|Date||April 7, 2021|
|Speaker||BAYARSAIKHAN Banzragch, Ph.D (Former Chairman of National Development Agency of Mongolia / Counsellor, Head of Economy and Trade division, Embassy of Mongolia to Japan)|
|Commentator||ONODERA Osamu (Deputy Director General for Trade Policy, Trade Policy Bureau, METI / Consulting Fellow, RIETI)|
|Moderator||ANDO Haruhiko (Vice Chairman, RIETI)|
Sandwiched between China and Russia, Mongolia has a national land area about four times that of Japan, yet a population of only 3.4 million. That is less than populations of Hong Kong (7.5 million) and the Uyghur people (12.8 million), who are currently the focus of international discussions. Amid the harsh geographical circumstances of a landlocked country, Mongolia maintains independent peaceful diplomacy with an emphasis on ties to Japan. In October 2019, Mongolia revised its Constitution, indicating its intent to carry out "sustainable and stable development policy." In May 2020, Mongolia formulated its Long-term Vision 2050, a plan that looks back on the country's 30-year path following democratization while setting out policy for long-term development over the next 30 years. At this seminar, Bayarsaikhan Banzragch, a former Chairman of the National Development Agency of Mongolia who worked on formulation of the long-term vision, explained in fluent Japanese the future vision for Mongolia and the potential for cooperation with Japan.
The aims of Mongolia's Long-term Vision 2050
The creation of Long-term Vision 2050, Mongolia's roadmap for long-term development policy, was overseen by the country's National Development Agency under the leadership of then-Chief of the Cabinet Secretariat and current Prime Minister Oyun-Erdene Luvsannamsrai and with the participation of over 1,500 bureaucrats, researchers, and other parties. The Constitution of Mongolia was amended to specify that "development policies and plans should be sustainable and stable." To that end, development policy-related laws were also amended in May 2020. The maintenance of long-term development policy as top-level policy was guaranteed under law, regardless of elections and changes of administration.
Every program of Long-term Vision 2050 is associated with the SDGs. On that topic, the Mongolian Minister of Finance and I presented the country's Voluntary National Review 2019 at a session of the United Nations in July 2019. Regarding air pollution, the topic of focus, Mongolia cut air pollution in the capital region by 40% in 2020.
While Mongolia has always ranked among the top 10 countries globally in intellectual abilities, this accomplishment has been underutilized and the country lags the world significantly in a number of development metrics. The poverty rate is high at 28.4% (2019), while GDP per capita is $4,294. We aim to raise GDP per capita to $38,000 and reduce the poverty rate to 5% by 2050.
The Long-term Vision declares the intent to maintain nomadic culture as a shared value of the country's people. Mongolia seeks to commercialize nomadic culture tourism and a sustainable livestock industry unlike any other in the world. It also seeks to make the capital region a hub for logistics in Northeast Asia by 2050, by developing a new international airport and satellite cities.
Mongolia's population of 3.4 million is increasing by 100,000 yearly and is expected to reach 5.4 million by 2050. Given the importance of economic development that secures stable employment and income for the Mongolian people, the country hopes to maintain its current annual economic growth rate of 5% to 6%.
Expectations for Japan
This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Mongolia and Japan that came into effect on June 7, 2016. There are many projects that offer potential for cooperation. In international supply chains, the two countries cooperate on the development and maintenance of logistics infrastructure. The installation of sprinkler irrigation systems carries the potential to secure huge areas of agricultural land. In the livestock industry, we envision the development of processed meat products, cashmere, wool, leather products, and lactic acid bacteria-related products. In the tourism industry, we envision Roadside Station development and space travel training centers, among other projects. In the information processing industry, the development of AI, ICT, and large-scale data centers is feasible. In the energy industry, including the renewable energy and battery industries, we will promote development, processing, and manufacturing involving underground resources. The Japanese company Megatech Corporation is carrying out a silica mining and processing project in Mongolia, and high-quality coke manufacturing and limestone projects are also moving forward.
Mongolia is the world's second-largest producer of horse meat, and actively produces mutton and goat meat as well. Sumitomo Corporation is already conducting commercialization studies and is exploring the potential for exports to the Middle East under the Livestock Industry 2.0 initiative, which utilizes IoT for traceability. Transforming the livestock industry into an export industry is a major mission. Mongolia commands 40% of the world market for cashmere and wool, but 80% of its cashmere is exported as raw wool. If half of this can undergo secondary processing and productization within Mongolia, over 40,000 new jobs will be created.
