Mongolia's post-election investment outlook
POST ELECTION POLICY ANALYSIS: UNCERTAINTY FOR FOREIGN INVESTMENT, POPULIST AND RESOURCE NATIONALIST PRESSURE ON POLICIES
Voters have clearly sent a message of dissatisfaction with status quo and desire for change in Elections of 2012 enabling a current plurality of 31 Parliament seats for more liberal, center right Democratic Party of Mongolia (DP) in 76-seat national Parliament and majority of 26 seats in 45-seat Capital City Citizens’ Representatives Assembly (legislature of capital city of Ulaanbaatar). The results are even more significant in view of victory of DP’s candidate Ts.Elbegdorj in Presidential Elections of 2009 as now Mongolia for the first time will have DP-affiliated President, Parliament Speaker, Prime Minister, Mayor of the Capital City and Chairman of Capital City Citizens’ Representatives. The former ruling party – more conservative, center left Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) was able to get only currently 25 seats due to remarkable showing by third new major political force – radically populist and resource nationalist ultra-left Justice Coalition of Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) and Mongolian National Democratic Party that managed enough seats, eleven, to form their own Parliament Caucus and even their own Deputy Parliament Speaker.
To form a government, 39 seats are needed and contrary to widespread observers’ consensus including our forecast that DP will pick its old partner – MPP for new Coalition Government, which clearly would have been favorite with the market with its associated political stability and continuity, DP Chairman N.Altankhuyag has unexpectedly announced on July 9, 2012 that DP has intention of forming Coalition Government with MPRP-MNDP Justice Coalition backed by controversial ex-President of Mongolia N.Enkhbayar and ex-Prime Minister M.Enkhsaikhan, strong opponents of both MPP and DP after leaving them respectively. DP has approved negotiations regarding Coalition Government with JC at the meeting of National Consultative Committee of DP on July 16, 2012 and negotiations are to start as we speak. Moreover, media reported that Civil Will Green Party that has 2 seats and 3 independents have also expressed willingness to enter into Coalition and it would be in DP’s interests to make Coalition Government as broadly based as possible.
According to media reports, major factions within DP, namely, Altan Gadas (Polar Star), Shonkhor (Falcons), MoAKh(Mongolian Democracy Association), MUDN(Mongolian National Progress Party), Neg Ardchilal ( One Democracy) are to be represented in negotiations respectively by Ch.Saikhanbileg, S.Erdene, Kh.Battulga, Ts.Bayarsaikhan and Kh. Temujin in negotiations talks with JC taskforce to be headed by D.Terbishdagva. DP will start negotiations with JC today and is reported to have resolved to form new Coalition Government within this week. DP has made strong indication that negotiations will be about policies not individuals or ministerial assignments. This also would be in long political life interests of JC MP-s.
We believe that underlying reason for potential Coalition Government with JC is pressure by various MPRP receptive factions such as Falcons faction of Z.Enkhbold or Mongolian Democracy Association faction of Kh.Battulga within faction-fragmented DP. Previously, some DP leaders such as leader of “Shonkhor(Falcons) faction in DP Z.Enkhbold or author of Windfall Profits Tax N.Batbayar had political position alliances with N.Enkhbayar, Chairman of MPRP, former President of Mongolia, for example, on issue of revision of Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement . All of this is also aided by calculation of DP to differentiate itself from MPP over coming four years. After all, coalition with DP for national interests did not pay off for MPP in terms of political power. Voters were not impressed enough by all productive development achievements of 2008-2012 including major development of Oyu Tolgoi project that caused one of the fastest economic growth rates in the world.
Therefore, in absence of major political force – MPP from the new Coalition Government, we anticipate overall increase in politization, polarization, confrontation and divisiveness in Mongolian politics to come. In terms of markets, we anticipate substantial pressure for policies to be more populist and resource nationalist which in return will result in elevated level of volatility for global Mongolian resource equities as they will come under substantial pressure and therefore investors would be well-advised to diversify their Mongolian portfolios. On macro side, we would expect increased populist pressure on fiscal policies.
