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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

[MMC reiterates TT interest; MATD to choose driller soon; NPLs up 12.4% in Feb; and justice sought for journalist 'killing']

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

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Jump to: Int'l Market - Local Market - Economy - Politics & Legal - Business - Ulaanbaatar - Diplomacy - Health & Education - Culture & Society - Nature & Environment - Sports - Art & Entertainment - Travel

Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original

 

HEADLINES

Int'l Market

·         IIB facilitates sustainable financing for capital markets in Mongolia

·         MMC CEO: We want to be involved with Tavan Tolgoi as we consider it a pure business project

·         Petro Matad Extends Mongolia Farm-Out Process, To Pick Contractor Soon

·         Entree Gold Announces Fiscal Year 2016 Results and Reviews Corporate Highlights

·         Haranga Resources: Half-Year Financial Report, December 2016

·         Viking Mines: Interim Report, December 2016

Local Market

·         MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 Unch, ALL +0.22%, Turnover ₮307M Shares, and ₮12.5B Primary, ₮1.5B Secondary T-Bills

·         MSE Trading Report, Mar 13: Top 20 -0.42%, ALL -0.13%, Turnover ₮125.9M Shares, ₮150.7M T-Bills

·         Government securities trading available through 5 commercial banks

·         Will taxing deposit interest help spur underdeveloped stock exchange?

Economy

·         MNT gains for 6th straight day vs USD

·         BoM issues ₮394 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +11.9% to ₮1.06 trillion

·         IMF: US$ 440 million to be transferred to Bank of Mongolia

·         Mongolia Revenue Shortfall in Jan.-Feb. Reaches $85m, NSO Says

·         NSO: Social insurance revenue increased 26.5 percent in first 2 months

·         NSO: Average wages and salaries increased by 8.6 percent in 2016

·         NSO: Air, rail transport jump in first 2 months, revenue up

Politics & Legal

·         Defacto Review: Khuraldai bonds, Dunjingarav controversy, DP internal election

·         Appeal for justice in the killing of journalist in Mongolia

·         Murder of Zorig's case goes to Court of Appeals

·         Government bodies to unite against corruption

·         Elders allowed to get pension in advance without interest

·         German alumni of Mongolia meeting to address development

·         ₮22.6 billion allocated for wool incentives in 2017

·         Conflicts of interest keep Mongolian child jockeys in the saddle

·         A tiny person against the giant world

·         Jargal Defacto: Behind the scenes of March 8

·         AmCham Daily Newswire for March 10, 2017

·         AmCham Daily Newswire for March 13, 2017

Business

·         Milbank Acts on Successful Exchange Offer and New Issuance by the Government of Mongolia

·         Mongolia and Cambodia Partner to Promote Sustainable Finance

·         ERA advances MLAT projects in Italy and Mongolia airports

·         "Mongolia Mining 2017" expo to be held in April

·         Gold industry forum taking place next week

·         A farmer barters vegetables for livestock

·         "Mongolian American Career Fair – 2017" to take place in Seattle

·         Need help recovering defaulted agreement in Mongolia

·         New import-substitutive products

Ulaanbaatar

·         Hazardous levels of air pollution hits areas near MNB this morning

·         New standard stoves to be retailed from April 1

·         97.3 percent of pit latrines of ger district lack standards

·         Public cleaning campaign to be launched in May

·         Ulaanbaatar Apartment Monthly Rental Rates, March 2017

·         Let's Discuss Together Lecture Series: Human Rights, Environment, Women Leadership, …

·         Ulaanbaatar City Guide

Diplomacy

·         Defacto Interview: Haoliang Xu, UNDP Asia-Pacific Director

·         Mongolian PM to visit Russia in first half of 2017

·         Russian, Mongolian experts to meet for discussion of power plants in Lake Baikal area

·         Canadian mounted police reps visit Mongolia

·         New Turkish Ambassador receives media delegates

·         India: Mongolia's new third neighbour?

·         Indian Embassy in Ulaanbaatar celebrates ITEC Day

·         Mongolia Investment Promotion Agreement With Canada

·         Mongolia, Canada Roundtable Meeting Held in Ottawa

·         Mongolia signs visa exemption agreement with Argentina

·         Foreign Affairs Ministry discusses developing agricultural cooperation with Argentina

·         Parliamentary cooperation between Mongolia and Poland discussed

·         Ambassador Tugsbilguun Meets Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade

·         Ambassador of Mongolia to Vietnam, Presented Credentials

·         Russia ready to increase supplies of agricultural machinery to Mongolia

·         Dr. J. Enkhsaikhan: Nuclear Disarmament Is Humanity's Common Cause

·         Anti-Chinese Attitudes in Mongolia through Generational Imprinting

Health & Education

·         Infant mortality rate down 12% in first 2 months of 2017

·         Mobile health technology improves primary healthcare service

·         Weekend school for Mongolian children opens in Seoul

·         School of Public Policy delivers first-of-its-kind UCalgary certificate in Mongolia

Culture & Society

·         Difficult spring expected in 60 percent of territory

·         WHO to aid medical equipment to dzud-affected areas

·         Women's needs take back seat under threat of dzud in Mongolia

·         Mongolian linguists discuss Cyrillic spelling rules

·         Peace Corps Volunteer: Celebrating Tsagaan Sar

·         VIEWS: Mongolian Lunar New Year Celebration | Family Visit

·         Tim Pelkey Publishes Debut Thriller, The Baljuna Covenant: The Search for Genghis' Tomb

·         'See the ability and happiness' photo exhibition of children with Down syndrome - Mongolia

Nature & Environment

·         4.2 magnitude earthquake registered in Bayan-Ulgii aimag

·         Endangered Siberian ibexes provided salt supplements

·         Census on degraded land due to mining to be conducted in 2017-2018

Sports

·         Mongolian judokas win two medals at Baku Grand Slam

·         Best judokas to compete for cash prize competition

·         Mongolia sends off athletes to Special Olympics

·         J.Otgontsagaan appointed member of IOC Sport and Environment Commission

Art & Entertainment

·         Mongolia's Next Top Model announces first winner

·         Milky Way short-film festival to stand against child abuse

·         Five artists to represent Mongolia at Venice Biennale

·         The Eagle Huntress is an amazing documentary. But is it actually true?

Travel

·         UB-Darkhan road to be paved with cement concrete

·         AP travel: A minute in Mongolia

·         Photographers to promote nomadic culture

·         What to Expect: Khuvsgul Ice Festival 2017

·         Mongolia Eagle Hunters Photo Tour

·         Jeju Olle Foundation expands sister trail network to Mongolia

·         Finite Infinity | Mongolia by Claudia Ioan

·         Friends prepare to drive to Mongolia living out of a van

·         How to Get From Ulaanbaatar to Karakorum (Mongolia) for 7 Dollars

 

 

ARTICLES

Int'l Market

IIB facilitates sustainable financing for capital markets in Mongolia

March 9 (IIB) The International Investment Bank (IIB) is continuing to provide sustained support for the financial markets of its member states by participating in the new placement of Mongolian international sovereign bonds denominated in US dollars alongside with large international investment companies.

This placement was of particular importance to the Mongolian government as it was underpinned by the need to refinance the debt burden of the strategically important Development Bank of Mongolia by the government.

The new bond placement created an increased interest among the world's leading investors such as Goldman Sachs, Aberdeen Asset Management, BlueBay Asset Management, Pioneer Investments, etc. The total volume of the order book exceeded USD 3.5 billion, and it was oversubscribed by up to 30 times more than the original offer.

"By implementing its mission of a multilateral development institution, the IIB provides assistance in financing and sustainable functioning of the capital markets of its member states. In this respect, the Bank supported Mongolia during a period of radical economic reforms and in a complex financial and economic situation, participating in the new placement of sovereign bonds," - said Deputy Chairman of the IIB Board Josef Kollar.

The IIB's Treasury is consistently expanding its activities in Mongolia. During the last few years, the turnover of its depositary investments to banking institutions in Mongolia was approximately USD 500 million, and the total volume of transactions with Mongolian securities exceeded USD 50 million. The Treasury plans to further develop this particular area of its business.

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975 trading +1.96% mid-Tuesday at HK$0.26, +364.3% YoY

MMC CEO: We want to be involved with Tavan Tolgoi as we consider it a pure business project

March 14 (Mongolian Economy) The Mongolian Mining Corporation (MMC) has successfully restructured its investment credit raised on international markets due to the sharp fall in coal prices. It was a needed experience and a new thing to learn for others. In addition, the working group of the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry that revived Tavan Tolgoi negotiations invited the consortium that participated in the previous negotiations. We invited G.Battsengel, the CEO of Energy Resources LLC, a company that represents the Mongolian side of the consortium, to our magazine's Premium Interview section.

- Your company has successfully updated its credit structure. How much in loans did the company take out from foreign banks in addition to the USD 600 million bond?

- It was one of the measures taken due to conditions in the coal market. Our company has attracted funds from international banks and international capital markets in order to finance the construction carried out in Ukhaa Khudag. We have done many things that had not been taken done in Mongolia. We were the first company in Mongolia to take USD 150 million loan from Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and BNP Paribas. Then we issued USD 600 million in bonds on international markets in spring 2012. We used it to finance the construction of a power plant, a water supply system and a coal processing plant with an annual capacity to enrich 15 million tonnes of coal. However, the coal market has declined due to factors unrelated to us. Not just MMC, but coal companies around the world are facing difficulties in supply and demand, as well as the Chinese economic deceleration. Many companies were forced to restructure credit.

- Would you please share your company's experience on restructuring credit with international investors and banks?

- Financial markets are based on trust. Our company has been very frank and open with investors. We had no need to convince investors as we always give detailed financial statements on time and regularly met with them. Investment funds are holding on to the USD 600 million bond. So, the main holders of the bond established a bond holders' committee. We stepped into negotiations with them at first in accordance with international standards. Many things depend on a company's trustworthiness. There were difficult issues to solve, but the sides openly discussed the issues and had a willingness to resolve the issue, so we reached an agreement relatively quickly and set the general foundation of the agreement last May. We came to the same understanding after carefully looking over the calculations and reviewing the current conditions. Then we discussed how to implement the reforms, and we think you are aware that we issued an official statement that includes the general conditions for reforms on July 9, 2016.

- It was reported at the time that substantial progress has been made on loan interest rates, amount and duration. What was the exact agreement you reached?

- We have payables of USD 750 million, which includes the USD 600 million bond, USD 93 million loan and accrued interest unpaid in 2016. This means that we finalised the negotiations on how to update this loan portfolio and how to change its structure just before the end of last year. The loan period was extended by six years, meaning the bond repayment we had to pay in March of this year has been postponed until October 2022. Secondly, we were able to reduce the amount. The total debt is USD 750 million as previously mentioned, and the bond payment was reduced to USD 395 million and loan payment to USD 30 million, which means that it was reduced to a total of USD 425 million. 

- I understand that the interest on the loan is correlated with the coal market, am I correct? 

- The loan interest rate has become floating. Previously, it had a fixed interest rate of 8.875 percent, but now the interest will be determined in relation to the price of coal. The company's interest payable will decrease if market conditions get bad. We will not have to pay loan interest with cash if market conditions worsen and coal prices fall back to USD 40-50 per tonne. It includes flexible terms that will provide us with an opportunity to delay payment by adding low-interest penalty in such cases. An opportunity to avoid financial difficulties in any situation and conduct stable operations for six years has been presented.

- What works are there to do now? 

-Procedural works are remaining. The old bond will expire in March. At that time, we should make a clear decision and make it official by organising the collected documents on paper. The old loan agreement will become a new loan agreement, and the old bond agreement will also become a new bond agreement. We might not do it in the first quarter, but there is entirely possible to resolve it in the second quarter. 

- Is it possible get the Ukhaa Khudag enrichment plant running at full capacity this year? 

- We have been trying to conduct operations without any interruptions. Even though production and exports have declined due to conditions in the market, we will get the factory to run at full capacity this year. We are aiming to reap the benefits our investments now, so we will focus on restoring and accelerating activities in 2017.

- Has the government met with your side regarding issues concerning the Tavan Tolgoi agreement since the start of the year? 

- The sides have not met yet in this year. We have received written proposals from the working group. The consortium members have to give a response from common ground. Therefore, we are working to foster understanding on both sides. It may not be resolved that easily as there are many issues. If we reach an agreement with the working group, the working group must submit the conditions agreed upon to the government. If the government agrees to it, it will submit the agreement to parliament for approval. 

- The Tavan Tolgoi investment agreement was postponed indefinitely, saying that it was not discussed by parliament when the previous government was in power. There is the criticism that the agreement was done in investors' interests. What is your take on this? 

- The investor, the consortium in other words, did not want to prevent parliament from discussing the agreement. On the contrary, we are working to get discussions going by parliament in case we reach an agreement. We expect to reach a decision by letting the matter be discussed in parliament. Let's imagine that the government signs the agreement on its own. Then we make the investments and start operations, and then suddenly parliament halts operations saying that the government did not let parliament discuss it. Who will lose in this case? Only the investors will be at a loss. Should we sue the government? How many years would arbitration take? Arbitration is not something we want. It requires a lot of time and money. We do not want to create a controversy with the Mongolian government as we are a Mongolian company. It seems like some people hold the suspicion that we are trying to secretly make a hasty agreement. This is not the case. We want everything to be done openly under official capacity, with the press and media reporting on it. In the end, the investors are bearing the most risk. 

- A team led by M.Enkhsaikhan negotiated with the investors when the previous government was in office. I personally think that it was a beneficial deal for our country. What are the chances of getting the same conditions in the current agreement? 

- The consortium is working to express its position from the same ground. Naturally, it will reflect proposals from all three sides. It will not go by the wishes of solely Energy Resources LLC. So, it is difficult to answer this question. The most important thing is the conditions and criteria set by the working team and the Mongolian government. The next issue is whether we will be able to agree to those conditions and reflect it in the agreement. The position and criteria must be made clear by the government. A rather large working group is handling the matter. Their thoughts and opinions will be reflected. We will work to give joint responses from the official consortium. In the end, the authorities, not us, will decide whether this project will move forward or not. 

- Is it possible to get Tavan Tolgoi moving forward this year? What is your opinion as a person who has sat at the negotiation table? 

- It is said that haste makes waste. Many issues will arise during the talks. There are legal issues in addition to commercial conditions. There are other things to consider too, such as the state of relations between countries as it is an international consortium. There are many factors that are out of our hands. 

- The Ukhaa Khudag project of Energy Resources is definitely a historical project for Mongolia. What is your company's goal? 

-  Mining still plays a key role in the Mongolian economy. It is the only sector feeding Mongolia even though it receives much criticism. If a global company cannot be born from Mongolia's private sector, we need to at least aim to establish a major regional company of international standards. Such a company can only come out of the mining sector. Energy Resources LLC had this goal from the beginning. 

Major international investors and international corporations such as Rio Tinto, Areva and Centerra Gold will naturally come into Mongolian mining. However, Mongolia's private sector also needs to participate alongside with them. Why can't a major regional mining company come out of Mongolia? The main goal of the steps we have taken up to today had this in mind. We traded on international stock exchanges, attracted funds from international capital markets and undertook large financing. The investments made in the Ukhaa Khudag project were not less than any other mining projects in the world. It is possible to work sustainably in the future. We expressed our opinions and said that we want to participate in Tavan Tolgoi if the government chooses the option to attract investors to it. Obviously we will follow the decision made by the government. In general, our company is interested in implementing the experience we gained as we understand the coal sector the best, and made the biggest investments in this sector among other Mongolian companies. It is a normal and healthy business interest. We have expressed our interest in being involved with Tavan Tolgoi as we consider it as a pure business project. 

- There are rumours that Energy Resources will fall into a difficult situation if the government does not move forward with Tavan Tolgoi. What would you say about this? 

- It does not make sense to think that Tavan Tolgoi is the only option and that there is no other way to work. We have many options and things to do. We are considering Tavan Tolgoi because it is a little closer and one of the possible options. We will continue our work by focusing on our projects in Ukhaa Khudag and Baruun Naran. It is clear that we will focus on expanding our business based on the above-mentioned goals.

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MATD closed -12.15% on the announcement Friday to 23.5p

Petro Matad Extends Mongolia Farm-Out Process, To Pick Contractor Soon

LONDON, March 10 (Alliance News) - Petro Matad Ltd on Friday said it expects to have chosen by the end of this month its preferred contractor from three bids submitted to provide drilling services for the company's upcoming programme at two oil and gas blocks in Mongolia.

Petro Matad also said it has extended the deadline by which interested parties looking to farm-in to the blocks can show their interest, and said the bid deadline will now be "until May 2017".

"The company is encouraged with progress to date, and has received several offers and requests for exclusivity. The evaluation of these offers is in progress but no decision has yet been made," it said.

"Due to the high level of interest shown from numerous existing and new interested parties who have yet to complete their studies and internal processes prior to making an offer, the company has decided that it is in the best interest of the company to further extend the bid deadline," Petro Matad said.

In addition, the contractor to provide the rig and services for the upcoming drill programme will be chosen this month, ahead of drilling in July.

"This [extension] will ensure the best possible deal outcome(s) to fully explore the company's acreage in 2017 and 2018. The company's clear strategy is to commit early and extend the drilling programme to the end of 2018, thereby significantly increasing the chance of material exploration success. The company will update the market on the current offers once they are formalised and an agreement is completed," said Petro Matad.

In addition, Petro Matad said Non-Executive Phil Vingoe has chosen to retire as it announced the appointment of Tim Bushell as a new non-executive. Bushell was until recently was CEO for Falkland Oil and Gas Ltd.

Bushell is currently a non-executive and executive adviser to Rockhopper Exploration PLC.

Petro Matad shares were down 1.9% to 26.24 pence per share on Friday.

Link to article

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EGI closed +7.12% Monday at US$0.525, +85.5% YoY

Entree Gold Announces Fiscal Year 2016 Results and Reviews Corporate Highlights

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - March 10, 2017) - Entrée Gold Inc. (TSX:ETG)(NYSE MKT:EGI)(FRANKFURT:EKA) ("Entrée" or the "Company") has today filed its annual operational and financial results for the year ended December 31, 2016. All numbers are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted.

2016 HIGHLIGHTS

OUTLOOK AND STRATEGY

Entrée is primarily focused on advancing its principal assets in Mongolia and Nevada, while undertaking various additional initiatives in an effort to maximize shareholder value. On February 28, 2017, the Company announced the Arrangement, pursuant to which the US Projects will be transferred to Mason Resources. Once the Arrangement becomes effective, the result will be two separate and focused, well-capitalized entities, each with a high quality advanced project providing new and existing shareholders with optionality as to investment strategy and risk.

Entrée is undertaking the Arrangement in order to focus on its carried 20% interest in the Entrée/Oyu Tolgoi joint venture property in Mongolia and potentially acquiring other value accreting and synergistic assets. The Arrangement is also intended to maximize shareholder value by allowing the market to value Entrée's assets independently of the US Projects. It is expected that transferring the US Projects from Entrée to Mason Resources will help accelerate development of the Ann Mason Project and give scope to new acquisitions.

Both Entrée and Mason Resources will be managed by Entrée's current team of officers and employees for the upcoming 2017 year. The companies will utilize a share service model to allocate administrative costs proportionately to each company based on a ratio to be determined prior to closing of the Arrangement. It is expected that there will be some additional costs associated with the operation of Mason Resources as a separate publicly traded company, such as listing fees, marketing costs and some additional board related costs. Concurrently, the Company will continue to remain prudent with its expenditures.

Without giving effect to the Arrangement, the Company expects to spend between $2.8 million and $3.2 million for the 2017 year (2016 year - $4.0 million) on exploration and general administration costs. The Company expects to release an updated technical report for its interest in the Entrée/Oyu Tolgoi joint venture property and Shivee West in 2017, following the release of the 2016 OTTR by Turquoise Hill on October 21, 2016. The Company estimates the cost to prepare this report to be approximately $0.5 million. Upon completion of the Arrangement, it is expected that Mason Resources will incur an additional $0.2 million in annual corporate costs associated with having a second public company.

In addition, the Company is anticipating a potential one time cost of approximately $0.3 million for fees associated with the Arrangement.

Corporate

The Company has focused, and will continue to focus its efforts on conserving cash reserves. Corporate objectives for 2017 include maximizing the market value of the Company's assets through restructuring, increasing investor awareness and cash conservation. Without giving effect to the Arrangement, total corporate costs, which include marketing and compliance costs, are estimated to be between $1.8 million and $2.0 million for the 2017 year. An additional $0.2 million of corporate costs at Mason Resources is expected for the 2017 year in order to support the new publicly traded company.

Entrée/Oyu Tolgoi Joint Venture Property

With the release of the 2016 OTTR, the Company intends to develop complementary PEAs for Entrée's interest in the second lift of the Hugo North (including Hugo North Extension) block cave and the Heruga deposit and file these as part of an updated NI 43-101 technical report. The Company anticipates commencing this process in the first half of 2017 and estimates the cost to be approximately $0.5 million to complete and publish the report.

Development of the OT project continues to advance with a number of positive milestones achieved in 2016. As part of the Company's corporate restructuring initiative, management commenced a market awareness program in late 2016 and will continue through 2017 to improve the investment community's understanding of Entrée's interest in the Entrée/Oyu Tolgoi joint venture property, including its potential value as compared with the interests of other OT project stakeholders.

The Company maintains an office and administration in Mongolia. Excluding the costs associated with the preparation of an updated NI 43-101 technical report referenced above, the Company expects to spend approximately $0.2 million for the 2017 year on legal costs and general administration in Mongolia.

Ann Mason Project

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HAR last traded A$0.003 on March 8

Haranga Resources: Half-Year Financial Report, December 2016

March 10, Haranga, Resources Ltd. (ASX:HAR) --

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VKA trading +5.26% mid-Tuesday at A$0.02

Viking Mines: Interim Report, December 2016

March 14, Viking Mines Ltd. (ASX:VKA) --

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Local Market

MSE Weekly Report: Top 20 Unch, ALL +0.22%, Turnover 307M Shares, and 12.5B Primary, 1.5B Secondary T-Bills

March 13 (MSE) Mongolian Stock Exchange organized 5 securities trading sessions and made transaction of MNT2.6 billion, with daily average of MNT14,280,904,855.00 in period between 06 March 2017 and 10 March 2017.

Share trading:

382,244.00 shares of 45 joint stock companies worth of MNT307,027,515.00 were traded.

Most actively traded securities

№ 

 

                                   Securities Name                                      

Value /MNT/

1

TTL

Tavan tolgoi                       

86,870,660

2

EER

Arig gal

 58,771,400

3

GOV

Govi

  47,063,270

4

APU

APU

   46,611,072

5

MMX

Makh impex

    12,029,420

Most active brokerage companies 

№ 

 

                                Company Name                                      

Value /MNT/

1

BDSC

BDSec

      181,852,037 

2

GLMT

Golomt capital

      77,695,084

3

ARD

Ard capital group

        71,265,952

4

MNET

Ard securities

        58,810,346

5

STIN

Standard investment    

        45,808,187

Government retail bonds trading:

130,000 Government retail bonds worth of MNT12,513,020,000.00 traded through one trading session. 

