Job losses fall-out looms with China

22 Jan 2010
Wartsila Drunen factory is at the centre of a potential diplomatic conflict

Wartsila Drunen factory is at the centre of a potential diplomatic conflict

The Netherlands and China are on the verge of a diplomatic conflict due to a misunderstanding over job losses, according to a recent report in the Dutch newspaper the Volkskrant.

The paper says junior economic affairs minister Frank Heemskerk has ordered officials to find out if Chinese officials demanded that Finnish engine builder Wärtsilä move production from Drunen in the Netherlands to China.

He was responding to comments made by Wärtsilä Netherlands’ boss Fred de Beers in a news show last week in which he said: “China puts pressure on companies to locate there in a general sense. Their policy is to go for '100% made in China'.” This comment led Heemskerk to investigate the claim, the paper says.

“It is a pity I learn of this through the media,” the paper quoted him as saying. “If Wärtsilä had approached me we could have raised the issue through the European Commission and World Trade Organisation. We will do that now.”

A member of the Wärtsilä board told the paper the minister had misinterpreted Van Beer's statement. “He was only referring to China's growing dominance in shipbuilding... we were not forced,” Gert van Doorn told the paper. Some 570 jobs in the Netherlands are going because of the transfer of production.

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