(March 2) An Arab company’s imminent takeover of operations at six major U.S. ports may have election-year-minded politicians all in a dither, but it doesn’t seem to be faze importers of fresh fruits and vegetables much.

Dubai Ports World, a state-owned company based in the United Arab Emirates country of Dubai, recently acquired a British company, Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co., which runs ports in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

As soon as the news got out in mid-February, critics began arguing that the United Arab Emirates served as a base for Sept. 11 hijackers, that it has been linked with laundered terrorism money and is friendly with Iran. They worried that with Dubai Ports World in charge of the six ports, it might be easier for terrorists to smuggle weapons into the U.S.

President Bush, who approved the deal, has countered not only Democrats but leaders in his own party on the issue. Bush and supporters of the deal have argued that the security of the ports is still the responsibility of Coast Guard and customs officials and that the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates have been strong allies for years.

The Bush administration is adamant the $6.8 billion deal does not create a security risk.

That’s also the view of David Mixon, senior vice president at Seald Sweet LLC, Vero Beach, Fla., which imports clementines and other citrus.

“As far as security is concerned, this has been blown out of perspective,” Mixon said. “I have no concerns about it.”

Mixon is more concerned about whether Dubai Ports World or any other company, regardless of nationality, can improve relations between the ports and the dockworker unions.