What is your candidate's views of foreign investment into the country's mining sector and its infrastructure for transportation and energy?
Any serious leader interested in the future of Mongolia is for attracting and suporting massive foreign investments in all sectors - mining, transportation, IT, media, social services such as health care, housing, and tourism. The issue is not who is for investments or against investments, because if you’re for Mongolia, you must be for investments.
The issue is why are we not getting large and important investments that we should and must be getting. The current government and certain people in both parties are at fault for not being able to attract the investments.
There are two foundations upon which we must attract investments.
One is transparency: The people of Mongolia must understand the terms of investments into important projects. For the long term security of the foreign investors and for stability of our economic development, the Mongolian people must be confident that the nations long-term interests are being protected.
Two is investor confidence: It is equally important that the interests of all investors be protected from corruption, political instability, and uncertainty. They must also be confident their employees will be treated with respect and protected from judicial corruption. The investors are not putting money in Mongolia at this time, because they are running into corruption, lack of confidence, and uncertainty about the direction of Mongolia. They realize the government does not have the confidence of the people. They are not sure their investments are going to be protected.
I’m going to create an investmnent environment, which is transparent to the Mongolian people - the terms of deals and the annual progress on these deals. And I’m going to set up mechanisms that are going to protect the interests of foreign investors and all institutional investors in our stock market. We need to improve our Financial Regulatory Committee that monitors information coming from all public stock companies. This is fundamental to our future capital markets growth.
I think it is interesting to look at our neighbor Kazakshtan. Kazakhstan has had some of the same problems even though they have had massive investments from giants such as Chevron and Exxon. Massive $30-40 billion investments. Yet, they are still having a hard time attracting investors to their privatization program. President Nazarbayev understands that part of the problem is that investors are not sure their rights will be protected under the current legal system. So Kazakhstan is creating a new investment zone similar to what has been done in the Middle East and considering use of English Law to resolve disputes. I’m not sure this is our solution. But we must look for strengthening investor confidence. I understand the problem they are addressing. We must look for innovative solutions.
Futhermore, we must give large investors and other nations, including our two neighbors and our 3rd neighbors, the confidence that in Mongolia they will have dependable legal standing, transactions will be dealt with honesty, contracts and property rights will be protected equally and honestly, as long as investors stay within the realms of our system and good governance. The problem is not investors are disinterested. The problem is the Mongolian people are worried that a few oligarchs are selling off our assets and pocketing bribes in foreign bank accounts. The people worry that Mongolia is being sold out by the corrupt businessmen and politicians who do not care for the people, nor the future sovereignty of Mongolia.
As an example of foreign investors loss of confidence, a very good friend of mine, close to the top leadership in Moscow, says Russia has never seen such a level of corruption as they have seen recently in Mongolia. Even the Chinese leadership complain there is no government that they can make a deal, which will withstand time. They know the current leadership cannot make deals, because they do not have the trust of the people and they are too concerned with their own corrupt interests and selling assets for their benefits, selling government posts, and stealing elections.
I will be the most pro-foreign investment President we have had. Foreign investments can be from China, from Russia, from our 3rd neighbors. What matters is that it be the best deals with the finest global companies such as McKinsey, Samsung, Posco, Deutsche Bahn, BNP Paribas, Guggenheim, Sidley Austin, Fluor, ThyssenKrupp, Sembcorp, Air Liquide, Inter Raoues, Russian Railways, and Baosteel, who I have personally worked with in the past and in an honest way that would always withstand any Foreign Corrupt Practices investigation. How Mongolia can attract credible foreign investors, when the corrupt political leadership from both parties MPP and DP attacked companies such as McKinsey and jailed an executive of Samsung over a fabricated criminal investigation?
I am for that kind of international scrutiny so the international financial community and most importantly the people of Mongolia can trust that the business is honest, transparent and taxes are paid. Transparent and honest contracts are sacred. Jobs are created. And businesses are free to grow to their limit. All sides prosper in such an enviroment. The people, our children, our instititions, and even honest and patriotic oligarchs.
Does your candidate think China must be a close partner that will bring great investment to Mongolia because it consumes nearly all of Mongolia's exports?
China is and must be a great partner of ours. The reason that China is not the greater partner of ours as they could be is because they are frustrated with our inability to make and keep decisions. They are frustrated with their inability to protect their investments in Mongolia. They are frustrated with our rampant corruption. Again this gets to the same issue that we discussed beforehand. We must have deals the Mongolian people understand, that are transparent, that are open and fair, and that are not economically weak because politicians and businessmen are demanding corrupt payoffs to get deals in Mongolia. These corrupt middleman make money under the table, which is stolen directly from the Mongolian people, not the international investors. The issue with China, again, is the incomptence of the current Mongolian People’s Party government and even some of the Democratic Party leadership. Foreign leaders and businessmen do not know who to deal with in Mongolia.
Let’s come back to Tavan Tolgoi. The deal, which was put together by selfish and unpartriotic political and econonmic interests for Tavan Tolgoi was not viable in the long-term benefit of the Mongolian people. It was a corrupt deal for oligarchs. The Mongolian peole know this. However, there is a deal to be made. China needs to be our partner in the deal because we have to transit through China to reach global markets. But if the leader cannot bring people to the table and the Chinese don’t believe that our leadership can deliver or are corrupt, we don’t have a basis for a solid long-term investment. I will change that. I promise.
In the past, your candidate has questioned the rational for building a key railway route between the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine and the China border with Chinese standards because of a threat to national security. Has Mr. Battulga changed his position?
And would he as president try to make sure all rails in Mongolia use Russian standard railway? Rail and transportation for any country is both a national security and an economic issue. In terms of rail, this is the issue that India, Burma, Laos, Vietnam, and all countries neighboring China, such as Kazakhstan in Central Asia, have been wrestling with. Let’s look at what the simple problem is: we have two good close neighbors, Russia and China. They are powerful economic leaders. But they have two different rail gauges.
Mongolia has an existing Russian gauge railway system that was built in 1949. The Parliament of Mongolia ratified the Railway Policy in June 2010 with close to 90% approval calling for a unified railway network with the existing railway. As President, I will facilitate construction of the railway network as per the Parliament approved Railway Policy.
This is the issue that, again, Kazakhstan dealt with - keeping their Russian gauge and still building their economic development with China. Look at their cooperation with China in natural resources. This proves that the issue is not the gauge. The issue is the leadership and its ability to make a decision and to be open to fair and reciprocal negotiations. The Chinese leadership will respect this.
I must also say here that President Xi Jinping’s vison of the One Belt & One Road policy will revolutionize Eurasia. As the smartest business thinkers in the world, McKinsey & Company, with whom I have proudly worked with in Mongolia on our railway project, have noted that the One Belt & One Road infrastructure project might be one of the most important economic develoments in the world today.
The Belt & Road vision will help transform Mongolia and strenthen our economy, our national identity, and our sovereignty. I will make it work for all our people and all our close and 3rd neighbors. We deserve and must be wildly optimistic about our nations future. But to live, to prosper, and to grow we must “kill the cancer” that has infected our politics, our economy, our justice system, our electoral system, our democracy, our media freedom, and our society. We can do that. We can defeat the few corrupt oligarchs that are the cancer in our politics. We must wrestle with these destructive, corrupt interests. But I am a World Champion Wrestler. Trust me these few oilgardhs and corrupt politicans are nothing to wrestle to defeat for the sake of all our people. I will do that and build, with you, an economic machine that will serve all Mongolians and the generations to come. I have the proven will to do that.