of the party nationwide. Member of Parliament L.Bold, former Prime Minister R.Amarjargal, former Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs D.Dorligjav, former Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag, former Agriculture Minister Kh.Battulga, and former Minister of Industry B.Jargalsaikhan have registered to run for the party’s nomination. 
Kh.Battulga collected 2740 votes from the DP members in nationwide and officially announced as a candidate to run for the upcoming president election representing DP. He is followed by former Prime Minister R.Amarjargal with 2374 votes.
Education:
In 1978, he graduated from the 34th secondary school of Ulaanbaatar, 
In 1982, he graduated Fine arts high school as a painter. 
Employment:
From 1979 - 1990, he was an athlete for Sambo national team,
From 1982 - 1990, he worked as a painter at Fine arts organization, 
From 1990 - 2004. he worked as a general director of "Genco" LLC, 
From 1997 - 2004, he worked as CEO of Bayangol hotel JSC, 
From 1999 - 2004, he worked as CEO of Mah Impex JSC, 
From 2004 - 2008, he elected as MP, 
 From 2008 - 2012, he appointed as Minister of Road, Transportation, Construction and Urban Development, 
 From 2008 - 2012, he elected as MP, 
From 2012 -2016, he elected as MP, 
 From 2012 -2014, he worked as Minister of Industry and Agriculture, 
From 2016, he is working as an anchorman for "Mongol tulgatnii 100 erhem" and chairman of the Mongolian Democratic Union.

N.ENKHBAYAR, A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE OF MPRP

A presidential candidate to represent the MPRP, which holds one out of 76 seats in Parliament, was the center of attention. 
Six members of the party nominated themselves for the presidential candidate and N.Enkhbayar, former President of Mongolia officially announced as the MPRP’s candidate for the Presidential election 2017. He is the first person to have held all of the top three positions in Mongolian government - Prime Minister, Speaker of the Parliament, and President of Mongolia. 
N.Enkhbayar was born on 1 June 1958 in Ulaanbaatar city, Mongolia. He is married to O.Tsolmon in 1987 and they have four children.
Education:
In 1975, he finished 23rd secondary school,
In 1980, he earned an undergraduate degree majoring in literature and language studies from Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow, Russia,
In 1986, he completed English language and literature course at Leeds University in the United Kingdom. 
Political positions:
In 1985 he joined MPRP. 
From 1992-1996, he elected to the State Great Khural and was appointed to serve as the country's Minister of Culture.
From 1996-1997, became the secretary general of the MPRP.
From 1997-2005, elected as the chairman of the MPRP.
From 2000-2004, he served as the Prime Minister of Mongolia. 
From 2004-2005, he worked as Speaker of the Parliament.
From 2005-2009, he elected as President of Mongolia. 
In 2011, he became the chairman of re-established MPRP while old members of MPRP established MPP. 
The Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) arrested Enkhbayar on 13 April 2012. The IAAC stated that it arrested Enkhbayar for questioning in a graft case involving the illegal privatization of a government-owned hotel because he never showed up for questioning eleven times over a year during the investigation, thus it was forced to arrest him.
On 2 August 2012, after a three-day trial Sukhbaatar District Court convicted Enkhbayar of corruption and sentenced to seven years of imprisonment, three of which was pardoned and then gave four years prison term and fined with over MNT 1.7 billion for misusing state properties and government power. Enkhbayar's sentence was reduced to two and a half year prison term without the fine by the Supreme Court of Mongolia-the highest court in Mongolia for graft and embezzlement. However, Enkhbayar spent less than a month in prison and spent the rest of his prison term as a patient at the Second General Hospital. 
On 1 August 2013, President of Mongolia Ts.Elbegdorj issued a decree to pardon Enkhbayar thus releasing him from the rest of his jail term effective on the decree date.

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Vietnam sacks top official for PetroVietnam 'violation' www.bbc.com

A top Vietnamese official has been sacked for "violations" while running national oil and gas firm PetroVietnam, in a rare public censure by the ruling Communist Party.
The government said on Sunday that Dinh La Thang, 57, was no longer part of the top decision-making Politburo.
Mr Thang's alleged misconduct was first leaked on social media last year.
His sacking comes amid a wider crackdown on PetroVietnam, the country's largest enterprise.
It is extremely uncommon for a Politburo member to lose their place in the one-party state. Since Vietnam started economic reforms in 1986, only two other Politburo members have been dismissed.
'Serious violations'
Mr Thang is said to have committed the violations between 2009 and 2011 while he was chairman of PetroVietnam.
Last September, writer Huy Duc attacked Mr Thang on Facebook with articles accusing the politician of being responsible for a recent huge loss at PetroVietnam.
Although Huy Duc's articles, which seemed to be based on leaked documents, polarised public opinion on the internet, the issues he raised were not reported in state media.
In late April, the Central Inspection Committee, the top watchdog of the party, suddenly announced it had investigated and held Mr Thang responsible for "serious" violations at PetroVietnam.
The party's inspectors accused Mr Thang of allowing PetroVietnam to make loans to the local Ocean Bank that caused "serious losses" to the company.
They also said Mr Thang had advised the prime minister "to designate many bidding packages that failed to meet legal regulations".

