SCO: looking to the future inspires optimism

Date of publication: 11 December 2020
SCO heads of government discussed overcoming the coronavirus pandemic, economic and trade issues

On November 30, a meeting of the heads of government of the eight member States of the Shanghai cooperation organization (SCO) was held. India, represented by Vice-President Venkaya Naidu, presided over the meeting. This is the first time that this country has presided over such a meeting since India became a full member of the SCO in 2017.

As the Indian Foreign Ministry noted on the eve of the opening of the SCO heads of government meeting, India considers this Association as an important regional organization for promoting partnership in such areas as peace, security, trade, economy and culture. New Delhi is committed to expanding cooperation with the SCO and seeks to play an active, positive and constructive role in the Organization, the Indian Foreign Ministry said.

Like many events this year, the meeting was held in a video conference format due to the coronavirus pandemic. As expected, the main topics of the meeting include the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and ways to overcome the consequences of the economic downturn in the Organization’s countries. This topic has already been discussed in detail this year at meetings of heads of state, health Ministers, heads of sanitary and epidemiological services and Ministers of agriculture of the SCO countries.

In addition, the heads of government of the Organization’s member States discussed the strengthening of trade, economic and humanitarian ties, the transition to mutual settlements in national currencies, transport connectivity and the development of regional ties.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin took part in the meeting of the SCO Council of heads of government. In his speech, he noted that the pandemic has become a stress test for all countries of the world. According to him, economic activity is declining everywhere, international chains of production and sales are being broken, trade turnover is decreasing, the unemployment rate is growing, and incomes are falling.

As the Russian Prime Minister said, Moscow has a plan to improve the economy, and our country is ready to implement these measures together with its SCO partners. This is especially important, given the policies of Western countries, which, against the background of the pandemic, seek to maintain a privileged position and show national selfishness.

In this regard, Mikhail Mishustin said: “Not everyone is ready to accept that the modern world is becoming multipolar. Western States seek to maintain a privileged position, violating the most important international principles through a policy of economic pressure. Sanctions are becoming an instrument of interference in internal Affairs, and protectionist measures in trade and investment are being introduced under far-fetched pretexts. The spread of coronavirus infection further exacerbates these contradictions and aggravates the already difficult state of Affairs.”

According to the Russian Prime Minister, the current meeting of the SCO heads of government is particularly important in the context of new global challenges that require a timely and effective response from the organization. In particular, Mikhail Mishustin noted that in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of digital technologies has significantly increased, and Russia is ready to share its best practices in this area with its SCO partners.

The head of the Russian Cabinet of Ministers called on the SCO countries to develop mutual settlements in national currencies independent of the dollar. In addition, he noted that the countries of the Association need to reach an agreement on this issue before starting to discuss the mechanism of financial support for the SCO project activities.

Mishustin also pointed out the need to exclude attempts by a number of countries to circumvent the rules of the world trade organization (WTO), which is currently the only mechanism for protecting the trade and economic interests of the SCO countries. According to him, the WTO “is not perfect and needs to be reformed”, but now it is “the only mechanism for protecting our trade and economic interests”.

In General, according to Mikhail Mishustin, the average decline in the economies of the SCO member States this year will be less than the decline in the global economy. “This fact gives us some confidence in the future,” the Russian Prime Minister said.

At the last meeting, the participants exchanged views on the implementation of the SCO multilateral trade and economic cooperation Program until 2035 in the areas of trade, Finance, investment, industry, transport, agriculture, customs, digitalization, telecommunications and other areas of mutual interest. Concrete steps in these areas were set out in the draft plan for the implementation of the program for 2021-2025, which the SCO heads of government approved at the current meeting.

The heads of the Cabinet of Ministers also discussed the preparation of a roadmap for the transition to mutual settlements in national currencies and the formation of a Bank of best solutions for the development of remote territories of the SCO States. Special attention was paid to the work of the Forum of heads of regions, the first meeting of which was held under the chairmanship of the Chelyabinsk region on October 29, 2020. Guidelines for building interregional cooperation were reflected in the program adopted by the Rana at the meeting of the Council of heads of state in Bishkek in 2019.

The next meeting of the SCO Council of heads of government is scheduled for 2021 and will be chaired by Kazakhstan.

A briefing by SCO Secretary General Vladimir Norov on the results of the November 30 meeting of the Council of heads of government of the SCO member States will be held at the SCO Secretariat on December 14 at 15:30 Beijing time.

Representatives of the SCO press club, experts and analysts, as well as journalists from member States are invited to the event. They can join the briefing via the Zoom platform.



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