Turkey on Wednesday raised tariffs on a number products imported from the United States, including passenger cars, tobacco and spirits, retaliating for President Donald Trump’s decision last week to double tariffs on Turkish metals.
The tit-for-tat measures are part of a broader dispute between the two countries over the fate of an American citizen, Andrew Brunson, who is being prosecuted by Turkish authorities on terrorism-related charges. The Trump administration has demanded that Brunson, a pastor from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for decades, be allowed to return to the United States.
Turkey has suffered the most from the feud, which has helped push its currency, the lira, to record lows against the dollar. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has accused the United States of bullying behavior and economic sabotage, vowed on Tuesday to boycott U.S.-made electronic goods, including Apple’s signature iPhone.
A list published in Turkey’s official Gazette on Wednesday raised tariffs on tobacco products to 60 percent, spirits to 140 percent and passenger cars to 120 percent. Tariffs were also boosted for cosmetics, rice and coal. In 2017, the United States exported $9.7 billion dollars in goods to Turkey, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Last week, Trump announced on Twitter that he was doubling tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum. “Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!” he wrote. Earlier in August, his administration had levied sanctions against Turkey’s justice and interior ministers, accusing them of playing “leading roles” in the organizations responsible for the arrest and detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson.
Talks between Washington and Ankara in recent days to resolve the standoff have foundered.
On Tuesday, a White House official quoted by the Reuters news agency hinted at further economic measures against Turkey if Brunson was not released. “The administration is going to stay extremely firm on this,” the official said. “The pressure is going to keep up if we’re not seeing results.”
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Kareem Fahim