They’re on opposite sides of the world, but Canada and Mongolia have a lot in common.
Both large but sparsely populated countries, with spectacular landscapes, awesome plains, mountains, with foothills and grasslands in between, which Mongolians call ‘steppes.’
“The potential for Canadian exporters in Mongolia is enormous,” says Export Development Canada (EDC) John Place, Chief Representative for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. “The country has a huge need for infrastructure investments that range from roads and airports, to mining infrastructure and power generation. “
But the most immediate need – and another big area of common interest between the two countries – is in agriculture. Accounting for about 20 per cent of Mongolia’s gross domestic product, agriculture in Mongolia is diverse, critical to the country’s future and, as a result, an area of strong focus for its government.
“The government here understands the challenges Mongolia’s crop sector faces and is taking steps to address them,” says, Oyundari Galsandorj, Canada’s Trade Commissioner on the ground in the capital, Ulaanbaatar. “They’ve launched programs aimed at helping farmers increase production in sustainable ways, improving food safety and increasing Mongolia’s self-reliance as a food producer.”
With this in mind, EDC recently entered into a $USD7 million buyer facility with Golomt Bank, the country’s third largest. This facility will help bring some much needed quality equipment to the country; helping an emerging economy’s industrial priority while also helping Canadian businesses access growing opportunities
“This structure is set up for multiple disbursements, some as small as $50,000, to support the purchase of Canadian exporters,” says EDC Infrastructure Associate Marie Poulin. “So this facility could serve a lot of small and medium-sized Canadian business.”
And with the ink on the deal still drying, there are indications that more business may be in the offing.
“We’re hearing about numerous exporters making enquiries and trying to connect with Mongolian buyers,” says Place. “So we hope to help make these connections moving forward .”
Canada’s Trade Commission Service (TCS) also sees fertile ground for opportunities. Machinery and equipment, particularly for conservation tillage techniques, and irrigation systems, are a few areas of obvious demand.
“Large portions of Mongolia are arable land have micro-climates similar to southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, which means similar technological needs,” says Galsandorj. “But we’re also seeing interest in greenhouse technology to extend the growing season for more vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.”
Last year, Canadian exports to Mongolia reached $8 million. But Mongolia’s interest in things Canadian is only getting broader. The TCS reports that Mongolia is studying new fruits and processing facilities, and sour cherry, Saskatoon honey berry, raspberries and strawberries are all being explored for potential commercialization.
Of course there are many ways to approach Mongolia’s steppes. Here are some more steps, courtesy of the TCS, for getting started:
- Watch for events, such as the Western Canada Farm Progress Show (June) and Agribition (November) in Regina; two great events for exploring or discovering opportunities.
- Have a long term strategy for the market. Get the big picture; understand who the main players are and what the competition is doing.
- Find good local agents or partners.
- Planning a visit to Mongolia? Contact the Trade Commissioner Service for guidance and advice before you go.
For more information on doing business in Mongolia, visit EDC to understand the market, learn about risk management tools, and financing and insurance options.