Aug 15 2018

U.S. steel tariffs to stay even if Turkey releases prisoners - White House

Turkey’s tariffs on a list of U.S. goods including cars and alcohol are a “regrettable step in the wrong direction,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told journalists at a press briefing on Wednesday, the day the tariffs were announced.

However, even an ease in tensions between the two countries will not spell the end of U.S. actions against Turkey, Sanders said.

Turkey’s tariffs came in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement last Friday doubling U.S. tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium, amid protracted diplomatic tensions described by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as “economic war.”

“The tariffs that the United States placed on Turkey were out of national security interest, there’s were out of retaliation,” said Sanders, refusing to comment on whether the United States would respond in kind.

The ongoing tensions between the NATO allies came to a head last month, after a failed deal to release Pastor Andrew Brunson, a U.S. citizen imprisoned in Turkey. The United States has stated that it will consider only the release of Brunson and all other U.S. citizens and employees held in Turkey as progress in the matter.

However, the tariffs on steel will remain in place whether or not the prisoners are released, said Sanders, who described the efforts by the United States to boost its steel industry as a “matter of national security.”

Sanctions placed on two Turkish ministers would be reconsidered if the pastor and others are freed, Sanders said.