PROTECTIONISTS, REJOICE! The dastardly United Arab Emirates company that would have presumed to unload containers of underwear and toothpaste on U.S. soil has backed down, and it will now divest its U.S. port interests to an American entity. Rest assured, the nation is now safe from dangerous Middle Eastern accountants and port logistics specialists.
Dubai Ports World did what was necessary, if not necessarily fair, on Thursday by agreeing to give up the U.S. operations of its newly acquired British ports company. The House Appropriations Committee had voted 62 to 2 on Wednesday to block the deal; a similar bill was pending in the Senate.
Although President Bush rightly stood by the acquisition and vowed to veto any bill that stood in its way, he was fighting a losing battle that only deepened a growing rift in the Republican Party. Dubai Ports World officials wisely recognized that they had to put some distance between themselves and their new U.S. assets. The company probably will sell its U.S. assets or create a U.S. company with a separate board to run them.
Much as we wish it would go away, the fight may not be over yet.
For one, the terms of the divestiture remain unclear, and some members of Congress are demanding more details. Will it be enough for Dubai Ports World to create a U.S. subsidiary? Will it have to open headquarters in the United States? Pay its employees in dollars?