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Rosatom announced on Monday that the Russia-China Investment Fund for Regional Development will kickstart the financing for a uranium mining project in Russia’s Zabaikalsky Territory.
Zabaikalsky is located in the southeastern region of Transbaikalia and has a 998-kilometre border with China and a 868-kilometre border with Mongolia.
According to state-owned website Sputnik, the agreement was signed on March 12, 2018, and following the signing ceremony, Russian Presidential Adviser Sergei Glazyev said the deal will strengthen commercial ties between Moscow and Beijing. “Both sides consider the project as the first step in widening cooperation. I think that the project is a breakthrough for creating mechanisms for joint investments in general,” Glazyev told the media outlet.
The new project is expected to cost about $330 million. The fund’s first contribution is estimated at $43.9 million.
Mongolia Strengthens Cooperation With Russia in Fields From Nuclear Research to Transit Rail www.jamestown.org
When Khaltmaa Battulga assumed the presidency of Mongolia in July 2017, most foreign and domestic observers believed he would pursue a much more pro-Russian policy than his globalist-minded predecessor, Tsakhia Elbegdorj. Battulga’s anti-Chinese rhetoric buttressed this prediction during the political campaign, followed by his first trips abroad to meet Putin at the Hungarian 2017 World Judo Championships (Kremlin.ru, August 28, 2017) and in Vladivostok, Russia, later in September. Among his “Mongolia First” principles was the promise of stronger ties with Moscow to alleviate Mongolia’s overwhelming economic dependency on China (UB Post, September 12, 2017). In the last few months, further concrete steps toward a closer Russo-Mongolian relationship have become evident.
During the 21st Meeting of the Mongolia-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, held in Moscow, on February 26–28, Mongolia and Russia agreed to expand cooperation in trade, economy, education, health, social protection and sports. One of the major agreements that emerged was a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a Nuclear Science and Technology Center (CNST) in Mongolia. Mongolia’s Nuclear Energy Commission Secretary Gun-Aajav Manlaijav and Rosatom’s (Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation) Deputy Director General for International Relations Nikolay Spassky signed the document (Xinhua Net, March 1). The center’s primary focus will be civil nuclear energy use, with Russian specialists assisting their Mongolian partners to establish the CNST facilities, as the two sides design a preliminary roadmap for the CNST project via specialized expert groups (Rosatom, February 28). Mongolian physicists for the past 50 years have been trained at Russia’s Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR). The Nuclear Energy Agency of Mongolia, along with the Center of Nuclear Research at the Mongolian State University and the Institute of Physics and Technology at the Academy of Sciences are traditional JINR partners in Mongolia (Jinr.ru, March 7).
During the same timeframe, an interbank lending agreement between the Development Bank of Mongolia (DBM) and the International Investment Bank (IIB), headquartered in Moscow, was also concluded. The deal raised the IIB’s lending limit for the DBM to 50 million euros ($62 million) for a period of up to seven years to implement socially and economically significant projects in Mongolia. Since 2012, the total volume of IIB investments in the Mongolian economy has amounted to over $650 million. Starting from November 2016, the DBM has executed 24 trade finance deals to supply 8.6 million euros’ ($10.6 million) worth of products from the Czech Republic, Japan, Oman, Switzerland, Russia, Belgium, Spain and Germany to Mongolia. The IIB’s loan portfolio in Mongolia includes syndicated loans with the International Finance Corporation and the Dutch Development Institution FMO (Iib.int, February 28).
