Anti Arabism Now at a Port Near You

Washington, DC, February 21, 2006–The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is concerned by controversy surrounding the acquisition of the London-based company, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. (P&O), by Thunder FZE, a subsidiary of the UAE-based Dubai World Ports (DP World).
The White House, the National Security Council, Department of Homeland Security, and the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investments have all agreed with the $6.8 billion sale. According to reports, DP World also won approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), which is a US government panel with representatives from 12 agencies. CFIUS assesses security risks associated with foreign companies buying or investing in the US. CFIUS said in a statement, they “thoroughly reviewed the potential transaction and concluded they had no objection.”
ADC President Mary Rose Oakar said, “ADC fully supports all measures to keep our country secure and DP World has received clearance from the highest levels of government to operate here in the US. ADC is strongly opposed to the rhetoric and bias surrounding the company solely because it is Arab owned. Those who purport that ports can be securely run by a British company, but not an Arab one, are engaging in racial profiling on the corporate level.”
As it currently stands, P&O, the fourth largest ports company in the world, has been running major commercial operations at ports located in Baltimore, Miami, New Jersey, New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia. With the recent acquisition, barring any unforeseen legislation, DP World will takeover this role, making it one of the three largest port operators in the world, with a presence in Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, and many other ports.
However, neither P&O nor DP World, or any other port company determines or sets standards for security in the US; these are determined by the US government. All port owners must abide by the Maritime Transportation Security Act, passed by Congress in 2002 and the International Ship and Port Facility Security codes enacted in 2004. Both sets of security measures are enforced in the US by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) which is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). CBP combines the inspectional workforces and broad border authorities of US Customs, US Immigration, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the entire US Border Patrol. Furthermore, CBP works to keep cargo safe through its “Container Security Initiative” whereby cargo containers destined for the US are inspected and pre-screened by CBP officers in that country. The UAE signed onto CBP‘s “Container Security Initiative” in December 2004.

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