Most active brokerage companies for Government securities trading

№ 

 

                                     Company Name                                   

Value /MNT/

1

TNGR

Tenger capital

3,624,100,000

2

BDSC

BDSec

3,543,600,000

3

GLMT

Golomt capital

1,833,100,000

4

ARD

Ard capital group

 1,814,300,000

5

NOVL

Novel investment    

  1,616,000,000

16,184 government retail bonds traded on secondary market of Government securities trading and total of 1,460,857,340.00 transaction has been  made.   

№ 

 

                                      Company Name                                        

Value /MNT/

3

BZIN

Mire Esset Securities Mongolia      

   2,921,714,680

As of 10 March 2017, market capitalization was MNT1,520,789,224,971.60 which indicated decreases of 0.64% and MSE ALL index reached 866.81 units which indicated increased of 0.22% from the previous week.

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MSE Trading Report, Mar 13: Top 20 -0.42%, ALL -0.13%, Turnover 125.9 Million Shares, 150.7 Million T-Bills

March 13 (MSE) --

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Government securities trading available through 5 commercial banks

Ulaanbaatar, March 13 (MONTSAME) Last Friday, the Financial Regulatory Commission of Mongolia finalized more than 20 issues on its regular meeting. Khan Bank, Golomt Bank, Trade Development Bank, XacBank and State Bank had their licenses extended to conduct government securities trading services.

The FRC also granted new permits of operations to non-banking financial organizations, namely, "Khan Altain Nuruu", "Gold Capital Invest" and "Dari Finance" in consideration of their fulfilment of requirement of having base asset of more than MNT 2.5 billion.

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Will taxing deposit interest help spur underdeveloped stock exchange?

March 12 (UB Post) As part of Mongolia's staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund to enroll in a 440 million USD extended fund facility (EFF), the government has accepted the responsibility to increase state budget revenue and cut its deficit. One of the biggest measures that will be taken is raising rates on seven taxes.

The one amendment that has been getting the most attention and scrutiny, is the proposed decision to tax all savings interest. The decision has been met with much opposition, as would any increase on taxes that impacts such a large number of people. Analysts seem to be divided in their opinions about the measure, with one group worried that the new tax would only encourage informal savings and cut off the banking system's main source of income. Other economists have highlighted the potential long-term positive effects of the tax, such as the development of a more sophisticated financial system.

It is important to note that the new tax policy has not been approved, or even discussed, by Parliament. However, it is likely that Parliament will have to approve the seven new tax policies in order for the country to enroll in the EFF. What has been discussed at this point is a ten percent fixed tax rate on savings interest, regardless of the duration and amount of the savings. This means a person with 10,000 MNT in their bank account will be taxed at the same rate as a person with 100 million MNT in their account. At this point, however, it is not clear whether it will be a fixed interest rate on all savings or if there will be classifications. This decision will ultimately be decided by the Mongolian People's Party (MPP) and their 65-seat majority in Parliament, as has been the case since June 2016. But what's different about this situation is the vocal opposition to the EFF amongst members of the MPP. It is more than likely, however, that these critical MPs will bite their tongues and pass the necessary amendments and measures in order to implement the much needed EFF.

The one prediction that most pundits have agreed upon is the notion that savings will most likely decrease. A 15 percent savings interest rate has not only encouraged many people to place all their assets into safe and reliable institutions, it has been a lucrative source of income. For instance, a person with 100 million MNT in the bank receives 15 million MNT in savings interest annually. Now, the decision to tax that lucrative return on savings may spur many individuals to search for other ways to invest and save their money. According to Mongol Bank statistics in 2016, there are more than 2.4 million people with savings accounts in the nation's 14 commercial banks. Of those 2.4 million people, 80 percent of them own only three percent of all savings. Three percent (72,000) of those 2.4 million people have large savings, and the remainder have small to medium-sized savings. There is an estimated 11 trillion to 12 trillion MNT in savings in the nation's banking system, of which seven trillion to eight trillion MNT is attributed to personal savings accounts. As noted by the Deposit Insurance Corporation of Mongolia, the volume of savings has not grown in recent years due to the weak economy. The new savings interest tax policy could push that trend further.

Naturally, as commercial bank savings accounts becomes less attractive, it would be logical for people to turn to the stock exchange and consider investment. However, the Mongolian Stock Exchange (MSE) has been widely criticized for being underdeveloped as a result of government intervention and bureaucracy.

In January 2017, many news outlets reported that the stock exchange of war-torn Palestine had been named a frontier market by the FTSE index, while the MSE has made multiple unsuccessful requests to be considered for frontier market classification. Many pundits have criticized the government and called its handling of the MSE unsatisfactory. Proponents of privatization of the MSE have been vocal, with even the CEO of MSE, Kh.Altai, noting that the MSE is one of the last state-owned stock exchanges in the world. The privatization of the exchange has long been discussed, and it was even named by Parliament to be one of the seven state-owned enterprises that will be privatized in 2017.

In the past, many people have been reluctant to invest in the turbulent MSE, which has largely failed to meet expectations for growth. The security of the 15 percent savings interest rate offered by commercial banks has, in contrast, been a lucrative and attractive option for people with disposable income. Now, with the potential for people to begin looking for other investment opportunities for their savings, many analysts are banking on the hope that the MSE quickly brings its operational structure up to modern standards. The exchange could be an attractive option, as there are large domestic companies that trade stocks on the exchange and the government bonds issued on the exchange with 18 to 19 percent interest rates are seen as the most secure investments.

If the government is able to quickly privatize the MSE and carry out reforms and improvements in terms of operational management within the exchange, savings finding their way to the exchange could be the catalyst that the MSE needs to move out of its infancy.

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Economy

Reds are when MNT fell, greens when it rose. Bold reds are rates that set a new historic high at the time.

BoM MNT Rates: Monday, March 13 Close

 

3/13

3/10

3/9

3/7

3/6

3/3

3/2

2/24

2/23

2/22

High

Date

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USD

2,458.80

2,461.32

2,464.00

2,466.88

2,468.55

2,470.25

2,470.84

2,470.83

2,473.63

2,476.02

2,498.75

1/10/2017

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EUR

2,629.93

2,607.65

2,595.95

2,613.91

2,616.42

2,598.95

2,604.14

2,617.84

2,608.32

2,601.68

2,681.43

11/10/2016

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JPY

21.44

21.33

21.51

21.67

21.69

21.62

21.64

21.92

21.85

21.83

23.49

11/9/2016

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GBP

3,005.02

2,992.60

2,995.36

3,015.51

3,029.40

3,030.01

3,035.80

3,100.15

3,086.72

3,091.68

3,183.26

8/13/2014

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RUB

41.61

41.57

41.85

42.35

42.31

41.91

42.33

42.67

42.73

42.99

54.32

6/27/2014

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CNY

356.03

355.82

356.41

357.53

357.91

357.85

359.01

359.62

359.70

359.97

363.02

1/5/2017

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KRW

2.14

2.13

2.13

2.15

2.13

2.13

2.16

2.18

2.17

2.17

2.18

2/6/2017

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SGD

1,741.17

1,735.16

1,736.07

1,749.50

1,750.12

1,746.44

1,751.75

1,758.66

1,750.00

1,744.60

1,758.66

2/24/2017

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CAD

1,827.09

1,823.13

1,826.88

1,842.12

1,841.24

1,844.09

1,850.82

1,888.08

1,881.52

1,883.12

1,908.84

1/18/2017

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AUD

1,862.05

1,851.40

1,853.05

1,877.67

1,871.53

1,866.15

1,892.17

1,906.25

1,902.35

1,905.17

1,913.20

2/16/2017

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HKD

316.65

316.99

317.26

317.67

317.95

318.18

318.29

318.40

318.78

319.03

322.21

1/10/2017

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CHF

2,431.45

2,430.69

2,427.47

2,439.32

2,446.41

2,439.39

2,445.65

2,456.83

2,447.81

2,446.66

2,497.77

11/09/2016

Bank USD rates at time of sending: Khan (Buy ₮2,448 Sell ₮2,460), TDB (Buy ₮2,450 Sell ₮2,460), Golomt (Buy ₮2,450 Sell ₮2,462), XacBank (Buy ₮2,449 Sell ₮2,459), State Bank (Buy ₮2,450 Sell ₮2,462)

USD (blue), CNY (red) vs MNT in last 1 year:

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BoM issues 394 billion 1-week bills, total outstanding +11.9% to ₮1.06 trillion

March 13 (Bank of Mongolia) BoM issues 1 week bills worth MNT 394 billion at a weighted interest rate of 14.0 percent per annum /For previous auctions click here/

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IMF: US$ 440 million to be transferred to Bank of Mongolia

March 10 (gogo.mn) Democratic Party (DP) group members in State Great Khural including Z.Narantuya, L.Bold, B.Purevdorj met with Neil Saker, the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Resident Representative in Mongolia and discussed the Extended Fund Facility program. 

Mr. Neil Saker said that US$ 440 million to be transferred to Bank of Mongolia and is expected to increase the foreign exchange reserves. Also, the certain amount of the fund will be invested to budgeted projects. 

Support from other international partners will offer the lowest interest rates. The main purpose of the IMF`s program is to restore economic stability and reduce the budget deficit which now exceeded the amount stated in Budget Stability Law. 

Moreover he added IMF decided not to cut the social welfare costs, continuing to grant children`s benefit to 40 percent while offering food stamps for 20 percent of the children. Also, IMF discussed with the Government of Mongolia to suspend pay rise for civil servants for two years.

At the end of the meeting Mr. Neil Saker stated that State Great Khural of Mongolia must approve supplementary budget 5-10 days prior to Apr 10, 2017. We hope that Bank of Mongolia has started to perform outsourcing audit to commercial banks. Also, Bank of Mongolia must not perform quasi-fiscal activities. Following the Board of IMF will consider Mongolia's request.

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Mongolia Revenue Shortfall in Jan.-Feb. Reaches $85m, NSO Says

By Michael Kohn

March 13 (Bloomberg) -- Mongolia's total revenue and grants to the general budget in Jan.-Feb. were 963.4b tugrik compared with total expenditure of 1.18t tugrik, a revenue shortfall of 211.7b tugrik ($85.4m).

* National statistics office releases data on website

* NOTE: Revenue shortfall in same period yr ago was 258.5b tugrik

* Tax revenue increased 192.5b tugrik or 30.7% y/y

* Gross industrial output reached 1.8t tugrik

* Money supply (M2) reached 12.3t tugrik at the end of February, a 22.5% increase y/y

* Currency in circulation reached 944.7b tugrik, a 44.1% increase y/y

* Loans outstanding amounted to 12.7t tugrik, an increase of 9.2% y/y

* Principal in arrears totaled 1.05t tugrik at the end of Feb., a 6.2% increase y/y

* Non-performing loans totaled 1.19t tugrik at end-Feb., a 12.4% increase m/m and 30.3% increase y/y

* Foreign trade surplus was $334.2m in the first 2 months of the year, with total trade at $1.3b

* February CPI was +2.1% y/y, +0.9% m/m

* In Jan.-Feb natural loss of livestock due to bad weather or infectious disease reached 133,900 animals, a decrease of 65.8% y/y

(BFW)

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NSO: Social insurance revenue increased 26.5 percent in first 2 months

In the first 2 months 2017, The General Authority for Health and Social Insurance of Mongolia reported that revenue of Social insurance fund amounted to 304.5 billion togrog, reflecting an increase of 63.7 billion togrog (26.5%) and expenditure of the fund reached 296.3 billion togrog, showing an increase of 31.4 billion togrog (11.9%) compared to the same period of the previous year.

Figure 1. Revenue and expenditure of the Social Insurance Fund, monthly

The General Office of Labor and Welfare Service reported that in first 2 months 2017, 20.3 billion togrog granted to 162.6 thousand persons for pensions and allowances from the Social Welfare fund. The number of persons who received pensions and welfare allowances decreased by 13.8 thousand persons (7.8%), and the amount of pensions and allowances decreased by 3.5 billion togrog (14.7%) compared to same period of the previous year.

In first 2 months 2017, 13.1 billion togrog were granted to 627.7 thousand children aged below 18 as Children's cash allowances.

Definition:

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NSO: Average wages and salaries increased by 8.6 percent in 2016

March 10 (NSO) Social insurance payment report of the Government implementing agency General Authority for Health and Social Insurance of Mongolia covered 577.9 thousands employees in 37.3 thousand establishments for fourth quarter of 2016.

Of those 28.3 thousand employees (5.0%) are paid lower than 192.0 thousands.tog, 51.8 thousand employees (9.0%) are paid 192.0-300.0 thous.tog, 93.0 thousand employees (16.1%) are paid 300.0-500.0 thous.tog, 218.5 thousand employees (37.8%) are paid 500.0-900.0 thous.tog, 103.2 thousand employees (17.0%) are paid 900.0-1300.0 thous.tog, 22.5 thousand employees (3.9%) are paid 1300.0-1500.0 thous.tog and 60.6 thousand employees (10.5%) are paid more than 1500.0 thous.tog for monthly wages and salaries.

Figure 1. Monthly average wages and salaries of employees in establishments, by employment size class, for fourth quarter of 2016, thous.tog

Monthly average wages and salaries of employees in mining and quarrying establishments were highest at 2311.7 thous.tog while those in house holding enterprises were lowest at 626.3 thous.tog.

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NSO: Air, rail transport jump in first 2 months, revenue up

Traveling by air transport of domestic passengers increased, thus creating the revenue growth.

In the first 2 months of 2017, 3142.1 thousand tonnes of freight and 406.0 thousand persons (double counting) were carried by railway transport. Compared to the same period of the previous year, the number of carried freight has increased by 248.5 thousand tonnes (8.6%) and the number of carried passengers has decreased by 24.7 thousand persons (5.7%).

The revenue from railway transport reached 64.6 billion togrogs which has increased by 9.3 billion togrogs (16.8%) compared to the same period of the previous year.

Figure 1. Carried freight by railway transport and air transport

In the first 2 months of 2017, 403.4 tonnes of freight and 99.2 thousand persons (double counting) were carried by air transport. The volume of carried freight increased by 4.6 tonnes (1.2%) and the number of carried passengers increased by 14.3 thousand (16.9%) compared to the same period of the previous year.

The revenue from air transport reached 37.2 billion togrogs which has increased by 2.6 billion togrogs (7.5%) compared to the same period of the previous year.

Figure 2. Carried passengers by railway transport and air transport

Methodology:

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Politics & Legal

Defacto Review, March 12

March 13 (Jargal Defacto via VTV) Reviewed topics:

1. Khuraldai Bonds rise on debut.

2. Can courts overrule government decisions?

3. Democrats squeeze candidates for cash.

4. Mongolia's women heroes.

Link to video

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Appeal for justice in the killing of journalist in Mongolia

This statement was originally published on GIC's Facebook page on 29 February 2016.

March 9 (IFEX) Over three months have passed since Luntan Bolormaa, a female journalist and publicist, was found dead at her home on the night of 21 November 2015. Bolormaa's family members, friends, relatives, co-workers, the journalism community and the public are anxious for police to investigate and report on her sudden death.

Sources said that the National Institute of Forensic Science conducted an autopsy of Bolormaa's body and concluded that she died due to a brain hemorrhage caused by a concussion in the occipital bone. Police are continuing their investigation into Bolormaa's death.

Bolormaa was a well-recognized investigative reporter and publicist. She was a founder and editor-in-chief of the Mongolian Mining Journal. Bolormaa published mainly on economic, political, business, and mining issues. Moreover, she managed the non-governmental organization, "Journalism for Development", which trained and supported journalists in reporting on economic and mining related issues.

GIC expresses its deepest condolences to her family, friends, relatives and co-workers, and believes the police will complete a thorough investigation of the crime, determine if her death was somehow linked to her journalism duties, and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Signed by:

Amnesty International Mongolia, Bayansharga, Centre for Human Rights and Development, Confederation of Mongolian Journalists, Environment and Health Centre, Global Meridian, Globe International Center, Government Citizen Partnership, Kazakh Women's Arular Federation, Law and Human Right Centre, LGBT Centre, Media Council of Mongolia, Media Council Club, Mitchell Foundation, MONFEMNET National network, Mongolian Gender Equality Center, Mongolian Women's Employment Support Federation, National Center against Violence, Oyu Tolgoi Watch, Psychological Responsiveness, Rivers without Boundaries Coalition, Sayanaa Well-being Association, Steps Without Borders

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Murder of Zorig's case goes to Court of Appeals

March 13 (news.mn) The much-publicised murder case of the renowned political figure S.Zorig has gone to the Municipal Court of Appeals in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar. The hearing will take place on Tueday, 14th of March.

After the trials, conducted last December behind closed doors, Ts.Amgalanbaatar, T.Chimegee and O.Sodnomdarjaa were sentenced to between 24 and 25 years of imprisonment for violent assault motivated by greed.

Former member of parliament S.Oyun, younger sister of the murdered politician and founder of the Zorig Foundation, filed a complaint to the Court of Appeals following the court decision; this was subsequently accepted and the date announced.

S.Zorig was one of the "Golden swallows of democracy", as the pioneers of democratic movement of Mongolia that took place in the early 1990s are known. He had been working as a Member of Parliament and cabinet at the time of his murder in 1998.

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Government bodies to unite against corruption

Ulaanbaatar, March 13 (MONTSAME) Public organizations will collaborate in order to implement and promote the "National Program on Combating Corruption". Within the framework, "National Program on Combating Corruption and Cooperation of State Bodies" meeting took place on March 13. 

The meeting was attended by representatives from Parliamentary Office, Cabinet Secretariat, State Secretaries of government ministries, heads of public agencies, governor's office and district offices.

Kh.Enkhjargal, Commissioner General of Independent Authority Against Corruption (IAAC) said "Cooperation of state bodies and public engagements are crucial in combating corruption. IAAC will create a public approach that opposes bureaucratic and corrupted public service".

Within the framework of the national program, seven working groups from IAAC will be working in the ministries, state agencies, governor's office and district offices for a month. The working groups will be responsible for promoting a national program on combating corruption, monitoring the implementation of the law on anti-corruption, receiving complaints and information from the public, making risk assessment of corruption, conducting trainings and providing methodologies.

On behalf of the government, head of the Cabinet Secretariat MP J.Munkhbat attended the meeting. J.Munkhbat said "The current circumstances have to be reported accurately. The anti-corruption work has to be free from politics and personal interest of any individual and cooperation with the media and civil society organizations should be brought into focus in order to prevent corruption as well as to educate and advocate the public".

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Elders allowed to get pension in advance without interest

Ulaanbaatar, March 10 (MONTSAME) "Regulation on delivering pension in advance" approved by an order of the General Authority of Health and Social Insurance chairman has taken effect.

Aimed at satisfying elders' need, the regulation enables elders to receive 50 per cent of their three months pension in advance without paying any interest or fee, just applying to relevant banks. Commercial banks used to get interest for giving pension in advance.

Now pensioners, who want their pension in advance, should have no pension- guaranteed loans.

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German alumni of Mongolia meeting to address development

Ulaanbaatar, March 14 /MONTSAME/ By the initiative of Parliament Member D.Terbishdagva and under the slogan 'Hardworking Mongolian – Keystone in Development', a meeting of 1000 Germany alumni is going to take place on March 17 at the State House.

Educational cooperation between Mongolia and Germany is believed to have begun in 1926 since when about 30,000 Mongolians have studied in the central European country.

The alumni meeting aims to relay messages, new ideas and initiatives from young people who studied in Germany and are working towards a better future for Mongolia to the heads of state and government.

The output of the meeting will be a recommendation regarding political, economic and social development of Mongolia which will be delivered to the Parliament and the Cabinet.

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22.6 billion allocated for wool incentives in 2017

March 9 (UB Post) A total of 22.6 billion MNT will be distributed this year to nearly 93,000 herders as incentives for last year's wool supply, as announced by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry.

The ministry's Livestock Protection Fund reviewed details of the state's 2016 wool supply in February and decided to distribute incentives through Mongol Bank this year.

Details of the 2016 wool supply

Compared to 2015, the number of herders who supplied wool in 2016 increased from 79,407 to 92,885, and the volume of wool produced increased by 1.3 million kg. Since the government launched incentives for sheep and camel wool production in 2011, more than 400,000 herders have received a combined 112.7 billion MNT in incentives for their contributions.

Details of wool collection and incentives allocated since 2011

Year

Number of herders

Wool volume  (tons)

Monetary value  (billion MNT)

2011

32,977

4,924.9

9.8

2012

103,162

14,696.6

29.4

2013

117,667

18,307.3

36.6

2014

80,619

16,643.5

18.3

2015

79,407

16,897

19.3

Total

413,832

71,468.4

112.7

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Conflicts of interest keep Mongolian child jockeys in the saddle

Mongolia holds an average of 600 horse races with over 16,000 children participating as jockeys, according to government figures

March 10 (AFP) Mongolian courts banned them, human rights groups slammed them and the labour ministry demands they cease, but none of that has stopped Mongolia's politicians from letting child jockeys saddle up.

Despite the outcry, coaches still hire child riders to race at breakneck speeds across the freezing steppe in high stakes contests with powerful backers.

The contests have been met with outrage on social media, where commenters share photos of young riders suffering painful falls from the saddle and call on authorities to enforce the court order suspending the event.

Child jockeys are forbidden from appearing in winter and spring races, according to regulations issued by the country's ministry of labour in February 2016.

But that has not stopped Mongolian Prime Minister Jargalsaikhanii Erdenebat from approving a recent horse race about 20km outside of the capital of Ulan Bator in Tsagaan Hutul, as well as in two other provinces later this month.

Winter-spring horse races are often held in temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius, which can lead to frostbite, particularly in long distance races in high winds.

Temperatures dipped as low as -12 degrees during Sunday's race in Tsagaan Hutul.

At one race last Sunday, at least 10 horses crossed the finish line without riders after their jockeys apparently fell off. In total, 31 of the young jockeys took a spill at the event, according to Mongolia's authority for children and family affairs.

Medics on scene refused to answer questions about whether any children had been injured.

Mongolia holds an average of 600 horse races with over 16,000 children participating as jockeys, according to government figures.

A 2014 Unicef report said that some 326 child jockeys were hospitalised in 2012, mostly with head or bone injuries.

Displays of skilled horsemanship are an important part of traditional Mongolian culture, but professional child jockeys are a relatively recent phenomenon, only appearing during the last 10 years.

As little as two decades ago, horse races were organised only during the country's summer festival Nadaam, and riding coaches, known as "uyach" in Mongolian, used their own children or relatives as jockeys.

Since that time, racing has become a popular, albeit shadowy business and uyach seek out boys between the ages of seven and 10 to ride in the competitions.

The riders are often sponsored by local politicians, who tout their ownership of race horses during their campaigns. Ownership of livestock is an important measure of success for rural voters, many of whom continue to lead traditional pastoral lives.

Children's light weight gives them an advantage in horse races that often run for 18 to 26km , among the longest on earth.

Most of the recruits come from lower income families in rural areas, where uyach are widely respected.

Ya Boldbaatar, the chief organiser of the Uyach Association, told local reporters that organisers had not received notice of the court's decision to ban child jockeys before the most recent race: "We only heard the decision from the media."

