Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, on improving economic and political ties: Viewpoint

Vladimir Putin, President of Russia

First, I would like to note that my recent visit to Mongolia and talks with President Ts. Elbegdorj coincided with one of the biggest events in the history of our relations: the 75th anniversary of our joint victory at the river Khalkin-Gol. I would like to express our gratitude to Mongolia’s government and people for looking after our common historic heritage. The celebration marking this event is a show of respect for our past.

Our common historic memory certainly provides a good basis for building our modern bilateral relations in a spirit of mutual respect, trust and friendship. President Elbegdorj and I were in unison during our talks in saying that our task now is to take concrete steps to continue developing our cooperation for the good of both our peoples. To this end, we examined in detail the various areas in our bilateral strategic partnership and outlined plans to strengthen and develop it, especially our trade and economic ties. As we draft a roadmap for the work ahead, the focus will be on developing business activity, encouraging trade and reciprocal investment, and expanding our humanitarian contacts.

Russia agreed to step up cooperation in developing Mongolia’s transport infrastructure. In this context, I want to say that developing the railway network will help Mongolia to open its rich, hard-to-access deposits and make broader and more effective use of its potential as a transit country. Mongolia is located between Russia and China after all. We are big trade and economic partners, and Russia has bilateral trade with China that already has come to $65bn-67bn in 2014. It therefore makes sense to put Mongolia’s transport possibilities to greater use than is the case today.

In addition, we have built up experience in the mining industry in Mongolia and are committed to continuing this partnership. I would cite the example of Erdenet, which is one of Asia’s biggest producers of copper and molybdenum. I also want to mention Mongolrostsvetmet, which works in gold mining. These two firms account for up to 20% of Mongolia’s GDP and have plans for comprehensive technological modernisation.

We agreed to intensify our cooperation in air transport. The protocol on cooperation in civil aviation and the memorandum on expanding Aeroflot’s and Mongolian Airlines’ route networks will help in this area.

In energy, Russia has traditionally been a reliable electricity supplier to Mongolia, covering 7% of the country’s consumption and playing a big part in its energy security. The Russian company Rosneft, one of the world leaders in hydrocarbons production, covers a large share of Mongolia’s demand for oil products, supplies Chinggis Khaan International Airport in Ulaanbaatar and has plans for developing its activities in the Mongolian market. I note too that Russian-made GAZ and URAL cars and buses, as well as some other types of vehicles, have earned good reputations in Mongolia. Our manufacturers plan to increase their supplies to the Mongolian market as a result.

President Elbegdorj noted during our talks that the trade balance is somewhat skewed in Russia’s favour and proposed that we lift the restrictions on animal products from Mongolia entering the Russian market. We will certainly take this step in our Mongolian friends’ favour, and the Russian government will soon make the necessary decisions. Mongolia has good prospects for significantly increasing its supplies of livestock industry produce to Russia’s market so long as it complies with Russia’s health and sanitary norms. Our specialists have been in contact for a long time now and I am sure that they will manage everything with success.

We also gave particular attention to humanitarian issues, educational exchange, cultural ties and reciprocal travel between our two countries. The recent agreement to abolish visas for our citizens’ reciprocal travel is important, as is our regional cooperation. We will, of course, support coordination in international relations and continue our cooperation in the main negotiation forums such as the UN and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. In conclusion, I want to say that our recent talks reflected our desire to strengthen the wide-ranging cooperation between our countries.

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The Report: Mongolia 2015

Trade & Investment chapter from The Report: Mongolia 2015