New Delhi, May 22 : Prime Minister rendra Modi’s visit to Mongolia was aimed more at gaining some psychological leverage over Chi than about building trade and economic ties, according to experts.
India’s former ambassador Phunchok Stobdan told IANS that the visit was “more of a strategic step”. S. Kalyaraman, also an expert on the region, said it was about “making our presence felt in the region”. Modi left for Chi on May 14 and spent the next three days visiting Beijing and Shanghai. He became the first Indian prime minister to visit Mongolia on May 17. He was in South Korea on May 18 and 19. During his Mongolia visit, he announced a $1 billion Line of Credit to Mongolia for its infrastructure projects and inked agreements in the field of culture, air services and cyber security training among others.
Stobdan said the import of uranium or copper or tural resources was not a driving factor in building ties with Mongolia. “India can get uranium from anywhere,” said Stobdan, now a senior fellow with Delhi-based think tank Institute for Defence Studies and Alyses (IDSA). “Trade is not the issue here as the transportation cost would be too high. Everything will have to pass through Chi that will impose a lot of restrictions.”
Total bilateral trade between India and Mongolia was $17.4 million in 2010 which rose to $35 million in 2013, according to official figures. On the other hand, the CIA fact-sheet says Mongolia’s trade with Chi represents more than half of its total exterl trade. Chi receives more than 90 percent of Mongolia’s exports and is its largest supplier. Stobdan argued: “Mongolia is a listening post for us. It is similar to why Chi keeps Pakistan close.
“Chi has not been able to reconcile with the fact that Mongolia is not a part of it. We could not ensure Tibet’s independence but we want Mongolia’s independence.” (IANS)