The SCO Secretary-General speaks at a meeting of the SCO Heads of Government Council

Vladimir Norov

A meeting of the Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) Council of the SCO Member States was held in a videoconference format on 30 November 2020.

SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov spoke at the meeting and stressed that even amid the challenging circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, the SCO consistently stayed the course on consolidating trade, economic and cultural relations between the member states, improving the mechanisms for multidisciplinary cooperation and increasing the SCO's global standing.

The Secretary-General noted that following the SCO summit held on 10 November, the member states reiterated their strong commitment to joint work in order to overcome the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic, including a number of important initiatives aimed at establishing direct ties between medical institutions and cooperation in combating poverty, ensuring food security, establishing industrial clusters, industrial and energy cooperation, promoting digital literacy, as well as supporting small- and medium-sized businesses.

In this regard, Mr Norov pointed out their relevance and suggested holding preliminary expert meetings for a substantive study of the existing initiatives' goals and objectives.

The Secretary-General spoke in favour of continuing to hold meetings of the Consortium of Economic Analytical Centres in conjunction with meetings of Heads of Government, and also noted the initiative to launch a new platform — the SCO Economic Forum.

Vladimir Norov singled out the Action Plan for Implementing the Trade and Economic Cooperation Programme that is being approved by the Heads of Government, which will become a roadmap for developing measures to take trade and economic relations out of the coronavirus crisis and to give them a new impetus.

In order to enhance the organisation's investment potential, the Secretary-General proposed considering the opportunity to establish partnerships between the SCO and international financial institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the New Development Bank and the Silk Road Fund.

Taking into account the demand for freight rail transport amid the pandemic, Mr Norov proposed developing an agreement on cooperation in this area.

He noted that the pandemic has given a boost to information technology, so now it is important to use the SCO University's capabilities to improve digital literacy and to train IT specialists by way of a widespread introduction of distance learning tools throughout the Organisation's space. In this vein, the speedy launch of the SCO international youth business incubator for promoting youth entrepreneurship is also becoming relevant.

The Secretary-General mentioned the draft Regulations on the Coordinating Council for Joint Counteraction of Epidemic Threats developed by the SCO Secretariat, the implementation of which is provided for by the Comprehensive Plan approved by heads of the SCO member states on 10 November.

Vladimir Norov said that the SCO Secretariat will make every effort in order to implement the decisions and initiatives put forward during the meeting.

The chairmanship of the SCO Heads of Government Council went to the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Following the meeting, a joint communiqué was adopted, which is available here.

In addition to the member states, delegations of the SCO observer states and Turkmenistan as a guest of the host country, heads of permanent bodies, chairmen of the SCO Business Council and the SCO Interbank Association took part in the meeting.

The Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) Council reviews and decides on the main issues related to specific, especially economic, spheres of interaction within the SCO and adopts the SCO budget.

The Council meets once a year. The meetings are chaired by the Prime Minister of the host state.