Monday, 20 August, 2018

Turkey's Erdogan condemns 'shameful' USA over detained pastor

American pastor living in Izmir Turkey American pastor living in Izmir Turkey. More
Patty Aguilar | 12 August, 2018, 10:53

In a tweet, Trump cited the decline in Turkish currency as justification for increasing tariffs to 50 percent on Turkish steel and 20 percent on Turkish aluminum.

Erdogan has downplayed the currency crisis, urging Turks to convert any stashed-away gold or foreign currency into lira, thereby waging a "war of independence" against America.

The plunge in the Turkish lira could not have come at a worse time.

The United States is the biggest destination for Turkish steel exports with 11 percent of the Turkish export volume.

Investors have become increasingly concerned with the faltering Turkish economy, its central bank's willingness to respond to the downturn and the impact it could have on global financial markets, according to multiple reports. Earlier it had fallen as much as 22 per cent. "Look at what we were 16 years ago and look at us now", a reference to his terms as prime minister and president.

The energy sector dropped 0.8 per cent and the financial sector lost 0.5 per cent.

USA investment bank Goldman Sachs alarmed investors with an assessment that a further drop in the lira to 7.1 to the dollar "could largely erode" the excess capital of Turkish banks. "It is a national fight", he said. "This will be the response to those who have declared an economic war". Speaking in the northeastern province of Gumushane, Erdogan said, "Apparently, those who believe they can force us to capitulate don't know [our] people at all".

Turkey remains at loggerheads with the USA in one of the worst spats between two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies in years over the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson and a host of other issues.

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Trump stated in an inflammatory tweet that the Turkish lira was weak against "our very strong dollar", adding that "US relations with Turkey are not good at this time". Turkey's national tender has already fallen more than 40% in the past year, and this is the first time ever that it took more than 6 lira to buy a dollar. "The dollar, the mollar, will not cut our path", said Erdogan, using a figure of speech he repeatedly uses to mock something.

He also said Turkey had alternatives, "from Iran, to Russian Federation, to China and some European countries".

It added that Trump's remarks were "not possible to reconcile with state seriousness".

Iran has also suffered a major tumbling of its currency this year partly over the reimposition of U.S. sanctions after Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal. But experts argue that the central bank should instead raise interest rates to ease inflation and to support the currency.

It could impose capital controls on forex transfers or even call on the International Monetary Fund for bailout help, although economists regard the former an extreme measure with only marginal probability and the latter unlikely given one of Mr Erdogan's proudest achievements was paying off all of Turkey's International Monetary Fund debt in 2013.

The move against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government also highlights the disconnect between Turkey and the U.S.as they fail to negotiate their way out of an array of conflicts.

While Turkey and the United States are at odds over a host of issues, the most pressing disagreement for Trump has been the fate of American Christian pastor Andrew Brunson, who is on trial on terrorism charges for allegedly supporting a group that Ankara blames for a failed coup in 2016. The central bank noted that Spain's BBVA, Italy's UniCredit and France's BNP Paribas all have significant exposure to Turkish debt and that a crashing lira could affect repayment of foreign currency loans.

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