Turkish lira rallies as Ankara increases tariffs on U.S. imports

Trump’s right to make Erdogan pay for hostage-taking

Turkey hiked on Wednesday tariffs on imports of several key United States products in retaliation for American sanctions against Ankara, as a bitter dispute between the two allies that has battered the Turkish lira showed no sign of ending. "They are killing offshore lira liquidity to stop foreigners shorting the lira", he said.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders also made clear that the United States had no plan to remove the steel tariffs if Brunson were released though it could remove those imposed on two senior Turkish officials.

In an effort to defend the lira, Turkey's central bank tightened its rules on currency swaps and other foreign exchange transactions, limiting banks' ability to supply lira to foreign financial companies. "The tariffs are specific to national security", she said.

"The tariffs that are in place on steel will not be removed with the release of pastor Brunson".

Businessmen holding US dollars stand in front of a currency exchange office in response to the call of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Turks to sell their dollar and euro savings to support the lira, in Ankara, Turkey Aug. 14, 2018. Like other emerging markets, Turkish companies borrowed heavily in dollars when USA interest rates were low, fuelling a consumer boom that is running out as the dollar strengthens.

The currency TRYTOM=D3 has lost almost 40 percent against the dollar this year, driven by worries over President Tayyip Erdogan's growing influence on the economy and his repeated calls for lower interest rates despite high inflation.

Turkey is now grappling with a currency crisis and heightened tensions with the United States, its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

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

On Wednesday, the lira traded at 6.4125 to the USA dollar, weakening from a close of 6.3577 a day earlier. The lira is down roughly 40 per cent this year, dropping 10 per cent of its value on Monday alone. A Finance Ministry official said so far 3,000 people have signed up for the call.

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Turkey is hiking tariffs on imports of certain USA products in response to American sanctions on Ankara that caused the value of the lira to plunge, a decree published Wednesday said.

Turkey's banking sector remained strong and liquid and the measures taken to support the market have started to show impact, Turkey's Akbank chief executive said and added there were was no withdrawal of deposits.

Turkey's currency value has tanked since the U.S. sanctions were declared.

"The import duties were increased on some products, under the principle of reciprocity, in response to the U.S. administration's deliberate attacks on our economy", Vice President Fuat Oktay wrote on social network Twitter.

Turkey and Qatar have traditionally maintained good ties and Ankara stood by Doha after Saudi Arabia and other Arab states severed diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar a year ago, accusing it of financing terrorism - a charge Doha denies. "We have other partnerships and alternative markets".

Mr Trump has repeatedly asked for Brunson's release.

Brunson's lawyer Cem Halavurt told AFP that a higher court would also discuss his appeal for Brunson's release.

In response, Erdogan announced boycott of United States electronic devices, including Apple iPhones. Erdogan accused the United States of conspiring against Turkey and said that the slide in its currency doesn't make any sense logically.

Turkey is now in the midst of a severe financial crisis, which has witnessed the collapse of its currency in recent days.

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