|A truck pulling a shipping container is X-rayed before leaving the Port of Miami this week|
A private deal to sell operations at six American ports to a government-owned company in Dubai has created a political storm. Lawmakers in Congress and state officials demanded more information and threatened to delay the deal.
Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York called it a "homeland security accident waiting to happen." Critics also include some members of President Bush's Republican Party.
Other foreign companies operate American ports. But critics say the United Arab Emirates has a mixed record in fighting terrorism. The Bush administration says Dubai is fighting terrorism, and it calls the U.A.E. an important ally in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Last October, part of the company Dubai Ports World offered to buy the British company P and O. The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company began in eighteen thirty-seven. It currently operates ports in the American cities of Baltimore, Miami, Newark, New Orleans, New York City and Philadelphia.
On February thirteenth, P and O shareholders voted to accept an improved offer and complete the sale by March second.
DP World was formed last September when the Dubai Ports Authority joined with DPI Terminals. In January of last year, DPI bought CSX World Terminals, the international port business of the CSX Corporation in the United States. Treasury Secretary John Snow headed CSX before he joined the administration in two thousand three.
DP World operates large ports in Africa, Asia and Australia.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States approved the deal involving the American ports. This government committee investigates business deals that could affect national security.
President Bush said he would veto any attempt by lawmakers to delay the deal. VOA's White House reporter Scott Stearns says the president did not learn about the port deal until it was already approved. The White House now says it should have informed members of Congress sooner.
The Treasury secretary says denying the sale would send the message that investments from some parts of the world are not welcome in America.
Last year an oil company controlled by the Chinese government tried to buy an American company. Opponents raised national security concerns. The company withdrew its offer, blaming the "political environment."
This VOA Special English Economics Report was written by Mario Ritter. Read and listen to our reports at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.