Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

Turkey Boosts Tariffs Amid US Feud

The Turkish government has been scrambling to minimise the impact of the devaluation of the lira The Turkish government has been scrambling to minimise the impact of the devaluation of the lira
Russell Knight | 15 August, 2018, 19:33

The country's Official Gazette announced on Wednesday the higher tariffs on a series of products including rice, vehicles, alcohol, coal and cosmetics.

The president issued a rallying cry for unity to resist what he has described as an economic war waged by the US.

The BBC Turkey correspondent Mark Lowen said Mr Erdogan's boycott could stoke tensions with the United States further - and Turks are waiting nervously for Mr Trump's response.

The tariff increases followed Donald Trump's decision last week to double United States tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium, deepening Turkey's economic crisis. "If [the US] has the iPhone, there's Samsung on the other side", Erdogan was reported as saying.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the U.S. had seen "no evidence that Pastor Brunson has done anything wrong". He added that US electronics would have sanctions placed on them.

The lira firmed as far as 5.75 against the dollar on Wednesday and stood at 6.08 at 0943 GMT in a move initially triggered by the Turkish court decision on the Greek soldiers who faced espionage charges.

Under the decree, Turkey will raise up to 100 percent or more on imports of US -origin products.

Investors are anxious not only about Turkey's souring relations with the U.S., a longtime North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, but also Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's economic policies and the country's high debt accumulated in foreign currencies. On Wednesday, a Turkish court in the Aegean province of Izmir, where Brunson is on trial, rejected the pastor's appeal to be released from house arrest.

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Erdoğan and Trump are locked in a dispute about the U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson, who was arrested nearly two years ago and accused of plotting against the Turkish government. In addition, the US has placed sanctions on two Turkish ministers over the arrest of an American pastor who is charged with having links to terrorism.

Erdogan says Turkey is the target of an economic war, and has made repeated calls for Turks to sell their dollars and euros to shore up the national currency.

Turkey has increased tariffs on some United States imports, including cars, alcohol and tobacco, as the diplomatic row between Ankara and Washington escalates.

The Turkish central bank has pledged to take "all necessary measures" to stabilize the country's economy to make sure the banks have all the money they need.

"Surely, Moscow might be happy to exploit this crisis especially as calls for boycotting iPhones could easily escalate to demands for reduced military cooperation, for example, with regard to Incirlik [Air Base] or other US-NATO facilities in Turkey at a time when Washington still doesn't have an ambassador there".

"We view the policy of sanctions as unlawful and illegitimate, driven mostly by a desire to dominate everywhere and in everything, dictate policies and call shots in global affairs", Lavrov said.

Lavrov, alongside Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, also declared, "We are at a turning point, without exaggeration, in world history" from dominance by a single power toward a multipolar environment.

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