Ch.Ganhuyag: Mongolia has an enormous potential

2023-07-06 15:27:07
Category: Economy Interview

We interviewed General Secretary of the Mongolia Economic Forum NGO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ard Financial Group Ch.Ganhuyag.

– The Mongolia Economic Forum 2023 is going to be held right before the National Naadam Festival this year. What will be the main focus of this year’s forum?

– In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, our economy came to a standstill following our two neighbors’ decisions to close borders, which disrupted supply chains. We have successfully overcome that situation. After overcoming the crisis, the economy is starting to grow again.

This time, the Mongolia Economic Forum will be more outward-looking rather than inward-looking. As for the topics, we will discuss the Investment Law and the legal environment in Mongolia, obstacles for doing business, and so on, and we will listen to what investors have to say. The Government of Mongolia attaches great importance to this. Private sector companies are supporting and participating in the forum on a large scale. We will convey to foreign visitors a message that Mongolia is a democratic beacon, sandwiched between two superpowers. We want them to understand that we are a country with a free market, where business can be conducted within the framework of the law, where there is no illegal coercion, and the government is strictly fighting against corruption.

Rio Tinto investors are the biggest investors in the world. So, high-ranking representatives from investment funds and banks will attend the forum. More than 1,500 people will participate, half of whom are foreign visitors and investors. It will be a big international conference promoting Mongolia to the rest of the world. Another feature of this conference is the large number of foreign journalists and international media organizations.

It can be said that the forum will be a high-level meeting of the private sector. We know that the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) was organized in our country before, with the participation of many state leaders. Presidents and prime ministers of 40-50 countries came for ASEM. Today, executives from the private sector, banking and investment funds will come to Mongolia in large numbers for the first time to join the forum.

It is of great importance. For example, the heads of many large organizations will come, such as City Bank, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, and Black Rock, an investment fund that manages trillions of dollars.

– Executives of organizations funding the Oyu Tolgoi project are coming. How do you assess the role played by the Oyu Tolgoi project in the private sector?

– The Oyu Tolgoi project has a huge influence on job creation, contracts, and new opportunities. In addition to food, clothing, fuel, and equipment, you can see how many young people have studied at administrative workplaces and are later managing mines and project companies. Some young people are raising the name of their home country abroad. Oyu Tolgoi has become the company that has by far the biggest impact on Mongolia’s economy. Rio Tinto Group has become a new development partner of Mongolia. The Oyu Tolgoi project is supporting the economy in all indicators such as exports, budget, and jobs. It is also attracting foreign investments and bringing in new technology and best practices.

The project has been beneficial to banking and financial institutions, supply companies, and all sectors of Mongolia, thereby supporting the economy via the private sector. I was glad to hear that our gross domestic product reached 5,000 USD. Mongolia is saying goodbye to the crisis today. Exports have been consistently growing in recent years, and the balance of exports has been exceeding that of imports (leading to foreign trade surplus). Foreign exchange reserves are on the rise. But we cannot stop here. According to the Prime Minister, GDP will be brought to 10,000 USD per person within three years. By the year 2030, it is planned to be raised to 20,000 USD per person and classify Mongolia as a rich country. That is only seven years from now. However, we have to work toward it as a unified nation. This is not some pie-in-the-sky story. It’s possible. We must move from just talking about it to acting upon it.

People’s attitudes must change. In the beginning, we worshiped foreign investors. Then, we kicked them again out as soon as they came in. Now we must welcome them back. We have learned from our mistakes. These are problems that every country has gone through.

-This year’s Mongolia Economic Forum is going to be a conference that is welcoming and attractive to foreign investors. What were the main mistakes our country has made regarding foreign investments over the past 30 years?

-We Mongolians lost because of our naivety. Now, we realize our mistakes and are repenting. The government, civil servants, and the private sector have fully understood that they must fulfill contracts they signed within the framework of the law. The time is coming when people understand and support (the government). But, of course, not everything was perfect. Mongolia has great potential. We should learn from our past mistakes and respect as well as protect foreign investors. In particular, we realized that we should pay special attention to investors from China and be fair and just. This is a very important progress that we managed to make. It is a realization that has come after 30 years. I see it as a good and positive result.

The Mongolia Economic Forum will offer Chinese translation for the first time. We are working with the Chinese Embassy to have a Chinese guest representative appear on stage for the first time for the discussions. Factors like this will show how Mongolians are changing.

Prime Minister L.Oyun-Erdene L, despite being young, is boldly solving problems that none of his predecessors were able to do.

The government of Mongolia is becoming more and more transparent. We are investing in infrastructure and talking about issues concerning (renewable) energy. We are able to follow a balanced policy in our foreign relations. Ports are being restored and urban development problems are being tackled. The most important thing is to stabilize the economy. Also, Parliament approved the “Vision-2050” document to develop the country without political overtones. This will be Mongolia’s development policy that will continue without being affected by the 4-year election cycle.

The Prime Minister is showing a real fight against corruption with the “5 Ш” operation. People have been talking about enforcing justice for many years and now they have realistic expectations. Society itself has been purified and heated up. It is very important because it eliminates the notion that you can gain wealth by stealing through politics in the future. We have to make long-term decisions without love for anyone or oneself. I am able to take responsibility for myself and others. We have to appreciate it.

-You recently resigned as the CEO of Ard Financial Group and became the chairman of the group’s board of directors. Please give us a brief description of your new appointment.

-I am turning 50 this year. Ten years ago, I was talking about establishing Ard Financial Group. I think that has come to fruition. I spent more than 10 years in one company. You must keep yourself invested and then, move on to the next project. I don’t measure my life just by money. I prefer to enjoy what I do and live happily. Once you think you’ve done what you needed to do, it is time to move on. As for the new appointment, I will serve as the executive chairman for a period of one year. Our new CEO will serve as the interim CEO. It was decided that we will try to work like this until next year’s shareholders’ meeting.

-How would you sum up the success of Ard Financial Group today?

-All Mongolians should become investors and build savings. The idea of searching from house to house was first proposed. We contributed to the development of the capital and financial markets. The group has achieved its big goal of becoming an investor nation. It has emerged as a pioneer in media, technology, real estate, cryptocurrency, and blockchain, not just as an investor nation. Mongolians were given the right to own this wealth.

I first introduced microloans into the banking sector and took steps to enable all Mongolians to have bank accounts and obtain financial loans.

Today, we are working on creating opportunities for people to enter the capital market.

-What impact do you believe the Mongolia Economic Forum has had on Mongolia’s development?

-I can’t say that because we did this and that straightaway. The Mongolia Economic Forum has had a profound impact on Mongolia’s development. It is a collaborative effort involving the active participation and support of numerous individuals and organizations. The forum has served as an invaluable platform for information sharing and mutual understanding, allowing representatives from the government and private sectors to engage in constructive dialogue over the course of two days and address pressing issues.

When the forum was initially launched, Mongolia’s economy was on the cusp of growth, and it subsequently experienced a positive expansion. However, over the past decade, our country has faced challenges associated with the resource curse. Recognizing these challenges, it is crucial to redirect our focus toward ensuring sustained growth in the coming decades, spanning 10, 20, or even 30 years.