WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Friday that he would double the rate of tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from Turkey and cited the rapid depreciation of the Turkish lira in the face of a deepening economic crisis for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Mr. Trump’s abrupt and unilateral action raised the possibility that he could move similarly to increase tariff rates on other trading partners that have seen their currencies fall against the strengthening dollar, most notably China. Rapid depreciation in another country’s currency helps to make their goods cheaper in foreign markets and buoys exports.
It will immediately affect American branches of Turkish steel makers, such as Borusan Mannesmann, a Turkish-owned manufacturer that imports steel pipes from its parent company and finishes them at its plant in Baytown, Tex.
Mr. Trump announced the decision in a Twitter post on Friday morning:
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! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!
The lira has plunged against the dollar in recent days, as investors’ fears rapidly escalated that the country will not be able to pay its debts. The Turkish lira plummeted against the dollar Friday, dropping by more than 13 percent. The currency has fallen more than 40 percent against the dollar this year, according data provider FactSet.
Matt Phillips contributed from New York.
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