Formation of DP-JC Coalition Government is a signal for necessity of vigilance by investors as future of policies towards foreign investment becomes uncertain. Statements from Chairman of MPRP N.Enkhbayar as well as leader of JC Caucus D.Terbishdagva included demands for revision of Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement and 100% distribution of Tavan Tolgoi in some form to citizens.
First and possible next steps of Coalition Government
- N.Altankhuyag, Chairman of DP, will be the new Prime Minister. On July 16,2012 National Consultative Committee of DP has approved 100% him to be Prime Minister of Mongolia. We view him to be, overall, mature common sense politician based on his track record as reliable partner of MPP Prime Ministers S.Bayar and S.Batbold of Coalition Government of 2008-2012 and Head of TT taskforce of that Government. We also expect him to play crucial stabilizer and anchor role among faction-fragmented DP.
- Z. Enkhbold, former Chairman of Parliament’s Security and Foreign Policy Standing Committee has been approved by National Consultative Committee of DP to be Parliament Speaker. Z. Enkhbold is known to us, among other things, because of his tough position on foreign investors during negotiation of Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement as well as approval of investor-hostile Law on Nuclear Energy and associated license cancellations as well as various other tough on investors actions such as demands to revise Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement.
- D.Erdenebat, former Secretary-General of DP, will be DP Caucus leader, according to official website of DP. Based on his successful track-record in politics and election campaigns, we view him to be, overall, mature and skilled politician.
- Major Mongolian daily “Unuudur” has reported that DP has proposed 65%:35% split of Cabinet with JC which would result in 11 minister seats for DP and 5 to JC. In other reports, DP has proposed 3 seats to JC, 1 seat to CWGP and 1 seat to independents.
- In this case, we expect senior MPRP leader Ch.Ulaan to be offered a post of Deputy Premier. We believe that Ch.Ulaan has , broadly speaking, conservative, pragmatic stance.
- Ex-Finance Minister S.Bayartsogt, DP’s likely choice for Minister of Finance, is well known to the financial market as one of the signatories to Oyu Tolgoi investment Agreement
- “Unuudur” reports that JC Caucus leader D.Terbishdagva is JC’s candidate for Minister of Food and Agriculture, the post he previously occupied and that N.Udval is the JC’s candidate for Minister of Health
- Kh.Temujin, widely known for his anti-corruption and good governance stance, is reported to be DP’s candidate for Minister of Justice
- Influential DP faction leader Kh.Battulga is expected to retake his old position of Minister of Roads, Transportation, Construction and Urban Development
According to DP, election platform “Mongolian person” will be action program of Government formed by DP. (http://prezi.com/cres0pr3xbky/presentation/)
2012 election platform of Democratic Party includes following excerpts that might be of interest for investors
“Key goal of macro economical field is to implement fiscal and monetary policy aimed at forming self-sustainable, internationally competitive economy that is to supply in stable manner main needs of the population”
“Will legalize principle of not increasing expenditures and not increasing deficit of budget proposed by Government to Parliament”
“Keep inflation in single digits and have tugrug’s purchasing power stable”
“Salaries and pensions will be increased annually in correlation with inflation and productivity”
“Salaries will be increased by sector in order not to raise consumer prices”
“Budget expenditures will be limited to no more that 40% of GDP”
“Monetary policy will be aimed to support real economy”
“Development Bank will increase discount financing to support infrastructure and processing”
“All tenders by budget funds will be done 100% online transparently under supervision of public”
“Double taxation agreement with other countries will be updated complying with interests of Mongolia or invalidated”
“90% of official tax paid by enterprises with annual sales revenues less than 1.5 billion tugrug in sectors other that certain sectors such as mining, minerals, import of petroleum products, export of crude, mobile operators, liquors and vodka, cigarettes will be refunded to them”
“Budget funded suppliers will be required to procure no less that 30% from non-budget field”
“Limiting regulation will be done on investment by state owned companies of foreign countries”
“Sectors will large labor absorption will be supported by policy”
“Independence and not depending from few countries agricultural and food sector will be paid attention to”
“Capital markets development will be supported by supporting activities of MSE and opportunity to attract private sector investment will be improved”
“State regulation and control in mining will be strengthened and state participation limited, participation of national enterprises and citizens supported”
