Turkey's Erdogan calls on Turks to buy lira for 'national battle'

Roman Schwartz
August 10, 2018

Trump said he had authorized higher tariffs on imports from Turkey, imposing a 20 percent duty on aluminum and 50 percent one on steel.

Trump said via a tweet that the tariff on aluminium imports will be increased to 20 per cent and the tariff on steel imports will be raised to 50 per cent as the Turkish Lira "slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar!"

The White House said later that Trump had authorized his administration to prepare documents imposing the increased duties under a section of US law that allows for tariffs on national security grounds.

Trump tweeted Friday that he authorized raising tariffs on Turkish steel to 50 percent and aluminum to 20 percent as the country's currency falls rapidly against the USA dollar.

The President threatened to levy harsh tariffs on Turkey last month, demanding the release of an American pastor now held by Erdogan's government. The lira has lost more than 30 percent against the dollar in 2018, and hit a new all-time low with a four percent fall on Thursday.

U.S. sanctions and president Erdogan's tightening control over monetary policy are driving the fall, which sent the lira to an all-time low of above 6 to the dollar this morning.

He repeated a line from his earlier speech in which he said: "If there is anyone among you who has gold, dollar, euros under your pillows, you should take it to banks and sell for liras".

Trump's move sent Turkey's lira currency and its stock market deeper into tailspin. "Hopefully we will overcome this disaster and we will also successfully overcome this economic war", Erdogan said.

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"Don't forget, if they have their dollars, we have our people, our God".

Pressure has been applied on the country in recent days to stage an emergency interest rate rise to avert further economic damage. As the currency drops, Turkish companies and households with debt in foreign currencies see their debts expand.

New Finance Minister Berat Albayrak - Erdogan's son-in-law - rolled out the government's new economic plan on Friday, promising central bank independence and tighter budget discipline, but giving few details to reassure investors.

Coupled with an inflation rate of almost 16 per cent, that could cause a lot of damage to the local economy.

Ankara wants the United States to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Pennsylvania-based cleric who Turkish authorities say masterminded the 2016 coup attempt in which 250 people were killed.

Many analysts have dismissed Erdogan's complaints about a foreign-led "economic war" against Turkey, suggesting they were largely a scapegoat for the failings of the Turkish leader's own economic policies.

Aylin Ertan, a 43-year-old caterer in Ankara, said she was concerned over the future of her small business.

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