A press spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative, Neena Moorjani, says delays are common in free trade talks.

Moorjani would not comment on any link between the political storm over DP World and the delay in the talks.

But a major business group says the controversy over the ports deal could hurt Washington's ability to promote free trade around the world and foreign investment here at home.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says foreigners invest $80 billion in the United States a year, creating five million jobs.

Some information for this report was provided by Bloomberg.