The Business Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is one of the SCO’s core structures, which facilitates interaction between governments and business communities. Its task is to develop projects of economic cooperation between SCO member states. The Council’s Executive Secretary Sergey Kanavsky told an InfoSHOS correspondent about its current activities.
Q.: The SCO Business Council facilitates implementation of business projects aimed at development of economic cooperation within the SCO. How is it done in practice and what has it achieved?
A.: The Business Council is in fact an association of businessmen, chambers of commerce and industry and organizations of small and medium-sized businesses as the most active members of the SCO business community. Projects supported by the Business Council and areas of cooperation defined as priorities depend on the goals set at SCO summits by heads of state and government. This combination of business interests and government strategies yields an impressive result.
In practical activities, we rely on the professionalism and authority of heads of the national parts of the Business Council, as this guarantees the efficiency of our structure today and in the future.
Q.: What areas of cooperation have produced the most successful results? Which are considered to be a priority?
A.: Our priorities are determined by documents prepared as part of the SCO’s activities, at meetings of heads of state and government and ministers of economy.
Economy is the main focus area for the Business Council, but it is not the only one. Lately, we have been addressing humanitarian cooperation, as well as culture and sports. In the economy, priority tasks for the Business Council are promotion of trade, especially electronic trade, construction and modernization of infrastructure, transport and logistic projects, high tech, agriculture and healthcare. These are the spheres that currently attract the highest interest.
Q.: What projects has the Business Council implemented in the past year?
A.: Our projects are aimed at building a system of business communications, assisting businesses, developing tools for cooperation. For example, creation of joint trade and exhibition centers. With support from the Business Council, exhibition centers in Russia, China and Kazakhstan managed to find a common ground and establish cooperation. Another telling example is the development of a new system for interaction between electronic trading platforms. We also have infrastructure projects, such as building a system of industrial parks. China is very proactive in this area.
With the Business Council’s coordination, Russian, Kazakh and Kyrgyz agricultural producers have begun cooperating in numerous areas, from construction of greenhouses to production of biomaterials.
The Business Council is building a comprehensive system of interaction within the SCO, which is ever growing and improving, acquiring new meanings. None of the projects we announce is put on backburner, we are working actively on all of them.
Q.: How do you develop relations with SCO observers and dialog partners?
A.: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a new type of structure, which equally takes into account interests of all of its members. Countries that are now part of the SCO as observers and dialog partners, are attentively watching its activities. They see it as an opportunity to establish new relations, first of all, in business. We actively cooperate with partners from Iran, Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka. There are interesting proposals from Azerbaijan, Armenia and Mongolia.
We have very good contacts not only with observers and dialog partners, but also with many non-SCO regions, which are also interested in cooperation. For example, numerous events of our business program attract such Southeast Asian countries as Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. They try to use these opportunities to establish economic partnerships with SCO member states.
Q.: How does the Business Council work with the SCO Inter-Bank Association?
A.: Both structures were established in 2006, following the decisions made at the SCO summit in Shanghai. Today we are actively cooperating, building a common system of interaction and support for businesses based on agreements signed between us. The Business Council selects and prepares economic projects, while the Inter-Bank Association resolves issues related to financing. We interact regularly via joint expert sessions and joint high-profile events – joint meetings of the Council and the Association.
A.: At the Astana summit, India and Pakistan will become full members of the SCO. What do you think about the opportunities of economic cooperation now that there will be eight full members?
A.: These countries have had the status of observers until now, so we have been in regular contact with their business structures. Now these contacts will reach a brand new level. Their representatives will have all the rights to participate not only in the work of the Business Council, but also in the work of other SCO structures – meetings of ministers of economy and foreign trade.
These countries know well many of our joint initiatives – their representatives took part in many events of the SCO’s economic agenda. We hope that the new status will open additional opportunities for India and Pakistan.
Q.: What are the Business Council’s plans for the near term?
A.: Our goal is to create optimal conditions for joint implementation of projects. To achieve this, we find sources of financing, encourage business initiatives, shape innovative segments, expand the geography and areas where work. Interest in cooperation with SCO member states is growing all over the world. And this is not a coincidence: the SCO economic space is a great place for putting in effort and achieving success in a whole range of areas.