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:
Minister of External Affairs of the Republic of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar
Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin
Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Li Keqiang
Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic Akylbek Japarov
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi
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 Askar Mamin, good afternoon. Colleagues, friends.
I would like to join you in expressing gratitude to our Kazakh partners for the excellent preparation of this meeting.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation marks its 20th anniversary this year. In such a short period – short by international associations’ standards – the SCO has evolved as an effective format for interaction among Eurasian states, resolving regional issues, and aligning national development strategies. For this purpose, it has developed a solid regulatory framework covering a wide variety of fields from politics and the economy to security and humanitarian ties. Our states are consistently deepening cooperation, implementing mutually beneficial cross-border economic and investment projects and promoting significant multilateral initiatives.
At the September summit in Dushanbe, the leaders of our states identified the priorities for further strengthening this organisation. Much work remains to be done to implement the agreements reached at the highest level.
Over the past few years, the world has faced profound, system-wide changes. The coronavirus pandemic has led to a downturn in key sectors of the global economy, pushing up unemployment. International value chains have been disrupted, and trade and investment have shrunk.
The external market environment is not exactly favourable either. Our Western partners often use unfair competition strategies to keep their dominant positions. Protectionist measures and illegal unilateral sanctions are expanding.
Regional conflicts are also escalating. The situation in Afghanistan, which is struggling with an acute socioeconomic crisis, raises serious concern. It is important to prevent that country, which is close to all of us, from sliding into a humanitarian catastrophe. Following President Vladimir Putin instructions, we have dispatched the first batch of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. Other SCO states are also providing support to the Afghan people.
It is in our common interests to ensure the peace, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Afghan state, freeing it from terrorism and drugs. It is essential for the safe and stable development of our entire region. However, undoubtedly, the main responsibility for post-conflict reconstruction should be borne by those countries whose actions led to the present tragedy.
It is important to note that CIS member states are successfully overcoming the current difficulties.
Mutual trade is being gradually restored. In the first eight months of 2021, Russia’s trade with our CIS partners expanded by 30.5 percent and exceeded $100 billion.
All states, including Russia, are taking action at the national level to stabilise the domestic situation. And we can already see certain results. At the end of the second quarter of 2021, Russia’s gross domestic product recovered completely and topped pre-crisis levels.
In the nine months of 2021, industrial production grew by over 4.5 percent in annual terms. The labour market situation improved, and employment levels exceed pre-pandemic indicators. As instructed by President Vladimir Putin, the Russian Government has drafted and approved new socioeconomic development initiatives up to 2030. They reflect the modern challenges that Russia should address. We will work on six key aspects, namely, the social sphere, construction, the environment, digital transformation, a technological breakthrough and welfare state.
Regarding the global economy, in order to ensure its recovery, it is important to prevent the further decline in global trade. It is necessary to preserve its institutional foundations that have been formulated on the basis of the World Trade Organisation. This is the only way to ensure clear, understandable and, most importantly, equitable rules of the game for all participants.
And, of course, a wide-ranging macroeconomic policy coordination, on the basis of openness and reciprocity, is essential. Today, we are witnessing unprecedented demand for multilateral mechanisms of finding collective solutions. In our opinion, the SCO could also play a leading role in this work.
We should continue to merge our national development strategies and multilateral integration initiatives and build an area of trust, equitable and mutually beneficial cooperation in Eurasia.
President Vladimir Putin’s initiative on establishing a Greater Eurasian Partnership that would involve the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the EAEU and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, as well as other countries and regional associations, hinges on precisely these principles.
The Memorandum of Understanding between the SCO Secretariat and the Eurasian Economic Commission opens up good opportunities for this. It stipulates expanding contacts in various directions, including the economy and finance, as well as foreign trade and investment.
To strengthen our cooperation, we should implement joint initiatives in the sphere of transport. Six routes have been opened in accordance with the Agreement on Facilitation of International Road Transport. We must make full use of them.
At present, some 20 million tonnes of cargo are annually transported from Asia to European countries via Russia. Experts forecast that the cargo traffic will increase several times over in 15-20 years and will reach some 100-150 million tonnes a year.
To be able to shoulder the increasing volume of cargo transportation, Russia, Kazakhstan and China have launched the implementation of the Europe-Western China international transit corridor.
