New partnership set to unlock Mongolia’s e-commerce potential

19 May 2022

UNCTAD will help the landlocked East Asian nation assess its e-commerce ecosystem and harness the development benefits of the digital economy.

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© Kertu | Traditional eagle hunters are among Mongolia's tourism attractions. Now the country has set its sights on diversifying its economy through e-commerce.

UNCTAD has joined forces with the Republic of Korea and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to boost e-commerce in Mongolia.

The Republic of Korea has contributed $100,000 to UNCTAD’s e-commerce and digital economy programme to assess the landlocked nation’s e-trade readiness.

The assessment requested by the Mongolian government will be conducted jointly with the EBRD, which will contribute $75,000 to the project.

UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics, Shamika N. Sirimanne, said: “UNCTAD is happy to join efforts with the Republic of Korea and the EBRD to support Mongolia along its digitalization pathway.”  

She added that e-commerce offers many opportunities to Mongolia’s businesses and consumers, and the assessment is a key step towards capturing those opportunities.

Transition to digital economy

“We hope that the assessment will be of great help in Mongolia's transition to a digital economy, and it will be meaningful in finding new possibilities for Mongolia's development,” said Sungjoo Son, director of digital government cooperation in the Republic of Korea’s ministry of the interior and safety.

Hannes Takacs, associate director and head of Mongolia at EBRD said: “We are delighted to partner with UNCTAD to share our expertise and reach to support further digitalization.”

Mr. Takacs said the assessment will highlight the policy and funding gaps that stand in the way of Mongolia’s full digital potential.

“The outcome will be a concrete agenda for the bank,” he said. “Digitalization is one of the EBRD’s priorities in the country and we are keen to see this assessment generate investments in all layers of the digital economy — from foundational infrastructure to innovative startups.”

The promise of digitalization

The Mongolian economy stands to benefit enormously from further digitalization, which can boost productivity and support economic diversification. The country heavily relies on extractive activities, tourism and agriculture.

The assessment will provide an overview of constraints and opportunities for e-commerce development in key policy areas, to enable the East Asian nation to better harness the digital economy.

Besides co-funding the assessment, EBRD will provide substantive inputs into policy areas covering ICT infrastructure and services, trade logistics and trade facilitation, payment solutions and access to finance.

The EBRD’s participation follows its new digital approach and commitment to mobilize its full suite of instruments – investments, policy dialogue and advisory services – to shape healthy digital transformations.

In particular, this project furthers EBRD’s ambitions to support the foundations of a sustainable and inclusive digital economy by promoting appropriate policies and regulations and access to connectivity.

The assessment will leverage UNCTAD’s subject-matter expertise and EBRD’s regional access. It will be the thirty-second such assessment done by UNCTAD since 2017, and the third in an EBRD country (after Jordan and Tunisia).

Implementation support

UNCTAD will support Mongolia to fast-track the implementation of policy recommendations that will emerge from the assessment.

The project will benefit from the technical expertise of several eTrade for all partners and increased cooperation with the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Mongolia.

The Republic of Korea’s long-standing support to the eTrade for all initiative has boosted coordination among governments, development partners, civil society and the private sector to implement policies on e-commerce and the digital economy to spur development.

The country’s experience in promoting the digital transition of the public sector, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, through open data, e-customs and e-procurement, was highlighted in a special session of the UNCTAD eCommerce Week 2022.