Published: Thu, August 16, 2018
Finance | By Jaime Brady

Turks mobilized to boycott USA products amid strong dollar, deepening split

Turks mobilized to boycott USA products amid strong dollar, deepening split

His arrest received relatively little media coverage at the time and efforts by United States officials to release him were given initially only a very low profile in public.

The United States on Wednesday ruled out removing steel tariffs that have contributed to a currency crisis in Turkey even if Ankara frees a US pastor, as Qatar pledged $15 billion in investment to Turkey, supporting a rise in the Turkish lira.

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

The promise of an investment package comes after Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani met with President Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara and as Turkey comes to terms with a collapse in the lira amid rising tensions with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally the US. Although no further detail on the length and implementation of the boycott was provided, but significantly, the transcript of Erdoğan's speech on the Turkish presidency's website omitted the boycott announcement.

A court in the western Turkish city of Izmir rejected a new appeal to free Brunson on Wednesday, the state television TRT reported.

"Turkey, a longtime North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally, has been caught between the West and Russian Federation".

The two sides discussed Erdogan's upcoming visit to Berlin slated for late September, and a meeting between Turkey's Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak and Germany's Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, due to be held in coming days.

Turkey's national currency, the lira, has tumbled by almost 40% against the USA dollar so far this year.

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Erdogan has said Turkey is the target of an economic war, and made repeated calls for Turks to sell their dollars and euros.

The measure was a "retaliation for the conscious economic attacks by the United States", Turkey's vice-president Fuat Oktay explained, referring to the US' decision last Friday to double its tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium. "Turkey would do well not to test @POTUS Trump's resolve to see Americans who are wrongfully imprisoned in foreign lands returned home to the United States", Vice President Mike Pence said in a tweet.

On Wednesday, the lira traded at 6.4125 to the USA dollar, weakening from a close of 6.3577 a day earlier.

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

Turkey has meanwhile resisted pressure to release Brunson - who has been held for two years and is now under house arrest - with officials warning it could face further sanctions.

Turkey has a track record of using national currencies in global trade.

Investors seemed to focus on this and underlying economic problems over the exchange of tariffs with the USA, which analysts said was unlikely to cause serious pain.

"On behalf of the Prime Minister (Alexis Tsipras), the government, and also the Greek people, we welcome them back home and I hope that their release today, on such an important day, will mark a new day for Greek-Turkish relations", he was quoted as saying.

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