Helble, Matthias, Hal Hill, and Declan Magee. Mongolia's Economic Prospects: Resource-Rich and Landlocked between Two Giants.

AuthorCurry, Robert L., Jr.

Helble, Matthias, Hal Hill, and Declan Magee. Mongolia's Economic Prospects: Resource-Rich and Landlocked between Two Giants. Manila: Asian Development Bank, 2020.

The editors begin their volume by pointing out that Mongolia is a middle- to low-income country that's resource rich, relatively small, landlocked, and well placed between two giant neighbors, giving it the opportunity to trade cross-border with both the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China. The country has solid prospects for economic growth provided the government can improve macroeconomic management, enhance the quality of the labor force, provide key infrastructure components, promote trade that induces direct foreign investment, improve its governance capacities, undertake needed reforms, and diversify the economy beyond the dominant mining sector. They proceed with their analysis by looking at what Mongolia has been able to do since its transition period beginning around 1991. Since then, the country has transformed from a centrally planned, communist, Soviet-dependent state into one featuring independence with a distinct market orientation. However, independence has been costly: the country lost subsidies to its state-owned enterprises, food and energy suppliers, and infrastructure projects. As the country moved along its new road, the trip often has been chaotic because there was little experience that could have helped to prepare Mongolia for the journey.

Despite this significant drawback, the post-transformation years have been successful in many ways, beginning with the fact that real income per capita tripled over the past two decades. Mongolia has been resilient in the face of having giant neighbors with which it has forged genuinely good and symbiotic relations. The government has also opened its economy by engaging externally via accession to the World Trade Organization and membership in the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. Domestically, the country's leadership has established a democracy that is consistent with civil society mandates, including a free media. As for the future, Mongolia has opportunities, but it also faces challenges. Opportunities are embodied in the country's transition from agriculture to mining and in its shift from dependence to independence. Challenges are related to commodity cycles where export prices fall in the face of declines in demand for the country's mining and agricultural exports. Coping with them...

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