ANKARA, July 25 (Xinhua) -- The upcoming BRICS summit presents an important opportunity for its member countries and Turkey to develop closer cooperation, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.
Before heading to South Africa, Erdogan made the remarks during a press conference at Ankara airport, adding that the BRICS member countries have contributed in the last decade to 50 percent of the global economic growth.
The five BRICS countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, seen by analysts as rising challengers to established Western economies, will hold the group's latest summit in Johannesburg, largest city of South Africa.
Turkey is not a member of the BRICS, but Erdogan will attend a special session of the event in his capacity as the current chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Turkish presidency said in a statement.
This visit came after Erdogan's election victory last month, which granted him extra executive power and another five-year presidential term after Turkey's political system shifted to a presidential one.
The Turkish president will be accompanied by a delegation of economic and political high-ranking officials as he will discuss means and ways to further maximize economic and political ties with the BRICS.
As part of his visit, the Turkish leader is also due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the summit, according to the statement.
Russia and Turkey's cooperation has significantly increased in recent years and the two countries work together on Syrian issues to find a peaceful solution to the crisis lingering at Turkey's border since 2011.
The Turkish presidency described Erdogan's participation in the summit as Turkey's "first high-level contact" with the BRICS members.
In this context, South African Ambassador to Turkey Pule Malefane stressed the significance of Erdogan's visit to Johannesburg in enhancing bilateral ties.
"It is not by accident that President Erdogan was invited to the BRICS summit," Malefane told local newspaper Daily Sabah.
"Turkey is regarded as a strategic ally in strengthening South-to-South relations and Agenda 2063, which is a strategic vision of the African Union," he said.
"The invitation extended to President Erdogan for this summit is very important. It shows that both parties are willing to interact and cooperate more," said Altay Atli, an Istanbul-based academic and writer specializing in international political economy.
Turkey's trade with BRICS countries reached 60.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, with 7.3 billion dollars in exports and 53.4 billion dollars in imports, according to Turkey's statistical authority TurkStat.
BRICS countries account for 26 percent of the world's land mass and are home to 46 percent of the world's population and approximately 23 percent of the global GDP.
Ankara has expressed keenness to participate in some of the BRICS institutions, notably the New Development Bank, which was officially opened in 2015 in Shanghai, China's main financial hub.
Former Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said last year that Turkey was "seriously considering" being a member of the bank in order to benefit from its projects and resources.