According to the World Bank data, the economy of Mongolia grew by 17.3% in 2011 compared to 6.4% in the previous year.
Traditionally the country is mainly dependent on livestock herding and agriculture, but in the recent years, due to exploration of large mineral deposits, mining has come to contribute to nearly 20% of the total GDP. Two of the major mining projects, namely Oyu Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi, are considered to be part of the five largest copper and gold mines in the world and considered to supply high quality coking coal for over a century (World Bank, 2012).
In terms of foreign investments nearly 70% of the total FDI is invested into the mining sector and about 20% into trade and catering services. In relation to the mining boom and the development in this sector, in the last 3 years the number of service imports in the form of financial and legal services, business consulting firms and human resource recruitment agencies has also increased exponentially. Australian mining and construction companies such as BHP Billiton, Leighton and Rio Tinto have been in Mongolia for many years and hold significant leases to the mineral deposits (FIFTA, 2012).
Diplomatic relations between Mongolia and Australia began in 1972; however it was not until 1990 when Mongolia transitioned to a free market economy that the bilateral engagement was enhanced. According to the customs official statistics report for 2011, the total export trade from Australia to Mongolia was 44 million AUD and the import from Mongolia to Australia totaled 0.5 million AUD. While the trade total is a modest sum compared to Australian trade with other countries, Australian exports to Mongolia have doubled every year since 2009 and has further growth potential (Australian Government, 2012).
A significant portion of the Australian export to Mongolia include heavy machinery, specialized equipment, measuring and analysis apparatus and technologies mainly used in the mining sector. The main exports from Mongolia are cashmere, coal and fluorspar. China is both the principal importer and exporter from Mongolia at 80% of the total export and 40% of the total import (Austrade, 2012).
Austrade has recently opened a permanent office in the capital city Ulaanbaatar with an aim to enhance the commercial ties between Australia and Mongolia and it serves as the gateway for Australian businesses and individuals hoping to expand into the Mongolian market.
With nearly half the small population of less than 3 million living in the capital city, and with a few large companies dominating the majority of the trade, it is easy to find distribution channels and buyers in Mongolia. Growing number of young people are educated abroad exposed to the western way of doing business and thus language barriers and cultural misunderstandings will not be an obstacle.
The Mongolian government policy to promote international trade has created a favorable environment for the traders and the country continues to facilitate trade. In order to overcome the over dependence on imported products and to enhance export, the export duty has been set to 0% and the import duty is one of the lowest at 5% for all commodities with the exception of a seasonal duty increase on vegetables between July and April at 15%. Throughout the country there are a number of free trade zones, free economic zones and bonded construction site and manufacturing areas (Mongolian Customs, 2011).
With an aim to support the small and medium enterprises, current import duty on equipment, machineries, mechanical appliances, reactors, boilers and the corresponding parts for SME purposes has been set to 0% until the 31st of December, 2012 (Mongolian Customs, 2011). Exporters in this sector must not lose the opportunity. Additionally, construction and services sectors and private consumptions are expected to grow for those in the business of exporting construction materials and food products.
Currently Australian export is less than 1% of the total import of Mongolia. With the increase in the average household income and people’s growing conscience toward quality health products, suppliers of food, beverage and snacks may be able to expand their market and increase Australian share in the market. Other main exports from Australia the Mongolians are accustomed to include Australian wine, machinery and mechanical appliances, prepared foodstuff, chemicals or products of the allied industries, and construction materials (Mongolian Customs, 2012).
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