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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 in the past week have drawn attention to Mongolia again. Most recently, Ulaanbaatar was visited by German President Joachim Gauck. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe followed him here. On the same days, a bill on the country's permanent neutrality was submitted to the Mongolian parliament on behalf of the country's president. According to its initiators, this should become "the basis for maintaining balanced relations with other countries."

The choice of Mongolia - "Steppe Road"
Mongolia is a small country with a population of only 3,2 million. 1,2 million live 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 argue that Mongolia is the largest and fastest growing raw material market in the world. And since the beginning of the 21st century, the mining industry has become the locomotive that led the economy of the once agrarian country.

The total value of the top 10 largest deposits of coal, copper, gold, uranium and rare earth metals in Mongolia is approximately $ 2,75 trillion. 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 amount to 7,4 billion tons of coal. Experts from the Rio Tinto corporation estimate the reserves of the Oyu-Tolgoi deposit, located in South Gobi, 80 km from the border with China, at 25 million tons of copper for fifty years of exploitation.

The rich, not yet fully explored natural resources of Mongolia are a tasty piece of the "global commodity pie" for many countries. It is no coincidence that the Anglo-Australian company "Rio Tinto", the Chinese "Shenhua", "Chalco", the American "Peabody Energy", the Japanese "Itochu", "Mitsui", "Mitsubishi", "Sumitomo", "Marubeni" are actively being introduced to Mongolia. other.

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

In these conditions, it becomes clear that today Ulaanbaatar is facing a very difficult choice of the optimal algorithm for deriving the maximum benefit from the unique natural resources.

Since the turn of the century, the Mongolian economy has received a very decent investment. Canadian investments in the extractive industry exceeded $ 1,5 billion. China's investments - almost 2,5 billion. Over the past twenty-five years, more than 5500 enterprises with Chinese capital 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. USA. Moreover, half of these funds were provided free of charge, and the rest - in the form of soft loans. South Korea looks good as it ranks third among Mongolia's investors.

At the same time, Ulan Bator today seeks to build its policy, combining new trends with traditional motives. To a certain extent, this was reflected in the development and implementation of the concept of the "steppe path".

The concept of the "steppe path" is based on the understanding of the incipient Eurasian integration processes and the need to determine the country's place in this process. Therefore, the active development of the mining industry and the expanded supply of mineral resources abroad are forcing 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 found itself sandwiched between two giants - Russia and China. Therefore, it is extremely important for Ulan Bator to use Russian and Chinese factors in its economic development. China and the Russian Federation are the first and second most important foreign trade partners of Mongolia; 3–XNUMX 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 are becoming the partners with whom Mongolia intends to build a "steppe road" and link its own project with the Russian Eurasian Economic Union and the Chinese "economic belt of the Silk Road".

The Steppe Way project has already received the approval of the Chinese side during the visit of the President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping to Mongolia (August 2014). The declaration, signed following the state visit of the head of the PRC, outlined the need to organize trilateral negotiations with the Russian leadership specifically in this area.

Moscow also received with interest the Steppe Route project presented to Vladimir Putin (September 2014) by the President of Mongolia Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, which can completely renew the structure of transport 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 "Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation", which focuses on strengthening the political and economic development of the country based on the opportunities and advantages of its eastern regions.

Today, the so-called "second path" is being built - the work of the trilateral expert community, called upon to determine the ways of connecting the three programs.

In the fall of this year, a Russian-Mongolian-Chinese trilateral research association was established in Ulan Bator, which at the expert level will study the prospects for interaction between the three countries within the framework of these three projects. The Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences became the founder of the Association on the Russian side. And its Russian members are the Institute of Oriental Studies RAS, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Baikal University of Economics and Law (Irkutsk), IPREK SB RAS (Chita), Institute of Economic Research FEB RAS (Khabarovsk), Institute of Mongolian Studies, Buddhology and Tibetology SB RAS ( Ulan-Ude), Institute for the Study of Lake Baikal Resources SB RAS (Ulan-Ude), OREI BNTs SB RAS (Ulan-Ude).

Scientists from the three countries declared their intentions to concentrate efforts on identifying the most effective opportunities for economic, logistics and transport interaction, in which, in addition to Mongolia, will be involved, first of all, the Baikal and Far Eastern regions of Russia and the territories of northeastern and northern China.

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

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

The priorities for the future can also be evidenced by the choice of a place for education by Mongolian youth. Today, for example, more than 2 thousand Mongolian students study in Japan. Over 1000 young Mongolians have received Chinese government scholarships to study at universities in the PRC. Mongolian boys and girls willingly go to study in South Korea.

The flow of students from this Asian country to Russia is gradually decreasing. And the main language of international communication in Ulan Bator today is increasingly becoming English, ousting Russian from the everyday life of the Mongolian intelligentsia.
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