Turkey aims new tariffs at USA as court rejects pastor's appeal


Turkey sharply increased tariffs on a variety of USA products - including cars and alcohol - and a court decided not to release an American pastor being held on terrorism charges as the feud between Ankara and Washington continued to escalate on Wednesday.

Tariffs were also doubled on goods such as cosmetics, rice and coal.

Vice President Fuat Oktay wrote on Twitter that the increase in duties were in response to "deliberate attacks on our economy" by the U.S. administration.

Turkey has suffered the most from the feud, which has helped push its currency, the lira, to record lows against the dollar.

On Monday, the Turkish currency hit a record low of 7.24 against the USA dollar in Asia Pacific trading.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country will boycott electronic products made in the U.S. amid an escalating diplomatic feud with the Trump administration that has helped trigger a currency meltdown in Turkey.

Erdogan said the nation of 80 million people would stop buying American electronics, condemning the "explicit economic attack" against his country.

A decree signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised the tariffs on cars to 120%, on alcoholic drinks to 140% and on leaf tobacco to 60%. "In our country there is Venus, Vestel", he added, referring to Turkish smartphone brands.

Brunson, who has worked in Turkey for more than 20 years as the pastor of the Resurrection Church, was detained more than a year ago for an alleged connection to a failed coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016. Additional tariffs on US products amounted to $553 million, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said Wednesday.

Moves by the central bank to ensure Turkish banks have liquidity and a planned conference call by Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, who is Erdogan´s son-in-law on Thursday have gone some way to giving reassurance to investors.

Erdogan also said Turkey was boycotting USA electronic products.

The declaration comes as a trade war between the United States and Turkey has caused the Turkish currency, the lira, to plummet over the past few days, sending shockwaves throughout global markets.

Erdogan said Turkey is the target of an economic war waged by the U.S., calling on citizens to exchange foreign currency and gold for the lira.

State television TRT reported the 2nd Penal Court in İzmir rejected the appeal on August 15 and sent the defendant's petition to an upper court.

Relations between the two sides have further soured over Ankara's imprisonment of American pastor Andrew Brunson.

On Tuesday the White House said President Trump was frustrated that Turkey had not released Andrew Brunson, the evangelical pastor held on terrorism charges that Washington believes are fabricated.

Turkey's ambassador to Washington Serdar Kilic held talks with U.S. national security advisor John Bolton in a meeting which Ankara said was arranged by the White House.

Also on the military front, Turkey's purchase of Russia's S-400 missile defence system has irked the USA and other alliance members in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

He said Russian President Vladimir Putin and Erdogan had also discussed using national currencies in trade.