ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday warned that his country would boycott electronic goods from the US, after Washington imposed punitive sanctions on Ankara over the latter’s refusal to extradite a jailed American pastor.
Tensions between the two countries have escalated over US pastor Andrew Brunson, who was arrested in Turkey nearly two years ago over terrorism allegations. Washington doubled tariffs on steel and aluminum imports last week following Turkey’s refusal to extradite him.
The impasse led to the depreciation of the Turkish lira, which lost 25 per cent of its value in August and impacted on other countries’ currencies as well, including the Indian rupee, as investors feared the lira’s wobbles could spread to developing nations.
“We will boycott US electronic goods,” Erdogan said in a televised speech. “If (the US) has the iPhone, there’s Samsung on the other side,” Erdogan said, referring to Apple and its South Korean competitor. He added that Turkey also had its own Venus Vetsel phones, the BBC reported.
Erdogan termed Washington’s measures as an “economic attack from abroad”. Russia, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Mexico also saw their currencies fall over the last week.
He said that Turkey was taking measures to stabilize the economy and should not “give in to the enemy” by investing in foreign currencies.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who was visiting Ankara, branded the US sanctions an “illegitimate policy” on Tuesday. He accused Washington of seeking an unfair competitive advantage in global trade.
Since January, the Turkish lira has lost more than 34 per cent of its value against the dollar, pushing up the price of everyday items.
In a televised speech earlier, the Turkish President called on citizens to exchange foreign currency and gold for lira, calling it an “economic war”. However, there may be a small respite for the flailing currency, which gained slightly in value after days of dramatic falls.
Turkey’s central bank has promised to provide banks with liquidity. The country’s Finance Minister will seek to reassure around 1,000 international investors in a teleconference scheduled for Thursday.