On 28-30 September, Chelyabinsk was the venue of the SCO Member States' Heads of Regions Forum.
SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov sent his video address to forum participants and noted that SCO member states were planning to expand relations between the regions in the interest of more profound interaction between the peoples of SCO countries and for exchanging territorial development experience under the SCO Development Strategy until 2025.
Состоялся Форум глав регионов государств-членов ШОС
Mr Norov noted that the heads of SCO member states had reaffirmed their readiness to continue cooperation between the regions and administrative-territorial entities on SCO territory. They issued the relevant statement at the SCO summit in Dushanbe. Following the Summit, the parties passed a plan of SCO member states' joint measures to overcome the negative socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021-2023. The plan encompasses such important cooperation aspects as facilitating the development of the transport infrastructure, the creation of "green" corridors for uninterrupted freight deliveries, exposing and eliminating barriers that limit or hamper expanded international freight deliveries and freight transits. All these aspects fit into the inter-regional cooperation context.
The SCO Secretary-General devoted his attention separately to the need for implementing the programme for expanded inter-regional cooperation between SCO member states. The programme aims to implement an agreed-upon package of measures to expand inter-regional cooperation, establish mutually beneficial economic ties and to achieve progress in the industrial, investment, agricultural and cultural-humanitarian spheres by expanding co-production ties, implementing joint projects, introducing cutting-edge technologies and other measures.
Состоялся Форум глав регионов государств-членов ШОС
On the whole, he expressed confidence that Forum would make an important contribution to the dynamically developing economic and humanitarian relations, and that it would also enrich dialogue between the regions of the SCO member countries.
In turn, Chelyabinsk Region Governor Alexei Teksler noted that inter-regional cooperation within the Organisation's framework was yielding a substantial economic effect. This is confirmed by economic cooperation statistics, and the SCO accounts for a considerable share of the Chelyabinsk Region's trade volumes, he added. These volumes continue to expand, and they have soared by almost 70 percent in January-June 2021 on 2020.
Mr Teksler noted that the South Ural territory was expanding cooperation with several SCO member countries. One example is that it is working together with Tajikistan in the energy sector. There are plans to hold business talks with India on food deliveries. The Chelyabinsk Region maintains traditional economic ties with border-line Kazakhstan. Work is underway to expand cooperation with China.
Bakhtiyer Khakimov, Special Representative of the Russian President for SCO Affairs, noted the practical significance of the Forum which deals with topical regional matters. According to Mr Khakimov, the regions are expecting to start implementing the relevant intra-SCO agreements for the sake of more profound trade and economic cooperation.
The participants attended panel sessions on the role being played by the regions in developing logistic routes on the territory of SCO member states, regional cooperation in the field of agriculture between SCO countries and the development of tourism among the regions of SCO countries, as well as a business forum and Business to Entrepreneurs (B2E) events.
On the whole, the representatives of over 30 regions from eight SCO member countries took part in the Forum's work. The heads of SCO countries' administrative-territorial entities discussed opportunities for expanding industrial, agricultural, logistic and tourism cooperation, as well as that in other important fields. Those attending the Forum's plenary meeting focused on mechanisms for implementing the programme to expand inter-regional cooperation between SCO member states.
The Republic of Uzbekistan will host the 2023 SCO Member States' Heads of Regions Forum.