Turkish president Erdoğan vows US boycott, but diplomats resume talks

President Erdoğan said Turkey will boycott U.S.-made electronic goods. Behind the scenes, however, diplomats resumed contact to ease tensions
Tuesday, 14 August 2018 20:47

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday Turkey would boycott electronic products from the United States, retaliating in a row with Washington that helped drive the lira to record lows.

"We will implement a boycott against America's electronic goods," Erdoğan told members of his AKP party in a speech.

"If (the United States) have the iPhone, there's Samsung on the other side," he said, referring to US giant Apple's phone and the top South Korean brand. 

"We (also) have our Venus and Vestel," Erdoğan said about homegrown Turkish electronics brands. Shares in Vestel zoomed up seven percent on the Istanbul stock exchange after Erdoğan's remarks.

The move is seen as retaliation for the United States' decision to sanction two Turkish ministers over the detention of an American pastor on terror-related charges, and to double tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium imports.

However, diplomatic dialogue appears to have resumed. U.S. officials say National Security adviser John Bolton had met with the Turkish ambassador to Washington on Monday.

That helped ease the turmoil in financial markets, with the Turkish lira stabilizing near record lows. It was up about 5 percent on Tuesday, at about 6.52 per dollar. The lira has lost more than 40 percent this year and crashed to an all-time low of 7.24 to the dollar early on Monday.

The lira's weakness has rippled through global markets. Its drop of as much as 18 percent on Friday hit European and U.S. stocks.

Erdoğan says 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 national currency.

"Together with our people, we will stand decisively against the dollar, forex prices, inflation and interest rates. We will protect our economic independence by being tight-knit together," he said.

Turkish Airlines also announced on Twitter that it would join a campaign circulating on social media with a hashtag #ABDyeReklamVerme (don't give ads to America). 

"We, as the Turkish Airlines, stand by our state and our people. Necessary instructions on the issue have been issued to our agencies," Yahya Ustun, spokesman for the country's flag-carrier, wrote on Twitter.

In a joint statement issued Tuesday, the wealthiest capitalists' group TÜSIAD and the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges called on the government to allow the central bank to raise interest rates to help overcome the currency crisis.

The groups also urged diplomatic efforts with the United States and an improvement in relations with the European Union.

Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, Erdoğan's son-in-law,  is due to address hundreds of foreign investors on Thursday in a teleconference, the state-run Anadolu Agency said. On Tuesday, he said the government is working on steps to help banks and support companies affected by the currency crisis.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov voiced support for Turkey during a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara, saying that the wide use of sanctions reflects the U.S.'s desire to dominate and secure advantages for its businesses.

He said Russia and Turkey have set a goal to switch from dollars to national currencies in mutual trade.