On the eve of the intergovernmental commission meeting, Russia and Mongolia agreed to a plan to create three trans-boundary protected areas in the Trans-Baikal region, Buryatia and the Altai Republic. This plan is a positive step toward deescalating a variety of trans-water disputes in the Baikal region, which led to Russia labeling Mongolia an “eco-threat” (Siberiantimes.com, May 13, 2016). According to Sergey Donskoy, the Russian minister of natural resources and ecology, the first cross-border reserve of Istoki Amura would connect more than 318,000 hectares of the Zabaykalsky Krai’s security zone, the Sokhondinskii reserve, with the Mongolian National Onon-Balwinski Park. The second cross-border territory would be in Buryatia, located within the Russian Tunkinsky National Park and the Mongolian Khubsugul Park. The third border area would stretch from the Saylyugemskiy Park in the Altai Republic to the Selham reserve in Mongolia. The establishment of joint protected areas will enable the two countries to conduct long-term ecological monitoring of certain species of migrating animals across the borders and to protect flora and fauna (RIA Novosti, February 28).
Just a week earlier, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev authorized his minister of transport to sign a railway transit transportation agreement with Mongolia to promote flexible tariff policy over the next 25 years with the purpose of enhancing cooperation on freight transportation trade. The objectives of this new agreement include easing border checkpoint procedures on transit freight, increasing freight volumes, stimulating infrastructure development of railway transport and assisting Mongolian exporters to overcome maritime transport obstacles (Ubinfo, February 28). One of the clauses covers modernization the infrastructure of the Ulaanbaatar Railway (UBR), a Russian-Mongolian governmental 50/50 joint venture, which is Mongolia’s sole north-south railroad connecting Siberian Russia to North China. Freight turnover in 2017 for the UBR was 23 million tons, a 16 percent increase from 2016 (UB Post, February 5). The Russians reported that the draft agreement on renovating the UBR was prepared by the Mongolian side and presented to them at the end of 2017. Early in February, Oleg Belozyorov, the president of Russian Railways (RZD), met in Ulaanbaatar with President Battulga and his cabinet to discuss the draft document on reforming the UBR as part of Mongolia’s goal to become a cost-effective economic transit corridor, especially for its two border neighbors, Russia and China. During the meeting with Belozyorov, Battulga said that railways development was of great significance for Mongolia’s economic growth and proposed to advance the talks on renovating the Ulaanbaatar Railway JSC (Montsame.mn, February 5).
The railroad transportation agreement was the culmination of September 2017 discussions between Battulga and Putin at the third annual Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. Although the economic corridor was the policy of President Elbegdorj (see EDM, January 24, 2014), Battulga enthusiastically embraced it and promised to export coal from Mongolia’s largest coal deposit of Tavan Tolgoi to third markets over Russian Railways. In Vladivostok, the Mongolian president also put forward a proposal to establish a free trade agreement with countries of the Eurasian Economic Union to maximize trade turnover with Russia and abolish tariffs and non-tariff obstacles (Mongol Messenger, September 8, 2017). In May 2017, the UBR restarted its transport of Russian oil from Rosneft and Transoil from Russia to Chinese customers. The two oil companies had suspended the transportation since 2005. The revival is connected to China’s One Belt One Road initiative, which promises to include Mongolia in its economic network linking Asia and Europe, as well as developing Mongolian transit infrastructure to Russian Siberia with Chinese loans (Ubinfo, February 28)....
Chinese state-controlled Huarong Asset Management has bought a 36.2 percent stake in the unit of CEFC China Energy through which CEFC is acquiring a $9.1 billion stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft.
According to CEFC filings seen by Reuters, Huarong has bought the stake in CEFC in two tranches, one in December and one in February. Huarong is controlled by China’s Ministry of Finance.
In September, CEFC Energy announced plans to acquire 14.16 percent of Rosneft shares from Glencore and the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).
“The final structure of Rosneft's shareholders has been formed,” Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin told Rossiya 24 television.
As part of a long-term agreement, Rosneft and CEFC Energy inked a deal on crude oil deliveries in 2017. According to the agreement, the Russian oil major will supply CEFC with 60.8 million tons of oil annually until 2023.
The agreement covers the development of exploration and production projects in Siberia. The two companies plan to cooperate in refining, petrochemicals and crude trading.
