Turkey slapped another round of steep tariffs on U.S. goods as the two countries escalate their trade battle and push the relationship to a breaking point.
Ankara’s latest move follows President Trump‘s announcement last week that he will double tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from Turkey until it releases U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson, who was arrested in 2016.
Turkey said it would not be strong-armed into releasing Brunson, whose second appeal for release was rejected on Wednesday.
In response to Trump’s tariffs, Turkish officials said they will impose a 50 percent tax on U.S. rice, 140 percent on spirits, 60 percent on tobacco and 120 percent on cars while increasing duties on a variety of other goods.
“In response to deliberated and continued trade tensions, Turkey has again raised tariffs on key U.S. imports,” Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said in a statement.
“Trade wars help no one, but Turkey will do what is necessary to protect our industries and economy from assault,” Pekcan said.
Turkey had already retaliated against Trump’s first round of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports that were imposed on the European Union in late May, ending a two-month exemption.
Ankara’s first batch of tariffs hit $1.8 billion in U.S. products.
“Recent developments in the U.S.-Turkey relationship threaten both countries’ economic interests and put at risk an alliance that has proven its value over decades,” said Myron Brilliant, U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive vice president and head of international affairs, in a message to the U.S. Chamber’s U.S.-Turkey Business Council.
“Escalating the use of Section 232 tariffs on imports from Turkey poses serious risks for the United States,” Brilliant said.
“For months, the U.S. Chamber has warned that alienating our allies in a tit-for-tat trade war would harm the U.S. economy and undermine American global leadership, and evidence of that harm to U.S. workers, farmers, and businesses is mounting.”
The announcement follows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s call for a boycott of U.S. electronics, including Apple’s iPhones to counter Trump’s actions to ramp up pressure on Turkey to release Brunson.
On Wednesday, Qatar pledged $15 billion to help Turkey through its economic and currency crisis.
The country’s currency, the lira, has fallen sharply against the U.S. dollar in recent weeks but rebounded after the aid announcement.
BY VICKI NEEDHAM – 08/15/18