Economic cooperation within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) needs to catch up with the existing political dialog, Bakhtiyor Khakimov, the Russian president’s envoy for SCO affairs and the Foreign Ministry’s ambassador-at-large, said at the international panel conference “Shanghai Cooperation Organization: a promising platform for broad, mutually beneficial cooperation and integration in Eurasia,” which was held at the Russian Economic Development Ministry in October.
Today, after the organization admitted two new full members, India and Pakistan, it is possible to talk about its increased potential and new opportunities, the diplomat explained. Therefore, conversion of this potential and the opportunities into real action is becoming a crucial task, he said.
One of the SCO’s key objectives in the economic sector is implementation of the agreement on creating favorable conditions for truck shipments, Khakimov said. “The agreement was signed and came into force back in 2014, a joint commission was setup to ensure that practical steps were taken. We are now discussing establishment of a center for issuing permits, which will enable us to quickly build interaction in the area of truck shipments on a large territory,” he explained.
Besides, the issues of the Development Bank and the Development Fund of the SCO still remain unresolved, Khakimov said. “The countries’ stances are different on these topics, and we have yet to reach an agreement. But it is obvious for everyone that financial mechanisms are necessary,” he noted.
Economic cooperation within the SCO is developing in two directions, the diplomat pointed out. The first, strategic direction is aimed at combining national development strategies and the potentials of integrative formats, such as the Eurasian Economic Union, the One Belt, One Road initiative and ASEAN.
“The other, more pragmatic direction is about establishing contacts between business communities and, at the same time, between regions instead of industries,” Khakimov said. The Russian initiative of setting up a new SCO Forum of Heads of Region is being developed in this context and has already gained certain support, he added.
“I urge all of us to start working on concrete projects in real life rather than on paper,” he concluded.