Mikhail Mishustin took part in a meeting of the Heads of Government Council of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation via videoconference.
Heads of delegations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation member states:
Vice President of the Republic of India M. Venkaiah Naidu
Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin
Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Li Keqiang
Acting Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic Artyom Novikov
Member of the National Assembly, Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Andleeb Abbas
Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Mikhail Mishustin
Prime Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan Kokhir Rasulzoda
Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan Abdulla Aripov
Mikhail Mishustin’s remarks:
Mr Venkaiah Naidu, colleagues,
First of all, I would like to thank our Indian partners for organising this meeting of the SCO Heads of Government Council. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, we managed to meet via videoconference to discuss current aspects of our cooperation. This is especially important in the context of new global challenges that require a timely and effective response from the SCO.
The context around today’s meeting includes complicated processes in global politics and economics. Not everyone is ready to accept that the modern world is becoming multipolar. Some Western states seek to maintain a privileged position, violating the most important international principles through a policy of economic pressure. Sanctions become a tool of interference in others’ internal affairs; protectionist measures are introduced in trade and investment under far-fetched pretexts.
The spread of the novel coronavirus infection is further exacerbating the controversy, escalating the already difficult situation. Economic activity is declining around the world, and international production and distribution chains get disrupted. Trade is flagging, incomes are falling, and unemployment is on the rise – we have all felt this. The coronavirus has been a stress test for all states without exception.
At the same time, according to some estimates, the SCO member economies this year will contract less on average than the decline in the world economy. This fact gives us some confidence in the future.
Modern challenges require new areas and formats of cooperation. In the current situation, we all need a predictable multilateral trading system relying on the WTO rules. It is important to work together to ensure that all members follow its rules and all the obligations assumed. And to preclude the blatant attempts by a number of countries to bypass WTO norms.
True, the World Trade Organisation is not perfect and needs to be reformed. But for now, it is the only mechanism to protect our trade and economic interests. It needs to become more stable and work smoothly, to be able to adapt to new conditions and shut the grey zones some states use to strengthen their protectionist measures.
I propose advancing these matters from an agreed stance, including as part of the preparations for the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference, slated for June 2021 in Kazakhstan.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has strong potential to ensure sustainable economic development and security in the region.
At the 10 November summit, the leaders of our countries adopted a number of documents that became guidelines for real action. I am primarily referring to an action plan for the implementation of the SCO Development Strategy for the next five years. We must immediately start implementing it and must coordinate our steps.
Our countries have already started working at the national level. In Russia, the Government has prepared a plan for coronavirus response and relief efforts. We are open to discussing it and implementing joint measures with our partners.
Today we will adopt a five-year plan for the implementation of the Programme of Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation for the next 15 years. Together we will solve the most important tasks in almost all areas, from trade and transport to spatial development and region-to-region ties. This requires proactive efforts through industry-specific ministerial meetings and working groups. The Russian side is ready to develop new specialised mechanisms if necessary.
Another important topic is the development of alternative payment methods, independent of the dollar. We believe the practice of mutual settlements in national currencies is effective and should be expanded. We need to reach a coordinated decision on this score and then begin discussing the possibility of creating mechanisms for financial support of the SCO projects.
Economic innovations such as going digital and introducing modern technologies are of particular importance given the current coronavirus situation. This is one of the main tracks of the SCO's activity, as is underscored in the statement issued by the leaders of our countries. Digitalisation will enable faster inclusive economic development, will create new points of growth and increase the investment appeal of our economies. Russia is ready to share its best practices in using 5G, cloud storage, big data, artificial intelligence, electronic government services, and many other technologies.
Bridging the digital divide is another relevant goal. Russia has proposed an initiative on developing remote and rural areas in the SCO member states in order to ensure equal and decent living standards even in the most far-flung corners of our countries.
The first step has already been taken in this direction. A concept was approved at the summit, which provided guidelines for further cooperation. We are ready to offer our partners a new project – a databank of the best solutions in this area. It contains over 140 ideas to improve infrastructure, social services, agriculture, education and healthcare. We call on our partners to be more active in filling this databank.
Transport infrastructure plays an important role in the development of our association. We consider it our priority task to open six routes before the end of this year. They are envisaged by the Agreement on International Road Transportation Facilitation. Russia is doing all it can to carry out such agreements. It is necessary to find solutions for adopting a programme for developing SCO roads as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the drafting of this programme is being delayed.
Another topic is our interregional cooperation. The regions of our countries are striving to deepen their contacts. We have joint projects, and we have established cooperation ties in different industries and conduct business meetings. The SCO member states’ Heads of Regions Forum took place in late October. The participants discussed mutually beneficial economic initiatives. I believe we must actively develop ties between our regions.
Colleagues, we have much room for cooperation in many areas – from the economy and politics to security and the humanitarian field. Next year, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation will be 20 years old. I consider it important to draft decisions that will put the SCO on the trajectory of confident and intensive development. This is exactly the goal that the leaders of our states have set.
It is necessary to define specific parameters for coordinating national strategies and multilateral projects. The SCO is a key link in forming an open, mutually beneficial and equitable space of cooperation in Eurasia.
We and our partners in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and China are already actively involved in integrating the union with the Belt and Road Initiative. We have made a number of agreements embracing several areas of work in one go: the creation of digital corridors and the introduction of e-certificates in trade on certain goods. We also still have to resolve the foreign policy issues of the EAEU and China with a view to developing mutually advantageous cooperation.
Working together – with the participation of the SCO, the EAEU, ASEAN and other regional associations – we will manage to build the Greater Eurasian Partnership, a territory of joint development and security.
In conclusion of my remarks, I would like to thank again our Indian colleagues for their productive presidency of the Heads of Government Council this year.
I would also like to congratulate Kazakhstan on assuming these powers and wish success to Prime Minister Askar Mamin. Russia is willing to provide all-round assistance to our friends from Kazakhstan.