//Danish businesses hit by boycott

Danish businesses hit by boycott

The boycott of Danish goods called by Muslim countries to protest the publication of caricatures of
Prophet Muhammad is costing Danish businesses more than a million dollars a day, analysts
and companies have said.

So far, the main suffering is being felt by Arla Foods, one of Europe’s largest dairy companies, but the effects could spread. Steen Bocian, a chief analyst with Danske Bank, said Danish goods are threatened in 20 Muslim countries, representing 10 billion kroner ($1.6 billion) annually. "However, seen in a macroeconomic perspective, that amount is rather small," Bocian said. In 2004, Denmark’s exports worldwide amounted to 452 billion kroner, he said. Overall, it is too early to say how much the boycott is hurting, said Marianne Castenskiold, a spokeswoman for the Confederation of Danish Industries, representing the country’s major companies.

Saudi Arabia began the boycott on 26 January when supermarkets either put up signs announcing the boycott or removed products from the shelves.

Employees affected

Arla Foods is losing an estimated 10 million kroner ($1.6 million) per day in the boycott, said spokeswoman Astrid Gade Nielsen.

The Danish-Swedish cooperative has 2.6 billion kroner ($430 million) in annual sales in the Middle East and about 1000 employees in the region, its main market outside Europe.The boycott of its products was almost total in the region, Gade Nielsen said.

Lego, one of Denmark’s best-known brands internationally, said the protests and boycotts had had little consequence."The region is a very small market for us," Lego spokeswoman Charlotte Simonsen said."We have been told that some shops in the Middle East have removed our products from the shelves."The privately held group does not market its toys as being Danish."Lego is an international brand" she said.

Tours cancelled Danish tour operators have cancelled trips to Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia following warnings by Denmark’s Foreign Ministry urging people to avoid predominantly Muslim countries. On 10 February, Denmark’s weeklong winter school holiday starts. Tour operators have already begun reimbursing people for holiday trip reservations for the Middle East, said Stig Elling of Star Tours, Denmark’s largest tour operator. "We are talking about millions," said Lars Thykier of the Danish Travel Association