On 25 November 2021, the Council of Heads of Government of the Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO CHG) held a meeting via videoconference.
The prime ministers discussed a broad range of SCO cooperation issues with a focus on intensifying trade, economic, investment and humanitarian collaboration. The discussion also concerned plans to overcome the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The participants in the meeting stated that there was a considerable increase in the volume of mutual trade and progress in tapping the transit and transport potential between the SCO member states, including in agriculture. They discussed matters related to reducing the risks of emerging commodity shortages, as well as creating an industrial investment fund to finance agroindustrial chains.
The SCO CHG meeting was attended by Minister of External Affairs of the Republic of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin, Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Li Keqiang, Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic Akylbek Japarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Mikhail Mishustin, Prime Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan Kokhir Rasulzoda, and Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan Abdulla Aripov.
The meeting was also attended by SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov, Director of the Executive Committee of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure Jumakhon Giyosov, Chairman of the Board of the SCO Business Council Jamshed Jumakhonzoda, and Chairman of the Board of the SCO Interbank Consortium Sirojiddin Ikromi.
Representatives of SCO observer states also took part in the meeting: Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus Roman Golovchenko, First Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Mohber, Prime Minister of Mongolia Luvsannamsrain Oyun-Erdene, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov as a guest of the meeting Chair, as well as Deputy Executive Director of the Secretariat of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia Chi Fang.
In his remarks at the meeting, Vladimir Norov stressed that the SCO had gained wide international recognition as an authoritative and influential trans-regional association and become an effective venue for joint measures to ensure sustainable development of the SCO countries.
Mr Norov noted in particular the need to expedite the establishment of financial institutions designed to ensure project activities, something that would make it possible to fully develop the SCO's considerable investment potential and was extremely important for reviving the old and promoting new production and distribution chains.
He also said that it was important for the SCO Interbank Consortium and the SCO Business Council to pool efforts for the purpose of implementing joint economic projects and expediting the approval of a roadmap to increase the share of national currencies in reciprocal payments.
"The SCO Dushanbe Declaration adopted by the heads of state stressed the importance of creating new international routes for road and rail cargo, multi-mode transport corridors and logistics centres. It is also essential to introduce digital and innovative technologies.
The shortage of containers and the need to expand the capacity of entry points on borders between the SCO countries have become a critical issue in rail transit amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under these circumstances, it is increasingly a priority to build the Mazar-i-Sharif-Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif-Peshawar and Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan-China railways as soon as possible, which will help the landlocked Central Asian states to gain access to seaports and develop their economies. These railways will also become a key element of the East-West and North-South routes and enable the SCO to enhance its role and authority as it works to ensure peace in Afghanistan, revive this long-suffering country's economy, and facilitate its integration in the system of regional interconnectedness," he added.
According to the Secretary-General, it was high time the SCO developed a programme to introduce digital technologies in its transport sector. In his opinion, the pandemic also made it urgent to use digital technologies to develop the rich cultural and tourism potential of the SCO countries.
In conclusion, he noted that the SCO observer states and dialogue partners were interested in the Eight Wonders of the SCO project and suggested that it be turned into a virtual venue titled The Wonders of the SCO, which could facilitate the shaping of a common tourism space and promote dialogue between the civilisations in the entire SCO region.