Erdogan says lira crash 'political plot' against Turkey

Posted August 13, 2018

President Trump ordered a doubling of USA tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Turkey Friday, escalating a diplomatic spat with a key North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

"Some close the doors and some others open new ones", added Erdogan, who has built closer ties over the last years with countries from Latin America, Africa to Asia.

"They tell us to release the priest by Wednesday 6pm, otherwise the sanctions will begin", Mr Erdogan said, revealing details of talks between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies in Washington on Wednesday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday branded interest rates a "tool of exploitation" which should be kept as low as possible.

Photo American Christian pastor Andrew Brunson is on trial in Turkey on terrorism charges.

Still, he went on to state Turkey acted on its own in the past despite U.S. objections, such as in its invasions of Northern Cyprus in 1974 and Afrin this year in Syrian Kurdistan.

The White House said Mr Trump had authorised them under a section of United States trade law that allows for tariffs on national security grounds.

Asli Aydintasbas, senior fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations, stated that Erdogan's speech "was clearly defiant", but Turkey's economic situation continues to appear ever more dire.

"We might as well say goodbye to those who sacrifice their strategic partnership with a country of 81 million and an ally of over 50 years for some terrorist groups", Erdoğan said, referring to Washington's support for the PKK-affiliated groups in Syria, and its extrajudicial demands to release pastor Brunson, who was detained in October 7, 2016, for his links to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and the PKK.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement that Trump increased the tariff rate from 25 percent to 50 percent on imports of Turkish steel.

"Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!" he wrote.

"I have just authorized a doubling of tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong dollar!"

Earlier Saturday, Erdoğan said that Turkey was preparing to increase trade with its top trade partners like China, Russia, Iran and Ukraine in local currencies instead of the USA dollar, adding that it was also ready to do the same with European countries.

The sides held talks in Washington this week but failed to resolve the spat.

Turkey came in sixth place among the countries the USA imported steel from previous year, while Turkish steel's share was 7 percent of total US steel imports.

He said Turkey's response was not going to be based on "reciprocity", adding: "Those who commit a crime will pay a price".

The currency, which traded 4.7 to the dollar a month ago, has now weakened to 6.4 to the dollar, having lost more than 30% of its value this month, 20% of which accrued in the last 24 hours. It is wrong to try to punish Turkey for a priest who is here.

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

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