Trump doubles tariffs on Turkey, stoking jitters

An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai China. Aly Song Reuters  File

The new tariff threat targeting Ankara comes as bilateral tensions have risen over the detention and trial in Turkey of USA pastor Andrew Brunson, 50.

Speaking to supporters in the Black Sea province of Rize late on Thursday, Erdogan brushed off concerns over the currency as campaigns against Turkey. I am calling on those in America again. In the article, he said that Washington used 5,000 trucks and 2,000 cargo planes to deliver weapons to the Syrian branch of an "armed group that is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Turkish citizens since 1984 and that is designated a terrorist group by the U.S". In early Asian trading Monday, the lira fell to a record low of 7.06 against the dollar.

The two North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies have been at odds over a wide range of issues: diverging interests in Syria, Ankara's ambition to buy Russian defence systems and more recently the case of Andrew Brunson, an evangelical pastor on trial in Turkey.

President Tayyip Erdogan told Turks to exchange gold and hard currency into lira on Friday, framing Turkey's currency crisis as a "national battle" against economic enemies. In doing this, he said, "we fight this war of independence.This is the language they understand".

"If there are dollars under your pillow, take these out". If there are euros, take these out.

At its lowest level lira traded at 6.801 against the USA dollar - a considerable decline from 5.54 at the end of the Wall Street trading on Thursday.

"Interest rates should be kept to a minimum because they are a tool of exploitation that makes the poor poorer and the rich richer", he said.

Relations between Washington and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also have worsened because of the detention of three locally employed USA consular workers, trade matters and differences over Syria.

Washington slapped sanctions on Turkey's interior and justice ministers this week, angering Ankara which responded with the tit-for-tat move, with Turkey saying they will freeze the assets of the United States "justice and interior ministers" last week.

It is possible that Trump cited the lira's decline as a mere pretense for pressuring Turkey to release the American pastor.

Mr Erdogan said although the nations had been allies for decades, Turkey "now has alternatives".

In an opinion piece in the New York Times, he warned the USA that Ankara had other alternatives as allies.

He indicated Turkey's relationship with Washington was imperiled.

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

The US president revealed the action on Friday as he noted how the Turkish lira "slides rapidly downward" against the "very strong" US dollar.

According to Bloomberg, President Trump has jeopardized the United States' alliance with Turkey by doubling the tariffs he already imposed on Turkish steel and aluminum imports in an effort to punish Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for detaining American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who allegedly participated in a failed coup.

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