A landlocked East Asian nation bordered by economic powerhouses Russia to its north and China to its south, Mongolia shipped an estimated US$7.4 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 19.4% increase from 2017 to 2018 and a 28.2% gain since 2014.
Data from 2017 shows that 99.1% of products exported from Mongolia were bought by importers in: China (85% of the global total), United Kingdom (10.7%), Russia (1.1%), Italy (0.7%), Taiwan (0.4%), Singapore (0.4%), Japan (0.2%), Hong Kong (0.2%), Germany (0.2%) and South Korea (0.2%).
Given Mongolia’s population of 3.1 million people, its total $7.4 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $2,400 for every resident in the vast East Asian country.
In macroeconomic terms, Mongolia’s total exported goods represent 17% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($43.5 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 17% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 21.1% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Mongolia’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Mongolia also provided $1.1 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 2.6% of GDP in PPP.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Mongolia’s unemployment rate was 11.8% at March 2019 up from 9.7% one year earlier, per Trading Economics.
Mongolia’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Mongolian global shipments during 2018. 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% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Meat and seafood preparations were the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 695% since 2017.
In second place for improving export sales were oil seeds thanks to a 390.5% increase.
Mongolia’s shipments of copper posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 28.5%.
The lone decliner among the top 10 Mongolia export categories was wool via its -32.9% 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 38.1% of the country’s total. In second place were copper ores and concentrates (27.9%) trailed by unwrought gold (9.8%), crude oil (5.1%), iron ores and concentrates: (4.9%), animal hair excluding wool (2.4%), zinc ores and concentrates (1.8%) then refined copper and unwrought alloys (1.6%).
Overall Mongolia achieved an estimated $2.2 billion product trade surplus for 2018, up by 18.3% from $1.9 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$2.7 billion (Up by 22.6% since 2017)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $2 billion (Up by 19%)
- Gems, precious metals: $710.5 million (Up by 19.4%)
- Wool: $184.2 million (Down by -35.6%)
- Copper: $117.2 million (Up by 28.5%)
- Salt, sulphur, stone, cement: $85.3 million (Up by 25.7%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $62.8 million (Up by 1,546%)
- Meat: $33.6 million (Up by 9.5%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $24.3 million (Up by 9.2%)
- Fruits, nuts: $15.8 million (Down by -61.4%)
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$782.4 million (Up by 41.7% since 2017)
- Machinery including computers: -$657.9 million (Up by 22.6%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$363.1 million (Up by 0.4%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$235.9 million (Up by 14.6%)
- Iron, steel: -$129 million (Up by 57.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$113.5 million (Up by 20%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$105.7 million (Up by 12%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$99.3 million (Up by 69.6%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: -$79.4 million (Down by -6.4%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefab buildings: -$70 million (Down by -1.2%)
Mongolia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the vehicles category, notably for cars, trucks, tractors then automotive parts and 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)
Mongolia’s capital city is Ulaanbaatar.
See also China’s Top 10 Exports, United Kingdom’s Top 10 Exports and Top Asian Export Countries
FlagPictures.org, Flag of Mongolia. Accessed on October 25, 2018
Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on October 25, 2018
Foreign Trade , United States Census Bureau. Accessed on October 25, 2018
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 8, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 8, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on October 25, 2018
The World Factbook, East & Southeast Asia: Mongolia. Accessed on October 25, 2018
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 8, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Mongolia. Accessed on October 25, 2018
Wikipedia, Mongolia. Accessed on October 25, 2018
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 8, 2019
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Accessed on October 25, 2018