Mongolian parliamant passes new investment law

Mongolian parliamant passes new investment law

BEIJING - Mongolian lawmakers on Thursday approved new investment legislation that overturns a contentious law passed just last year, Chinese state media reported.

The new law stabilises taxes for investors who bring more than 15 billion tugrug (US$9 million) into the country, Xinhua news agency reported from Ulan Bator.

The four kinds of levies would be stable for a period of between 10 years to at least 13 years depending on location and investment value, the report said, without providing further details.

A mining boom has given sparsely-populated but resource-rich Mongolia one of the world's highest growth rates and created a wealthy new elite in a land known for vast expanses of grasslands where herders roam.

That windfall, however, has also raised accusations of exploitation by foreign companies and concerns over environmental impact.

In 2012 Mongolia brought in a stricter foreign investment law that tightened approval requirements for foreign companies seeking to do business in "strategic" sectors such as minerals.

Incoming investment subsequently fell sharply, raising alarm bells.

Mongolia's economy grew by 17.5 per cent in 2011 and 12.3 per cent last year.

The government of President Tsakhia Elbegdorj, re-elected in July, faces mounting pressure to balance the demands of powerful multinationals and those of its own people.

It is also dealing with uncertainty driven by declines in commodity prices and weaker demand in neighbouring China, Mongolia's key export market.

Growth has slowed further in the first half of the year and foreign investment has plummeted by 43 per cent -- prompting parliament to hold special sessions in recent weeks.

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