Bishkek, 27 October 2023 (TDI): The Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, Alikhan Smailov addressed the 22nd extended meeting of Heads of Government Council of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on October 26.

During the meeting, the Kazakh Prime Minister addressed the implementation of several developments and tasks within Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Among the developments, the Kazakh Prime Minister primarily focused on boosting foreign trade-economic ties of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

In that course, he called on to simplify customs procedures to support the development of e-commerce, one of the promising areas within the SCO.

To further emphasize the need to develop e-commerce, he stressed that by various estimates, total income from e-commerce in SCO countries may reach 1.5 billion US dollars in 2023.

In delineating the benefits obtained by Kazakhstan from interregional trade with SCO member states, Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov highlighted, “In more than two decades, the interregional trade rose almost by 100 times. In 2022, Kazakhstan’s commodity turnover with the SCO member states increased almost by 20% and reached 61 billion US dollars,”

In encouraging the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to support e-commerce, the Kazak Prime Minister proposed to convene the heads of customs authorities from SCO countries, increase the share of national currencies in mutual settlements, and use the capabilities of the Astana International Financial Centre.

“The total income from electronic sales in the SCO countries could approach $1.5 trillion this year. We must do everything we can to support e-commerce,” Prime Minister Smailov further supported.

Besides asserting on developing e-commerce, the Kazakh Prime Minister also focused on creating an extensive transport network.

In this regard, he set forth the advantages gained by Kazakhstan’s participation in the global Belt and Road Initiative, which unlocked the potential of the East-West and North-South transport corridors alongside the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route.

Prime Minister Smailov expressed interest in increasing the transit of goods and the successful operation of the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway, proposing establishing a Partnership Network of Strategic Ports and Logistics Centers to bolster transport collaboration.

Furthermore, Prime Minister Smailov stressed the importance of strengthening investment cooperation and referenced the Kazakh President’s initiative to create the SCO Investment Fund.

Also, the Kazakh Prime Minister urged the SCO Business Council and the Interbank Consortium to play an active role in this regard.

Prime Minister Smailov necessitated expediting the transition of the SCO countries’ economies to a new level of technological development.

For that, he invited the meeting participants to attend the Digital Almaty Forum, scheduled for February 2024, which will focus on forming a digital hub in the SCO space.

Also read: SCO’s 22nd Heads of Government Meeting Issues Joint Communique

Moreover, at the meeting Kazakh Prime Minister spoke on tourism development as well where he announced the organization of the SCO International Conference, “The Golden Horde and Its Heritage” in Turkistan, and the presentation of the SCO Spiritual Sanctuaries project.

Following the meeting, the heads of delegations signed an Action Plan for the SCO Year of Ecology in 2024 that includes hosting conferences, educational events, and large-scale environmental protection campaigns.

They also signed several more documents to enhance railway infrastructure connectivity and facilitate digital trade.