Foreign and Military Affairs

SCO enhanced region: experts

By Zhou Siyu (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-06-16 07:26
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BEIJING - Since it was formed 10 years ago the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has become a driving force for regional economic development and will continue to enhance regional cooperation, experts said on Monday.

"The SCO has laid a solid foundation for further economic development among member states and has especially boosted cooperation in the energy sector," said Chen Fengying, director of the Institute of World Economic Studies under the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

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"Its performance over the past decade has proved it to be a success," she said.

Established in 2001, the SCO has developed into an organization that includes six member states, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, four observer states, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan and dialogue partners Belarus and Sri Lanka.

Maintaining regional peace and security and political stability are priorities for the SCO, with the focus on anti-terrorism.

But at the same time, the SCO has promoted regional cooperation in economic development, "which in turn has helped enhance security in the member states, because poverty is the fundamental reason behind terrorism", said Liu Huaqin, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

Cooperation in the energy sector in particular has achieved remarkable progress.

"Countries in this area are rich in natural resources, but poor in infrastructure. Investment will remain one of the most important ways to achieve the economic development of these countries," said Liu.

However, China should also help these countries diversify their export structure, Liu added.

"To help these countries develop their own industry, more investment should be encouraged in non-resource sectors, such as manufacturing and processing," she said.

In 2009, China provided loans totaling $10 billion to help the SCO member states ward off the impact of the global economic recession.

Meanwhile, trade volume among the member states registered notable increases. During January to April this year, bilateral trade between China and Russia jumped by 58.4 percent year-on-year to $25 billion. Russia's exports to China surged by 63.4 percent from last year to $10.5 billion and its imports increased by 55 percent year-on-year to $14.5 billion, according to data from Russian customs.

For future development, the SCO should continue to improve its cooperation mechanism among member states and strive to achieve a free trade agreement, Chen said.

SCO enhanced region: experts