Turkey Counterpunches By Raising Tariffs On U.S. Goods

Ivan Schwartz
August 16, 2018

The two countries also remain at odds over an American pastor who is now under house arrest in Turkey facing terrorism charges.

Washington warned more economic pressures may be in store for Turkey if it refuses to release Brunson, a White House official said on August 15. The tariffs that the United States placed on Turkey were out of national security interest.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said "the tariffs from Turkey are certainly regrettable and a step in the wrong direction".

"We are going to continue to call on Turkey to do the right thing and release those individuals".

"The import duties were increased on some products, under the principle of reciprocity, in response to the U.S. administration's deliberate attacks on our economy", Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said, according to numerous translations of a tweet he sent in Turkish.

A decree signed by Erdogan doubled Turkish tariffs on passenger cars to 120 percent, on alcoholic drinks to 140 percent and on leaf tobacco to 60 percent.

As a court in the western Turkish city of Izmir rejected a new appeal to free Brunson on Wednesday, spoksman Kalin said the U.S. needs to be respectful of the judicial procedures in Turkey.

Only one U.S. measure directly affects Turkey's economy: Trump's decision to increase tariffs on the import of Turkish steel and aluminum.

Ankara said it will impose extra tariffs on imports of products including rice, vehicles, alcohol, coal and cosmetics.

Meanwhile Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that Ankara is ready to discuss its ongoing issues with the United States as long as there are no threats.

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He again described the currency crisis as an attack on Turkey and said that a lack of a run on the banks indicated that an alleged conspiracy had been successfully "repelled".

Earlier in the week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked Turkish citizens to boycott the use of American technology like iPhones in response to USA tariffs levied late last week.

Turkey's central bank has promised to provide banks with liquidity. The currency's climb followed retaliatory tariffs by Ankara against United States goods including rice, coal and cars.

"President Erdogan appears to be playing a unsafe game if he thinks he can come out on top in this spat with the United States", he commented. Brunson is now on trial and held on house arrest, with few indications that Turkish officials intend to comply with the demands - despite USA sanctions that were leveled against them two weeks ago.

Erdogan has warned Turkey could seek alternative partners, pointing to Ankara s strong ties with Russia, Iran and China.

The lira extended gains to 6 per cent after Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Bin Al Thani made the pledge after a 3-1/2-hour meeting with Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday.

Following the latest announcement, Turkey's presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin has called on the U.S.to engage in diplomacy.

The turmoil has raised fears of a looming economic crisis in Turkey and prompted alarm that foreign investors in the country, including Qatar, could be hit in the fallout.

That hasn't prevented Turkish officials from continuing to press their perceived leverage in Brunson.

Other reports by GizPress

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