Aug 14 2018

U.S. "very closely" monitoring Turkish financial situation – White House adviser

The United States is monitoring the financial situation in Turkey very closely after U.S. sanctions triggered a fall in the lira of more than a quarter last week, Reuters quoted a White House economic advisor as saying.

U.S. President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on two Turkish ministers two weeks ago and doubled the tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Turkey last week over Ankara’s detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson and other U.S. citizens. 

‘’We are monitoring it very closely. Treasury Secretary (Steven) Mnuchin is monitoring it very closely,’’ said Kevin Hassett, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers to MSNBC.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had accused the United States of waging an “economic war” on Turkey even before Trump’s tweet on Friday.

Hassett, however, said Turkish steel exports to the United States made up a ‘’tiny, tiny fraction’’ of Turkey’s gross domestic product. 

”So, for the currency to drop 40 percent is a sign that there are a lot of economic fundamentals that are out of whack in that country,” he said. “When a country loses it connection to liberal democracy then you don’t really know what’s going to happen next to the economy and I think there is a lot of uncertainty.’’

Brunson was arrested in 2016 and charged with terrorism offenses. Prosecutors hit Brunson with  a slew of charges, including links to the outlawed Gülen movement, an Islamist group accused by the Turkish government of orchestrating the July 2016 coup attempt.

The U.S. and Turkey’s relations have also been strained due to U.S. support for Kurdish fighters in Syria. The Turkish government says those fighters are connected to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Kurdish militant group active in Turkey that is considered a terrorist organization by both countries.