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Premier Li says China stands ready to boost regional trade under SCO

Updated: Nov 3,2016 9:11 PM     Xinhua

Premier Li Keqiang (C) attends the 15th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) prime ministers’ meeting in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Nov 3, 2016.[Photo/Xinhua]

BISHKEK — China stands ready to make joint efforts with other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to boost regional trade and facilitate investment, Premier Li Keqiang said in Bishkek on Nov 3.

Speaking at the 15th SCO prime ministers’ meeting, the Premier suggested that SCO members enhance cooperation in such fields as customs, inspection and quarantine, as well as certification and accreditation.

Premier Li called for more efforts to promote the coordination and alignment of economic development strategies of SCO members, citing the growing synergy between the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) as an example.

The Belt and Road Initiative comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and aspires to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes. The EEU groups Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.

On boosting trade, Premier Li said China is open to the initiative of establishing an SCO free trade zone and is willing to conduct relevant feasibility studies, so as to work towards a more comprehensive, closer and more efficient regional economic cooperation framework.

Premier Li arrived in Bishkek on Nov 2 for an official visit to the Central Asian country and the SCO meeting.

Established in 2001, the SCO is a regional political, economic and security organization that groups China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as full members.

India and Pakistan signed the SCO’s Memorandum of Obligations in June, kick-starting the process of their accession into the group, which also has a number of observers and dialogue partners.

Kyrgyzstan is the first leg of Premier Li’s ongoing eight-day four-country tour, which will also take him to Kazakhstan, Latvia and Russia.