Economy of Mongolia

Economy of Mongolia
Economy of Mongolia
The former Lenin Museum in Ulaanbaatar
Rank 150th (2009 est.)
Currency 1 tögrög (MNT) = 100 möngö
Fiscal year Calendar year
Trade organisations WTO, IMF, World Bank, ADB, SCO (Observer)
GDP $9.459 billion (2009 est.)
GDP growth 7% (2010 est.)
GDP per capita $3,200 (2009 est.)
GDP by sector agriculture: 21.2%, industry: 29.5%, services: 49.3% (2009 est.)
Inflation (CPI) 4.2% (2009 est.)
below poverty line
36.1% (2004 est.)
Gini index 32.8 (2002)
Labour force
by occupation
agriculture: 34%, industry: 5%, services: 61% (2008)
Unemployment 2.8% (2008)
Main industries construction, mining, food and beverages, processing of animal products, cashmere and natural fiber manufacturing
Ease of Doing Business Rank 73rd[1]
Exports $1.902 billion (2009)
Export goods copper, apparel, livestock, animal products, cashmere, wool, hides, fluorspar, other nonferrous metals
Main export partners China 64.5%, Canada 6.9%, UK 6.5%, Luxembourg 6.4%, U.S. 4.5% (2008)
Imports $2.131 billion (2009)
Import goods machinery and equipment, fuel, cars, food products, industrial consumer goods, chemicals, building materials, sugar, tea
Main import partners China 27.8%, Russia 38.4%, South Korea 6%, Japan 7.4% (2008)
Public finances
Public debt $1.86 billion (2009)
Revenues $1.38 billion (2009)
Expenses $1.6 billion (2009)
Economic aid $185.94 million (2008)
Credit rating Standard & Poor's:[2]
BB- (Domestic)
BB- (Foreign)
BB (T&C Assessment)
Outlook: Stable[3]
Outlook: Stable
Outlook: Stable
Main data source: CIA World Fact Book
All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars

Economic activity in Mongolia has traditionally been based on agriculture and the breeding of livestock. Mongolia also has extensive mineral deposits: copper, coal, molybdenum, tin, tungsten, and gold account for a large part of industrial production. Soviet assistance, at its height one-third of GDP, disappeared almost overnight in 1990–91, at the time of the Collapse of the Soviet Union (1985–1991). Mongolia was driven into deep recession, which was prolonged by the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party's (MPRP) reluctance to undertake serious economic reform. The Democratic Union Coalition (DUC) government, 1996–2000, has embraced free-market economics, easing price controls, liberalizing domestic and international trade, and attempting to restructure the banking system and the energy sector. Major domestic privatization programs have been undertaken, as well as fostering of foreign direct investment through international tender of the oil distribution company, a leading cashmere wool company, and banks. Reform has been held back by the ex-communist MPRP opposition and by the political instability brought about through four successive governments under the DUC. Economic growth picked up in 1997–99 after stalling in 1996 due to a series of natural disasters and increases in world prices of copper and cashmere. Public revenues and exports collapsed in 1998 and 1999 due to the repercussions of the Asian financial crisis. In August and September 1999, the economy suffered from a temporary Russian ban on exports of oil and oil products. Mongolia joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1997.[4] The international donor community pledged over $300 million per year at the last Consultative Group Meeting, held in Ulaanbaatar in June 1999.


Communist era

The rapid political changes of 1990–91 marked the beginning of Mongolia's efforts to develop a market economy, but these efforts have been complicated and disrupted by the dissolution and continuing deterioration of the economy of the former Soviet Union. Prior to 1991, 80% of Mongolia's trade was with the former Soviet Union, and 15% was with other Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) countries. Mongolia was heavily dependent upon the former Soviet Union for fuel, medicine, and spare parts for its factories and power plants.

The former Soviet Union served as the primary market for Mongolian industry. In the 1980s, Mongolia's industrial sector became increasingly important. By 1989, it accounted for an estimated 34% of material products, compared to 18% from agriculture. However, minerals, animals, and animal-derived products still constitute a large proportion of the country's exports. Principal imports included machinery, petroleum, cloth, and building materials.

