The Update – Turkish Crisis
EuroNews reports that Turkey has increased tariffs on some US imports, including cars, alcohol, and tobacco, as the diplomatic row between Ankara and Washington escalates.
A decree published in Turkey’s Official Gazette and signed by the president raises tariffs on passenger cars to 120 percent, on alcoholic drinks to 140 percent, and on leaf tobacco to 60 percent. Tariffs have also been increased on goods such as cosmetics, rice and coal.
Vice President Fuat Oktay wrote on Twitter that the increase in duties were in response to “deliberate attacks on our economy” by the US administration.
On Tuesday, the White House said President Trump was frustrated that Turkey had not released Andrew Brunson, the evangelical pastor held on terrorism charges that Washington believes are fabricated.
The Financial Times reports that leading Turkish business groups have called on Ankara to tighten monetary policy, introduce austerity measures and urgently resolve a dispute with the US after a currency crisis that has battered the lira. The move was a rare show of public dissent from Turkey’s corporate sector, since many business figures are reluctant to openly challenge the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
It highlighted the extent of its concern about the slide in the lira, although the currency staged a rally on Tuesday. In a sign of possible tensions between Turkish business and government, Mr Erdogan toughened his stance, calling for a boycott of US technological products. Tusiad, the Turkish Industry and Business Association, and Tobb, the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey said that “tighter monetary policy is required in order to stabilise exchange rates”, as were accompanying “austerity measures”.
Turkey’s finance Minister has pledged to protect Turkish companies through the currency crisis, and predicted that the lira will recover its losses.
Berat Albayrak, Treasury and finance minister (and president Erdoğan’s son-in-law), said the government would protect the economy while sticking to free market rules and maintaining fiscal discipline.
The Turkish environment minister, Murat Kurum, has announced that Turkey will not use US goods in construction projects. Kurum added that Turkey was going through an economic siege, due to ‘speculative moves’ in the value of the US dollar. This move echoed Erdogan’s call to boycott US electronic goods, namely iPhones.