Sep 07 2018

U.S. can’t be trusted running world economy, says Albayrak

The United States cannot be trusted to run the world’s economy, and the international community should unite to stand against Washington’s unilateral sanctions and financial attacks, Turkish Finance and Treasury Minister Berat Albayrak has said in an op-ed published by Foreign Policy magazine.

Turkey’s economy has hit serious trouble this year, with the lira falling around 40 percent against the dollar since the beginning of the year.

The currency took a sharp downward turn this summer when the United States hit Turkey with sanctions and tariff hikes, retaliatory measures against the country for jailing U.S. citizens.

“It was one of the most disappointing moments in the history of the alliance between Turkey and America,” Albayrak said. “The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump overtly attacked the economy of a fellow NATO member through sanctions and tariffs.”

“In adopting sanctions against Turkey, the Trump administration invoked the flimsy pretext of an ongoing legal case involving a U.S. citizen with strong links to terrorist activities targeting Turkey’s peace and stability,” he said.

Albayrak referred to Andrew Brunson, the U.S. pastor at the centre of the feud with the United States, who is accused by Turkey of conducting espionage for two outlawed organisations.

International observers have criticised the indictment against the pastor, which they say is based on secret documents and anonymous witnesses, and U.S. President Donald Trump has called the charges “phoney.”

The finance minister, who is also the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, went on to say that the plunge in the lira’s value had been caused by negative propaganda and attacks on the financial system, rather than any underlying problems with governance.

“It is important to reiterate that no economic indicators or macroeconomic data can account for the devaluation of the Turkish lira over the past month. Turkey’s financial structure and banking system have not experienced any fundamental changes during this time,” Albayrak said.

Critics, however, have expressed dismay at Erdoğan’s handling of the economy, particularly the apparent loss of independence of important financial institutions since the beginning of the new executive presidential system in July.

Erdoğan’s dislike of interest rates is well-known, and is thought to be the reason Turkey’s central bank has consistently failed to raise interest despite high inflation.

“As has been the case for the last 16 years under the Justice and Development Party’s successive governments, the Turkish Central Bank’s independence, effectiveness, and leading role in monetary policy will remain a priority for the government,” Albayrak said.

The finance minister also called on the international community to stand against “(unilateral) sanctions, incitement of trade wars, and haphazard use of economic weapons” that he said could spark another global economic crisis.

"The assault on the Turkish economy must be viewed as an example of how the senseless use of economic pressure as a political weapon poses serious global risks. By acting together with Turkey now, other countries can also help it create a common strategy to avoid artificial crises in the future,” he said.