Economic cooperation

Prime Ministers' meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Oct. 14, 2009. (Xinhua/Liu Weibing)

Economic cooperation is a key area of cooperation for the SCO and serves as the material foundation and guarantee for SCO’s smooth development. All SCO members but China are also members of the Eurasian Economic Community.

Heads of government of the six member states held the first meeting in Alma-Ata on 14 September 2001 to discuss regional economic cooperation and signed the Memorandum Between the Governments of the Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on the Basic Objectives and Orientation of Regional Economic Cooperation and the Launching of a Process of Trade and Investment Facilitation.The year 2002 saw the establishment of mechanisms for economic and trade as well as transportation ministerial meetings successively as initial attempts to explore avenues of substantive cooperation in trade, investment, transportation, energy and other areas.The SCO heads of government met in Beijing for a second time on 23 September 2003 and adopted a plan for multilateral economic and trade cooperation of the SCO member states, in which priority areas, main tasks and implementation mechanism of economic-trade cooperation between the six SCO member states were identified.This laid to an important foundation for economic cooperation among the six member states for a fairly long time to come.

At the same meeting the PRC’s Premier, Wen Jiabao, proposed a long-term objective to establish a free trade area in the SCO, while other more immediate measures would be taken to improve the flow of goods in the region. A follow up plan with 100 specific actions was signed one year later, on September 23, 2004.

On October 26, 2005, during the Moscow Summit of the SCO, the Secretary General of the Organisation said that the SCO will prioritise joint energy projects; such will include the oil and gas sector, the exploration of new hydrocarbon reserves, and joint use of water resources. The creation of an Inter-bank SCO Council was also agreed upon at that summit in order to fund future joint projects. The first meeting of the SCO Interbank Association was held in Beijing on February 21-22, 2006. On November 30, 2006, at The SCO: Results and Perspectives, an international conference held in Almaty, the representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that Russia is developing plans for an SCO “Energy Club”. The need for this “club” was reiterated by Moscow at an SCO summit in November 2007. Other SCO members, however, have not committed themselves to the idea. However on August 28, 2008 summit it was stated that “Against the backdrop of a slowdown in the growth of world economy pursuing a responsible currency and financial policy, control over the capital flowing, ensuring food and energy security have been gaining special significance.”

On June 16, 2009, at the Yekaterinburg Summit, China announced plans to provide a US$10 billion loan to SCO member states to shore up the struggling economies of its members amid the global financial crisis. The summit was held together with the first BRIC summit, and the China-Russia joint statement said that they want a bigger quota in the IMF.

The address by Russia’s Putin also included these comments:

We now clearly see the defectiveness of the monopoly in world finance and the policy of economic selfishness. To solve the current problem Russia will take part in changing the global financial structure so that it will be able to guarantee stability and prosperity in the world and to ensure progress.