WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump says he has authorized the doubling of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Turkey as the diplomatic row over Ankara’s detention of a U.S. pastor intensified.
In a Twitter post on August 10, the U.S. president also referenced the Turkish lira's weakness against “our very strong dollar.”
"I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar!" Trump wrote.
"Aluminum will now be 20 percent and Steel 50 percent. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!" he added.
In June, the United States imposed tariffs of 10 percent on aluminum imports and 25 percent on steel against many key global partners, complaining of unfair trade practices.
The new tariff threat targeting Ankara comes as bilateral tensions have risen over the detention and trial in Turkey of U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson, 50.
The pastor has been held since 2016, charged with "committing crimes on behalf of terror groups without being a member," a reference to Kurdish separatists and a group that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames for a failed 2016 coup attempt against him.
Brunson, who faces up to 35 years in prison, was transferred to house arrest on July 25 as his trial continues.
Trump on July 26 threatened to impose "large sanctions" on Ankara if the government did not immediately let Brunson leave Turkey.
The sanction and tariff threats have led to a near-collapse of the Turkish lira -- which tumbled 19 percent on August 10 alone -- and forced Ankara into cost-cutting steps to stabilize the economy.