“While issuing mineral license principle of getting opinion of local citizens and establishing agreement will be implemented”
“Issuance of mineral license from Mineral Resources Agency will be stopped and Government will be in charge of issuance”
“Certain limits will be imposed on number of license that can be owned by legal entity”
“Minerals exports will be implemented by policy “One window”
“Legislation will be created and implemented to have Mongolian stake in companies to be established on mining deposits not less than 51%”
“Mining will poor economic benefits and significant environmental damage will be prohibited”
“Environmentally friendly and best technology’s introduction into mining production will be supported, counting of damaged areas finished, rehabilitation done by guilty party and in the future rehabilitation expenses will be placed in state budget account”
“Level of processing of mining products will be increased and valued added final products producers will be supported by tax policy”
“Legislation will be formed to have national enterprises to work as subcontractors to supply goods and services to mining and other major projects in Mongolia”
“State will own not less than 51% of companies to be established on deposits explored by state budget funds”
“Strategic minerals such as thermal and coking coal, copper, iron ore and rare earth elements will be classified and special for them policy implemented”
“Policy will be implemented of adding value-add to mineral sector raw materials, half-processed and final products produced and exported”
ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION – KEY GOAL OF ECONOMIC POLICY
“Industrial park to process mining products will be established in Sainshand town of Dornogobi province which will include “
“plant to process one million tons of coke per year”
“Coal to liquid plant to produce 850 thousand tons of gasoline and 85 thousand tons of liquid natural gas per year”
“Plant to produce 660 thousand tons of copper concentrate per year”
“Metallurgical plant to produce 500 thousand tons of final products”
“Darkhan Metallurgical Plant will be renovated and will concentrate iron ore”
“Production of construction materials will be developed and policy will be adhered to of supplying consumption of materials such as cement, steel structures and insulation materials by domestic production”
“Thermal power plants will be established in provinces based on thermal coal mines”
“Power will be produced from sun, wind and coal and will be connected to Asia’s united power grid”
“Enterprises working in the field of renewable energy will be supported by state by taxation policy”
“Hydropower plant will be established at Selenge river”
“First stage of 5th power plant to supply consumption of UB will be commissioned”
“60M Wt. thermal power plant based on Mogoi gol coal deposit in order to provide permanent and reliable source of power for Altai-Uliastai system”
“Railroads will be built according to stages reflected in state programs and policy approved by Parliament
Dalanzadgad-Tavantolgoi-Tsagaan Suvarga – Zuunbayan 400 km
Sainshand – Baruun Urt 350km
Baruun Urt – Khuut 140km
Khuut –Choibalsan 150 km
Nariin Sukhait – Shivee Khuren 45.5km
Ukhaa Khudag – Gashuun Sukhait 267
Khuut – Tamsagbulag-Numrug 380km
Khuut –Bichigt 200km”
“Provincial centers will be connected with UB and nearest border crossing by total of 5572 km of paved roads”
“UB auto road network will be converted into circular road system and bridge entry and exit roads, 2 staged crossroads will be built where required”
“Altanbulag-UB-Zamyn Uud highway will be built and commissioned to increase transit transportation”
“International auto road network’s AN-3 (Zamyn Uud-UB-Altanbulag) auto road will be commissioned”
“New International airport at Khushigt Valley will be internationally competitive passenger and cargo center”
“New urban planning for UB will done again within framework of New Ulaanbaatar project, engineering infrastructure established by united policy and 17 comprehensive residential districts built in UB”
“Policy to enroll each employed person in residential financing will be implemented in reality, ger districts will be turned into apartment districts according to urban planning, infrastructure programs will be implemented on city, provincial and soum village levels”
“1000 families’ apartments’ project will be implemented in each province”
“Domestic production of construction materials will be developed, construction materials testing laboratories will be established in regional centers”
“Construction sector standards will be updated to international standards and safety for people’s living environment will be improved by enforcement”
“Ownership of land by citizens will be completely resolved and real opportunity will be created to have funding by putting as collateral land in ownership”
Policy outlook for new Government
New Government would be likely to be overall characterized by low taxes and support of production and industry with goal of establishing comfortable middle class and emphasis on creating jobs and income for Mongolians, universal residential programs, paying attention to their health, education, safe environment, freedom and liberties.
