SAMSUNG Electronics has said it is closing a plant in Britain and transferring production from Spain to Slovakia, one of the 10 countries joining the European Union in May 2004.
The move, announced on January 15, will cost Great Britain and Spain more than 800 jobs and at the same time create 1,000 new jobs in the western Slovak town of Galanta, where Samsung Electronics Slovakia is to launch the production of audiovisual equipment.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he deeply regretted the loss of jobs at Samsung's Wynyard plant, where production is expected to end in April, the Reuters news wire reported.
The Galanta-based plant will become the European headquarters of the company, which justified the relocation as a cost-saving plan.
The Samsung assembly plant was founded in Galanta in June 2002 and the manufacture of CDT monitors began in late October 2002. The company started producing LCD monitors in March 2003 and plans to roll out full sets in September 2004.
Samsung Electronics Slovakia manager Kim Seong Jim told the press that, by the end of 2005, the company plans to start the production of household appliances, which will bring investments of €40 million.
Samsung's further relocation to Galanta could push down local unemployment, which is currently at 8 percent, to 4 percent, Galanta Mayor Alexander Mézeš told the financial daily Hospodárske noviny.
Unemployment in Galanta reached 19 percent in 2002 and fell to 15 percent after the entry of Samsung, Mézeš added.
Samsung Electronics Slovakia invested Sk540 million (€13.28 million) in its computer monitor and television set production plant, of which investments in production equipment were Sk369.7 million (€9.09 million) and investments in the premises totalled Sk170.3 million (€4.19 million).
According to the SITA news wire, the Slovak Trade and Investment Development Agency had already announced the plans of the Korean electronics giant to build a new plant for the production of household appliances on November 10, 2003.
Apart from intensifying the presence of Samsung Electronics in central and eastern European markets, the Korean producer hopes to take advantage of the simple customs procedures within the European Union after Slovakia's expected entry.
The suppliers of the Samsung plant are the Slovak companies Plastika, Duropak, Jasplastik, Woo One, KOAM, and the Hungarian firm RONDO.
Samsung Electronics is a global leader in semiconductor, telecommunication, and digital convergence technology. It employs approximately 70,000 people in 87 offices in 47 countries. The company is the world's largest producer of memory chips, TFT-LCDs, CDMA mobile phones, monitors, and VCRs. Samsung Electronics consists of four main business units: the digital media, device solution, telecommunication, and digital appliance networks.
(Marta Ďurianová contributed to this report)