Mongolian travel restrictions placed on foreign and domestic workers are hurting the nation’s economy, according to its prime minister, who’s seeking to change the way the law is applied.
The country’s “Hotel Mongolia” nickname, acquired as a result of the travel bans, is “poisoning every Mongolian” by harming foreign investment and may affect exchange rates, Saikhanbileg Chimed said Wednesday in a statement on the government’s website.
The prime minister’s comments, which came as he convened a meeting with top officials to discuss the issue, follow a difficult period for foreign investors.
Three former employees of Canadian mining company SouthGobi Resources Ltd. — a U.S. citizen and two Philippine nationals — were prevented from leaving Mongolia for two years during a criminal investigation. They were convicted of tax evasion in January and spent a month in prison before receiving a presidential pardon.
Inbound foreign investment shrank to $507.6 million in 2014 from $4.45 billion in 2012. The period was marked by disputes with foreign investors, including Rio Tinto Group, the U.K. company that runs the giant Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia.
The prime minister also said his government is working on new tax laws that will bring rules into line with international standards.
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