|5th President of Mongolia|
10 July 2017
|Prime Minister||Jargaltulgyn Erdenebat|
|Preceded by||Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj|
|Born||(1963-03-03) 3 March 1963
|Political party||Democratic Party|
Khaltmaagiin Battulga (Mongolian: Халтмаагийн Баттулга, [xɑɮt.maː.ɡiːŋ ˈbɑt.tʊ.ɮɐk], born 3 March 1963) is a Mongolian politician and President of Mongolia. He served as Member of the State Great Khural from 2004 to 2016 and Minister of Roads, Transportation, Construction and Urban Development from 2008 to 2012. He was the Democratic Party’s candidate in the 2017 presidential election, and was elected President with 50.6% in the run-off, the first ever run-off election in modern Mongolian history.
Battulga is a second child. His father and mother are both from Ulaanbaatar. The family was allocated a traditional “ger” in Yarmag ger district in Ulaanbaatar after they lost everything in the flood of Tuul River in 1966. Hence, Battulga grew up in the streets of Yarmag and went to a local secondary school. When he graduated from 8th grade, his teacher recommended that he apply to an arts school given his talents. Battulga graduated in 1982. While studying at the Arts School, Battulga sold his paintings to tourists around Bayangol Hotel area, learning sufficient English to help sell his artwork.
His father was a coach of Mongolian traditional wrestling and thus Battulga grew up wrestling. Battulga was a member of the Mongolian National wrestling team in 1979-1990. Battulga won the world cup championship in Ulaanbaatar in 1989. Wrestling allowed Battulga to travel internationally at a period, when travel abroad for Mongolians was not allowed. Battulga was awarded an Merited Sportsmen of Mongolia in 1995, thereafter being selected as the Chairman of Mongolian Judo Federation in 2006. Under Battulga’s leadership at the Judo Federation, Mongolian judokas became Olympic Champions for the first time in history.
In 1990, Battulga started sewing and selling jeans locally and in Hungary. This allowed him to make $600, sufficient to buy a video camera and to start an export-import business trading electronics from Singapore to Mongolia, Russia and Eastern Europe.
Battulga, like many others of his generation was fascinated with The Godfather movie. Thus, he named his first company Genco. This nickname has stuck with him ever since.
Genco acquired controlling interests during the privatization of state-owned assets such as Bayangol Hotel and meat-processing factory Makh-Impex in 1997 and 1999 respectively. In the 1990s Genco group started one of the first taxi businesses in Mongolia called City Taxi, retail store operations under Sapporo name, lottery business, restaurant and night club operations, flour milling and bread making factory Talkh Chikher LLC.
In 2004, Battulga became a Member of Parliament for the first time from Bayankhongor province. He was re-elected to parliament in 2008 and 2012.
Battulga believes that every Mongolian citizen should benefit from its mineral wealth according to article 6.1 of the Constitution of Mongolia, under which mineral resources are to be developed in consideration of ensuring the nation’s economic security and the development of all forms of property and social development of the population. Due to landlocked geography of Mongolia, Battulga views that a unified railway network would enhance the global competitiveness of its national mining industry by creating multiple access points through which the country can target multiple inland and seaborne markets. Furthermore, Battulga believes, given the cyclical nature of commodity markets, industrial clusters designed to do value-add processing of mineral products should be established to create skilled jobs, introduce downstream industrial technologies and diversify the economy, enhancing local purchasing power that would create economic multiplier effect in housing, services and other economic sectors. Battulga thinks that agriculture has a prominent place in diversifying the economy as Mongolia is rich in livestock, about 60 million, with largest consumers of agricultural products as its neighbors. He believes cashmere and leather products could be successfully marketed internationally because of the scarcity factor.
Recognizing these principles, Battulga sponsored the State Policy of Railway Transportation of Mongolia (“Railway Policy”) with the Parliament approving it with 84% votes in 24 June 2010 to construct 5,600 km railway base infrastructure in three phases that calls for providing access to multiple seaports in China and Russia, creating three transportation corridors between China, Russia and Europe, as well as establishing and industrial cluster in Sainshand.
Battulga acknowledges that limited human resources and financial capability of Mongolia requires multilateral international participation in the development of the economy, rather than making bilateral arrangement with its neighbors. Battulga strongly opposes control of mineral resources by a few politically connected businessmen reaping of great profits and increase income gap between the rich and the poor, potentially creating political and social instability in the country. For example, as the Minister responsible for development of infrastructure and industrial projects, Battulga encouraged participation of international companies in the development of business cases, feasibility and necessary detailed engineering studies, resulting in selection of Bechtel Enterprises, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Guggenheim, Fluor, McKinsey & Company, Nippon Koei, Pillsbury Winthrop Pittman Shaw LLP, Samsung, Sidley Austin LLP, Taylor Wessing. As a result, many international companies have expressed their interest to invest, provide technologies and construction services, such as Air Liquide (France), Baotou Steel (China), Dandong Port (China), Overseas Infrastructure Alliance (India), OAO Russian Railways (Russia), Rao UES (Russia), Sembcorp (Singapore), Sinohydro (China), Steel Authority of India Limited (India), among many others.
On 3 November 2012, the Government of Mongolia announced that it resolved to build 1,800 km railway infrastructure integrating Phase 1 and 2 of the Railway Policy. Stakeholders such as Hong Kong listed Mongolian Mining Corporation greeted such government policy in its press release stating that the policy is particularly beneficial for Mongolian coal exporters.
Battulga was instrumental in background coordination for preparation work and ultimate signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation between Governments of Mongolia and Japan during official visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 22 October 2015. This memorandum expresses intention of Japan to invest in the construction of railway infrastructure from Tavan Tolgoi coal mine to Sainshand railway line connecting it to the Trans-Mongolian Railway Network and providing access to Chinese and Russian seaports. Furthermore, plans have been made for Chinese, Russian and Japanese investments in financing the railway in exchange of coking coal sourcing from Mongolia. Investment blueprint and roadmap was agreed with the Japanese government, Japan Bank for International Cooperation and Japanese major trading companies.
Battulga believes foreign direct investment on balanced terms is an important catalyzer for Mongolia’s economic development and job creation. His policies has been aimed at enhancing fair, transparent and reciprocal trade.
Battulga criticizes Mongolian economy’s heavy dependence on a single trade partner, thus faces fierce opposition and attacks from shareholders and stakeholders of coal miners.
Battulga sponsored construction of Chingis Khan Equestrian Statue near Ulaanbaatar to celebrate national pride. The statue became one of the main tourist attraction sights.
Battulga is also the President of Mongolian Judo Association. Under his guidance, Mongolian judoka Tuvshinbayar Naidan became an Olympic Judo Champion in Beijing 2008 and many other successful judokas that have become national heroes. Thanks to these successes judo has become one of the most popular sports in Mongolia.