Spain hopes Nissan will change mind on Barcelona plant closure

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Spain will do everything it can to get Japanese automaker Nissan to reverse its decision to close its Barcelona plant, Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya stated on Thursday.

Leaving the country would be costly for the carmaker, Gonzalez Laya also said in an interview with Reuters.

Nissan announced that it would shut the plant, which hires about 3,000 workers, from December as part of a worldwide restructuring plan to cut costs.

“We regret it and we will do everything we can to overturn that,” Gonzalez Laya stated.

The government had been making proposals to company during the past days and weeks and would keep attempting to convince it, Laya said.

“We still believe even with their announcement that there is a way to continue this dialogue,” Laya said.

The government has estimated that closing its Barcelona plant could cost Nissan over 1 billion euros ($1.10 billion) and has said t it would be less expensive for the automaker to stay.

“There is a penalty to be paid by the company for moving out of Spain, it’s stipulated in the contract that Nissan has with Spain,” Gonzalez Laya stated.

A foreign ministry official said that Laya was referring to operating costs.

Gonzalez Laya said the government’s major concern was preserving jobs at the plant. The workforce is about 3,000 people but 25,000 people could be indirectly affected.

“We have to continue fighting for it, which is what we will do. First with Nissan because at the end of the day our interlocutor today is Nissan, but maybe with other interlocutors,” she added.

Gonzalez Laya also expressed frustration with the automaker.

“It is a company that at the start of the year has assured us that employment and operations in Barcelona would remain.”

She also said the government was awaiting a decision from Renault on its plants in Spain. Those plants are “state of the art” and she hoped this would convince the carmaker to continue to invest in the country, she said.

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