Turkey's Erdogan urges national resilience against monetary woes as lira tumbles

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-11 01:41:36|Editor: zh
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ANKARA, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Friday called on his citizens to stay resilient amid the country's struggle with deepening monetary woes.

Erdogan made the remarks in a live speech on TV during a rally in the northern Province of Bayburt of the Black Sea Region, where the Turkish president dismissed concerns over Turkish lira, which plunged to new record lows.

"We are not going to lose the economic war," he told his supporters.

Meanwhile, Erdogan again urged citizens to convert their hard currency and gold into lira to prop up the plunging currency with a "domestic and national stance."

"Convert your dollars, your euros and your gold that you keep under your mattresses in our national currency," he said.

The Turkish president described the campaign as a "national struggle" in response to "those who declared economic war" against Turkey.

Meanwhile, Erdogan ascribed the current "economic problems" to "artificial financial instability waves" stoked by foreign actors, rather than structural issues involving employment or the banking system.

He also blamed foreign meddling in Turkey's economy because of "some bilateral disagreements," hinting at the tension between Turkey and the United States.

Ankara and Washington, two NATO allies, have been at loggerheads over Turkey's detention of the U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson charged with terrorism and espionage, prompting unprecedented U.S. sanctions on two of Erdogan's ministers and threats of wider trade restrictions.

A Turkish delegation returned from talks in Washington on Thursday with no apparent solutions to the ongoing crisis over the fate of Brunson, who was recently released from prison but is remanded under house arrest in western Turkey.

Earlier in the day, U.S President Donald Trump announced a doubling of tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from Turkey.

"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 said on Twitter.

"Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!" he added.

Over the current row with the United States, defiant Erdogan said Turks "will respond to those who started an economic war."

Speaking to supporters in the Black Sea province of Rize late Thursday, the Turkish leader brushed off concerns over the currency.

"If they have their dollars, we have our people. We are working hard. Look at what we were 16 years ago and look at us now," Erdogan said.

Immediately after Erdogan's speech, Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, also his son-in-law, announced in Istanbul a "new economic model" aiming to curb inflation and sustain economic growth.

The Turkish lira plummeted as much as 14.5 percent on Friday morning to a new record low of 6.46 against the U.S. dollar, before stabilizing around 6, and then turned volatile and tumbled again in the afternoon to 6.54 after Trump's tariff announcement.

It is lira's most dramatic single-day plunge in nearly 20 years, said analysts, showing concerns over Turkey's already vulnerable economy.

The Turkish currency has dropped about 40 percent against the dollar since the beginning of this year.

The new economic steps revealed by Albayrak on Thursday mainly aim at securing an economic growth of 3-4 percent in 2019, decreasing the inflation rate from the current almost 16 percent to the single digit, and maintaining fiscal discipline.

The Turkish minister also expected to cut the deficit ratio to around 1.5 percent.

Meanwhile, he said Turkey's banks or companies are believed to face no foreign exchange or dollar risks.

"The Turkish banking system is very strong and able to manage financial volatility with its strong capital structure and balance sheets," said Albayrak.

The new Turkish finance minister highlighted the establishment of trust and communication with market actors, along with a tight monetary and fiscal policy, as one of the principles of his new economic approach.