Nissan has decided to close its factory in Barcelona where 3,000 people are employed, the Spanish government said on Thursday.

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The decision came despite government efforts to keep the plant open, Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told the national radio station.

“We regret this decision by Nissan to leave not just Spain but Europe… to concentrate its business in Asia, despite the enormous efforts by the government to keep the business going,” she said.

Spain’s car industry is the European Union’s second-biggest after that of Germany, accounting for 10 per cent of the country’s GDP.

The industry ministry confirmed to AFP that Nissan’s chief executive had informed it of its plan to stop operations at the Barcelona site, which groups several production facilities.

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Production there had already ground to a halt at the start of the month when some staff went on strike demanding an investment strategy for the site after plans were announced to cut 20 per cent of its workforce.

Foreign Minister Gonzalez Laya said the government would “not throw in the towel” and “explore all solutions, because our concern is to safeguard employment”.