Turkey doubles tariffs on some USA goods amid rising tensions

15 August, 2018, 17:55 | Author: Brooke Harris
  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he delivers a speech to Turkish ambassadors at the Presidential Palace in Turkey. AP

A decree published in Turkey's official gazette and signed by President Tayyip Erdogan doubled the tariffs on passenger cars to 120%, on alcoholic drinks to 140% and on leaf tobacco to 60%. Other affected products include fruit, coal, paper and rice.

The government announced the tariffs "under the principle of reciprocity", following sanctions imposed by Washington over the detention of an American pastor, which has sent the lira tumbling to record lows against the dollar.

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.

It was unclear whether Erdogan's call for Turks to sell dollars would be widely heeded, but a Turkish news agency said traders in Istanbul's historic Eminonu district converted $100,000 into lira on Tuesday.

Turkey has doubled tariffs on some USA imports, such as cars, alcohol and tobacco, one day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a boycott of iPhones. "The pressure is going to keep up if we're not seeing results".

Turkey is increasing tariffs on imports of United States products, escalating a feud that has also triggered a currency crisis.

The BBC Turkey correspondent Mark Lowen said Mr Erdogan's boycott could stoke tensions with the United States further - and Turks are waiting nervously for Mr Trump's response.

The tariffs came a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would boycott United States electronic goods, singling out iPhones. The currency has now stabilised at around 6.50 lira against the dollar. But neither side has backed down, with Erdogan invoking Turkey's past of supporting the USA in times of need, including America's war in Afghanistan.

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The United States imposed sanctions on two Turkish government ministers over the trial on terrorism charges of USA evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey, and last week Washington raised tariffs on Turkish metal exports.

"The dollar is the higher-yielding of the safe-haven currencies, so it obviously will attract the most flows".

He was also charged with supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which was designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and the U.S.

Erdogan has repeatedly described the crisis as an "economic war" that Turkey will win.

Attention will turn on Thursday to an address by the finance minister to foreign investors for clues on any change in economic policy.

How much has Turkey's currency dropped?

Earlier this month, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Turkey's ministers of Justice and Interior in response to the continued detention of the pastor, who has lived in the country for 20 years and heads an evangelical congregation of about two dozen people in the port city of Izmir.

The lira firmed as far as 5.75 against the dollar on Wednesday and stood at 6.08 at 0943 GMT in a move initially triggered by the Turkish court decision on the Greek soldiers who faced espionage charges.

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