Fitch Affirms Mongolia at ‘B’; Outlook Stable

Mongolia’s ratings are underpinned by favourable medium-term growth prospects and high per capita income relative to ‘B’ rated peers. The ratings are constrained by the country’s high reliance on external funding and commodity exports to China amid high external debt and low foreign-exchange reserves. Mongolia scores well on World Bank Governance Indicators relative to ‘B’ peers, but has suffered from political volatility around issues of resource nationalism.

The Fitch forecasts real GDP growth of 5% in 2023, similar to 2022, on stronger mining activity and steady domestic demand. Growth will likely accelerate in 2024. Coal exports are rebounding after China’s removal of border pandemic controls. Export capacity will rise further once cross-border rail links become fully operational in the next one-two years. The strategic Oyu Tolgoi copper mine’s underground phase started production in March 2023, although most of the volume gains will only come from 2025. Other mining and infrastructure projects could support medium-term growth.

The export rebound is helping rein in the current account deficit (CAD), which we expect to shrink to about USD1.7 billion-1.8 billion (about 9% of GDP) in 2023-2024, from about USD2.3 billion (over 13% of GDP) in 2022. We expect inflows of FDI to cover the CAD. Official foreign-exchange (FX) reserves recovered to USD3.7 billion in April 2023, from a trough of USD2.7 billion in August 2022, while bank deposit dollarisation stabilised at 37% of total deposits in March 2023, having risen from 24% at end-2021.

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