The tourism industry is a peaceful industry that provides jobs, income, and joy to many people. We hope to develop a network of Roadside Stations modeled after those of Japan. Constructing distribution and logistics infrastructure in rural areas will also aid regional economic development. In short, we believe that bringing together what Japan and Mongolia each possesses will enable the promotion of joint projects in international supply chains. Regarding the just-completed New Ulaanbaatar International Airport, during my time as Chairman of the National Development Agency a concession agreement was signed by which Mitsubishi Corporation, Narita International Airport Corporation, Japan Airport Terminal Co., Ltd. (Haneda Airport), and JALUX Inc. will jointly participate in operation of the airport for 15 years. We hope to engage in joint development to make the airport a hub for Central Asia. There is also potential for all manner of peripheral projects around the new airport. These include economic and financial special zones, integrated resort (IR) tourism special zones, international logistics centers, and large-scale greenhouse projects making use of the vast land areas.
We aim to cooperate with Japan on achieving carbon neutrality 30 years from now. As a major coal producer, Mongolia is examining the introduction of clean coal technology from Japan. Mongolia faces further challenges in the reuse of resources. The country imports 94% of its automobiles (including used cars) from Japan, and improperly disposed-of used batteries have become a societal problem. I believe that recycling these will make a contribution to society.
Human resource development will be crucial in achieving Mongolia's long-term plans. The number of Mongolian international students in Japan has increased year by year to reach 3,170. There is a need for further cooperation with elementary schools, junior high schools, high schools, and universities. In the industrial field, technical colleges are attracting worldwide attention for the training of engineers. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is currently implementing the Project to Develop 1,000 Engineers in Mongolia, with 1,000 Mongolians scheduled to engage in studies at Japanese technical colleges by March 2023.
Mongolia has concluded an EPA with Japan and participates in preferential tariff systems with the U.S. and the EU, which means that products made in Mongolia are able to target Western markets. When I was Chairman of the National Development Agency, I brought together five related government bodies to launch the One Stop Service Center to attract investment. This center currently offers 62 types of services and plans to establish a Japanese-speaking contact desk.
I hope that Mongolian events will be held regularly online in the future. I invite you to take a look at the monthly information magazines distributed online by the Mongolian National Development Agency and the Embassy of Mongolia in Japan.
On the topic of future Japan–Mongolia relations, there are three major themes. One is New Ulaanbaatar International Airport, which was constructed through an ODA loan and will become a base for tourism. The second is the utilization of agricultural product and livestock processing. There are expectations for collaboration with the tourism industry in the Master Plan on the Agricultural Value Chain in Mongolia that JICA is implementing from 2020 to 2023. It is important to determine the best use of Mongolia's history, landscapes, and other rich materials to create a compelling story. The third theme is the development of IT and other new industries. The IT industry is able to overcome many of the disadvantages of being a landlocked country, and it is becoming clear that Mongolia possesses a large pool of Japanese-speaking human resources who have an affinity for Japan and very high abilities in science and mathematics.
Human resources are the key to these three pillars, and in fact, over 3,000 Mongolian international students returning to the country are now supporting each other through the JUGAMO association for returnees. There are also three Japanese-style technical colleges in Mongolia, with close ties to Japan's National Institute of Technology. JICA's Mongolia-Japan Center for Human Resources Development further contributes to human resources development in Mongolia. I have hopes that business collaboration between Japan and Mongolia will continue to deepen.
The international students from Mongolia are truly outstanding, and I think the country has a bright future. Mongolia is landlocked, but the disadvantages it faces as a remote area will disappear as DX advances. Is it possible to further promote cooperation between Japan and Mongolia in ICT?
It is difficult for individual governments to move ahead independently in the cyber field. The governments of Japan and Mongolia are promoting cooperation. I think that ICT is a highly effective field for cooperation between the two countries.
I think Mongolia is an ideal location for satellite offices, but what is the state of the communication environment, such as 4G and 5G?
Mongolia faces very few natural disasters such as earthquakes, which makes it an ideal location for data centers. Regarding the communication environment, optical fiber is being laid in all 21 provinces and in major towns and villages. Mobile 4G covers most residential areas, business areas including mines, tourist areas, and other areas nationwide, and continues to expand. The development and introduction of all manner of application services using 4G and smartphones by the government, public, and private sectors, and the use of these by the general public, are making considerable progress. Mongolia's largest mobile phone company, MobiCom, in which Japan's KDDI is an investor, has a Japanese president and leads the telecommunications industry in Mongolia. While studying the know-how of Japan, Mongolia is also preparing for the introduction of 5G in the near future. In addition, Mongolia is moving ahead with the scheduled opening of its new airport on July 1. I hope you will visit the new airport when it opens.
*This summary was compiled by RIETI Editorial staff.