The Modernization of Mongolia


Mongolian workdays end on 10 July. From 11 to 13 July it is the Naadam festival. After that are the summer holidays. (This doesn’t mean that all functions cease. The pace of work slackens a little.)

From June to August is the best season. That’s why the four Mongolian seasons are called June, July, August and winter.

In Calgary in Alberta, Canada, the annual festival called the Calgary Stampede also takes place at the same time (9 to 18 July). This is a cowboy festival.

What the two festivals have in common is the continuing of a sporting event which reflects the lifestyle and history of people who live while herding nomadically on grasslands. The joy and pride of the people of the grassy plains are displayed.

For Mongolia and Alberta there is one more political and economic backdrop they share in common. The Province of Alberta is Canada’s leading oil and natural gas production area, and backed by the income from resource production, there is independent management by the provincial government, drawing a line with the federal government in the east. And it is affluent. Today, Mongolia is aiming toward the world of Alberta.

Canada is a nation with a free economy, the history of which is also long. The price of oil as a regional resource began to rise rapidly, however, from the 1973 oil shock on. At that time the rules on resource development that had been formed domestically in Canada were changed with a strengthening of the authority of the provinces.

Mongolia also has been supported by the recent surge in resource prices, and is attempting to revise the mechanisms for the development of those resources. The Mongolian government revised the law on mining in 2007, and further in 2009, in a form that substantiated this, concluded an investment agreement with Ivanhoe Mines relating to the development of the Oyuu Tolgoi copper and gold mines. Regarding Oyuu Tolgoi, they got to work on the construction of production facilities in April of this year, and production is slated to commence in 2013.

Regarding the coal mine of Tavan Tolgoi, the outcome of the deliberations up to July of this year in the State Great Khural [parliament] was that a basic direction was set, and that an implementation plan was to be formulated by this winter.

Via resource development projects, Mongolia’s GNP will dramatically increase, and the living standards of the people will grow the richer.

In the area of industry also, centered on Sainshand, the aimag center of Dornogovi [East Gobi] Aimag, they are aiming at the formation of an industrial complex with a hoped for scale of investment of US$10 billion, beginning with a processing base for South Gobi resources (copper refining, and the gasification and liquefaction of coal).

Aiming for annual average economic growth of 14% from 2007 to 2015, the incomes of Mongolia’s 2.7 million citizens will rise from the current US$1,900 per capita to US$5,000. Further, the ambitious figure of trying to get to US$12,000 (on a par with the ROK and Taiwan) over the period from 2016 to 2021 has also been put out.

For the formation of an affluent Mongolia, there is no need to follow the example of Alberta, but what are necessary are modernization policies for the two major industries of resources and livestock, and fundamental policies including raising the level of public services, such as: the repletion of the fundamentals for people’s livelihood, including food and housing; education; and medical care. A master plan for the formulation of a vision to that end, and for a concrete development of strategy, has not yet been seen. This is the reason why the cooperation of Japan, which is ahead in “free economics”, is being further sought.

With an expectation of Terelj becoming a tourist area the equal of Banff, I wish for the development of the land of the people of the grassy plains.

[Translated by ERINA]