According to the Russian producer, the deal will increase direct supplies of crude oil to the “strategic Chinese market and ensure a guaranteed cost-efficient export channel for the company's crude sales.”
For the launch of the Cashmere Program, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Light Industry (MoFALI) B. Batzorig visited several cashmere factories in Ulaanbaatar.
The program will be implemented in two phases over four years and plans to create over 9,000 jobs in the textile industry and related parts of the industry, and to increase the production of finished products and exports by 5.7 times.
In 2017, Mongolia produced 5,413 tons of washed cashmere, 509 tons of combed cashmere, and 915,000 units of knit and woven clothes. The Cashmere Program has set a target to export 19.8 million pieces of clothing and make sales of 2.2 to 4.3 trillion MNT over the course of its implementation. Minister B. Batzorig stated, “The Cashmere Program will aim to establish a Cashmere Development Fund with a reserve of 500 trillion MNT. This will allow us to revive cashmere processing plants and increase income for herders.”
The Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada said 2018's convention attendance hit 25,606, the best turn out since 2013.
Attendance was still marginally better than last year, just up six percent from 24,161.
The PDAC Convention in Toronto, arguably the world's largest annual mining convention, is a bellwether of the industry's health. Participants from 125 countries attend.
Organizers said the improved numbers is proof that "mining industry has regained its swagger and is building momentum." With the prices for zinc, copper and battery-related metals all up from last year, miners are enjoying a better top line. This time last year spot copper was US$2.60/lb. Today it is at US$3.10. Zinc is also up 25% to US$1.50/lb and cobalt is up over 50% to US$37.50/lb from a year ago. Money is also flowing into the junior sector.
According to PWC, the aggregate market capitalization of the top 100 junior miners hit CA$12.2 billion at the end of June, 2017—up 7% from 12 months earlier.
Note that PDAC enthusiasm is tightly linked to the direction of metal prices. Here's a chart so year-on-year change in spot gold prices versus change in PDAC attendance. Note that gold was at US$1,240/oz a year ago. It is now at around US$1,330/oz.
“This year’s convention was full of energy and excitement for the year ahead,” says PDAC President Glenn Mullan, referring to sold out exhibitor space, panel discussions, courses, workshops, and networking events such as the prestigious Awards Gala. “After experiencing several years of economic challenges, today the mineral exploration and mining industry is experiencing a renaissance and renewed sense of confidence.”
Despite the confidence, worries persist. Active money managers continue to dwindle as money moves to index funds and other passive instruments, said panelists at PDAC's Capital Markets
BEIJING -- China on Sunday abolished term limits on the presidency, opening a path for President Xi Jinping to rule the country as he pleases for decades to come, absent some unforeseen blow to his substantial political support.
The National People's Congress voted to remove a clause in the constitution limiting the president and vice president to two consecutive five-year terms. A total of 2,958 delegates voted for scrapping the clause. Only two delegates voted no, three abstained and one ballot was spoiled. The amendment vote required a two-thirds majority to pass.
The last major change to China's constitution -- which dates to 1982 -- enshrined the political ideology of former President Jiang Zemin. It drew 10 opposing votes and 17 abstentions.
The vote on Sunday was carried out by secret ballot, Shen Chunyao, a legislative spokesman, told reporters. The Communist Party, however, controls the legislature and the leadership's proposals are never rejected.
Vice President Li Yuanchao is not expected to stay on in his role. On Sunday, attention was focused on Wang Qishan, a Xi confidant who, according to some media reports, will be named vice president next week as part of the new leadership lineup for Xi's second term.
During Wang's five years as head of the party's anti-graft body, 254,419 officials were investigated for possible wrongdoing, according to government data. Probes involving officials of at least vice ministerial rank grew fourfold over the period, highlighting Xi's public commitment to weed out malpractice at all levels.
