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U.S. Chamber Urges Caution as Debate Over Port Deal Escalates

Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - 7:00pm

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The United States Chamber of Commerce today warned lawmakers not to allow pockets of public hysteria over a deal that would allow a foreign firm owned by the United Arab Emirates to manage six major U.S. ports to stifle future foreign direct investment in the country.

"While the security of the American people and our critical infrastructure must always be a top priority, implementing laws that could harm the health of our economy in the name of national security would be a grave mistake," said Bruce Josten, Chamber executive vice president for government affairs. "All parties involved must strive to find a balance that keeps us safe while at the same time allows our economy to continue to flourish."

The political furor that has erupted since Dubai Ports World's announcement that it would take over terminal operations at six U.S. ports as part of its acquisition of Britain-based P&O could seriously damage U.S. relations with friendly countries in the Middle East and hamper our ability to promote trade and investment around the globe, according to the Chamber.

Though the deal was initially reviewed and approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), there is legislation pending that could put a stop to the deal. Any legislation that alters the role CFIUS plays in deciding the viability of these types of sales could have dangerous implications for the future of foreign direct investment in the United States.

Foreign investments in the U.S. economy totaled almost $80 billion in 2004 alone; those investments are responsible for the creation of more than 5 million American jobs.

"We urge Congress to exhibit patience as CFIUS uses the next 45 days to more closely examine the national security implications of this deal," said Josten.

The U.S. Chamber is the world's largest business federation, representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.

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