In the context of Britain’s European Union membership referendum and just prior to North America’s own trilateral Leaders’ Summit, on June 23 the presidents of China, Russia, and Mongolia signed a trilateral economic partnership agreement, with the countries agreeing to, in part, the establishment of an investment centre and an economic corridor linking the three countries.
Meeting on the sidelines of the 11th meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Uzbekistan, the presidents agreed to create a joint investment centre this year in order to assess the feasibility of 32 proposed projects. Other proposals include a special tourist train linking Mongolia and China to 20 Russian regions, “the Great Tea Route,” and increasing capacity to 100 million tons of freight per year on Mongolia’s Ulan Bator railway if pledged capacity-building cooperation goes ahead.
China and Russia have a number of investment projects in or connecting to Mongolia. Earlier in June, and at the request of Russia, Mongolia put on hold the damming of a river which feeds into Russia’s Lake Baikal, a US$1 billion (C$1.3 billion) hydropower project which has backing from China’s National Development and Reform Commission and the China EXIM Bank. In late 2015, China and Mongolia signed agreements in hotel and resort construction, tourism personnel training, and development of tourist routes, worth US$220 million (C$293 million) in total.