On Sunday, a government statement said more than 90% of the party's central committee had voted to remove Mr Thang.
It said he had committed "serious violations in his leadership, command and staff works", which "hurt the Party's reputation" and caused "a loss of confidence" among people and party members.
Rising star
Mr Thang, a former transport minister, became a member of the new Politburo at the party congress last year and was made the party's chief of Ho Chi Minh City, the country's largest city and commercial hub formerly known as Saigon.
The party is expected to soon name a new party chief for the city, a position always held by a Politburo member.
He was catapulted into political stardom for being unusually outspoken among normally reticent officials, and was known for his forthright rhetoric on state media.
His fall from grace follows other arrests at PetroVietnam and linked companies.
Another former PetroVietnam chairman was arrested in 2015 and later expelled from the Communist Party. Three other senior executives are also facing possible sanctions.
Last year four senior employees at a construction subsidiary of the firm were prosecuted for mismanagement that allegedly cost the company $150m (£116m).
Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong, who is effectively the most powerful man in Vietnam, is serving his second term. He has launched an anti-corruption campaign and has issued resolutions aimed at improving ethical conduct among party members.

Critics claim that the recent high-profile arrests and trials are mainly the result of political infighting.
However, Mr Trong's supporters say he is seriously concerned about systemic corruption and wants to do more to combat the problem.
Vietnam is ranked 113 out of 176 on Transparency International's corruption index.

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Corrupt banker jailed www.news.mn

The former vice president of the Mongolian State Bank has been sentenced with 5.1 years in prison for corruption. The decision was made by three District Courts in the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar, namely: Bayanzurkh, Chingeltei and Sukhbaatar. T.Dorjderem was convicted with receiving MNT 25 million bribes from the director of ‘Durvulj’ LLC for granting MNT 800 million credit. L.Altansukh, the director of ‘Durvulj’ LLC, will be fined the minimum wage increased by 51 times for offerring bribes.

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Russia blocks China's biggest messaging app www.cnn.com

China's most popular messaging app has been blocked in Russia.
Moscow's communications regulator has added WeChat to its list of prohibited websites, according to Russian state news agency TASS.
The messaging app ran afoul of laws requiring companies that distribute information online to register with government authorities in Russia.
Operated by tech giant Tencent (TCEHY), WeChat has about 900 million monthly active users, the vast majority of whom are in China.
Tencent said in a statement Monday that it's "in discussions with relevant authorities regarding the situation" in Russia. WeChat has been blacklisted since at least Friday, according to the TASS report.

Russian authorities are increasingly viewing the internet as a serious political threat and are trying to copy China's model of internet control, according to recent analysis from New America, a Washington-based think tank.
Last year, the architect of China's vast online censorship apparatus, known as the Great Firewall, was invited to speak at a forum on internet safety in Moscow. In 2015, Russia passed a law requiring companies to store data about Russian citizens in the country. That law appears similar to Chinese regulations preventing data collected in China from leaving the country.
As for WeChat, the messaging platform is no stranger to censorship, though it's usually on the other side of the restrictions.

In China, WeChat messages containing keywords mentioning sensitive topics like the Tiananmen Square of 1989 massacre or Tibet are blocked and censored.
In Russia, WeChat is just the latest casualty in Moscow's clampdown on international social media platforms. Last week, the communications regulator blocked Line (LN), Blackberry (BBRY, Tech30) and Imo messengers, according to Russian news outlet RT. In November, it banned LinkedIn, the social network for professionals that's owned by Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30).
Line, one of Japan's biggest messaging apps, said in a statement that it's investigating the situation. The company also appeared to take a veiled swipe at Russia's law on data collection.
"Line is committed to protecting user privacy, according to Japanese law," it said.

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First high-speed rail in Inner Mongolia starts test run www.xinhuanet.com

HOHHOT, May 8 (Xinhua) -- The first high-speed railway in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region started test runs on Sunday to prepare for the beginning of regular use by the end of July.
The high-speed train ran at a speed of 250 to 275 km per hour on a section from Ulanqab to Hohhot, capital of the region, during Sunday's trial, according to Hohhot Railway Bureau.
The section in Inner Mongolia is part of the high-speed railway that links Hohhot to Zhangjiakou in Hebei Province, the co-host city of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. When it is operational by the end of July, the travel time between Ulanqab and Hohhot will be shortened to 35 minutes from the current one hour.
The 286.8 km-long Zhangjiakou-Hohhot high-speed rail, with a designed speed of 250 km per hour, will be a major high-speed rail in north China upon completion.
It is expected to be completed and put into service in 2018. At that time, the Zhangjiakou-Hohhot high-speed rail will be connected to the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed rail, which is under construction. The travel time from Hohhot to Beijing will be reduced from the average nine hours to within three hours.

