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Israeli carrier Zim sides with DP World

Israeli carrier Zim sides with DP World

   The chairman of Zim Integrated Shipping Services, the largest container line in Israel, has come to the defense of Dubai Ports World, which is facing intense opposition from Congress and the American public to its effort to buy about two dozen terminal operations along the U.S. East and Gulf coasts from British port operator Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.

   Idan Ofer wrote Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., to explain that DP World has never posed a security problem for the Israeli firm, according to CNN. Clinton has been a harsh critic of the deal and co-sponsored legislation to prevent foreign governments from buying port property.

   Ofer said DP World has been a strong business partner and industry leader in security matters, according to a copy of the Feb. 22 letter posted on CNN’s Web site.

   “As an Israeli company, security is of the utmost importance to us and we require rigorous security measures from terminal operators in every country in which we operate, but especially in Arab countries, and we are very comfortable calling at DP World’s Dubai ports,” Offer wrote.

   “During our long association with DP World, we have not experienced a single security issue in these ports or in any of the terminals operated by DP World, and have received exemplary service that enhances our efficiency and the smooth running of our operations,” he said.

   Zim publicly endorsed the DP World investment for the first time in the Feb. 17 issue of Shippers’ NewsWire. In an interview, Tommy Stramer, president of Zim operations in the Americas, said his company has no concerns about DP World as a business partner, and disputed any concerns that DP World would discriminate against Zim because of the Arab boycott of Israel.

   “Zim welcomes the purchase by Dubai Ports, and we feel that most lines will get more fair treatment” because P&O often gave favorable access and rates to ships operated by P&O Nedlloyd, the company’s vessel arm recently acquired by Maersk Line.

   “We welcome this move very much,” Stramer said.

   Offer told CNN that his company sends its ships into Dubai’s ports with other countries’ flags to skirt the boycott enforced by Dubai and other Arab countries that do not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel.

   The boycott issue took on a new life Tuesday when the Jerusalem Post published an article quoting Dubai Customs officials as saying they still actively enforce the boycott by checking certificates of origin to make sure no shipments are imported from Israel.

   But experts familiar with international trade say countries often give lip service to the boycott for political reasons and find ways to overlook the rule by allowing third parties to enter the goods.

   “DP World does not discriminate,” Chief Executive Officer Edward “Ted” Bilkey testified before the House Armed Services Committee. “Our company has longstanding business relationships with Israeli companies among our diverse international clients” and “the U.S. operations of P&O will fully comply with both the letter and spirit of the U.S. antiboycott regulations to which they are subject.'

   Sen. Charles Schumer, Clinton’s fellow New York Democrat, made it clear again that he has no intention of changing his mind about the DP World takeover after a more thorough 45-day investigation is completed, telling CNN that Zim’s chairman “has to represent his shareholders. We have to represent security in America. And so, it really doesn’t matter to me what Zim says.”