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TASHKENT TO HOST A MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF HEADS OF GOVERNMENT OF THE SCO MEMBER STATES. INTERVIEW WITH SCO SECRETARY GENERAL

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TASHKENT TO HOST A MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF HEADS OF GOVERNMENT OF THE SCO MEMBER STATES. INTERVIEW WITH SCO SECRETARY GENERAL

The Organization’s countries want to provide promising and stable conditions for economic relations.

The next meeting of the Council of Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states will be held in Tashkent on November 1-2. Reporters of the People’s Word and Narodnoye Slovo newspapers, who are currently on a business trip to China, spoke with SCO Secretary General Vladimir Norov ahead of this important event.

- Vladimir Imamovich, one of the most important events of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres, will be held in Tashkent soon - the annual meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the SCO. Tell us about the process of preparation for this event.

- Indeed, the meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is the most important event for our organization after the SCO Summit. At the invitation of Uzbek colleagues, the parties agreed to hold its next 18th meeting in Tashkent on November 1-2, 2019.

Prime Ministers of all SCO member states are expected to visit the capital of Uzbekistan. The heads of the SCO observer states - Afghanistan, Belarus, Mongolia and Iran, as well as heads of a number of international organizations, SCO Interbank Association and Business Council were invited to the conference.

With the active support and coordination of the SCO Secretariat, comprehensive and purposeful preparations for the Council of National Coordinators of the SCO member states are underway.

Meetings and Meetings of Heads of Ministries and Agencies of the SCO Member States, in particular, Meeting of Heads of Railway Administrations (September 19, 2019, Nur-Sultan), Meeting of Ministers responsible for Foreign Economic and Foreign Trade (2019) September 26, Tashkent) and the meeting of heads of ministries and agencies responsible for environmental protection (September 27, 2019, Moscow) should serve as a basis for a successful meeting of the Council of Heads of Government.

Due to the constructive work of the Council of Ministers and expert meetings, a substantial package of documents has been prepared for the consideration and signing by the Heads of Government at the meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the SCO member states in Tashkent.

— Usually, the Council of Heads of Government discusses the development of economic and humanitarian relations within the organization. What are the issues on the agenda of the Council meeting this year?

— In accordance with the draft agenda of the event, the leaders of the Government in Tashkent will discuss perspectives and measures for deepening cooperation between the SCO member states in trade, economic and investment spheres, exchange views on a wide range of issues of global and regional economic development. are recommended.

The prime ministers are expected to consider ways to further deepen their relationship with the aim of building an open economy and strengthening multilateral trade systems based on the WTO rules.

Taking into account the deepening of regional cooperation, the Heads of Government will pay special attention to the creation of favorable conditions for the expansion of mutual investments by improving the investment and business climate.

It is known that the welfare of the peoples of the region is one of the main tasks of the SCO. The leaders will exchange views on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals until 2030, strengthening cooperation in transport, energy, industry, finance, agriculture, customs, telecommunications and other areas.

In order to build a broad, open and mutually beneficial partnership in Eurasia, the prime ministers will also discuss the use of the potential of member states and other member states of the "family" of the SCO, as well as international structures. The goal is to achieve sustainable development in the region.

As a result, India and Pakistan joined the SCO, becoming a transcontinental organization that unites almost half of the world’s population and covers almost 60% of the Eurasian continent. Last year, the GDP of all the Organization’s member states exceeded 18.4 trillion. US dollars. That is 22.5% of the global figure.

In this regard, the SCO has a real opportunity to become one of the world’s economic centers in the near future, which will determine the development of global trade and economic and financial systems.

— As a rule, the documents adopted at the end of the event show the deeper level of cooperation between member states. Please, tell us about the documents to be signed at the meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the SCO in Tashkent.

— The annual joint report, the progress report on the implementation of the program of multilateral trade and economic cooperation of the SCO member states, the financial statements of the past year and the budget of the organization next year are of great importance. The documents that are in possession shall be discussed and signed.

One of the important projects to be approved at the Council meeting is a new version of the Program of multilateral trade and economic cooperation until 2035. This document is aimed at accelerating complex and balanced economic development, first of all, with the aim of further increasing mutual trade and expanding investment cooperation, improving the living standards of the SCO population. The previous program was adopted in 2003 and will expire in 2030.

Under the new program, the SCO member states will develop and implement promising programs and projects in the near future, ie by 2025, using innovative and "green" technologies.

In the medium term, by 2030 it is planned to ensure the transformation of national economies through the development of rules for trade and investment, promotion of services and e-commerce within the SCO, as well as simplification of trade procedures.

The long-term perspective, that is, by 2035, SCO countries have been tasked with improving the global competitiveness and digital transformation of their national economies. This is done through the introduction of digital technologies, the creation of favorable conditions for the consistent implementation of free movement of goods, capital, services and technologies. This task is also reflected in the SCO Charter.

