Mongolia was one of the first countries in the world to adopt strict Covid-19 containment measures, starting with a January 27 halt to air and land travel between China and Mongolia, closing school and universities, and banning all gatherings. Eventually, all commercial flights to Mongolia were totally stopped, and so far this has miraculously limited the number of infections to slightly over 200, with no confirmed cases of community transmission.
However, Mongolia’s economy has been a different story. Economic growth—a respectable 5.1 percent in 2019—is expected to fall sharply in 2020. The OECD originally forecast that Mongolia’s 2020 economy would grow at 5.4 percent, but in May it revised its estimate dramatically downward, to minus 1 percent. The nation’s heavy reliance on export earnings from extractive industries makes matters worse. This lack of diversification is likely to hobble employment, investment, productivity, and longer-term recovery from the pandemic in an economic future that is “subject to unprecedented uncertainty” for Mongolia and many other developing nations.