Turkey issues retaliatory tariffs on US imports


Turkish President Recep Tayyip ErdoganImage copyright
Reuters

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President Erdogan has accused the US of seeking to “stab [Turkey] in the back”

Turkey has sharply raised tariffs on US imports, including passenger cars, alcohol and tobacco.

A decree signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised the tariffs on cars to 120%, on alcoholic drinks to 140% and on leaf tobacco to 60%.

The US doubled tariffs last week over Turkey’s refusal to extradite a US pastor who is imprisoned there.

Turkey’s weakened currency, the lira, plunged by more than 20% in response to those US sanctions.

Explaining the new tariffs, Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay said the rises were ordered “within the framework of reciprocity in retaliation for the conscious attacks on our economy by the US administration”.

Tariffs were also increased on cosmetics, rice and coal. Turkey had previously said it would boycott US electronic products.

Inflation

The lira plunged to record lows on Monday, but has since clawed back some of its losses.

Since January, the Turkish lira has lost more than 34% of its value against the dollar, pushing up the price of everyday items.

President Erdogan said on Tuesday that Turkey was taking measures to stabilise its economy and should not “give in to the enemy” by investing in foreign currencies.

He has presided over soaring inflation and borrowing levels, but insists the lira’s plight is the result of a “campaign” led by foreign powers.

Jailed pastor

Mr Erdogan has accused the US of trying to “bring Turkey to its knees through threats over a pastor”.

But the US insists Andrew Brunson, a long-time Turkish resident who ran the tiny Izmir Resurrection Church, is “a victim of unfair and unjust detention”.

Image copyright
AFP/Getty Images

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US President Donald Trump has called pastor Andrew Brunson “an innocent man of faith”

An evangelical from North Carolina, he has been held in Turkey for nearly two years over alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party and the Gulenist movement, which Turkey blames for a failed coup in 2016.

On Wednesday a Turkish court rejected his latest appeal to be released from house arrest. A higher court is still to rule, his lawyer told Reuters.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the US had seen “no evidence that Pastor Brunson has done anything wrong”.

Mr Brunson has denied charges of espionage, but faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty.



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