Turkish president blasts ‘economic coup’ amid heightened tensions with US

Turkish president blasts ‘economic coup’ amid heightened tensions with US

Troy Powers
August 19, 2018

Evangelical pastor Andrew Craig Brunson faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted of espionage and terror-related charges.

It has lost almost 40 per cent of its value against the greenback this year, hit by both the diplomatic rift and investor alarm about President Tayyip Erdogan's influence over monetary policy. This week, Qatar pledged $15 billion in support to Turkey.

"Today some people are trying to threaten us through the economy, through interest rates, foreign exchange, investment and inflation".

It touched a record low of 7.24 to the United States dollar early on Monday, rattling global stock markets and threatening the stability of Turkey's financial sector.

This is while US President Donald Trump said that he authorized the double increase in tariffs for aluminum and steel from Turkey - up to 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively. After the USA imposed tariffs and sanctions, Turkey fired back with tariffs of its own on a variety of goods, including cars. He also said on Friday that he had ordered to double U.S. tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports to 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively.

Trump added: "We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!"

"Diplomatic negotiations hit speed-bumps and that's not unusual in these kinds of situations", said Jay Sekulow, a personal attorney for Trump who is also representing Brunson's family.

The Turkish lira has already lost about 30 percent of its value against the USA dollar since the beginning of August, when tensions between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies soared unprecedentedly over the detention of Andrew Brunson, an American Christen pastor, in Turkey over terror-related charges.

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Erdogan wrote in an op-ed last week for The New York Times: "The Turkish people expected the United States to unequivocally condemn the attack and express solidarity with Turkey's elected leadership".

Though Turkey's financial troubles did not originate with the battle over Brunson's release, the moves have sped up the Turkish economy's decline.

But he suggested Turkish "policymakers only really seem to have done the minimum needed". Cavusoglu said ties with the bloc, long strained, were on a firmer basis and had started normalising.

The Turkish banking watchdog has taken steps to stabilise the currency, limiting futures transactions for offshore investors and lowering limits on swap transactions.

"They are squeezing lira liquidity out of the system now and pushing interest rates higher", said Cristian Maggio, head of emerging markets strategy at TD Securities.

The lira firmed as far as 5.75 against the United States dollar on Wednesday and stood at 5.90 at 2058 GMT. On Wednesday, a court in Izmir, where Brunson is on trial, rejected his appeal to be released from house arrest.

In another high-profile case, a Turkish court freed Taner Kilic, the local chair of Amnesty International, a researcher from the rights group said.