Businesses nervous over Saudi sanction talks

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Minister Henk Kamp (Economic Affairs) has announced that businesses are already nervous about the possible sanctions that Saudi Arabia is allegedly going to impose on the Netherlands, Het Parool reports. According to the minister, who spoke Wednesday on Nieuwsuur, enterprises are sometimes busy for months with contracts, and notice that there are sometimes 'hick ups' or that deals fall through. Kamp says that there is a nervous atmosphere.

Minister Kamp does not want to "make explicit" the question of a boycott. He says if it happens, then it happens, but that there is hard work going on to make it clear to Saudi Arabia that the Dutch government and the businesses have nothing to do with the Geert Wilders anti-Islam sticker issue. He does emphasize that the sanctions, and the canceling of contracts that comes with it, would put thousands of jobs at stake. This worry is echoed by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, according to the Volkskrant. Minister Frans Timmermans has emphasized the possible "damage" that these sanctions would mean for dutch companies. A boycott would put €2.2 billion at stake. Companies such as Shell, FrieslandCampina and dredging company Boskalis have invested hundreds of millions into the country. Offending the Islamic religion is illegal in Saudi Arabia. This is why the Dutch government took immediate distance from Wilders' expressions. This was  subsequently discussed "more than once and explicitly" with the Saudi Embassy in The Hague and authorities in Riyadh. According to a well-informed source from the Volkskrant in the Cabinet, the Saudis understand that the Dutch government took distance from Wilders' sticker affair. "But this insult is too great to let slide." The same source says that there is also anger about Vice Prime Minister Asscher's comment that the sanctions are an "insane threat." The Volkskrant writes that Dutch companies have not reacted officially to the incident. FrieslandCampina says that the company is active in more than 100 countries, and is therefore executing "risk-spreading". Shell, beer brewery Bavaria and employers' organization VNO-NVW do not want to react.