Turkey says Trump tariff move will harm ties, vows retaliation

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

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

It hit arecord low after Trump announced he had authorised higher tariffs on imports from Turkey, imposing duties of 20 percent on aluminum and 50 percent on steel.

Trump tweeted that the latest tariff decision came as Turkey's currency, the lira, "slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar".

Turkey said it would respond to the new US tariff action "without delay" and warned the move would further harm relations between the two countries.

Turkey and the USA are now experiencing rocky relations following Washington's imposition of sanctions on Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul for not releasing American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who faces terrorism charges in Turkey.

Turkey vowed retaliation "without delay" and warned the move would further harm relations between the two allies. Thus, Trump's tweet suggests that any country that enters a time of economic turmoil - and consequently, sees the value of its currency fall - is a fair target for punitive trade actions by the United States.

The currency's drop - 40% so far this year - has become a gauge of fear over a country facing the fallout of years of debt-fuelled growth, global concern over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's push to amass power, and a souring in relations with allies like the US.

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The Turkish lira suffered its worst one-day loss in a decade Friday after President Donald Trump announced that the United States would hike tariffs, prompting investor confidence to slump.

"Those who have dollars, euros or gold under their pillows should go and exchange them into [Turkish] lira".

"This is a domestic and national struggle", Erdoğan said, according to The Associated Press.

Erdogan reportedly was defiant, telling worshipers after Friday prayers that Turkey "will not lose the economic war".

Erdogan, whose typical defiance in the face of the crisis has further unnerved investors, appealed to Turks' patriotism and urged support for their free-falling currency. The U.S. responded by slapping sanctions on Turkey and threatening more.

The US may also be stuck on Turkish demands to waive or minimise a treasury fine on Halkbank, a Turkish state bank involved in a court case over violating US sanctions on Iran. The currency has fallen more than 40 per cent this year, fanning worries about a full-blown economic crisis. For China, stabilizing a fellow emerging economy's currency has value, but Beijing could also benefit from becoming an economic friend to a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation state whose relationship with the West is increasingly strained.

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"The price of the food that I buy increases day by day, the fuel that I put in my vehicle to distribute lunches is more expensive, but I can not raise my prices from one day to the next, " she said.

Erdogan, a self-described "enemy of interest rates", wants cheap credit from banks to fuel growth, but investors fear the economy is overheating and could be set for a hard landing. High level meetings in Washington between USA and Turkish officials ended this week without an apparent resolution. One U.S. dollar traded at 5.96 lira by 2:15 p.m.

Independent analysts argue the central bank should instead raise rates to tame inflation and support the currency.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters in Bayburt, Turkey, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. "If they have their dollar, we have the people, we have Allah".

Turkey has had this sort of experience - a disastrous currency collapse shrinking its economy and impoverishing its citizens - several times before, most recently in February 2001.

USA patience with Turkey is seen to have ended, experts said.

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He said: "It is wrong to dare bring Turkey to its knees through threats over a pastor".

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