More information about Mongolia is available on the Mongolia country page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
The United States established diplomatic relations with Mongolia in 1987. Bordered by Russia and China, Mongolia describes the United States as its most important “third neighbor.” In 2019, the United States and Mongolia upgraded their bilateral relationship to a Strategic Partnership. After nearly seven decades of socialist one-party rule and close alignment with the Soviet Union, the Mongolian people supported a peaceful democratic revolution in 1990. Since adopting democracy, Mongolia has, as of June 2021, conducted eight presidential and eight legislative elections. The United States has sought to assist Mongolia’s market-oriented reforms and to expand political, cultural, educational, and defense cooperation.
Since 1991, Freedom House has rated Mongolia, the only post-communist consolidated democracy in Asia, as a politically free country. Political rights and civil liberties have been firmly institutionalized, though corruption remains a challenge and there are recurring concerns about judicial independence. Mongolia’s ranking in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index deteriorated from 80 (out of 198 economies) in 2014 to 111 (of 180 economies) in 2020.
Education and Other Exchanges
The United States and Mongolia have signed a cultural accord, a Peace Corps accord, and a consular convention. English has been compulsory in Mongolian schools since 2005, and interest among Mongolians in learning English and studying in the United States increases every year. Since 2011, the Government of Mongolia has committed $600,000 annually to co-fund the Fulbright masters’ program, tripling the number of Mongolians who study in the United States under this initiative. In addition, more than 1,500 Mongolians study at U.S. colleges and universities, some via private scholarships. Approximately 120 Mongolians travel to the United States every year on U.S. government-funded educational, professional, and cultural exchange programs. Since 2017, 20 Mongolian high students a year participate in the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program. U.S. and Mongolian legislators also participate in exchanges in which they share information and experiences about democracy and institutional reform. Created in 2007, Mongolia’s alumni network, the Mongolian
Association of State Alumni (MASA) has become one of the largest and most active in the region. About a third of Mongolia’s parliament is comprised of U.S. alumni, and MASA implements the embassy’s Education USA academic advising service.
Mongolia deployed troops to Iraq from 2003 through October 2008. In Afghanistan, Mongolian soldiers supported Coalition operations for 18 years, with withdrawal underway in 2021 in coordination with the planned exit of U.S. forces. Training and equipment provided by the U.S. government support the professionalization of Mongolia’s defense forces and their continued engagement in United Nations peacekeeping operations. The United States military also regularly participates in Mongolia-hosted peacekeeping and humanitarian relief exercises, including the annual Khaan Quest exercise.
U.S. Assistance to Mongolia
Global commodity prices and the Chinese economy affect Mongolia’s economic growth rates, which have fluctuated widely in recent years. A balance of payments crisis prompted the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to implement a $425 million Extended Fund Facility from 2017 to 2020. In June 2020, the IMF approved an additional $99 million Rapid Financing Instrument disbursement to help Mongolia cope with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mongolian economy contracted just more than five percent in 2020 due to the pandemic, but by 2021 was set for a recovery helped by higher prices for copper and coal, two of Mongolia’s major exports. Mongolia’s rank in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index fell from 56 (of 189 economies) in 2014 to 81 (of 190 economies) in 2019.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) maintains programs to facilitate access to finance for small and medium enterprises, develop young leaders, support Mongolia’s transition to a self-reliant energy sector, and build resilience for those affected by climate change and natural disasters. USAID also provides significant resources to assist Mongolia combat COVID. The Peace Corps has an active program in Mongolia. The United States and Mongolia implemented important, long-lasting development projects through a Millennium Challenge Compact between September 2008 and September 2013. A second $350 million Compact to build critical water infrastructure in the capital Ulaanbaatar entered into force in March 2021.
Targeted U.S. government assistance seeks to promote good governance and the rule of law; foster the next generation of democratic leaders; strengthen civil society; and support private sector-led growth, economic diversification, and long-term capital investment. Through the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program (INL) and U.S. federal and local law enforcement partners, the U.S. government combats transnational crime, gender-based violence, financial crime, and corruption by developing Mongolian law enforcement capacity and strengthening police-to-police ties. Because of Mongolia’s long and highly porous borders, U.S. assistance also supports nonproliferation activities.
Bilateral Economic Relations
With 90 percent of Mongolia’s exports – primarily minerals – going to its southern neighbor, China remains Mongolia’s most significant economic partner. China also supplies a third of Mongolia’s imports, mostly in consumer and capital goods. About 60 percent of the government’s bilateral debts and 82 percent of central bank debt are held by China. China is also Mongolia’s second-largest source of foreign direct investment. (Canada is the largest source of FDI, primarily in the mining sector. The United States ranks seventh.)
Mongolia’s trade with Russia is primarily in energy, although the government has sought to expand trade through free-trade negotiations with the Eurasian Economic Union, the customs bloc comprising Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia. Mongolia is in active discussions with Gazprom, a Russian, partially state-owned multinational energy corporation, regarding the potential construction of a natural gas pipeline dubbed “Power of Siberia 2” from Russia through Mongolia into China.
Approximately 20 percent of Mongolia’s energy demand is met by imports from Russia and China. Russia supplies electricity for the Central and Western Grids, while Chinese-generated electricity supports mining projects in the South Gobi.
To diversify away from its dependence upon China, the government has looked to Russia, as well as “third neighbors” like the United States, Japan, India, and the EU, as alternative sources of investment and trade. In 2000, the Mongolian economy barely exceeded $1 billion. By contrast, nominal 2019 GDP was nearly $14 billion. U.S. exports to Mongolia totaled $193 million in 2019 and imports stood at $25 million. Major U.S. exports to Mongolia include aircraft, vehicles, and machinery. U.S. imports from Mongolia include knit apparel, ores, slag, and ash (tungsten). The United States and Mongolia have signed a Bilateral Transparency
Agreement, an Investment Incentive Agreement, a Bilateral Investment Treaty, and a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.
Mongolia’s Membership in International Organizations
Mongolia and the United States belong to many of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the World Trade Organization. Mongolia also is a participating state in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and is a NATO Partner Nation. From 2011 to 2013, Mongolia was the president of the Community of Democracies, a group of democratic nations focused on strengthening democratic institutions globally, and it agreed to remain on the group’s executive committee from 2015 to 2017. In 2015, Mongolia chaired the Freedom Online Coalition. Mongolia was elected to a seat on the UN Human Rights Council from 2016 to 2018. Mongolia is also an observer at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Principal embassy officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List. Mongolia maintains an embassy in the United States at 2833 M Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20007; tel. (202) 333-7117.
More information about Mongolia is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here: