UAE-Based U.S. Business To Lobby Over Port Deal

A delegation of U.S. business executives in the United Arab Emirates will travel to Washington to lobby Congress to support a controversial management-takeover of six U.S. ports by a Dubai firm, they said March 8. "A strong response is required," said Kim Childs, executive vice president of the Abu Dhabi-based American Business Group referring to objections by U.S. lawmakers to the deal in which Dubai Ports World (DPW) would manage ports currently operated by the British P and O. "A delegation will go this month to educate politicians on relations between the UAE and the U.S.," said Childs, who will head the seven-member delegation.

"The UAE is a reliable and trustworthy partner and one of our closest allies," she added, summing up a message that the delegation intends to convey to U.S. Congressmen.The delegation leaves for Washington on March 27 and has a list of 120 Congress members to lobby, she said.

Government-owned DPW's $6.8 billion- takeover of P and O became definitive on March 6 when London's court of appeal approved the deal. But in a bid to calm the storm, DP World agreed last week to postpone finalizing the transaction to allow for a 45-day review by U.S. authorities. DP World has said it will not intervene in P and O's US operations before May.

Lawmakers have said the DPW's takeover of port operations carries a potential security risk. Childs rejected arguments judging the Dubai firm to be a security risk only because two of the hijackers in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. were UAE nationals."It would be misguided to judge an entire government on the actions of a few," she told AFP.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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