India signs critical agreements at SCO summit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the annual meeting of the Council of Heads of States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at Qingdao in China; This marked India’s first participation since becoming a full-time member of the bloc in 2017

June 11, 2018

The SCO was set up in 2001 in Shanghai by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan joined the SCO as full members in 2017 at a summit in Kazakhstan

The latest gathering of SCO leaders offered India an opportunity to bolster ties with its extended neighbours; India has a long history of bilateral interactions with China and other SCO member

India, China signed critical agreements on the sidelines of the summit; They relate to expansion of Indian rice export to China and sharing of hydrological information on Brahmaputra river

Following the summit, President Xi suggested that India and China should target annual bilateral trade of US$100 billion by 2020. Bilateral trade was US$89.6 billion in financial year 2017-18

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the annual meeting of the Council of Heads of States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at Qingdao in China over June 9-10. This year marked india’s first participation since becoming  a full-time member of the Eurasian political, economic, and security organisation last year. The SCO was set up in 2001 in Shanghai by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan joined the SCO as full members in 2017 at a summit in Astana, Kazakhstan. The latest gathering of leaders of the SCO member states offered India an opportunity to bolster ties with its extended neighbours. India has a long history of trade and cultural interactions with China and other SCO member states. So much so that people-to-people exchanges spanning thousands of years in the region have helped in shaping modern diplomatic relations.

Joining the SCO alliance has provided India greater space and opportunities for varied exchanges and cooperation. On the sidelines of the summit, the Indian delegation led by PM Modi held critical bilateral meetings with the heads of SCO states, including one with Xi Jinping, the President of China. The meetings led to signing of a number of agreements with the SCO member states, including the host nation, China. Improved bilateral interactions will be a win-win situation for China and India to further explore and develop wider trade, investment and cultural exchanges. Following the summit, President Xi suggested that India and China should target annual bilateral trade of US$100 billion by 2020. Bilateral trade between the nations was pegged at around US$89.6 billion during the financial year 2017-18. Lately, the nations have sought to strike a balance in trade deficit that would encourage future trade.

The nations also entered into agreement to expand Indian rice export to China from beyond the premium Basmati to other rice varieties. China also agreed to share hydrological information on the Brahmaputra river with India. The latest agreements from the SCO summit, which come weeks after PM Modi and President Xi held an informal bilateral summit at Wuhan in China’s Hubei province. The developments can be seen as a turning point in diplomatic and economic relations between the two neighbours. Herein the SCO platform is vital for building regional confidence as it represents about 42 per cent of the world’s population, 20 per cent of its GDP and 22 per cent of the landmass. The main objectives of the SCO are to promote cooperation in political affairs, economics, human resource building, culture, environment protection as well as regional development, peace and security.