Turkey plans to use local currencies in trade with Venezuela: FM

Ankara and Caracas could use their currencies instead of foreign ones, such as the US Dollar, in bilateral commerce.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - Ankara and Caracas could use their currencies instead of foreign ones, such as the US Dollar, in bilateral commerce, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said during a weekend trip to Venezuela as both countries continue to wrestle with financial crises and high inflation rates.

The Venezuelan Bolivar and the Turkish Lira are two top currencies which have lost most of their value in the exchange markets this year, with the first’s actual price having hit an all-time low - 248520.90 Bolivars to the US Dollar last month, before President Nicolas Maduro’s administration introduced new measures to tackle the issue.

The Turkish Lira, on the other hand, has witnessed a depreciation of up to 40 percent, seeing the lowest point - 7.24 to the dollar - in the past 30 days of ongoing market volatility.

Maduro and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have both repeatedly blamed the failure of the economies they, at times, directly manage, on foreign powers, namely the United States.

Inflation in Turkey has soared to 18 percent, a 15-year high.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that inflation in Venezuela though could hit one million percent by the end of this year.

“We are so keen to use local currencies in our bilateral trade, not only between Turkey and Venezuela, but also between Turkey and other countries,” Cavusoglu told a joint press conference in Caracas with his Venezuelan counterpart, Jorge Arreaza, Turkish state media reported.

Commentators watching Turkey found the planned use of Lira and Bolivar in trade an unlikely prospect.

“This is beyond funny. Turkey will agree to use Venezuelan currency in bilateral trade. This is where the inflation rate is about to hit one million percent, where a sandwich is billions of bolivars. Good luck. It will be fun to watch them,” Henri Barkey of the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations wrote on Twitter.

A Western NATO ally, Turkey in recent years began to grow warm ties with regimes in countries such as Iran, Russia, and Venezuela, which have all come under punitive US sanctions.

“They want to be independent from [sic] the Dollar. We are not against the currency of any country. But currencies should not be used as an instrument to attack of other countries,” Cavusoglu said.

“There is a brotherhood between Venezuela and Turkey. In moments of attacks and sieges against Venezuela, Turkey gave us a friendly and brotherly hand,” Arreaza said on his part.

Cavusoglu said that Erdogan and Maduro were “like brothers.”

The Venezuelan leader was the only head of state from the Western hemisphere to join Erdogan’s presidential inauguration in July after the latter’s election as Turkey’s first executive president with powers that circumvent parliamentary and judicial checks.

Maduro created new controversy last week when he sat down at a posh Turkish restaurant in Istanbul to eat steak cooked by social-media star chef Nusret, nicknamed Salt Bae, while millions of Venezuelans try to survive on the brink of starvation, with hundreds of thousands of others fleeing the country plagued by rising crime and turmoil.

Editing by Nadia Riva