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Coronavirus accelerating digital transformation: SCO Secretary-General

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Islamabad:  The coronavirus pandemic has incurred enormous damage to public health and global economy, but at the same time it has also brought new opportunities by accelerating the process of digital transformation in all sectors, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Secretary-General Vladimir Norov has said.

Norov was speaking at the inaugural plenary of four-day 23rd Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) titled: Sustainable Development in the Times of COVID-19, inaugurated by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in Islamabad on Monday.

The SCO Secretary-General said the digital economy and cross-border e-commerce will play an increasingly important role in rebuilding the world economy after the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of achieving economic growth, increasing the competitiveness of economies and improving the quality of lives thus contributing to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the SDPI said in a statement.

He said that in times of the pandemic, global online retail sales are on the rise, and additional jobs are being created.

“The SCO member countries see stability in Afghanistan as a need for regional peace and economic development,” Norov said, adding that Afghanistan share borders with four SCO member states and its stability is crucial for peace and development of the entire region.

Beijing-headquartered SCO is an eight-member economic and security bloc. India and Pakistan were admitted into the grouping in 2017. Its founding members include China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Norav said that this year’s SCO Summit concluded while finalising an action plan for the implementation of the SCO development strategy 2025, which focuses on the early recovery of our economies from the pandemic.

Ambassador Shafqat Kakakhel, the chairperson of SDPI Board of Governors, in his welcome address, said since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, this deadly disease has affected over 65 million people and killed half a million, including doctors, nurses, and other medical staff.

He said efforts to contain the spread of the virus through lockdowns restricting all kinds of human activities have led to huge financial losses. Industrial production and trade, travel within and across countries, tourism, educational and cultural activities and normal health care facilities have been disrupted.

These measures have impeded socio-economic development, accelerated unemployment, deepened poverty, disrupted food supply chain and threat to food security in many regions, he said.

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