Xi's other posts, including secretary-general of the Communist Party and head of China's armed forces, carry no explicit term limits. The president's political ideology has also been written into the constitution with his name attached, making him China's third leader after Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping to receive that honor. Given Xi's knack for consolidating and maintaining power, the leader has an excellent chance of holding on to control of the party, state and military beyond 2023, when his second presidential term would otherwise expire.
Chinese state media have played down the abolition of term limits. Amending the constitution "is a major decision made by the CPC Central Committee from the overall and strategic height of upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era," Xinhua quoted Xi as saying Wednesday. In a news conference after the amendment was approved, a government spokesperson said that concerns about a power struggle like that seen during China's Cultural Revolution were "invalid," in response to questioning by a foreign reporter.
But the official line aside, the removal of term limits is highly significant, dismantling one of the most effective checks on power in a country where citizens do not have the right to vote. Deng, a reformer, introduced the limits to curb abuses of power like those seen under Mao, who led the party as chairman until his death at 76.
Given the ease with which Xi has removed this check, some say absolute rule as party leader, a la Mao, may not be far off in China. If the next Communist Party congress in 2022 effectively abolishes the customary retirement age of 68 for senior officials, Xi could rule the party and state into the mid-2030s, when he would be well into his 80s....
The history and archaeology of Mongolia, most famously the sites associated with the largest land empire in the history of the world under Ghengis Khan, are of global importance. But they’re facing unprecedented threats as climate change and looting impact ancient sites and collections.
But deteriorating climate and environmental conditions result in decreased grazing potential and loss of profits for the region’s many nomadic herders. Paired with a general economic decline, herders and other Mongolians are having to supplement their incomes, turning to alternative ways of making money. For some, it’s searching for ancient treasures to sell on the illegal antiquities market.
The vast Mongolian landscape, whether it be plains, deserts or mountains, is dotted with man-made stone mounds marking the burials of ancient peoples. The practice started sometime in the neolithic period (roughly 6,000-8,000 years ago) with simple stone mounds the size of a kitchen table. These usually contain a human body and a few animal bones.
Over time, the burials became larger (some over 400 metres long) and more complex, incorporating thousands of horse sacrifices, tools, chariots, tapestries, family complexes, and eventually treasure (such as gold, jewellery and gems).
For Mongolians, these remains are the lasting reminders of their ancient past and a physical tie to their priceless cultural heritage.
Mongolia has reasonably good laws regarding the protection of cultural heritage. But poor understanding of the laws, and the nearly impossible task of enforcing them in such a large space with relatively few people and meagre budgets keep those laws from being effective. And laws can’t protect Mongolia’s cultural heritage from climate change.
The looting of archaeological sites in Mongolia has been happening for a very long time. Regional archaeologists have shared anecdotes of finding skeletons with break-in tools made from deer antlers in shafts of 2,000 year old royal tombs in central Mongolia. These unlucky would-be thieves risked the unstable sands collapsing in the shafts above them for a chance at riches, not long after the royal leaders had been buried there.
But many recent pits dug directly into burial sites around Mongolia, some that are more than 3,000 years old, suggest modern day looting is on the rise. For the untrained looter, any rock feature has the potential to contain valuable goods and so grave after grave is torn apart. Many of these will contain no more than human and animal bones.
Archaeologists’ interest in these burials lie in the information they contain for research, but this is worthless on the black antiquities market. But to steer looters away from these burials would be to teach them which ones to target for treasure and so this strategy is avoided.
Archaeologists working in northern Mongolia in 2017 found hundreds of looted sites, including an 800 year old cemetery consisting of at least 40 burials. Each and every one of them had been completely destroyed by looters looking for treasure. Human remains and miscellaneous artefacts such as bows, arrows, quivers, and clothing were left scattered on the surface.
Having survived over 800 years underground, these priceless bows, arrows, cloth fragments and bones likely have less than a year on the surface before they’re gone forever. This is not to mention the loss of whatever goods (gold, silver, gems) the looters decided was valuable enough to keep.
