Turkey to boycott US electronic goods as diplomatic row with Trump escalates, says Erdogan

Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country will boycott US electronic goods amid an escalating diplomatic dispute with the Trump adminstration. 

The move comes after Washington imposed sanctions and raised tariffs against Ankara in a dispute about the detention of a US evangelical pastor.

Mr Erdogan said Turkey had been taking necessary measures regarding the economy in the wake of a slide in the lira currency exacerbated by the dispute with Washington, but that it was important to keep a firm political stance.

Switching to foreign currency would mean giving in to the enemy, he added.

Mr Erdogan suggested Turkey would stop procuring US-made iPhones and instead buy Korean Samsung or Turkish-made Vestel.

“If they have the iPhone, there is Samsung elsewhere. We have Vestel,” he said. 

It was unclear how the Turkish president planned to implement the boycott.

He also renewed a plea for Turks to convert their dollars into the Turkish lira in order to bolster the currency.

The Turkish lira plummeted to 6.98 per dollar on Monday, having nose-dived as low as just 7.2 overnight. The currency has lost more than a quarter of its value over just seven days and is now around 45 per cent down since the start of 2018.

Mr Erdogan has blamed the crash of the lira on America – claiming a “political, underhand plot” had sent the value of his country’s currency falling to record lows.

Mr Erdogan accused Donald Trump of waging “economic war against the entire world”, after the US president escalated a diplomatic feud by doubling tariffs against Turkey on steel and aluminium.

“The aim of the operation is to make Turkey surrender in all areas, from finance to politics,” the Turkish president told supporters in the Black Sea city of Trabzon.

“We are once again facing a political, underhand plot. With God’s permission we will overcome this.”

The lira has lost more than 40 per cent of its value against dollar this year, amid deteriorating relations between Turkey and the US and concerns over Mr Erdogan’s influence over the economy.

Speaking in Trabzon, Mr Erdogan rebuffed suggestions Turkey was facing a financial crisis like those which hit Asia two decades ago.

“What is the reason for all this storm in a tea cup? There is no economic reason. This is called carrying out an operation against Turkey,” he said.

“We will give our answer, by shifting to new markets, new partnerships and new alliances, to the one who waged an economic war against the entire world and also included our country. Some close the doors and some others open new ones.”

Mr Trump announced a doubling of tariffs against Turkey last week as ties between the two nations continued to worsen over Ankara’s detention of the US pastor.

“Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time,” tweeted the US leader. two days after talks between American and Turkish officials about pastor Andrew Brunson, 50, ended without any clear progress.

Mr Brunson, who has lived for two decades in Turkey, was arrested in 2016 and charged with having terrorist connections. He is also accused of having links to the failed coup attempt on Mr Erdogan that year.

Having spent two years in jail, he was recently released to house arrest, with his trial is due to resume in October.

Additional reporting by wires

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