Khurelchuluunii Bayasgalan, a public relations officer at the metropolitan administrative court said that the horse-racing coaches association still has 14 days to appeal against the court decision, meaning that the order was not yet final.

But the ruling should have been put into immediate effect, Odonkhuugiin Munkhsaikhan, a legal expert at Mongolian National University, wrote on his web site.

"However, the government has conflicts of interest. Some of the cabinet members are uyach and have been allowed to organise the race without considering the court's decision."

Sanchir Jargalsaikhan, a political scientist in Ulan Bator, said that the case showed how Mongolian plutocrats could increasingly ignore the country's laws.

The speaker of the country's parliament, the Great Khural, is also a member and head of the Uyach association, he said, adding that "because of this confluence of interests, an amateur association is able to override the decision of the court and go unpunished".

Last winter, 16 children fell off their horses and two broke their legs during a race that was held over objections by the Mongolian National Human Rights Commission and civil society groups.

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A tiny person against the giant world

March 10 (MONTSAME) Women who are shorter than 130 cm and men shorter than 140 cm are recognized as "little people" in Mongolia.  The shortest person ever-recorded is Ms.Ichinkhorloo Jurmed living in Choibalsan, Dornod Aimag. 

It was noted in the fourth series of the 'Compendium of Mongolian Secrets', the record book of Mongolia published in 1990, that "The shortest person of Mongolia J.Ichinkhorloo was born in 1951 in Choibalsan of Dornod Aimag.  She is 90 cm tall and weighs 36 kg".  Her unique short stature is caused by dwarfism, although both her parents did not have the syndrome and are of ordinary height as well as her older sister. 

Ichinkhorloo was born, raised and still lives in her hometown. Owning 20 cows for milking, 30-40 sheep and over 200 goats, she is just an ordinary livestock herder. 

Ichinkhorloo, like any other women, had a chance at life as a mother.  She had a healthy son in 1971. Her son Baljir lives with his wife and two children.  Before going into military service, her grandson B.Tsendsuren helped Ichinkhorloo most of the time.

"I am right in mind, if not brighter than some people.  It is positivity and mental strength that counts in life" said Ichinkhorloo. 

Video credit to "Tumnii neg"

(literal meaning One of the Thousand)

program broadcasted on Mongolian MNC TV

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Jargal Defacto: Behind the scenes of March 8

March 12 (UB Post) March 8 is marked every year to celebrate the achievements of women. Mongolia is one of few countries that has declared the day a public holiday.

On this day, countries also look at their progress on raising women's social status, and ensuring equality between men and women. It is a great opportunity to praise the brave women who have made strong progress in this endeavor and recognize the ordinary women who have achieved extraordinary feats. Today, we are taking pride in our female soldiers who are serving in Sudan as United Nations peacekeepers.

As Mongolia's population increases, our economic growth is far from being sustainable, and the unemployment rate is not going down. We are seeing a rise in domestic violence and crimes while people are increasingly going abroad in search of jobs. The majority of victims of domestic violence are women and children, who sometimes end up losing their life. Although laws against domestic violence are getting tougher and we are seeing more government and non-government organizations working for the cause, the results are still not sufficient.

Therefore, on International Women's Day, we – as a society – should have discussions around domestic violence. In order to have a meaningful dialogue, we need to focus not on how the day is celebrated, but on what it means and what is happening behind the scenes.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

According to the General Police Department, 2010 saw 248 cases of domestic violence, where nine people died and 225 people were injured. These numbers have increased over the years, and there were 1,449 domestic violence cases in 2016, where 18 people died and 1,217 sustained injuries. This means that the number of people who have died and been injured as a result of domestic violence has increased five-fold within only six years. A total of 104 people lost their lives due to domestic violence in the last seven years. This number does not include suicides, and it is generally impossible to determine the exact number of domestic violence victims.

During her Defacto Interview in October 2016, Head of the National Center Against Violence D.Enkhjargal said that 80 percent of the 104 people who died as a result of domestic violence were attempting to secure protection from law enforcement agencies until the day they died. This is an alarming signal, and it makes one wonder how many Mongolian mothers, sisters, and children are seeking protection on this day of celebration.

Domestic violence is regarded as an issue exclusive to the private realm, and one that has aspects of confidentiality and privacy. Therefore, it is often likened to an iceberg, in the sense that you can only see the tip of the iceberg, but not the 90 percent that is beneath the water. Thus, the number of domestic violence cases could be ten times larger than the numbers mentioned before. It does not help that Mongolia has not had any dedicated initiatives at a national level to study domestic violence cases, the number of cases, and what causes domestic violence.

Domestic violence does not only mean issues between spouses, but also affects thousands of male and female members of a family, children, and the elderly. Domestic violence against the elderly often has roots in economic struggles. It has become common for seniors to be pressured by their sons and daughters to acquire loans, using their pension as collateral. Or, they are asked to sell their property for money. Also, problems arise when the children of seniors are allowed to collect pensions from the bank.

Furthermore, the concept of "living with a partner" has spread widely, which weakens the ownership rights and protections of unmarried people. When calculating how much ownership of shared property each partner has, they do not take into account the time women sacrifice to give birth and raise their children. It leaves women vulnerable.

The women's rights organizations are emphasizing that our society still has the stipulation that women have to be tolerant of everything, trying to hide problems under what they are calling a "traditional value".

COUNTERMEASURES

Given the spread of domestic violence and its increasing number of victims, the government has been making attempts to improve the situation through laws and rules.

In 2004, the parliament passed a law dedicated to combating domestic violence, yielding to demands from NGOs. However, it has been 10 years now and the law has not been in full effect because amendments to other laws have not been made. A month ago, a revised domestic violence law was passed, and it included approximately 10 critical changes. These changes include legal protection for victims, people having the duty to inform the police and other agencies about domestic violence, clearer responsibilities for the police, special protection services for children who are victims of domestic violence, and distinguishing between crimes and violations.

Branches of the National Center Against Violence have been established in 16 provinces. These centers are operated in cooperation with the local governor. Police and doctors are available at the center to provide required services. Two provinces now have accommodations dedicated to offering protection from domestic violence. Japan's Grassroots project and the United Nations Population Fund are providing financial and technical assistance to these centers.

Hotlines such as 102 and 107 for the police and 108 for children and family centers are now available for victims and witnesses. An average of 3,000 victims of domestic violence contact the National Center Against Violence every year.

With the purpose of protecting witnesses and victims, Mongolia established the Takhar Agency in 2013. However, the new government has recently abolished the organization to cut spending and declared that its functions would be governed by the police. These examples and statistics show that despite the various initiatives to stop domestic violence, their outcomes are not good enough.

In order to combat domestic violence, many new initiatives need to be taken besides the ongoing activities. Where our work needs to start is with people's ideas about violence. Everyone needs to understand and acknowledge that conflicts are bound to arise when people from different backgrounds, education, or opinions are living together. The key is that such conflicts can and should be resolved peacefully, the most sensible and smartest step to take to end violence.

We need to have arts, cultural, and educational activities focused on human and social relations, where violence is not acknowledged or tolerated.

Given that the majority of violence cases trace back to economic roots, we need to take all measures to increase employment and increase the competitiveness of our private sector, so that income levels of vulnerable households increase.

In short, we need to establish a brand new social relations paradigm to stop domestic violence. March 8 is a great opportunity for everyone to stop and think about this, recognize achievements, and identify what we are lacking.

Countries are regarded as highly developed and happier when women enjoy freedom and are, of course, happy.

Translated by B.Amar

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AmCham Daily Newswire for March 10, 2017

GOVERNMENT

Irregular parliamentary session is not needed to discuss EFF amendments

Summary: In order to fully implement the IMF's extended fund faculty (EFF), seven types of taxes must be amended and several policy changes put in place. Before Tsagaan Sar, it was expected that Parliament would hold an irregular session to discuss the amendments required, and the Ministry of Finance drafted amendments to the Law on the State Budget for 2017, which were approved by Cabinet. The Governing Board of the MPP convened and decided not to hold an irregular session prior to the start of the spring session of Parliament. Head of the MPP Caucus D. Khayankhyarvaa stated, "An irregular session is not required to discuss the amendments to the budget, and it can be discussed during the spring session of Parliament." The spring session is scheduled to start on April 5. The final date for implementation of the IMF's EFF requirements is March 31. Some sources say that by agreeing to the IMF deal, the approval rating of the MPP party could fall and possibly affect the results of the presidential election and the public's perception of the party meeting its parliamentary election promises.

Keywords: IMF, Parliament, MPP | Today /page 1/


WHO will provide 35,000 USD in aid

Summary: Deputy Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh met with the Resident Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Mongolia Soe Nuynt-U to discuss the WHO's operations in Mongolia. The Deputy Prime Minister thanked Dr. Soe for his contributions to the Mongolian health sector, and for the WHO's work in  developing the Mongolian health sector and improving the health of the population. The WHO is planning to contribute aid packages valued at 35,000 USD to help overcome difficult winter and spring conditions. The WHO will establish a task force to address possible disasters and critical dangers that threaten the population.

Keywords: WHO, foreign aid | The National Post /page 2/


ECONOMY

Canada-Mongolia Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement enters into force

Summary: During the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention being held in Toronto, Minister of Mining and Heavy Industry Ts. Dashdorj met with the Canadian Minister of International Trade, Francois-Philippe Champagne, and noted that Mongolia has created a favorable environment for Canadian investors. In 2015, Canada invested 6.4 billion USD in Mongolia. Canadian officials noted that the governments of the two countries could cooperate not only in the mining sector but in agriculture and infrastructure as well. Representatives from Mongolia met with representatives from the Toronto Stock Exchange and discussed the possibility of dual listings. Currently, there are 10 Mongolian companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Centerra Gold is currently in negotiations with the Government of Mongolia concerning investment in the Gatsuurt mine and an agreement to conduct mining operations there. The negotiations are  advancing, noted a representative from the ministry.

Keywords: bilateral relations, PDAC, Canada, investment | The Official Gazette /page 11/


ONLINE STORY

Khuraldai bond's primary market transactions are paid

Summary: The Khuraldai bond, aimed at replacing Development Bank of Mongolia's 580 million USD Euro bond, was released in the international market and its primary market transaction fees have been paid. Investors finished their bond transactions for ownership of the government's bond. The Khuraldai bond's first interest payment will be made in September 2017, and the current price of the bond stands at 107 USD. The new bond is worth 600 million USD, with a nominal price of 100 USD per share. It has an 8.75% interest rate with a seven-year duration.

Keywords: Khuraldai bond, finance | www.blooombergtv.mn

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AmCham Daily Newswire for March 13, 2017

GOVERNMENT

Meeting held to discuss 50 million EUR loan from Poland   

Summary: Parliament's Head of the Mongolia-Poland Caucus D. Damba-Ochir, B. Batzorig, A. Sukhbat, and L. Eldev-Ochir paid an official visit to the Republic of Poland and met with Deputy Marshal of the Senate Maria Koc and Deputy Marshal of the Sejm Ryszard Terlecki to discuss cooperation between the parliaments of the two countries. The two sides discussed concluding an agreement this month on 50 million EUR in tied aid for export and social protection in Mongolia.

Keywords: bilateral relations, foreign loans, Poland | Today /page A2/


In run-up to DP party elections transparent financial reporting demanded

Summary: The Democratic Party will hold an election to choose its leaders at each level of the party on April 2. The heads of party caucuses in the 21 provinces, Ulaanbaatar's 9 districts, and 338 soums, and the chairmen of DP committees in  152 khoroos will be elected next month. Some members of the party have expressed their disapproval about the cost of being eligible to run in the local elections election. For the party chairmanship election, five candidates have each paid 240 million MNT to run. It costs 90 million MNT to run for the seat of Ulaanbaatar's party chair, 15 million MNT to run to become a province party chair, and 20 million MNT to run to be a district party chair. Since such significant payments to the party must be made to run in elections, party members have proposed making the process of financing more transparent.

Keywords: WHO, foreign aid | The Official Gazette /page 2/


MINING

Canada could invest another 20 million USD in the Mongolian mining sector

Summary: The Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry announced that Mongolia has signed an MOU with Canada to open up and attract investment of 20 million USD. The MOU was the result of discussions at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention and a roundtable meeting on Mongolian mining that was attended by the Mongolian and Canadian Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Mining and Heavy Industry, and industry representatives from each country. The two sides discussed developing cooperation in trade, economic partnership, investment, construction, infrastructure, agriculture, and education, and improving polities ties. The Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry highlighted that over 200 representatives took part in the Mongolian mining forum at PDAC.

Keywords: foreign investment, PDAC, Canada | The Official Gazette /page 11/


ONLINE STORIES

Investigation of Erdenet Mining Corporation concludes

Summary: A working group comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Finance and Government Agency for Policy Coordination for State Property has finished their investigation of Erdenet Mining Corporation. The working group is expected to announce their findings to the public in seven days.

Keywords: Erdenet Mining Corporation, Ministry of Finance | www.ikon.mn


AmCham to engage 100 university students for Mentor Day for free of charge

Summary: The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Mongolia is organizing its second CSR initiative, AmCham Mentor Day 2017, at Corporate Hotel and Convention Center on April 1. Third and fourth year university students will be able to attend a day-long mentoring event giving students the opportunity to learn from the nation's top business leaders and attend workshops on career development, confidence building, and teamwork, as well as resume development, led by the human resource directors of Mongolia's leading companies. The event will host the following speakers: Mr. Ganzorig Ulziibayar, CEO of Golomt Bank; Mr. Gankhuyag Chuluun, CEO of Ard Holdings; Mr. Gantumur Lingov, CEO of MCS Holding LLC; Mr. Garret Wilson, Managing Director of Wagner Asia Automotive; Ms. Beatrice Camp, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Embassy; and Ms. Munkhnasan Narmandakh, CEO of Monpolymet Group.

Applicants are required to submit an essay of up to 200 words before the application deadline of March 17. The essay should include a brief introduction, a  history of community involvement, why the applicant would like to attend AmCham MentorDay 2017, and their goals for the future. Participant selection will be based on the content of the essay as well as written English skills. For more information, send an email to info@amcham.mn or call 7000-3437.

Application Form: https://form.jotform.me/70508180552452 

Keywords: AmCham Mentor Day | www.ikon.mn

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Business

Milbank Acts on Successful Exchange Offer and New Issuance by the Government of Mongolia

HONG KONG, March 14, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP advised Credit Suisse and J.P. Morgan as dealer managers and initial purchasers in a US$600 million sovereign bond exchange offer and new issuance by the Government of Mongolia.

The transaction was successfully completed amid highly challenging economic circumstances. Mongolia has faced potential liquidity issues over the past year related to slower economic growth, mainly as a result of the country's dependence on commodities which have suffered from slumping prices. Initially the Government was able to secure preliminary approval from the International Monetary Fund ("IMF") for a package of relief measures, which gave the exchange offer and new issue strong momentum in the market.

Despite challenges which included an extremely tight deadline, the ongoing IMF discussions and rapidly approaching maturity of the Development Bank of Mongolia ("DBM") bonds in March 2017, the transaction was successfully completed on very favorable terms that achieved all of the Government's objectives. Approximately $476 million in new sovereign Government bonds were exchanged for outstanding DBM bonds, while an additional $124 million in new Government bonds were issued for cash.  Holders of more than 80% of outstanding DBM bonds agreed to remain in the credit by exchanging for new Government bonds at a yield of 8.75%. Meanwhile new Government bonds were issued for cash at a premium of 106.016%, with the proceeds to be used for further repurchases of remaining DBM bonds.

Capital Markets partner Jim Grandolfo led the Hong Kong-based Milbank team, which included counsel Paul Pery, senior associate Kurt Sherwood and associates Adam Heyd and York Wu.

Mr. Grandolfo commented: "Despite the challenging economic conditions, the Government of Mongolia, with the assistance of our clients Credit Suisse and J.P. Morgan, was able to successfully address the concerns of the IMF and its international investor base to achieve their objectives, all within a limited timeframe. This marks an incredible turnaround for the Government and the country of Mongolia, providing what we hope will be a strong basis for long-term, sustained economic recovery. We are pleased to support our clients Credit Suisse and J.P. Morgan and the Government of Mongolia on a transaction of such national importance."

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Mongolia and Cambodia Partner to Promote Sustainable Finance

March 8, 2017, Ulaanbaatar (IFC) – IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, the Association of Banks in Cambodia (ABC), and the Mongolian Bankers' Association (MBA), have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to jointly develop and promote an environmental and social risk-management system and sustainable finance principles for Cambodian financial institutions.  

IFC, through SBN, will facilitate the information exchange and knowledge sharing, providing practical guidance and support. Both ABC and MBA are members of the IFC-supported Sustainable Banking Network (SBN).

Founded in 2012 by IFC and ten countries, SBN is a unique, pioneering initiative that is changing the global landscape of green finance through knowledge sharing and capacity building for banking regulators and banking associations in 31 countries representing 85 percent of emerging market-banking assets. IFC convened the network and provided technical support, supported members in policy development, and facilitated a series of cross border learning exchanges among members across regions, contributing to replication of practical knowledge and cooperation.

The Mongolian Bankers Association, supported by IFC and FMO, the Dutch development bank, started to develop the Mongolian Sustainable Finance Principles in 2013. To date, all 13 Mongolian commercial banks have adopted sustainable finance policies, along with the relevant procedures and risk-assessment tools. They have appointed dedicated staff for sustainable finance and the Mongolian Sustainable Finance Principles have become the key component of the Mongolian Government's Green Development Policy.

"Over the past years, Mongolia has made some great progress to transform its domestic financial systems to support national goals on climate change and sustainable growth," said Mr. Unenbat Jigjid, CEO of Mongolian Bankers Association. "We'd like to promote cross border cooperation and share our best practices to other emerging markets and SBN members, like Cambodia."

The Association of Banks in Cambodia has played an active and vital role in promoting dialog and cooperation among its 53 members at national and regional levels to strengthen the capacity and address the challenges faced by sustainable finance in the country.

"It is great to see Mongolian banks sharing their successful journey in sustainable finance with Cambodian peers and other SBN members," said Tuyen D. Nguyen, IFC Resident Representative in Mongolia. "IFC is strongly committed to continue supporting sustainable finance through our global expertise and local knowledge. With IFC's support, the Sustainable Banking Network connects 31 member countries around the world to share experience and good practices in developing national sustainable-finance frameworks."

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ERA advances MLAT projects in Italy and Mongolia airports

March 10 (IHS Jane's Airport Review) Czech Republic-based ERA, part of the Omnipol group of companies, has reported progress on a multilateration (MLAT) project in Mongolia and a new contract win in Italy.

The Italian project covers surface MLAT for Turin-Caselle Airport. ERA teamed with local-partner Victrociset to propose a bespoke turnkey surveillance solution for Turin that is based on the NEO multisensor surveillance system (MSS), and implementation is under way to meet exact specifications from Italian air navigation service provider ENAV.

Turin will be the first airport in Italy to feature ERA MLAT technology. Italian air navigation service provider ENAV awarded the contract to the ERA/Vitrociset team after a competitive tender.

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"Mongolia Mining 2017" expo to be held in April

March 10 (gogo.mn) Mongolia Mining 2017, one of the biggest and most significant events in Mongolian mining industry is to be held on 5-7 April at Buyant Ukhaa Sports Palace, Ulaanbaatar city. 

This year 120 best mining suppliers around the world will attend the expo. Meanwhile China, Russia, USA, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, Kazakhstan, the Czech Republic, Australia, Belarus, Germany, South Korea and France will exhibit their country pavilions. Moreover, cooperation meeting is scheduled to be held in seminar rooms. 

Exhibitors are mostly producers and communications, logistics, catering, camping and rehabilitation service providers including mining suppliers, crushing plant equipment, oil and lubricants, power generator, mining cables and lighting system. 

During the expo, the Ministry of Mining and Mineral Resource Authority of Mongolia will provide information on current situation of mining industry and its prospects. Erdenes Mongol SOE, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC, Erdenet Mining Corporation, Baganuur JSC, Shivee-Ovoo JSC and Oyutolgoi LLC are serving as co-organizers of Mongolia Mining 2017 while representatives of these companies to discuss with exhibitors and suppliers about ongoing projects, prospects and procurement requirements. 

Mongolia Mining expo is considered as the biggest meeting of mining industry. As expanding and growing year by year, the expo becomes the most effective way to expand businesses for not only mining but also road and construction industries. 

Therefore Mongolia Mining 2017 expo allows businesses and entrepreneurs to meet global technologies from home country, saving their time and money. 

Visitor registration for the expo is available at www.mongolia-mining.org

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Gold industry forum taking place next week

March 10 (Mongolian Economy) The "Mongolia Gold 2017" investment forum will take place on March 17, with the aim of discussing a number of issues surrounding investment in the gold mining industry. Projects in the gold industry will also be introduced to investors in order to seek financing, create partnerships in gold mining and extraction projects and elevate the current level of business cooperation, bringing advanced technology, sharing experiences and promoting research.

It is expected that gold exports will be fluctuate between 15.8-40.0 tonnes, and export revenues of the gold sector is forecasted to reach USD 1.2 billion in 2020 and USD 1.6 billion in 2025. Revenues are expected to increase by 26.7 percent by 2020 and 68.4 percent by 2025 compared with 2015. The organisers of the forum noted that a great amount investment is needed to exploit gold mines on schedule. Thus, Mongolia needs to utilise financing sources, such as loans, bonds and other instruments to attract domestic and foreign investments to those large-scale gold projects.

Growing investment in extraction and exploration in the gold industry as well as sustainable growth of gold reserves is a result of a stable legal environment. Production and sales are expected to raise the output of gold by 20.0-47.7 tonnes to eventually reach 353.2 tonnes a year. 

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A farmer barters vegetables for livestock

Ulaanbaatar, March 13 (MONTSAME) A resident of Delgherkhangai soum, Dundgobi aimag (central Gobi province) Kh.Bazarsukh runs family cultivation business and exchanges his harvest for livestock. His family has been running crop farming since 1982 on their 2 ha of agricultural land, where trees are planted on one ha and the rest is used for planting potatoes and other vegetable and harvesting 6-7 tons each year.

"- Running crop farming business in Gobi is tough job, as much more care and attention are needed to grow vegetable than in Khangai region (forested region). We estimate that one kilo of potato should be sold at least MNT1000, however in whole autumn potatoes from Selenge aimag are sold at MNT600-700 here. Because this imposes burden for us, we decided to sell our vegetable in exchange of animal" said Kh.Bazarsukh. 

As herders are often hit by lack of cash, bartering is suitable for both sides. The family starts selling its crop as soon as harvesting begins and all vegetables are sold out when the harvesting finishes. Their crops are also sold to kindergartens, hospitals and schools.

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"Mongolian American Career Fair – 2017" to take place in Seattle

Ulaanbaatar, March 13 (MONTSAME) "Mongolian American Career Fair – 2017" will take place in Seattle, Washington between March 18 and 20. The event will be organized for the fourth year with a purpose of connecting future workforce that are studying in the US to Mongolian human resource specialists.

Within the three-day program, special guests will be giving lectures and the attendants will have a chance to travel around Seattle and major American companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Space Needle, Pike Place and University of Washington. Also, a workshop on writing CV/resume and giving job interview will be given.

