US sanctions to hurt foreign policy goals
WASHINGTON: Economic sanctions imposed by the US over the past week against Iran, Russia and Turkey will undermine US foreign policy goals, experts have warned.
The US government announced it would re-impose sanctions on Iran, ban exports of national security sensitive goods and technologies to Russia, and double the rate of tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Turkey.
Speaking of the reasons behind the US government’s picking of steel and aluminium products from Turkey, David Pollock – a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for NearEast Policy – said that it was “partly in line with the overall sanctions effort… the trade war so to speak”.
“It appeals to US President Donald Trump’s political base, and its part of his economic ideology or vision to try to restore traditional manufacturing sectors,” he said.
However, Dan Mahaffee, senior vice-president and director of policy at the Centre for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, said that “section 232 gave the president a wide latitude to justify trade action under national security purposes, though in this way it was being employed more in a punitive sense rather than protecting a US industry for the sake of national security”.
The Washington Post said the steel and aluminium tariffs originally had nothing to do with the treatment of pastor Andrew Brunson, who is being detained by Turkey.
“They are tied to the trade fight that Trump launched earlier this year with a number of countries, including Turkey,” it said. “The Turkish currency has steadily weakened in recent months, removing some of the bite of the tariffs by making Turkish goods cheaper for US consumers. One way to address that, as Trump signalled on Friday, is to double the tariff rate.”
The New York Times said “Trump’s decision… spooked markets and raised the possibility that he could similarly increase tariff rates on other trading partners that have seen their currencies fall against the strengthening dollar.”
Moreover, Eswar Prasad, an economist at Cornell University, was quoted as saying that the use of tariffs in the tense diplomatic scenario set “a worrying precedent for future trade sanctions that could be triggered by purely market-driven changes in exchange rates”.
Edward Price, the special assistant of former US president Barack Obama, tweeted that US consumers would pay for Washington’s sanctions against a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) ally and vital counter-Islamic State partner, and these steps would not help secure Brunson’s release.
In response to the US sanctions and other economic pressure on his nation over the case of Brunson, who faces terrorism charges and up to 35 years in prison if found guilty, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday characterised them as an “economic war”.
“We are not going to lose” in the process, Erdogan said.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday that Moscow considers Washington’s sanctions as a declaration of economic war, vowing to “respond to it – economically, politically or in any other way, if need be”.