The Trump Administration recently raised tariffs against Turkey, attempting to dissuade them from further actions in Syria.
In early October, President Donald Trump faced widespread criticism regarding his actions with Turkey, and threatened to collapse the government’s economy if it did not heed his warnings. Now, trade negotiations have stopped, and tariffs have been levied.
Let’s take a closer look at what the Turkish government will have to grapple with economically.
50% Tariffs Raised on Steel
An executive order has been issued raising tariffs on steel by 50%, as well as halting trade negotiations between the United States and Turkey. These sanctions have been levied with the interest of preventing actions against Syrian refugees, as well as threatening Syria overall. A statement was released through Twitter.
This comes on the heels of President Trump ordering a withdrawal of troops from Syria, which ultimately led to Turkish forces moving into the area. Both American and allied soldiers have been injured in the border between Syria and Turkey. As he withdrew the troops, the President had warned Turkey against taking advantage of the action.
The United States Evacuates 1,000 Troops
The President of the United States ran on a platform of bringing troops home, an idea which was hugely popular at the time. However, the decision to evacuate 1,000 troops from Syria did face criticism from both Republicans and Democrats, as it left behind Kurdish allies who had fought with US troops against ISIS.
Trump, however, defended the action by stating that he had no interest in fighting endless wars in the Middle East, nor leaving United States troops to be involved in these wars which he believed to be a continuous conflict. He also pointed out that others could intervene if they wanted, pointing to the US’s long-standing position as peacekeepers across the globe.
Turkey’s actions in Syria are ostensibly meant to protect the Syrian border. By moving into the Syrian border, Turkey is seeking to move refugees back from the border, and prevent them from moving into the country proper.
Sanctions versus Military Actions
Trump has continuously shown himself to be more in favor of economic sanctions rather than military actions. Much of the United States is fatigued by the on-going and active wars that have embroiled the country. Economic sanctions use the weight of the economy to enforce political action rather than troops.
But it remains to be seen as to whether or not this policy will play out effectively. Turkey has remained fairly quiet in this regard, not mentioning whether this would be considered by then, but instead continuing to move into the area.
Economic sanctions, tariffs, and other similar actions work very well against many developed countries. But there are some countries that have more to lose than economic sanctions, and consequently are not as firmly impacted by them.
Turkey’s Trading Industry in the US
The United States and Turkey trade about $10 billion in goods. Turkey is the 32nd largest import-export relationship that the United States has. Comparatively, Turkey has a GDP of $851 billion, and the United States has a GDP of nearly $20 trillion. All this together means that the trading relationship between the United States and Turkey is heavily tilted in one direction.
Meanwhile, other countries have also taken action to sanction Turkey. The U.K. has stopped gun sales to Turkey. Canada has also suspended new Turkey exports. Turkey is going to feel some heavy impacts from these actions, and may be inclined to pull back if these issues become more damaging to them. However, since Turkey is concerned about the economic impact that Syrian refugees could ultimately have on their country, they will likely weigh their actions carefully.
These sanctions are likely only the beginning, and, as noted, Turkey’s economy has suffered before. President Trump seems intent on destroying the economy through reduced trade and increased tariffs, but this will only impact Turkey insofar as it will no longer be able to reliably trade with the United States.
Whether Turkey is going to consider this, or whether Turkey sees the Syrian border as a free-for-all, will unfold within the coming weeks. Unfortunately, none of this may resolve the issues that Turkey currently has, which is that an increasing number of Syrian refugees have been displaced and may be moving into their space.