Turkey slaps tariffs on US booze, cars, business groups urge diplomacy

Turkey’s government announced tariffs on American cars, alcohol and cigarettes on Tuesday, ramping up what has become a bitter dispute between the two NATO allies.

According to local press, the move doubles tariffs on a number of U.S. products, raising duties on American booze to 140 percent, cars to 120 percent and leaf tobacco to 60 percent.

The measures comes amid Turkey’s currency crisis, which has seen the Turkish lira tumble more than 40 percent against the dollar since the start of this year. The government has called it a result of “economic warfare” on the part of the U.S., while economists point to Turkey’s flawed monetary policy, widening current account deficit and high foreign-denominated debt as the primary cause of its economic woes.

Tariffs on rice, cosmetics and coal will also be doubled, and Turkish President Recep Erdogan has urged his citizens to boycott U.S. electronic goods, including Apple’s iPhone, in favor of Samsung and local brands.

Meanwhile, the lira is firming up against the dollar following the start of a rebound Tuesday, trading at 6.0750 to the greenback on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. Istanbul time (5:30 a.m. ET), up from its record low of 7.24 on Monday.

The lira tanked after President Donald Trump’s announcement of sanctions and tariffs on Ankara last week over its continued detention of American evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson. Brunson has been held in Turkey since 2016 on charges of spying and involvement in the county’s failed coup that year, which he and the U.S. government deny.

Trump issued sanctions on Turkey’s justice and interior ministers earlier this month, and meetings between delegations of the two countries have failed to produce a diplomatic solution. On Friday the American leader tweeted that he would double tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum, which Erdogan called “a stab in the back.” The following three days saw the lira lose 30 percent of its value.

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