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Can Turkey benefit from the US-China trade war?

The trade war raging between the world's two biggest economies could have a positive effect on Turkish trade, experts say.

In March, US President Donald Trump imposed a 25 percent tariff on imported iron and steel, and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum. China retaliated by slapping $3 billion worth of tariffs on 128 American goods. Other countries are imposing their own tariffs.

Trump’s trade wars, which he’s said will be “easy to win”, have been slammed worldwide, with countries retaliating with tariffs of their own.

Turkish trade

Chairman of the Turkish-American Business Asociation Ali Osman Akat said trade spats have replaced wars in modern global conflict, causing turmoil and disruption to world markets and disrupting our way of life.

The US and China tariffs will affect everything, Akat said. "Today, there is no sector, manufacturing or trade that is not interconnected. Everything is connected from mining to tourism, from tech's peak to agriculture to invest in Turkey.

However, Turkey, home to a number of sought-after goods and industries, could benefit from current situation by upping its trade to countries affected by the tariffs, he says.

"We will be less negatively affected by the big deficit between our exports to the US and our imports, but we have difficulties in manufacturing based on imports."

To overcome this, he says building Turkish industrial zones in the US to manufacture and sell goods.

Meanwhile, Turkey's export sector could receive a boost as Chinese importers seek alternatives to US products - for example, cherries and other fruit.

Turkey Exporters' Assembly chair Ismail Gulle said there's rarely a winning side in any trade war, which will negatively impact global trade and welfare.

Gulle said that world trade, which dipped to $16 trillion in 2015 and 2016, recovered in 2017, reaching $17.4tn. This year, this figure is expected to increase again, to $19tn. However, the largest obstacle to this is the US's protectionist policies.

The US has always been important to Turkey in terms of trade, he said, ranking fifth in exports with $8.7 billion last year and fourth in imports with $11.9bn.

Increased tariffs on Turkish-US exports like steel and aluminium will affect Turkey's bottom line. However, this can be mitigated if Turkey looks to new markets.

The wars come at a time when Turkey is expanding into new markets across Asia and Africa, which will also help mitigate any negative effects the tariffs might have.


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