Participants in Chongqing and SCO Countries roundtable discuss trade, economic and cultural cooperation

Participants in Chongqing and SCO Countries roundtable

Chongqing hosted the Chongqing and SCO Countries: Trade, Economic and Cultural Cooperation roundtable discussion, with members of the SCO Ambassadors Club and representatives of the sprawling Chinese mega-city's business community focusing on the current status of mutual cooperation and its prospects.

Chongqing Deputy Mayor Liu Guiping invited his colleagues from the city administration and CEOs of leading corporations listed among the top 500 Chinese companies for a meeting with the ambassadors of the SCO family's countries.

He noted proudly that the city's 2017 GDP had reached 1.95 trillion yuan, a 9.3 percent increase on 2016. The industry's VAT rates increased by 9.6 percent, and total profits of industrial companies grew by 19.4 percent. Fixed-capital investment increased by 9.5 percent; exports and imports went up by 8.9 percent and reached 450.8 billion yuan. Foreign investment totalled $10.2 billion, he said.

"Chongqing is famous for its large-scale transport and logistics system. In 2011, the Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe international land route/railway was established in Chongqing, and this provided an additional impetus to Chinese-European trade. In all, 663 trains used the mainline throughout 2017. Railways and shipping lanes link Chongqing with Singapore and Southeast Asia," Mr Guiping noted.

"In 2017, Chongqing's Jiangbei International Airport handled 38.71 million passengers, as well as about 366 million tonnes of freight. Today, it offers 69 direct international flights using three terminals and three runways," the deputy mayor commented and suggested launching additional direct flights to cities of SCO family countries.

SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov thanked the Chongqing city administration for the warm reception and noted that the offsite session of the SCO Ambassadors Club was a component of a programme to prepare for the SCO Summit, scheduled for June 2018 in Qingdao. "Chongqing was selected on purpose because it ranks among the most powerful and rapidly developing economic centres in modern China," Mr Alimov said.
"Many countries of the SCO family have established direct contacts with Chongqing and continue to steadily develop business and cultural ties. At the same time, colossal investment opportunities, innovative technologies and the city's achievements in various economic sectors can effectively help unlock the rich potential of the Eurasian region still further, to create new growth areas and to implement joint projects stipulating mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation and mutual cultural enrichment," Mr Alimov noted.

"Today, the SCO region comprises rapidly developing economies, including the construction of infrastructure, motor roads, railways, transport hubs, logistics centres and joint industrial-production complexes based on the principles of international cooperation arrangements. Large-scale economic initiatives are being implemented here, and innovative approaches towards joint work for the sake of the region's long-term development are being crystallised here. This opens up new unique opportunities for investors and business managers. Associations of business and financial circles, including the Business Council and the SCO Interbank Association, are working effectively to attain end results. The total volume of mutual investment of SCO member states topped $40 billion long ago. In late 2017, Chongqing accounted for about 5 billion yuan of China's foreign trade with SCO member states," Mr Alimov said.

Mr Alimov drew the attention of Chongqing's business managers to the Agreement on the Creation of Favourable Conditions for International Road Transport, enacted in 2017. "This large-scale multilateral trans-regional transport project far transcends the boundaries of the transport sector," he noted. "Today, additional favourable opportunities for regional economic development are emerging on SCO territory. This makes the region attractive for investment and for testing new business ideas and projects. I believe that the further consolidation of efforts of Chongqing and the SCO family's business circles in addressing issues of joint economic development can create additional conditions for strengthening intra-SCO cooperation and for maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the SCO region," Mr Alimov said in conclusion.

Ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Nepal and Sri Lanka presented their own national development programmes and discussed the relevant cooperation potential with Chongqing.

The meeting between members of the SCO Ambassadors Club and the business community of China's largest mega-city confirmed their mutual interest in expanding regional and bilateral cooperation.