On 25-26 September 2019, Shanghai was the venue of the 1st SCO National Legal Services International Forum, with delegations taking part from the SCO family's countries. Organised by the Ministry of Justice of the People's Republic of China, the event involved over 300 delegates from SCO member states, observer states and dialogue partners, including Chinese ministries and agencies, members of the academic community and business circles. Deputy SCO Secretary-General Nurlan Akkoshkarov read out a message of greetings from SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov to forum participants. The message notes the timely nature of this event in Shanghai, a city where the foundation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation was laid in June 2001 and the topical nature of the forum's agenda aiming to regulate trade and economic cooperation in the SCO region by legal means. The SCO region boasts a huge, stable and dynamic consumer market and accounts for almost 50 percent of the world's population. This market has also gained a reputation for its sustained and dynamic development.
In 2018, all SCO member states posted a GDP of $18.4 trillion and accounted for 22.5 percent of the entire global GDP. Overall trade between the Shanghai Eight and other countries exceeded $6.3 billion, with trade within the SCO countries soaring by 17 percent last year and reaching a total of $305 billion.
The SCO Secretariat underscored the topicality of unlocking the SCO's economic, cultural and humanitarian potential. In this connection, efforts to further streamline the regulatory legal framework were named an important SCO task for ensuring the healthy development of trade and economic cooperation within the SCO region.
Shanghai City Mayor Mr Ying Yong informed meeting participants about the achievements of the megacity that has turned into a global financial centre where 670 transnational corporations are headquartered. The city's total foreign trade volumes exceed $4.5 trillion. The city's mayor invited SCO countries to take part in the 2nd China International Import Expo, scheduled to be held in November 2019.
Shanghai hosted the first such exhibition on 1-10 November 2018, with over 3,500 companies from 150 countries, as well as national districts and international organisations, taking part in it. The aim of the event was to spur the development of global trade.
Chinese Minister of Justice Fu Zhenghua also addressed forum participants and noted the importance of forging a legal mechanism within the SCO in the trade and economic sphere. The Minister of Justice recalled an initiative voiced by
PRC President Xi Jinping at the SCO summit held in Qingdao in June 2018. At that time, the Chinese leader called for establishing a commission on legal services for those involved in SCO countries' foreign economic operations. In this connection, the Chinese Ministry of Justice organised thematic workshops on the following issues:
— establishing a system for the provision of legal services;
— legal cooperation;
— prevention of trade and economic risks;
— discussing ways of resolving commercial disputes in the SCO countries.
PRC Minister of Justice Fu Zhenghua, Minister of Justice of the Kyrgyz Republic Marat Zhamankulov, Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation Alexander Konovalov, First Deputy Minister of Justice of the Republic of Tajikistan Abdumanon Kholikzoda and Deputy Minister of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan Akbar Tashkulov took part in the forum. Representatives of SCO observer states, including Deputy Minister of Justice of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Sayed Mohammad Hashemi, First Deputy Minister of Justice of the Republic of Belarus Sergei Zadiran, Deputy Minister of Justice of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mahmoud Abbasi and Deputy Minister of Justice of Mongolia Erdenebat Ganbat also attended the event. Representatives of SCO dialogue partners included Chief of the Directorate General for Registration and Notaries at the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilgar Mamedov and Deputy Minister of Justice of the Republic of Turkey Ugurhan Kus.
SCO member states have hosted six meetings of justice ministers since 2013. The Meeting of Ministers of Justice of the SCO Member States has the following three expert working groups:
1) on preparing for the Meeting of Ministers of Justice of the SCO Member States;
2) a working group on forensic activities;
3) a working group on legal services.