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China Proposes Free Trade Zone Between SCO Members

Premier Wen Jiabao Tuesday proposed setting up a free trade zone within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Wen raised the proposal with Kazakh Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Nikolai Tanayev, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, Tajik Prime Minister Akil Akilov and Uzbek Prime Minister Utkur Sultanov at the SCO talks held yesterday in Beijing.

Wen said the main aim of yesterday's meeting was to work out how to follow through on the organization's Moscow Summit in May, and to push for further cooperation across the board.

The leaders signed a framework agreement on multilateral economic cooperation among SCO's six member countries. They also released a joint communique at the conclusion of their consultations.

The framework agreement aims to deepen economic cooperation among SCO members and improve their investment environment, according to the joint communique.

The six countries will further facilitate trade and investment, cooperate on transport and disaster relief and prevention, says the joint communique.

Wen, who chaired yesterday's meeting, also proposed improving the flow of goods within the SCO and reducing non-tariff barriers in customs, quarantine, standards and transport services.

He further suggested the organization pursue some large projects promoting economic and technological cooperation. SCO should give priority to the transport, energy, telecommunications, agriculture, home appliance, light industry and textile sectors, Wen said.

The joint communique says the organization has become an important means of safeguarding safety and stability in Central Asia and promoting development among its members.

The prime ministers of the SCO member countries have reached a consensus on how to further develop consultations in future and on how to implement multilateral cooperation in various fields.

The prime ministers yesterday signed agreements on the organization's budget for next year as well as rules and regulations on salary, benefits and allowances for staff members of the SCO permanent body. They signed off on the establishment of a regional anti-terrorism body and its staffing and inked a memorandum of understanding on the SCO permanent body.

The leaders will hold their next round of talks next year in Bishkek, capital of Tajikistan.

President Hu Jintao met with Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Russian, Tajikistan and Uzbek prime ministers yesterday afternoon.

The Russian and Central Asian leaders also held a separate meeting with Wen yesterday afternoon.

(China Daily September 24, 2003)

PMs Meet for Talks on Regional Cooperation
SCO PMs to Gather in Beijing for Second Consultation
Shanghai Cooperation Organization Develops Steadily
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