Trump doubles tariffs on Turkey

Trump doubles tariffs on Turkey
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE said Friday that the U.S. will double tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Turkey, as relations between the NATO allies worsen.

Trump tweeted Friday that he authorized raising tariffs on Turkish steel to 50 percent and on aluminum to 20 percent as the country’s currency falls rapidly against the U.S. dollar.

“I have just 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!,” Trump tweeted.

“As he stated, the president has authorized the preparation of documents to raise tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from Turkey," said White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters in a statement.

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"Section 232 tariffs are imposed on imports from particular countries whose exports threaten to impair national security as defined in Section 232, independent of negotiations on trade or any other matter.”

The lira dropped 11 percent against the U.S. dollar Friday as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned of a global economic war against his country. Trump's tweet brought the lira down another 3 percentage points, according to CNBC.

Turkish financial markets have panicked over concerns about the country's fiscal health, the souring of U.S.-Turkey relations, and Erdoğan's economic policy, according to The Associated Press.

Erdoğan said the currency drop was the result of a “campaign” to injure Turkey and called on citizens to convert their U.S. dollars, euros and gold into lira, according to the AP.

“If they have their dollar, we have the people, we have Allah," Erdoğan said.

The U.S.-Turkey alliance has become increasingly strained since 2017, reaching new lows this month over the imprisonment of an American pastor.

The Treasury Department imposed financial sanctions on the Turkish Interior and Justice ministers after the government refused to let detained Christian pastor Andrew Brunson return to the U.S.

Brunson had spent 23 years as a pastor in Turkey before he was detained more than a year ago. The Turkish government alleged that he was involved in a failed coup against Erdoğan in 2016, with Fethullah Gülen, an Islamic cleric Erdoğan blames for the failed revolt.

The Turkish government transferred Brunson from prison to house arrest in July, but refused his and the U.S. government's requests to return to America.

Tensions also flared in May 2017 after Erdoğan's personal security forces attacked demonstrators protesting his visit to the U.S. at the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Trump imposed tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent on imported steel and aluminum, respectively, in March. The White House issued those tariffs under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, which empowers the president to impose duties on imports to protect U.S. national security. 

Key U.S. allies such as Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, which includes Turkey, were exempted from the tariffs until May. Those nations have responded with retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports.

Turkey is among the nations exporting the most steel to the U.S., but American imports of Turkish steel have dropped 59 percent since 2017, according to federal data from June.

Updated at 10:46 a.m.

Jordan Fabian contributed.