During the workshop, human resource experts from Mongolia will be introducing the current labor market in Mongolia, giving guidelines on starting a career in their home country. Furthermore, the guests who graduated in the US will also share their experience by holding an open discussion on common mistakes of students studying in the country.

The previous career fairs were held in Chicago in 2014, Washington D.C in 2015 and San Francisco in 2016.

Every year, approximately 200 students attend the fair and the Mongolian Embassy along with the Ministry of Labor and UB City Department of Labor has started collaborating on the event since last year.

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Need help recovering defaulted agreement in Mongolia

March 11 (Upwork) --

Details

We have a defaulted letter of appointment and invoice which unfortunately falls under NYC law. I know that my chances of recovering the money are zero if its not undr Mongolian law but I want to know if I may still file a civil complaint, and, more specifically, alert the mayor's office of Ulaanbataar to not do business with these gentlemen. Thank you, Simon

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New import-substitutive products 

March 13 (Mongolian Economy) It is entirely possible for Mongolia's youth possibility to a have a nice life in their motherland without working abroad illegally. One of the many examples showing that Mongolia's young people can work, create and be an owner in this country is Mon Arts LLC. Unproductive people have many excuses, while productive people find solutions. If a person just has the desire to make and create, he or she can make money – even from manure.

Products of Mon Arts can be seen lined up in any market along the road. When I asked about their products from a salesperson, she answered: "People view this company's products positively. Their products called 'Argal' and 'Ganga' sell especially well. Even their prices are affordable." It seemed like those three sentences almost fully described the performance of this company. The packages and wrappings of the products will inevitably attract attention, and the instructions are written not only in Mongolian, but also English, Japanese and Chinese, which is indicative of their goals for the future. After seeing their products, I wanted to meet with someone from the company.

I arrived outside their factory building. It seemed like a one-floor building from the outside, but when I entered, it was rather spacious, and hot. Although they did not heat it with firewood, the factory building was warm from the body heat of the young staff working there. It had three compartments inside, and the process of pumping and forming raw materials is carried out in the first compartment. A plaster pumping machine operates beside this section to produce perfume stands made by plaster. However, the packaging is done manually. Six women were packaging manure, thyme products and cedar incense piled in front of them.

"Although we did not graduate from a university, we graduated from the school of life," said Battsooj, the passionate head of company. He is a native of Dulaankhan soum of Selenge Province and served in the armed forces. When I asked him why he started this business, he answered: "The idea to start a business came to me when I was in China with my uncle Ganbaatar. In other words, I was filled with envy. Chinese people are producing incense sticks and selling them to us. Incense is made of just cardboard, aromatisers and tree bark. It has no benefits to human body at all. So, I started the business with my uncle, thinking to myself, 'why can't we produce import-substitutive products, which are good for health?'" His company has operated continuously for seven years. During this time, they have not taken out any loans and were not included in projects. They have been doing everything through their own will and desire.

They did not avoid certain "growing pains" common to small and medium-sized enterprises. The company started with two employees, with everything done manually. People did not buy their products as the company was not well-known. "There are advantages in not taking out loans. You will not fall into debt whether the company is working profitably or not. At that time, we understood the importance of getting recognised. Good management and marketing is crucial," said Battsooj. They have started focusing more on product promotion and advertisement since then, and now they are seeing the results. Now the company produces three types of products: Ganga (Thyme), Argal (cow dung) and Arts (cedar incense). They produce 2-3,000 finished products per day with 13 employees. Battsooj said that the company hires students during busy times. The company sells its product in the provinces of Khuvsgul, Gobi-Altai, Erdenet and Darkhan-Uul in addition to Ulaanbaatar.

The products of Mon Arts have many advantages distinguishing them from others, one of which is packaging. "We pay careful attention to packaging. Our products can be divided into three types of packaging: cardboard packaging, pottery and felt packaging. The products can be divided into several types by designation such as charity packaging, normal and prayer offerings," said Deputy Director of the company M.Tengis. All the employees contributed to the design of the packing. Very soon the company is going to make a product with packaging made of felt which looks like the Mongolian ger. Another advantage of this company is that they purchase their packaging from domestic producers and order 180 thousand packages and boxes per month. They also domestically order the pottery for cedar incense.

A picture of Otgontenger Mountain was hung at the centre of the factory, because the company takes raw materials from Zavkhan Province and uses cedar and thyme from Dayan Mountain. This organisation's mission is "To love the mother earth and increase vegetation." Mongolia is rich in cedar (the raw material for incense cones) as it has 100 tonnes of reserves, but cedar requires 200 years for recovery. Therefore, the company is producing incense cones in order to develop proper usage. Incense cones are easy to use and also prevent over-usage. In addition, the company uses old cedar wood and has obtained a special licence to gather cedar wood in accordance with the law.

They prepare manure only from Arkhangai Province, because the company tries to use only yak dung in their product. The reason is that cattle have started eating garbage and weeds due to poor pastures and environmental destruction. Therefore, the company uses yak dung, and it is their main way of attracting customers.

Mongolian people have used cedar incense and thyme since ancient times to ward off bad luck and evil, and used cow dung instead of firewood. Modern science has determined that the smell of cow dung has stress and headache relieving effects. In this way, their product is several times more valuable than the chemical-filled Chinese imports.

"Everything is related to management. If a leader of an organisation administers good policies by paying attention to future trends and calculating risks, the organisation will suffer less loss, even during times of economic difficulty," said Battsooj when I asked him how he is handling the current economic difficulties. He added: "We did not fire our employees because of economic difficulties and did not cut salaries or output. We have our customers to thank for that."

Mon Arts LLC began exporting its products from October of last year. Currently, the company sells their products in six locations in Inner Mongolia through a distributor. In the future, they plan to sell their products throughout China. In addition, they are planning to increase the number and types of products. For example, menthol aromatisers and soothing incense are being planned. As such, they are planning to upgrade their equipment and technology to start off. The equipment they currently use was brought from China, but the quality is poor and it regularly breaks down. The employees said that they have changed 50 percent of their equipment.

"Consumers' mentality has changed compared to the past. Domestic manufacturers are recovering following the shift in consumer mentality. Our company is competing with Chinese incense and trying to push it out from the market. This is our contribution to the development of the country," said Director Battsooj about his future goals.

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Ulaanbaatar

Hazardous levels of air pollution hits areas near MNB this morning

March 14 (GoGo Mongolia) As of today at 9 a.m (14th Mar), areas nearby Mongolian national broadcasting have the highest air quality index of 507. 

According to the agaar.mn, an air quality monitoring webstie, levels of PM2.5 particulates reaches;

  • 452 micrograms per cubic meter area nearby Mongolian National Public Television,
  • 165  micrograms per cubic meter in Bukhiin Urgoo (Wrestler`s Palace),
  • 187 micrograms per cubic meter in Bayankhoshuu. 

Levels of PM2.5 particulates, which are the most hazardous to health, in heavily polluted areas of Ulaanbaatar city exceeds 18 times above the recommended levels, as compared with the World Health Organization safe level of 25. 

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New standard stoves to be retailed from April 1

Ulaanbaatar, March 14 /MONTSAME/  During a recent press conference, Air Pollution Reduction Department of the Ulaanbaatar Administration informed that an order regarding the sales of a new standard stove has been delivered to main markets like 'Narantuul and Kharkhorin.

The press conference was co-held by Air Pollution Reduction, Environment, Health and Land Departments of the Ulaanbaatar Administration last Friday, and addressed the implementation of Ulaanbaatar Mayor's ordinance issued in January and commonly asked questions by citizens.

M.Delgerekh, Head of the Air Pollution Reduction Department said, "National Security Council's meeting on January 10 concluded that air pollution in the capital city had reached a hazardous level. In scope of the statement, Citizens' Representative Khural of the capital city and aimags were ordered to draft a set of measures to be taken".

"Our department has taken several measures, including the implementation of City without Smoke 2030 project and 2016-2020 action plan of Ulaanbaatar Mayor, authorizing specialized inspectors to inspect air pollution in four zones and inspections at steam boilers in Ulaanbaatar. We've also installed 200 air filter equipments in 50 kindergartens in the most polluted zones", he said.

According to him, main markets will begin new standard stove sales from April 1 onwards and furthermore, stove producers will be under inspection. The new stove is estimated to reduce air pollution in the capital by up to 35 percent.

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97.3 percent of pit latrines of ger district lack standards

March 13 (gogo.mn) 97.3 percent of ger district households living in Ulaanbaatar city are using pit latrines that do not comply with the standards, resulting adverse impact on human health, soil and environment as much as air pollution. 

Meanwhile very small percentage of households, schools, kindergartens are using improved sanitary facilities in countryside. 

International consultation meeting under the topic of Sanitation facility solutions suitable to cold-climate countries is taking place in Shangri-La Hotel Ulaanbaatar starting today. The 3-day meeting aims to share experiences of cold-climate countries, research best ways to improve sanitation facilities, find solutions and advanced technologies. 

The meeting has gathered more than 150 guest and representatives from international, governmental and non-governmental organizations. 

In scope of following main topics, 16 speeches will be delivered and the meeting attendees will discuss the possible solutions.

  • water supply and sanitation facilities,
  • responsibility to the children and facing problems,
  • sanitation facility solutions suitable to cold climate countries, 
  • ways to reduce soil pollution. 

According to the 2015 statistics, 218 thousands of households of ger districts were using over 100 thousands of pit latrines. 

A person average approximately 200 grams of poop and 1.2 liters of urine per day, according to the World Health Organization. If one household has four people, they eliminate 720 grams of poop and 4.3 liters of urine per day. Thus, around 1 million liters of feces pollute the soil through the pit latrines everyday. 

Intestinal infectious diseases took 9.9 percent of infectious diseases caused by microbial contamination of soil while 84.1 percent of hand-foot-and-mouth disease was registered in Ulaanbaatar city. 

Sulfur and ammonia produced from pit toilet belong to a category of toxic gases and stand 4th in toxicity ranking. Ammonia is harmful to human health, affects fetus and causes birth defects. Also, it causes infertility.

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Proper solutions of sanitation facilities discussedMontsame, March 13

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Public cleaning campaign to be launched in May

Ulaanbaatar, March 13 (MONTSAME) Department of Environment at the capital city administration is planning to launch a public cleaning campaign this May.

Following tradition, Mongolians prefer to visit Buddhist monasteries to have monks perform religious rituals and blessings to fix one's prospect for the year within Shiniin 15, the 15th day of new lunar year or the 15th day since Tsagaan Sar. Such tradition involves common use of khadag, long silk cloth Mongolians use for various purposes, leading to environmental pollution and  tree damage.

Therefore, the Department of Environment has resolved to wage public cleaning campaign in the green zone of the capital city.

Moreover, the authority has started encouraging use of fabric bags instead of plastic bags so as to reduce the level of environmental pollution and stimulate cost efficiency.

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Ulaanbaatar Apartment Monthly Rental Rates, March 2017

March 10 (gogo.mn) We at GoGo Mongolia delivers you the apartment rental rates as of March, 2017 that located in main 6 districts of Ulaanbaatar city. 

SUKHBAATAR DISTRICT:

This district marks the center of the city. Most government, educational and cultural organizations are located here, such as; The Mongolian Government house, The Parliament house, 13 Embassies, Government Ministries, the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the National University of Monglia, and the University of Science and Technology. 

Room type

Min monthly rate

Max monthly rate

1-bedroom 

MNT 350 thousand

MNT 700 thousand

2-bedroom

MNT 500 thousand

MNT 1 million 

3-bedroom or more

MNT 800 thousand

MNT 4.5 million

CHINGELTEI DISTRICT: 

Chingeltei is located in the north, at the foot of one of the four mountains of Ulaanbaatar, the Chingeltei mountain. Some areas of the district covers the center of the city, such as State Department Store, Tengis Cinema and 5th secondary school. 

Room type

Min monthly rate

Max monthly rate

1-bedroom 

MNT 300 thousand

MNT 700 thousand

2-bedroom

MNT 550 thousand

MNT 1.6 million 

3-bedroom or more

MNT 700 thousand

MNT 3.8 million

BAYANGOL DISTRICT: 

This district is located in the west of the city, covering the 3rd and 4th micro district, areas near railway station, 10th micro district, Grand Plaza, Maxmall and Narnii bridge. 

Room type

Min monthly rate

Max monthly rate

1-bedroom 

MNT 350 thousand

MNT 700 thousand

2-bedroom

MNT 450 thousand

MNT 1.5 million 

3-bedroom or more

MNT 520 thousand

MNT 2 million

BAYANZURKH DISTRICT: 

It is the largest district in the capital and lies in the southeast of the city. Bayanzurkh is located in the east, at the foot of one of the four mountains of Ulaanbaatar, the Bayanzurkh mountain. The district covers areas near Emart, National Amusement Park, Wrestling Palace, 13th micro district, and Officer`s Palace. 

Room type

Min monthly rate

Max monthly rate

1-bedroom 

MNT 250 thousand

MNT 850 thousand

2-bedroom

MNT 450 thousand

MNT 1.5 million 

3-bedroom or more

MNT 520 thousand

MNT 2 million

SONGINO KHAIRKHAN DISTRICT: 

Songino Khairkhan is located in the west, at the foot of one of the four mountains of Ulaanbaatar, the Songino Khairkhan mountain. The district covers 3rd hospital, 5 shar, 21st micro district, Sapporo and 1st micro district. 

Room type

Min monthly rate

Max monthly rate

1-bedroom 

MNT 250 thousand

MNT 450 thousand

2-bedroom

MNT 350 thousand

MNT 550 thousand 

3-bedroom or more

MNT 450 thousand

MNT 750 thousand

KHAN-UUL DISTRICT: 

Khan Uul is located in the south, at the foot of one of the four mountains of Ulaanbaatar, the Bogd Khan mountain. The district covers the most expensive residential areas and considered as the less polluted areas of the city. Also, areas near the Chinggis Khan airport and Yarmag, Hunnu mall are located in Khan Uul district. 

Room type

Min monthly rate

Max monthly rate

1-bedroom 

MNT 400 thousand

MNT 800 thousand

2-bedroom

MNT 450 thousand

MNT 1.5 million

3-bedroom or more

MNT 1 million 

MNT 7 million 

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Let's Discuss Together Lecture Series: Human Rights, Environment, Women Leadership, …

March 12 (UB Post) The Mongolian Association of State Alumni (MASA) and the US Embassy in Ulaanbaatar will jointly organize the Let's Discuss Together lecture series on March 15 at Blue Sky Hotel and Tower.

The Let's Discuss Together lecture series will take place under the topics of human right, environment, women's leadership, entrepreneur, and youth participation.

The second lecture will be held under the topic "Women's Leadership".

Vice Minister of Finance Kh.Bulgantuya, Director of Mongol TV Ch.Nomin, head of Women for Chance NGO, coordinator of youth campaign "Hands Up For Your Rights" B.Bolorsaikhan, and vice president of MASA P.Gandolgor will attend the event.

Details

Where: Blue Sky Hotel and Tower

When: March 15, 6:00 p.m.

Admission: Free

More Information: 70076296

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Ulaanbaatar City Guide

February 28 (Indy Guide) Known as Ulan Bator to the residents, Ulaanbaatar is not only the capital and largest city of Mongolia; it is also the main tourist attraction for any foreigners to visit when seeing this sizeable country.

To further demonstrate the above point, the city holds 45% of Mongolia's population split between 9 districts. If all you did was visit Ulaanbaatar, odds are you would be quite busy with things to do every day.

For open-minded travelers, seeing Ulaanbaatar for the first time can be extremely eye-opening and fascinating.

You will find that the diversity of people is based on nearly every attribute you could think of from social class to appearance.

Walking around the city, the immediate distinction that catches your eye is the businessman and suits strolling along the footpath, only to be side by side to evidently poor nomads who have shifted their livelihoods to the city. If you take the time to observe and talk to the locals, you will find there is almost no judgemental tone or opinions to their different counterparts. Although there is immense diversification, the majority of people who live there are warm hearted, and will gladly demonstrate this to you in most cases when you visit. 

Ulaanbaatar's History

The history of the city lives up to its current magnitude, going all the way back to 1639 when it was only a mobile monastery. Although Ulaanbaatar was not the official name back then, it did have several labels due to the constant change in locations.

Ikh Khuree became the dominant name that the city kept from 1778, during the Chinese Manchu control, till 1911 when the country of Mongolia proclaimed its independence from China. After several wars and invasion from the Soviets, Mongolia had a historic turning point when they were renounced officially part of Soviet Russia in 1924.

Following the above, the city became known as Ulaanbaatar which means red hero, to signify the communist victory.

The reformat of the towns aesthetics began almost immediately within the coming years. Soviets rebuilt Ulaanbaatar so it would be congruent to the Russian style. As a result, many tourist attractions came to fruition including performance centers, theaters, galleries and a rich nightlife.

What to do in Ulaanbaatar

Due to the vast diversity of the city, there is an abundance of things to do and see on an average Ulaanbaatar day. No matter what your interest or passion may be, chances are this city will showcase and offer something that nurtures it.

Live Entertainment

Theatre and Cinema

If you are someone who likes performances and movies during the day, then Ulaanbaatar will cater you in style. You will be glad to know that the region hosts year-round shows and performances that are highly anticipated and prepared for, when live action isn't enough, the city also features western style cinemas with the same selection of Hollywood blockbusters.

Live Action

When visiting mid-year, make sure you attend the Naadam (see Naadam tours) for some real entertainment and Mongolian culture. Featuring three popular sports in the country- horse racing, archery, and wrestling. If you're a man who is missing your hometown sports fan culture, then attend the Naadam, held on July 10th-12th.

Amusement Park

If your traveling with your family, then the National Amusement Park is your place to be. Locally it is known as "Children's Park", everything that would entertain kids is featured here including mini-games, amusement park rides, and competitions. The season you go in will determine what they have open, during winter there is ice skating available for both kids and adults.

Sightseeing

Monastery

Being a Buddhism dominated country, there are many avid meditators and religious individuals in Ulaanbaatar. A worthwhile visit is to the Gandan Monastery, located northwest of the central square; you can visit during the morning as-as early as 9 am, ending during the afternoon based on the level of activity.

Within the Gandan Monastery lies one of Mongolia's most famous nation symbols, the statue of Megjid Janraisag. The sight was rebuilt In 1996 and now serves as a Mongolia's leading Buddhist landmark.

Chinggis Khan Square

A sight and famous Asian landmark, the Chinggis Khan Square not only is significant among Ulaanbaatar and Mongolia but is also in the top 15 largest city squares in Asia. Although the square serves an adamant purpose in educating viewers through their statues of Chinggis Khan and his sons, the available space and beautiful landscape also serves as a festival and concert ground where a wide array of events take place.

Zaisan Memorial

Located in the south of Ulaanbaatar, Zaisan Memorial dedicates its grounds to the Soviet soldiers that passed away during WW2. For history lovers who love sights that are attractive and informative, then visiting here will give you a pleasant surprise due to the elevated ground and visually portrayal of stories from the past.

Museums

The Zanabazar Museum

Perfect for a particular demographic of history lovers, the Zanabazar Museum contains items dating all the way back to the stone age, with a focus on the Buddhist culture. Located in Chingeltei district, the musuem contains roughly 500 pieces on display that are changing constantly. For anyone who loves prehistoric art and painting, you will love this musuem.

Bogd Khaan Palace Musuem

An ideal musuem for any traveler who is curious about the nations history, the Bogd khaan located in Khan-Uul District displays items that depict Mongolias religion, cultural and political history through predominately artistic language.

Choijin Lama

Targeted at buddhists, the Choijin Lama located in Chingeltei district displays in detail the history and art of Buddhism as a religion. It is likely that there is no other musuem in Ulaanbaatar that better explains the previous centuries Buddhist culture then this. Featuring over 5000 items, you can be sure to get more then what you came for.

Ulaanbaatar's Nightlife

Ulaanbaatar's nightlife is paradise for singles, couples or any groups wanting to have lots of fun. With an influx of nightclubs and bars that offer every type of music genre as well as stretching long after midnight in open hours, for a wild night, check out the below-

Nightclubs

New Mass Club

Arguably one of the most famous and wildest nightclubs in town, New Mass includes live performances that are comprised of predominately traditional hip hop. Often you will find the crowd there to be either locals or Russians, with the occasional tourist groups. It goes without saying that it is pricey compared to some of your other options, but if you have the cash, then don't leave without visiting!

Pubs

Grand Khaan Irish Pub

Although it is the largest Irish pub in the city, Grand Khaan serves a mix of international drinks which makes it a tourist favorite. Be sure to visit here to not only endulge in the alcohol, but also share stories with some of your fellow foreigners. 

Foods

Although Mongolia isn't associated with a rich food culture in the eyes of foreigners, they still provide tasty dishes in the right places. Fortunately, Ulaanbaatar offers a broad range of options, and if you explore, you might just find your favorite one.

California

For a variety of foods, California is a good place for a delicious breakfast. It's not cheap, but a great treat after a tour through Mongolia.

Rosewood

The best burger in town. This restaurant is hidden in an back alley, but you won't regret it.

Ba Shu 888

For traditional food, the Ba Shu 888 is a great place to eat. The restaurant offers a range of Chinese and Mongolian dishes, for a relatively small price, making it optimal for the curious cultural traveler who is on a low budget.

Ursgal Khuushuur

The Ursgal Khuushar would be the equivalent of a western fast-food shop in Mongolia. At a fair price, you can purchase some of the most regular quick meals such as noodles, soup, and several continental choices. Do not refer to these options as these labels when there, they will often have traditional names for them, but just by observing you can work out which one is the dish your after.

Ivy Restaurant

Ideal for the big spender, the Ivy is arguably the most renowned and highly rated restaurant in Ulaanbaatar. The food choices do not include many Mongolian dishes, rather they give most of their focus and attention to traditional European Cuisine, making it worthwhile to check out if you have the money.

Vegan Lounge

Due to the tourists that Mongolia and Ulaanbaatar attract, this was a must to mention. Vegan Lounge is an optimized venue for its target customers, offering a peaceful and relaxing space to sit in. Not only do they offer traditional dishes, but all meat dishes that are commonly loved are made from vegan guidelines and are available to serve.

Le Triskell

For French food, French people, and French tongue, Le Triskell provides the whole trio. As you might have guessed, the price is quite high in this venue. If you are an expatriate, then give this restaurant a visit as it is a common favorite.  

Transport

Ulaanbaatar being a diverse but compact city, transport is either going to be one of your biggest problems, or conveniences depending on whether you plan properly and decide what your primary method of moving around is.

Driver

Undoubtedly, the most convenient way of getting around is with a private driver or better with a guide. Don't waste your time with looking for directions and get the most of your stay in Ulaanbaatar.

Taxi

Ulaanbaatar being a diverse city, using taxi's is going to be very convenient for the new traveler, and price friendly too. Although there are official taxi services, despite what your thinking before you arrive, you will end up taking the several lifts offers that will undoubtedly come from locals once realizing you're a tourist. Ensure that before you enter any cab, find out the average prices to determine whether you are being overcharged or not, which you will be at least once.

