Port Canaveral’s deal with a Middle East company, Gulftainer, to expand cargo operations may face further review for security issues.
“It is my understanding that the agreement marks the first time a Middle Eastern company will fully operate a U.S. cargo terminal,” the letter said.
The letter said the review “is not for the purpose of immediately terminating the agreement but rather making the appropriate determinations in the interest of U.S. national security. This should be the case for all investments in which foreign investors acquire or gain operational control of critical U.S. infrastructure used in international trade."
Hunter is chairman of the House subcommittee on Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation.
In June, a U.S. subsidiary of Middle Eastern cargo company Gulftainer signed a 35-year, $100 million agreement to boost cargo operations with a new terminal at Port Canaveral.
It’s the first U.S. location for Gulftainer, a United Arab Emirates company that has been seeking entry into U.S. markets for years. At Port Canaveral, Gulftainer’s subsidiary, GT USA, has agreed to invest $100 million in infrastructure, equipment and personnel. The company expects to hire 95 percent of its staff from Florida.
Port Canaveral authorities expect the new operations to create about 2,000 direct and indirect jobs when fully operational. Operations are expected to begin by the end of 2014.
Port Canaveral already handles nearly 4 million tons of cargo each year and is one of the busiest cruise ports in the world. Gulftainer is operating under a lease and will not purchase any port property. Security operations will continue to be operated by the Port Authority.
In 2006, a major international controversy about security concerns erupted over the purchase of several U.S. port operations by Dubai Ports World. At the time, U.S. President George Bush weighed in heavily in favor of allowing Middle East allies to conduct business in U.S. ports. Dubai Ports World sold its interest in the U.S. ports shortly after it bought them.