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Policy and politics

L. Oyun-Erdene: Eliminating congestion at the border checkpoints will increase export capacity by 2 to 3 times

A. Khaliun

Mongolia’s Prime Minister Luvsannamsrain Oyun-Erdene gave a detailed interview to the Mongolian National Broadcaster (MNB) last night on 19th February about policies implemented and activities planned during his two-year tenure as head of the cabinet. 

The Prime Minister spoke about the theft of coal, the fraud of the Development Bank, the fight against corruption and the possibilities of economic revival.

We are presenting the part of the Prime Minister’s interview where he talks about the border checkpoint revitalization measures reflected in the first chapter of the government’s New Revival Policy and how this will benefit the national economy. The Prime Minister was interviewed by MNB journalist R. Gandiimaa.

According to L. Oyun-Erdene, Mongolia seeks to transport its coal, copper, and other export goods and products by rail. For this purpose, the Gashuunsukhait railroad, which had been frozen for more than 10 years, was built and put into operation. Now it will take 1.5 years to build a border connection terminal. The construction of the Khangi-Mandal railroad has been completed. Our country used to sell its coal only to Bayannuur, but this railroad makes it possible to sell  to the Chinese city of Bugat.

With the construction of Bichigt, we will get connected by rail to the border checkpoint which is the closest to the sea port. In addition, this year a decision will be taken to implement a big project to connect the border checkpoint Shiveekhuren with another checkpoint Artssuur. In short, all our border crossings will be connected by auto road. We also intend to connect all strategic checkpoints by rail. Removing obstacles currently affecting border checkpoints will increase export opportunities by 2-3 times.

The immediate strategy of the Mongolian government is to ship coal for export very quickly and in large quantities. Revenues from coal sales should be used to diversify the economy.

Our country sells 30 million tonnes of coal a year. If sales increase to 45 million tonnes, Mongolia’s economy will reach a very different level than today. If there is no hidden economy and coal is sold at the border price rather than at the mine mouth price, the national economy will benefit. If 50 or 100 million tonnes of coal were exported, the GDP per person would exceed $10,000.  Just two years ago, Mongolia was talking about how to overcome difficulties without defaulting. What will the economy look like in 2023-2024?

The economy will recover. During the Covid-19 lockdown, the economy contracted by -7%, the second recession since 1990. We managed to survive a difficult period when the state budget deficit was about 20%. By opening the borders and  restoring the border checkpoints, the economy is expected to grow in 2023.