Shanghai Cooperation Organisation economic heft to rise after India’s inclusion, say experts

The 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit will explore ways to expand cooperation among the eight member countries in security, trade and investment and cultural exchanges, besides connectivity.

india Updated: Jun 10, 2018 08:29 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Qingdao 
Shanghai Cooperation Organisation,SCO summit,Narendra Modi
From left: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, Tajikistan President Imomali Rakhmon, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Uzbekistan's President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain pose for a photo prior to their talks at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Qingdao in China on Sunday. (AP photo)

India’s inclusion in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) will strengthen the bloc’s economic heft and people-to-people exchanges, experts have said.

The 18th SCO summit, which formally began on Sunday, will explore ways to expand cooperation among the eight member countries in security, trade and investment and cultural exchanges, besides connectivity.

“Security cooperation has been a priority for the SCO. But due to the complexity of security ties between (new members) India and Pakistan, it will take some time for the SCO to adapt to a new format to promote security,” said Li Li, senior fellow at the Institute for International Relations in Tsinghua University.

The SCO currently has eight member countries representing around 42% of the world’s population and 20% of the global GDP.

In his maiden speech at the summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely highlight challenges facing the SCO, such as counter-terrorism, but also talk about boosting trade and investment in the region.

“So in near term, more focus will be put on economic and people-to-people ties. Moreover, as another important emerging economy, India along with China and Russia can make SCO as a platform for regional economic integration,” Li said.

Given the difficult ties between India and Pakistan, terrorism is not an issue that can be easily resolved, said Wang Jin from the Charhar Institute, a think-tank.

“Terrorism is a complicated problem related with not only economic and social development but also political and cultural histories,” Wang said, indicating that focusing on all-around development will be the SCO’s focus.

“As an important international power, India’s new inclusion into SCO will surely on the one hand help consolidate the regional cooperation and trust, while on the other hand facilitate the more in-depth cooperation among different regional states.”

“The SCO can broaden its geographical area, become more inclusive of diverse cultures, represent greater interests and better promote negotiations among the countries,” said Zhang Henglong, vice-director of the Shanghai-based Public Diplomacy Institute of the SCO.

“Any member state is a great contribution to cultural diversity. India as an SCO member will surely contribute to the development of the SCO,” he added.

First Published: Jun 10, 2018 08:29 IST