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SCO-ESCAP relations enter a new stage
28.11.2017 14:45

A new page inthe SCO-ESCAP cooperation opened atthe ESCAP headquarters inBangkok on23 November 2017. The longstanding fruitful cooperation betweenthese organisations is powerful evidence ofthe effectiveness ofthe joint efforts inthe promotion ofregional economic ties. For the first time inthe history oftheir relations, the SCO and ESCAP have organised a High-Level Side Event titled Towards Regional Transport Connectivity.

The event was onthe official agenda ofthe Second Ministerial Conference onRegional Economic Cooperation and Integration inAsia and the Pacific, which was attended byover 150 delegates from57 countries ofAsia and the Pacific, aswell asinternational organisations and associations. The keynote speakers atthe event were SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov, ESCAP Executive Secretary and UN Under-Secretary-General Shamshad Akhtar aswell asPermanent Representative ofChina tothe UNESCAP Li Hong.

"Today is a special day forthe SCO and ESCAP: our special event onregional transport connectivity is opening a new chapter inthe history ofour relations. This event is the practical implementation ofthe commitment assumed bythe SCO member states attheir summit inAstana, that is, toconsistently build upcooperation betweenthe SCO and the UN, including its specialised bodies," SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov said inhis opening remarks.

Speakers atthis special event focused onthe transport potential ofthe SCO member states and possibilities forthe development oftransport cooperation withinthe SCO, inparticular, withinthe framework ofthe implementation ofthe SCO Agreement onInternational Road Transport Facilitation.

An exposition inthe huge foyer and the material provided bythe event participants highlighted the legal framework forthe SCO cooperation inthe field oftransport and its transit potential.

ESCAP Executive Secretary Shamshad Akhtar said inher address: "We have a longstanding engagement withthe SCO. The signing ofthe Intergovernmental Agreement ofthe Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States onthe Facilitation ofInternational Road (SCO Road Transport Agreement) duringthe annual summit ofthe member States ofthe SCO, held inTajikistan in2014, demonstrated the high-level ofdedication toimproving connectivity amongthe SCO member states. ESCAP provided technical and financial assistance forthe negotiation, undertaking relevant research tosupport the drafting ofthe Agreement and its annexes. The SCO Prime Ministers meeting held inUzbekistan issued a declaration toexpress their appreciation tothis model collaboration."

"The SCO Road Transport Agreement has the potential toenhance the sustainable transport architecture and harmonise frameworks asan integral element ofthe development and operation ofintermodal transport corridors," Dr Akhtar said.

"The Agreement opens more than15,000 km ofthe Asian Highway routes fortransport operation and services. It will also enhance landlocked Central Asia's access tosea. We expect India and Pakistan, asnew members ofthe SCO, tobe eligible forthe Agreement, which will make the list ofoperationalised Asian Highway routes even more impressive and will provide a truly regional scope tothis legal instrument," the ESCAP Executive Secretary said.

Speaking aboutthe region's economic development, SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov noted that "the rapid growth ofdigital economy is changing the landscape ofinternational economic relations and increasing the role ofmobile logistics and transport connectivity. In this context, it is becoming increasingly important todevelop freight connectivity withina macro-region that encompasses large industrial clusters, mining and processing centres, aswell aslarge consumer markets."

Rashid Alimov said that the aggregate length ofmotorways inthe eight SCO countries exceeds 12.5 million kilometres, or 18 percent ofthe global road network. "The railway networks are developing rapidly, withnew transport and logistics hubs linking South, Southeast and Central Asian countries and connecting them toWest and Northwest Europe, aswell asthe Middle East and North Africa," the SCO Secretary-General said.

The special event included an interesting exchange ofviews. Reports were made byTajikistani Deputy Minister ofEconomic Development and Trade Ilyosiddin Kamoliddinzoda, Praveen Bonigala fromthe Indian Ministry ofCommerce and Industry, Director ofthe International Cooperation Department atthe Russian Ministry ofTransport Roman Aleksandrov, Ruslan Bultrikov fromthe Kazakhstani Foreign Ministry's representative office inAlmaty, Director ofthe ESCAP Transport Division Li Yuwei and other speakers. Those present agreed that cooperation betweenthe SCO and ESCAP has potential and is spearheaded intothe future.

SCO-ESCAP cooperation is based onthe Memorandum ofUnderstanding, which was revised and signed inDecember 2015. The SCO attends ESCAP events onsocioeconomic development, and ESCAP experts provided assistance tothe drafting ofthe SCO Agreement onInternational Road Transport Facilitation.

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