Dutch Minister Optimistic About ASML Remaining in Netherlands Despite Threats to Relocate

A high-ranking Dutch government official expressed confidence that ASML, a key chip equipment maker in the country, will stay put despite earlier threats to relocate its operations abroad.

Steven van Weyenberg, the Dutch finance minister, told CNBC’s Karen Tso on Thursday that he isn’t concerned about ASML’s previous statements about moving elsewhere. The company has since softened its stance.

During a call with investors in January, ASML CEO Peter Wennink said, “The consequences of limiting labor migration are large, we need those people to innovate. If we can’t get those people here, we will go somewhere where we can grow,” as reported by CNBC.

His remarks came after the Dutch government proposed reducing tax incentives for highly skilled migrants and limiting the number of foreign students at Dutch universities.

ASML is crucial to the global semiconductor industry. The company manufactures extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) machines, vital for making integrated circuits.

Steven van Weyenberg expresses confidence in ASML’s future, calling it a “crown jewel”.

These machines use very short wavelengths of light to print intricate designs on microchips. ASML’s EUV machines produce this light by using tiny explosions of molten tin, which then bounce off extremely flat mirrors.

“I think many people, many countries would love to welcome ASML, but I think they’re strongly embedded in the Netherlands,” said Van Weyenberg in the CNBC interview.

The minister mentioned that he had participated in talks between the government and ASML last month regarding the company’s expansion plans in the Netherlands and whether there were enough infrastructure, housing, and skilled workers from abroad to support that growth.

“I’m very optimistic about ASML’s future and that it will be within the Netherlands,” he concluded.

Last month, the Dutch government launched a campaign called “Operation Beethoven” to address ASML’s concerns and convince them to stay in the Netherlands, as reported by Reuters.

ASML, a company that makes equipment for semiconductors, has decided not to leave the Netherlands completely. However, it’s still not happy with how the country is supporting its growth.

“There is a considerable gap between the concerns of industry, and what we think is necessary, and what politicians think,” said ASML CEO Peter Wennink after a meeting with the Dutch government in March, according to Reuters. He reportedly said that if ASML can’t expand in the Netherlands, it will do so elsewhere.

Geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China affect ASML, leading to export restrictions on chip tools. (Credits: iStock)

The plans approved by Parliament to limit the number of foreign students and remove tax breaks for skilled migrants have upset several companies in the Netherlands, including ASML and Dutch chipmaker NXP.

More than 40% of ASML’s 23,000 employees in the Netherlands are not Dutch.

The Netherlands has seen some of its big companies leave for other countries before. For instance, in 2021, oil giant Shell moved its headquarters and tax base from Amsterdam to London.

Similarly, Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company, decided in 2020 to combine its headquarters in London, ending the dual-headquarters setup it had in both the UK and the Netherlands.

British technology firms that are growing quickly also have their complaints, especially about how the government is attracting foreign investment into tech startups and hiring foreign workers after the Brexit vote.

ASML the ‘Crown Jewel’

ASML, often called the “crown jewel” of the Dutch economy, has been drawn into geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China. In January, the Dutch government stopped ASML from exporting some of its tools to China.

The Dutch government works with ASML and the U.S. to control chip exports to China, ensuring compliance.

This trade restriction came after the U.S. government tightened controls on exporting advanced semiconductors and chipmaking tools to China in October, following previous regulations.

Steven van Weyenberg mentioned that the Dutch government is working with ASML and the U.S. on controlling chip exports to China.

“ASML is crucial to the Dutch economy,” said Van Weyenberg. “They are a fundamental part of our growth strategy. We want to help them grow in the Netherlands and believe they have a promising future as long as they follow all the rules.”

However, he also pointed out that the global economic situation, where different countries are growing apart, poses a risk to small and open economies like the Netherlands.

From a security standpoint, he emphasized the importance of ensuring that China follows the same rules as everyone else.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
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