Spanish firm Ence's plans to relocate a controversial paper plant it had been building would not affect Uruguay's defense in the International Court of Justice over the mill, Uruguay's Foreign Minister Reinaldo Gargano said Friday.
"This does not change our strategy in the slightest," Gargano told reporters. "We are working to defend Uruguay's national interests and we are owners of private companies."
Argentina is suing Uruguay in the International Court of Justice in the Hague saying that the two paper mills, one being built by Ence and one by Finnish firm Botnia, will cause serious environmental damage to the Uruguay River, which forms the border between the two nations.
With a total investment of 1.8 billion U.S. dollars, the plants represent the largest single foreign-direct-investment project in Uruguayan history.
On Thursday, Ence's president, Juan Luis Arregui, told media after a meeting with Uruguayan authorities that the firm would move the plant to another location within the country, saying that the Ence plant was too close to the Botnia one.
In the latest ruling, the International Court of Justice rejected Argentina's request to halt the construction of the two mills. The case is not yet closed.
Uruguayan officials have said repeatedly that the real cause of the controversy was that Argentina wanted the investment.
"The company (Ence) says it will not leave Uruguay, but only time will tell," Gargano said.
Uruguay's press has already said it believed Ence's decision to relocate the plant was just a delaying tactic, and that it would not build any plants in Uruguay, as a result of Argentine opposition.