Tag Archives: International Trade

Mongolia Introduces Investment Protection Council

We would like to introduce the Investment Protection Council (IPC), one of the effective way to protect rights and interest of the investors and to resolve the disputes involving the foreign investors in Mongolia.

The Investor Protection Council needs to be established in concern with the facilitation of investment related dispute settlement and of favorable environment for the sustainable operation of investors. The Investor Protection Council is established based on an ordinance of the Prime Minister of Mongolia in Dec 2016. That council is composed of Chairman, 16 members, and Secretary. The main formation of the Council’s operation structure should be Council’s session. The decision will be made by majority of the Council members during the session.

The IPC’s Main Roles:

  • Preview and make preliminary prognosis on foreign investment related issues that will be discussed by Cabinet Session
  • Improve investment legal framework, remove duplications and breaches of laws, introduce investment related proposal that made by relevant organizations to Cabinet.
  • Make proposals on implementation of laws and resolutions related to investment, and introduce it to Cabinet. The council should be supernumerary and the Council’s operation should be permanent.

In addition above, one of the main roles of IPC is to protect investors’ right, and solve their grievance (except the cases examined under court or arbitrage). So far 83 compliant and claims submitted by investors to this Council’s Secretariat. As we have been classifying these complaint and claims, there are 40% of them was related to mining, 20% for road, transportation, construction, manufacturing, 10% for information, communication, space technology, 10% for bank, finance, tax, 5% for land, land proprietorship, utilization, 5% for national development, planning, and remaining percentage was claims related to fair competition, as well as supervision, pressure and burden, registration, and authorization activities of the law enforcement agencies.

For example, in relation to the dispute related to the termination of the license of Mobicom Corporation with 100% – a business entity 100% owned by Japan, by the Communications Regulatory Authority, it was further discussed at the Investor Protection Council Meeting and it supported to resolve the investor’s claim. In doing so, KDDI, the Japanese investor, will make additional investments to expand Mobicom’s operations, which indeed has not been resolved over the past 10 years.

LehmanLaw Mongolia LLP suggests our clients this amicable mechanism to resolve the disputes involving them in Mongolia.

Franchising Proves Effective for Many Foreign Brands in Mongolia

There are numerous tools a business may use to grow and expand, not just locally but also globally. Franchising is one of the many ways through which brand owners can rapidly grow their businesses and expand profits while delegating much of the cost and risk to a third party.

Franchising is commonly used in a wide variety of service oriented businesses, such as restaurants, hotels, health care, real estate and others, and is also used production and distribution of products. In Mongolia for example, over the last few years many global brands entered Mongolia via a franchise arraignment. Major brands to do so include Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Ramada Hotels, Shangri-La Hotels, Cosmopolitan, Re/max real estate, KFC, Burger King, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Pizza Hut, Emart to name only a few. This strategy is chosen very deliberately due to the low risk of bankruptcy, and a higher chance of success for business to enter a franchising agreement. Research shows that an average consumer in the world spends one of every three dollars on product or service provided via a franchise model, demonstrating the economic significance of franchising.

In a franchise arrangement, the franchising party or Franchisor gives the Franchisee permission to not only use the Franchisor’s intellectual properties (trademarks, brand name, know how, goodwill, copyright, etc.) but also the Franchisor’s business operations system. In addition, Franchisees often benefit from the Franchisor’s distribution systems and marketing campaigns to sell the Franchisee’s products or services. In return, the Franchisee pays the Franchisor consistent fees and royalties, providing a steady stream of income for the Franchisor.

The franchise model provides several benefits for both the Franchisor and the Franchisee. Along with other benefits franchise agreements allow Franchisor companies to expand much more quickly than they could otherwise. A lack of funds and workers can cause a company to grow slowly. Through Franchising, a company invests very little capital or labor because the Franchisee supplies both. The Franchisor company experiences rapid growth with little financial risk.

The Franchisee also has numerous advantages that come from entering a franchising agreement. There is a low risk for the Franchisee due to the tried and tested formula. Franchisee gets the benefit of owning a proven business formula that has been tested and shown to work well in other locations. In addition, the Franchisee gets training and head office support from the Franchisor; this may be essential if the Franchisee is new to running a business and has no experience or business knowledge. And in a broader sense, global franchising is beneficial for the local government and economy as well, because jobs are created, and ownership remains local.

There are three major types of franchises – business format, product, and manufacturing – and each operates in a different way.

In business format franchises (which are the most common type), a company expands by supplying independent business owners with an established business, including use of its name and trademark. The Franchisor company generally assists the independent owners considerably in launching and running their businesses. In return, the business owners pay fees and royalties. In most cases, the Franchisee also buys supplies from the Franchisor. Fast food restaurants are good examples of this type of franchise. Prominent examples include KFC, Burger King, and Pizza Hut.

With product franchises, manufactures control how retail stores distribute their products. Through this kind of agreement, manufacturers allow retailers to distribute their products and to use the manufacturer’s name and trademarks. To obtain these rights, store owners must pay fees or buy a minimum amount of product for sale. In Mongolia there are several clothing retail stores that utilize this type of franchise, for example, United colors of Benetton stores, and Mango stores.

Through manufacturing franchises, a Franchisor grants a manufacturer the right to produce and sell products using its name and trademark. This type of franchise is common among food and beverage companies. For example, soft drink bottlers often obtain Franchise rights from soft drink companies to produce, bottle, and distribute soft drinks. For example, MCS Coca-Cola LLC obtained Franchise rights to produce, bottle and distribute soft drinks of the Coca-Cola company in Mongolia.

There are four basic types of franchise agreements: single-unit, multi-unit, area development and master franchising agreements.

A single-unit franchise agreement is the most common and is simply where a Franchisor grants a Franchisee rights to open and operate one single Franchise unit. In Mongolia, explicit examples are Caffé Bene, a coffeehouse chain, or Re/max, a real estate agency. All single units of these chains use the same trademark and same utilize the business operations system of the Franchisor. However, every single unit in Mongolia is owned by a different local company.

A multi-unit franchise agreement is where a Franchisor grants a Franchisee rights to open more than one franchise unit. For example, Tavan Bogd Foods LLC has multi-unit franchise rights to operate KFC restaurants in Mongolia, and Max Center LLC has multi-unit franchise rights to operate Burger King restaurants.

An area development agreement allows a Franchisee the right to open multiple units over an agreed amount of time within a specified geographic location and/or to own rights to their specific territory and earn money on each franchise sold in their territory through sharing of the franchise fee and ongoing royalties.

A master franchise agreement, also referred to as sub-franchising, gives a Franchisee the same rights as an area development agreement but also gives that Franchisee rights to establish franchises arrangements with other individuals or entities within the specified territory. A Master Franchisee assumes many of the tasks and obligations of the Franchisor such as training and support and receives a portion of the franchise fee and royalties. While technically there are significant differences there are times that master franchising and area development are used interchangeably.

The regulation of franchising varies country to country. While some countries have adopted separate franchising laws, many countries do not have a separate law that regulates franchising in its entirety. In most countries franchising is regulated in their commercial laws, commercial codes or civil codes, and in some countries it falls under regulation of several laws. In Mongolia franchise arrangements are regulated via Articles 333 – 338 of the Civil Code. The Civil Code provides the definition of a Franchise Agreement, and outlines the legal obligations and liabilities of the parties, terms of agreement, and non-competition terms. Intellectual property related aspects of a franchise agreement shall be regulated by relevant intellectual property laws.

It seems clear that franchising model in Mongolia is poised to continue to grow, as several global brands have announced their opening in Mongolia in the near future. Of course, prior to any franchise arrangement in Mongolia, a foreign business should seek out qualified advice from their Mongolian lawyer.

