Development of natural resources and infrastructure is the main goal of the first bilateral free trade agreement eyed by Mongolia. The counterpart in the agreement will be Japan, which has maintained diplomatic ties with Mongolia in the last 40 years.
Japan is interested in cooperating with Mongolia as the fast-growing north Asian economy grew by 17.3 percent last year and it has no other similar international agreements signed. Mongolia is enjoying rich resources of coal, uranium, copper and rare minerals.
The two countries have agreed to begin negotiations for the agreement after a meeting between Japanese prime minister Yoshihiko Noda and his Mongolia counterpart Sukhbaatar Batbold in Tokyo.
The matter has been on the agenda last year as well, but it has been stalled as Japan’s prime minister at the time, Naoto Kan, had to deal with the major crisis triggered by the March 2011 natural disasters.
Among the first results of the new partnership is that Japanese companies will be part of developing the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine in the south Gobi desert, one of the world’s largest deposits of high-quality coal, according to a statement published after the meeting and quoted by Kyodo.