The China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor (CMREC) is one of the six major corridors envisioned by China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The project seeks to improve infrastructure links between the three countries, reduce freight times, and create new sea and land-based export routes for Mongolian natural resources. It also aims to reduce bureaucratic barriers at the border and provide a shorter route for Russian freight to Pacific ports via Mongolia.
CMREC represents the prospect of large-scale investment inflows overhauling Mongolia’s aging infrastructure network; it would also situate landlocked Mongolia as a key link in new trade networks linking East and West, potentially representing new economic opportunities as a transit and logistical hub. In more immediate terms, CMREC will connect Mongolia’s southern coal deposits with China’s energy-hungry northeast. New rail links to connect Ovoot Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi with China’s national rail network are in the works; both use China’s 1,435 gauge standard. According to the Mongolian government, the Tavan Tolgoi-China link will be completed by 2021. Once it’s done, it will deliver up to 30 million tonnes of coal a year to the Chinese market.