Bus/walk

Both walking and the bus are applicable when visiting the cities attractions. Fortunately, most places that attract foreigners are also very close to each other, which is why Ulaanbaatar has designed a system where you can catch buses to each one, or just use good old fashion walking. I do not recommend the bus for extensive traveling, as methods like taxi's are much better considering the cost to service ratio, rather they should just be used for quick stops to sights.

Other methods

I recommend using the above methods as they are the most convenient way to get around the city, if for some reason you choose not to, there are other options to choose from. If you are also traveling outside the city, hiring a car might be an option for you. Ideally, you should make this only a consideration if you're going to be traveling long distances.Also, a consideration to make when deciding transport options is a minivan. Unless you just want to blow money, hire these only in a situation where you will be sharing and splitting costs. Otherwise, you might as well just hire a car. 

Safety in Ulaanbaatar

Fortunately Ulaanbaatar is relatively safe. Ensure that during the nighttime you are always in a group or crowded area, because of the active nightlife there is always the chance for robbery or theft in isolated areas and bus stops.

Besides the above, overcharging in taxis are the only caution, which can be avoided if you make friends with locals so they confirm that prices are safe, or do your research beforehand about average prices.

Ulaanbaatar is a city with an abundance of activities to see and do, to get the best and most fulfilling experiences out of these, make sure that you visit the places and sights mentioned.

Whilst taking safety measures, don't be afraid to venture out to new places. Due to the diversity of the structures and interests in Ulaanbaatar, there is something for literally everyone! 

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Diplomacy

Defacto Interview: Haoliang Xu, UNDP Asia-Pacific Director

March 10 (Jargal Defacto via VTV) --

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Mongolian PM to visit Russia in first half of 2017

MOSCOW, March 13. /TASS/. Mongolia's Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat will pay a visit to Russia in the first half of 2017, Mongolian Ambassador to Russian Banzragchin Delgermaa told TASS on Monday.

"At a meeting of the intergovernmental commission in Ulan Bator in 2016, we had a very efficient discussion of issues in all spheres, not only in the trade-and-economic sphere but also in humanitarian and other areas," she said. "We have already adopted a detailed plan to deal with the problems that have been piling up for years, including railway transport, excise duties during railway shipments, building a water storage facility, cooperation in border regions. Our embassy is working with Russian ministries and agencies in all spheres."

"As for concrete results, we expect that about 40-50% of problem issues in relations between our countries will be regulated and resolved in practical terms before the Mongolian prime minister's visit which is expected to take place in the first half of this year," the ambassador said, adding that the next regular meeting of the intergovernmental commission is scheduled to be held in Moscow in late 2017.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited Mongolia in July 2016. He had a series of bilateral meetings with Mongolia's top officials and took part in a summit meeting of heads of state and government of ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) member states.

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Russian, Mongolian experts to meet for discussion of power plants in Lake Baikal area

Russian environmental and scientific circles have repeatedly expressed their concerns about Mongolia's plans to build three dams at rivers that feed Lake Baikal

MOSCOW, March 13. /TASS/. Experts of Mongolia and Russia will hold the first meeting in June to discuss construction of a chain of hydropower plants (HPP) on the Selenga river and its feeders, Mongolia's Ambassador to Banzragchiin Delgermaa told TASS on Monday.

"A mutual decision was made according to results of the intergovernmental commission meeting [in December 2016 - TASS] that we will exchange information in the first instance," the diplomat said. "Mongolia has a conclusion of a French expert company that also built HPP in Russia regarding two our projects. According to their conclusion, construction of the HPP will not actually exert negative influence on environment. However, Russia has its conclusion and its studies," the ambassador said.

"It was decided to set up a joint research team with scientists and experts of both sides," Delgermaa said. "We suggested holding the meeting with participation of Russian and Mongolian experts in March but the Russian party made a proposal to postpone such a meeting until June," she said.

The Baikal Lake is unique, the ambassador said. "This is not merely the Russian but also the global treasury. Therefore we will undertake measures to prevent environmental problems and will jointly settle arising issues," the diplomat added.

Russian environmental and scientific circles have repeatedly expressed their concerns about Mongolia's plans to build three dams at rivers that feed Lake Baikal, the world's largest and deepest freshwater lake and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Under the plan, three dams are to be built: one at the Selenga River, that accounts for some 80% of all water that flows into the lake, and two at its main tributaries - the Eg River and the Orkhon River.

The announcement coincided with the unprecedented decline in the Baikal water level that started in fall of 2014 and continued through 2016.

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Canadian mounted police reps visit Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, March 10 (MONTSAME) On March 6 and 7, representatives of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police visited the General Police Department of Mongolia and held several business meetings and training.

Professors of the University of Law Enforcement were invited to the training dubbed "Improving Criminal Investigation Skills", where official representative of the Royal Mounted Police at the Canadian Embassy in Thailand shared the best practices of the Canadian police force.

The visiting delegation got familiarized with the operations of the Divisions for preventing and fight domestic violence. The sides have exchanged practices on the cases of gender-based domestic violence, reported the Press and Media Center of the General Police Department. 

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New Turkish Ambassador receives media delegates

Ulaanbaatar, March 10 (MONTSAME) Muhittin Ahmet Yazal, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Turkey to Mongolia held a meeting with Mongolian media delegates at the Embassy of Turkey in Ulaanbaatar on March 9.

After extending his greetings on the occasion of the International Women's Day, the recently appointed Ambassador noted that he'll be focusing more on economic cooperation as it was previously showing unsatisfying results.

M.Ahmet Yazal said on this matter, "When developing trade and investment with other countries, Turkey prioritizes two factors, firstly, establishing an Embassy and the second one is to set up an airline in that country. When these requirements are met, the Turkish investors will be more confident in investing.

Conducting nonstop flights between Ulaanbaatar and Istanbul as wll as sending airplanes with large capacity will definitely surge trade turnovers and tourism between Mongolia and Turkey. Therefore, the Turkish Airlines is negotiating with Mongolian Government on this matter". 

The Ambassador is planning to increase the capacity of air transport, initiate high level vists, cooperate on tourism and cultural sectors, invite Turkish investors and introduce Mongolian market in Turkey.

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India: Mongolia's new third neighbour?

March 10 (The Economist Intelligence Unit) Despite the distance, Mongolia and India appear to be natural allies owing to historical and cultural links. Mongolia has strong incentives to lessen its economic dependence on China, not least to reduce future unwelcome political influence. Meanwhile, India wishes to establish greater leverage against China's growing influence in the region. However, India will struggle financially to expand its pool of allies and for now has prioritised strengthening its existing ties.

China's strong response to a visit by the Dalai Lama to Mongolia in November 2016 plainly exposed the influence the former has over its northern neighbour. Mongolia was forced to capitulate to the former's demands in aftermath of the event, as it was offered little other bilateral assistance during its recent economic crisis. Russia did not have the financial capacity as it struggled out of a two-year recession, while so-called third neighbours (countries other than adjacent China and Russia) such as Japan and the US were not willing to extend assistance beyond development aid disbursements. Although Japan and the US are wary of China's growing influence in the region, they have greater and growing concerns in the region, such as the East and South China Seas disputes. Besides, in the case of the US, its economic interests in Mongolia have diminished—US mining companies take a back seat to dominant Canadian and Australian firms. Mongolia's third neighbour policy thus appears to be weakening while China's looming presence persists. More recently, however, India has appeared as a means to revive this international relations strategy.

India's turn

Despite the geographical separation, from a political and cultural viewpoint India is highly favoured to become a close ally of Mongolia. Historical links and affiliations are plentiful. For instance, Mongolia played a key role in the pre-modern development of Tibetan Buddhism and similar schools of religious thought practiced in northern areas of the Indian subcontinent. Around half of Mongolian adult citizens still self-identify as Buddhist, with many recognising the India-residing Dalai Lama as their religious spiritual leader. More recently, India was the first non-communist country to recognise Mongolian independence in 1954. India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, argued for Mongolia's membership in the UN and gave positive accounts of Mongolia and its empire in his historical writings. In return, he has been civically commemorated by Mongolia on several occasions. This helped to cement positive public sentiment towards India, especially compared with the hostility to China that still pervades public life. For its part, India's supposed kinship with Mongolia was ostensibly consolidated by the state visit of the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, in 2015—the first by an Indian head of state.

For India, the geopolitical incentives for expanding relations with a country in Mongolia's position are only growing. China continues to increase financial assistance to countries throughout Asia, not to mention expanding co-operation programmes and co-orchestrating multilateral assistance through the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. More pressingly, China's current and promised financial assistance to immediate neighbours including Pakistan and Bangladesh, which is heavily tied into the "One Belt, One Road" (OBOR) initiative, threatens to supplant India's economic and political interest in securing a dominant role in South Asia. As China's influence in India's immediate neighbourhood in South Asia grows, the Indian government sees a necessity to counteract this by strengthening its presence in China's immediate neighbours (such as Mongolia and Vietnam). 

A look at the data shows that the rationale behind closer Indo-Mongolian ties is not driven by economics. Mongolia is not currently an important trading partner for India. The relatively low levels of imports from Mongolia consist mainly of textile commodities, and goods transit routes between the two countries are long and will remain so for the foreseeable future. However, with surging domestic power demands, India must hedge its bets over future supply—Mongolia has substantial, but mostly unexploited, reserves of uranium, which could serve India well in its future energy strategy that focuses more heavily on nuclear power. In geopolitical terms, India recognises that Mongolia is a moderately important trading partner for China, owing to the latter's appetite for commodities, so it would not be unwise to gain political leverage over Mongolia to counter the growing sway China has over India's smaller neighbours such as Nepal.

Priorities elsewhere

These fertile conditions aside, India's commitment so far has been clearly lacking if either side hopes to accelerate integration. In the union budget for fiscal year 2017/18 (April–March), presented in February this year, the Indian government detailed an allocation of only Rs50m (US$715,800) in foreign aid to Mongolia. This compares with allocations for the Maldives and the Seychelles of Rs2.5bn (US$35.8m) and Rs3bn respectively. Although a credit line of US$1bn was announced during Mr Modi's visit in 2015, requests from Mongolia for further financial assistance during the height of the recent economic woes in late 2016 came to no avail. 

India is, to a large extent, constrained by domestic financial pressures and the need to focus on developing its economy given its relatively low per-head incomes. These pressures are exacerbated by the strategic imperative to channel its external assistance to immediate neighbours, such as Bangladesh, as China steps up infrastructure projects as part of OBOR. Consequently, Mongolia will continue to be highly, if somewhat reluctantly, integrated with China and rely on it as its sole bilateral lender of last resort in 2017–21. Although India has displayed a willingness to expand ties with Mongolia, financial shortcomings mean that it is not yet prepared to take the role of third neighbour.

 

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Indian Embassy in Ulaanbaatar celebrates ITEC Day

Ulaanbaatar, March 13 (MONTSAME) The Embassy of India in Ulaanbaatar celebrated the 52nd Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Day at the Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel on March 10, last Friday. The event was attended by about 200 guests, including ITEC alumni, officers from the National Statistics Office of Mongolia and media representatives.

The opening remarks were delivered by Suresh Babu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of India to Mongolia and D.Odbayar, member of the Constitutional Court of Mongolia.  

The Indian Ambassador to Mongolia said that the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Program was founded by a decision of the Indian Cabinet on 15 September 1964 as a bilateral program of assistance by the Government of India. Since then, the ITEC Day has been celebrated by all Indian missions in ITEC partner countries.  

The Ambassador informed that as a part of the program, India implements a number of activities, such as sending specialists, organizing training tours, providing technical know-how and developing feasibility studies. "The ITEC program plays an important role in boosting bilateral ties and cooperation with other developing countries. On the other hand, it's our contribution to the promotion of the well-being of mankind and achievement of common goals" he underlined.

In his address to the gathering, the member of the Constitutional Court of Mongolia D.Odbayar spoke about an ITEC program organized by the Government of India on sharing India's experience toward the development with other countries.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Mongolia, the quota of Mongolians to be involved in the ITEC civilian training programs was increased to 150-200 per year. Prior to that, around 120 Mongolian people were earmarked per annum by the ITEC.

Afterwards, some of the recent ITEC participants shared their experiences in India, which were quite positive. 

The ITEC programs in Mongolia have been implemented since 1987.

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Mongolia Investment Promotion Agreement With Canada

March 12 (LehmanLaw) Canadian Minister of International Trade Francois-Philippe Champagne met March 12, 2017 with Mongolia Mining Minister Ts.Dashdorj, to issue a joint announcement that the Mongolia-Canada Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) has entered into force.

The Global Affairs Department of the Canadian government is quoated as saying, "This agreement sets out a framework of legally binding rights and obligations that will protect Canadian investors in Mongolia. The strong reciprocal protections in the FIPA will help Canadian and Mongolian companies deepen commercial ties with confidence and spur job creation."

Canada is estimated to have invested over 6.4 billion USD in Mongolia in 2015, one of the larest individual country contributions. Most of this Canadia investment in Mongolia is in Mining and related sectors. It is hoped that FIPA will encourage diversification in investments in areas such as agriculture and infrastructure.

According to the agreement each nation will accord the other "Most Favored Nation" status.

We are happy to see Canada double down on economic engagement with Mongolia. Canada's efforts include working with Mongolia to develop capacity in natural resources management, official transparency and accountability, and environmental sustainability.

The benefits Mongolia gains from these policy improvements will be felt not only by Canadian investors, but for all foreign investors in Mongolia, along with local Mongolian companies and individuals.

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Related:

Canada-Mongolia investment agreement enters into force GoGo Mongolia, March 10

Mining-oriented Mongolia-Canada cooperation expanding to other sectors Montsame, March 10

Canada and Mongolia activate their investment promotion and protection agreementUB Post, March 12

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Mongolia, Canada Roundtable Meeting Held in Ottawa

March 10 (MFA Mongolia) The VII Roundtable meeting between the Government of Mongolia and the Government of Canada has been successfully held in Ottawa on the 9th of March 2017. The Roundtable meeting was co-chaired by Mr. Ts.Dashdorj, Minister for Mining and Heavy Industry of Mongolia, and Mr. Donald Bobiash, Assistant Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada. The two sides have reviewed the current state of Mongolia and Canada bilateral relations in political, economic, investment, and defense fields as well as educational  scientific and culture exchanges, and had broad discussions on activities and actions to be taken in the years to come.

While emphasizing the significant role of economic and investment cooperation in relations between two countries, both sides have agreed to further strengthen the cooperation in sectors of mining, agriculture, infrastructure and environment. Parties have noted their confidence that the recent entry into force of the Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Foreign Investment would give an important impetus in enhancing the economic cooperation between Mongolia and Canada.

Also, parties have agreed to increase the efficiency and expand the areas of development assistance programs. The government of Canada listed Mongolia as one of the Countries of focus in 2014 and today, 6 projects in mining, agriculture and civil service are being successfully carried out.

Moreover, parties have exchanged views on topics of mutual interest in the frame of international and regional cooperation. Namely, both sides agreed to continue to work in promoting democracy, human rights, freedom, encouraging UN reform and peace keeping.

Under the expanded partnership frame, the cooperation between Mongolia and Canada has been advanced and currently, Canada has become an important North American partner, third neighbor and top investor to Mongolia.

The 7th Roundtable meeting held efficiently with assessment of the expanded bilateral relations and identification of goals of mutual cooperation.

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Mongolia signs visa exemption agreement with Argentina

Ulaanbaatar, March 10 (MONTSAME) During the 1st political consultative meeting between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Argentina hosted in Ulaanbaatar on March 9, Thursday, sides agreed on the terms of and signed an agreement on mutual visa exemption for holders of all passports.

The meeting was chaired by D.Davaasuren, Secretary of State of the Mongolian Foreign Ministry and Gustavo Zlauvinen, Argentina's Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and addressed means of developing bilateral political, trade, economic and humanitarian ties, short-term goals for cooperation and possible sectors.

Particularly, sides agreed that there are opportunities and resources for agricultural cooperation between Mongolia and Argentina. The Argentine side expressed its willingness to share its experience of eradicating highly contagious animal diseases, and cooperate in this area. Furthermore, the side expressed readiness to arrange a visit by Mongolian Minister for Food, Agriculture and Light Industry to the country, and deploy Argentine agricultural specialists to Mongolia.

The Argentine side will be focusing on the matter of Mongolians studying agriculture and diplomacy in Argentina.

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Foreign Affairs Ministry discusses developing agricultural cooperation with Argentina

March 12 (UB Post) The first consultative meeting of the foreign affairs ministries of Mongolia and Argentina took place on March 9, in Ulaanbaatar.

State Secretary of the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs D.Davaasuren and State Secretary of the Argentinean Ministry of Foreign Affairs Gustavo Zlauvinen chaired the meeting.

The sides discussed developing political, trade, economic, and humanitarian cooperation, as well as other sectors with the potential for collaboration and objectives for developing cooperation between the two countries.

The Argentinean delegation pointed out that Argentina has collaborated with Indonesia to improve dairy technology; with Cambodia to improve animal health and to adapt beef processing technology that meets international standards; and with Armenia to develop agriculture based on the use of innovative technology.

The delegation said that Argentina is ready to send its agricultural specialists to Mongolia and to arrange a visit to Argentina for Mongolia's Minister of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry.

During the meeting, they also noted that promoting collaboration between Argentinean and Mongolian entrepreneurs working in agriculture will be of importance to developing agricultural cooperation.

The Argentinean side stated that they will pursue possibilities to train Mongolian students in agriculture in Buenos Aires, and to enroll Mongolian diplomats in the National Foreign Service Institute.

At the end of the meeting, the state secretaries initialed a draft agreement between the governments of Mongolia and Argentina on establishing a visa waiver for all passport holders of the two countries.

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Parliamentary cooperation between Mongolia and Poland discussed

Ulaanbaatar, March 13 (MONTSAME) On March 09, Head of Mongolia-Poland parliamentary group, MP D.Damba-Ochir met with Deputy Marshal of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland Richard Terletzki and Deputy Marshal of the Senate Maria Koc to exchange views on parliamentary cooperation of the two countries.

MP D.Damba-Ochir conveyed invitation of Speaker of the Mongolian Parliament M.Enkhbold to Marshal of the Sejm Marek Kuchcinski and Marshal of the Senate Stanislaw Karczewski to pay visit to Mongolia at their convenient time.

He highlighted the importance of Parliamentary groups' cooperation in the development of parliamentary ties and suggested mutual visits and meetings as well as exchanges and trainings of officers of the Parliamentary Office in order to intensify the Parliamentary groups' cooperation.

The sides also exchanged views regarding the establishment of Intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in Social protection sector as well as conditioned credit of EUR 50 million within March.

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Ambassador Tugsbilguun Meets Senior Management of Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade of Thailand

March 9 (MFA Mongolia) On 7 March 2017, H.E. Mr. Tugsbilguun Tumurkhuleg, Ambassador of Mongolia to the Kingdom of Thailand met with Ambassador Krisda Piampongsant, Advisor to the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Trade of Thailand as well as other senior officials of the Chamber and Board.

During the meeting, the two sides concurred on the need of greater role to be played by private sectors of the two countries in expanding Mongolia-Thailand trade and economic cooperation and to this end, agreed to exchange delegations between chambers of commerce. Moreover, the sides exchanged their views on the possibilities for organizing Mongolia-Thailand Business Forum and concluding Memorandum of Understanding between commerce and business organizations of the two countries.

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Ambassador of Mongolia to Vietnam, Presented Credentials

March 9 (MFA Mongolia) H.E. Mr. Dash Bilegdorj, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam presented his Letter of Credence to H.E Mr. Tran Dai Quang, President of Vietnam on March 8, 2017.

Upon presentation of the Letter of Credence, the President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam granted an audience with the Ambassador.

While conveying the heartfelt greetings from H.E Ts.Elbegdorj, President of Mongolia to the President of Vietnam and expressing his desire to advance and enhance the bilateral relations, Ambassador highlighted the opportunities for promoting the potential trade and economic relations between the two countries and brought attention on particular/specific issues relating to the two-way trade. Ambassador further extended appreciation for the support of the Government of Vietnam on the UNHRC election and expressed belief that Vietnam will by all means support Mongolia's intention to becoming a dialogue partner to ASEAN and membership to APEC.

The President Tran Dai Quang underlined the importance of broadening the friendly relations and cooperation between Mongolia and Vietnam and expressed his confidence that the bilateral ties would further expand during the tenure of the Ambassador and wished a success for his endeavors.

Mr. Dao Viet Trung, Head of the President Office and Mr. Vu Hong Nam, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and other officials were present at the Credentials Ceremony.

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Russia ready to increase supplies of agricultural machinery to Mongolia

This was discussed at the meeting, Director of international cooperation Department Olga Garshina and Director of the office of agriculture of the Ministry of food, agriculture and light industry of Mongolia, Candombe Barcelona

March 10 (Agro2b) The main topic of the meeting was the question of the domestic supply of agricultural machinery on the territory of Mongolia. The Russian side expressed its willingness to increase party supply agricultural machinery and expansion of their range on a commercial basis. The parties discussed possible schemes for financing of agricultural equipment with the involvement of mechanisms of JSC "Russian export center."

The meeting also discussed the implementation of the second phase of the joint programme "Improvement of Mongolian livestock", providing for the supply of FMD vaccine production in Russia in Mongolia. The Russian side expressed readiness to increase the supply on a commercial basis in Mongolia vaccines against sheep pox and plague of small ruminants.

The negotiators discussed the issue of implementation of joint programs in the field of production on the territory of Mongolia of grain crop varieties of Russian breeding. Representatives of the FANO Russia reported about readiness to continue scientific and technical cooperation with Mongolia in the field of breeding and seed production, and promote the development of this direction at the regional level.

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Dr. J. Enkhsaikhan: Nuclear Disarmament Is Humanity's Common Cause

By Dr. J. Enkhsaikhan

Note: Dr. J. Enkhsaikhan is Chairman of Blue Banner NGO and former Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations in New York and Vienna. This article comes in run-up to the UN General Assembly's two sessions – scheduled for March 27-31 and June 15-July 7 – to negotiate "a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination".

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia, March 10 (IDN-INPS) - Some believe that those that do not possess nuclear weapons have no basis to demand that those that do possess alter their nuclear policies. However, as the three recent international conferences on humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons vividly demonstrated yet again, the detonation of a nuclear weapon, intentionally or otherwise, will have catastrophic consequences with far-reaching climatic, genetic and other devastating effects.

This, of course, will surely trigger a chain reaction of its own as well. Therefore global nuclear disarmament cannot be the exclusive domain of nuclear weapon states and their allies. Moreover, Article VI of the NPT commits all of its states parties to "pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament". The establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones is one of the concrete regional measures of promoting nuclear non-proliferation and contributing to greater confidence.

Though in the post-cold war period nuclear weapons have been reduced to around 15.000 worldwide, the number of nuclear weapons possessors has increased. The race to modernize such weapons, to "perfect" the means of their delivery and to regulate their destructive capacity is making them more "useable," thus making deterrence doctrines even more dangerous.

That is why in response to a lack of tangible progress in nuclear disarmament, the non-nuclear-weapon states and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have launched a campaign aimed at starting without delay international negotiations to prohibit and abolish such weapons. This has found reflection in the recently adopted resolution of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) "Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations".

