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Mongolian leader lauds cooperation

Updated: 2013-10-28 07:04
By Zhao Yanrong ( China Daily)

Economic cooperation between China and Mongolia shows strong potential for growth and diversification, aided by new legislation that opens Mongolia to foreign investment, Mongolian Prime Minister Norov Altankhuyag said on Saturday.

Altankhuyag made the comments in Beijing at the end of his first official visit to China since taking office in 2012.

"Trade and investment with China are our top priorities, as China has a significant share in our economic sectors," he said.

China has been Mongolia's biggest trading partner and its main source of investment for many years, and bilateral trade has grown rapidly over the past decade.

According to the Chinese embassy in Mongolia, bilateral trade increased from $260 million in 2002 to $6.6 billion in 2012, of which $3.9 billion was Mongolian exports to China, making up about 70 percent of Mongolia's total exports.

Altankhuyag said the relationship could grow stronger through new laws opening Mongolia to foreign investment, with Chinese companies among the main beneficiaries.

"Recently, Mongolia has changed its legal environment in order to stabilize the investment environment," he said.

In early October, Mongolia passed a foreign-investment law aimed at easing restrictions on investors in strategic sectors such as mining, telecommunications and banking, and providing greater clarity on the taxes they must pay.

Mongolia has vast natural resources, with more than 6,000 different minerals on offer, and most of China's imports from Mongolia are mineral products.

"There has been criticism in the past that the Mongolian legal environment was changeable. Right now, the legal environment has become very predictable and stable," Altankhuyag said.

With abundant natural resources and a well-educated younger population, Mongolia has experienced double-digit growth over the past two years.

Altankhuyag said that with such advantages, Mongolia can meet China's development needs and the cooperation between the two countries will continue to be effective.

The Mongolian prime minister also encouraged Chinese investors to pay attention to his nation's growing agricultural sector.

"One business area in which Chinese investors can have great success in Mongolia is the agricultural sector. It won't be long before you see more agricultural products, including food and wooden products, as well as raw cashmere, exported to the world from Mongolia," he said.

While the Mongolia market is relatively small, Altankhuyag said, its geographic location provides access to larger economies.

"We are located between China, the second-largest economy, and Russia, the sixth-largest. Investment in Mongolia means broader opportunities to enter the Russian and Chinese markets. In the future, if we can successfully develop our infrastructure, we will become the bridge between Asia and Europe," he said.

The Mongolian prime minister's confidence is based in part on the strategic partnership between China and Mongolia, which has been strengthened during his visit. Leaders of the two countries witnessed the signing of a series of documents outlining key areas of cooperation, firming up a strategic partnership established in 2011.

They agreed to cooperate more on economic, security, social, cultural and trade issues, with both sides stressing the need to respect each other's core interests and major concerns.

China and Mongolia both play important roles in issues of regional security and development. For instance, in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, China is a member state and Mongolia is an observer state.

"Mongolia, on the regional and global stage, is pursuing a policy of peace," said Altankhuyag. "We have been effectively cooperating with China on regional security issues. Under our strategic partnership, we have indicated in our medium and long-term programs that we will enlarge our cooperation in these areas."

In 2014, the two countries will celebrate the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, and Altankhuyag said his government plans to arrange more cultural exchange programs with China to increase people-to-people contact.

"I see a very bright future for relations between the two countries," he said.

Mongolian leader lauds cooperation