On 22-23 October 2020, Russia hosted the first inter-party forum SCO Plus as part of its 2020 SCO chairmanship. The videoconference, Economy for People, was attended by leaders of major political parties together with experts from more than 40 countries, including the SCO member states, the CIS, BRICS and ASEAN.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council, Chairman of the United Russia political party Dmitry Medvedev greeted and addressed the participants of the Forum. Other international political leaders contributed video messages including Jagat Prakash Nadda, president of India's Bharatiya Janata Party; Bauyrjan Qydyrgaliuly Baibek, First Deputy Chairman of Kazakhstan's Nur Otan party; Head of the International Liaison Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China Song Tao; Deputy Secretary General of Pakistan Movement for Justice Saifullah Niazi; Azizi Abdujabbor, First Deputy Chairman of the People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan; and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Political Council of the Movement of Entrepreneurs and Businesspeople — the Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan Aktam Khaitov.
Speaking at the opening session, SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov said that in 2020, the SCO has been continuously active in strengthening its role in developing collective measures to stabilise the epidemiological situation and overcome the socioeconomic crisis caused by the pandemic.
The Secretary-General underscored the immense human and economic potential of the SCO adding that the group's total foreign trade exceeded $6.3 trillion, and called for the further growth of mutual trade within the association.
Vladimir Norov pointed out the global economy trend of the balance of power shifting from West to East, adding that by 2030, the world's leading economies will reach $190 trillion, with China, India and Russia accounting for 60 percent of that volume.
The Secretary-General added that the SCO needs to intensify exchange with other interregional platforms, including the EAEU, the CIS and ASEAN, and contribute to aligning their development strategies with China's Belt and Road Initiative, aiming for a larger Eurasian partnership.
The participants were also updated on the SCO's current activities to improve the working mechanisms and regulatory framework of multilateral cooperation in transport logistics, infrastructure development, digital innovations, small and medium-sized businesses, as well as education and youth policy in the context of the preparations for the upcoming SCO summit.
Statement by SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov at the opening of the SCO+ International Inter-Party Forum
I am delighted to welcome the participants of the SCO+ International Inter-Party Forum, which is being attended by representatives of the largest political parties of the SCO, BRICS and the CIS member states, and to express our gratitude to Russia and to Dmitry Medvedev personally for organising this event.
I believe that the main theme of the event — Economy for People — is befitting and very important.
I have no doubt that it will give a fresh impetus to the inter-party dialogue within the framework of the SCO and other respected multilateral platforms aimed at rallying our efforts towards overcoming the negative economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic in the SCO space and towards strengthening people's prosperity.
Despite the difficulties created by the pandemic, we have continued working throughout the year to enhance the SCO's role in the development of collective measures to stabilise the epidemiological situation and overcome the current socioeconomic crisis, which has delivered a painful blow at our countries' people.
The SCO countries account for nearly half of the world's population and about 25 percent of global GDP.
The aggregate foreign trade of the SCO member states with other countries has exceeded $6.3 trillion.
However, trade among the SCO member states accounts for only 5 percent of that sum, which is obviously below the huge capabilities and potential of the organisation.
In this connection and within the framework of the priorities of Russia's SCO Presidency, we have continued working consistently on the basis of the principles of the Shanghai Spirit to promote multilateral economic cooperation, primarily in the fields of transport, logistics, infrastructure, science, technology and innovation.
In particular, the measures needed to overcome the negative impact of the pandemic and boost our trade and economic relations are set out in the 2021-2025 Action Plan
for the implementation of the SCO Development Strategy until 2025, which is to be approved at the November 2020 SCO Summit to be held via videoconference.
The concerned ministries and agencies are working energetically to prepare the necessary documents on the development and operation of an integrated transportation management system and the development of motorways in the SCO member states.
Another important initiative proposed by Russia in the context of promoting mutually beneficial interregional investment and humanitarian contacts within the SCO is the Forum of Heads of Regions of the SCO member states, which will convene, via videoconference, for its first meeting next week.
It is especially important to stimulate cooperation between the SCO countries' small and medium-sized enterprises, which have suffered the greatest impact from the coronavirus pandemic.
We continue working to improve our multilateral financial mechanisms, including by coordinating mutually acceptable principles for establishing the SCO Development Bank and the SCO Development Fund.
We are energetically coordinating the SCO roadmap on the gradual transition to the use of national currencies in mutual settlements.
One of the highlights of the Programme of Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation of the SCO Member States until 2035 is the development of the digital industry.
The pandemic has accelerated the digital process, turning it into a key factor of economic and social development in the near future.
Work is underway in this context to implement the SCO Cooperation Concept in Digitalisation and Information and Communications Technologies.
The coordination of a draft Concept for Cooperation between the SCO Member States in Developing Remote and Rural Territories in the Digital Age and the related Best Practices Databank has reached the final stage.
The digitalisation of the SCO economies should take advantage of the education drive of the young generation, including the development of youth business incubators and startups in the sphere of information innovations.
The SCO Youth Council should build up its efforts towards this goal, which is a vital condition for the accumulation and further development of human resources in our countries.
The digital transformation of the SCO economies will create a solid foundation for their global competitiveness.
This is especially important in light of the ongoing redistribution of the global economic balance of power from the West to the East.
According to several international studies, the volume of the world's 10 leading economies will reach $190 trillion by 2030, and China, India and Russia, which are the driving forces of the SCO, will account for 60 percent of the total.
All of this shows that the SCO space will soon become one more centre of global economic development.
In this connection, we consider it important to step up the SCO countries' work to synchronise their efforts in this sphere with other interregional platforms, such as the EAEU, the CIS and ASEAN, as part of efforts to promote connectivity between the Belt and Road Initiative, the EAEU and our countries' economic development strategies. This will create conditions for the implementation of President of Russia Vladimir Putin's initiative on the Greater Eurasian Partnership.
Our meeting today is a wonderful opportunity to hold in-depth discussions on all of these issues.
I would like to use this occasion to wish constructive and fruitful work to all of the forum participants.