Turkish president Erdogan rails against U.S. tariffs in media offensive

George McgeeAug 13, 2018

In a separate opinion piece in the pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah, Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey's efforts to solve the crisis with diplomatic methods have been dismissed by the Trump administration, warning that Washington might completely lose Ankara as an ally.

"If there is anyone who has dollars or gold under their pillows, they should go exchange it for liras at our banks", he said during an address to supporters.

Washington, in response, sanctioned two Turkish ministers and Mr Trump last Friday announced it was doubling the tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Turkey, saying relations with Ankara were "not good at this time".

Tensions between Turkey and the United States have been high in recent weeks due in part to North Carolina Pastor Andrew Brunson's arrest and detention in the country.

But Turkey is not manipulating its currency; the lira is falling because the country is suffering from an economic crisis.

The president, who has consolidated unprecedented power through a series of referendums, advised Turks to show solidarity by converting any stashed-away gold or foreign currency to Turkish lira in a bid to wage a "war of independence" against America.

The lira sell-off has deepened worries particularly about whether over-indebted firms will be able to pay back loans taken out in euros and dollars after years of overseas borrowing to fund a construction boom, Reuters reported. According to a source in Erdogan's office, the two said they were pleased with the positive direction in their economic and trade ties and with the ongoing cooperation in the energy and defense sectors. "Because this is the language they understand", he said.

Turkey and the US are now experiencing rocky relations following Washington's imposition of sanctions on Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul for not releasing Brunson.

In a tit-for-tat response to the U.S. sanctions, Erdogan responded by announcing that the assets in Turkey of the U.S. secretaries of "justice and interior" would be frozen.

Trump has described Brunson's detention as a "total disgrace" and urged Erdogan to free him "immediately".

"Failure to reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect will require us to start looking for new friends and allies".

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday (Aug 12) said the crash of the Turkish lira, sparked by a bitter dispute with the United States, was a "political plot" against Turkey and warned Ankara would now seek new markets and partners. "Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!".

Trump said via a tweet that the tariff on aluminium imports will be increased to 20 per cent and the tariff on steel imports will be raised to 50 per cent as the Turkish Lira "slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar!" The White House said he had authorized them under a section of USA trade law that allows for tariffs on national security grounds.

But Trump's tweet Friday may change that.

"The markets have lost confidence in the triumvirate of President Erdogan, his son-in-law as finance minister and the Turkish Central Bank's ability to act as it needs to", said Charles Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital.

"The US has to rehabilitate its addiction to sanctions (and) bullying or entire world will unite - beyond verbal condemnations - to force it to".

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