General Assembly endorses privatization of Port of Wilmington (Xerxes Wilson)
Both chambers unanimously passed a resolution endorsing a proposal that would privatize the Port of Wilmington and develop a new container port at the former Edgemoor plant. The operation would be run by UAE contractor Gulftainer. Proposal is subject to approval by federal authorities, notably the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Gov. John Carney issued a statement calling this “a landmark agreement . . . to protect and create good-paying blue-collar jobs at one of Delaware’s most important employment centers.” DE Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock said state officials will be working on contracts to fill in the details and hopes that closing can take place before the end of the summer. $574M investment – 50-year deal – double port’s existing annual container traffic – 75% increase in non-container traffic – roughly double current 5,700 employment in port and maritime-related jobs – turn multimillion dollar/year state subsidy into “up to $10M/year in lease payments over the coming decades before expenses related to the port’s governing board.” It would be interesting to know why a middle eastern firm should necessarily be the leading contender for a deal like this one, and who else (if anyone) bid on the deal. Were any security concerns raised in the General Assembly proceedings, or did all the members hear “state revenue” and “jobs” and rush to jump on the band wagon? Critics have urged thorough vetting by federal authorities. See, e.g., Americans for Limited Government,3/28/18. And the WSJ reports (4/20/18) that CFIUS may block a proposal for a Chinese shipping firm (Cosco Shipping Holdings Co.) to run a large container terminal in Long Branch, California.