Rising external debt puts pressure to restart GoM bond trade www.zgm.mn
Experts of the Banks of Mongolia (BoM) and other banking sector economists discussed Mongolia’s major financial challenges as its external debts exceed the GDP. The country’s net external debt hit five times higher than the average amount or 180 percent of its GDP.
The amount of Mongolia’s government-backed bonds expected to mature between 2021-2024 is approximately USD 14.5 billion. The Government of Mongolia (GoM) has developed a foreign debt management strategy that will limit debt rise, diminish its debts over the same period without paying a large amount of payments.
Mongolia’s credit rating and interest rates have changed dramatically since the country issued its first bonds on the international market in 2012. At the time, Chinggis bond was issued at 5.175 percent yield, and it increased to 11.7 percent in 2016. During this period, Mongolia’s credit rating downgraded more than three times and the interest rate on drawing loans in the foreign markets increased almost three times.
According to BoM, total external debt has grown rapidly in recent years. Over the past two years, Mongolia has been involved in the Extended Fund Facility Program by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and is aiming to pay off its pending debts.
“Mongolia depends on the mining sector, which accounts for 90 percent of total exports and over 70 percent of foreign investments. If repayment of the external debt and the downfall of the mining commodity prices occur at the same time, it could put the entire economy at risk,” warn the banking industry experts.
After dropping to USD 1 billion in late 2016, foreign exchange reserves of Mongolia reached USD 4 billion in the second quarter of 2019. Both BoM and the IMF have estimated that Mongolia needs to further increase its foreign exchange reserves by encouraging gold purchases.
Last year, the Bank of Mongolia purchased 22 tons of gold and increased foreign reserves by USD 800 million. With the additional fee in mineral royalty and declines in gold mining, the Central Bank’s gold purchases fell by around 20 percent.