Mongolia Continues Cooperation with China on Mutual Free Trade Zone

Chinese news media is reporting that China and Mongolia are beginning a new process of conducting a feasibility study regarding development of a new Free Trade Zone (FTZ).

This comes in the contest of the second China-Mongolia Expo, held in Hohhot, the capital of China’s Inner Mongolia region. The conference will occur in late September, and will serve as a forum to discuss issues of mutual cooperation and development between China and Mongolia.

Mongolia’s trade with China in the first six months of 2017 has been USD $3.1 billion. This is a 44.2% increase year-on-year. China mainly exports gas, diesel, food, machinery and equipment to Mongolia, and imports natural resources, fur and raw materials.

Talk of the new FTZ comes after the China-Mongolia Cross-border Economic Cooperation Zone (CECZ) was announced in 2015. The CECZ is a 18 square kilometer  territory evenly divided along the China-Mongolia border. The CECZ is intended to facilitate import/export processing, logistics, warehousing, and e-commerce.

The increase in economic cooperation between China and Mongolia is a core part of the wider China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor, which seeks to facilitate integration of Mongolia with the economies and infrastructure of China’s northern territories and Russia’s far east.

Importing Products into Mongolia without a Buyer? Put it in a Bonded Warehouse.

Foreign investors who import products into Mongolia may be required or need to place their products into a custom bonded warehouse. In this case, below are main regulations of the bonded warehouse and things to know.

The purpose of the placing products in the custom bonded warehouse is providing an opportunity to find a market for imported products, as well as to time for the importers to pay customs duties and other taxes.

The kinds of goods which should be stored in the bonded warehouse are firstly, Mongolian goods, secondly, foreign goods coming from abroad and thirdly, goods which are placed in the bonded warehouse temporarily in connection with other non-import or export procedures.

Importantly, Foreign goods placed in bonded warehouse are not subject to non-tariff restrictions which means goods which are not generally prohibited to cross the national border of Mongolia are not required to obtain any further permissions from the relevant authorities when goods are entering into the border of Mongolia. When products are kept in the bonded warehouse, any permission or licenses normally required for possession of such products are not required to be obtained from the relevant government organization. This is because the customs bonded warehouse is considered as being outside of the customs territory of Mongolia. Keep in mind that the relevant license or permission is required upon release of the products from the bonded warehouse.

The product is to be stored in the bonded warehouse under the name of the importer. When imported products are exported directly from the custom bonded warehouse out of Mongolia, payment of an export tax is not required. There are not any export controls/restrictions and/or any licences/permits, to be obtained in order to export the product from the bonded warehouse.

In contrast to imported goods, Mongolian goods placed in the bonded warehouse will be subject to non-tariff restric­tions, which mean the exporter is required to obtain permission from relevant authority and limits may be imposed on the quantity of the goods. Of course, goods which are prohibited to be carried through the national border will not be allowed.

There are two types of bonded warehouse in Mongolia, open and closed. Open bonded warehouse is for public use and all goods allowed to enter or leave Mongolia may be stored or placed in the open bonded warehouse.

A closed bonded warehouse is not for public use and is designated for use solely by one or more legal entities or organization. Goods which require special storage condi­tions, facilities and equipment or which may have af­fect on other goods are typically placed in a closed bonded warehouse.

The timeline for storage of goods in a bonded warehouse is up to two years. The Customs Office will extend the timeframe by up to 1 year with no further renewal possible.

Bank of Korea Assisting with Modernization of Mongolia’s Foreign Exchange Policy

The Bank of Mongolia, signed a cooperation agreement on June 21, 2017 with the Bank of Korea. The agreement solidifies plans by both organizations to cooperation regarding development of a comprehensive strategy for development of the foreign exchange market in Mongolia.

The Bank of Korea has been conducting a study on Mongolia’s foreign exchange market. The results of the study are expected to have an important impact on development of foreign exchange regulations and growth of the foreign exchange market in Mongolia.

Major complaints about the current state of the foreign exchange market in Mongolia include the lack of transparency in the process and inefficient operations. The study will draw on the Bank of Korea’s past experience in managing foreign exchange issues in Korea to set out a road map for Mongolia.

The plan is expected to help stabilize the exchange rate of the Mongolian Tugrug, which will facilitate a better environment for foreign investment and domestic economic growth.

Foreign Exchange in Mongolia

Financial Regulatory Commission (the FRC) and Bank of Mongolia (Mongol Bank), which serves as the central bank of Mongolia, are authorized to regulate Foreign Exchange (ForEx) trading within Mongolia. The Law on Currency Settlement is the primary legislative authority as to conduct of ForEx in Mongolia.

The currency market of Mongolia operates on the basis of supply and demand and consists of the currency exchange activities of the authorized banks, exchanges and brokerage companies.

Mongol Bank is permitted to buy currencies and gold bullion from domestic and foreign banks, as well as from business entities, other organizations and from individuals. Mongol Bank’s primary official purpose for such purchases is management of currency and wealth reserves of Mongolia. Mongol Bank may likewise sell foreign currency and gold from its reserves as part of efforts to maintain the general stability of the Tugrug (the currency of Mongolia).

Mongol bank acts to fix the official exchange rate of the Tugrug, and to provide guidance as to the same. These fixed rates are set in relation to currencies which are bought and sold on the currency market by commercial banks on a comparative basis against a stable foreign currency used in foreign commerce by a majority of countries. The rate fixed by Mongol Bank is used in the State budget and for customs purposes.

An increase or decrease in the Tugrug exchange rate by 5 percent or more from the previous day shall be brought to the attention of the Prime Minister of Mongolia. This is only report and the Prime Minister has no authority to personally order or to prevent the Governor of Mongol Bank from increasing or decreasing the Tugrug exchange rate in accordance with market conditions.

Mongol Bank also sets various rules and regulations regarding foreign exchange activities, including as to FX swaps, forward transactions, and Forex auctions.

Commercial banks are able to establish their own exchange rate for using Tugrugs to buy and sell foreign currencies based on market conditions. Likewise the bank sets its own rate of commission.

Upon obtaining a license from Mongol Bank, Mongolian Commercial banks are allowed to facilitate non-cash transactions in foreign currency, buy and sell foreign currency in cash, establish and operation accounts in foreign currency (and pay required interest), provide credit and provide guarantees in foreign currency.

A Non-banking financial company may trade foreign currency after obtaining a license from the FRC.

Mongolia and Vietnam Promote Trade in Goat Meat

Vice President of Vietnam, Mrs. Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh, visited Mongolia for an official visit from May 07 -10. While in Mongolia, she participated in the Mongolian Vietnamese business forum in Ulaanbaatar on May 09. Mrs. Dang Thị Ngọc Thinh gave a presentation at the opening ceremony of the business forum discussing trade, investment and economic cooperation between Mongolia and Vietnam.

Vietnam’s trade volume with Mongolia is estimated at USD 59 million in 2016 alone. The trade includes over USD 40 million in race, sugar, canned foods and telecommunications equipment imported to Mongolia. Mongolia and Vietnam seek to increase cooperation and trade in natural resources and agricultural goods, which Mongolia is well placed to export to Vietnam.

Three main issues were touched on during the official talks between Vietnam’s Vice President and the Prime Minister of Mongolia. These included promotion of defense ties and cooperation between law enforcement agencies.

Also discussed was increased export of Mongolian meat products to Vietnam, particularly goat meat. Mongolia is scheduled to export 20 tons of goat meat to Vietnam this year, and trade is expected to grow significantly.

The agreement on export of goat meat highlights one of Mongolia’s current strengths in agricultural production of meat and dairy. The sector is ripe for foreign investment, including funding, technologies and techniques.

Mongolian Free Trade Zones

In 2016, matters related to Free Trade Zones (FTZ) came under the power of the Deputy Minister. There are three FTZ in Mongolia: Zamiin-Uud, Altanbulag and Tsagaannuur. The Law on FTZ was revised in 2015 to enabled and promoted the cooperation between private entities and public authorities in developing FTZs.

