The Business Council of Mongolia (BCM) organized a meeting between President Kh.Battulga and investors and businesses on August 14 to discuss how both the external and internal business environment of Mongolia might change under the new President’s first term.
More than 270 representatives from businesses and investors gathered to get a sense of what recently-elected President Kh.Battulga’s policy on business will be.
“I was sworn in as the President of Mongolia only 34 days ago. This is my first time participating in such a meeting. My understanding is that the purpose of this meeting organized by the BCM is to discuss ways we can improve both the foreign and domestic business environment of Mongolia. I also trust that a recommendation will be drafted by the BCM to help improve our country’s legislation regarding investment,” the President remarked.
Many investors and businesses saw a potential ally in Kh.Battulga as he is well known as a prominent businessman with several ventures in many sectors of the economy.
“I started in business in 1990 with the democratic transition, starting from a trader and becoming a director of a factory. For this reason, I want to express to businessmen that they should have confidence in cooperating with the President in this matter,” he said.
The President said that the presidential election in 2017 saw a large movement
of citizens who advocated for a better business environment, a more stable and sustainable economic policy, and therevival of the economy.
“We get a lot of opinions and suggestions on foreign policy. Mongolia must have a unified foreign policy. The policies of the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs cannot be completely different. Therefore, the office of the President will be unified with Cabinet when it comes to foreign policy. Turmoil between political parties during the election and political infighting is our internal issue,” divulged Kh.Battulga.
RAILWAYS ARE KEY TO IMPROVING MONGOLIA’S BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT
The President talked about his tenure as a three-time Member of Parliament and two-time Cabinet member and what his experience has taught him.
“The Railway Project is a large-scale project. Mongolia is a landlocked country with only two neighbors. As a result, the railway system is the key to improving Mongolia’s business environment. Consequently, Parliament approved the railway project in 2010. The project concerns the construction of 5,000 kilometers of railway to link Mongolia, Russia, and China.
AGRICULTURE: OUR BIGGEST AND MOST FORGOTTEN SECTOR
“Currently, our country has around 60 million livestock, yet we cannot sell our meat, wool, cashmere, and hide. This is why I call this a forgotten sector,” Kh.Battulga stated.
The President said that he will work with Cabinet to prioritize agriculture as much as mining, policy-wise.
According to the President, every year, more than 10 million pieces of half-processed or raw hides are exported without added cost. Globally, Mongolia provides more than 30 percent of the wool, but the government does not support it enough, he says.
After his presentation, the President took questions from the crowd.
The taxation system of Mongolia is confusing and is in conflict with international tax standards. What is the President’s stance on this issue?
Unemployment and poverty have reached critical levels. Investment is important in solving these issues. Thereby, the need arises to support domestic investors with tax policies. The most important thing is to maintain a clear and stable policy. Investors are probably hoping that the tax policies of Mongolia will become more similar to the policies of developed countries. It would be possible to work with such investors to draft a bill that would accomplish that.
How do you see the current marco economy of Mongolia and do you believe the economy will be able to rebound?
Our country does not have a large business environment, the economy has shrunk considerably. To be honest, our economy has been “sleeping” for the last 20 years, not awake but not dead. I see the result of the 2017 Presidential election as a call by the people to revive the economy. When we all leave this room, we must all leave with the belief that the economy will improve.
What type of policy will you uphold as President in regards to mining and mining investment?
I will support mining. As President, I will uphold the policy that all contracts and equipment in mining must be up to standards. Since mining has a lot of money attached to it, we need to be careful of politicians who have been bought or given bribes by mining companies to vote in their favor.