Turkey doubles tariffs on some US imports; Turkish lira rallies

People outside a currency exchange in Istanbul

President Donald Trump had previously announced that the United States was doubling steel and aluminium tariffs on Turkey.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the United States had seen "no evidence that Pastor Brunson has done anything wrong".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani have expressed support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan amid escalated tensions between Ankara and Washington.

Peter O'Flanagan, the head of trading at the foreign exchange consultancy Clear Treasury, said: "Restrictions from the Turkish central bank limiting banks' use of swap lines has had the desired effect on the lira".

The currency has lost almost 40 per cent against the dollar this year, impacted by Mr Erdogan's growing influence on the economy and his repeated calls for lower interest rates despite high inflation.

In recent days, Qatari supporters of Turkey have begun a public campaign in Doha to change their riyals into lira in an attempt to shore up the plunging Turkish currency.

Ankara acted amid increased tension between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies over Turkey's detention of a Christian American pastor and other diplomatic issues, which have helped send the lira tumbling to record lows against the dollar.

Turkey responded sharply by raising tariffs on a raft of USA products. On Wednesday a Turkish court rejected an appeal for Brunson to be released from house arrest and for his travel ban to be lifted but an upper court is yet to rule on the appeal.

USA national security adviser John Bolton on Monday met Turkey's ambassador to the United States to discuss Brunson's detention.

Andrew Brunson's continued detention with charges of terrorism and espionage was cited as the basis of U.S. sanctions on two Turkish ministers on 1 August, which was followed by a doubling on 10 August of USA tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium to 50% and 20% respectively.

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Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, warned the Turkish tariff hikes risked provoking a new reaction from Trump and ultimately adding to downward pressure on the lira.

"Pastor Andrew Brunson is an innocent man held in Turkey & justice demands that he be released".

Turkey is ready to discuss its issues with the United States as long as there are no threats, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

"That Turkish support for Qatar during the stand-off with Saudi Arabia finally paid off", Tim Ash, a senior emerging-market strategist at BlueBay Asset Management LLC in London, said by email. The recovery also spilled into the bond market, with yields on 10-year local debt falling 28 basis points to 21.1 percent.

The lira continued its recovery against the dollar on Wednesday as Turkey increased tariffs on U.S. goods and introduced measures to restrict bets against the embattled currency. "They are killing offshore lira liquidity to stop foreigners shorting the lira", he said.

The finance minister will seek to reassure global investors on Thursday in a conference call for which a ministry official said some far 3,000 people had signed up.

Turkey is boosting tariffs on imports of certain USA products, including rice, cars, alcohol, coal and cosmetics - escalating a feud with the United States that has helped trigger a currency crisis.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said that the rises were ordered "within the framework of reciprocity in retaliation for the conscious attacks on our economy by the United States administration".

The United States was the fourth largest source of imports to Turkey past year, accounting for US$12 billion, according to International Monetary Fund statistics. "We have other partnerships and alternative markets".


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