Silk Road Legal Cooperation Network (SR Legal Co-op Net)
We are an independent think tank of professionals in law and related fields who advocate promoting legal cooperation among countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) towards advancing its benefits for business and development.
What we mean by "legal cooperation" is the harmonization of cross-border legal, regulatory and administrative procedures relating to trade and investment among the BRI participating countries.
Silk Road Legal Co-op Net is a pro bono initiative of LexEcon Consulting Group - a legal consulting company with a global reach. LexEcon is the recipient of the title "Most Innovative Global Legal Consultancy 2019" awarded by AI Global Media Ltd, UK.
Why legal cooperation along the Belt and Road?
As the BRI continues to develop, in addition to strengthening hard infrastructure, i.e. physical connectivity via good quality transportation networks, there is a growing need for soft infrastructure as well, i.e. connectivity in legal infrastructure; efficient trade facilitation via effective border administration, the use of ICT, etc.
In such a context, it has become necessary to discuss the ways and means of promoting cross-border legal cooperation along the Belt and Road so as to build the enabling legal environment and a stable legal foundation for the BRI. A stable legal foundation would consist of a framework of rules and systems capable of providing better legal support and safeguards across borders for the BRI, i.e., a harmonised legal regime, based on the principles of fairness, transparency and non-discrimination.
The Statement of the Co-Chairs of the Forum on the Belt and Road Legal Cooperation (3 July 2018, Beijing, China) recommends that "all parties participating in the BRI develop multi-level, multi-channel and comprehensive legal cooperation by exploring the establishment of cooperation mechanisms, identifying priorities through consultation, making action plans progressively, solving legal issues effectively and building consensus constantly, in order to lay a solid legal foundation for the BRI".
To facilitate the development of a solid legal foundation for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) enabling all participating countries to harness its growth potential towards achieving sustainable development in all dimensions – economic, social, cultural and environmental.
What we do (Objectives)
1. To engage in a policy dialogue and communication on:
(a) the strengthening of legal cooperation and exchanges along the Belt and Road aimed at developing a green, carbon neutral and sustainable BRI.
(b) leveraging the development benefits of the BRI towards realizing the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
(c) the digitalization of BRI, making innovations in existing forms of trade, trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, increasing market access, and gradually reducing and eliminating barriers to trade and investment along the Belt and Road.
2. To provide a platform for sharing knowledge, data, and analysis relating to:
(a) legal and regulatory issues and aspects of jointly building the Belt and Road in its five priority areas of policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds; and
(b) promoting cooperation along the Belt and Road in the enforcement of laws relating to trade, investment, financing, taxation, transportation, intellectual property rights, environmental protection, labor, anti-terrorism, the fight against transnational crimes, etc.
3. To promote awareness of the importance of ratifying the following international Convention and Agreements by all countries participating in the BRI as a means of achieving harmonised trade facilitation (including digital trade facilitation) along the Belt and Road:
(b) the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific by all UNESCAP member countries participating in the BRI. This Framework Agreement is a UN treaty deposited with the Secretary General of the United Nations in New York, which aims at accelerating the implementation of digital trade facilitation measures by 53 member States of the UNESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific); and
(c) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by countries who are yet to ratify it and to expedite the implementation of provisions relating to digital trade facilitation mechanisms.
4. To perform functions as a joint research network for the purpose of providing support and policy recommendations on building a stable legal foundation for the BRI; and
5. To organize outreach activities for advancing legal cooperation along the Belt and Road.