White House condemns Turkey's tariffs on US imports

Turkish lira

Qatar poured funds into the country the same day Turkey doubled tariffs on some US imports, such as cars, alcohol and tobacco, one day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a boycott of iPhones.

The news comes in a statement released on Turkey's President's website following his meeting with Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Turkey is boosting tariffs on imports of certain US products, including rice, cars, alcohol, coal and cosmetics - escalating a feud with the United States that has helped trigger a currency crisis.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies the United States and Turkey have been at loggerheads over a wide range of topics including diverging interests in Syria, Ankara's ambition to buy Russian defence systems and Andrew Brunson, a pastor on trial in Turkey for terrorism charges.

The hikes were published in Turkey's Official Gazette in a decree signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey has also hiked tariffs on United States goods such as tobacco, alcohol, cars, cosmetics and others.

Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay commented on the move, stating: "Under the principle of reciprocity, the tax rates for imports of certain products have been increased against the U.S. administration's conscious attacks on our economy".

The lira TRYTOM=D3 has lost almost 40 percent against the dollar this year, driven by worries over Erdogan's growing control over the economy and his repeated calls for lower interest rates despite high inflation.

Erdogan said on Tuesday Turkey would boycott United States electronic products as the row escalated.

"Turkey's currency has bounced back from record lows after a lifeline from Qatar".

"The president has a great deal of frustration (about) the pastor not being released", White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday.

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Turkey took its boldest steps yet to try to ward off a financial crisis by making it harder for traders to bet against the battered lira and easing rules on restructuring troubled loans that have already topped $20 billion.

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

Investors, though, continue to demand higher interest rates - something the central bank may struggle to deliver because it's been under constant pressure from Erdogan to do just the opposite.

Trump has repeatedly asked for Brunson's release, while Ankara said the decision was up to the court.

The lira had already rebounded about 8 percent on Tuesday on news of a planned conference call on Thursday in which the finance minister will seek to reassure global investors.

It recovered a bit, by four per cent to around 6.12 lira per US dollar Wednesday, after the government took steps to shore up the currency by reducing the daily limit in bank foreign currency swap transactions.

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

A Turkish court Tuesday released two Greek soldiers detained since March on espionage charges for illegally crossing the border in a case that has stoked tensions with Brussels.

Turkey's trade minister Ruhsar Pekcan said: "The United States is an important trading partner but it is not our only partner". Although no further detail on the length and implementation of the boycott was provided, but significantly, the transcript of Erdoğan's speech on the Turkish presidency's website omitted the boycott announcement. Earlier in August, his administration had levied sanctions against Turkey's justice and interior ministers, accusing them of playing "leading roles" in the organizations responsible for the arrest and detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson.

The cost of insuring Turkey's sovereign debt against default - already higher than Pakistan and Greece - increased as the standoff between Turkey and the US worsened.

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