Virtual SCO Meet: Jaishankar’s Interventions
STORIES, ANALYSES, EXPERT VIEWS
Speaking at a virtual meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Heads of Government hosted by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Tuesday, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar said connectivity projects must respect sovereignty issues. This was in a reference to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
A joint communique issued after the meeting named all countries, other than India, and said they “reaffirmed their support for the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative”, “including the work to promote the alignment of the ‘Belt and Road’ construction with the construction of the Eurasian Economic Union”.
Improving bilateral trade: Minister Jaishankar also pitched for more trade through Iran’s Chabahar port and the International North South Transport Corridors (INSTC) that India is a part of, aiming to improve bilateral trade with Central Asian countries.
“Our total trade with SCO Members is only $141 billion, which has potential to increase manifold. Fair market access is to our mutual benefit and only way to move forward,” Jaishankar said at the meet which included Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, and the Prime Ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The bulk of India’s trade with SCO countries is with China, which crossed $100 billion this year, while trade with Russia is less than $20 billion. Trade with Central Asian countries is less than $2 billion, and with Pakistan it is about $500 million.