SCO can gain by improving mechanisms, increasing cooperation with ASEAN

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/6/25 17:43:41

File Photo: Xinhua

Editor's Note:

Vladimir Norov, secretary general of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), briefed experts and media in Beijing on June 21 on the achievements of the recently concluded SCO Bishkek summit. After his speech, experts gave their suggestions on how to facilitate cooperation in trade, economy, investment and finance within the bloc and ways of strengthening the organization's cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The Global Times selected opinions of two experts present at the discussion.

Shi Ze, senior research fellow and director of the Center for International Energy Strategy Studies of the China Institute of International Studies

How will the SCO make breakthroughs in economic and trade cooperation? First, the mechanism of promoting economic cooperation needs to be strengthened. The SCO should set up a platform for multilateral economic cooperation. The function of such an economic cooperation center or committee is to mainly make an outline for future economic cooperation based on changes in the international situation.

Second, the SCO should give full play to the role of economic think tanks of SCO member states. Multilateral economic cooperation within the framework of the SCO is not as satisfactory right now as that in the field of security. The SCO lacks systematic and in-depth research on problems concerning multilateral economic cooperation. Economic think tanks should contribute to developing regional economic cooperation within the SCO.

Third, during both Qingdao summit in 2018 and Bishkek summit in 2019, member states agreed on promoting the setting-up of free trade zones and other facilitating measures. The SCO should draw a road map to implement these measures in phases. 

Fourth, the SCO should further expand investment and financing capacity. The organization needs to further promote the SCO Interbank Consortium (SCO IBC) and the role of other regional economic institutions.

After India and Pakistan joined the SCO in 2017, it became beneficial for the organization to cooperate with ASEAN, as the borders of the two blocs are almost fully connected. How should the SCO take advantage of the expansion and strengthen ties with ASEAN?

First, the two blocs should deepen security cooperation, such as by holding regional security forums. Member states of the SCO and ASEAN are facing the problems of terrorism and drug trafficking, therefore cooperation in these domains can help them maintain regional security.

Furthermore, both organizations can strengthen cooperation in energy. I predict Southeast Asia would be the region with the fastest growth in global energy demand in the next decade. SCO member states have abundant energy reserves. Therefore, their cooperation in energy will be promising. How to put energy cooperation into practice plays a significant role in building ASEAN-SCO cooperation, which is also crucial for energy security of member states of the two groups.

Li Xin, senior research fellow at the Center for Russian & Central Asia Studies of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS) and director at the Institute for World Economy Studies of SIIS

When it comes to boosting cooperation in trade, economy, investment and finance of the SCO, the following needs to be taken into account. First, make sure goods flow freely across borders among member states. Second, the free flow of capital should be guaranteed so as to strengthen investment cooperation among members. 

Member states should strengthen cooperation in finance. Finance serves trade and investment. 

Currently, the role the SCO IBC plays in developing trade and investment is not outstanding. The SCO IBC can be developed into a foundation to better serve trade and investment. In order to avoid the impact of fluctuation of the US dollar, the SCO can encourage settlement in local currencies.


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