The mummy race
Archaeological teams are currently working against climate change, looters, and each other for the chance to unearth rare mummies in the region that are known to pique public interest within Mongolia and abroad. A 2017 exhibit at the National Museum of Mongolia featured two mummies and their impressive burial goods - one of which had been rescued from the hands of looters by archaeologists and local police. Though they appeared not to have been particularly high ranking individuals, their belongings displayed incredible variety, artistry and detail.
The result of natural processes rather than intentional mummification as in ancient Egypt, some of these mummies are preserved by very dry environments protected in caves and rock shelters. Others are ice mummies, interred in burials that were constructed in such a way that water seeped in and froze - creating a unique preservation environment.
Both preservation environments produce artefacts that rarely survive such long periods of time. This includes human tissues like skin and hair, clothing and tapestries, wooden artefacts, and the remains of plants and animals associated with the burial.
As looters zero in on these sites, and climate change melts ice and changes the environmental conditions in other yet unknown ways, archaeologists are racing to locate, and preserve these finds. But with little infrastructure, small budgets and almost no specialised training in how to handle such remains, there’s some concern about the long term preservation of even those remains archaeologists are able to rescue.
Efforts to provide training opportunities, international collaborations with mummy experts, and improved infrastructure and facilities are underway, but these collections are so fragile there is little time to spare.
What Mongolia can teach us
The situation in Mongolia could help us to understand and find new solutions to dealing with changes in climate and the economic drivers behind looting. Humans around the world in many different times have faced and had to adapt to climate change, economic strife and technological innovations.
There’s truth represented by a material record of the “things” left by ancient peoples and in Mongolia, the study of this record has led to an understanding of the impact of early food production and horse domestication, the emergence of new social and political structures and the dominance of a nomadic empire....
Mongolia first joined the United Nations peacekeeping force in 2002 with the deployment of two unarmed military observers to the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara. Soon after that, it sent two more officers to the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, Mongolia has continued to expand its contributions to UN peace operations in hot spots around the world.
In 2006, Mongolia made its first sizeable contribution to UN peacekeeping when it deployed 250 military personnel to the UN Mission in Liberia, a West African country that was recovering from a violent civil war. Six years later, Mongolia undertook it largest deployment to date when it sent a full battalion of 850 troops to the UN Mission in South Sudan, where they continue to play an important role in protecting civilians.
Throughout its decade-and-a-half history in UN peacekeeping, Mongolian contributions to UN peacekeeping have been notable for their high standards of training and for the high number of women they deploy.
Mongolia has risen to become the 27th largest contributor to UN peacekeeping, with nearly 900 military and police personnel deployed in five operations. But they have not forgotten their first mission--they continue to send a handful of military observers to Western Sahara.
In Kabkabiya in the Darfur region of Sudan, Mongolia has for several years provided a Level Two Hospital to address this need. The unit consists of 68 personnel, 34 men and 34 women, and is responsible for providing UN personnel with health care, emergency resuscitation and stabilization, life and limb-saving surgical interventions, basic dental care and facilitation of casualty evacuation for more severe cases. It also administered vaccinations and other prophylaxis measures. In addition to serving UN staff, the Mongolian hospital unit treated more than 10,000 people from the local communities.
Since 2003, more than 14,000 Mongolian peacekeepers have served in UN missions around the world. Today, Mongolia deploys nearly 900 peacekeepers to five UN peacekeeping operations – in South Sudan, Abyei, Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Western Sahara. The Mongolian contribution consists of troops, police and unarmed military observers.
A key task of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) is monitoring the ceasefire observed by the parties since September 1991 – carried out by some 200 military observers.
In May 2017, more than 850 Mongolian peacekeepers were awarded the United Nations Medal for their commitment and service to the UN and the people of South Sudan during a ceremony in Bentiu. (news.un.org)
Mongolia and Turkey will celebrate their 50th year of diplomatic relations in 2019, in which they will seek to reach a new strategic level in ties and increase cooperation between their parliaments.