Mongolia's case

As in other cases, Mongolia's policies are connected with its geographical location and is a microcosm of the major events of a particular time period. In many cases, its policies are reflections of or reactions to the events happening in its immediate neighborhood, i.e. in Russia and China, in their mutual relations as well as with other major powers.

From the point of view of nuclear risks, Mongolia's geographical and geopolitical location is unenviable. However that does not mean that it has to be a prisoner of geography and doomed to geographical determinism. On the contrary, its location demands that it be more creative so as not to be harmed or used to harm others.

Hence Mongolia tries, to the extent possible, to influence events in order to reduce possible unforeseen risks for itself. It could choose either to be passively affected by the perils of the nuclear age or try to play a somewhat active role by promoting its national interests and, mindful of the past history, by contributing to shaping its own future. Mongolia chose the latter.

Reminder of the recent risky past

During the cold war Mongolia was a Soviet satellite and closely followed pro-soviet policies. Thus, though Mongolia was against nuclear weapon tests in general, it condemned all such tests except for those of the Soviets, which had been conducted not far from the Mongolian territory. At that time it was considered politically incorrect to condemn Soviet tests since, Mongolia believed, Soviet nuclear weapons balanced the US, NATO and Chinese forces, and served as a "guarantee of world peace and stability".

In the 1960s, during the Sino-Soviet dispute, Mongolia found itself involuntarily involved in it and, by implication, in their military standoff. When China developed nuclear weapons and the Sino-Soviet dispute turned into border clashes in 1969, the Soviets briefly entertained the idea or, at least made believe, of contemplating a preemptive strike against China's fledgling nuclear weapons facilities and communicated their thoughts to its Warsaw Pact allies. The Soviets also approached the US for its possible reaction.

A preemptive strike would surely have had a devastating effect on international relations, especially on Mongolia since the Chinese side was well aware of the Soviet bases in Mongolia and the dual use weapons placed therein, and surely had plans to take counter measures. Mongolia's role was that of a pawn that was to support the Soviet forces and their military activities. The US arsenal was also trained in the Soviet bases in Mongolia.

The US response to the Soviets was that it would not idly sit by was perhaps decisive in avoiding a possible catastrophe. Had the conflict occurred, it would have made the 1962 Caribbean missile crisis a mere footnote in the annals of XX century history. This was an important lesson for Mongolia not to blindly side with one of the belligerent nuclear powers.

New security environment

The end of the cold war in early 1990s, normalization of Sino-Russian relations and withdrawal of Russian military bases and troops from Mongolia have radically changed the country's external security environment. Mongolia was no longer a junior partner of a nuclear weapon state.

Moreover, its two neighbors have committed not to use territories or airspace of their neighboring third states against each other. Mongolia, in its turn, declared that henceforth it would pursue balanced relations with its neighbors and maintain neutrality in possible bilateral disputes between Russia and China that did not directly affect Mongolia's vital interests.

Mongolia takes a stand

Mindful of the lessons of the cold war period, in September 1992 Mongolia declared itself a single-State nuclear-weapon-free zone (SS-NWFZ) and pledged to work to have that status internationally guaranteed. The gist was to underline that it did not have nuclear weapons on its territory and that no country near or far would be allowed to place such weapons on its territory. In practice this meant that no nuclear weapon threat would emanate from the Mongolian territory, which in size is as large as the territories of UK, France, Germany and Italy taken together. Thus Mongolia intended to serve as a positive contributor to the common cause of promoting greater confidence, predictability and stability.

Selection of path to achieve the goal

Non-proliferation of nuclear weapons is one of the most pressing international issues and can only be achieved by joint efforts and with the participation of the nuclear weapon states. In Mongolia's case it was the first time that due to its geopolitical location a country decided to establish a SS-NWFZ despite the somewhat reluctance of the P5 to accept the novelty of this status in international relations. They saw it as precedent-setting for other small or island states to follow suit and declare their territories SS-NWFZs and expect security assurances from the P5 (five permanent members of the Security Council: USA, Russia, China, Britain and France).

To achieve its aim and contribute to the common efforts, Mongolia chose to follow the path of engagement, dialogue, 'strategic patience' and search for compromise. Working in that spirit with the P5 and other members of the United Nations, it was able to have the UNGA adopt in 1998 a resolution entitled "Mongolia's international security and nuclear-weapon-free status" that welcomed its policy as contributing to stability and predictability in the region and even inscribed the issue on its agenda.

On its part, in February 2000 the State Great Hural (parliament) adopted a law that criminalized acts that would violate the nuclear-weapon-free status. It also formally outlawed the stationing and transit through its territory of nuclear weapons by any means. Mindful of the importance of the issue for the society as a whole, the law empowered NGOs and even individual persons, within the mandate provided by the legislation, to exercise public oversight of the implementation of the law and submit suggestions or proposals thereon to relevant state authorities.

Blue Banner NGO, established in 2005 for the purpose of promoting the country's nuclear-weapon-free status, has three times initiated consideration by the Mongolian authorities on the implementation of the legislation and has submitted recommendations to the Government regarding the needed follow-up measures.

Numerous bilateral, trilateral and P5+Mongolia meetings were held to find a common ground and agreement on the issue. As a result of these meetings, Mongolia agreed to not insist on a legally-binding treaty that would define its unique status provided that the P5 would pledge to respect Mongolia's status and refrain from any act that would contribute to its violation. In September 2012 the P5 and Mongolia signed parallel declarations on the understandings reached, underlining the utility of pursuing interests of all involved through dialogue, by political and diplomatic means.

In practical terms the P5 joint declaration meant that Mongolia would be an area of stability and predictability since none of the P5 would involve the country in their future nuclear rivalries, including in possible regional defense system(s), or counter defense system(s). In that sense the joint P5 declaration did not only serve the national interests of Mongolia, but also, in an age when time and space have become important strategic military assets, served the interests of regional stability and predictability; through the joint declaration the P5 and Mongolia also reassured each other that Mongolia and its vast territory would not be used against one other.

At present Mongolia is working to make the SS-NWFZ status an organic part of the East Asian security arrangement. As a Mongolian proverb says, a duck is calm when the lake is calm. This provides the country with the opportunity to spend less on its defenses (less than 1 percent of the state's budget) and more on addressing the country's developmental challenges, promoting human development and furthering human security for every member of the society, as prescribed in the Sustainable Development Goals.

At the regional level, Mongolian NGO Blue Banner is working with the like-minded NGOs and think tanks of Northeast Asia to promote the idea and elaborate the basic elements of a possible regional NWFZ, mindful, of course, of the region's specific needs and challenges.

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Anti-Chinese Attitudes in Mongolia through Generational Imprinting

By Mendee Jargalsaikhan

March 9 (Mongolia Focus) A few years back, Julian introduced me the concept of generational imprints and pointed out the work of Karl Mannheim.  Mannheim (1952) defined a generation as a social creation and argued that each generation receives imprints from the social and political events during their formative age.  Fascinated with this work, I did a little brainstorming for my MA thesis.  I am still hoping that the study of generational aspects could lead to more insightful examination of anti-Chinese attitudes in Mongolia instead of over-emphasizing its persistence among general public. Here is a bit long excerpt.

Logically, all generations talk differently about China, Chinese people, and their culture, because they have collective memories of significant events based on their first-hand or second-hand learning experience. Without rigorous interviews and analysis, it is impossible to prove generational aspects. Nevertheless, I will advance the following speculations to dis-entangle overall claim of persistent anti-Chinese attitudes in Mongolia a little further. Table 9 correlates seven generations, their sources of foreign education and orientation, experience (either first or second hand) of events, and political status to speculate potential attitudinal outcome in regards with China, Chinese people, and culture. If a generation received all sources of schemas, their attitude toward China may be neutral. In opposite, if a generation is only exposed to negative schemas during their formative age and has limited interactions with China, their attitude towards China could be mistrusted. And, even if they are exposed to positive and neutral schemas after their formative ages, their attitude to China may be cautious. At the same time, attitudes of generational cohorts also may alter significantly overtime due to dramatic changes such as start and end of Cold War and democratization. 

A cohort born in 1930 would have seen high-level exchanges of Sino-Mongolian leaders, a visible presence of Chinese workers and their families in Ulaanbaatar, unique Chinese goods (e.g., silk, fruits, and tea), and culture (e.g., song and table tennis), and heard about Mongolian participation in the Liberation War in northern China during their formative years (17-25 years). Many of those who were educated in the Soviet Union would have interacted with Chinese students in Moscow and a few might have had opportunities to study in Beijing. The generation would have also lived through a period of three decades, when all these interactions would have ceased. They would have seen a good China (providing assistance to Mongolia) and a bad China (cultural revolutions, political struggles, and the Tiananmen incident). This group of people might have played a crucial role in resuming normal relations with China at the end of the 1980s, since most members of the Political Bureau of the Mongolian Communist Party had been born in the 1930s.

The second cohort, born in the 1940s, witnessed some friendly Sino-Mongolia relations. But the students abroad in the Soviet Union would have had few interactions with Chinese people in Mongolia, because the Chinese workers in Mongolia were strictly guarded and influenced by the extensive propaganda and anti-Chinese attitudes. They would have been mostly aware of the images of bad China, and would have interacted closely with Russians in Mongolia and abroad, from their formative years, starting from the 1960s. As Mongolia transitioned into a democracy in 1990, the political elites from this cohort would have dominated most of the leadership posts.

The third cohort, born in the 1950s, would have had first-hand experience with anti-Chinese attitudes, but would not have interacted with Chinese until the 1990s. They were brought up under the "China threat" atmosphere and would have fulfilled their extensive military and civil defense obligations. Although they would have had first-hand experience of the Soviet-Mongolian brotherly relations, and been knowledgeable about the Soviets and the communist world, their views on China would be one-sided, since they would have lacked any exposure to neutral or positive views about China. This group has been a driving force for the democratic movements, and abhorred the Chinese and Romanian repressions of democratic movements.

The 1960s generation had experiences that were similar to those of their previous generations, though Sino-Soviet tensions had been reduced and the cohort began questioning the need to have military and civil defense obligations. During their study in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the members of this generation would have had first-hand experience with the negative images of the Soviets in Eastern and Central Europe, and been exposed to liberal ideas and anti-communist discourses. They would be attracted to the ideas of democracy, market economy, and developments in the capitalist world. Their knowledge about China would have been influenced by the negative views; they would have disliked the Chinese repressions of 1989. On the other hand, this generation enjoyed free access to Chinese markets and infrastructure. This cohort is becoming the most influential group in Mongolian politics today.

The 1970s generation has mixed views about both China and Russia. They would have first-hand experience of the anti-Chinese propaganda, strained relations with Russia (withdrawal of Russian military and the anti-Soviet attitudes), and increasing interactions with China. They would likely have similar feelings about the Tiananmen incident and the growing Chinese economy, as would earlier cohorts. Nevertheless, Russia would no longer be the window through which to see the world, as it was for earlier generations. Cohorts from the 1940s and the 1960s were more familiar with Russia, its people, and culture, since 32,000 Soviet civilian workers with their large numbers of dependents, and 80,000 Soviet troops were in Mongolia in the 1970s and 1980s. The Russian language was a mandatory second language for thousands of Mongolians who were studying in the Soviet Union, from the time of their elementary school. This was not the case for generations, from the mid-1970s and afterwards.

Logically, generations of people, who were born in the 1980s and 1990s, will likely have the most neutral view of China and be rather cautious and mistrusting of Russia. They have not experienced the anti-Chinese (pro-Soviet) propaganda, and are able to have multiple views on most issues, links with the West, and access to vast amounts of information (from the Internet, cable TV, and newspapers). The most significant events they are likely to recall are the winning of two gold medals by Mongolians at the Beijing Olympic game, rather than second-hand knowledge about the Tiananmen incident and bad images of China from the 1960s. The increasing number of Mongolian students in China and China's sustained projection of its soft power policy (e.g., visa waiver, granting access to Chinese infrastructure and medical facilities, developmental aid, and assistance) for Mongolia will certainly affect the attitudes of future generations in Mongolia. However, the results from AsiaBarometer (2005) and Asian Barometer (2006) yield interesting outcomes. First, all generations tend to hold neutral and negative views of China in both polls. Although there was no significant deviation between generations of 1930-40s and 1950-70s, younger generations (1980-90s) have slight positive impression of China in the Asian Barometer study. But younger generations in both polls were overly polarized while other generations have more neutral views (about 28-36%). Second, there are noticeable correlations between view of China and gender along with educational level of younger generations. Male participants and people with low educational levels hold more unfavorable view of China. The question will remain why views of younger generations are polarized and holding similar negative views as older generations.

These barometer studies are not likely reveal attitudinal shifts of generations. First, number of the sample, questions, conducting organizations, and timeframe of two barometers were different. For instance, when AsiaBarometer (2005) asks about Chinese influence, Mongolians responded in more negative while more positive as Asian Barometer (2006) asks about impressions about China. Second, each poll had a single question on China and one possible response. More insightful examination of anti-Chinese attitudes would need a specific set of questions. For instance, questions whether a person allow his children marry to Chinese, live next to a Chinese neighbor, or work in Chinese-Mongolian run business may help us to understand emotional components of anti-Chinese attitudes. Moreover, degree of awareness of Chinese culture (e.g., language, literature, religion, customs, and traditions), history, contemporary Chinese politics and socio-economic situation as well as Sino-Mongolian relations need to be examined by a carefully-designed questionnaire will contribute to our understanding of anti-Chinese attitudes. In addition to variables like age, gender, geographic location, it might be possible that other variables such as personal income, social status, and degree of interactions with Chinese people could correlate person's attitude to China.

Without further study, it would be difficult to make firm conclusions about the anti-Chinese attitudes of different generations and their key generational imprints. Nevertheless, it is fair to speculate about the existence of lingering impacts from the artificially-consolidated past schemas on the younger generations, since the past schemas have not been de-constructed in historical textbooks, the literature, entertainment, or the political leaders' discourses in post-communist Mongolia. A handful of empirical studies suggest that Mongolians generally hold unfavorable views about China, and the intensity of the anti-Chinese discourses in the media, blogosphere, and public domain is apparent.

Note:  this excerpt is directly taken from my graduate thesis, Anti-Chinese Attitudes in Post-Communist Mongolia (2011), pp. 34-38.  Here is the link to the full thesis.

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Health & Education

Infant mortality rate down 12% in first 2 months of 2017

March 14 (NSO) First 2 months of 2017, there were 4741 mothers giving birth and 4771 live births, down of 1375 mothers (22.5%) and 1384 live births (22.5%) from the same period of the previous year.

Figure.1 Live birth, monthly, thousands of children

First 2 months 2017, the infant mortality reached 84, down 39 (31.7%), and the under-five mortality reached 179, up 32 (21.8%) compared with the same period of the previous year.

Figure.2 Infant mortality rate, monthly (per 1000 live births)

First 2 months 2017, infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births reached 18, down 2 (11.9%), and under-five mortality reached 20 down by 4 (16.6%), compared with the same period of the previous year.

Definition:

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Mobile health technology improves primary healthcare service

Ulaanbaatar, March 10 (MONTSAME) Mobile health technology has put a foundation of practices to prevent and reveal diseases in early stage and the technology is proper to provide sparsely populated people with primary healthcare service. Health Minister A.Tsogtsetseg said it in an experience sharing workshop on "Introduction of mobile health technology at the primary healthcare and community level in Mongolia" project, held today, March 10 at the Health Ministry.  

The Minister also noted that mobile health technology is important to realize State policy on health and achieve Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals.

The project aims to improve health state of population, particularly vulnerable groups through introducing mobile health technology at the primary healthcare and community level within the principle to strengthen local health system. The project has been implemented in the Governor's office of Songino-Khairkhan district, remote khoroos of 7 and 26, Gurvantes, Nomgon and Manlai soums of Umnugobi aimag.

The project is to be implemented further in medical centers in Undur-Ulaan of Arkhangai aimag, Bogd soum of Bayankhongor, Zuunkhangai soum of Uvs aimag, Erdenetsagaan soum of Sukhbaatar aimag as well as family clinic "Gerelt Manal" in Sukhbaatar district and 'Ugtakh-Ireedui" in Chinggeltei district of Ulaanbaatar city.

Over 13000 people have been involved in health examination and diagnosis to reveal non-infectious diseases in early stage and in health education program. Moreover, vehicles and equipment necessary for mobile healthcare service have been supplied and medical officers have been trained to use mobile equipment. 

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Weekend school for Mongolian children opens in Seoul

Ulaanbaatar, March 13 (MONTSAME) A Mongolian school has opened in Seoul, South Korea in light of the implementation of the Mongolian President's initiative aimed to pass down the traditions, culture and mother tongue to Mongolian children, who were born and are living in foreign countries.

The school is named "Mongolian Weekend School" and located in the Seoul Global Center. The opening ceremony, which took place on March 12, was attended by Mongolian Ambassador in Seoul B.Ganbold, Mayor of Seoul Park Won-soon and other officials, as well as nearly 150 people including Mongolian parents and teachers.

The school will be operational on Sundays for 7-12 year old children.

Today, a total of 35 thousand Mongolians are living in South Korea, more than 2,000 of whom are children. The school curricula were developed based on the results of Embassy's complete survey among Mongolian nationals in the country and the studies on programs in national general education schools. Mongolian Weekend School will teach Mongolian language, cognitive and art subject and have play dates incorporating Mongolian traditional games.

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School of Public Policy delivers first-of-its-kind UCalgary certificate in Mongolia

Leading decision-makers trained in managing resource sector wealth

March 13 (University of Calgary) Surrounded by the Bogd Khan Mountains in downtown Ulaanbaatar, a team of School of Public Policy experts delivered a week-long training program for Mongolian government officials on best practices in fiscal governance within the extractive sector.

This training program, delivered by The School of Public Policy's Extractive Resource Governance Program (ERGP), is a first-of-its-kind training program that provides much-needed expertise to developing jurisdictions for not only managing the wealth of the resource sector, but also how to be fiscally responsible with that wealth.

Delivering the program in Mongolia were Bev Dahlby, PhD, scientific director, research director, Distinguished Fellow and program director, tax and economic growth at The School; Jean-Francois Wen, PhD, professor of economics and Research Fellow; and course co-ordinator Niloo Hojjati, research associate, ERGP/Tax and Economic Growth Program. The training was supported in Calgary by Shantel Jordison, manager, ERGP.

Hands-on learning and lively discussion

Each day of the training program encompassed technical presentations by School of Public Policy experts and breakout sessions for analytical financial model exercises, providing the participants with a hands-on learning experience. One participant remarked that the "training program will be critical in developing increased technical capacity within the Mongolian government," adding that "including key ministries from across the spectrum to take part in this training program will enable officials to speak the 'same policy language' when it comes to fiscal policy decision-making processes."

The training program generated a great deal of lively discussion, with Wen noting, "Our session on petroleum production-sharing contracts led to very interesting comments and reflections on the part of the participants, some of whom had been involved in the design of Mongolia's existing contracts." Course co-ordinator Niloo Hojjati adds, "There was a tremendous amount of energy in the room; participants were very engaged learners."

A total of 28 leading decision-makers successfully completed the week-long certificate program. Participants were from several Mongolian government departments and academic institutions, including the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry, Department of Taxation, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Environment and Green Development, Mineral Resource and Petroleum Authority, University of Finance and Economics, and the National University of Mongolia.    

Fundamental policy challenges similar around the world

"Alberta is a leader in sustainable resource development — the world sees that," says Dahlby. "The School is creating a critical mass of sustainable resource development expertise, and that is in demand internationally."

"A big part of what we do in the ERGP is bringing practical policy and regulatory solutions to the table to support decision-makers in other jurisdictions facing complex problems in their extractive resource sectors," adds Jordison. "While no two countries are exactly the same, many of the fundamental policy challenges we face here in Canada are similar to those faced by other governments. A really interesting part of the work we do is to engage in a two-way dialogue about what policy solutions are possible: History, culture, politics, and market conditions all matter when you're finding policy solutions that can be successful over the long term."

This training program is part of a larger project funded by the Government of Canada and managed by Agriteam, with the aim of strengthening extractive sector management in Mongolia's mining sector.

"Agriteam is happy to work with the UCalgary School of Public Policy for the implementation of the SESMIM project. The SPP's unique team of experienced regulators, highly respected economists and public policy experts brings the right combination of theory and practice to our capacity-building program in Mongolia," says Debra Rasmussen, Canadian project director, Strengthening Extractive Sector Management in Mongolia (SESMIM), Agriteam.

Future deliveries of the ERGP certificate program are planned in Mexico and Mozambique in 2017.   

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Culture & Society

Difficult spring expected in 60 percent of territory

Ulaanbaatar, March 13 (MONTSAME) There is a risk of difficult spring in around 60 percent of the territory of Mongolia, reported National Emergency Management Agency.

In the winter of 2016-2017, Mongolia was covered in 70-80 percent snow cover which led to difficult wintering situation in some 150 soums of 17 aimags. According to a National Agency for Meteorology and Environmental Monitoring report, 100 soums were in a white dzud condition whereas 53 soums were in a milder dzud condition this winter.

In addition to international aids worth MNT 9 billion provided to help herders overcome the difficult wintering situation, Mongolian Government rendered aid worth MNT 3.7 billion. Also, 137 soums received fodder.

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WHO to aid medical equipment to dzud-affected areas

Ulaanbaatar, March 10 (MONTSAME) Deputy Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh received Dr. Soe Nyunt-U, the Resident Representative of World Health Organization in Mongolia.

After expressing his gratitude towards WHO's contribution in Mongolia, Deputy Prime Minister signified WHO's cooperation on strengthening the health sector in Mongolia since 1962.

World Health Organization has planned to provide USD 35 thousand worth medical equipments to Mongolia in order to help overcome harsh conditions of winter and spring. This includes intravenous infusion equipment, oxygen concentrator, health monitoring device, pneumonia diagnosis equipments set and thermal blanket.

WHO will soon be establishing a team to respond to potential disasters and social health emergencies in Mongolia and Deputy Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh said to support these matters.

Source: Ikon.mn

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Women's needs take back seat under threat of dzud in Mongolia

by Dr. Shinetugs Bayanbileg and Angelica Esguerra

DORNOD/KHENTII, Mongolia, March 12 (UNFPA) – Mongolia was struck by harsh conditions this winter, raising risks for pastoral and nomadic communities. An estimated 165,000 people were affected, according to the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Mongolia. The situation has caused particular concern for women and girls, who are experiencing limited access to sexual and reproductive health supplies and care and increased vulnerability to gender-based violence.

The heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures – which can fall as low as -40 degrees Celsius even in a normal winter – have caused mass losses in livestock, a financial disaster for many herder communities.

With families struggling to cope, women's health and hygiene needs have taken a back seat, many report.

Hygiene needs unmet

Some 127 districts in 17 provinces and two districts in Ulaanbaatar were affected by the harsh weather, which some officials feared would reach dzud levels.

For Munkhtsetseg*, the challenges began even before winter. "It was a very dry summer," she said. "And after that, there was too much rain. This made it difficult to gather hay, which we need to store for the animals in winter."

She and her husband, Munkhzul*, had to take out a loan to get by.

When warnings were issued about the possibility of a dzud, they and many other herders feared their livestock would not survive. In response, they sold or butchered their animals, flooding the market and causing meat prices to drop.

