Turkey doubles tariffs on some US imports over economy 'attacks'

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ISTANBUL (Aug 15): Turkey has doubled tariffs on some US imports, such as passenger cars, alcohol and tobacco, in what its vice president said was a response to deliberate US attacks on the Turkish economy.

The move comes amid increased tension between the two NATO allies over Ankara's imprisonment of a pastor and other diplomatic issues, which has sent the lira tumbling to record lows against the dollar.

Last Friday, US President Donald Trump said he had authorized higher tariffs on aluminium and steel imports from Turkey.

A decree published in Turkey's Official Gazette and signed by President Tayyip Erdogan, doubled the tariffs on passenger cars to 120%, on alcoholic drinks to 140% and on leaf tobacco to 60%.

Tariffs were also doubled on goods such as cosmetics, rice and coal.

"The import duties were increased on some products, under the principle of reciprocity, in response to the US administration's deliberate attacks on our economy," Vice President Fuat Oktay wrote on Twitter.

The row with Washington has helped drive the lira to record lows, with the currency losing more than 40% of its value against the dollar this year, prompting central bank liquidity moves to support it.

The lira rebounded some 8% on Tuesday, helped by news of a planned conference call on Thursday in which the finance minister will seek to reassure international investors.

Markets are concerned by Erdogan's influence over the economy and his resistance to interest rate increases to tackle double-digit inflation.

On Wednesday, the lira traded at 6.4125 to the US dollar, weakening from a close of 6.3577 a day earlier.

Erdogan has said Turkey is the target of an economic war, and has made repeated calls for Turks to sell their dollars and euros to shore up the currency. On Tuesday, he said Turkey would boycott US electronic products.