10 August, 2018
President Donald Trump says the United States has decided to increase tariff rates on Turkish steel and aluminum.
Trump announced the action Friday on Twitter.
The tariff for steel imported from Turkey will now be 50 percent. Import taxes for aluminum will be 20 percent. That is two times the level announced earlier this year in March.
The United States is the biggest destination for Turkish steel exports. Turkey answered the March tariff announcement by placing its own tariffs on $267 million of U.S. goods.
Turkey said it would respond to the new U.S. tariff action "without delay" and warned the move would further harm relations between the two countries.
Trump tweeted that the latest tariff decision came as Turkey's currency, the lira, "slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar."
The lira's value fell about 13 percent against the dollar on Friday. The currency is down about 40 percent so far this year.
Economic experts believe the sharp fall of the lira is mainly because of concerns about the government's economic policies. The weakened currency's value has helped increase inflation and worried international investors.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won another term in office in June with expanded powers.
He has said Turkey's economy remains strong, noting a 7.4 percent growth rate in the first three months of this year. But some investors fear the Turkish economy is growing too quickly and could face problems.
Erdogan has been putting pressure on the central bank not to raise interest rates in an attempt to help borrowers. But experts argue that the central bank should instead raise interest rates to ease inflation and to support the currency.
Erdogan has blamed outside forces for trying to bring down Turkey's economy. On Friday, he said the country had to take steps in answer "to those who have waged an economic war against us." He urged Turkish citizens to immediately exchange their gold and dollars for lira.
Relations "not good at this time"
In his tweet about the new tariffs, Trump said "Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!"
One of the difficult issues affecting U.S.-Turkish relations is a dispute over an American clergyman who has been jailed in Turkey since December 2016.
Turkey has accused Andrew Craig Brunson of spying and "committing crimes on behalf of terror groups without being a member." Brunson is on trial and faces up to 35 years in prison if he is found guilty.
The United States placed sanctions on two Turkish officials earlier this month because of Brunson's case.
Erdogan said Turkey is not afraid of outside "threats." He added that the country will continue to enjoy good economic relations with several major nations. These include places "from Iran, to Russia, to China and some European countries," he said.
On Friday, Erdogan spoke by telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. A Russian government statement said the two discussed economic and trade ties, including the success of several joint projects.
I'm Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from Reuters, the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse. Mario Ritter was the editor.
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Words in This Story
tariff – n. a tax on goods coming into or leaving a country
destination – n. the place where someone or something is going
rapidly – adj. happening or moving very quickly
wage – v. to fight or organize in order to achieve something
commit – v. carry out or do something
behalf – n. someone's interest or support
sanction – n. an order given to limit or stop trade under international law