Under his project, Russia is building a motorway from Kazan to Moscow, which will have access to the Baltic region and Northern Europe. We are preparing for the implementation of the Meridian motorway project, which could have access to Central Europe via Belarus. The implementation of this crucial strategic project will be in the long-term interests of all SCO countries and will help strengthen transport, logistics and cooperation ties. In light of environmental challenges, we will stipulate the broad use of natural-gas-based vehicles on the Meridian route. Our next task is to formulate measures for coordinated infrastructure development based on digital technology and cutting-edge intellectual systems.
Regrettably, we have not yet coordinated our positions in this area. We must coordinate our approaches without delay and reach agreements on the SCO road development programme.
We will continue our digital economy cooperation within the framework of the SCO. The world is rapidly moving towards a new technological paradigm. We have the capability to take leading positions on this track.
Russia is ready to share its achievements in the sphere of remote employment and education services, public services and telemedicine. We have scored success in the field of database management platforms and in the development of AI-based solutions.
The SCO countries have adopted the Concept of Cooperation of the SCO Member States in Digitalisation and ICT. I would like to urge our partners to more actively contribute to drafting a plan for its implementation.
It would be useful to develop cooperation for the digitalisation of the legal sphere. Russia has forwarded to its partners a draft concept and a draft agreement on the SCO electronic platform for the provision of legal assistance in civil matters.
The active introduction of modern technologies has presented us with a new challenge: to overcome the digital divide. Last year we approved the Concept for Cooperation Between the SCO Member States in Developing Remote and Rural Areas in the Digital Era. The SCO Best Solutions Bank looks like the best mechanism for the implementation of the concept. It comprises over 170 technologies and practices in the field of infrastructure, public and financial services, agriculture, education and healthcare. We need to reach a compromise on this project as soon as possible, so that all SCO counties have access to such solutions.
Digitalisation is being accompanied by green transformation of the economy.
Meanwhile, some states are attempting to leverage these trends to gain a competitive advantage in emerging markets. There are attempts to promote green protectionism, to introduce additional taxes or administrative barriers to international trade, which run counter to the WTO rules and principles.
It is imperative that we pay the utmost attention to these actions, in particular when implementing the SCO Green Belt Programme and the Concept of the SCO Member States’ Cooperation in Environmental Protection. We propose that the foreign ministries convene consultations with representatives of relevant agencies, including on decarbonising the economy.
International settlements are a separate issue. Clearly, we need reliable mechanisms to finance the SCO projects. The use of national currencies will help reduce dependence on external factors and cut conversion and transaction costs. In the long term, this will improve financial stability and create conditions for entering new markets and building production chains between our countries. Russia advocates the early adoption of the roadmap for a gradual increase in the share of national currencies in mutual settlements.
Now, I will briefly cover humanitarian cooperation which continues even amid the pandemic. In October, the first SCO museum forum with the participation of the member states and observer states was held in Tula.
The SCO University, which unites almost 80 higher educational institutions, remains operational. It is essential to increase the number of SCO University participants and new in-demand areas of education should be added to its curriculum.
The Business Council, the Interbank Association and the SCO Youth Council engage in vigorous activities.
Region-to-region cooperation is going strong. The Forum of Heads of Regions holds a lot of promise for implementing specific projects.
All of the above goes to show that the peoples of the SCO countries are interested in joint work across a variety of areas.
The SCO is strengthening its position in the international arena year in and year out.
The upcoming admission of Iran to the SCO and the granting of dialogue partner status to Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia will significantly strengthen the organisation’s potential and its role in international affairs.
The most important thing for all of us is to stop the spread of the coronavirus and overcome its aftereffects. To do so, we must continue to implement the Comprehensive Plan of Joint Action to Counteract the Threats of Epidemics in the SCO Region and to ensure the teamwork of our sanitary and epidemiological services. Russia proposes to hold a meeting of their leaders on 9 December to discuss in greater detail the steps to combat the pandemic.
Mr Mamin, in closing, I would like to congratulate you on the successful completion of Kazakhstan’s chairmanship of the SCO Heads of Government Council. I also wish every success to Mr Li Keqiang, in connection with the transfer of the chairmanship to the People’s Republic of China.
I am confident that the SCO is capable of successfully achieving our countries’ most challenging goals. Together, we will ensure the sustainable and balanced growth of our respective economies and continue to work together for the benefit of our peoples and states.