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Mongolia

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Editorial

Overview

The Mongolian economy has been subdued in recent years, with lawyers reporting less transactional activity, diminished foreign investment flows and less restructuring work than before the financial crisis in 2008, when the country benefitted from high commodity prices. Mongolia is currently going through a period of economic and political change, the results of which remain to be seen.

In May 2017, the government, facing extensive budgetary constraints turned to the IMF, which approved a financial package worth $5.5bn over three years. The arrangement is intended to aid the diversification of the economy, particularly capital markets, and reduce its reliance on natural resources. The IMF stipulated an austerity budget, aimed at countering years of government overspending.

Following the bailout, the July 2017 presidential elections yielded an unexpected result; as the People’s Party, which had won a landslide in the parliamentary elections a year earlier, was beaten by the Democratic Party candidate, the populist Battulga Khaltmaa, who is critical of Chinese investment into the country. What followed was a series of political events that culminated in the sacking of the prime minister and the imprisonment of former ministers in early 2018.

Against this difficult backdrop, the economy is beginning to show signs of improvement. As commodity prices tentatively recover their pre-crisis levels, mining projects are continuing, despite new legislation intended to raise tax from mine licences and land rights. Infrastructure projects, which have been another contentious issue, are also beginning to pick up. Between 2015 and 2017, there was a marked fall in Chinese investment, but in the first half of 2018, Belt and Road initiative projects, limited to rail infrastructure and power, did begin to restart – a positive sign for things to come.

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