On 10 May 2021, Zhengzhou hosted the 5th Global Conference on Cross-Border E-Commerce (GCBEC). SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov took part in the conference and gave his remarks.
In his speech, he underscored the need to develop e-commerce and its importance for overcoming unemployment and poverty in developing countries. "The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted deep global changes, unprecedented for centuries, and has boosted digital transformation in many sectors, especially in the economy and trade. Amid the pandemic, increasing importance has been acquired by online platforms that not only speed up the complete digitalisation of trade and services, but also create a large number of jobs with new formats of business, thus becoming a new impetus for the growth of the global economy and stabilisation of employment," Vladimir Norov said.
He briefed the participants in the Global Conference on the SCO's activity in this area, as well as on the results of the summit of the Council of Heads of State of the SCO Member States that took place on 10 November 2020.
"Last year, during the Moscow summit, the SCO heads of state emphasised the development of digital economy and e-commerce within the organisation," Vladimir Norov said. He also noted that at the initiative of the SCO heads of state, there are plans for a series of major international events this year, focusing on the development of e-commerce, digital economy, Big Data, artificial intelligence, cloud solutions and other important developments. In particular, the intiatives proposed by the leaders of China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan were underlined.
"During the Moscow summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed that amid the impending scientific and technical revolution and industrial changes it was important to boost cooperation in digital economy, e-trade, artificial intelligence and smart cities, and he suggested holding a SCO forum on digital economy in Chongqing," the SCO Secretary-General said.
Referring to the 2020 report on China's digital development prepared by the Chinese State Council Information Office, the SCO Secretary-General observed that China has the second largest digital economy in the world with the added value of the main sectors of its digital economy reaching 8 percent of the country's total GDP. In 2020, e-commerce transactions worth nearly 38 trillion yuan were made in China. One fifth of all sales were online. According to the report, the electronic trade sector increased by 29.9 percent in the first quarter of 2021 as compared to the same period last year; e-commerce accounts for 21.9 percent of all retail sales of consumer goods. Eleven out of thirteen world leading e-commerce companies belong to China and the US. The Chinese-based Alibaba tops the ranking, followed by US's Amazon.
According to Vladimir Norov, the SCO provides a huge market for mutual trade and economic cooperation. "The implementation of joint projects that cover almost all sectors of the economy will help our countries to achieve social and economic wellbeing through the development of cross-border electronic trade," the SCO Secretary-General pointed out.
Vladimir Norov urged the Global Conference participants to cooperate more actively with the SCO member states and interested companies in the SCO region in order to promote the digital economy and e-commerce.
In conclusion, he invited the interested parties to take part in the roundtable on digital economy, e-commerce and innovation that will take place on 23-24 June 2021 in Dushanbe, and in the SCO Digital Economy Forum, which will be held in Chongqing on 23-26 August 2021.
Participants in the conference also exchanged opinions and information on innovations and cooperation in cross-border e-commerce, with a focus on the best uses of the cross-border e-commerce model to facilitate global trade in the post-pandemic era, and to add their experience and wisdom to the development of global cross-border e-commerce.
Xu Liyi, member of the Chinese Communist Party Provincial Standing Committee and Secretary of the party's Municipal Committee for Zhengzhou, greeted the conference participants and noted the importance of the development of digital economy and e-commerce for the global community amid the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Given that the situation regarding the prevention and countering of global pandemics is still not reassuring, the holding of this major event will play a positive role in renewing international and trade cooperation, as well as facilitating the soonest possible recovery of international trade and greater innovation in e-commerce rules," Xu Liyi said.
Long Yongtu, co-chairman of the Global Development Conference and Chairman of the Global Cross-border E-commerce Conference, noted the importance of imports and exports. According to Mr Yongtu, exports make imports necessary. "It is very important today that exports equal imports. This relates also to electronic trade where the balance has yet to be reached. Imports will reduce trade tensions," he noted. He believes that the digital Silk Road will help to solve these problems. "China should increase imports and cooperate more closely with foreign partners," he concluded.
It was announced at the conference that the Chinese State Council has officially approved the pilot plan for introducing cross-border imports of medicines and medical products to Henan, which also became another important novelty in cross-border trade in the province.
The opening ceremony was followed by the signing of agreements for 50 large projects, including the construction of cross-boder parks, international logistics, cross-border procurement, personnel training, and others worth a total of 18.6 billion yuan.
In addition to the main forum, the 5th GCBEC also includes four parallel forums and a 13-day exhibition with over 100,000 goods from more than 70 countries.