A landlocked East Asian nation bordered by economic powerhouses Russia to its north and China to its south, Mongolia shipped an estimated US$7.2 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 2.7% increase from 2018 to 2019 and a 54.2% gain since 2015.
The latest available country-specific data for 2018 shows that 99.3% of products exported from Mongolia were bought by importers in: China (92.8% of Mongolia’s global total), United Kingdom (2.5%), Russia (1.2%), Italy (0.8%), Singapore (0.4%), Japan (0.4%), Taiwan (also 0.4%), South Korea (0.3%), Germany (0.2%), Hong Kong (also 0.2%), Vietnam (0.1%) and Iran (also 0.1%).
From a continental perspective, 95% of Mongolia’s exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian countries while 4.9% were sold to importers in Europe. Tinier percentages went to North America (0.1%), Oceania’s Australia and New Zealand only (0.02%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.007%), and Africa (0.004%).
Given Mongolia’s population of 3.2 million people, its total $7.2 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $2,200 for every resident in the vast East Asian country.
Mongolia’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Mongolian global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Mongolia.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$3.2 billion (43.4% of total exports)
- Ores, slag, ash: $2.7 billion (36.5%)
- Gems, precious metals: $726.2 million (9.8%)
- Wool: $196.6 million (2.7%)
- Copper: $119.3 million (1.6%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $93.5 million (1.3%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $68.6 million (0.9%)
- Meat: $66.9 million (0.9%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $36.7 million (0.5%)
- Oil seeds: $30.9 million (0.4%)
Mongolia’s top 10 exports accounted for 98.6% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Gems and precious metals represents the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 330.4% from 2018 to 2019 powered by higher international sales of gold. In second place for improving export sales were oil seeds via a 136.5% gain. Mongolia’s shipments of copper posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 33%.
The leading decliner among Mongolia’s top 10 export categories was meat or seafood preparations thanks to a -42% drop year over year.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, coal including solid fuels made from coal represent Mongolia’s most valuable exported product at 42.7% of the country’s total. In second place were copper ores and concentrates (24.9%) trailed by unwrought gold (8.8%), iron ores and concentrates: (5.9%), crude oil (4.2%) then uncarded and uncombed animal hair (2.7%).
Overall Mongolia achieved an estimated $1.6 billion product trade surplus for 2019, up by 41% from $1.1 billion one year earlier.
The following types of Mongolian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Ores, slag, ash: US$2.5 billion (Down by -8.2% since 2018)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $2.1 billion (Up by 8.5%)
- Gems, precious metals: $610.2 million (Up by 326.5%)
- Wool: $205.5 million (Down by -42.2%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $111.1 million (Down by -37.9%)
- Copper: $106.2 million (Up by 31.7%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $38.1 million (Down by -48.2%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $32.9 million (Up by 49.9%)
- Meat: $19 million (Down by -64.5%)
- Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $13.4 million (Down by -5.3%)
Mongolia has highly positive net exports in the international trade particularly for ores and concentrates of copper, iron, zinc, molybdenum and lead. In turn, these cashflows indicate Mongolia’s strong competitive advantages under the ores, slag and ash product category.
Below are exports from Mongolia that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Mongolia’s goods trail Mongolian importer spending on foreign products.
- Vehicles: -US$938.4 million (Up by 13.7% since 2018)
- Machinery including computers: -$796.3 million (Up by 2.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$255.8 million (Down by -47.3%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$242.7 million (Down by -24.4%)
- Iron, steel: -$151.2 million (Down by -1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$118.3 million (Down by -6.3%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$94.9 million (Down by -19.5%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: -$92.2 million (Down by -6.7%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: -$81.3 million (Up by 1136.8%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$81.1 million (Down by -17.9%)
Mongolia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the vehicles category, notably for cars, trucks, tractors and automotive parts or accessories.
Mongolian Export Companies
Not one Mongolian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.
According to trade portal Alibaba.com, the following are examples of Mongolian export companies. Major products for each business is shown within brackets.
- Dornod Gazar LLC (acid-grade fluorspar)
- Khaadin Ger LLC (customized huts, furniture)
- Mogol Noos LLC (camel wool, yarn)
- Monom Consulting LLC (carpets)
- TESO LLC (non-dairy cream, noodles)
- Uguuj Shim LLC (camel wool)
- Wocom Group LLC (beef bone marrow)
Wikipedia also lists entities from Mongolia that are either directly involved in or related participants in international trade, including financial and transportation players. Selected examples are shown below.
- Bank of Mongolia (central bank)
- MIAT Mongolian Airlines (international airliner)
- Tavan Bogd Group (business conglomerate)
- UFC Group (food, beverages)
In macroeconomic terms, Mongolia’s total exported goods represent 15.4% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($46.7 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 15.4% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 17% for 2018. Those metrics suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Mongolia’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Mongolia’s average unemployment rate was 7.02% for 2019 down from 7.8% one year earlier, per the International Monetary Fund.
Mongolia’s capital city is Ulaanbaatar.
See also China’s Top 10 Exports, United Kingdom’s Top 10 Exports and Top Asian Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook East & Southeast Asia: Mongolia. Accessed on June 3, 2020
FlagPictures.org, Flag of Mongolia. Accessed on June 3, 2020
Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 3, 2020
Foreign Trade , United States Census Bureau. Accessed on June 3, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 3, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 3, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 3, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 3, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Mongolia. Accessed on June 3, 2020
Wikipedia, Mongolia. Accessed on June 3, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 3, 2020
WorldOMeter, Mongolia Population. Accessed on June 3, 2020