Trump increases pressure on Turkey amid currency crisis, authorizes doubling of metals tariffs

President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that he 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%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!”

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Losses in the the Turkish lira deepened on Trump’s tweet, falling as much as 14 percent lower vs. the U.S. dollar in Friday trading.

The currency was already reeling Friday from comments from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who called for citizens to convert their foreign currency holdings into the local lira.

The plunge in Turkish assets came after a delegation returned from Washington with little to no progress on the detention of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson, who is charged with supporting a group blamed for an attempted coup in 2016.

Last month, Trump threatened to slap “large sanctions” on the country if it refuses to free Brunson. The U.S. then announced on Aug. 1 sanctions on Turkey’s justice and interior ministers, prohibiting U.S. citizens from doing business with them.

The increase in levies follows Trump’s decision earlier this year to impose tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent for imported aluminum in an effort to protect American business.

“People have no idea how badly our country has been treated by other countries. By people representing us who didn’t have a clue,” Trump said in March, arguing that trade trends “destroyed” American steel and aluminum industries.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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