The U.S. is an important country but not an important trade partner of Turkey, Mehmet Şimşek, deputy prime minister in charge for the economy, said on Saturday.
Speaking on U.S.-imposed tariffs and threats, he said business people in the western province of Bursa expressed their concerns to him over a possible global trade war during a meeting. "Turkey is one of the countries least affected with regard to trade, especially automotive exports, but a trade war will wreck the general mood," he said.
Şimşek added that he hoped the U.S. tariff decision is just a negotiation tactic.
"We have the customs union with the European Union; Turkey needs the EU and the EU needs Turkey," he said. "Therefore, our relations will deepen and enlarge, I believe, after the election uncertainty we will broaden the scope of the customs union." He also said that due to Turkey's trade with the EU, if a trade war begins, its effects will be limited to Turkey. In March, American President Donald Trump imposed a 25 percent tariff on imported iron and steel, and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum - since then the issue has been heatedly discussed among the U.S. and its major trade partners.
After that, the EU placed a 25 percent tariff on American products and Trump threatened to impose more tariffs on all European cars. Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci, speaking about the investigation the U.S. has started into automobile imports to determine whether they "threaten to impair the national security" of the country, said late on Friday that Turkey would reciprocate if the U.S. takes any measure affecting Turkey. In an interview with Bloomberg HT, Zeybekci stated that after the U.S.'s decision to tax foreign steel and aluminum, a move that has enraged traditional U.S. allies such as the European Union (EU), Canada and Turkey, Turkey has retaliated in a similar way. Over "ill-advised" and "unsupportable" additional steel and aluminum tariffs enacted by Washington, Ankara announced last Thursday that Turkey will start imposing tariffs on nearly two dozen U.S. products, ranging from cars to sunscreen.
The tariffs will be imposed on imports of U.S. coal, paper, walnuts, almonds, tobacco, unprocessed rice, whisky, automobiles, cosmetics, machinery equipment and petrochemical products. According to documents filed with the World Trade Organization (WTO), Turkey will slap $267 million in tariffs on $1.8 billion worth of products the United States exports to Turkey. "How about the future? This will continue. We now know that there is an investigation regarding automobile imports. If there will be an addition, we will answer in the same way," Zeybekci said. Reducing the trade gap with China was among the reasons for the U.S.'s tax decision, Zeybekci said. Noting that China was the country Turkey undertook the most intense measures against in foreign trade, Zeybekci said: "We have measures against China. China is the country that we have taken the most measures against because China is not fair in trade. We understand the U.S.'s approach in this regard, and we support it somewhat."