In the late 1980s, the government began to improve links with non-communist Asia and the West, and tourism in Mongolia developed. As of January 1, 1991, Mongolia and the former Soviet Union agreed to conduct bilateral trade in hard currency at world prices.

Despite its external trade difficulties, Mongolia has continued to press ahead with reform. Privatization of small shops and enterprises has largely been completed in the 1990s, and most prices have been freed. Privatization of large state enterprises has begun. Tax reforms also have begun, and the barter and official exchange rates were unified in late 1991.

Transition to a market economy

Between 1990 and 1993, Mongolia suffered triple-digit inflation, rising unemployment, shortages of basic goods, and food rationing. During that period, economic output contracted by one-third. As market reforms and private enterprise took hold, economic growth began again in 1994–95. Unfortunately, since this growth was fueled in part by over-allocation of bank credit, especially to the remaining state-owned enterprises, economic growth was accompanied by a severe weakening of the banking sector. GDP grew by about 6% in 1995, thanks largely to a boom in copper prices. Average real economic growth leveled off to about 3.5% in 1996–99 due to the Asian financial crisis, the 1998 Russian financial crisis, and worsening commodity prices, especially copper and gold.

Mongolia's gross domestic product (GDP) growth fell from 3.2% in 1999 to 1.3% in 2000. The decline can be attributed to the loss of 2.4 million livestock in bad weather and natural disasters in 2000. Prospects for development outside the traditional reliance on nomadic, livestock-based agriculture are constrained by Mongolia's landlocked location and lack of basic infrastructure. Mongolia's best hope for accelerated growth is to attract more foreign investment. Since 1990, more than 1,500 foreign companies from 61 countries have invested a total of $338.3 million in Mongolia. By 2003 private companies made up 70% of Mongolian GDP and 80% of exports.[5]

Crisis to present day

Mongolia’s reliance on trade with China meant that the worldwide financial crisis hit hard,[6] severely stunting the growth of its economy. With the sharp decrease in metal prices, especially copper (down 65% from July 2008-February 2009,[6] exports of its raw materials withered and by 2009 the stock market MSE Top-20 registered an all-time low since its dramatic spike in mid-2007.[7] Just as the economy started to recover, Mongolia was hit by a Dzud over the winter period of 2009-2010, causing many livestock to perish and thus severely affecting cashmere production which accounts for a further 7% of the country’s export revenues.[6]

According to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund estimates, real GDP growth reduced from 8% to 2.7% in 2009, and exports shrunk 26% from $2.5Bn to $1.9Bn after a promisingly steady increase up until 2008.[6] Because of this, it was projected that between 20,000 and 40,000 fewer Mongolians (0.7% and 1.4% of the population respectively) will be lifted out of poverty, than would have been the case without the global financial crisis.

In late 2009 and the beginning of 2010, however, the market has begun to recover once again. Having identified and learnt from its previous economic instabilities, legislative reform and a tightened fiscal policy promises to guide the country onwards and upwards. In February 2010, foreign assets were recorded at USD1,569,449 million.[8] New trade agreements are being formed and foreign investors are keeping a close eye on the "Asian Wolf".

Mining is the principal industrial activity in Mongolia, making up 30% of all Mongolian industry.[9] Another important industry is the production of cashmere. Mongolia is the world's second largest producer of cashmere, with the main company, Gobi Cashmere, accounting for 21% of world cashmere production as of 2006.[10]

The Wolf Economy

The term was notably coined by Renaissance Capital in their report - Mongolia’s "Blue Sky Opportunity. They state that Mongolia is set to become the new Asian Tiger, or "Mongolian Wolf" as they prefer, and are "unstoppable".[11] With the recent developments in the mining industry and foreign interest increasing at an astonishing rate, it is claimed their Wolf Economy looks ready to pounce. The term’s aggressive title mirrors the country’s attitude in the capital market environment, and with newfound mineral prospects it has the chance to retain its title as the fastest growing economy in the region.


