Emerging Markets

Yes we Khan— Ulan Bator


Mongolia is rich in raw materials and is thought to have huge oil reserves: resources that its neighbour China – with which it shares a rocky relationship – needs. The dust-bowl capital, Ulan Bator, is already flourishing but Mongolia needs to overcome its poverty and corruption.

China, economy, flourishing, market, oil reserves, raw materials

At first glance Ulan Bator, Mongolia’s gritty capital, doesn’t hold much promise. Pavements are cracked and crumbling. Beaten-up, growling buses jostle with cars from Japan’s scrapyards. Hawkers squat with folded arms waiting to sell a lollipop, shine shoes or dial a telephone call for passersby. Many Soviet-era buildings sorely need a lick of paint, new windows and a spring clean. But something is up.

Shimmering green, blue and silver office towers are taking shape, pointing to a golden future. A trove of minerals stretching across the Periodic…

Lessons in diplomacy

Can Mongolia keep both neighbouring Russia and China as allies?

Mongolia’s presence on a vast territory between China and Russia is puzzling. How did it not get swallowed up? It has much to thank for the upheaval in those giant countries early in the 20th century and their later animosity that turned Mongolia into a buffer state. Today Mongolia is trying to keep both happy. And it has also been rubbing up against other heavyweights.

“They have attached quite a lot of importance to places such as Korea, Japan, Europe and the US to balance Russia and China,” says Niklas Swanström, director of the Institute for Security & Development Policy in Sweden. This may be crucial for Mongolia’s future.

“Since Mongolia is sandwiched between Russia and China, neither of which is democratic, there may be a tendency for Mongolia to turn away from democracy. If that happens, the blame can only lie with the West for not doing enough,” adds Swanström.

How to make money in Mongolia

Fly: MIAT Mongolian Airlines offers little but charges the earth. Privatisation is on the cards. With vision, cash and panache the airline could break the stranglehold of Aeroflot and Air China.
Sell: Retail is dull. A fresh, fast convenience store such as Japan’s Lawsons or a family mart would make a mint.
Serve: Between the pubs and barebones cafés yawns a huge gap for a comfortable café where you can escape the city.
Host: There’s a desperate need for decent five-star hotels as well as inns.
Heal: When sickness, accidents or muggings strike, those that can head overseas for treatment. As mining expands, drawing more foreigners, and Mongolia’s middle class grows, they will need good medical services.


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