Economically, according to DP’s election program, new Government’s policy would be likely to be characterized by prioritizing policy of reducing dependency from mining sector, ensuring sustainable long term development, and economic diversification via
1. Industrialization and value-add policy along with strong environmentalist policies
2. Wool, cashmere, leather sector development policy
3. Development of traditional herding, meat and dairy sector
4. Tourism development policy
5. High-tech, bio, nano, information technology sector development policy
6. Imports substitution and exports promotion policy (self-sufficiency in food, fuel, etc)
7. Service sector development policy
At the same time, policies popular with voters such as increases in salaries and pensions are likely to continue as well as much needed targeted social programs.
Overall, since DP has chosen not to enter into Coalition with MPP, we believe that DP has chosen to differentiate itself from MPP policies. Therefore we believe that DP will elect for some “differentiation” policies in one way or another such as on widely known ger districts land property rights issue. On the other hand, broadly speaking, we don’t expect radical changes in Government policies. We expect that DP will value highly continuity quality of Mongolian state policy. Over 20 years of democracy, DP has become major mature political party and gained considerable state policy experience being, among other things, partner of MPP in Coalition Government of 2008-2012. Therefore, broadly speaking, we expect business as usual in Mongolian politics to come.
At the same time, considering choice of radically populist and resource nationalist ultra-left Justice Coalition on top of already strong populist and resource nationalist factions within the DP, we do expect increasing populism and resource nationalism in Government policies reflecting popular voters support for these and therefore likelihood of some concessions of certain degree in Government policies in one way or another to these pressures
Implication and treatment of foreign investors
- In their investment analysis, actions and decisions, among other considerations we recommend investors to vigilantly and diligently assess implications of the new Government including probability of populist and resource nationalist policies
- Test of Government policies to foreign investors will be treatment of much controversial South Gobi issue that became pre-election catalyst for hastily approved Law on Regulation of Foreign Investment into Enterprises of Strategic significance right before elections. According to Southgobi, the company “has filed a Notice of Investment Dispute on the Mongolian Government pursuant to the Bilateral Investment Treaty (“BIT”) between Singapore and Mongolia. The Company has filed the Notice of Investment Dispute following a determination by management that they have exhausted all other possible means to resolve an ongoing investment dispute between SGS and the Mongolian authorities”
- “The Notice of Investment Dispute triggers the dispute resolution process under the BIT whereby the Mongolian Government has a six-month cure period from the date of receipt of the notice to satisfactorily resolve the dispute through negotiations. If the negotiations are not successful, the Company will be entitled to commence conciliation/arbitration proceedings under the auspices of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes pursuant to the BIT”
- Since essentially voters have empowered the new authorities with strong resource nationalist mandate, we believe that new authorities will stick to pre-election stance of complying with the abovementioned law on regulation on regulation of foreign investment into enterprises of strategic significance.
What will happen to OT
With 12 MP-s from the original 20 MP-s who have signed petition to revise OT IA back in the Parliament including most vocal of them Z.Enkhbold becoming Parliament Speaker we will not refuse a probability of revival in some manner demand for revision of Oyu Tolgo Investment Agreement
Outlook for law on regulation of foreign investment into enterprises of strategic significance
We do not believe in softening in implementation of the law.
Outlook for ETT IPO
In view of future Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag’s extensive experience in TT project we believe that project will advance, broadly speaking, as planned and that new Government will aim to make it a success. However, again due to populist and resource nationalist pressures, we believe that there is likelihood of some concessions of certain degree in one way or another to these pressures.