Out of 37 institutions (from 27 countries) that responded to PEP's call in 2016, the Economic Research Institute (ERI) in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia was selected to benefit from the first PEP institutionalization project grant, created as part of PEP's new PAGE II initiative. The project is already underway, marking the launch of PAGE II (2016-2020). PEP resource persons completed an initial field visit in January 2017 to meet the researchers and advise on the preliminary phase of the research work.
The objective of this new type of support, conceptualized and channeled through the MPIA-TRG, is to develop and establish expertise in policy analysis using Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) models within the selected research centers, and to bridge research and policy through an institutionalized approach.
Between 2016 and 2018, the ERI will implement at least two policy research projects. By focusing on research institutes rather than small research teams, PEP expects strong, long-term institutional capacity building that will lead to the development of a permanent team of local experts. In turn, this will create a locus of recognized expertise within the country as well as better visibility for the institution.
The ERI team’s first research project aims to identify the effect of Mongolia’s recent mining boom and bust on the country’s economy. As a country with abundant natural resources, the recent drop in the world prices of minerals has hit the country hard. To address this, the Mongolian government is trying to reignite foreign direct investment, particularly from China where there is a great need for energy resources. A project to develop coal exports via a new railway to be built in southern Mongolia is under negotiation. The research team aims to shed light on the issue of foreign investment and to analyze the impact of the government’s project in both the short and long term.
Following the institute’s selection, six members of the research team completed a distance-learning course on general equilibrium modeling. Two of the team members had previously received PEP support under the PAGE I program to conduct a CGE model of the Mongolian economy. In January 2017, PEP MPIA resource persons, Hélène Maisonnave and Bernard Decaluwé, visited the ERI. This initial visit allowed the team to get valuable assistance and advice regarding project implementation and the project’s first phase. A second visit is planned for the end of April and representatives from the institution will present their preliminary results during the 2017 PEP Annual Conference in June.
Next in PAGE II
33 other project proposals have also been shortlisted to contend for support under the four PEP methodologies of the first round of PAGE II. Representatives of the selected research teams have been invited to present their proposals for a final round of evaluation and comments during the 2017 PEP Annual Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, in June. The projects to be supported under this round will be selected following the conference.
Meanwhile, the next series of PAGE II competitions (second funding round) will be launched in July, out of which another research institute/center will be selected to receive the second PEP institutionalization project grant.