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Australia establishes development assistance program in Mongolia

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No. MTAI 52 Date: October 9, 1992

Australia establishes development assistance program in Mongolia

Australia is to establish a development assistance program in Mongolia, a landlocked country between China and Russia in the midst of an economic crisis.

The Minister for Trade and Overseas Development, John Kerin, today approved an aid program for Mongolia to begin this financial year with an initial Australian contribution of $500,000. Subject to budgetary provisions this would increase to a

maximum yearly funding of $1 million by 1994/5.

"After 70 years of near total dependence on the former Soviet Union, the emerging democracy in Mongolia is today in the grip of an economic crisis," Mr Kerin said.

"Since losing the financial and infrastructure support provided by the Soviets, Mongolia has experienced a 16 per cent fall in its GNP with inflation reported as high as 100 per cent and no real prospects for economic growth in the near future.

"Mongolia is committed to developing a market economy and with our expertise in the mining and agricultural sectors we can provide the country with significant assistance in areas in which it needs the most help.

"Australian assistance will focus on training, either in Australia or through the placement of experts in Mongolia in the agricultural and mining sectors," Mr Kerin said.

"The program will also support humanitarian projects in areas such as women's health and rural health services."

Most of the assistance will be channelled through multilateral agencies, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Health Organisation, to maximise efficiency and avoid duplication of effort.

Funding for Mongolia is provided through AIDAB, Australia's overseas aid agency.

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CANBERRA For further information contact AIDAB Public Affairs: Tony Melville, (06) 276 4971