Date: 10 May 2012
The event will be held in Ulaan Baatar , Mongolia , with the participation of distinguished participants from academia, government, civil society, international organizations, and the press. The list of well known participants making opening remarks, presentations and commenting on the publication includes:
Mr. Chuluundorj Khashchuluun
Chairman, National Development and
Ms. Mia Mikic
Economic Affairs Officer
Trade and Investment Division
United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
Country briefing note <download pdf file>
Rapid economic growth with expansion of mining activity
In 2011, the economy of Mongolia expanded rapidly, recording a GDP growth rate of 17.3% compared to 6.4% in 2010. The main contributors of growth were increased activity and investment in the mining sector, as well as higher government spending and private consumption.
Steep rises in the price of copper, gold and especially coal, the country's key export commodities, during the first half of the year contributed to a more than 50% increase in exports. The agriculture sector, which accounts for about 20% of GDP, also showed signs of recovery after suffering severely as a result of the dzud in 2009 and 2010.
Mongolia is expected to record double-digit growth in 2012, of around 16%. Although, the downside risk of rapidly falling commodity prices due to a global downturn in economic activity remains, large increases in the supply of minerals could provide a respite and even outpace the deterioration in the terms of trade. Also, rapidly growing investment in the mining sector and infrastructure connected to mining activities is set to continue, contributing to domestic demand.
Inflationary pressures remain high
The Mongolian economy returned to double-digit inflation during the first half of 2011 due to high imported food costs, increased economic activity and government spending. Inflationary pressures eased somewhat in the second half of 2011 as food prices stabilized and import demand from China moderated.
Overall, average inflation for 2011 was at 9.2%. Inflation in 2012 is forecast to remain at around the same level as in 2011.
In response to high inflation, the Bank of Mongolia tightened monetary policy and raised the benchmark rates three times by a total of 125 basis points in 2011.
Fiscal spending outpaces strong revenue growth
The Government of Mongolia, despite strong revenue growth, recorded a fiscal deficit of 3.3% of GDP in 2011. Government spending increases outpaced the rise in tax receipts owing to cash handouts and spending on infrastructure.
The trend of increasing government spending is expected to continue in 2012 as a number of large-scale infrastructure projects plans unfold. Recognizing that the universal cash hand-outs have been contributing to rising inflation, especially during high growth periods, the government decided to put in place better targeted social protection programmes starting from 2012.
Higher imports further worsen current account deficit
Mongolian exports saw strong growth in 2011 on the back of rising demand for coal and other mining products. While the outlook for export earnings remain positive due to increases in mining output, slowing demand due to moderating growth prospects globally and especially in China, is likely to have a negative impact on commodity prices in the coming months.
Despite the expansion of exports in 2011, the trade deficit widened further to around 30% of GDP due to an even faster increase in imports.
The large current account deficit was financed by extraordinary growth in FDI inflows which increased by more than 300% year-on-year due to investments in the mining sector.
The Mongolian currency ended the year treading lower against the dollar by around 11% compared to 2010 due to high inflation, despite the surge of capital inflows to the country.
Emerging socioeconomic challenges
While labour market conditions improved in line with rapid economic growth, the unemployment rate still remains high. Additionally, high inflation has eroded the earnings of those with jobs. The impact of high inflation was particularly severe on poor households, with many of them unable to meet basic needs.
Recently available data shows that inequality in Mongolia increased significantly during the past years, with average earnings falling in the agricultural sector and rapid rises in income in mining related sectors.
Between 1996 and 2006, the share of GDP produced by the industrial sector including mining, went up from 20.6% to 40.3% while employment in that sector increased by less than 2 percentage points from 15.5% to 17.3%. The highly specialized skills-set required in the mining industry and the capital intensive nature of the work contributed to the slow job growth and concentration of earnings.
The key challenge for Mongolia is diversifying its production base so that more decent jobs can be created, which will in turn reduce inequality and also reduce Mongolia 's exposure to commodity price volatility.
Policy brief: Living with high commodity prices <download pdf file>