The SCO and Prospects for the Development of a Big Eurasian Partnership (BEP)

June 1st, 2017 a panel session "The SCO and Prospects for the Development of a Big Eurasian Partnership (BEP)" was held as part of the SPIEF 2017. The event was attended by the director of the Center for Eurasian Studies.

Evgeny Vinokurov, Director, Centre for Integration Studies, Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) and eronika Nikishina, Member of the Board, Minister in Charge of Trade, Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC).

Russia views developing collaboration within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) as one of its foreign policy priorities. The Republic of Kazakhstan is chairing the SCO Heads of State Council in 2016–2017, while Russia chairs the Heads of Government Council.

At the SCO summit in Astana on June 8–9 this year, India and Pakistan will become full members of the organization. One of the challenges raised by this development will be to ensure that India and Pakistan can be integrated comfortably within the SCO’s collaborative framework.

A dominant trend at the present stage in the development of the global economy is the active promotion of regional integration processes. Russia has presented proposals for forming a broad Eurasian partnership, which would include the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the SCO, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). One approach to realizing these proposals will be to join together the building of the EAEU with China’s Silk Road Economic Belt project which, together with the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, is part of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ concept. The effective participation of SCO member states in collaborative efforts in this area will doubtless have a positive effect on the resolution of national economic development issues.

The participants of the discussion were: Vladimir Padalko, Vice President, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation. Panellists: Tofail Ahmed, Minister for Commerce of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh; Rashid Alimov, Secretary General, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation; Alexey Gruzdev, Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation; Bakhtiyer Khakimov, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Affairs; Xin Li, Director, Institute for Economic Comparative Studies, Shanghai Institute for International Studies; Veronika Nikishina, Member of the Board, Minister in Charge of Trade, Eurasian Economic Commission; Mahmoud Vaezi, Minister of Communication and Information Technology of the Islamic Republic of Iran; Evgeny Vinokurov, Director, Centre for Integration Studies, Eurasian Development Bank (EDB). Front row participants: Ju Khee Hong, Director of Operations, CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI); Director of Operations, ASEAN Business Club; Anna Nesterova, Founder, Chairman of the Board of Directors, GlobalRus Trade; Djoomart Otorbaev, Former Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic; Pedram Soltani, Vice President, Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA).

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Rashid Alimov, Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Key conclusions

  • SCO enlargement and strong development outlook

"The SCO will transform from a regional forum into a full-blown transcontinental organisation <...> representing nearly 43–44% of the global population. <…> The aggregate PPP-based GDP of the Extended Shanghai Eight will total USD 33–35 trillion," said Rashid Alimov, Secretary General, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

  • A single Eurasian space

"We are witnessing the creation of a single space in Eurasia. <...> Its further development based on the national strategies of the SCO member states, the integration processes within the EAEU, promotion of China's One Belt, One Road Initiative, and enhancement of cooperation between the SCO and the ASEAN will all contribute to the the greater cohesiveness of the ongoing economic processes," said Rashid Alimov.

Challenges

  • Competing visions in the Asian regions

"A large variety of economic initiatives have been proposed for the Asian region. On the one hand, we support them, but, on the other hand, we cannot help noticing that they start competing with each other, rather than complement one another," said Veronika Nikishina, Member of the Board, Minister in Charge of Trade, Eurasian Economic Commission.

  • The risk of lower efficiency after the enlargement

"We need to proceed to enlargement with a clear understanding of the risks related to the efficiency of the organisation and a vision of how to minimise these risks," said Evgeny Vinokurov, Director, Centre for Integration Studies, Eurasian Development Bank (EDB).

Solutions

  • Construction of an extensive transport corridor network

"We can use the transport corridors and logistic routes that are currently under construction to minimise transportation costs and improve the competitiveness of the jointly manufactured products," said Alexey Gruzdev, Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation.

"The construction of transport communication links is the most important aspect. <...> The One Belt, One Road is a target space, rather than a mere line on the map. This is a common economic and transport space spanning the entire Eurasian continent," said Xin Li, Director, Institute for Economic Comparative Studies, Shanghai Institute for International Studies.

  • A data bank for projects that might be of interest to the SCO member states

"It is important to engage the Business Council, which actively contributes to the SCO initiatives, to develop a data bank for the projects that meet the requirements of the SCO's key policies and involve several member states," said Alexey Gruzdev.

  • A broad Eurasian partnership and new types of cooperation agreements

"What do we have to offer for the Eurasian partnership? A set of models for a new generation of partnership agreements. This will enable the member states to choose the best model on a case-by-case basis to fine-tune the scope of the agreements and rules of the game," said Veronika Nikishina.

"With some countries, it is easier to work on a bilateral basis by creating individual free trade areas. These bilateral agreements will eventually lay the groundwork for the broader Euarasia," said Evgeny Vinokurov.

  • The SCO can be used as a platform to bring together all of the national strategies and integration initiatives

"The SCO-based comprehensive Eurasian partnership has a great potential going forward," said Xin Li.

  • Need to cooperate on security

"If our countries hold regular meetings, this will strengthen peace in the region. <...> Today we cannot talk about trade and economy without mentioning the security," said Mahmoud Vaezi, Minister of Communication and Information Technology of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

CES

Based on material by http://tass.ru/.

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