Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci announced that Turkey will start launching counter steps against the U.S. for its decision to impose additional customs duty on steel and aluminum imports.
U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order stipulating a 25 percent customs duty on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports in early March. Later toward the end of the month, he announced exemptions for countries including the European Union, Australia, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico and Canada.
Zeybekci said countries like Turkey, India and China have not been included in the exemption. He stressed that Turkey has a deficit in iron and steel trade with the U.S. – with exports of $1.2 billion versus imports of over $1.3 billion. "We told them very clearly that Turkey should be kept out of this. We also had some attempts by applying to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Most recently, as of this week, we told them that we will take counter steps," Zeybekci continued. "Similarly, by putting forward the same arguments regarding the import quotations from the U.S., we told them we can take our countermeasures. We can do this very quickly. After that, we can enter a period that will adversely affect the U.S. more in terms of the trade between Turkey and the U.S. But we leave all the doors open."
Zeybekci said the ministry closely and strictly follows the process in line with Turkey's interests. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration, the U.S. was the world's largest steel importer with 34.6 million tons of steel imported last year. The country's steel import volume increased by 15 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year.
Canada led the way in the country's imports of steel last year with 5.8 million tons, while the share of Canadian steel in the country's steel imports was 17 percent, followed by Brazil with 14 percent, South Korea with 10 percent, Mexico with 9 percent and Russia with 8 percent. Turkey came sixth in the country's imports with 6 percent last year. Other countries from which the U.S. imported steel were Japan with 5 percent, Germany with 4 percent, Taiwan with 3 percent, and China with 2 percent in this period.
According to Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) data, Turkey achieved approximately $13.8 billion in exports of steel and steel goods last year, while $1.2 billion, which corresponds to about 9 percent of exports, was made to the U.S.