Since the early 90s, Mongolia has moved from a planned economy to a market economy.
Mongolia joined the WTO, the World Trade Organization in 1997.
The Mongolian economy is based mainly on livestock, the basis of traditional Mongolian culture. One third of Mongolians are nomads, who live by farming. There are now 41 million head of livestock in Mongolia, including 14.8 million sheep, 15.4 million goats, 2.7 million horses, 2.1 million cattle and 253,500 camels.
Thanks to them, Mongolia is an exporter of animal products: meat, wool and animal hair, including cashmere (first world producer, second national resource after copper).
Mongolia is rich in natural resources (copper, coal, uranium, molybdenum, fluorspar, tungsten), in deposits of precious and semiprecious stones and gold.
With its natural resources, Mongolia has attracted many foreign investors between until 2011. Most foreign direct investment was absorbed by the mining sector.
The Mongolian economy has been experiencing a steady growth (17.5% in 2011), mainly due to higher commodity prices, driven by Chinese demand.
In the Gobi desert, the Anglo-Australian giant Rio Tinto, allied to Ivanhoe Canadian, has started the first phase of what would eventually be the largest copper mine in the world. According to them, Oyu Tolgoi contains 30.2 million tonnes of copper, but also 1,430 tons of gold. This mine alone could generate one third of Mongolian GDP in the future.
But disagreements between Rio Tinto and the Mongolian government has postponed the 2nd phase of this project.
Foreign Direct Investment has sharply dropped since 2011 and 2014 growth was 7.8%, expected to be lower in 2015.
This had strong impact on the national currency, and inflation was 13% in 2014.