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The choice of Mongolia - "Steppe Road"

The leading researcher of the Far East Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Isaev shared his opinion on the nearest prospects of Mongolia's development from East Russia

Several events of the last week attracted attention to Mongolia again. Just recently, President of Germany Joachim Gauk visited Ulan Bator. Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe followed him here. At the same time, the bill on the permanent neutrality of the country was submitted to the Mongolian parliament on behalf of the president of the country. According to its initiators, this should become "the basis for maintaining a balanced relationship with other countries."

The choice of Mongolia - "Steppe Road"
Mongolia is a small country, its population is only 3,2 million people. 1,2 million lives in the capital - Ulan Bator. But it is a very rich country - rich in copper, gold, uranium, rare earth metals and other resources. Experts even claim that Mongolia is the world's largest and fastest growing raw materials market. And from the beginning of the 21 century, the mining industry has become the locomotive that led the economy of the once agrarian country.

The total value of the top-10 of the largest deposits of coal, copper, gold, uranium and rare earth metals in Mongolia is approximately 2,75 trillion dollars. The most attractive for foreign companies are such large deposits of Mongolia as Oyu-Tolgoi (copper, gold), Tavan Tolgoi Coal) and Dornod (uranium). The reserves of the world's largest Tavan-Tolgoi deposit are 7,4 billion tons of coal. Experts of the corporation "Rio Tinto" estimate the reserves of the Oyu-Tolgoi deposit located in South Gobi, at 80 km from the border with China, in 25 million tons of copper for fifty years of operation.

Rich, not yet fully explored natural resources of Mongolia is a tasty piece of the "global raw pie" for many countries. It is no accident that Anglo-Australian company Rio Tinto, Chinese Shenhua, Chalco, American Peabody Energy, Japanese Itochu, Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo, Marubeni are actively introduced into Mongolia. and others.

Thanks to the industry, the average annual growth of the economy is 14%, and the country's GDP only increased from 2001 to 2011 year by 10 times. According to the forecasts of the World Bank in the next 10 years Mongolia's economy will grow by an average of 15 percent per year. However, given the country's dependence on exports of mining products, which prices are very volatile, Mongolia's GDP growth will also experience noticeable fluctuations.

Under these conditions, it becomes clear that today Ulaanbaatar faces a very difficult choice of the optimal algorithm for extracting the maximum benefit from unique natural resources.

Since the beginning of the new century, the Mongolian economy has received very decent investments. Canadian extractive industry investments exceeded 1,5 billion. China’s investment is almost 2,5 billion. Over the past twenty-five years, more than 5500 Chinese-owned enterprises have been opened in Mongolia, which is almost half of all enterprises with foreign participation. Japan also does not stand aside. By 2010, the total Japanese support for the Mongolian economy exceeded 3,6 billion dollars. USA. Moreover, half of these funds were provided free of charge, and the rest - in the form of soft loans. South Korea, which is the third largest investor in Mongolia, looks good.

At the same time, Ulaanbaatar is now striving to build its policy, combining new trends with traditional motives. This was reflected to a certain extent in the development and implementation of the concept of the "steppe path".

The concept of the "steppe path" is based on an understanding of the beginning of the Eurasian integration processes and the need to determine the place of the country in this process. Therefore, the active development of the mining industry and the increased supply of mineral resources abroad force Ulaanbaatar to improve the transport and logistics infrastructure, which today exists in its infancy and depends on the transport arteries of China and Russia.

Having no direct access to the sea, and, consequently, to world consumers, Mongolia was sandwiched between two giants - Russia and China. Therefore, it is extremely important for Ulaanbaatar to use Russian and Chinese factors in its economic development. China and Russia are the first and second most important foreign trade partners of Mongolia, 3 three quarters of all import flows come from China and Russia. And China is also one of the main investors in its economy.

Thus, it is Russia and China that become the partners with which Mongolia intends to build a "steppe path" and link its own project with the Russian Eurasian Economic Union and the Chinese "economic belt of the Silk Road."

The "Steppe Road" project has already been approved by the Chinese side during the visit of Mongolian President Xi Jinping (August 2014). The declaration, signed following the results of the state visit of the head of the PRC, outlines the need for organizing tripartite negotiations with the Russian leadership specifically in this direction.

Moscow also received with interest and submitted (September 2014) to Vladimir Putin by the President of Mongolia Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorzh the project “Steppe Path”, which is able to completely update the structure of traffic flows between China, Mongolia and Russia. Russian-Mongolian relations are a natural and important component of the eastern vector of Russia's foreign policy. This is emphasized in the “Concept of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation,” orienting itself to strengthening the political and economic development of the country based on the capabilities and advantages of its eastern regions.

Today, the so-called "second track" is being built - the work of the tripartite expert community, designed to determine the ways of conjugation of the three programs.

In the autumn of this year, a Russian-Mongolian-Chinese tripartite research association was established in Ulan Bator, which at an expert level will study the prospects for interaction of three countries in these three projects. The founder of the Association from the Russian side was the Institute of the Far East of the RAS. Its Russian members are the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Baikal University of Economics and Law (Irkutsk), IPREK SB RAS (Chita), Economic Research Institute of the Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Khabarovsk), Institute of Mongolian Studies, Buddhology and Tibetology SB RAS ( Ulan-Ude), Institute for the Study of Lake Baikal Resources SB RAS (Ulan-Ude), EEI BNC SB RAS (Ulan-Ude).

Scientists of the three countries declared their intentions to concentrate their efforts on identifying the most effective opportunities for economic and logistic-transport cooperation, which, in addition to Mongolia, will primarily involve the Baikal and Far Eastern regions of Russia and the territories of north-eastern and northern China.

During the discussions, experts discussed issues of practical cooperation in the road transport sector. Mongolian partners talked about the modernization of the Mongolian railways, as well as the construction of a high-speed high-road road, more than 1000 km, which crosses Mongolia from the south to the north to the Russian-Mongolian border. A tripartite transport agreement has been prepared for signing. The idea of ​​creating a large transport and logistics center is discussed.

At the same time, it is quite obvious that Ulaanbaatar will try to balance the emerging dependence and, possibly, even to find a "third neighbor" - theoretically it can be the USA, South Korea, Japan, Canada. Perhaps, this is connected with the introduction of a bill on the neutrality of Mongolia into the country's parliament.

The priorities for the future may also be indicated by the choice of the Mongolian youth for an education. Today, for example, more than 2 thousands of Mongolian students study in Japan. Over 1000 young Mongols received Chinese state scholarships to study at universities in China. Willingly Mongolian boys girls go to study in South Korea.

In Russia, the flow of students from this Asian country is gradually decreasing. And the main language of international communication in Ulan-Bator today is increasingly English, which displaces the Mongolian intelligentsia from the Russian language.
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