Erdogan vows to defy United States ‘threats’ after currency crash

Stocks dive, euro falls, as Turkey turmoil ripples out

U.S. President Donald Trump intensified his spat with Turkey on Friday by imposing higher tariffs on metal imports, putting unprecedented economic pressure on a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally and deepening turmoil in Turkish financial markets.

"Those who can't compete with us on the ground have brought online fictional currency plots that have nothing to do with the realities of our country, production and real economy", Erdogan told a provincial meeting of his AK Party in the town of Rize on Saturday, as quoted by Reuters.

He also said it was a pity that Washington chose Brunson over Turkey, its partner in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and in an opinion piece in the New York Times, he warned the United States that Ankara had other alternatives as allies.

The Nato allies have also been at odds over U.S. support to Syrian Kurd armed group that Washington considers an ally in the fight against ISIS but Ankara says is a terrorist group.

President Donald Trump said he had authorised higher tariffs on imports from Turkey, imposing a 20 percent duty on aluminium and 50 percent one on steel.

While Turkey and the United States are at odds over a host of issues, the most pressing disagreement for Trump has been the fate of American Christian pastor Andrew Brunson, who is on trial on terrorism charges for allegedly supporting a group that Ankara blames for a failed coup in 2016.

But Erdogan urged Turks not to be panicked by the currency crisis, saying: "If they have the dollar, we have Allah". "Immediately give these to the banks and convert to Turkish lira and by doing this, we fight this war of independence and the future", he said.

The lira sell-off has deepened concern particularly about whether over-indebted companies will be able to pay back loans taken out in euros and dollars after years of overseas borrowing to fund a construction boom under Erdogan.

"They are threatening us".

Brunson's arrest in October 2016 soured already deeply-strained relations with Washington.

In Rize, Erdogan said the USA would pay a price by challenging Turkey for the sake of "petty calculations", denouncing Washington for declaring "economic war on the entire world" and holding countries "for ransom through sanction threats".

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan talks to media in the Black Sea city of Ordu, Turkey August 11, 2018.

Erdogan said high foreign exchange rates were being used as a weapon against Turkey.

Erdogan also warned that Ankara could start looking for "new friends and allies".

"Unless the United States starts respecting Turkey's sovereignty and proves that it understands the dangers our nation faces, our partnership could be in jeopardy", he wrote.

"Before it is too late, Washington must give up the misguided notion that our relationship can be asymmetrical and come to terms with the fact that Turkey has alternatives. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!"

The White House said he had authorized them under a section of US trade law that allows for tariffs on national security grounds.

Erdogan on Friday appealed for calm and renewed a call on people to change foreign money into local lira.

Erdogan has said Turkey was not afraid of "threats" and will find "alternatives" for economic cooperation in many places "from Iran, to Russian Federation, to China and some European countries".

A financial shockwave ripped through Turkey on Friday as its currency nosedived on concerns about its economic policies and a dispute with the USA, which President Donald Trump stoked further with a promise to double tariffs on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

"The US has to rehabilitate its addiction to sanctions (and) bullying or the entire world will unite beyond verbal condemnations to force it to".

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