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Mongolia might export up to 200 tons of goat meat to Vietnam www.montsame.mn

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ On May 8, today, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ts.Munkh-Orgil held a press briefing about the ongoing official visit of the Vice President of Vietnam Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh. The latter is accompanied by more than 20 businesspeople. Two countries’ business representatives will explore cooperation opportunities at the business forum to commence tomorrow, May 9, noted the FM.

Three main issues were touched on during the official talks between Vietnam’s Vice President and Prime Minister of Mongolia, he said. “The first issue was the promotion of bilateral cooperation in defense and between the institutions of special function. Vietnam has a population of 95 million, ranks at the 14th place in the world by the size of its population. Vietnam has remained a key partner of Mongolia in the Southeast Asia since establishing diplomatic ties in 1954. The role of Vietnam in the region has been increasing as its economy has been growing rapidly in the recent years. For this year, Vietnam is chairing the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Mongolia has been requesting Vietnam to support Mongolia’s efforts to strengthen ties with APEC”, said the Foreign Minister.

“The second issue was promoting the commercial and economic cooperation. Trade turnover between Mongolia and Vietnam reaches only about USD 45 million. The Agreement on Veterinarian and Quarantine Cooperation, signed in April, opened a possibility for Mongolia to export meat and meat products to Vietnam. As a tropical country, the Vietnam’s side is interested in importing goat meat, which is more suitable in warm climates, from Mongolia. In 2017, Mongolia will pilot-export 20 tons of goat meat to Vietnam. If this goes successful, the number can be increased up to over 200 tons. Our side is also studying feasibilities to import frozen sea products”.

“The third issue was promoting tourism. As of today, a little over 60 Mongolian students are studying in Vietnam, and 30 Vietnamese students are studying in Mongolia. The sides agreed that it is time to increase the size of government grants for exchange students”, concluded FM Ts.Munkh-Orgil.
B.Amarsaikhan

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Kh.Naranjargal raises concerns about media censorship in Mongolia www.theubpost.mn

Millions of people across the globe observe World Press Freedom Day on May 3 each year, to raise awareness about the importance of the freedom of the press, to remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression and to evaluate press freedom worldwide.

President of Globe International NGO Kh.Naranjargal delves into the significance of the freedom of the press in the following interview, in observance of the 27th World Press Freedom Day, which was held under the theme “Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s Role in Advancing Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies”.

Looking at this year’s theme for World Press Freedom Day, it seems that the media will face an uphill battle for viability. How is the freedom of the press in Mongolia?

This year’s theme for World Press Freedom Day is “Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s Role in Advancing Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies”, which is linked to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, which is to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. It’s a fact that the media is in need of critical minds now that the media and press across the globe are facing a critical time.

Many fake news stories were spread during opinion polling for the United Kingdom’s European Union membership referendum vote and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, which put the media at risk. Some researchers are describing this time as the “post-truth era” and most of them believe that journalism is at risk and facing a crisis.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Representative for Freedom of the Media, the Organization of American States Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information made a joint declaration on freedom of expression, “fake news”, disinformation, and propaganda. The declaration focuses on taking note of the growing prevalence of disinformation and propaganda in the media, and reestablishing independent journalism by encouraging media professionals to be responsible and follow media ethics. This issue applies to Mongolian journalism too. In particular, slander and insults have been hot topics for political news. Articles related to freedom of expression have been strengthened considerably under the new Election Law.

During last year’s parliamentary election, 11 news websites were shut down for 24 hours following a complaint being made by one of the candidates. In general, the Mongolian media and press are too easily influenced by politicians, and the owners of most media organizations are high-ranking politicians. Due to this, policymakers and researchers are racking their brains to find a solution to develop free, independent, and pluralistic media in the future.

Media professionals stirred up controversy over Member of Parliament Ts.Garamjav’s proposal to apply high penalties for journalists and media organizations for defamation and insult. Can you share your opinion on this?

Mongolian law and policymakers attempted to distort the media by applying too much censorship to the freedom of expression through the law. The joint declaration I mentioned before shows that this is not an issue to be determined by the law. The Constitution states that Mongolia will comply with the universally recognized norms and principles of international laws and mechanisms when passing a new law.

The UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group examined Mongolia’s human rights conditions and made recommendations for the freedom of expression in May 2015. The working group recommended making legislation on the freedom of expression consistent with international standards; to omit articles related to defamation and insult in the Criminal Code and to incorporate them into the Civil Law, and to provide an environment where journalists and human rights advocates can work peacefully and safely. Omitting articles related to defamation and insult from the Criminal Code and incorporating them into the Civil Law was previously included in the UN Human Rights Council’s 2011recommendations.

