Turkish president says country will boycott iPhones

Darnell Taylor
August 15, 2018

The Turkish president has repeatedly been photographed while using Apple products such as iPhones and iPads.

After the USA imposed sanctions on two Turkish ministers and amid growing domestic pressure from businesses and banks to contain a currency crisis, Erdogan said he wouldn't back down in the face of the economic attack against his country.

Turkey's President threatened Tuesday to boycott US electronic goods because of what he calls an economic war against Turkey by the United States.

"If [the US] has the iPhone, there's Samsung on the other side", Mr Erdogan said, referring to Apple and its South Korean competitor. "We have Vestel." It was unclear how Erdogan meant to enforce the boycott.

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 aluminum imports.

A White House official said the United States was warning more economic pressures may be in store for Turkey if it refuses to release Brunson.

Erdogan admitted that his country had problems such as a widening current account deficit and inflation of nearly 16 percent. But "thanks to God, our economy is functioning like clockwork", he maintained.

Erdogan also has called on people to exchange their USA dollars for Turkish lira to help strengthen the exchange value of the country's currency.

The earlier rebound was pinned on local investors attempting to cash in on the lira slide by selling their dollars. This difference between import and export of goods and services has been filled through external borrowing in foreign currency.

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His comments have so far failed to quell a crisis that economists say is largely self-inflicted, owing to an overheated economy and the debt exposure of Turkey's companies and banks.

Instead of authorities addressing structural weaknesses, the government insisted on boosting the Turkish economy by a policy of low interest rates. Here, road paint reads: "Slow down". This has caused the dollar to increase, the lira to fall, and Turkish bond yields to rise.

Because of the currency storm and the possibility that access to materials, and to export markets will be disrupted at the Turkish plants, financial data for the performance of the companies in Turkey is now unbalanced and for the time being unreliable, reports LTN. "All that talk sort of undermines investors confidence in the Turkish economy", she said.

"Whatever we buy from overseas we are going to produce here in better quality and export it".

The growing rift has also sent the Turkish lira into a tailspin.

Investors seemed to look through the fiery rhetoric, pushing the lira off record lows on confirmation that Turkish and U.S. government officials met on Monday. Andrew Brunson is being held on terrorism charges which he denies.

Erdogan, however, did not announce any government action towards a boycott.

Separately, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on an official visit to Ankara, said the increased U.S. tariffs and sanctions imposed by Washington are "based on the desire to dominate everywhere in everything, to control worldwide affairs and to achieve unilateral advantages on global markets". Erdogan's authoritarian hand has distanced the country from traditional Western allies and hit confidence. "Other emerging central banks will be more willing to tighten rates to break the back of inflation and stabilize their currencies". While Turkey's central bank has raised lending rates by 500 basis points this year to 17.75 per cent, it hasn't acted since the latest turmoil began with US sanctions on the interior and justice ministers on August 1.

Erdogan has not inspired confidence in responding to the lira meltdown. He speaks of "economic war" and a "campaign" waged by external powers created to weaken Turkey.

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