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Turkey will emerge stronger from lira crisis despite U.S. row: minister

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Finance Minister Berat Albayrak assured international investors on Thursday that Turkey would emerge stronger from its currency crisis, insisting the country’s banks were healthy and signaling it could ride out a row with the United States, Reuters reported.

In a conference call with thousands of investors and economists, Albayrak – who is President Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law – said Turkey fully understood and recognized all its domestic challenges but was dealing with what he described as a market anomaly.

With Ankara locked in a complex dispute with Washington, he also played down a decision by President Donald Trump to double tariffs on imports of Turkish metals.

Many countries had been the target of similar U.S. trade measures, he said, and Turkey would navigate this period with other parties such as Germany, Russia and China.

The Turkish lira hit a record low of 7.24 to the dollar this week, down 40 percent this year, as investors fretted over Erdogan’s influence over monetary policy and the dispute with the United States.

Facing Turkey’s gravest currency crisis since 2001 in his first month in the job, Albayrak has the daunting task of persuading the investors that the economy is not hostage to political interference.

Albayrak, a 40-year-old former company executive with a doctorate in finance, said Turkey would not hesitate to provide support to the banking sector. The banks were capable of managing the volatility, and there had been no major flow of cash out of deposits lately, he added.

Before he spoke, the lira strengthened more than 3 percent, despite signs that the rift with the United States is as wide as ever.

However, the currency market’s reaction to his conference call – in which he also said Turkey had no plans to seek help from the International Monetary Fund or impose capital controls to stop money flowing abroad – was measured.

After he finished speaking, the lira was little changed from beforehand, meaning it remained down around 34 percent against the dollar this year.

However, it later made marginal gains, taking it back to where it was earlier in the day as the currency shrugged off U.S. comments ruling out the removal of steel tariffs on Turkey, even if it frees an American pastor who lies at the center of the feud between Washington and Ankara.

Turkey’s sovereign dollar bonds extended their gains.

The lira gained some support from the announcement late on Wednesday of a Qatari pledge to invest $15 billion in Turkey.

Trump has used trade tariffs in a series of disputes ranging from with Turkey and China to the European Union.

In a sign that Turkey may hope to make common cause with other affected countries, Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone on Thursday, discussing developing economic and trade ties and boosting bilateral investment, a Turkish presidential source said.