President of Turkey vows to defy US 'threats' after currency crash

An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai China. Aly Song Reuters  File

President Tayyip Erdogan told Turks on Friday to sell their gold and US dollars to support the country's currency which plunged after US President Donald Trump escalated a feud with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey by doubling tariffs on metals imports.

Erdogan is also upset at the protection USA coalition forces are providing the Kurds in Syria, against the invading Turkish army.

Investors have become increasingly concerned with the faltering Turkish economy, its central bank's willingness to respond to the downturn and the impact it could have on global financial markets, according to multiple reports. Its currency is plunging and Turkey is also in a diplomatic spat with the US, a major trading partner. The lira, which has been losing ground in recent days in part due to the USA tensions, plunged as much as 20 percent on Friday to record low levels against the dollar.

Criticizing the state of the US relationship with Ankara, Trump announced on Twitter that he had authorized a doubling of duties on aluminum and steel imported from Turkey, making them 20 percent and 50 percent respectively.

The lira, Trump noted on Twitter, "slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar!"

His chief advisor and spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin pointed out more blatantly that the USA might lose Turkey for good. -Turkish relationship, a deterioration made worse by Turkey's worsening human rights record and increased cooperation with Russian Federation and Iran in Syria.

Erdogan said Turkey acted in accordance with the law, saying: "We have not made concessions on justice so far, and we will never make any".

The US is the biggest destination for Turkish steel exports with 11 per cent of the Turkish export volume.

They are threatening us and they are trying to put us on our knees.

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"We are preparing to trade in our local currencies with the countries that we have the largest trade volume such as China, Russia, Iran, and Ukraine".

He wrote and Washington's unilateral actions against Turkey undermine American interests and force Ankara to search for new allies.

This is double the level the president imposed on a range of countries earlier this year, including European Union member states.

Mr Trump has castigated Turkey for detaining American pastor Andrew Brunson, who is on trial for terrorism charges for allegedly associating with plotters of the failed 2016 coup against Mr Erdogan.

"If you have dollars, euros or gold under your pillow, go to banks to exchange them for the Turkish lira".

Meanwhile, Ankara is wanting the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, a Pennsylvania-based cleric who is blamed by Mr Erdogan for masterminding the 2016 coup.

A Turkish court has agreed to move Brunson from prison to house arrest over health concerns, but it still does not allow him to return to the United States.

His cause resonates with Trump's Christian conservative supporters, who could be influential as Republicans seek to retain control of Congress in midterm elections in November. The lira fell further after Trump's tweet. And under Turkey's new executive presidential system, Erdogan pretty much calls all the shots.

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