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Turkey increases tariffs on some US imports, escalating feud

People line up at a currency exchange shop in Istanbul, on Aug. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkey announced Wednesday that it is increasing tariffs on imports of certain U.S. products, escalating a feud with the United States that has helped trigger a currency crisis.

In a decision announced in the Official Gazette, Ankara said it will impose extra tariffs on imports of products including rice, vehicles, alcohol, coal and cosmetics. Tariffs on American cars were doubled to 120 percent while tariff on alcoholic drinks to 140 percent.

Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Twitter that the tariffs on certain products were increased "within the framework of the principle of reciprocity in retaliation for the deliberate economic attacks by the United States."

The Turkish lira has dropped to record lows in recent weeks, having fallen some 42 percent so far this year. The currency strengthened to around 6.20 lira against the dollar on Wednesday after the government took steps to shore up the currency by reducing the daily limit in bank foreign currency swap transactions and amid news that the finance minister would address foreign investors on Thursday.

Investors are worried not only about Turkey's souring relations with the U.S., a longtime NATO ally, but also Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's economic policies and the country's high debt accumulated in foreign currencies.

Turkey has accused the United States of waging an "economic war" as part of a plot to harm the country.

Washington has imposed financial sanctions on two Turkish ministers and doubled steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey, as U.S. President Donald Trump tries to secure the release of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor being tried in Turkey on espionage and terrorism-related charges.

The decision to impose new tariffs came a day after Erdogan said Turkey would boycott U.S. electronic goods, singling out iPhones. He suggested Turks would buy local or Korean phones instead, although it was unclear how he intended to enforce the boycott.

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