August 10, 2018 / 5:26 PM / 4 months ago

Turkey 'implores' Trump to return to table on tariffs

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey on Friday “implored” U.S. President Donald Trump to return to the negotiating table on tariffs, saying the trade rift between the NATO allies should be resolved through dialogue.

FILE PHOTO: A man works at Turkish steel manufacturer ISDEMIR in Iskenderun in Hatay province, Turkey May 6, 2010. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo

Trump intensified his spat with Ankara by imposing higher tariffs on metal imports, putting unprecedented economic pressure on a NATO ally and deepening turmoil in Turkish financial markets.

The announcement accelerated the sell-off of Turkey’s lira currency, already battered by worries about President Tayyip Erdogan’s influence over the central bank. The lira tumbled as much as 20 percent on Friday, its biggest one-day drop since 2001.

“Repeated efforts to communicate to the U.S. administration that none of the stated criteria driving America’s tariffs are applicable to Turkey have thus far proven fruitless,” Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said in a statement.

“Nevertheless, we implore President Trump to return to the negotiating table – this can and should be resolved through dialogue and cooperation.”

Trump, outraged by Turkey’s detention of an American evangelical pastor on terrorism charges, said on Twitter he would double duties on Turkish aluminum and steel, to 20 percent and 50 percent respectively.

Turkey said the tariffs were against the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

A spokesman for Ankara’s foreign ministry said it would retaliate against the tariffs as it has done so far. Sanctions and pressure would only serve to harm ties between the two NATO allies, Hami Aksoy also said in a statement.

Turkey wanted issues to be solved through diplomacy, dialogue and good intentions, Aksoy said.

RETALIATION

The United States, the world’s biggest steel importer, imposed tariffs of 10 percent on aluminum and 25 percent on steel in March for imports from a variety of countries. Turkey is the sixth-largest steel exporter to the United States.

Turkey then retaliated by slapping import duties on $1.78 billion worth of U.S. products, including coal, paper, nuts, whiskey, autos, machinery and petrochemicals.

Last week, the Trump administration said it would review Turkey’s duty-free access to U.S. markets, a decision that could impact some $1.7 billion of imports.

Erdogan has cast the sell-off in the currency that has followed the trade row as an economic war and an attempt to undermine Turkey’s economy. On Friday, some of his ministers took to Twitter with the hashtag “#kazanacagiz”, meaning “we will win”.

Trump pointed out on Twitter that the lira was not doing well, but one of Erdogan’s economic advisers, Yigit Bulut, responded that the sell-off in the lira had caused $300 billion in losses in the U.S. stock market.

“America is great,” he wrote. “The world is greater than America.”

Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz, Ezgi Erkoyun and Nevzat Devranoglu; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Andrew Roche

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