Wednesday, 15 August, 2018

Turkey’s Erdogan stands by opposition to high interest rates

President Donald Trump Carolyn Kaster Associated Press President Donald Trump
Priscilla Morrison | 13 August, 2018, 06:30

"With God's permission we will overcome this", he added.

Last week, the United States imposed sanctions on Turkey's justice minister and interior minister for refusing to release American pastor Andrew Brunson, who had been in custody since 2016 on charges of terrorism and espionage that Washington says are bogus.

The Turkish lira took a massive hit against the dollar on Friday following Trump's decision to double tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Turkey to 20 percent and 50 percent. Trump also threatened additional "large sanctions" against Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, for Brunson's detention.

"Shame on you, shame on you", he said in remarks directly addressed to Washington.

"As he stated, the president has authorized the preparation of documents to raise tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from Turkey", White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said.

He also branded interest rates as a "tool of exploitation" which should be kept as low as possible. "Its aim is to force Turkey to surrender in every field from finance to politics, to make Turkey and the Turkish nation kneel down", Erdoğan said in a speech at the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) meeting in the Black Sea province of Trabzon on August 12.

The nominally independent central bank has defied pressure over the last few weeks to hike interest rates in the face of high inflation and a collapsing currency.

Erdogan has downplayed the currency crisis, urging Turks to convert any stashed-away gold or foreign currency into lira, thereby waging a "war of independence" against America.

Erdogan said high foreign exchange rates were the means used in plots against Turkey.

More news: Arsenal v Manchester City

The lira sell-off deepened concern over whether over-indebted Turkish companies will be able to pay back loans taken out in euros and dollars after years of overseas borrowing to fund a construction boom under Erdogan.

Erdogan framed Turkey's currency crisis as a "national battle" against economic enemies, namely the USA, saying 'if they have their dollar, we have the people, we have Allah'.

In an opinion piece in the New York Times Friday, Erdogan wrote "failure to reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect will require us to start looking for new friends and allies".

The moves followed a series of actions the administration has taken in recent weeks to step up economic pressure on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to release US evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been detained in Turkey on espionage charges since October 2016.

Washington in response sanctioned two Turkish ministers.

The Turkish stock market has also fallen 17%, while government borrowing costs have risen to 18% a year, according to Andrew Walker, the BBC World Service economics correspondent.

From left, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shake hands previous year.

Negotiations failed to achieve the desired results, prompting the Turkish government to try more aggressive tactics, regardless of their costs to the country's economy and global standing.

In Trabzon, Erdogan confirmed media reports that Washington gave Onal's delegation a deadline for the release of Brunson.

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