Published: Thu, August 16, 2018
Money | By Armando Alvarado

US Condemns Turkey's New 'Regrettable' Tariffs

US Condemns Turkey's New 'Regrettable' Tariffs

Ankara has imposed additional tariffs on US products, including rice, cars, alcohol, coal, and cosmetics, according to the decision announced in Turkey's official journal that publishes legislative and executive actions.

The United States on Wednesday ruled out removing steel tariffs that have contributed to a currency crisis in Turkey if Ankara frees a USA pastor, as Qatar pledged US$15 billion in investment to Turkey, supporting a rise in the Turkish lira.

Relations between the two NATO allies have plummeted in one of their worst crises in decades as Trump tries to secure the release of Brunson, an evangelical pastor from North Carolina being tried in Turkey on espionage and terrorism-related charges.

President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have repeatedly urged Turkey to release Brunson, with the US levying sanctions against two Turkish ministers over his detainment.

As President Recep Tayyip Erdogan intensified a diplomatic feud with his USA counterpart Donald Trump with a spate of new import tariffs, the nation's banking regulator published new rules that have so far succeeded at lifting the lira off record lows. Ankara retaliated on Wednesday by doubling tariffs on some USA imports including cars, alcohol and tobacco.

Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay wrote on Twitter that the doubling of tariffs was done "under the principle of reciprocity", in response to America's "conscious attacks on our economy".

The punitive steps come after Erdogan called on Turks to boycott American electronics, like the iPhone, which have in any case become a lot more expensive as the lira lost nearly 40 per cent of its value this year.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has found a benefactor to help pull Turkey from the brink of a financial crisis as Qatar promised to invest US$15 billion in the country.

President Erdogan jailed Brunson almost two years ago following a military coup attempt, arguing Brunson has ties to the coup plotters.

Turkey to raise tariffs on U.S. goods
For one more time, Erdogan called on Turks to convert US dollars into lira in order to "maintain the dignity" of the currency . The tariff increases come amid Trump's concerns over an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, imprisoned in Turkey since 2016.

The White House said on Tuesday President Donald Trump was frustrated that Turkey had not released Brunson. The cost of insuring Turkey's sovereign debt against default - already higher than Pakistan and Greece - increased as the standoff between Turkey and the USA worsened.

In a press briefing, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said, "The tariffs that are in place on steel would not be removed with the release of Pastor Brunson". In 2017, the United States exported $9.7 billion dollars in goods to Turkey, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Turkey's banking sector remained strong and liquid and the measures taken to support the market have started to show impact, Turkey's Akbank chief executive said and added there were was no withdrawal of deposits.

Brunson's lawyer, İsmail Cem Halavurt, filed the demand on August 14 around a week after his previous appeal was rejected by the Turkish court in the western province of İzmir.

Mr Erdogan has said Turkey is the target of an economic war, and made repeated calls for Turks to sell their dollars and euros.

Andrew Brunson has been at the heart of the ongoing fight after the USA sanctioned two top Turkish officials for his continued detention, and Turkey's vow to retaliate, even as its currency plummets. "The tariffs are specific to national security".

As NPR explained in a primer on the dispute, much of the ill will shared by Turkey and the US stems not only from the back-and-forth on tariffs, but also from a diplomatic dust-up centered on two men of faith. That fueled a relatively high rate of economic growth-7 percent previous year. The Turkish leader has consolidated power after a failed coup attempt in the summer of 2016, not long before America's presidential election.

The lira was trading at 6.3 to the dollar, a gain in value on the day of 0.8 percent.

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