On August 15th, Turkey announced tariffs on US goods in answer of the higher tariffs introduced on Turkish steel and aluminum by the US.
Turkey will impose an additional 50% tax on U.S. rice, 140% on spirits and 120% on cars. There are also additional charges on U.S. cosmetics, tobacco and some food products. Hurriyet cited IMF statistics, according to which the US was the fourth largest source of imports to Turkey in 2017 with $12 billion of imports. Turkey’s exports to the U.S. in 2017 amounted to $8.7 billion, making it Turkey’s fifth-largest export market.
The decision comes after on August 14th, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a boycott of US electronics, including Apple’s iPhones to retaliate to the Trump administration’s sanctions and tariffs imposed over the last few weeks to pressure Turkey into releasing Pastor Andrew Brunson, who is imprisoned with charges of supporting the 2016 coup attempt. Erdogan has rejected Washington’s pleas, saying that Turkish judiciary won’t take orders from abroad.
Erdogan warned that the US is putting decades-old alliances at risk and pushing Turkey to seek allies elsewhere.
Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Twitter that with the decision Turkey is giving a proportionate response to the US attacks on the Turkish economy. “Under the principle of reciprocity, the tax rates for imports of certain products have been increased against the US administration’s conscious attacks on our economy,” was his statement.
President Donald Trump allowed for the implementation of higher tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum on August 10th. Following the action, Trump commented: “I have just authorized a doubling of tariffs on steel and aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish lira, slides rapidly downwards against our very strong dollar. Aluminum will now be 20 percent and steel 50 percent. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!”
The Turkish lira has been declining since the US imposed sanctions on two Turkish ministers on August 1st. The tariffs on steel and aluminum have just accelerated that. The lira has lost more than 45% of its value this year. On August 14th its value went up by 8.4%, however on the morning of August 15th it was down 0.7%.
On August 14th, Turkey’s national Turkish Airlines and its main telecoms firm Turk Telecom announced that they are halting advertising in US media in response to the tension in relations between the countries. Both companies made their announcements after a campaign on Twitter calling for an end to advertising in US media outlets.
Reuters cited an official at one of the companies said the advertising boycott would encompass all written, visual and social media, although existing advertising campaign agreements would not be affected.
“We as Turkish Airlines are taking our place alongside our state and people,” senior vice president for media relations Yahya Ustun wrote on Twitter with the hashtag #ABDyeReklamVerme, meaning “don’t give advertisements to the USA”. Hamdi Ates, corporate communications director at Turk Telecom shared a similar message on his Twitter.
On August 14th, an anonymous White House official, cited by Reuters claimed that the US is warning of more economic pressures if the Pastor is not released. The official also said that “nothing has progressed” so far in the Brunson case. “The administration is going to stay extremely firm on this. The president is 100 percent committed to bringing Pastor Brunson home and if we do not see actions in the next few days or a week there could be further actions taken,” he further commented. Further actions would likely take the form of economic sanctions, the official said, who added: “The pressure is going to keep up if we’re not seeing results.”