Ports Deal is Not (Only) About Race; It's About Globalization

We were getting all ready to climb up on our soapbox to shout our revelation to the word: the scandal of the Dubai Ports deal is not the knee-jerk reaction that exposes a deep-seated anti-Arab xenophobia among average Americans and Congress alike. No, it's about the little-known fact that major operations of ports in America are sold off in the global marketplace. How would we feel if JFK International was run by a Venezuelan company? Or if our interstate railways were run by Pakistan, or China, or Canada for that matter? We assume too easily that certain basic infrastructure matters are of such national importance that we keep their care in American hands. That's our own naivete. In the global economy, everything's for sale.

Well, that's what we were going to say, but it turns out Joshua Holland over at AlterNet beat us to it:

This deal is about government procurement, one of the hottest
controversies in the trade debate, but one of which the general public
is largely unaware.

The U.S., E.U. and Japan -- the dominant
service economies -- have been pushing hard to get a deal done on
government procurement that would bring public purchasing of goods and
services into the WTO framework. Their goal is to give foreign-based
multinationals "national status," meaning that governments couldn't
favor domestic firms over foreign firms for any reason (except for
security issues, and this case wouldn't be likely to qualify as such).

Let's
assume that this UAE port deal was the best one out there -- that they
offered the lowest bid among highly-qualified firms. Under the
framework that we've been pushing, it would be a sanction-able
violation of WTO rules to discriminate against the company because it's
based in the Middle East.

Tell it, Joshua.

AMP Section Name:Globalization
  • 110 Trade Justice
  • 193 Transportation