This article, Beyond the BRICs: Alternative Strategies of Influence in the Global Politics of Development, and the case studies it introduces is a first approach at examining sytematically the emergence of a group of countries ‘beyond the BRICs’. We have argued that focusing too much attention on the BRICs risks missing the emergence of a second tier of rising economies with significant influence on the global politics of development.
On the basis of case studies of South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and Mexico, we have identified four modes of international engagement that are evidenced in the subsequent papers: issue leadership, region organising, opportunity seeking and region mobilising. The particular strategy(ies) these countries use to cement their rising economic position and to exert international influence are varied, and depend on their particular circumstances and national characteristics.
- The special issue unfolds as follows.
Following this introduction, Roberto Patricio Korzeniewicz's paper contextualises the case studies by examining the long-term global trends in per capita income and inequality between nations. Korzeniewicz identifies a small number of economic risers beyond India and China, while also demonstrating the persistence of a stark overall stratification between high-income countries and those trying to catch up.
- The next five papers illustrate distinct strategies of international engagement through case studies of South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and Mexico.
The first one focuses on regionally bounded strategies of influence. Padraig Carmody's paper examines on South Africa's political and economic role within sub-Saharan Africa, particularly within NEPAD (The New Partnership for Africa's Development) and other regional governance initiatives. It explores the political economy of South African private and public geogovernance and its impacts on the sub-continent to identify the strategies of regional engagement pursued by the South African state. Ultimately, the paper argues that the nature of South Africa's influence within the region depends on how the country deals with its own internal developmental contradictions, especially those related to domestic distributional conflicts, and the country's position vis-à-vis China.
The next set of three papers focuses on global strategies of engagement. South Korea has recently joined the group of industrialised nations, becoming a member of the OECD and the G20. However, its experience as a developing country remains within memory, and Korea has attempted to position itself as a broker between developing and developed world. However, as Thomas Kalinowski and Hyekyung Cho argue in their paper, the country's engagement with the developing world, for example through its fast rising ODA and promotion of the ‘Seoul Development Consensus’, has been problematic. The model of development promoted by Korea is ‘cherry picked’ from selective elements of its development history, customised to cater to Korea's current economic interests abroad.
Similarly, Fulya Apaydin's paper puts the analytical spotlight on ODA, and more generally on the role of non-state actors and recipient states, when exploring Turkey's involvement in the global politics of development. Over the last decade, the country has become a significant source of aid to Less Developed Countries (LDCs). The paper shows that Turkish ODA exhibits a curious variation. In some LDCs, as exemplified by Sudan, Turkish state agencies systematically cooperate with Islamic philanthropy organisations in the provision of development aid, whereas in other developing countries, most prominently Kazakhstan, such public–private cooperation is rare. Apaydin's explanatory argument suggests that the regime type and official ideology of recipient states are to a large extent responsible for these distinct patterns of Turkish ODA provision.
Eduard Jordaan's contribution examines how South Africa exercises influence within the global politics of development. It argues that, for South Africa, a key channel of influence is to work through multilateral institutions, both at the regional and the international level. Specifically, the paper compares South Africa's main strategies of engagement within the UN, the WTO and the India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum. The paper shows that across these different organisations, South Africa's international engagement remains torn between support for the declared values of the global economic order and loyalty to other developing countries. Jordaan highlights the role played by domestic political factors, in particular distributional conflicts and the re-racialisation of politics, in shaping South Africa's often contradictory foreign policy.
The final paper serves as a cautionary tale. Not all economic risers manage to establish greater international influence. Mexico, for much of the twentieth century an issue leader among developing countries and a regional organiser in the context of Latin America, is a point in case here. Ken Shadlen's paper is a case study of Mexico's response to the TRIPS Agreement. It analyses why the country constitutes a major exception among industrialising countries when it comes the intellectual property rights. Mexico has strengthened patents for incremental innovation and does not engage in compulsory licensing in the pharmaceutical sector, significantly diminishing the country's capacity to provide accessible healthcare. The paper argues that Mexico's puzzling behaviour is linked to the fact that the NAFTA-driven economic integration eroded the basis for possible state-business coalitions in favour of intellectual property rights reforms.
Taken together, this collection of papers argues that there is a set of countries beyond Brazil, India and China that are emerging to a position of increased international prominence and which merit greater attention than they have hitherto received. If we wish to understand the global politics of development, it is important to recognise the ways in which these countries are responding to their economic growth and seeking to secure greater influence within global affairs.
We identify four such strategies – issue leadership, opportunity seeking, region organising and region mobilising – and highlight the importance of understanding the domestic politics and global embeddedness of each country in seeking to understand why a state adopts a particular strategy. On the basis of this analysis, we show that there is space for incremental changes within the global political order, and that this change is to an important extent propelled by countries emerging ‘beyond the BRICs’.
- Readers can access the introductory essay and the chapters mentioned above in this special issue of The European Journal of Development Research (dated Volume 24, Issue 2, April 2012) here.