Speaking to Daily Sabah in an exclusive interview during his visit to Ankara on 7 March, Parliamentary Speaker M.Enkhbold said: 'Mongolia aims to reach a strategic level in relations with Turkey.' He added that his fourth official visit to the country is significant for social and political ties and cooperation between the parliaments.
M.Enkhbold visited Turkey from 6-9 March upon an invitation from his opposite number Parliamentary Speaker İsmail Kahraman, and also held a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He cited Turkey and Mongolia's historic and cultural ties and that parliamentary cooperation between the countries started in 1994. During the visit, the two sides signed the 2018-2020 Action Plan for the implementation of the protocol on inter-parliamentary cooperation signed in 2014 between the two parliaments.
Commenting on the failed July 15 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, in which the parliament building was bombed, M.Enkhbold said that his government followed the incidents with concern that night. 'The Mongolian government has always stood with Turkey in its fight against terrorism,' M.Enkhbold said. He added that the Mongolian government has also been tackling requests from Turkey to take steps regarding the future of some schools affiliated to the Gülenist FETÖ organisation.
Touching on the economic ties between the countries, M.Enkhbold said a free trade agreement needs to be signed in order to reach the goals set for the trade volume.
MANILA, March 9 (Xinhua) -- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Friday it has secured 190 million U.S. dollars in total funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) for its climate change projects in Cambodia, Mongolia, and Tajikistan, shoring up the bank's efforts to increase its climate financing for the Asia and Pacific region.
"ADB has an ambitious plan to provide annual climate financing of 6 billion U.S. dollars by 2020 from its own resources," said Bambang Susantono, ADB vice-president for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development.
"The funding from GCF will complement this effort and help our developing member countries address the effects of climate change and meet their commitments under the Paris climate agreement," Susantono added.
In 2017, the Manila-based ADB delivered over 4.5 billion U.S. dollars in climate finance from its own resources, of which 3.6 billion U.S. dollars was for mitigation and 930 million U.S. dollars for adaptation, and mobilized an additional 696 million U.S. dollars from external sources.
The ADB said the new funding, comprised of 85 million U.S. dollars in grants and 105 million U.S. dollars in concessional loans, was approved during the 19th meeting of the GCF board on February 27 to March 1 in Songdo, South Korea.
In Cambodia,the GCF will provide 30 million U.S. dollars in grant and 10 million U.S. dollars in loan to complement ADB's loan of 90 million U.S. dollars to help develop climate-friendly agribusiness value chains.
"GCF funds will be used for enhancing the resilience and productivity of target crops, rehabilitating production and post-harvest infrastructure to climate resilient condition, and for reducing the carbon footprint along the value chains by promoting solar and bioenergy," the ADB said.
In Mongolia, the GCF funding of 50 million U.S. dollars in grant and 95 million U.S. dollars in loan will supplement the 399 million U.S. dollars from ADB and other partners to provide Ulaanbaatar's peri-urban areas (ger areas) with 100 hectares of eco-districts that are low carbon, climate resilient, and livable and 10,000 green housing units that are energy efficient, affordable, and utilize renewable energy.
In Tajikistan, a GCF grant of 5 million U.S. dollars, combined with an equivalent grant from ADB, will support capacity building of the national weather forecasting entity, the State Agency for Hydrometeorology, to produce timely and accurate forecasting of climate-related extreme weather events.
The first GCF board meeting of 2018 approved 23 projects, valued together at 1 billion U.S. dollars of GCF funding.
ADB is one of 59 entities accredited to the GCF that can channel GCF resources to projects and programmes in developing countries. GCF, based in Songdo, South Korea, is a global fund created to support the efforts of developing countries to respond to the challenge of climate change. It was established in 2010 by 194 governments....