"We did not get much from the sales," Munkhtsetseg shared.

They were not alone.

Narantsetseg* explained that her needs as a woman fall low on the priority list. Her family spends what little they have on items like food and fuel, so she must ration sanitary napkins.

During her most recent cycle, she said, she used only four commercially produced sanitary napkins – not nearly enough to maintain proper hygiene.

The alternative is to use less hygienic, less comfortable materials like rags.

Relief packages

With roads blocked by snow, women in remote areas have limited access to sexual and reproductive health care, including family planning supplies. Contraceptive stocks were depleted at all levels.

In response, UNFPA has provided $52,000 worth of contraceptives, and procured an additional $58,000 worth of contraceptives with state funding, to improve availability of family planning supplies to women. 

There are also fears that the worsening economic pressures, especially when coupled with high alcohol consumption, are increasing risks for women and girls.

There are no comprehensive statistics on gender-based violence in Mongolia, but evidence indicates these abuses are widespread. According to police data, over 90 per cent of victims of violence are women and girls. Few cases are prosecuted, and support services for survivors are scarce.

Herder women are additionally vulnerable when they leave their homes – even in extreme temperatures – to use the toilet. Traveling alone on the steppe leaves them vulnerable to assault and harassment.

UNFPA recently took part in a multi-organization mission, headed by the National Emergency Management Agency, to deliver relief supplies to herder families in the affected provinces of Dornod and Khentii.

UNFPA distributed dignity kits containing toiletries and sanitary products, including sanitary napkins, as well as clothing items like socks and underwear. They also include flashlights with batteries to allow women and girls to move about more safely at night, as well as whistles to use in case of distress.

Over 2,400 of these kits were distributed.

Undaunted

Apart from distributing relief packages, the joint mission was an opportunity to engage with communities to learn about their needs and challenges.

Women overwhelming expressed a resolve borne of experience. It is, unfortunately, not the first time they have experienced these harsh conditions. Last year's winter was even more severe, affecting 965,000 people and killing more than 1 million livestock – a blow from which many are still trying to recover.

This year's winter has only compounded their hardships. Still, many are undaunted, saying simply, "This is all part of the herder's life."

*Names changed to protect privacy

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Mongolian linguists discuss Cyrillic spelling rules

Ulaanbaatar, March 14 /MONTSAME/ "Confusions on Mongolian Cyrillic orthography will be settled once and for all", said D.Zayabaatar, Head of Institute of Mongolian Studies at National University of Mongolia on March 13 during a forum among Mongolian linguists.

Nowadays, there are two or more spelling alternatives for number of Mongolian words which create confusion among the general public, leading to disbelief in the linguists.

Hosted by the National University of Mongolia, the forum also coincided with the launch of a new publication titled 'Mongolian language for public learning' and its website www.mongolkhel.mn, financed by Mongolian Science and Technology Fund.

The website is expected to play a central role in elucidating the basic grammar of Mongolian Cyrillic script and correcting negative tendencies and confusions related to different spelling rules among the public. Overall, the website can be understood as a one-window reference for all grammar-related arguments and inquiries.

As such, the linguists' forum aimed to reach consensus on a common spelling rules of Mongolian Cyrillic script. D.Zayabaatar, who compiled the 'Mongolian language for public learning' handbook said, "A working group was established by an ordinance of the Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Sports, and is working towards the finalization of spelling rules for Mongolian Cyrillic script which are to be complied with nationwide. The working group's target is a dictionary of Mongolian Cyrillic script".

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Peace Corps Volunteer: Celebrating Tsagaan Sar

March 10 (Anna Buchanan) Ready…Set…Tsagaan Sar!

Tsagaan Sar felt like a race that began weeks in advance. Stores were being emptied out, I had to wait 30 minutes in a line at the ATM as a dead goat was being shoved into my back, and many folk from the countryside came in for weekend shopping trips. I heard the word "Opoc" (Russia) being whispered as I stealthy weaved through the crowds.   

What is Tsagaan Sar?

Tsagaan Sar is Mongolia's Lunar New Year.

Because this is a brand new holiday for all of us, Peace Corps prepared us with what to expect and taught us the proper greetings. Below are just three examples:

Сар шинийн мэнд хүргэе! – Happy Tsagaan Sar!

Сайхан шинэлээрэй! – Have a good Tsagaan Sar!

Сар шиндээ сайхан шинж байна уу?  – Are you having a good Tsagaan Sar?

In my new winter deel, I visited five homes where I stuffed myself like a glutton. It was the epitome of being fat and happy.

Every Mongolian household puts together a display of food on the eve of Tsagaan Sar. The layers of all the bread represent happiness and sadness. Always beginning and ending the year in happiness. On top are white food items such as sugar cubes, aaruul, and white mints. The color white represents the moon. Then there is a massive chunk of beef guests can carve from, fruit, and a bowl of sweets.

What does Tsagaan Sar entail?

  • Food – So much food! The main entre is buuz. Every family makes over a thousand buuz. There are also more plates of meat with slices of pickles plus chocolate. You can drink milk tea, airag, vodka, beer, and juice.

Two weeks before the holiday, I went to the supermarket. The atmosphere of the supermarket was much like a gladiatorial fight. People were fighting over boxes; straight, organized lines at the cashier no longer existed. People were trying to step in front of each other while old women showed no mercy as they shoved themselves to the very front; the last couple of eggs, bags of bread and apples, and packages of chocolate chip cookies were swiftly scooped up. But before I got caught up in all of it, I promptly made a u-turn and bee- lined it to another less raucous supermarket. Thus, I had to stock my kitchen with food as if the apocalypse was approaching. Later, on 6 March, stores still didn't have dairy products or bread.

  • Family – Tsagaan Sar is all about visiting family. Depending on how large a family is… and Mongolian families are large…you can spend two-weeks or more visiting each others gers and apartments. Visits can be short or long depending on how busy your day is.
  • Winter deels – Tsagaan Sar is a blast to the past honoring Mongolian tradition by wearing a deel. Seamstresses are busy months in advance creating new winter deels for men and women, boys and girls.

·         Presents – After every visit, Mongolians give presents to every visitor before they leave. It can be a variety of items such as candy, cookies, money, soap, and makeup.

Some Peace Corps Volunteers have described the holiday as being a lot like Halloween (going out and visiting houses), Thanksgiving (eating a lot of food), and Christmas (giving and receiving presents) all rolled up into one big holiday.

My school also had a ceremony.

A Buddhist monk attended the ceremony. We were all given three white food items: a wafer, a peppermint, and a sugar cube. As the monk chanted and incense wafted up into the air, we had to circle our hands, while holding the items, when directed by the monk. I was very close to chomping down on the wafer beforehand but quickly stopped myself when I saw no one else was eating.

Now its Spring!

Tsagaan Sar also symbolizes the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The weather already feels warmer. It won't be shorts weather until May or June but the sun is shining bright.

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VIEWS: Mongolian Lunar New Year Celebration | Family Visit

March 11 (ARTGER) During the New Year celebration Mongols visit family and greet each other with holiday-specific greetings such "Amar baina uu?" meaning "Are you living peacefully?". Family will meet in the home dwelling of the eldest in the family.

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Tim Pelkey Publishes Debut Thriller, The Baljuna Covenant: The Search for Genghis' Tomb

"Science-driven novel attempts to unlock the secrets of 13th century Eurasia."

(1888PressRelease) March 10, 2017 - ADA, Mich. - Pelkey's breakthrough novel is the story of archaeologist James Andrews's search for Genghis Khan's tomb. After discovering a bone on Burkhan Khaldun, Mongolia's holy mountain, Andrews and his colleague Abbey Conrad follow the strands of its DNA back in time. Past and present collide, revealing ancient truths along with a web of deception that tears Andrews's life apart and pushes the world to the brink of war.

"I was fascinated by a study that detected the presence of Genghis Khan's Y-chromosome among his living male descendants," Pelkey said. "Genetics can tell us about transformative and previously unknown historical events. The Y-chromosome study told us so much about Genghis Khan's sons. I wondered what detecting his X-chromosome might tell us about his daughters."

Part historic fiction, part archaeological mystery, and part political thriller, The Baljuna Covenant weaves together tales of modern and ancient Mongolia, telling stories of Mongolia's present-day struggles for independence, a poor boy's rise to the heights of world power, and of friends-their unyielding loyalty and unimagined betrayal. Most of all, it tells the story of a promise between Genghis Khan and his people, a promise kept until this day.

The book has made the recommended reading lists for Kirkus Reviews and Stevo's Book Reviews. It was also a Featured Review for Kirkus Indie Reviews in February.

The Baljuna Covenant can be purchased through SDP Publishing and at all major bookstores, including online retailer Amazon. Learn more at http://www.TimPelkey.com.

About the Author

Tim Pelkey is the father of two. He lives in Ada, Michigan with his wife Leslie. The Baljuna Covenant is his first novel. He is currently working on his second novel The Ottoman Excursion. Learn more at www.TimPelkey.com.

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'See the ability and happiness' photo exhibition of children with Down syndrome - Mongolia

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 to Thursday, March 30, 2017

(World Down Syndrome Day) 'See the ability and happiness' photo exhibition of children with Down syndrome will be opened in celebration of World Down Syndrome Day on March 21st 2017.

20 photographers of "Creative around Twenty" photo club will take photos of children with Down syndrome.

The photo exhibition aims to show the diversity and beauty of humankind, abilities of children with Down syndrome and real happiness and joy of their families and relatives. 

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Nature & Environment

4.2 magnitude earthquake registered in Bayan-Ulgii aimag

March 13 (gogo.mn) On 13th March, an earthquake was recorded in an area located 27 kilometres east of the Deluun soum of Bayan-Ulgii aimag at 05:41:06 a.m. local time in Mongolia, reports the National Emergency Management Agency. 

It was an earthquake with magnitude of 4.2, says Astronomy and GeoPhysics Research Center. There were no damages registered as a result of the earthquake.

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4.2 magnitude earthquake shakes Bayan-Ulgiinews.mn, March 13

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Endangered Siberian ibexes provided salt supplements

Ulaanbaatar, March 10 (MONTSAME) Specialists of the Environment and Tourism Department of Bayan-Ulgii aimag have worked at wildlife hunting areas of Kharasai in Tolbo soum, Toshint in Bort, Burgast and Bugat soum and Bakhlag mountain in Nogoonnuur soum, examining endangered animals' population and spring situation.

Over 1500 of the Siberian ibex listed in the Mongolian Red Book inhabit in these areas. The specialists delivered 1.6 tons of salt on habitat areas of the wild goats. For this measure, MNT2 million was spent from the Nature Protection Fund and MNT1.5 million from the local budget.

The specialists predict that the number of female wild goats, which give birth in the middle of May will grow significantly, as last winter was warmer than previous years and death of wild goat population was low.

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Census on degraded land due to mining to be conducted in 2017-2018

Ulaanbaatar, March 13 (MONTSAME) A census on degraded land, which was conducted in 2012 covering 20 aimags revealed 42556 ha of land in 699 units are degraded and abandoned. 60 per cent of the destroyed land had been caused by companies and entities, while 40 per cent by artisanal gold miners. Since 2012, such kind of integrated census has not been conducted and utilization of the data of the last census has been insufficient.

A workshop themed "Census of degraded land due to mining" "Regulation on mining closure" started today with participation of over 70 specialists of 21 aimags in charge of nature protection and rehabilitation in mining and officials from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Mining Ministry and General Authority of Special Inspection.

" - The results of this workshop are significant to the implementation of the Government action plan, conducting census on degraded land due to mining in 2017-2018, developing a regulation on mine closure and starting to adhere the regulation" said Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism Ts.Batbayar.

Closing of mine and rehabilitation works are not being done in compliance with the law on Mineral Resources, because regulation on mine closure has not been approved yet.

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Sports

Mongolian judokas win two medals at Baku Grand Slam

March 13 (news.mn) Mongolian judokas have taken gold and bronze medals at the Grand Slam which took place on 10-12th of March in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. A total of 204 judokas (126 men and 78 women) from 32 countries participated in the competition.

Five men and one woman from Mongolia have competed in the event, which offers a total cash prize amount of USD 154 thousand. G.Odbayar won gold in the men's 73 kg category and O.Uuganbaatar silver in the men's 81 kg category. Two other Mongolians, D.Amartuvshin and G.Kherlen, were awarded cash prizes.

G.Odbayar, champion of Baku Grand Slam defeated Lasha Shavdatuashvili, a gold and silver medalist of the 2016 Olympics as well as Riki Nakaya, another silver medalist of Rio.

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Judoka G. Odbayar wins gold in BakuMontsame, March 13

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Best judokas to compete for cash prize competition

Ulaanbaatar, March 10 (MONTSAME) Mongolian best judokas' match named after State honored athlete of Mongolia D.Tserenkhand will be held on March 16 at 'ASA" circus. Eight male and six female judokas compete for the contest with prize fund of MNT50 million.

International masters including Olympic Champion N.Tuvshinbayar, Olympic bronze medalist and world champion Kh.Tsagaanbaatar, Olympic silver medalist D.Sumya, World Champion M.Urantsetseg and G.Boldbaatar are among the contenders. Bronze medalist of Rio Olympics 2016 G.Otgontsetseg, who wrestles for Kazakhstan, will participate in the match by invitation.

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Mongolia sends off athletes to Special Olympics

Ulaanbaatar, March 10 (MONTSAME) March 9, Thursday saw a send-off ceremony for Mongolian athletes to partake in the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games which will take place in Austria on March 14-25.

Team Mongolia first participated at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. And Mongolia sent 14 athletes to the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games who claimed 4 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze medals in 3 categories.

This time, 14 Mongolian athletes are to compete under the supervision of 3 coaches in bandy, cross-country ski and snowshoeing.

Present at the send-off ceremony were S.Oyun, Head of Mongolian Special Olympics Committee, O.Gerel, senior specialist at Department of Sports Policy at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports, Ts. Sharavjamts, Authority of Physical Culture and Sports and coach Ch.Nasantogtokh, Hero of Labor.

During the ceremony, bandy player D.Tuguldur was handed over the national flag by Ch.Nasantogtokh.

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J.Otgontsagaan appointed member of IOC Sport and Environment Commission

Ulaanbaatar, March 10 (MONTSAME) On March 9, International Olympic Committee announced new members of its Commissions. Secretary General of the Mongolian National Olympic Committee and State Merit Figure of Mongolia J.Otgontsagaan was appointed as a member of the Sports and Environment Commission of the IOC.

He worked at the Mongolian National Olympic Committee and has been working as the Secretary General since 2004. Also, he is an advisor to the President of the Olympic Council of Asia, member of the Executive Committee of the East Asian Games and founder of the Mongolian Sport Press Union. 

Previously, Sh.Magvan was working as a member of the IOC in 1977-2007 and has been an honorary member of the IOC since 2007.

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Art & Entertainment

Mongolia's Next Top Model announces first winner

Ulaanbaatar, March 13 (MONTSAME) A winner was announced for the first cycle of the 'Mongolia's Next Top Model' reality show format which has been a popular agenda among Mongolians for the last two months.

March 12, Sunday saw the last episode of the show which aired its first episode last January, and has thus been co-produced by Edutainment TV and Buro 24/7 online fashion magazine with an aim to reinforce Mongolian fashion industry with new expression.

Out of 22 young ladies who made the cut to enter the show, 3 were in line for the winner's crown which has been earned by contestant B.Tserendolgor who received 67 marks in the last photo shoot which was to model for the new collection of national 'Gobi' brand.

The other contestants Yu.Baljidmaa and T.Nomin-Erdene received 48 and 39 marks respectively. Although Yu.Baljidmaa received the highest marks from audience, 10 or 32972 votes, B.Tserendolgor's audience score 7 or 26208 votes didn't slightly slim her chance of winning as her photo-shoot earned 20 marks from each three judges T.Nansalmaa, M.Orgil and Nora Dagva.

Mongolia's newest fashion sensation B.Tserendolgor is a dental student at 'Ach' University of Medical Sciences. Having claimed the title of Top Model, she is entitled to a one-year commercial contract with national mobile phone operator G-Mobile, cash prize MNT 20 million, a certificate of Paris tour and a two-year contract with 'Looque' fashion agency in Singapore.

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Milky Way short-film festival to stand against child abuse

March 12 (UB Post) Rotaract Club of Nairamdal will hold the third Milky Way short-film festival through a project with the same name, which promotes action against child abuse.

The project is aimed at protecting the victims and potential victims of child abuse by raising awareness among the public.

This year's film festival will have the theme "If I were a Wizard". Participants registered for the film festival must make a short film within the theme of the festival.

Short films must be made to inform the public about child abuse and its consequences, and that each person's participation is important for its prevention.

The top films sent to the Milky Way festival will be screened at iCinema in the State Department Store on April 15, and an award ceremony will also take place at the same time.

The first place winner will receive three million MNT, the second place winner will be awarded 1.5 million MNT, and the third place will get 500,000 MNT.

Registration for the festival is open until March 24.

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Five artists to represent Mongolia at Venice Biennale

March 12 (UB Post) One of the most important events in the art world, the La Biennale di Venezia 2017 (Venice Biennale 2017), will hold its 57th international art exhibition from May 13 to November 26, with the inclusion of five Mongolian artists.

Mongolian artists are taking part in the Venice Biennale for the second time, after first taking part in 2015. A Mongolian pavilion has been commissioned by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia Ts.Munkh-Orgil, and will be organized by the Mongolian Contemporary Art Support Association.

The Mongolian Contemporary Art Support Center have announced the names of the artists who will be representing Mongolia at the Venice Biennale this year: State Honored Artist Ch.Chimeddorj, O.Enkhtaivan, G.Munkhbolor, J.Bolortuvshin, and Ts.Davaajargal.

The Mongolian pavilion will host "Lost in Tengri" (Lost in Heaven), an exhibition about the frailty of human nature and its effect upon society and the environment. While the context of the exhibition is uniquely Mongolian, the curators believe its impact will be global and universal.

O.Enkhtaivan and J.Bolortuvshin will present video works, while Ch.Chimeddorj and G.Munkhbolor will bring sculptural installations. Ts.Davaajargal will present a series of haunting sound installations that bring together sounds from nature and traditional and electronic music.

MIAT Mongolian Airlines, Erel Group, Max Group, Eco Construction, Monnis Group, MCS Group, Bats Urgoo Co.,Ltd, Monre Impex, Deloitte Onch LLC, and individual patrons of the arts are sponsoring the Mongolian pavilion in 2017.

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The Eagle Huntress is an amazing documentary. But is it actually true?

It's a remarkable story about a remarkable girl, but not everyone is convinced The Eagle Huntress is entirely true. Director Otto Bell responds to his critics.

March 10 (The Age) I took my young daughter to see The Eagle Huntress and I think every father should do the same (take your daughter, that is, not mine). For this is an utterly joyous, life-affirming tale about what a girl can achieve when she has determination, application and the support of her family (and especially, though not only, her father): any damn thing she sets her mind to.

It sounds a little like a Disney movie, perhaps, but The Eagle Huntress is a documentary of uncommon beauty, shot in western Mongolia in three grabs between July 2014 and February 2015.

But while it has wowed them at festivals around the world since its debut at Sundance in January 2016, not everyone has been convinced.

"People say 'oh, this is staged, it's too good to be true'," observes director Otto Bell of the backlash against the film in some quarters. "I get it; I understand why the cynical critics pooh-pooh it. I take it as a bit of a compliment, actually."

But to those who don't believe it's real, he has a simple rejoinder. "Get lost! We didn't stage anything."

The film follows the fortunes of a 13-year-old Kazakh girl called Aisholpan, who wants to learn the ancient art of eagle hunting – hunting foxes on horseback, with an eagle – from her father. He is a two-time champion in the annual Golden Eagle festival; his father was a champion, too.

In all, the men of the Nurgaiv clan have been hunting with eagles for 12 generations. No girl or woman, though, has ever been permitted to spread her wings in this way, so when Aisholpan says it's what she wants to do, it ruffles a few feathers, though her father and mother support her wholeheartedly. Bell has a series of elder-statesmen in the rarefied world of eagle hunting address the camera with their views: it's not for girls; women should make tea, not hunt; women are not strong enough. That sort of thing.

They sound typically patriarchal and hidebound, but gee they look good, sitting cross-legged in their gers (portable tents similar to yurts) resplendent in their handcrafted finery.

"Those guys are used to being photographed, let's put it that way," says Bell. "There's quite a bit of peacocking involved – they grab their furs, they sit in state."

And so, the central conflict of The Eagle Huntress is established: a young girl wants to follow her passion. Tradition stands in her way. Who will win?

The marketing for the film has suggested, without ever quite stating, that Aisholpan is the first ever female eagle hunter. She's not; as Stanford academic Adrienne Mayor convincingly argues, there have been many female eagle hunters, dating back to ancient times, and a handful of them in the modern era. But Aisholpan is a rarity, and an especially telegenic one at that.

With her broad face, perfect teeth and sparkling eyes, Aisholpan could have come straight from central casting. Her quiet confidence, application to her studies – she's a straight-A student at the school at which she boards during the week – and, above all, her bond with her family make her a dream.

"The first time I saw Aisholpan, having flown across the world to see her, was incredible," Bell has said. "They are very reserved people, so I had to keep my feelings in check, but inside I was punching the air."

But in truth that wasn't the first time Bell had seen her. In April 2014, the New York-based Englishman saw an online image of her setting an eagle free. The shot had been taken by Israeli photographer Asher Svidensky, and Bell immediately made contact. "I stalked him on Facebook," he says, "and then I Skyped him."

Others were already on the trail, so Bell had to move quickly. He had been shooting long-form documentary-style commercials for years, and had been dreaming of making a film of his own. "I wanted to not have a client or brand objectives, that sort of stuff," he says.

He was sure that girl and that bird would be his subject. So in July he traded a flight home from a job in Egypt for a ticket to Mongolia, persuading the cameraman on the job to come along . "I can't pay you," he warned, "but we're going to go track down this girl, see what the story is."

Simply finding them was a challenge – "they're nomadic, so it was like, 'oh yeah, I think they're over that mountain'," Bell says – but the effort was worthwhile. On day one, Nurgaev announced he and Aisholpan were going to try to steal a young eagle from its nest, so that she might train it up for hunting. "Is that the kind of thing you'd like to film?" he casually asked.

Bell could hardly believe his luck, though he hadn't brought high-end camera gear because he hadn't imagined he'd be leaping straight into production.

"I was hoping to get the exclusive rights to tell the story, and maybe film a bit of her life – 'this is her, she walks, she talks; it's real' – and bring that back to financiers," he says. "But we ended up filming that amazing sequence, and that became the heart of the first act."

And it is amazing – so much so that is one of the reasons people have concluded much of the film has been staged.

But, Bell insists, he just got lucky. "We did it in one take, on the first afternoon. When you've got a mother eagle circling above, threatening to descend on you, you tend to do things pretty quickly."

In October, he went back – with a full crew and proper gear – to shoot more sequences, including the Golden Eagle competition, a kind of gymkhana in which 70 eagle hunters are judged on a range of criteria, from riding to dress to their hunting abilities.

