German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier begins a two-day visit to Mongolia today.
Steinmeier will meet with his Mongolian counterpart Khurelsukh Ukhnaa to discuss deepening economic and security ties. The visit is likely an attempt by Germany to build its influence in Central Asian countries to challenge historical Russian influence. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its losses in military capability and credibility have allowed other powers to begin making inroads, including France whose president Emmanuel Macron visited Mongolia mid-last year. Additionally, Mongolia’s heavy trade dependence on China—accounting for about 80% of its exports in 2022-2023 may incentivize deeper ties with Germany as an alternate economic partner. While Mongolia exports large amounts of natural resources such as copper, coal, and Tungsten, the country primarily exports clothing articles and agricultural products to Germany Steinmeier’s visit may thus seek to build the groundwork for the import of natural resources as the country continues to diversify its sources of raw materials.
Increased trade volumes between the countries combined with a weakened Russian position due to its diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions from its invasion of Ukraine could allow for a win-win situation where Germany diversifies its resource dependencies and Mongolia is able to assert a more independent foreign policy.
Cian is a Research Analyst and contributes to both Analysis and the Daily Brief. He specializes in Australian and European geopolitics with a particular interest in the strategic autonomy of the EU.