Turkey hikes tariffs on imports of several USA products

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Turkey announced on Wednesday a string of new tariffs ranging from 50 to 140 per cent on rice, alcohol and cars from the U.S.in retaliation for Trump's move to slap taxes on Turkish steel and aluminum imports last week.

The United States on Wednesday ruled out removing steel tariffs that have contributed to a currency crisis in Turkey if Ankara frees a U.S. pastor, as Qatar pledged US$15 billion in investment to Turkey, supporting a rise in the Turkish lira.

Erdogan signed a decree on August 15 that raises tariffs on American cars to 120 percent, on alcoholic drinks to 140 percent, and on leaf tobacco to 60 percent.

The tit-for-tat tariffs came amid Turkey's rejection of a USA demand that it release American pastor Andrew Brunson, detained on espionage and terrorism-related charges.

Those consequences are USA sanctions and a doubling of tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum, announced by President Trump on Friday. Ankara retaliated on Wednesday by doubling tariffs on some US imports including cars, alcohol and tobacco.

"In response to deliberated and continued trade tensions, Turkey has again raised tariffs on key USA imports", Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said in a statement.

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that Turkey would boycott electronic products from the United States, retaliating in a row with Washington that has helped drive the lira to record lows, Reuters reports.

The United States was the fourth largest source of imports to Turkey previous year, accounting for $12-billion of imports, according to International Monetary Fund statistics.

Sanders said Brunson's release would not lead to an easing in the tariffs, but that it could lead to an easing in sanctions.

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While Washington was busy exiting the Iran nuclear deal in early May, Rabat had its own issues with the Islamic Republic. On Monday, Trump ordered all nuclear-related sanctions that were removed under the deal to be reinstated immediately.

Most dramatically, a White House official told Reuters, "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".

U.S. President Donald Trump and Erdogan, seen on July 11, have appeared to get on well personally, but the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have several areas of economic and political conflict.

In a rare joint show of force, the Trump White House and the U.S. State Department has been operating in sync, which wouldn't be unusual during a normal presidency, but is exceptionally weird for the Trump regime. Erdogan has blamed the US for the fall of the lira, but refused to budge on Trump's demand for Brunson's release.

Erdogan has said Turkey is the target of an economic war, and he has made repeated calls for Turks to sell their dollars and euros to shore up the currency.

Since January, the Turkish lira has lost more than 34 percent of its value against the dollar, pushing up the price of everyday items. The Turkish leader has consolidated power after a failed coup attempt in the summer of 2016, not long before America's presidential election.

She said the USA was "monitoring the situation".

Relieving tensions in a case that annoyed Brussels, a Turkish court Tuesday released two Greek soldiers detained since March on espionage charges for illegally crossing the border.

The top US diplomat in Turkey, Charge d'Affaires Jeffrey Hovenier, visited Brunson and his wife, Norine, Tuesday, calling on Turkey to resolve his case "without delay and in a fair and transparent manner". A court on Wednesday rejected an appeal for the release of Andrew Brunson from house arrest. The lira is down roughly 40 per cent this year, dropping 10 per cent of its value on Monday alone.

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