Kazakhstan Urges Streamlined Customs Procedures to Boost E-Commerce Growth in SCO Region

ASTANA – Kazakh Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov called on to simplify customs procedures to support the development of e-commerce, one of the promising areas within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), at the 22nd meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the SCO member states on Oct. 26 in Bishkek, reported the Prime Minister’s press service.

Alikhan Smailov. Photo credit: primeminister.kz

“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,” Smailov stated.

For this purpose, he offered 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.

Another focal point is creating an extensive transport network, the Prime Minister highlighted, referring to Kazakhstan’s participation in the global Belt and Road Initiative, which unlocks the potential of the East-West and North-South transport corridors alongside the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route.

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.

The Prime Minister stressed the importance of strengthening investment cooperation, referencing President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s initiative to create the SCO Investment Fund and urging the SCO Business Council and the Interbank Consortium to play an active role.

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

Speaking about tourism development, the Prime Minister 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.

Smailov stated intraregional trade within SCO has grown almost 100-fold over more than 20 years. In 2022, Kazakhstan’s trade turnover with the SCO countries increased by about 20% to $61 billion.

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

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