Minister D.Tsogtbaatar: Introduction of new political culture required for establishment of wealth fundThe Mongol Messenger
President of Mongolia Kh.Battulga did a working visit to the Kingdom of Norway
on January 27-28. Minister of Foreign Affairs D.Tsogtbaatar gave an interview
to the MONTSAME News Agency about the results of the visit.
-What were the main issues discussed during the visit of President Kh.Battulga to Norway?
-The main issues discussed during the visit was introducing the Norwegian practice of the Wealth Fund in Mongolia, developing partnership in the agricultural sector, and developing winter sports. Realizing the matters previously discussed and organizing mutual high-level visits were also discussed. During the visit, a consultative meeting was also held between the Foreign Ministries of the two countries.
-Establishing the National Wealth Fund has been included in the Constitutional amendments. And Norway is one of the leading countries in this area?
-The funds of the Norwegian Wealth Fund reached over USD 1 trillion in 2019. Studying and introducing the practice of the Norwegian wealth fund in Mongolia have been discussed for a long time over the years. Therefore, President of Mongolia Kh.Battulga discussed with Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg on realizing the matters that have been discussed and studied for many years. As a result, it has been decided for the specialists that were involved in the entirety of the process of establishing the Norwegian Wealth Fund --from paper to realization, to visit Mongolia. This issue was also discussed during the consultative meeting between the two Foreign Ministries, in which the side of Mongolia expressed readiness to receive the specialists in the near future. We wish to receive the specialists in the next three months.
-What do you consider should be highly prioritized in introducing the practice of the Norwegian Wealth Fund?
-The fund is a global-level investor. Stocks of companies with the most potential and security of the world are bought in packs, increasing the funds. However, their policy is towards sustaining the value of the fund by combating inflation rather than increasing it. The fund does not make investments domestically. It also does not participate in risky “games” such as investing in start-up businesses by assuming its stock price would increase. Norway has a population of 5.5 million people. If the country’s wealth is allocated to all of its citizens, each person would receive USD 200 thousand. The election is around the corner for Mongolia. In our country, all possible promises about using available resources and opportunities are made during election time. As for Norway, there are no populist talks about allocating the wealth fund. In this country with a democratic society and election, the fact that political parties do not make any promises to the public about distribution from the fund is a valuable political culture. Therefore, introducing the Wealth Fund in Mongolia would not simply require a new law and creation of a suitable legal environment but it also requires introduction of a new political culture.
-Further developing partnership in the agricultural sector was also discussed during the visit. On this matter?
-A joint project is being implemented with the side of Norway to develop the veterinary sector of Mongolia. In the framework of the project, the Norwegian Veterinary Institute introduced the results of a study conducted on possibilities of developing the sector, and pressing issues in Mongolia. There is a certain breed of cattle called the Norwegian Red cattle, which has a dual purpose of producing beef and milk. The annual milk production of beef cattle is 6,000 litres, while a milk cattle is 9,000 litres. This cattle breed is currently domesticated in our country. However, this must be further continued, increasing the export of milk and dairy products. To put our meat, milk and dairy products for export, Mongolia must prioritize the development of the veterinary sector as it would serve as the base for developing not only the meat and dairy sector, but also improving the quality of leather as well as various other agriculture-based industries.
-What kind of agreement was made on the development of winter sports?
-Despite being one of the countries with the longest winters, winter sports are not developed well. As Mongolia has a universality quota for the Olympic Games, the infrastructure must be developed to train our athletes. Requests for equipment such as ski and ice skates, coach and instructors, and receiving advice from sports specialists were supported by the Norwegian side. To create the foundation for developing winter sports, Norway builds ice rinks at its secondary schools. Discussions on introducing the practice are currently underway. With this, it creates the opportunity for children to play in the fresh air and adopt healthy lifestyles instead of being on their phones cooped up inside their homes. The Norwegian Prime Minister said, “Would this perhaps be the start for your country to be a formidable competitor in winter sports?”
-During the President’s visit, it was agreed to present replicas of artifacts that relate to Mongolia from the personal collection of Norwegian traveler Oscar Mamen. How many artifact replicas will be presented to Mongolia?
-In Oslo, Norway, President Kh.Battulga visited the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, where artifacts relating to Mongolia from the private collection of Norwegian traveler Oscar Mamen were displayed. During his travel and research in Mongolia in 1912, he captured photos of the history and culture of Mongolians during the period. Alongside photography, the artifacts included various items used by Mongolians, from snuff bottles with intricate workmanship to chopsticks. As the artifacts are not only important heritage to Norway but also Mongolia, it is highly important to receive the replica.
In general, travelers and researchers of Scandinavian countries such as Denmark, Sweden, and Norway frequently traveled to Mongolia in the early 20th century. I assume it was suitable and easy to adapt for them to travel in our country as the region also has an extreme continental climate. Maria Magdolna Tatar and Maria Kartveit who introduced the private collection of Oscar Mamen, are a mother and daughter who are engaged in Mongol studies--in other words, it was inherited. During the time when the daughter was presented with the certificate to study and do research in Mongolia, and the mother was awarded with the Order of the Polar Star, the kind-hearted, friendly, and hospitable quality of Mongolians were highlighted alongside curiosity.
-At what level is the trade and economic partnership between Mongolia and Norway?
-The trade turnover between the two countries is not as large. Wool, cashmere, and felt boots are being exported from Mongolia. Quantity is the least concern for exporting products. Production should be increased once the standards and requirements are met. On the other hand, if a certain product is manufactured in large quantities despite not meeting the standards, the opportunity for export would no longer continue to exist. For a certain period of time, our felt boots were a trend in Norway. From this, we can see that it is possible to enter a new market.
-How do you see the opportunity to develop the economic partnership between the two countries?
-Norway is rich in oil and natural gas. However, they do not invest in the mining sector. Instead, they make investments in value-added sectors that do not exist in their country. The same could be said about Arabs. As the topic of investment was not brought up during the meetings, I thought that they assume Mongolia to revolve around mining, and consider it risky for investment due to politicization and populism around the sector.
Mongolia is interested in increasing the export of agricultural products. As there is no issue of discontinuation and limited resources for agricultural products, a suggestion was put forth to conduct a study on investing in the sector. It is likely for Norwegians to have not seen an opportunity from this angle. Thus, we should hold discussions about our available opportunities and resources to promote and attract investment. Otherwise, there are many other countries to invest aside from Mongolia. And for this reason, we expressed readiness to support investing in the agricultural sector, and provide all necessary studies and research. The side of Norway also expressed that the matter will be studied. I am certain that relations in various sectors such as politics and economy would further develop.