Turkey doubles tariffs on some US imports; lira rallies


Turkey announced Wednesday increased duties on USA products including cars, tobacco and alcohol in retaliation to US sanctions and tariffs on Turkey in an on-going feud over the detention of an American pastor.

On Wednesday, Turkey doubled tariffs on some imports from the United States - such as passenger cars, alcohol and tobacco - in what it said was retaliation for "deliberate attacks" on its economy.

Turkey entered into an understanding to the Russian defense system despite being a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, and has been increasingly cozying up to Russian President Vladimir Putin, alarming both the United States and EU.

During the meeting, Qatar pledged $15 billion in direct investments in "Turkey's financial markets and banks", Turkish officials said. The currency's climb followed retaliatory tariffs by Ankara against USA goods including rice, coal and cars.

As a court in the western Turkish city of Izmir rejected a new appeal to free Brunson on Wednesday, spoksman Kalin said the USA needs to be respectful of the judicial procedures in Turkey.

Last Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he had authorised higher tariffs on aluminium and steel imports from Turkey.

While Turks who propelled Erdogan to election victory in June recognize they could face hardship, there is little domestic criticism of a leader who presided over years of debt-fueled growth that drew warnings of a looming bust and currency crisis.

Erdogan's appointment of his own son-in-law as Finance Minister, following his electoral victory in June, was "the final straw for global investors", Foreign Policy reported, citing Aaron Stein of the Atlantic Council. "The central bank has not done this through a change in the benchmark rates, but they are squeezing liquidity, so the result is the same", he said.

Tariffs were also increased on cosmetics, rice and coal.

The Trump administration has made Brunson's release a priority, accusing Turkey of fabricating charges against him and holding him as a political prisoner.

Cevdet Erdol, president of the Health Sciences University in Istanbul, urged Turks to boycott US tobacco products and "to stop smoking altogether", according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency.

"The U.S. administration must respect the judiciary process in Turkey, they need to stop trying to influence Turkish judiciary by making statements and putting pressure", stated Kalin.

"We've seen no evidence that Pastor Brunson has done anything wrong and we believe he is a victim of unfair and unjust detention by the government of Turkey", White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said at the time.

American pastor Andrew Brunson is being held on terrorism charges in Turkey, facing up to 35 years in prison for his alleged role in a failed coup in 2016. An upper court had yet to rule on the appeal, his lawyer told Reuters. A day earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a boycott of United States electronics products.

"Turkey does not favor an economic war, but it can not remain unresponsive when it is attacked", presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said. "The tariffs are specific to national security", she said.

Erdogan has blamed the US for the fall of the lira, but refused to budge on Trump's demand for Brunson's release.

"We will boycott USA electronic goods", Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara, again showing no sign of compromise in the dispute.