Qatar to aid Turkey, lira rallies, United States rejects lifting tariffs

16 Août, 2018, 14:00 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • US media try to deflect from Turkish boycott

Investors are anxious not only about Turkey's souring relations with the United States, a longtime North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, but also Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's economic policies and the country's high debt accumulated in foreign currencies.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan tweeted: "On behalf of the Turkish people, I sincerely thank Sheikh Tamim and the Qatari people for standing by Turkey".

The Trump administration announced plans on Friday to double U.S. tariffs imports of steel and aluminum from Turkey.

Erdogan signed a decree on August 15 that raises tariffs on American cars to 120 percent, on alcoholic drinks to 140 percent, and on leaf tobacco to 60 percent.

Tariffs on cosmetics, rice and coal were also increased.

Only one USA measure directly affects Turkey's economy: Trump's decision to increase tariffs on the import of Turkish steel and aluminum.

The lira rebounded some 8 percent on Tuesday, helped by news of a planned conference call on Thursday in which the finance minister will seek to reassure worldwide investors.

Turkey's lira has plummeted almost 40 percent this year due to concerns over Erdogan's growing influence on the economy.

On Tuesday the lira recovered some ground, trading at 6.3300 to the dollar at 1947 GMT, up some 9 per cent from the previous day's close and having earlier touched 6.2995.

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"Turkey does not favour an economic war, but it can not remain unresponsive when it is attacked", said Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesperson for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The punitive steps come after Erdogan called on Turks to boycott American electronics, like the iPhone, which have in any case become a lot more expensive as the lira lost nearly 40 per cent of its value this year.

Andrew Craig Brunson, an evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, N.C., arrives at his house in Izmir, Turkey, on July 25.

Erdogan has repeatedly described the crisis as an "economic war" that Turkey will win.

In a sign the conflict is far from over, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said USA tariffs announced last week will stay in place regardless of whether an American pastor detained in Turkey is freed. "Theirs are out of retaliation", White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. He's being held under house arrest in Turkey.

Pastor Andrew Brunson's lawyer renewed an appeal on Tuesday for Brunson's release from house arrest and for his travel ban to be lifted.

President Erdogan said Turkey was taking measures to stabilise the economy, and should not "give in to the enemy" by investing in foreign currencies.

"They will likely just give warm words to Turkey, looking to exploit the situation and stir things up for the USA and the West", said Timothy Ash, senior strategist at BlueBay Asset Management. "These are appeals that require fast decision making because they are related to an individual's freedoms", Brunson's attorney Ismail Cem Halavurt told Reuters.

"They are squeezing lira liquidity out of the system now and pushing interest rates higher", said Cristian Maggio, head of emerging markets strategy at TD Securities.

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