Is it possible to see Türkiye into BRICS?

On June 1, the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting in Cape Town, South Africa attracted a lot of attention due to the expansion of the bloc and the creation of a common currency. Now all eyes around the world are focused on the BRICS leaders’ summit in Johannesburg, South Africa on August 22-24. The new pioneers of the world’s rising, productive and multipolar order will meet at this summit.

Looking at the contributions of the G7 to the global economy and the BRICS’ contributions to the world economy, the share of BRICS in the world economy is gradually increasing. According to the IMF’s 2020 data, the share of BRICS in world GDP is 34 percent, while the share of G7 countries in world GDP is 29 percent. Many global organizations predict that this trend will continue with the same momentum in the future. According to 2028 projections, the share of BRICS in world GDP is expected to rise to 35 percent, while the share of the G7 is expected to fall to 27.8 percent. It should also be noted that the BRICS countries account for 40 percent of the world’s population (3.2 billion people), while the G7 (777 million people) is a quarter of that. In this respect, the BRICS represent a larger economy and a wider audience in the world than the G7.

At a meeting of BRICS foreign ministers in June, they underlined the need to rebalance the world by establishing a multipolar order away from the West. The de-dollarization of trade, trade in local currencies and the construction of a multipolar world will be key topics of the Johannesburg summit. At the same time, the BRICS summit is taking place at a time when Cold War logic is on the rise. It is taking place at a time when the US and NATO are trying to increase sanctions against Russia and China and escalate tensions in the Indo-Pacific. This situation triggers the summit to take more extraordinary decisions.

New Institutions and New Currency in the New World Order

With the outbreak of the 2008 crisis, the sustainability of the dollar hegemony has become a top agenda item for countries as the US has solved all crises it has faced by using its authority to print money for free. Since 2010, BRICS countries have been looking for ways to get rid of the US dollar. Rising interest rates in the West and the recent debt limit crisis in the US have raised concerns among other countries about their dollar-denominated debts and the death of the dollar if the world’s leading economy defaults. This transition has been accelerated by sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine.  At the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, leaders also voiced their desire to abolish dollar hegemony. The BRICS summit in August could mark the end of the US dollar’s 80-year reign, which began with Bretton Woods.

Trade in local currencies is already well underway within the BRICS. For example, 80 percent of trade between China and Russia is already conducted in ruble and the yuan. In Russia’s trade with India, the rupee and ruble are used for energy purchases. In short, the powers that make up 40 percent of the world and 34 percent of the world economy are currently trading among themselves without dollars or increasing their share of trade in local currencies.

At the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, the bloc is preparing to introduce a new gold-backed currency, unlike the credit-backed US dollar. Every rising power in the world builds a world order with its own institutions and its own currency. The rise of BRICS will also bring new institutions to the fore in the new world order. The necessary structure for this already exists in BRICS. The BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism was launched in 2010 to facilitate cross-border payments in local currencies between BRICS banks. BRICS countries are developing the “BRICS pay” payment system for transactions between themselves without having to convert their local currency into dollars. There is also talk of a BRICS cryptocurrency and the strategic alignment of the development of Central Bank Digital Currencies to promote currency interoperability and economic integration. Many countries are eager to join BRICS. In fact, BRICS is growing with Uruguay, Egypt and Saudi Arabia joining the New Development Bank as new members. Some 19 countries, ranging from Argentina to Mexico, Nigeria, Iran and Kazakhstan, are waiting to become members of BRICS.

Is it possible to add a “T” to BRICS?

Türkiye is an important country in global development given its young, dynamic population and emerging economy. Türkiye also has historical leadership roles dating back to the Ottoman Empire. Türkiye plays a significant role in leading and seeking to develop relations with oppressed and developing countries in the Balkans, Africa, Central Asia and many other parts of the world. The impact of this Turkish foreign policy was even reflected in Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s inauguration. State leaders from Venezuela to African countries, from the Balkan states to the Turkic states in Central Asia attended the ceremony. Türkiye is an important country that is a leader among both Muslim and Turkic states in the world. Türkiye deserves to be a strong leader in the new multipolar order. Considering Türkiye’s global interests, the question “Isn’t it time to add a T to BRICS?” is of critical importance. As the world is in a phase of global transformation, Türkiye’s participation in BRICS would give it a significant advantage.

“A new world will be established and Türkiye will take its place in this world,” Turkish Prime Minister İsmet İnönü said in his response to US President Johnson’s 1964 letter full of negative statements against Türkiye. Since 2015, Türkiye’s relations with the US and NATO have been in a deadlock over issues such as Syria, the Eastern Mediterranean, PYD/PKK, F35, S-400 and the new world order is being established under BRICS leadership. As BRICS’ influence and role in the global order grows, it would be very wise for Türkiye to take part in it. Türkiye should gain a strong position in the new international order. It is no coincidence that French President Emmanuel Macron wants to attend the BRICS summit. It is a reflection of France’s desire to seek a place for itself in an emerging new world order. Moreover, France is in conflict with its interests in Europe and Asia within NATO and in the western camp. Not only France but the whole of Europe suffers because of US interests. It is questionable how sustainable this situation is for Europe. In addition, Türkiye has a tendency to increase trade in local currencies, and it is even considered one of the leading countries in this regard. According to the IMF report in 2022, 33 percent of Türkiye’s national reserves are non-traditional reserves.  The share of yuan and ruble in Türkiye’s trade with Russia and China is increasing.

Five reasons for Türkiye to join BRICS

Türkiye has five points in common with the BRICS. The first of these is that BRICS is an association of developing countries. Türkiye is not a developed country like BRICS countries and needs to develop its industry and economy. Secondly, the BRICS are in favor of a multipolar and just world. Turkish President Erdoğan has always emphasized the need to establish a fairer world order by saying “the world is bigger than five”. The third is the union of producing countries. Türkiye’s current economic crisis is due to its lack of production and Türkiye needs to move towards production. The fourth point is that all of the BRICS countries have histories of colonization or semi-colonization. şIn other words, BRICS is a union of oppressed countries. Türkiye has never been an imperialist state since the Ottoman Empire, but an oppressed state that has been subjected to oppression and exploitation. Fifth, the populations and economies of the BRICS countries are dynamic and have a tendency to grow. Türkiye has a young and dynamic population and its economy has a tendency to grow in the future.

In 1933, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of Republic of Türkiye, said: “Look at the sun that will now rise from the east. As I see the day dawning today, so I see from afar the awakening of all the nations of the East. (…) Colonialism and imperialism will disappear from the face of the earth and will be replaced by a new age of harmony and cooperation among nations, without any difference of color, religion or race.” Atatürk was a very farsighted and revolutionary leader. He envisioned that one day, nations oppressed by the West would establish a just order and that this order would rise under the leadership of the East. Türkiye shares common values with BRICS and deserves to be the 6th leading state in BRICS because of its harmonious character between the west and the east and its historical position as a leader in the Muslim world.

Necati Demircan
Necati Demircan
Necati Demircan is a PhD candidate in Global Studies and research assistant of Center for Turkish Studies at Shanghai University. He is editor of the Belt & Road Initiative Quarterly. His articles were published by the Aydınlık newspaper, China Daily, and Hankyoreh. His research interests mainly focus on Chinese and Turkish foreign policies