Wednesday, 15 August, 2018

Turkey's partnership with United States in jeopardy, Erdogan warns

Berat Albayrak will issue a new economic plan today Berat Albayrak will issue a new economic plan today
Jeannette Daniel | 12 August, 2018, 10:56

ISTANBUL/ANKARA - President Tayyip Erdogan told Turks on Friday to exchange gold and dollars into lira, with the country's currency in free fall after President Donald Trump turned the screws on Ankara by doubling tariffs on metals imports.

It all started with Turkey's own mistakes - or, more accurately, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's.

The Turkish lira hit a record low of 6.24 per dollar on Friday, before recovering to 5.92 _ still down a whopping 7 per cent on the day.

Bank shares across Europe fell and the euro slipped to its lowest since July 2017 as the Financial Times quoted sources as saying the European Central Bank was concerned about European lenders' exposure to Turkey.

Iran has also suffered a major tumbling of its currency this year partly over the reimposition of United States sanctions after Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal.

Relations with Washington worsened further Friday when Trump tweeted that he had authorized a 20 percent duty on aluminium and 50 percent duty on steel.

President Trump ordered a doubling of US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Turkey Friday, escalating a diplomatic spat with a key North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

"Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!".

Turkey is a major emerging market economy with $466 billion in foreign debt (about 78 percent in US dollars and about 18 percent in euros), or 52.9 percent of gross domestic product. Financial upheaval risks further destabilising an already volatile region.

"President Erdogan's strengthened powers under the new presidential system have made it increasingly uncertain whether policymakers will be able to act to stabilise the economy", said William Jackson, chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics in London. Trump's public announcement of tariffs will only fan Erdogan's economic warfare narrative, which puts the source of Turkey's economic woes outside its borders.

Turkey's trade ministry said the tariffs were against World Trade Organisation rules.

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A Turkish delegation visited Washington for talks this week but left with no signs of a breakthrough.

The Turkish crisis has set off a wave of selling across emerging market assets, reviving the spectre of contagion that has been the sector's Achilles heel for decades. Immediately give these to the banks and convert to Turkish lira and by doing this, we fight this war of independence and the future.

"Interest rates should be kept to a minumum because they are a tool of exploitation that makes the poor poorer and the rich richer", he said.

"This is a national, domestic battle".

The Turkish president took aim at the U.S. in his address, claiming "some countries have engaged in behaviour that protects coup plotters and knows no laws or justice".

Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have repeatedly called for his release, while Erdogan has said the US should respect Turkey's judicial process.

Investors piled into "safe" government debt, with German yields hitting three-week lows and the yield on the benchmark US 10-year Treasury note falling to 2.88822 percent.

"Those who can't compete with us on the ground have brought online fictional currency plots that have nothing to with the realities of our country, production and real economy", Erdogan told a provincial meeting of his AK Party in the Black Sea coastal town of Rize.

"Another source of frustration relates to the partnership between the United States and the P.Y.D./Y.P.G., the Syrian branch of the P.K.K., an armed group that is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Turkish citizens since 1984 and that is designated a terrorist group by the United States. Failure to reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect will require us to start looking for new friends and allies", Erdogan said. Gulen has denied the allegation.

Observers have noted how fighting for Mr Brunson's cause is likely to be popular with Mr Trump's evangelical base ahead of crucial mid-term elections this November. He offered no further details.

"Over the years, Turkey rushed to America's help whenever necessary", he said, listing a few occasions the two countries acted together.

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