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ASML, computer chip firms testify to parliament on tax, policy needs

Published 03/04/2024, 18:39
Updated 03/04/2024, 18:40
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of chip equipment maker ASML is seen at its booth during Semicon China, a trade fair for the semiconductor industry, in Shanghai, China June 29, 2023. REUTERS/Nicoco Chan/File Photo

By Toby Sterling

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - A group of eight companies led by Europe's largest tech firm ASML (AS:ASML) on Wednesday asked the Dutch parliament to back policies that will boost the country's chip industry, including retaining tax breaks on investment and skilled labour.

The appeal comes as ASML weighs what share of its future operations will be based in the Netherlands, and one week after the Dutch government presented a plan to spend 2.5 billion euros ($2.7 billion) on improving infrastructure in the Eindhoven region to keep ASML from leaving.

"ASML needs to continue to grow, to meet the enormous demand for microchips and we ask you to make this growth possible, preferably in the Netherlands, where we are reaching our limits," Frank Heemskerk, ASML's Global Affairs chief, said at a meeting with lawmakers.

The companies complained about excessive red tape and inconsistent policy making as well as measures aimed at reducing immigration even though computer chip sector depends on highly skilled immigrant workers.

They were also critical of plans to cut tax breaks on investment, and encouraged the government to continue innovation subsidies that they said played a big role in the Netherlands' emergence as a European hub in the global chip industry.

ASML is the largest supplier of equipment to computer chip makers globally. Former Dutch trade minister Heemskerk began work as the company's main government liaison in February.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of chip equipment maker ASML is seen at its booth during Semicon China, a trade fair for the semiconductor industry, in Shanghai, China June 29, 2023. REUTERS/Nicoco Chan/File Photo

Heemskerk said infrastructure, congestion on the electricity grid, a lack of affordable housing and unpredictable tax policies were main stumbling blocks for growth.

Several companies that testified, which included automotive chip maker NXP (NASDAQ:NXPI) and chip equipment suppliers ASM International and Besi, said that measures taken as part of the planned Eindhoven investment, dubbed "Project Beethoven", should be applied more broadly.

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