Trump Hits Turkey Hard by Jacking Up Tariffs

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President Donald Trump said Friday that he is doubling steel and aluminum tariffs against Turkey, a Nato ally.

“I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%,” Trump tweeted.

“Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!”

Trump issued the tweet after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on citizens to convert their dollars and other foreign currencies to lira.

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“Change the euros, the dollars and the gold that you are keeping beneath your pillows into lira at our banks. This is a domestic and national struggle,” Erdogan said, according to The Associated Press.

The authoritarian ruler also accused other nations of waging “economic war” against Turkey.

The Turkish lira has lost a third of its value this year.

Trump’s announcement also comes amid a tense diplomatic standoff between the U.S. and Turkey over the status of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who is on house arrest in Turkey while awaiting trial on bogus terror-related charges.

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A Turkish court released Brunson from prison in July. He had been in jail since October 2016.

Trump and others in his administration reportedly believed that they had struck a deal with Turkey’s president to release Brunson in exchange for the release of a Turkish woman jailed in Israel on terrorism charges.

The woman was released, but Brunson was only remanded to house arrest.

Erdogan has insisted that the Turkish government did not agree to release Brunson, who is accused of using his Christian church to provide aid to members of two groups considered terrorist organizations in Turkey.

Turkey’s stock market fell further on Friday after a Turkish delegation returned from Washington, D.C., with no apparent progress on the Brunson case.

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The Trump administration announced sanctions Aug. 1 against two Turkish government officials over Brunson’s imprisonment.

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