COVID-19 and Trump’s indifference helped human rights abusers in 2020
Belarusian government sees $2bn of withdrawals, issues $580mn worth of bonds in 2020
Lukashenko: I am no enemy of the people
Storming parliaments: New Europe's greatest hits
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EU to begin certifying Russian Sputnik V vaccine for use in Europe
New Ukrainian VC firm QPDigital aims to invest up to $100 million in digital startups
EBRD investments reach record €11bn in pandemic-struck 2020
FPRI BMB Ukraine: Most Ukrainians are optimistic about 2021 – poll
OUTLOOK 2021 Lithuania
EBRD says loan to Estonia’s controversial Porto Franco project was never disbursed
Estonian premier quits after Tallinn development scandal
Top Centre Party official suspected of corruption in Tallinn real estate scandal
Czech Pirates and Mayors approve final coalition agreement for 2021 elections
OUTLOOK 2021 Czechia
BRICKS & MORTAR: Rosier future beckons for CEE retailers after year of change and disruption
Romanian tech entrepreneurs expand into banking sector
OUTLOOK 2021 Hungary
Hungarian government remains silent after Capitol riots
World Bank expects modest recovery for Europe and Central Asia in 2021
FDI inflows to CEE down 58% in 1H20 but rebound expected
OUTLOOK 2021 Slovakia
Slovakia to invest €1.2bn in digitisation
BALKAN BLOG: The controversial recipe for building up Albania
Heavy flooding causes chaos in parts of Southeast Europe
Vodafone Albania plans €100mn infrastructure investments after AbCom merger
OUTLOOK 2021 Albania
Kyiv accuses Bosnian President Dodik of lying about icon gifted to Russian foreign minister
Bosnia’s real GDP contracts 6.3% y/y in 3Q20
Sofia-based LAUNCHub Ventures holds first close of new fund on €44mn
ING THINK: Growth in the Balkans: from zero to hero again?
OUTLOOK 2020 Bulgaria
Labour demand down 28% y/y in Croatia in 2020
Zagreb Stock Exchange's Crobex10 index at highest level since March 5
OUTLOOK 2021 Kosovo
Arrera Automobili aims to launch Albania’s first supercar
World Bank revises projection for Moldova’s 2020 GDP decline to 7.2%
Moldova’s PM resigns to prepare the ground for early elections
Socialist lawmakers in Moldova scrap settlement on $1bn bank frauds
Montenegro’s new ruling coalition carves up top state jobs
OUTLOOK 2021 Montenegro
Vast tide of floating waste threatens Balkan hydropower plants
North Macedonia's manufacturing confidence indicator down by 8.5 pp y/y in December
OUTLOOK 2021 North Macedonia
Transparency International warns of high corruption risk in CEE defence sectors
Moldova fears flooding from Ukraine's planned Dniester hydropower plants
Romania’s industrial recovery paused in November
OUTLOOK 2021 Serbia
Slovenia’s opposition files no-confidence motion against Jansa cabinet
UK Moneyhub picks Slovenia for post-Brexit European base
Slovenia’s dire COVID-19 situation in 4Q20 caused second economic dip
Slovenia’s Eligma completes €4mn funding round
BEYOND THE BOSPORUS: Let’s tentatively pencil in a date for Turkey’s hot money outflow
Turkish opposition leader lawsuit demands one lira from Erdogan, police probe “bald” interior minister posts
OUTLOOK 2021 Armenia
Armenia’s PM cautions conflict with Azerbaijan “still not settled” after trilateral meeting with Putin
COMMENT: Record high debt levels will slow post-coronavirus recovery, threaten some countries' financial stability, says IIF
Russia, Kazakhstan pushing for oil production increases on the back of coronavirus vaccine-fuelled oil price optimism
OUTLOOK 2021 Georgia
Georgia’s political kingpin Bidzina Ivanishvili quits politics
Modern-day “Robin Hood” inspires Georgians drowning in debt
Iran’s navy conducts missile drill while analyst argues Trump even capable of nuclear strike in final days
TEHRAN BLOG: Who’s more credible? Johnson backing Trump’s Nobel chances or Iran applauding arrest warrant for US president?
