On 17 May 2019, Bishkek hosted the Expanding Cooperation Boundaries business forum as part of Kyrgyzstan's SCO presidency. The aim of the event was to strengthen trade and economic links, including the promotion of business contacts, trade and exports as well as the implementation of investment projects and creating joint ventures between the business communities of the SCO member states.
More than three hundred high-ranking participants gathered at the forum, including government and corporate leaders, heads of investment promotion agencies and business community representatives from the member states, observer states and dialogue partners as well as prominent economy and investment experts.
Those at the event exchanged opinions on a wide range of topics concerning the development of practical cooperation between the SCO business circles and the implementation of joint projects based on new technologies and aimed at improving the infrastructure and communications.
In his opening remarks, Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic Mukhammedkaliy Abylgaziyev noted that for Kyrgyzstan, cooperation with the SCO means a stable economy, successful entrepreneurship and investment, modernisation of transport infrastructure and the energy sector, tourism and modern IT. "If we look at figures, Kyrgyzstan's total trade in 2018 was worth $6.7 billion, of which $4.7 billion is with the SCO countries (71 percent). Meanwhile, imports increased by 13 percent and exports by 11 percent. Over the past five years, the total trade grew by 7 percent," said Mr Abylgaziyev and added that these facts indicate that the republic enjoys positive dynamics within the SCO and has a great potential for expanding trade and especially imports.
Noting the relevance of the business forum, the Kyrgyz Prime Minister pointed out that business forums are organised for participants to find business partners and share views and opinions, discuss joint projects and ways to implement them. "This is why businesses today must extensively use platforms of such regional and progressive organisations as the SCO. Organisations like the SCO are our future, because the SCO is based on the principles of uniting people and nations and pursuit for economic and social wellbeing," Mr Abylgaziyev said.
SCO Deputy Secretary-General Aizada Subakozhoeva read greetings from Secretary-General Vladimir Norov in which he stated that under the presidency of the Kyrgyz Republic, the SCO member states have demonstrated unanimously their ambition to cooperate in the eight-party format, facilitate further strengthening of friendship and develop multilateral collaboration in every possible way while strongly adhering to the principles of the Shanghai spirit and goals and objectives of the SCO Charter. The Secretary-General specifically emphasised the importance of expanding regional and economic cooperation for the purpose of ensuring sustainable socioeconomic development within the SCO, as well as expanding cooperation in trade, transport, energy, agriculture, communications, the digital economy, banking and finance, e-commerce and entrepreneurship.
Mr Norov also turned the spotlight on the Joint Communique on Simplifying Trade Procedures and resolutions regarding comprehensive development of service industries, stimulating micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses, customs cooperation, developing tourism and ensuring food security — the documents passed following the SCO Summit in Qingdao in June 2018. Additionally, the Secretary-General also mentioned the plans to continue the projects that expand transport and communications opportunities, developing and modernising infrastructure, creating international multi-modal logistics centres and building a network of industrial clusters along the member states' transport mainlines.
The SCO Secretary-General stressed that the business forum is to build a solid foundation for long-term links and developing practical measures in the economic sector.
The business forum resulted in a number of contracts and agreements being signed between various companies worth over $2 billion.