The presidents of the six member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization met with entrepreneurs from the six countries on Wednesday evening and conveyed their hope that business people could work together to promote overall prosperity in the region.
Chinese President Hu Jintao, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov and Uzbek President Islam Karimov congratulated the entrepreneurs on the newly established SCO Entrepreneurs' Committee.
The presidents are in Shanghai for the SCO's 2006 summit that begins on Thursday.
Entrepreneurs from the six SCO member states -- China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan -- gathered here on the eve of the summit to set up the committee and explore ways of enhancing regional economic cooperation.
"The establishment of the SCO Entrepreneurs' Committee is a very good platform for closer exchanges and cooperation between businesses of the six SCO economies," Hu said.
Among the SCO member states, the factors of sound economic development, complementary economic structure, improving trade and investment environment, and opening markets have created good conditions and opportunities for regional economic cooperation, he added.
"Active participation of the entrepreneurs will definitely make the SCO render substantial results in economic cooperation and bring more tangible benefits to the peoples of the member countries," Hu said.
The SCO Entrepreneurs' Committee is a non-governmental organization to promote multilateral cooperation in trade, finance, science and technology, energy, transportation, telecommunication and agriculture.
More than 140 large and medium-sized businesses from the six countries have become full members of the committee.
China will provide loans or assistance within its capacity to fund transportation, telecommunication and electricity projects so as to boost regional economic growth, Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan said on Wednesday at the launch ceremony.
About 200 entrepreneurs and officials attended the ceremony.
But Tang did not give any details about these projects or the value of China's aid.
Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Yu Guangzhou said Tuesday that some US$2 billion worth of business contracts and loan agreements are expected to be signed on the sidelines of the SCO summit.
Yu said the deals would include a highway project connecting Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, two high-voltage electricity lines in Tajikistan, a cement plant in Kyrgyzstan with a daily production of 2,500 tons, and a hydropower station in Kazakhstan.
The six SCO member countries make up 60 percent of Eurasia and their population accounts for a quarter of the world's total. The six economies reported a combined GDP of US$1.5 trillion in 2004.
To date, investment between SCO members has surged to US$15 billion, covering mainly oil and gas exploration, transportation, telecommunication, electricity, chemical industry, construction material, project contracting and agriculture.
In a bid to promote trade and economic cooperation among SCO members, China pledged in 2004 to offer US$900 million of preferential export buyer's credit to other SCO members.
China reported US$37 billion of trade with other SCO members in 2005, up 212 percent from 2001, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.
The ministry said China's actual investment in the other five SCO members totaled US$8 billion last year, four times the 2001 figure.
(Xinhua News Agency June 15, 2006)