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Turkey's Erdogan Threatens Boycott of US Goods

Turkey’s President threatened Tuesday to boycott U.S. electronic goods because of what he calls an economic war against Turkey by the United States.

President Erdogan told political supporters in Ankara that he would start “a boycott against America’s electronic goods.” He urged Turks to buy local or Korean mobile phones, instead of American iPhones.

Erdogan, however, did not announce any government action towards a boycott.

The president’s comments came after diplomats from both sides met Monday to calm tensions.

The call for a boycott appears to be Erdogan’s answer to the U.S. decision to double tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports. In addition, the U.S. has placed sanctions on two Turkish ministers over the arrest of an American pastor who is charged with having links to terrorism.

Erdogan also has called on people to exchange their U.S. dollars for Turkish lira to help strengthen the exchange value of the country’s currency.

“If we divert our money to foreign currency...then we will be in the position of having surrendered to the devil,” Erdogan said.

The dispute between the U.S. and Turkey has started an economic crisis in Turkey that has pushed its currency to historic lows. The exchange value of the lira has fallen about 40 percent against the U.S. dollar since January. Last week it dropped 16 percent in one day.

However, severe changes in the value of the currency calmed Tuesday after news that U.S. national security adviser John Bolton had met with the Turkish ambassador to Washington Monday.

International investors are worried about Turkey’s high amount of debt held in foreign currencies, especially the dollar. Most economists say Erdogan should raise interest rates to support the Turkish lira, but Erdogan wants to keep rates low to support growth. Investors are also worried about the effects of the dispute between two NATO allies.

In a statement released Tuesday, Turkish business groups called on Erdogan to let the Turkish central bank raise interest rates to stop the currency crisis. They also called on Turkey to work with the United States to improve relations.

The Turkish central bank has promised that Turkish banks will have all the money they need. But, foreign investors are concerned that the central bank may not act because of political interference. Central banks try to ignore politics when making economic decisions.

In the case of the American pastor, the lawyer representing Andrew Brunson again asked a Turkish court to release him from house arrest. The 50-year-old pastor is charged with terrorism links and spying. He denies the charges. Brunson faces a possible prison sentence of 35 years.

I’m Susan Shand.


Words in This Story

currency – n. the kind of money a country uses

tariffs – n. a tax on goods coming into or leaving a country

sanctioned – adj. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country

pastor – n. a minister or priest in charge of a church or parish

divert – v. to move in a different direction

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