A large wind turbine blade is hoisted at Baketu Port, in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on March 28. An increasing number of large wind turbine equipment is being exported from Baketu Port to Kazakhstan. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
Cooperation among member economies to further expand to digital trade, green business
Economic and trade ties between China and other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will be enriched by closer cooperation in the areas of digital trade, green development and services sector despite challenges threatening the recovery of the global economy, said government officials and experts.
With all SCO members accelerating the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and reinforcing ties in areas of common interest, such as production capacity, transport, finance and telecommunications, the group's economic cooperation will expand from trade and investment activities concentrated mostly on energy, natural resources, infrastructure and agriculture to more sectors.
SCO member economies have followed the trend of digital development and deepened regional economic cooperation in digital fields such as smart cities, telemedicine and smart manufacturing over the past several years, according to information released by China’s Ministry of Commerce
The SCO was established in Shanghai in 2001 by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The organization expanded in 2017 to include India and Pakistan. Several other countries, mostly in Central Asia and the Middle East, have applied for observer status.
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Li Fei, assistant minister of commerce, said that digital trade, as an important component of the digital economy, helps countries connect information networks, cutting asymmetries and transaction costs.
SCO member economies have followed the trend of digital development and deepened regional economic cooperation in digital fields such as smart cities, telemedicine and smart manufacturing over the past several years, according to information released by the Ministry of Commerce.
"We believe that with the support and effort of all parties, mutually beneficial cooperation in digital trade will help create an atmosphere of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, strongly supporting regional stability and sustainable growth," Li said at the China-SCO Digital Trade Roundtable Seminar held in Beijing in early September.
Farmers pick cotton in the Syrdarya region in Uzbekistan in 2020. The field introduced a drip irrigation system from China. (ZAFAR KHALILOV / XINHUA)
Isaeva Vladimirovna, Kyrgyzstan's deputy minister of economy and commerce, said her country is willing to cooperate with other SCO members to grow digital trade and build the country into a digital hub in Central Asia in the coming years.
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Zhang Ming, secretary-general of the SCO, said that alongside SCO countries' rich human and financial resources, raw materials and technologies, digital trade will help them adapt to and grasp the trend of digitalization, accelerate COVID-related recovery and enhance economic resilience.
China's foreign trade with SCO member countries rose 40 percent year-on-year to US$343.3 billion in 2021, reaching a record high－28 times larger than that of 2001 when the organization was established, said the Ministry of Commerce.
China's total investment in other SCO member states exceeded US$70 billion. Contracted projects by Chinese companies in other member states were valued above US$290 billion by the end of July 2021.
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Because the economic growth of many SCO members relies heavily on trade in commodities and agricultural products, it will be practical for related companies to work with companies in China to further improve the structure of trade and deepen cooperation on environmental protection, climate change, biodiversity conservation and the low-carbon economy, said Zhang Shaogang, vice-chairman of the Beijing-based China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.
China's total investment in other SCO member states exceeded US$70 billion. Contracted projects by Chinese companies in other member states were valued above US$290 billion by the end of July 2021
They also need to revitalize trade and investment, as well as enhance openness and interconnectivity, especially when the global economy is suffering from a massive pandemic-induced contraction and geopolitical and geoeconomic headwinds, said Zhou Mi, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing.
He said that the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative will continue to play a vital role in fueling SCO countries' business growth, as many of them have already integrated the BRI with regional cooperation programs and national development plans.
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In addition to drawing up a roadmap for expanding settlement in national currencies to provide better financial services for collaboration on major projects, SCO members should continue to work together to fight the pandemic in various areas, and advance collaboration in services, in particular in logistics, education and green and smart infrastructure development, Zhou said.
Eager to boost the group's growth, China established the China-SCO Local Economic and Trade Cooperation Demonstration Area in Qingdao, Shandong province in 2018.
The area allows investing businesses from SCO countries to work together in one specific location and to share technologies, expertise and product types to develop new areas of collaboration and manufacturing processes, or a type of SCO-incubator.
HONG KONG NEWS