U.S. President Donald Trump further escalated tensions with Turkey Friday by announcing a sharp increase in tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in an early morning post on Twitter.
In announcing 20 percent tariffs on aluminum and 50 percent tariffs on steel, Trump said “the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar!”
Trump’s announcement came two days after a Turkish diplomatic delegation visited Washington in a bid to to ease tensions between the two countries.
Analysts have warned that rising U.S.-Turkish tensions are threatening a financial crisis in Turkey.
On Monday, the Turkish lira suffered its most significant drop in a decade following reports the Trump administration was considering ending Turkey’s duty-free access to the U.S. market. Trump’s Friday tweet caused a further drop in the Turkish currency.
U.S.-Turkish tensions began to escalate last week, with Trump targeting two Turkish ministers with sanctions over the detention of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson. Brunson is currently under house arrest in Turkey while standing trial on terrorism charges.
The White House dismisses the charges as baseless and accused Ankara of hostage taking.
Saying Friday Turkey faced “an economic war,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged citizens to support the lira by exchanging foreign money for the local currency.
“If you have dollars, euros or gold under your pillow, go to banks to exchange them for Turkish lira,” he said on national television. “It is a national fight.”
Erdogan called on Turks to not be concerned about exchange rate movements, mockingly declaring “the dollar, the mollar will not cut our path.”
Erdogan added that Turkey was not afraid of “threats” and said it had many alternative sources of economic cooperation “from Iran, to Russia, to China, and some European countries.”