Source: Global Times Published: 2018-6-7
The upcoming meeting of leaders from members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) might start a new phase marked by strengthened economic and trade ties for the multilateral body, which so far has been focused mainly on cooperation in securities, according to a report.
The report, released Wednesday by the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, called on the leaders to improve cooperation under the China-initiated Belt and Road (B&R) initiative and promote regional economic integration.
The SCO summit is scheduled to take place on Saturday and Sunday in Qingdao, East China`s Shandong Province.
Leaders of the eight SCO member states, including China, Russia, India and Pakistan will attend the summit, according to media reports.
"The SCO and the B&R initiative are inextricably linked to each other. Cooperation between the two platforms will only spur common growth, rather than causing conflicts and differences," Liu Ying, a research fellow with the Chongyang Institute and an author of the report, said at an event on Wednesday.
Liu told the Global Times on Thursday that with India and Pakistan now both being members of the SCO, there are "huge prospects" for further economic and trade cooperation within the organization.
However, the B&R may not have unanimous support at the SCO. During a meeting of SCO foreign ministers in April in Beijing, all but the Indian foreign minister reaffirmed their support for the initiative, according to a press release on the SCO`s website.
Liu said that while India might not endorse the initiative publicly due to "political reasons," it would not oppose pragmatic economic and trade cooperation with other member states.
"There is a very strong complementarity in our economies," she said.
Liu also added that the member states can jointly explore cooperation projects in sectors such as energy and infrastructure.
Trade among the SCO member states has been growing rapidly since the inception of the organization.
From 2001 to the end of 2017, China`s trade with fellow SCO member states increased by 17 times to $217.6 billion, China Central Television reported on Thursday, citing an official with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.
While the SCO summit in Qingdao will focus on security cooperation, strengthening economic cooperation will also help to maintain the organization`s long-term goals of peace and prosperity, Liu said.
Liu Ying is a researcher at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.