Threat of new US sanctions puts pressure on fragile lira

US sanctions imposed on Turkey have triggered a crash in the value of the lira
US sanctions imposed on Turkey have triggered a crash in the value of the liraLEFTERIS PITARAKIS AP

18 August, 2018

A higher Turkish court has rejected an appeal for the release from detention of the American pastor Andrew Brunson, who is facing terrorism-related charges and is now under house arrest in the Aegean province of Izmir.

The lira's collapse has plunged the entirety of the emerging market space into chaos, with contagion causing the likes of the South African rand, the Argentine peso, and the Indonesian rupiah, to slump in response.

The conflict is even more personalized because of U.S. President Trump and Turkish President Erdogan, whose uncompromising statements contribute to a sense that tension will ratchet up before any climbdown.

The massive pledge came during a visit by Qatar's emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to Ankara on Wednesday, where he met his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The 50-year-old pastor and the USA government vehemently deny those charges. It upheld a lower court's decision against the lifting of a travel ban on Brunson.

Trump has demanded that Turkey release Andrew Brunson, a USA evangelical pastor who has been held in Turkey for the past two years.

"They have not proven to be a good friend", Trump said of Turkey during the Cabinet meeting.

The latest trigger was Donald Trump's announcement that he would double import tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium. Turkey has retaliated with $533 million-worth of tariffs on USA imports, including tobacco and alcohol.

JP Morgan said moves by Turkish authorities showed they were committed to stabilising the currency with technical measures such as restricting foreign exchange swaps and cancelling repo auctions to push up the average cost of bank funding. He said Turkey has no plans to ask for International Monetary Fund for support with the falling lira.

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Turkey's finance chief tried to reassure thousands of global investors on a conference call Thursday, in which he pledged to fix the economic troubles.

"They made up this phony charge that he is a spy, and he is not a spy", Trump told reporters.

For years Turkish firms have borrowed in dollars and lira to take advantage of lower interest rates. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the Republican People's Party, said Thursday in Ankara, the capital. Ankara also wanted Washington to hand over Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania and who Turkey suspects of plotting the coup against Erdogan.

Trump said the United States had helped Turkey in a related incident, but that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally had not repaid the favor. Trump tweeted on Thursday.

Mr Trump said: "They want to hold our wonderful pastor".

The dollar.DXY dipped on news of the U.S.

He also played down U.S. tariffs on imports of Turkish metals.

The issue has led to a dramatic souring of U.S. -Turkey relations. He faces 35 years in prison on espionage and terror-related charges.

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