Starbucks move is wake-up call, says US chamber of commerce director

The director of the American chamber of commerce in the Netherlands says the relocation of coffee chain Starbucks’ European headquarters from Amsterdam to London is a wake-up call for Dutch politicians.

Amcham chief Patrick Mikkelsen was reacting to the announcement on Wednesday morning that Starbucks will move its European headquarters at the end of this year, in the wake of a row over its low tax bill.

He told news site nu.nl on Wednesday afternoon that the Netherlands will have to make more of an effort if it is to attract and retain American companies to the country.

Two weeks ago, tobacco company Philip Morris announced the closure of its Dutch factory in Bergen op Zoom, and chemical company Lyondell Basell has already moved its headquarters to London.

Incomprehensible

Mikkelsen said he finds it ‘incomprehensible’ that during an economic crisis politicians are asking themselves out loud if the Netherlands has become too attractive to foreign investors. ‘That is a luxury the Netherlands cannot afford,’ he told nu.nl.

He was referring to recent comments by politicians that the Netherlands should get tough on multinationals which set up letterbox firms to avoid taxes.

Mikkelsen said he recognises that taxes have to be paid somewhere, but that deals should be made on an international basis. ‘The only result from the Netherlands’ get-tough policy is that companies leave, set up elsewhere and other countries profit,’ he said.

Investment

The Netherlands’ investment climate is a matter of concern among multinationals, Mikkelsen told nu.nl. ‘American companies no longer move here as a matter of course and the country is losing its competitive advantage of a stable and attractive fiscal climate and a well-functioning tax system,’ he said.

‘American companies provide around 450,000 jobs and the Dutch government should be ensuring this remains the case. Right now, it is the British who are sitting pretty.’


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