US threatens more Turkey sanctions if pastor not freed

Turkey denies American pastor’s appeal, decides to hit the US with tariffs instead

Turkey slapped another round of steep tariffs on USA goods as the two countries escalate their trade battle and push the relationship to a breaking point.

The U.S. dollar has risen against major currencies for several months, with the dollar index.DXY up almost 8 percent over the last four months.

Qatar pledged on Wednesday 15 billion (Dh 55bn) of direct investment into Turkey, amid a diplomatic spat between Ankara and Washington that has triggered a Turkish currency crisis. The decree also doubled tariffs on American cosmetics, rice, and coal, among other imports.

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".

On Aug. 15, 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. Turkey retaliated with some $533 million of tariffs on some USA imports - including cars, tobacco and alcoholic drinks - and said it would boycott US electronic goods, singling out Iphones.

However, Vestel has only a tiny share of the market and it is uncertain how a boycott will be put into practice.

"This visit, at the same time, is an indicator that Qatar stands with Turkey", Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesperson for the Turkish president, told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday.

"We got somebody out for him", Trump said.

Ankara's central bank took actions to reinforce the currency on August 15 and squeezed the Turkish lira's liquidity from the market.

But analysts say such measures are artificial stop-gaps and do not deal with the core issues hurting Turkey's economy - especially inflation approaching some 16 percent - which are crying out for a sharp interest rate hike.

"Turkey will emerge stronger from these (currency) fluctuations", Albayrak was quoted by state-run TRT television as saying during the conference call. Russian Federation has expressed its solidarity, although what steps Moscow might take are uncertain.

But she added: "Turkey's economic problems - those are a part of a long-term trend, something of its own making and not the result of any actions the United States has taken".

A senior Halkbank executive was jailed for 32 months for taking part in a scheme to help Iran avoid USA sanctions in May, but Mr Albayrak played down the risk of the bank itself being slapped with fines.

"President Trump's imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum is about protecting American national security", the spokesperson said.

Leading Turkish business groups have warned that tighter monetary policy is needed to stabilise the Turkish lira and disputes should be resolved via diplomacy, Hurriyet Daily News has reported.

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