Posted by: Frederik Balfour on July 11, 2009
The U.S. signed a deal with organizers of China’s Shanghai 2010 Expo on July 10 to build a U.S. pavilion at the world’s fair, putting to an end speculation about whether it would participate in the fair, the China Daily reports. Recent sponsors including Pepsi, Yum Brands(YUM)and 3M which are ponying up several million dollars each to help pay the $61 million budget. However organizers say they have only raised about half the amount needed, which is sufficient to build but not operate the pavilion. The project finally got pushed across the line thanks to efforts of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who appointed Jose Villareal as the Commissioner General to Shanghai Expo at the beginning of July.
The uncertainty over the American participation was proving to be a major embarrassment for the U.S. business and diplomatic community in Shanghai, where 191 other countries had already signed up for the fair. Because of a 1991 bill passed by Congress, the U.S. government is effectively barred from funding national pavilions, leaving it to the private sector to foot the bill. However unlike the Beijing Olympics, which were a marketing bonanza, corporate sponsors have been slow to sign on to Shanghai 2010 which is little known outside China. only a handful of international corporate sponsors with their own pavilions, including Siemens and Coca-Cola, (KO) Unlike the Beijing Olympics, which proved to be a marketing bonanza for sponsors, the Shanghai Expo just doesn’t have the same cachet. It opens next May 1, and is expected to receive more than 70 million visitors, 60 million of them from China. Construction on the U.S. pavilion was originally supposed to have begun on March 1. For an excellent summary of the funding difficulties the U.S. has faced, check out Adam Minter’s Shanghai Scrap blog. You can also go to the Shanghai Expo website to learn more.