The 18th meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was held Saturday in Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan. It was attended by the following dignitaries: Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang; Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev; Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin; Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan Abdulla Aripov; Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic Muhammedkaly Abylgaziev; Prime Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan Kohir Rasulzoda; Defence Minister of the Republic of India Rajnath Singh; and Additional Secretary, National Coordinator of Pakistan for SCO Zahoor Ahmed. The SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov and Director of the Executive Committee of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure Jumakhon Giyosov were also present at the event.
Meeting participants discussed a wide range of matters regarding intra-SCO trade and economic as well as humanitarian cooperation. They focused on collaboration in the field of transport, energy, agriculture, cutting-edge technology and digitalization.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, speaking at the event, called on member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to intensify cooperation in areas of security, openness and trade, connectivity, innovation and the sharing of development achievements in order to further promote the SCO cooperation. Commending the sound development of the SCO in the past 18 years, he said Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed building a closer SCO community with a shared future in the SCO summit in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek in June. In a world experiencing complex changes, rising uncertain and unstable elements and mounting downward pressure on the global economy, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang noted, the SCO member states need to enhance unity and mutual trust, enrich content of cooperation and jointly address challenges so as to implement the consensus of the SCO summit in Bishkek and further promote the SCO cooperation. He also called for the implementation of activities that would promote regional trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, as well as the synergy of the Belt and Road Initiative with development strategies of member states. On connectivity cooperation, Li urged member states to speed up negotiations on connectivity policies, rules and standards and promote the signing of highway and railway plans. Member states need to forge ahead the building of connectivity network, expand trade exchanges and increase the trade volume of the region, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said.
Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin, taking the floor at the meeting, put forward a number of initiatives to strengthen practical cooperation of the organization’s member countries in trade, economic, investment, digital, transport and other fields. He proposed intensifying work on the creation of the SCO Development Bank and the SCO Development Fund, jointly developing «a Road Map» to increase the share of national currencies in mutual settlements of the organization’s member states, and renewing meetings of finance ministers and heads of central banks of the SCO member states. The head of the Kazakh government noted the efficient work of the parties in the transport and logistics direction. Askar Mamin suggested expanding the participation of observer states in the cooperation mechanisms of the SCO member states in the railway sector, accelerating the implementation of an automated system for issuing permit forms for the road transport of goods and approving a joint program for the development of roads of the SCO member states.
The prime minister of Kazakhstan highlighted the need to involve national chambers of entrepreneurs in the practical implementation of the SCO’s Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation Program, as well as the importance of developing a unified list of SCO investment projects for its promotion in contacts of the SCO Secretariat with international financial institutions.
While speaking at the event, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev expressed support for the Kazakh initiative to increase the share of national currencies in mutual settlements of the organization’s member states. He said: «We must also address financial infrastructure issues. I would like to draw your attention to proposals by Kazakhstan on developing specific steps to switch to reciprocal payments in national currencies within the SCO. This is a very good initiative, and it should be implemented. We invite SCO financial and banking experts to attend a roundtable that will take place in Moscow in early 2020. We hope that it will bring about results that will allow us to utilize advanced means of payment relevant in the current conditions of trade».
Kazakh Prime Minister Askar Mamin had a meeting with Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang on the sidelines of the 18th meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
«The Joint Statement of Kazakhstan – China signed by our heads of state during the first state visit of the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev to the PRC in September 2019 approved a comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries», said Askar Mamin.
For his part, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, referring to the fact that China-Kazakhstan relations have maintained a good momentum of development, noted the two countries are highly complementary and have great potential for development.
«China is willing to promote bilateral cooperation in various fields to achieve sustainable development, constantly expand trade, and continue to deepen cooperation in energy, production capacity and other fields in accordance with the principle of marketization, so as to promote bilateral ties to a new level», Li Keqiang said.
According to Askar Mamin, Kazakhstan-China relations have maintained rapid development with bilateral trade volume constantly growing, adding that there are no problems between the two countries.
«Kazakhstan is willing to strengthen cooperation with China in various fields and promote bilateral relations to achieve more mutually beneficial and win-win results», he said.
At the meeting of the Council of Heads of Government (CHG) of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, development of the SCO’s activities were also addressed as priorities at the negotiations, the important legal basis of which is the Charter of the organization and the Long-term Treaty on Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation signed between the member states.
Participants of the CHG approved the agenda and the list of documents envisaged for signing within its framework, discussed current issues of the SCO activity.
They agreed to grasp the opportunity to enhance unity and coordination, uphold multilateralism and free trade, to give full play to the comparative advantages and cooperation potentials, fight against terrorism and radical forces in order to boost each country’s development and regional stability and prosperity.
Documents, signed following the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s Heads of Government Council meeting, are: 1. Organization’s Heads of Government Council regarding: a) The report of the SCO Secretariat on the implementation of the Program of Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation of the SCO Member States; b) The SCO financial report on the execution of the SCO 2018 Budget; c) The SCO Budget for 2020; d) The report of the External Audit Commission of SCO Member States on the external audit of the SCO permanent bodies’ financial and economic operation; e) The new edition of the Program of Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation of the SCO Member States; f) Approval of the Concept for Cooperation between Railway Administrations of the SCO Member States; g) Development of a Concept for Cooperation Between the SCO Member States in Developing Remote and Rural Areas in the Digital Era and the related Plan of Action; h) Approval of Regulations of the SCO Consortium of Economic and Analytical Centers; i) Approval of the Program for Enhancing the Environmental Wellbeing of Cities of the SCO Member States; j) Development of a Framework Agreement between the Governments of the SCO Member States on Creating a System for Integrated Control over Transportation Services; k) Cooperation in Service Trade between the SCO Member States; l) Joint Communiqué following the SCO Heads of Government Council meeting.
2. Memorandum between Customs Services of the SCO Member States on Mutual Integration of National Transition Systems.
3. Memorandum of Understanding between the SCO Secretariat and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).