Altanbulag Free Zone in Selenge province covers 500 hectares of land. Since the establishment of Mongolian FTZs, MNT 35 billion has been allocated by State Budget and 77 per cent of the budget was invested to the infrastructures of Altanbulag Free Zone. At the moment only Altanbulag has drawn investment from private entities, which totals MNT 6.2 billion.

Zamiin-Uud Free Zone in Dornogobi province covers 900 hectares of land. In 2010, Development of Zamiin Uud infrastructure project started with soft loan of the Government of China which totals USD 58.8 million. The project performance is 95 per cent. As of this day, 23.6 hectares of land are in possession of 13 private entities for the purposes of trade, service, hotel, manufacture, storage, logistics and gas station.

Tsagaannuur Free Zone in Bayan-Ulgii province covers 708.4 hectares. 115 hectares are in possession of 5 private entities.

The Deputy Minister Khurelsukh Ukhnaa has stated that the Free zones are in need of accelerated foreign and domestic investment and noted that the Parliament and the Government should start establishing joint FTZ areas with bordering countries. Deputy Minister Office and Ministry of Foreign Relations are working on research and assessment and negotiating with Chinese authorities about a potential new joint FTZ.

Mongolia Investment Promotion Agreement With Canada

Canadian Minister of International Trade Francois-Philippe Champagne met March 12, 2017 with Mongolia Mining Minister Ts.Dashdorj, to issue a joint announcement that the Mongolia-Canada Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) has entered into force.

The Global Affairs Department of the Canadian government is quoated as saying, “This agreement sets out a framework of legally binding rights and obligations that will protect Canadian investors in Mongolia. The strong reciprocal protections in the FIPA will help Canadian and Mongolian companies deepen commercial ties with confidence and spur job creation.”

Canada is estimated to have invested over 6.4 billion USD in Mongolia in 2015, one of the larest individual country contributions. Most of this Canadia investment in Mongolia is in Mining and related sectors. It is hoped that FIPA will encourage diversification in investments in areas such as agriculture and infrastructure.

According to the agreement each nation will accord the other “Most Favored Nation” status.

We are happy to see Canada double down on economic engagement with Mongolia. Canada’s efforts include working with Mongolia to develop capacity in natural resources management, official transparency and accountability, and environmental sustainability.

The benefits Mongolia gains from these policy improvements will be felt not only by Canadian investors, but for all foreign investors in Mongolia, along with local Mongolian companies and individuals.

Prime Minister Discusses Future of Mongolian Cooperation With Eurasian Economic Commission

On February 2-3, Mongolian Prime Minister J. Erdenebat met with a representative of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) for talks promoting economic cooperation between the EEC and Mongolia.

In the meeting, Mongolia indicated that it hoped to establish a Free Trade Agreement with the EEC. The EEC representative supported the PM’s proposal, suggesting a formal decision would be seen from the EEC relatively soon. As trade between Mongolia and the EEC has been stable but stagnant for several years, the EEC hopes to organize a business forum for entrepreneurs from EEC member states, and Mongolian organizations.

The Prime Minister was quick to agree and assured EEC companies there are great business opportunities in Mongolia, and made clear that the Mongolian Government is currently making efforts to improve its agricultural sector, including exports to EEC states.

The sides agreed to work to strengthen collaboration in establishing regulations and raising standards in veterinary, sanitation, and quarantine regulations and practices. There was also mutual agreement to promote joint training, and business seminars in Mongolia.

The meeting ended with an agreement on protocol for a second meeting to be held this year In November, and developing an action plan for joint working groups, which will include provisions to facilitate cooperation in transportation and infrastructure.

LehmanLaw Mongolia is pleased to learn of the government’s continued focus on developing the Mongolian economy through increasing trade and promoting the agricultural sector, as well as development of Mongolian infrastructure.