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17 February 2023

Mongolia's Challenges and Opportunities - A new report

Experts discuss the current prospects and challenges for Mongolia for the year ahead

Map of Mongolia on the border of Russia and China

Mongolia occupies a key strategic position, between China and Russia. A vast country, with rich resources, and a maturing democracy since 1991, Mongolia is facing the same issues as it emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic as the rest of the world – the urgent need to manage the impact of global warming, economic turbulence from the surrounding world, the ongoing impact or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and a list of internal issues from labour relations to inequality and governance.

In this talk, hosted by Professor Kerry Brown, of King’s College, London, the Deputy Prime Minster of Mongolia, His Excellency Amarsaikhan Sainbuyan, the Minister for Border Ports of Mongolia, Her Excellency Khürelbaataryn Bulgantuya, the British Trade Envoy for Mongolia, Daniel Kawczynski MP, and Dr Elizabeth Fox from the Mongolia and Inner Asia Research Studies Unit (MIASU), Cambridge University highlight the prospects for Mongolia as well the challenges to its development and growth.

“Global warming, climate change, ecological degradation, the frequency and intensity of unforeseen events have increased the challenges - as well as the geopolitical situation’s effect – on our socioeconomic development.”

His Excellency Amarsaikhan Sainbuyan, Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia

Speaking of the Government’s new current policy, Vision 2050, His Excellency discussed their ambition to tackle the country’s significant economic constraints in relation to trade, digitalisation, energy, economic growth, and efficient governance with the aim of making Mongolia one of the leading countries in Asia by 2050.

A key aspect of the vision is on improvement to the country’s border ports. Her Excellency, Khürelbaataryn Bulgantuya noted that, “Over 90% of exports are mineral resources, exported through few borders of the country. [Mongolia] is investing significantly in improving borders – connecting ports through road, rail and air. The Government aims to increase border port capacity by threefold increasing total export value to US $20bn by 2030.”

Referring to neighbouring China, the Government aim to facilitate increased trade in raw materials with China, previously hampered by weak transport infrastructure and highlighted the importance of their relationship: “Our strategic partnership will ensure the coordination of long-term development policies and objectives in line with the New Recovery Policy and Vision 2050.”

“We seek an enhanced economic independence which requires a greater sense of energy security, transport and infrastructure opportunities in domestic power generation.”

His Excellency Amarsaikhan Sainbuyan, Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia

The event marked the launch of a joint report between King’s College and MIASU at Cambridge University which outlines the prospects and challenges facing Mongolia in 2023 with the aim of raising awareness of Mongolia in the UK, Europe and more widely. Dr Fox spoke of Mongolia’s extraordinary position in its region, its democratic status and population of 3.4 million. Additional challenges include its susceptibility to climate change, air pollution and corruption. Speaking of corruption, His Excellency said: “Mongolia is ranked 110th in the world on the corruption perception index, we need to see this become a two-digit number very quickly - that is our Government’s aim.”

His Excellency reiterated the importance of the country’s relationship with the UK saying, “This Government is fully committed to developing our relations with the United Kingdom in all areas, in line with the interests and values of our two nations, so our bilateral trade and investment ties can be expanded within the new recovery policy framework.”

“We’re very proud that the Mongolians call us a third-party neighbour… I have every confidence, with the right partnerships in place that Mongolia could become one of the wealthiest countries in the world.”

British Trade Envoy for Mongolia, Daniel Kawczynski MP

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In this story

Kerry  Brown

Director, Lau China Institute