The program will focus on trade and investment, banking and finance, transport and logistics, industry, agriculture, energy, customs, innovation, information and communication technologies, regional development, interregional relations, tourism, ecology, education and other areas. selected as murmurs.

Another important document is the Concept of interaction of railway administrations of the SCO member states. It was developed and approved by President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoev.

The document is aimed at full disclosure of the region’s enormous transport potential and promotion of joint railway projects between the SCO countries. Today, the territory of all SCO countries is 244 thousand km. railroad bed. There is a gradual increase in rail freight traffic from China to Kazakhstan, Russia, and then to Europe, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. Already, the closest transport corridor from China to the Middle East runs through Russia and Central Asia.

It is known that in 2018, rail traffic through the two railway crossings on the Kazakhstan-China border will reach about $ 14 million. tons and increased by 38%. Container shipments from China to Europe have increased more than 40 times since 2010. At the same time, China invests $ 23 million annually in Southeast Asia and Europe. shipping containers. However, only 1% is transported by rail and 99% by sea.

This is indicative of the enormous potential for the development of rail transport between the SCO countries. For example, the Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan-China Railway project is expected to become an important transport network of the SCO along the East-West project and a number of regional corridors of the North-South. . Thus, all SCO member states will have access to the ports of Europe, East and South-East Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

It is important to involve Afghanistan in the formation of regional transport routes. It will also help to stabilize the situation in this country. The Hairaton-Mazar-e-Sharif Railway, the designed Mazar-e-Sharif-Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif-Peshawar railways will form a new transit corridor for access to the ports of Chahbahar and Guadar through the Iran, Pakistan and India railways. It was symbolic that on September 5 this year, 41 containers were shipped from Afghanistan to China via the Hairaton station via the Friendship Bridge and the railways of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

Regional development, access to education, medical, financial and other services, as well as the creation of infrastructure in remote and rural areas are also relevant in the SCO framework. The heads of government will start joint work on the preparation of the concept of cooperation of the SCO member states in development of the remote and rural areas in the digital age and action plans for its implementation.

Signed at the meeting, the SCO Environmental Cities Development Program will be an important complement to the project. It is aimed at improving the environmental situation in the SCO member states, creating a platform for exchange of best practices and legislation and law enforcement practices. The program promotes sustainable development in urban areas and promotes collaboration in the area of ​​conservation.

Another project is the regulation of the consortium of the SCO economic and analytical centers. It is also expected to be signed at a meeting of the Council of Heads of Government. This document aims at defining a new consultation and expert mechanism - the main goals, objectives and directions of the consortium’s activities. The unit will cooperate with research institutions and think tanks on economic issues, and analyze the priority areas of economic cooperation within the SCO. .

The Council of Heads of Government will sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the Secretariat of the SCO and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

In general, the signing of these documents will facilitate the intensification of trade and economic cooperation between the member states and enhance cooperation in this important area of ​​SCO activities.

— Taking into account the expected outcomes of the meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government in Tashkent, what measures are you going to take in trade, economic and humanitarian spheres as Secretary General of the SCO?

“As Secretary General of the SCO, I am committed to ensuring that all agreements reached between the heads of states, prime ministers, foreign ministers and heads of relevant agencies of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization are implemented.

In particular, I would like to contribute to the expansion of trade and economic relations between the Organization’s member states. This is especially highlighted in the Bishkek declaration of the 2019 SCO summit. At present, the SCO countries are rich in natural resources and advanced production capacities.

SCO foreign trade turnover with foreign countries makes up 6.3 trln. dollars. At the same time, trade between the SCO member states reached $ 305 billion last year. dollars. This shows the direction in which the relationships need to be activated. In turn, e-commerce is developing at a rapid pace. E-commerce reached 20% in the global trade segment. By 2025, this figure will be 25%. China and India have extensive experience in digital technology. Central Asian countries and other SCO member states should benefit from this great experience. That is why we propose to develop a project of the SCO E-Commerce Development Program.

Another key direction that we would like to draw attention to is transport cooperation within the SCO. We will do our best to assist in accelerating the development of logistics centers, modernization of existing networks and transportation facilities, harmonization and unification of transportation standards, as well as phytosanitary rules. It would be expedient to develop a cooperation program between the SCO member states in the development of multimodal transport and logistics centers.

Increasingly, countries around the world see the development of multilateral tourism as a strategic opportunity to increase their competitiveness. In our opinion, it is important to promote projects aimed at popularization of tourism opportunities of the SCO countries.

The SCO Secretariat, under the auspices of the SCO member states, began to present events under the project "Eight Wonders of the SCO". It has one tourist destination in each of the SCO countries. The project presentation was successfully held in Beijing, Xi’an, Dushanbe and Helsinki. Therefore, the development of smart tourism development programs on the SCO space is also a priority.

Ruslan KENJAYEV, Amanulla Fayziev

(People’s Word) talked.