A federal committee ruled that no further review is needed for a plan by Emirates-based Gulftainer to sign a 50-year lease to manage the Port of Wilmington.
The OK came from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a little known part of the U.S. Treasury Department. A California congressman had asked for a review of the deal.
The OK clears the way for the signing of an agreement, which earlier received approval from the Delaware General Assembly.
“This is a significant step forward in finalizing our agreement with Gulftainer, which will protect and create good-paying, blue collar jobs at one of Delaware’s most important employment centers,” said Gov. John Carney. “This expansion will result in significant new investment at the Port of Wilmington, and help stabilize families and communities that rely on those jobs. I want to thank members of the General Assembly again for their support of this agreement, and their partnership in our efforts to strengthen Delaware’s economy.”
“The more than a dozen federal agencies that make up CFIUS have completed their review of our plans to grant Gulftainer a concession to operate the Port of Wilmington and greatly expand its capacity and capabilities over the coming years,” said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock, Chairman of the Diamond State Port Corporation. “As a result, the specifics of the concession agreement are ‘not a covered transaction’ under section 721 of the Defense Production Act and there is no need for further review. This is the best response we could have received and clears the way for us to finalize our contract with Gulftainer over the summer.”
Under the agreement, the private company would make an investment in the port that would be upwards of $600 million.
The agreement also calls for Gulftainer to develop a container port along the Delaware River for a container port that could handle larger vessels.
The agreement poses no financial risk to the state, which would receive annual multi-million dollar year payments from Gulftainer.
The state would still own the port under the agreement.
The agreement had drawn fire from anti-Islamic elements who painted dark scenarios of smuggling of weapons of mass destruction hidden in cargo containers. Similar fears were voiced when Gulftainer was given permission to operate a site at Port Canaveral in Florida.
The arguments failed to gain traction, even among conservatives in the Delaware General Assembly.
See earlier story below on the agreement.