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

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President Donald Trump said on Friday that he has authorised the doubling of steel and aluminium tariffs "with respect to Turkey". Turkish aluminum will now be taxed at 50% and steel at 20%, essentially pricing Turkish metals out of the US markets. Import taxes for aluminum will be 20 percent.

This is double the level the president imposed on a range of countries earlier this year, including European Union member states.

The US is the biggest destination for Turkish steel exports, at 11% of the Turkish export volume. Turkey answered the March tariff announcement by placing its own tariffs on $267 million of US goods. The currency is down about 40 percent so far this year.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters in Bayburt, Turkey, Aug. 10, 2018. The currency has now halved in value over the past year.

Two, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's slide in authoritarianism appears to be having an impact on the economy in a roundabout way.

Analysts suggest Erdogan could have Washington in mind, given Ankara is demanding the extradition of US -based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is blamed for masterminding the botched 2016 military takeover.

He said high foreign exchange rates were being used as a weapon against Turkey.

The president's characteristic defiance in the face of a shaky economy has further unnerved investors.

Markets have been deeply concerned about the direction of domestic economic policy under Erdogan with inflation hovering around 16% as the central bank refuses to raise interest rates in response. His comments on interest rates - and his recent appointment of his son-in-law as finance minister - have heightened perceptions that the central bank is not independent.

Erdogan has blamed outside forces for trying to bring down Turkey's economy.

In a tit-for-tat response to the U.S. sanctions, Erdogan responded by announcing that the assets in Turkey of the USA secretaries of "justice and interior" would be frozen.

On Friday, Erdogan asked Turkish citizens to sell off their gold and dollars and exchange them for the lira, in an attempt to prop up the currency.

"Making a speech like Albayrak's in the midst of a currency free fall without a single concrete measure shows utter lack of comprehension about what's happening and what's required", tweeted Harvard economist Dani Rodrik.

In the New York Times, Erdogan warned Washington not to risk relations with Ankara, saying his country would otherwise look for "new friends and allies".

He also urged Trump to recognize the 1915 Turkish slaughter and exile of 1.5 million Armenians as a genocide, which USA presidents have declined to do for decades.

Reminding the world of the time when Turkey rushed to America's help whenever necessary, during the past six decades, Erdogan recounted Turkish contribution in defusing the Korean and Cuba missile crises, and sending troops to Afghanistan in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks.

Brunson's charges include spying for the PKK - listed as a terrorist group by both the U.S. and Turkey - and Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

Last week the USA government announced sanctions against Turkey's interior and justice ministers, to which Ankara responded by freezing the assets of two American officials in Turkey. Brunson was moved from prison and placed under house arrest on July 25.

"Interest rates should be kept to a minumum because they are a tool of exploitation that makes the poor poorer and the rich richer", he said. "Relations with countries who behave like this have reached a point beyond salvaging".

Turkey had alternatives "from Iran, to Russian Federation, to China and some European countries", he added.

This story is based in part on wire service reports. Mario Ritter was the editor. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

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