China and Mongolia signed more than a dozen infrastructure and energy cooperation agreements on Thursday, including a deal to strengthen coal-processing partnership, China Daily reported.
The agreements were signed as Chinese President Xi Jinping began a state visit to the resource-rich neighbor and inked a joint declaration to upgrade bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
As part of the initiative, the two nations expressed support for a coal gas project worth US$30 billion. The project will be carried out by Sinopec Group and a Mongolian partner, according to the report.
Following talks between Xi and his Mongolian counterpart Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj in Ulan Bator, a deal was also signed that allows Mongolia to use six ports in northern and northeastern China for imports and exports. The ports are said to include Tianjin, Dalian and Jinzhou.
Meanwhile, Shenhua Group — China’s largest coal producer — China Development Bank and Mongolian officials inked a financing agreement for a rail link to carry coal across the border.
Xi proposed a “three-in-one” cooperation model, integrating mineral resources, infrastructure construction and financial cooperation, to help improve Mongolia’s limited infrastructure and transportation links with China and cover Mongolia’s shortage of capital, according to Xinhua.
“China has the willingness and capacity to help Mongolia translate its advantages into economic development through close cooperation,” Xi was quoted as saying.
China accounts for more than half of Mongolia’s external trade and receives nearly 90 percent of its exports, mainly copper, coal and animal products. Bilateral trade has soared over the past decade, reaching US$6 billion last year.
The decision to upgrade bilateral ties is of strategic significance and is in line with the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples, Xi said.
The two sides should make good use of the inter-governmental cooperation mechanism to realize the goal of lifting bilateral trade to US$10 billion by 2020, the Chinese leader said.
They should launch preparatory work for the negotiation and signing of a bilateral free trade agreement at an early date, Xi added.
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