Meeting Of The SCO Council Of Heads:
China hosted a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Heads of Government
- The SCO Heads of Government meet is held annually to focus on the trade and economic agenda of the organisation and approves the SCO’s annual budget.
- India has taken over as Chairperson of the SCO for 2023, and will host leaders of all SCO countries at a summit in Delhi expected in mid-2023.
- Earlier, the SCO summit 2022 was held recently in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
Highlights of the Meeting:
- The heads of delegations of the SCO member states exchanged views on key issues of global and regional development, discussed priority steps to increase trade, economic, cultural, and humanitarian cooperation within the SCO.
- India stated that its total trade with SCO Members is only USD 141 billion, which has potential to increase manifold.
- The bulk of India’s trade with SCO countries is with China, which crossed USD 100 billion in 2022, while trade with Russia is less than USD 20 billion.
- Trade with Central Asian countries is less than USD 2 billion, and with Pakistan it is about USD 500 million.
- While taking aim at China’s BRI (Belt and Road Initiative), which passes through parts of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), India said that Connectivity projects should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States and respect international law.
- India underlined the need for better connectivity in the SCO region built on the centrality of interests of Central Asian states, which will unlock the economic potential of this region in which Chabahar port and the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) could become enablers.
- India drew attention to its commitment in fighting the challenge of climate change and also, its achievements made in this direction.
- India pitched for more trade through Iran’s Chabahar port and the INSTC that India is a part of, aiming to improve bilateral trade with Central Asian countries.
- A joint communique was issued after the meeting naming all countries except India, which reaffirmed their support for the BRI, “including the work to promote the alignment of the ‘Belt and Road’ construction with the construction of the Eurasian Economic Union”.