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Erdogan accuses US of waging economic ‘war’ against Turkey as he threatens to ‘look for new allies’

Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the US of waging economic “war” on Turkey amid a downturn that has seen the currency plunge.

The warning came after his US counterpart, Donald Trump, escalated a feud by doubling tariffs on metals imports.

Speaking in the northeastern province of Rize, Mr Erdogan said dollars, euros and gold were now “the bullets, cannonballs and missiles of the economic war being waged against our country”.

Mr Erdogan earlier warned that Turkey would “start looking for new friends and allies” if Washington did not give up the “misguided notion that our relationship can be asymmetrical”.

He promised supporters that Turkey was taking the necessary precautions to protect its economy but added “the most important thing is breaking the hands firing these weapons”.

Turkey was hit by a financial shockwave this week as its currency nosedived over concerns about the government’s economic policies and a trade dispute with the US.

The lira tumbled 14 per cent on Friday, a massive move for a currency that will make Turkish residents poorer and further erode international investors’ confidence in the country.

The currency drop is particularly painful for Turkey because it finances a lot of its economic growth with foreign money.

The currency’s drop — 41 per cent so far this year — is a gauge of fear over a country coming to terms with years of high debt, international concern over Mr Erdogan’s push to amass power, and a souring in relations with allies like the U.S.

In an opinion piece published in The New York Times on Friday, Mr Erdogan criticised the tensions with the US, saying a “failure to reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect will require us to start looking for new friends and allies.”

Turkey later said Mr Erdogan had held a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss economic ties.

It did not disclose details, but the move suggests Turkey might gravitate further from its Nato allies toward cooperation with Russia, whose relations with the West are at their lowest point since the Cold War.

Among the issues, Turkey has arrested an American pastor and put him on trial for espionage and terror-related charges linked to a failed coup attempt in the country two years ago. The pastor has proclaimed his innocence.

The US responded by slapping sanctions on Turkey and threatening more. The sides held talks in Washington this week but failed to resolve the spat.

Mr Trump tweeted “relations with Turkey are not good at this time”.

The United States is the biggest destination for Turkish steel exports, with 11 per cent of the Turkish export volume.

Turkey’s woes have been aggravated by investor worries about the economic policies of Mr Erdogan, who won a new term in office in June with sweeping new powers.

Mr Erdogan has been putting pressure on Turkey’s central bank to not raise interest rates in order to keep fuelling economic growth.

He claims higher rates lead to higher inflation — the opposite of what standard economic theory says.

Independent analysts argue the central bank should instead raise rates to tame inflation and support the currency.

Additional reporting by AP


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