Bell spent $US80,000 – "my whole life's savings" – and took out a high-interest loan to fund the trip. "I thought we need to throw the kitchen sink at this thing, to do justice to this big landscape and these remarkable characters," he says. "My feeling was just because it's a true story that doesn't mean it can't also be beautiful."

Aisholpan's performance at the competition provides the film with a climax of sorts, but to Bell it felt too much like a sports movie. And when he went back to the old men to ask what they thought, they coughed up a laundry list of reasons why she still couldn't be considered a real eagle hunter: "They said, 'her dad's a great coach, the bird is phenomenal, it's because tourists were there and it's nice for them. But you know she'll never be able to hack it in winter.' And I was like, 'Oh, God, we're going to have to come back'."

He was broke, but a friend had years earlier given him an email address for Morgan Spurlock, the gonzo documentary maker who came to fame with Super Size Me. Bell edited the eagle-stealing sequence and sent it to Spurlock, who responded the same day. "I haven't seen anything like this, how can I help you get this thing finished," he wrote.

Spurlock set him up with producers, editors, space to work on it. "Up to that point," Bell says, "I'd been kind of alone and going a bit mad. It was fine when I was directing it, because everything was going our way. But then when you get back home and you don't have any money left and it all gets a bit depressing – he helped build a village of people around me."

In February 2015, Bell and his team went back to film the final act, in which Aisholpan and her father trek on horseback into the Altai mountains in deepest winter to capture a fox. It was 22 days of trial and error, in sub-zero temperatures that caused the filmmakers' hands to stick to their equipment. It was worth it.

But is it all just a bit too neat?

It's clear that Bell approached his subject with the canny eye of a man trained in the art of crafting images to sell a message. And it's true that when he first saw that image of Aisholpan, he knew there was something zeitgeisty in it. "I was looking around at pop culture at that time and you had Khaleesi, the mother of dragons [from Game of Thrones], you had Katniss Everdeen [from The Hunger Games], you had Rey [from Star Wars: The Force Awakens]. And I thought, 'My God, this girl is the real thing'."

It's true, too, that he felt he had the makings of a cool little fable about female empowerment on his hands – if only he could make it.

But as the project progressed, he says, "it just became very clear that it was a story about a dad and his daughter. Aisholpan wasn't looking for some sort of public validation. I know that at heart what she really wanted to do was go out hunting with her dad."

The only artistic licence he took, he insists, is the opening sequence in which a hunter sets his bird free (the Kazakhs release their eagles after seven years, deeming them to have entered the stage of their lives when they are ready to become parents themselves). That one, he says, came out of order, but nothing else did.

"I didn't have to cook the books," says Bell. "It was all laid out for me. I just had to get there and make sure we captured it."

The Eagle Huntress is on limited release nationally from March 16. On Sunday March 12, Melbourne's Cinema Nova and Cameo Belgrave will host preview screenings with wedge-tailed eagle demonstrations. The Lido in Hawthorn is hosting a preview on March 13, with an exhibition of photos taken at the Golden Eagle festival by former Big Day Out photographer Sophie Howarth in the foyer.

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Mongolian teenager wins her doubters over in triumph-over-the-odds storynews.com.au, March 10

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UB-Darkhan road to be paved with cement concrete

Ulaanbaatar, March 13 (MONTSAME) "Construction of cement concrete pavement on the road between Ulaanbaatar and Darkhan will aid domestic production, and will retain USD 90 million in the domestic economy", highlighted D.Ganbat, Minister of Road and Transport Development on March 10, Friday.

His remark was made during his visit to Ulaanbaatar-BUK JSC which specializes in concrete production.

In scope of the mission to build road with domestically produced cement concrete, the Minister thus officially familiarized with operations of the company with his visit which aimed to explore new technologies to introduce in road sector.

Ulaanbaatar BUK Co.Ltd is capable of producing 30,000 cubic meters concrete products per month, and the company manufactures wide-ranging products such as concrete block, pipe, heavy concrete tube, pedestrian crossing tunnel and road fence.

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AP travel: A minute in Mongolia

March 10 (AP) Take a trip through the wilds of Mongolia where you'll find a vibrant blue horizon and empty, rolling grasslands dotted with horses, cows and yaks.

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Photographers to promote nomadic culture

Ulaanbaatar, March 10 (MONTSAME) Confederation of Mongolian Photographers organized its first spring photography event with the theme 'Movement – 2017' in Ugtaaltsaidam and Tseel soums of Tuv aimag this week.

More than 70 photographers including State Honored Cultural Figure S.Tsatsralt partook in the event which aimed to promote traditional nomadic culture and develop rural tourism.

In addition to local photographers from Selenge, Tuv, Darkhan, Gobisumber and Erdenet, 5 photographers came to participate in the nomadic cultural event from Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of China.

The photographers visited the winter camp of herdsman N.Saruul in Tseel soum, and witnessed the shooting of 'Horseman' TV program of Mongolian National Broadcaster to capture precious moments of Mongolian herders and horsemen.

Mongolian National Broadcaster, UBS TV, Unuudur and Ardchilal (Democracy) newspapers and other news websites supported the photography event. The Confederation of Mongolian Photographers plans to organize such an event to promote local tourism and nomadic culture through photography on annual basis.

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What to Expect: Khuvsgul Ice Festival 2017

March 13 (gogo.mn) Blue Pearl International Ice Festival 2017 was successfully held for the 17th time this year at Khatgal village, the southern shore of lake Khuvsgul on Mar 3-4th. 

The 2-day event comprised various fun sports and competitions such as ice sculptures, horse sled races and shaman`s fire ceremony. Also, traditional Mongolian ice shooting competition, skating competition and ice sumo competition were held among participants. 

Meanwhile local people were selling souvenirs, jewelries and traditional costumes while 5-6 gers (Mongolian traditional dwelling) were serving hot food and beverages during the festival. 

The funniest activity at the festival was horse sledding. Everyone can take part in the horse sledding at small charges starting 20,000 MNT. 

Moreover, the festival organizers offered many interesting side activities to the guests including reindeer riding, camel riding and horse sled. 

Apart from the festival, one must enjoy the spectacular Khuvsgul lake and its surrounding landscape. You can walk and drive on the deepest and purest frozen lake of Mongolia while shooting the untouched b 

Year by year, a number of both foreign and domestic tourists visiting the festival has been increasing, as the scope has been expanded with international participants, adding international status to the ice festival. 

ABOUT KHUVSGUL LAKE

The pristine lake Huvsgul stretches for 136km in the Alpine-like mountains, and the deepest point of the lake is 262m. The lake freezes over from December until April or May revealing fantastic lacy ice patterns. 

The Huvsgul region itself is a home to the Tsaatan – Reindeer Herders of Mongolia, an ethnic group famous for their distinctive lifestyle based on keeping reindeers in the depth of the Taiga.

HOW TO GET THERE:

You can join existing tour groups from Ulaanbaatar or take a private tour with your family and friends (enquire from travel agents near you).

If you drive in Mongolia (you have a driving permit) you can drive yourself (make sure your vehicle is good for snow, and you travel with a Mongolian friend who can assist you with directions). The Lake Huvsgul is some 12hr drive (895 kilometer) from Ulaanbaatar with some good stops on the way for food and accommodation (all paved road).

Take a public transport from Ulaanbaatar Dragon centre to Murun (centre of Huvsgul province) and hire a local transport from Murun to the ice festival.

Moreover, flight to Murun city, the center of Khuvsgul aimag is available on the occasion of the festival at about 500-600 thousand MNT. Then you can take taxi to the Khatgal village which is 100 km away from Murun city.

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Mongolia Eagle Hunters Photo Tour

Hosted by: NOMAD PHOTO EXPEDITIONS

July 3, Mongolia

11 DAYS – 6,950 US$

Maximum: 10 participants

Tour Leader: HARRY FISCH

INCLUDED:  One internal flight , All meals except three days,  1st Class Hotel in Ulaan Baatar, tourist and local hotels and tents in double rooms 

This is a Mongolia Photo Tour  on the NAADAM FESTIVALS where we will  stage private  photo sessions with eagle hunters, former MONGOLIA EAGLE  HUNTERS Festival champions and also with  horse trainersnomads living in their camps,  Mongolian models traditionally dressed, as well as other typical sports (horse racing, Mongolian fighting, archers, etc..) come to show off for the Naadam festival.

VISIT THE –>  MONGOLIA PHOTO TOUR 

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Jeju Olle Foundation expands sister trail network to Mongolia

Two walking trails will open in the Ulaanbaatar region in June

March 13 (The Jeju Weekly) An "olle" was originally a Jeju word for the narrow path leading from a house to the street. Since 2006, it has taken on another meaning altogether.

Olle Trails are a series of extensive walking and hiking paths that cover Jeju. Founder and Jeju native Suh Myoung-suk was inspired to develop these trails after walking the "Camino de Santiago", or Way of St. James, in Spain.

There are now 21 trails covering 422 kilometers on the island, as well as three sister trails and six friendship trails in Canada, Australia, England, Switzerland, and Lebanon.

The Jeju Olle Foundation will open its newest sister trails in Mongolia on June 18 and 19 after an agreement was reached between the Jeju Tourism Organization, the Ulaanbaatar tourism board, and the Mongolian capital's tourism agency association.

The trails - both in the vicinity of Ulaanbaatar - are 14.5 and 11 kilometers respectively.
The longer 14.5 km trail takes walkers through a traditional yurt tent village near the city before returning through a forest path to give walkers a taste of both Mongolian culture and nature.

The shorter 11 km trail includes an overnight stay in a yurt tent in Terelj National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visitors will be able to see firsthand Mongolian herding culture with yaks and horses.

Representatives for the Mongolian trails have visited Jeju to receiving training to create the famous Jeju "ganse" pony symbol and colored ribbons as trail markers.

The Jeju Olle Foundation is helping to develop the trail routes, and produce manuals and trail facilities. The Jeju Tourism Organization is also helping to promote and fund the project.

There are plans to add two more trails to the Mongol network by 2019. Trail organizers hope that the partnership helps to boost travel and cultural exchange between Mongolia and Jeju.

The Jeju Olle Foundation has teamed up with travel agency Pongnang to organize four-night, five-day treks in the land of Genghis Khan in order to coincide with the opening of the Mongolian trails in June.

The deal includes a return direct flight from Jeju Island to Ulaanbaatar with Jeju Olle staff and supporters. For further details visit jejuolle.org or email jejuolle@jejuolle.org.

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Finite Infinity | Mongolia by Claudia Ioan

(Roam Magazine)

A journey proving to be mainly inner, the one in Mongolia.

A planet of spatial immensity and apparent temporal suspension, in which everything elicits to turn one's look inside oneself.

This land is governed by elementary forces: atmospheric ones. Unstoppable. The power of elements is such that man is obliged to muster all of his energies so as to harmonise with the environment, without trying to fight its extremes.

It is a land of threshold between those extremes, of concurrence of opposites, of border between epochs, continents, mental and cultural worlds. All is complementary without being in contrast with anything.

Ancient gestures add up to one another and are repeated, in the alternation of light and dark ruling this world. Everything cohabits in the immutable flowing of days, in this dilatation of time and space:

– Infinity with the embodiment of finite, which is man himself:
– History (a load of imperial magnificence and subjugation imposed and suffered over the
centuries, and of all the traditions easily readable in the contemporary lifestyle) with the present,
showing the indelible mark of change;
– Asia with Europe; East with West; buddhist and shamanic Mongolia with the Russian imprint , so
visible everywhere;
– Nomadic life with sedentary life, the latter being currently further motivated by severe climatic
conditions, especially by the dzud, terrible winters characterised by abnormal rigours, but also
by the ongoing, pressing desertification threatening the land;
– Geographical isolation with the promiscuity of life within the gers (Mongolian yurts).

Mongolia is a vast sovereign state, one of the largest landlocked states in the world, and the most sparsely populated. It is a semi-presidential representative democratic republic. Almost half of the population lives in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city, while 35% of the country's inhabitants are still nomadic. The horse culture is still integral, and most of the land is covered by grassy steppe. Although Mongolia is known as "The Land of the Eternal Blue" (there are more than 250 sunny days a year), its climate is harsh, being very hot in summer, but reaching easily -30° in winter. The recurrent dzuds are devastating, causing the death of animals.

The population (about 3,000,000) is mainly buddhist. Tibetan Buddhism has become once again the most practised religion in the country, after the end of religious repression in the 1990s. Nonetheless, Shamanism has left a deep mark in the country, and is still largely practised. Shamanism, occasionally called Tengerism, is the animistic and shamanic ethnic religion practised by Mongolians through history. It is a fascinating system of belief encompassing medicine, a cult of nature, religion, and a cult of ancestor worship.

The main national festival is Naadam, including the Three Manly Games of traditional sports: archery, horse-racing and wrestling. This festival has been organized for centuries and attracts an incredibly large public.

In August 2012, I have travelled through Mongolia and the Gobi Desert, 2,500km off-road, gazing at horizons apparently growing farther and farther.
Ever since the very first days, I heard these lines by Emily Dickinson resounding in my mind:

"There is a solitude of space A solitude of sea
A solitude of death, but these Society shall be
Compared with that profounder site
That polar privacy
A soul admitted to itself – Finite Infinity"

I have elaborated a new notion of emptiness, a new notion of endlessness, a new notion of horizon. My inner journey.

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Friends prepare to drive to Mongolia living out of a van

March 13 (The Argus) A TEAM of four will embark on a 13,000 mile-rally to Mongolia in a van to raise money for charity.

The friends, who all work for global aviation components supplier Avtrade, will set off from the company's headquarters in Sayers Common, near Hassocks, in July to travel to the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar.

During the four-week journey across two continents, the group will go via Avtrade's new China office in Guangzhou.

Luca Galelli, 25, marketing executive at Avtrade, said: "I am looking forward to taking part in this epic challenge and getting to see the many sights and experiencing the cultures along the way.

"We will be travelling through South East China and will aim to finish the trip in four weeks if all goes to plan.

"All of our bosses are very excited for us to complete the challenge and we will be raising money for some very good causes. The final route we will end up taking depends on the visa requirements for each country and whether that part of the trip goes smoothly."

Mr Galelli will be joined by Dan Gravenor, 23, from Denton, Kylie Levoi, 29, from Findon and Scott Pederson, 29, from Shoreham.

As they travel through 15 countries across desert and open plains and through forests and cities, the team will be exposed to the elements in an experience of a lifetime.

The current route they have planned will take them through England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Khazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, China and Mongolia.

Mr Galelli said: "Preparation for the final trip is extensive, starting with the vehicle as we will be living out of a Ford Transit for four weeks.

"We have tried to make the vehicle as comfortable and homely as possible.

"We have built beds in the back of the vehicle and we have a sink which will provide water from a tank on the roof.

"By the time we leave in July we will know the route like the back of our hand."

The charities the four will be raising money for are Go Help, Chestnut Tree House children's hospice in Angmering and national charity Mind.

For more about the trip, visit www.avtrade.com/mission-mongolia/.

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How to Get From Ulaanbaatar to Karakorum (Mongolia) for 7 Dollars

March 12 (Out of Your Comfort Zone) If you're visiting Mongolia, you'll probably pass through Ulaanbaatar (Ulan-Bator). Besides being the country's capital and its biggest city, – 50% of the population lives there! – it also has the main airporthotels, and train station. 

Ulaanbaatar itself does have a few attractions that are worth visiting:

  • Chinggis Khan (or Genghis Khan) Square in the center of the city
  • The parliament building in the same square
  • The Zaisan Memorial (an homage to the Soviet and Mongolian soldiers that fought in WWII) on a hill behind the city
  • The various museums and Buddhist temples 

Although to be honest, you'll only get the real Mongolia if you leave the city.

Of course, you can explore the Gobi Desert sleeping with nomads in their "gers," but this will take time, money, and needs to be done through a tour. (Although the Gobi was our FAVORITE part of visiting Mongolia….so I'd definitely recommend it if you can.)

If you're short on time, some other alternatives are to visit Gorkhi Terelj National Park (about 50 km from Ulaanbaatar) or Karakorum (about 5 hours from Ulaanbaatar).

Gorkhi Terelj National Park is definitely worth a visit. But since it's not a city but an actual national park, there's no public transportation going there. So, you'll also have to arrange a tour or hire a driver to visit it.

You can easily visit the park itself and the GIGANTIC Chinggis Khan statue in one day. 

But why visit Karakorum?

Well, unlike many places in Mongolia, it's easy and cheap to get to without a tour.

And after Ulaanbaatar, Karakorum is the most visited place in Mongolia. The first reason is that Karakorum is one of Mongolia's largest attractions and it's relatively close to the capital.

The second reason is because of Karakorum's history and touristic points.

Just as a side note – Mongolian names have lots of variation in spelling, so you may see "Karakorum" or "Kharkhorin." They are the same place. 

Some info about Karakorum

Karakorum is the old capital of Mongolia established by Genghis Khan. Remnants of this ancient settlement can still be seen in the city. However, the biggest attraction is the is the Erdene Zuu Monastery – Mongolia's oldest surviving monastery and one of the few that survived the communist purges in the early 1900s.

Karakorum is located in about 360 km from Mongolia's capital city within the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape – a UNESCO World Heritage region. 

Where to stay in Karakorum

We ended up staying at Gaya's Guesthouse and we would highly recommend it! We contacted her through her website to make a reservation. The guesthouse was well-located and Gaya was super helpful – from picking us up at the bus station, to giving us a lot of travel tips, and more!

We recommend you also stay in one of the gers for a proper Mongolian experience. 
She can also help you arrange extra activities and tours in Karakorum and around the area.

Here's her website: Gaya's Guesthouse.**

The cheapest way to get from Ulaanbaatar to Karakorum

Although there are tours and special vans that go from Ulaanbaatar to Karakorum, you don't need to pay the extra cost for them. You can go from Ulaanbaatar to Karakorum just using public transportation.

Here's the route: 

  • From the center of Ulaanbaatar to Dragon Bus Station 

Dragon Bus Station is on the west end of Ulaanbaatar on "Peace Avenue." This is Ulaanbaatar's main avenue as it cuts the city from east to west. If you visit the capital, you'll definitely pass along this avenue because this is where Genghis Khan square is.

On the avenue, you'll find buses that pass its entire length. So, it's pretty easy to take any bus from the center (or anywhere along Peace Avenue) and head west in the direction of Dragon Bus Station.

Personally, we took bus # 1. It cost ₮ 500 Mongolian Tugriks (MNT), or around 20 cents…a bargain!

The bus station will be on your right. It's easy to find but we'll put a photo here. 
Either way, just ask the bus driver or one of the passengers to let you know when to get off for the station.

  • From Dragon Bus Station to Karakorum 

Once at Dragon bus station, just go to the ticket counter and ask for Karakorum.

Otherwise, you can just show the cashier this image of Karakorum in Cyrillic: Хархорин

We bought our ticket for 11:00 AM and it cost ₮ 17,000 Mongolian Tugriks (MNT) or around USD $6.91.

The gate for your bus will be marked on your ticket, but it's right next to the ticket counter. Just look for the bus that has that same word in Cyrillic written on it. 
The trip itself was about 5-6 hours with one stop for lunch and the bathroom. So, hold tight!

  • From Karakorum's bus station to your accommodation 

Like we mentioned above, we stayed in Gaya's Guesthouse. She came to pick us up at the bus station for free, so that made things easy.

If you are staying somewhere else, see if they offer free pickups as well. Otherwise, the city is small enough that you can likely walk to your accommodation wherever it is.

How to explore Karakorum

Karakorum is a fairly small city. So, if you don't mind, you can walk to all the main attractions. Well, this was what we did, at least… 

What to do in Karakorum – activities and points of interest 

1.    Wander around Erdene Zuu Monastery

This is probably Karakorum's biggest attraction. With its incredible walls, the monastery is the highlight of the city. 
Set aside a few hours to explore its interior and the many Buddhist temples, as well as its surroundings. 
Behind the wall (in relation to the main entrance) a short walk away is where you'll find the ruins from the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire (The Ruins of the Grand Temple of Munkh Khaan)…besides a monument for it…and the famous tortoise!!

2.    Hike up to Monument for Mongol States and a view of the Orkhon River

Arriving here will take a bit of a walk. It took us about 45 minutes to walk from the guesthouse to the top of the hotel where the monument is. But once there, you'll have a beautiful view of the valley, the river, and the monument itself. 
With a bit of patience, maybe you'll have the lucky of seeing some eagles hunting in the area.

3.    Learn some history at the Kharakhorum Museum 

Yeah, yeah I know. There's a little 'h' in this spelling. But that's how it's written on the front of the museum. I really liked visiting this museum. It's fairly new and has a lot of cool info. It's essential if you want to understand a bit about the history of Karakorum as the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire. There's even a model inside the museum showing how the capital was in the past. It's very close (within walking distance) to Gaya's Guesthouse.

4.    Find peace at the small stupa at the top of the hill next to the city

Stupas are small Buddhist shrines that are usually found on the tops of hills and mountains. They are used as areas of meditation…and you can easily visit one!

Plus, it's the perfect activity to do the day you arrive in Karakorum. Since it'll already be the end of the afternoon when you arrive, just climb up to see the stupa and have a great view of the area…plus get a bit of exercise . Plus, the hill is just outside the entrance to Gaya's (so you really can't miss it).

5.    Become a detective and find the phallic rock

Yes, I really do mean a carved rock that is in the shape of a penis. Apparently, it's sort of famous and was built to remind the monks of their celibate vows.

Anyway, it's somewhere not far from the monastery but we weren't able to find it.

6.    Venture into Karakorum's surroundings on longer excursions

If you have time, there are a lot of other places to visit and things to do in the region such as an overnight stay with a nomadic family, horse trekking, a visit to Ugii Lake, and more. You can check Gaya's site for more ideas and organize with her.

How to get from Karakorum to Ulaanbaatar

It's very easy! Just do the opposite of what you did before. 

If you're staying with Gaya, she'll give you a ride to the Karakorum bus station (and even buy your ticket for you beforehand).

Once you arrive at Dragon Station in Ulaanbaatar, just take any bus along Peace Avenue going in the direction of the city center.

Total cost of roundtrip journey from Ulaanbaatar to Karakorum: 

            – 2x local bus in Ulaanbaataar = 2 x ₮ 500 MNTS = ₮ 1,000 MNTs

            – 2x bus from Ulaanbaatar to Karakorum = 2 x ₮ 17,000 MNTS = ₮ 34,000 MNTS

            Total: ₮ 35,00 MNTS or around USD $14.23*…not bad!! 

And that's it! Now you can visit Karakorum from Ulaanbaatar independently without having to pay for an expensive tour! Then you can stay for as long as you like and explore at your own pace.

Enjoy!

And stay tuned for some new articles about Mongolia in general, the Gobi Desert, and the west of the country (Khovd/Hovd).

Any questions? Want to know something else about Mongolia that's not in the article? Put your questions in the comments area below since we've traveled to other parts of Mongolia and can maybe help!

*Exchange rate for MNT to USD as of 03/10/2017

**No, we didn't receive any sort of discount or freebies for staying at Gaya's Guesthouse and writing about it. We just thought she was a great lady with a wonderful guesthouse and we wanted to share that with our readers!

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Ulaanbaatar 14251, Mongolia
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