Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced his country will boycott US electronic products, after Washington imposed punitive sanctions on Ankara.
President Erdogan said, referring to Apple and its South Korean competitor: “If [the US] has the iPhone, there’s Samsung on the other side.”
Last week, the US doubled tariffs over Turkey’s refusal to extradite US pastor Andrew Brunson who is imprisoned there.
Turkey’s weakened currency, the lira, plunged by a full 20% in response.
President Erdogan said his country was taking measures to stabilize the economy, and should not “give in to the enemy” by investing in foreign currencies.
At a news conference on August 14, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is visiting Ankara, branded the US sanctions an illegitimate policy. He accused the US of seeking an unfair competitive advantage in global trade.
Since January, the Turkish lira has lost more than 34% of its value against the dollar, pushing up the price of everyday items.
President Donald Trump tweeted: “I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!”
President Erdogan has presided over soaring inflation and borrowing levels, but insists the lira’s plight is the result of a “campaign” led by foreign powers.
In a TV address last week, President Erdogan called on Turkish citizens to exchange foreign currency and gold for lira, calling it an “economic war”.
Now it appears there may be a small respite for the flailing currency, which has gained slightly in value after days of dramatic falls.
Turkey’s central bank has promised to provide banks with liquidity. The finance minister – who is also President Erdogan’s son-in-law – will seek to reassure around 1,000 international investors in a teleconference scheduled for August 16.
President Erdogan has accused the US of trying to “bring Turkey to its knees through threats over a pastor”.
However, 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”.
An evangelical from North Carolina, Andrew Brunson 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.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the US had seen “no evidence that Pastor Brunson has done anything wrong”.
Andrew Brunson has denied charges of espionage, but faces up to 35 years in jail if found guilty.
The ruckus between Turkey and the US has impacted on other countries’ currencies, including the Indian rupee, as investors fear the lira’s wobbles could spread to developing nations.
On August 14, India’s government urged people not to panic on Tuesday after the rupee slid to an all-time low against the dollar.
Brazil Russia, Argentina, South Africa and Mexico have also seen their currencies fall over the last week.