On 24-25 June 2021, the CAREC Institute Deputy Director One Dr. Liang Ziqian was invited by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the founding of the SCO to discuss post-pandemic reality and cooperation opportunities between SCO and CAREC.
Out of 11 CAREC members, six are also SCO members, two are observers, and one is a dialogue partner with Tajikistan as the current holder of the rotating presidency of the SCO.
Dr. Liang stressed that trade is an engine for economic development and an important means of achieving the UN SDGs. The global trade share of the CAREC members (excluding the PRC) remains below 1%. The main reasons include poor access to global markets, limited economic diversification, and insufficient instruments for trade facilitation in most of CAREC. He stressed the importance of trade facilitation mechanisms, such as FTAs, and economic corridor development to diversify options in all directions.
He also touched on the topic of rapid technological change and digitalization noting that the Fourth Industrial Revolution has already had a profound impact on the global trade, economic growth, and social progress. This impact became even more obvious when traditional trade mode failed to operate during the COVID-19 crisis. Digital trade has generated trillions of dollars in economic activity in recent years and continues to accelerate globally. However, the CAREC region has not fully benefited from the trend. Lagging regulations, insufficient digital infrastructure in some member countries, and fragmented governance are examples of roadblocks from realizing the potential.
Further, Dr. Liang provided an overview of the CAREC Institute research on climate change, e-commerce, fintech, and invited to conduct more joint research with other institutions on the topics of digitalization, economic corridors, etc. to provide policy makers and practitioners with evidence-based findings. He also offered the Institute as a capacity building and knowledge sharing platform to exchange insights.