US media criticizes Trump's tariffs decision on Turkey

By Hakan Copur

WASHINGTON (AA) – Several U.S. media outlets criticized President Donald Trump on Friday for his decision to impose additional tariffs on Turkey.

Trump ramped up his attack on Turkey by doubling U.S. tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports to 20 percent and 50 percent, respectively.

The U.S. media widely pointed to the current state of Turkish-American relations and the case of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who is under house arrest in Turkey over terrorism charges.

New York Magazine criticized Trump’s move in an article titled ‘Why Trump’s Turkey Tariffs Are Worrying Investors’, which said Trump announced he would double his country’s metal tariffs on Turkey “despite the fact that he has no good reason for doing so”.

The article, written by Eric Levitz, said the decision was related to Brunson, and while imposing a high tariff on a country’s steel exports is not the most conventional way to secure his release, “it might prove an effective one”.

“Unfortunately, this still isn’t a good reason for Trump’s latest trade action — because it is an illegal one,” Levitz said.

“The president launched his steel and aluminum tariffs on the grounds that maintaining a robust domestic metal industry was a core national-security interest of the United States, and that competition with metal imports was threatening to drive said industry into extinction.

“This premise is absurd. But invoking national security is the only way to square Trump’s policy with U.S. law and WTO rules,” he added

U.S. channel CNN also said the White House “did not offer any explanation as to how U.S. national security is threatened” in the statement made regarding the topic.

The Washington Post newspaper said the U.S. administration was doing everything to strengthen its hand in the Brunson case, but the decision would do nothing but cause more problems for bilateral relations.

“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!” Trump said Friday on Twitter.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry responded, saying "President Trump's decision on imposing additional tariffs targeting our country's steel and aluminum exports, in complete disregard of World Trade Organization rules, cannot be associated with seriousness expected from a state".

Friday’s decision is another salvo in a growing dispute between Turkey and the U.S.

Earlier this week, a Turkish delegation returned from Washington with no movement on the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who is under house arrest in Turkey over terrorism charges.

Brunson's charges include spying for the PKK — listed as a terrorist group by both the U.S. and Turkey — and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the defeated coup attempt in Turkey of July 2016.

Turkey and the U.S. are currently experiencing rocky relations following Washington’s imposition of sanctions on Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul for not releasing Brunson.

The two NATO allies have been at odds since the defeated coup, which Ankara accused U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen and FETO of masterminding.