BRICS Plus and Turkey's potential

Published 28.07.2018 00:39
Updated 28.07.2018 00:54

While debates concerning the transition to a multipolar global order and trade wars intensified in international intellectual and policy circles, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan participated in a BRICS summit as the chairman of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for the first time.

The BRICS group evolved substantially since the early 2000s when the acronym was coined to highlight the growth and investment potential of leading emerging markets, i.e. Brazil, Russia, India, China and (later) South Africa. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, BRICS gradually crystallized as a high-level consultative platform that articulates reform agendas of emerging powers striving to assert their influence on the structures of global economic governance in line with the "power shift" to the global South.

The apparent discrepancy in the relative weight and influence of emerging powers in the decision making processes of multilateral institutions and their rising economic, military and technological prowess transformed the BRICS into a useful mechanism of interest articulation against the industrialized north. Despite the heterogeneous nature of its members in terms of political regimes, economic development strategies, regional and global alignments and national interest formations the increasing effectiveness of the BRICS in calling for reform of global governance were interpreted as the harbinger of a novel era in which issue-based alliances will come to the fore. Especially recent attitudes of the U.S. administration which signal a radical departure from previous commitments to the liberal international trading order and blatant messages of neo-protectionism against China rendered the BRICS group even more relevant for the future transformation of global governance.

In this context, it was important to note that following the participation of South Africa (instead of an aspiring Turkey) into the group in 2013 was followed by the launch of the BRICS Plus initiative during the Chinese Presidency in 2017. At a time when the effectiveness of G20 as a participatory platform entered into a period of decline following the Obama administration, the BRICS Plus was launched in order to constitute a new locus for the first and second generation emerging powers. While Tajikistan, Mexico, Kenya, Thailand and Egypt were invited as "guest countries" to the 2017 summit in China; the 2018 summit in Africa invited Indonesia to represent the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Egypt to represent the Group of 77, Argentina as the term president of the G20 and representative of the Mercosur trade bloc, Jamaica as the representative of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and Turkey as the representative of the OIC.

Although the BRICS group is heavily dominated by a multifaceted competition for dominance among China, India and Russia and an official endorsement for expansion is not yet on the cards, the careful selection of "guest countries and institutions" in BRICS summits signify the intention to be perceived as a truly inclusive and global consultative platform. The themes selected for the 10th summit, namely the role of BRICS in Africa in relation to shared welfare and sustainable development during the Fourth Industrial Revolution and inclusive growth for the welfare of global south are a testament to this imperative. If the BRICS countries could show the resilience to act as a solid bloc against U.S. pressure to influence the trajectory of institutional change in the United Nations, G20, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and World Trade Organization (WTO), then they might exert a determining influence on the future composition of the global order in the long term.

As far as Turkey's long-term geostrategic and geo-economic interests are concerned, maintaining close relations with the BRICS group will obviously be a crucial asset. But when it comes to Turkey's potential to join the BRICS as a full member, obviously the economic conditions today are much less favorable compared to 2013, when Turkish markets were enjoying historically low interest and inflation rates with robust growth. Currently, the Turkish economy is going through a rough patch under the impact of global liquidity contraction and the enduring impact of the post-July 15 coup process.

In the short run, a soft-landing strategy will require a comprehensive tightening of both monetary and fiscal policies and more moderate rates of growth in order to tame high inflation, interest rates and current account deficit. But in the medium-term systematic science, industry, technology, agricultural modernization policies will be required to upgrade the domestic productive potential which will make the country more attractive for the BRICS as well.

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