It’s obviously wrong to slander others, but imposing a penalty or punishment for doing so will turn into political censorship. Mongolia made progress by transferring articles from the Criminal Code to the Law on Conflicts, but this brought my attention to two things. First, lawmakers are discussing imposing too high a fine for committing such violations. Other countries ensure that fines are not so high that they would affect the independence of the media. If media organizations had to pay a fine of 100 million MNT for defamation or insults, as was discussed during a recent government session, the Mongolian media would be put under economic censorship.

Second, it’s unclear who will determine and impose such penalties. Exactly who this “authorized person” they’re talking about is and how cases of defamation will be proven is vague. This eventually turns into political censorship, as such articles on defamation and insult are used by powerful people to silence publications that are harmful to them and to change public opinion. The Law on Media Freedom, enacted in 1998, prohibits all forms of censorship.

Why is it important to protect the freedom of the press?

I will not say that journalists are “white doves of peace” who don’t do anything wrong and that everyone else are “crows”. So far, I haven’t even expressed my own opinion – I’ve only talked about international standards and legislation. The reason why the freedom of the press needs to be protected is because it’s a matter of people’s freedom. We all know that having a free and independent media is one of the key principles of democracy. Unlike what some people are saying, we’re not defending immoral and unethical journalists who work for others. Starting with the right to protect the confidentiality of their sources, journalists have various rights and privileges.

Journalists are referred to as watchdogs because they get information through the trust they gain from the public and report the information to a wider audience. However, it’s clear that media organizations, like us, are unable to operate independently since most of these organizations are connected to politicians and have high editorial censorship. Even so, media organizations self-regulate such things rather than having it regulated by the law. This means that media organizations have an “immunity system” to protect themselves from external influence.

How many violations of the freedom of expression were recorded last year? Has Mongolia’s ranking for press freedom gone up or down in recent years?

Mongolia slipped by nine ranks to 69th place out of 180 countries in the 2016 Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Globe International has been monitoring violations of the freedom of expression since 2005. During this time, 519 violations of the rights of journalists and media organizations have been recorded. This doesn’t fully represent Mongolia’s situation, as these violations are just ones that were reported to our organization or revealed to the public.

Last year, we received 63 reports of violations, most of which – specifically 57 percent – were offenses involving high-ranking politicians or government officials. In addition, 27 percent of these journalists received some kind of pressure from the court or a legal body, while 19 percent were sued and jailed.

I’d like to share another piece of information. A total of 16 cases of defamation and insult were recorded between 2002 and 2011, whereas, from 20012 to 2016, there were 22 cases of a media organization or professional being punished for this type of violation. As you can see, these cases are increasing every year. The public needs to understand that these sorts of challenges faced by journalists also concern the rights of media consumers and individuals.

Can you tell us more about the self-regulation of media organizations?

Even though free and independent press organizations are companies like any other, it’s important for them to remain transparent, open, and ethical, because media is a business related to the rights of individuals to seek and receive – as well as to impart – information and ideas of all kinds. No one should take advantage of it for their own self-interests. A democratic society must ban any form of censorship and guarantee the freedom of the press. But even a media organization can’t escape supervision, so it should have a self-regulating system. Newsrooms should have internal governance rules and a mechanism that enables them to internally resolve issues and complaints. They should at least have a policy on the publication and broadcasting of paid materials to meet the standards of ethical media. Next, media organizations should unite and establish a media council to remain independent from political influence. Our organization has founded this type of council. There’s also a way to allow the public to monitor and supervise media outlets. Mongolians don’t know about this at all.

The number of people receiving information from social media has been rapidly growing in recent years. Due to this, there have been attempts to find and punish people who try to mislead the public with fake news, disinformation, and propaganda. However, other democratic countries pay attention to improving people’s knowledge to prevent them from being deceived by fake news. In other words, it’s important to educate the public at all levels so that they don’t immediately believe something they read or see, and instead, think critically. Mongolian policymakers need to pay attention to launching international programs for this.

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Prime Minister sets up council of national brands www.montsame.mn

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ The Council on Mongolian National Brands has been established in accordance with a direction of the Prime Minister. The council is chaired by the Prime Minister, Mr J.Erdenebat. Head of the Cabinet Secretariat J.Munkhbat acts as the deputy chairman and some cabinet members, as vacant members of this council.
The national brand council convened for its first meeting and approved its rules and action plan for 2017 on May 5.
Its duties will be regulating policies toward promoting the value of Mongolians and presenting national products to the world, submitting proposals on state policies for national brands, evaluating and issuing recommendations on policy implementation.

B.Amarsaikhan

 
 
 
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