Mongolia’s mineral exports dependence may curtail economic growth www.zgm.mn
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation with Mongolia, highlighting the country’s vulnerability to external shocks given its high debt levels and the economy’s dependence on mineral exports. Collapses to mineral demand can lead to a sharp fall in exports, weakening growth outlook and fiscal accounts, said the IMF in the report.
Mongolia’s economy has recovered vigorously from the recent downturn. Economic growth accelerated to 8.6 percent in the first quarter of 2019, after recording its first fiscal surplus in 2018, and gross international reserves increasing by USD 2.5 billion since 2016. The recovery stems from a stronger policy framework, significant official financing and a rebound in external demand.
Directors of the IMF encouraged the Bank of Mongolia (BoM) to continue to build reserves and do so through direct purchases and limit sales of foreign exchange to address disorderly market conditions. They also highlighted that financial sector reforms, including enhancing risk-based supervision and increasing bank capital are key to ensuring macroeconomic stability.
According to the IMF assessment, structural reforms should focus on strengthening governance and diversifying the economy. Furthermore, the authorities should improve infrastructure, enhance the legal framework and the investment environment, reduce environmental degradation, and make the agriculture sector more resilient to climate change.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) is expected to be strong, and improving current accounts spur reserves accumulation, said the IMF report. However, the trend is likely to slow down from 2021 due to domestic policy.
The IMF expected Mongolia’s economic growth to remain above 6.5 percent in 2019 and moderate to around 5 percent over the medium term. The primary headwinds are weaker export and growth. Partially balancing these headwinds, fiscal policy is expected to loosen in 2019 and 2020 relative to the 6 percent primary surplus seen in 2018.