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October 14, 2018

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China to help make SCO more effective for regional peace

BEIJING: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has assured that his country will be extending all possible support to make the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) more effective for promoting regional peace and prosperity. He was addressing the 17th meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe.

He highlighted, among others, the areas of multilateral economic cooperation and trade, production capacity cooperation, and connectivity. Assuring China's complete support, Li Keqiang urged SCO member countries to further promote win-win cooperation in various fields and achieve common development. He noted that at the landmark SCO summit held earlier this year in the Chinese city of Qingdao, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other SCO leaders reached important consensus and injected strong impetus to the SCO's future development. In order to build on the sound momentum, Li proposed advancing SCO cooperation in six areas: security, multilateral economic cooperation and trade, production capacity cooperation, connectivity, innovation, and people-to-people ties.

Noting the setbacks in economic globalization and backlash against the multilateral trading regime, Li said the SCO member countries are faced with new challenges in economic development. "Past experience shows that development cannot be achieved behind closed doors, and opening up is the right way forward," Li said. He called on the SCO member countries to firmly support free trade and the rules-based multilateral trading regime and further advance trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. SCO members, Li added, also need to take solid steps to promote multilateral trade and economic cooperation, launch feasibility studies on establishing an SCO free trade area, and develop institutional arrangements for closer regional economic cooperation.

Zooming in on agriculture, Li said China hopes to expand imports of high-quality agricultural products from fellow SCO member countries and also hopes that more specialty Chinese agricultural products will be made available for customers in other SCO countries. On production capacity cooperation, Li said China has joined hands with other SCO member countries to set up seven overseas national-level economic and trade cooperation zones, which have started to boost growth and create jobs for local communities. The stock of Chinese investment in SCO member states has now reached 84.6 billion US dollars, much of which has been channeled to projects in this area, he added. He hoped that the SCO will serve as an important platform for Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) cooperation, said China is ready to further synergize the BRI with development strategies of fellow SCO members to make the SCO an example of openness, cooperation and common development, he added.

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