Turkey's Erdogan repeats call to Turks to help shore up lira

An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai China. Aly Song Reuters  File

On August 10, Trump announced he had authorized the doubling of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Turkey.

The new duties on Turkey are double the level that Trump imposed in March on steel and aluminum imports from a range of countries. At the same time, the USA froze the sale of 100 F-35s to Turkey, despite their co-operation for their manufacturing and production since 2008.

Mr Erdogan said although the nations had been allies for decades, Turkey "now has alternatives".

The lira sell-off has deepened concern particularly about whether over-indebted companies will be able to pay back loans taken out in euros and dollars after years of overseas borrowing to fund a construction boom under Erdogan.

The United States is the biggest destination for Turkish steel exports with 11 percent of the Turkish export volume. But those talks on Thursday showed no signs of breakthrough. The U.S. recently hit two high-ranking Turkish officials with sanctions after the Turkish government refused to release imprisoned Christian pastor Andrew Brunson.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the United States of trying to "bring Turkey to its knees through threats over a pastor".

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According to the Capital Economics consultancy, the plunge in the lira risks putting further pressure on the banking sector in Turkey due to the scale of the credit boom and one third of bank lending being denominated in foreign currencies. "The dollar, the mollar, will not cut our path", said Erdogan using a figure of speech he repeatedly uses to mock something.

'However, I say it once again from here. You are exchanging your strategic partner in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation for a priest. "This is a national, domestic battle", he told a crowd in the northeastern city of Bayburt.

"We will give our answer, by shifting to new markets, new partnerships and new alliances, to the one who waged an economic war against the entire world and also included our country", Erdogan said. A Russian government statement said the two discussed economic and trade ties, including the success of several joint projects.

The lira tumbled 16 percent against the dollar on Friday.

The currency had spent much of 2014 hovering at just over two to the dollar but broke through the three mark for the first time after the 2016 failed coup bid and then slid to four earlier this year. The entire Turkish public is against US policies that disregard Turkey's legitimate security demands.

Turkey is also frustrated at US unwillingness to extradite Turkish cleric Fetullah Gulen, who Erdogan accuses of staging a failed 2016 coup attempt.

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But Erdogan said Turks should not be alarmed by exchange rate movements.

New Finance Minister Berat Albayrak - Erdogan's son-in-law - acknowledged that the central bank's independence was critical for the economy, promising stronger budget discipline and a priority on structural reforms. But since adopting increased powers, Erdogan appears to have greater control over the bank as well.

"We are gearing up for trade in national currencies with China, Russia, Iran, Ukraine, which account for the largest bilateral trade volume".

'If they have their dollar, we have the people, we have Allah, ' he said.

On Saturday, Erdoğan urged Turks to help support the lira to win what he described as a "war of independence".

Coupled with an inflation rate of almost 16 percent, that could cause severe damage to the local economy.

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Foreign investors could be spooked and try to pull their money out, reinforcing the currency drop and potentially leading to financial instability.

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