STOLYPIN: Scope for limited progress under Biden, so long as the past remains the past
Central Asia vaccination plans underwhelm, but governments look unruffled
Fears of authoritarianism as Kyrgyz populist wins landslide and backing for ‘Khanstitution’
OUTLOOK 2021 Kyrgyzstan
Mongolia's winter dzud set to be one of most extreme on record says Red Cross
Mongolian coal exports to China paralysed as Beijing demands virus testing of truck drivers
Mongolia fears economic damage as country faces up to its first local transmissions of coronavirus
Mongolia in lockdown after suffering first local coronavirus transmissions
OUTLOOK 2021 Tajikistan
China business briefing: Not happy with Kyrgyzstan
OUTLOOK 2021 Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan: How the Grinch stole New Year
Turkmenistan: The dammed united
COMMENT: Uzbekistan is being transformed, but where are the democratic reforms?
OUTLOOK 2021 Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan’s Makro positions itself for growth in a more competitive market
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Mongolia has lost its status as a country free of community transmissions of coronavirus (COVID-19) and on November 13 entered a five-day lockdown, extended on November 16 until December 1.
A truck driver back from Russia, who underwent a 21-day mandatory isolation, nevertheless appears to have infected his wife in Ulaanbaatar. The State Emergency Commission is facing questions as to why his infection, discovered on November 9, was not detected during the quarantine period that ended on November 6.
A second community transmission involves a 74-year-old woman, along with her daughter-in-law and granddaughter in the northern part of Mongolia, in Selenge province. Health Minister Togtmol Munkhsaikhan said there was no known connection with the truck driver or his wife.
As of November 15, nine people in Mongolia were recorded as infected following contact with the driver.
A whistleblower, who was quarantined in the same quarantine facility, Enkhsaran, as the truck driver claimed to local press that there was a cluster of infections in the quarantine facility and that he caught the virus almost on the last day of his 21 days of quarantine. Munkhbat and many others see the situation as down to government negligence and say officials have not been entirely straight with people on the pattern of the virus spread.
On November 15, the health minister stated that there have been 40 cases connected to the set quarantine facility, stating there were three clusters of COVID in Mongolia—linked to the truck driver, the Selenge province woman and the quarantine facility.
Since April, citizens who have been repatriated have criticized the quarantine facilities as lacking any form of proper cleanliness and as not being accommodating. People who were quarantined demanded that the quarantine period be reduced to 14 days from 21 days and that the 14-day home isolation be scrapped. The government subsequently abolished the 14-day home quarantine.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation, praised Mongolia on Twitter last week for “showing us that by following proven public health advice we can stop this virus from spreading.”
The country has not recorded a single coronavirus death.
In their scramble to contain the virus after the first local transmissions were confirmed, authorities sent out jumbled orders, such as on what transport means to use, but were forced to retreat on some instructions after a public outcry grew intense. People complained for instance that there was no communication of who should take care of the children of essential workers. They said it was as if the government had no contingency plan for a virus outbreak.
Under the lockdown, border points dealing with trade with Russia will provide limited access or will be shut down entirely from November 16 to January 18, while oil imports will only enter Mongolia once every two days from Russia. In terms of China, Mongolia will keep its trade routes open. An insider from China's coal trade expressed worries that Mongolia will close its borders soon.
Local mining companies are worried that if Mongolia isn’t successful in containing the virus, China might close its borders or limit trade. This would undo the success it had in terms of exporting coal to China since August, helped by China’s squeezing of coal imports from Australia, with which it is involved in diplomatic spats. In September, Mongolia overtook Australia as the number country exporting coal to China.
If China closes its borders with Mongolia it will heavily impact the state budget. Mongolia’s parliament scrambled to ratify the 2021 state budget on November 13.
One out of three mining operations might be in jeopardy if the virus situation worsens. Most of the coal mines that export to China are located in southern Mongolia. The Rio Tinto-financed Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine and other gold and precious metal exploration mining sites are also located to the south; however, the Erdenet Mining corporation, which produces 22.23mn tonnes of ore per year, 126,700 tonnes of copper and 1954 tonnes of molybdenum, could face closures as it is located next to the province where the second virus cluster was recorded.
In 2019, trade with China accounted for 90% of Mongolia’s export revenue, but Russia accounted for just 0.9%. Mongolia had a trade surplus of $3bn in 2019, but a trade balance deficit of $915.5mn with Russia as part of that, according to Mongolia’s national statistics office.
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