Mongolia: World Economic Forum Puts Rapid Growth In Spotlight

MongoliaEconomy

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29 Jan 2012
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Strong mining industry and diversification efforts set scene for long-term expansion - OBG’s Regional Editor 

Mongolia looks set to buck global trends and could achieve a level of double-digit growth in 2012 that is more than twice the IMF’s 11.8% forecast, according to Oxford Business Group (OBG).

Paulius Kuncinas, Asia Regional Editor for the global publishing and consultancy company,  acknowledged that recession in the Eurozone and restricted growth in China may mean the government’s projected growth of 25.6% proves to be optimistic and that in any case commodity prices needed to be strong. 

But he was confident that the country could seal its position as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies over the next 10 years and build on the record 16.7% expansion which the Bank of Mongolia (BOM) states the country achieved in the first three quarters of 2011. 

Kuncinas was speaking ahead of the 42nd World Economic Forum Annual Meeting taking place in Davos-Klosters between 25th and 29th January 2012. The meeting, which has the theme ‘The Great Transformation: Shaping New Models’, will dedicate an event to Mongolia and the growth that its rapidly-developing economy is achieving.

OBG has produced a special advance edition of its report on Mongolia’s economic activity and investment opportunities ahead of its actual publication date in March. The Report: Mongolia 2012, which will be distributed at the WEF by the Mongolian delegation, is the first major English-language business guide to the country. It explores the country’s rapid emergence onto the global economic stage after recovering from a brief but difficult period at the end of the last decade.

“Irrespective of what happens globally we think Mongolia is one of the few countries in the world that will achieve double digit growth in 2012,” Kuncinas said. “This level of continuous expansion in our view will last for at least one decade. For that reason alone Mongolia is our top pick for both real sector and portfolio investors looking for above average emerging market returns.”

Kuncinas said that while Chinese demand for commodities would remain an important demand driver in the next decade, Mongolia was also finding new markets for its key mining exports such as copper, coal and gold. “Mongolia is much more decoupled from China than many investors think,” he said. “New mining products such as rare earth are already fuelling a surge in interest from non-China oriented investors.”

He added that while inflation remained a concern in the short term, a planned new fiscal stability law should help to bring it under control. “Inflation in 2012 is likely to reach 18% with policymakers unlikely to restrain growth in public sector wages because of upcoming elections this year,” he said. “However we think that policymakers are very much aware of this risk and will eventually respond to pressure from the IMF and private sector investors after the elections.” 

Kuncinas also voiced his confidence that longer term challenges, led by the well-documented ‘Dutch Disease’, should be tackled in part by the creation of a new Development Bank of Mongolia to fund non-mining projects and all-round efforts to diversify the economy. 

The Report: Mongolia 2012 provides key coverage of the preparations the country is making to step up mining operations by updating licensing procedures and investing in infrastructure, transport and power plants. The publication also looks at the role mining revenues will play in financing investment as the government looks to spread national wealth and fuel a consumption boom.

With the country already attracting interest from investors due to its resource wealth and open, liberalised market, The Report: Mongolia 2012 highlights the sectors that are ripe for development, particularly agribusinesses, industry and tourism. It also considers the impact of recent reforms which are paving the way for decentralisation and devolution as the government prepares to hand over funds and powers to regional and municipal authorities.

The book includes interviews with the President of Mongolia, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, and Prime Minister Sükhbaataryn Batbold, as well as opinions from Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade G. Zandanshatar, Vice-Minister of Finance and Founder of Mongolia Economic Forum Ch. Ganhuyag, Chairman of the Foreign Investment and Foreign Trade Agency B. Ganzorig and the Executive Director of the Business Council of Mongolia Jim Dwyer.

The report also contains contributions from international representatives, such as the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, the Vice President of the United States Joe Biden, the CEO of Rio Tinto Group Tom Albanese, the Head of London Stock Exchange (LSE) Xavier Rolet and the Vice Chairman of General Electric (GE) John Rice. 

The Report: Mongolia 2012, which marks the culmination of more than six months of on-the-ground research by a team of analysts from the Group, has been produced in collaboration with the Mongolian Economic Forum. Contributions have also been made by the Business Council of Mongolia and the Foreign Investment and Foreign Trade Agency (FIFTA). The report will be available in March in print form or online.