The banking sector is highly concentrated, with four banks holding a significant majority market share:

  • XacBank - XacBank is a community development bank and microfinance institution headquartered in Ulaanbaatar, with a nation-wide network of 78 offices and 969 staff as of Jan 2010.
  • Khan Bank - Khan Bank has 21 regional branch offices throughout the country, each of which supervises an additional 15 to 25 smaller branches in its area.
  • Golomt Bank - Golomt Bank started in 1995 and now manages around 23% of the assets in the domestic banking system.
  • Trade and Development Bank - TDB was formed in 1990 and is thus the oldest bank in Mongolia. It has a network of 28 branches and settlement centers, 60 ATMs, 1300 POS terminals, and Internet/SMS banking throughout the country.[12]

Investment banks

With a strengthening capital market environment, many foreign and local investment institutions have begun to establish themselves in Mongolia. The most prominent local agencies include: Monet Investment Bank, BDSEC, MICC, and Frontier, with many other international players taking a keen interest.


As a result of rapid urbanization and industrial growth policies under the communist regime, Mongolia's deteriorating environment has become a major concern. The burning of soft coal coupled with thousands[citation needed] of factories in Ulaanbaatar and a sharp increase in individual motorization[citation needed] has resulted in severe air pollution. Deforestation, overgrazed pastures, and, less recently, efforts to increase grain and hay production by plowing up more virgin land have increased soil erosion from wind and rain.

Other statistics

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

  • lowest 10%: 2.1%
  • highest 10%: 37% (1995)

Distribution of family income - Gini index: 44 (1998)

Agriculture - products: wheat, barley, vegetables, forage crops, sheep, goats, cattle, camels, horses

Industries: construction and construction materials; mining (coal, copper, molybdenum, fluorspar, and gold); food and beverages; processing of animal products, cashmere and natural fiber manufacturing

Industrial production growth rate: 3% (2006 est.)


  • production: 3.43 TWh (2006 est.)
  • consumption: 2.94 TWh (2006 est.)
  • exports: 15.95 GWh (2006 est.)
  • imports: 125 GWh (2006 est.)

Electricity - production by source:

  • fossil fuel: 100%
  • hydro: 0%
  • other: 0% (2001)
  • nuclear: 0%


  • production: 822 barrels per day (130.7 m3/d) (2006 est.)
  • consumption: 11,220 barrels per day (1,784 m3/d) (2006 est.)
  • exports: 822 barrels per day (130.7 m3/d) (2006 est.)
  • imports: 12,280 barrels per day (1,952 m3/d) (2006 est.)

Exports - commodities: copper, apparel, livestock, animal products, cashmere, wool, hides, fluorspar, other nonferrous metals

Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, fuel, cars, food products, industrial consumer goods, chemicals, building materials, sugar, tea

Exchange rates: tögrögs/tugriks per US dollar: 1,179.6 (2006), 1,205 (2005), 1,187.17 (2004), 1,171 (2003), 1,110.31 (2002), 1,097.7 (2001), 1,076.67 (2000)

See also


  1. ^ "Doing Business in Mongolia 2010". World Bank. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  2. ^ "Sovereigns rating list". Standard & Poor's. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Rogers, Simon; Sedghi, Ami (15 April 2011). "How Fitch, Moody's and S&P rate each country's credit rating". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  4. ^ Montsame News Agency. Mongolia. 2006, Foreign Service Office of Montsame News Agency, ISBN 9992906278, p. 72
  5. ^ Montsame News Agency. Mongolia. 2006, Foreign Service Office of Montsame News Agency, ISBN 9992906278, p. 67
  6. ^ a b c d "Mongolia Quarterly review for February 2009". World Bank. 
  7. ^ "Монголын Хөрөнгийн Бирж". Mongolian Stock Exchange. 
  8. ^ "Bank of Mongolia Monthly Stat Bulletin". Bank of Mongolia. 2010 February. 
  9. ^ Montsame News Agency. Mongolia. 2006, Foreign Service Office of Montsame News Agency, ISBN 9992906278, p. 82
  10. ^ Montsame News Agency. Mongolia. 2006, Foreign Service Office of Montsame News Agency, ISBN 9992906278, p. 86
  11. ^ "Mongolian Wolf to Be ‘Unstoppable’". / Bloomberg. 14 December 2009. 
  12. ^ "Introduction: Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia". Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia. 

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