Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Dubai Port Hysteria

The DP Ports issue has attracted a great deal of public attention in the US. It was inevitable that it would lead to a public debate in the US Congress, since executive authority is not absolute in the US and subject to Congressional review. DP Port World has handled the issue gracefully in a pro-active way that makes commercial sense.Terrorism per se is not really an issue in this matter, albeit many Arab countries are badly in need of a better public image in the US and EU given the highly unfavourable light that 'terrorism' and 'Islamic fundamentalism' has put them especially since 9/11 tragedy as well as the Madrid and London bombings to the average voter in these countries. The substantive issue here is a private company controlled by a foreign government. Indeed in the Middle East, governments generally control a large part of economic life. This goes against the economic trends in the US and EU in favour of privatisation and anti-trust.

The issue is where to draw the line on foreign governments controlling strategic areas of the US economy. It is an open question that is worthy of discussion, but it does not have simple or easy answers. It not limited solely to countries in the PG as it is also a lingering issue in the EU in many sectors of the economy.

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