This paper investigates what a potential BRICS membership might economically mean for Turkey in the light of the recent crisis in Turkey-USA relations. It concludes that even though Turkey may benefit a lot from substantial economic ties with the BRICS, it is an unlikely substitute for Turkey’s well-established relations with the West. Turkey’s link with the BRICS should not be about replacing its ties with the West but further strengthening them by improving Turkey’s power and importance in the global governance via alternative alliances.

M Metin Basbay 30 September 2018

According to some, a potential BRICS membership may be an alternative for Turkey to ‘supplement’ its trade and finance relations with the West and help challenge the western-dominated international economic order. This paper provides a discussion of whether this is a viable option for the country in the long run. BRICS may provide Turkey with a larger export market, alternative channels of finance, and technological cooperation to advance its industrial sophistication. This can certainly contribute to the growth trajectory and stability of Turkish economy, but the best advantage Turkey stands to gain from substantial economic ties with BRICS is political leverage from having alternatives to Western dominated institutions and alliances. However, given its current structure and capabilities, BRICS is still an unlikely substitute for Turkey’s relations with the West. The overwhelming majority of global wealth is still concentrated in the Western hemisphere where most of the international trade takes place and finance capital is controlled and directed. Therefore, Turkey should continue to benefit from advanced economies of the West in finance, trade, and innovation while improving its power through new alliances.

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