Officials of the U.S. Pavilion of the Shanghai World Expo 2010 said here Friday that they were confident that the pavilion would break ground on schedule despite the difficulties in raising funds for the project.
"We are on schedule. We are getting good support, " said Franklin L. Lavin, co-chairman of the Steering Committee of the U.S. Pavilion of the Shanghai Expo, at a promotional event at the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.
Lavin and Co-Chairwomen Ellen R. Eliasoph told representatives of American businesses in Hong Kong that the Shanghai Expo is a historical opportunity for U.S. companies and institutions to show their best to the people of China and the world.
The Shanghai Expo, due to be held from May 1 to Oct. 31 next year, is expected to attract 70 million visitors, according to the organizer.
"I think just as the Beijing Olympics was the most successful Olympics in the history, I think the Shanghai Exposition will be the most successful exposition in the history, " said Lavin.
"This would be a historical event that will attract a large number of people. So it’s very important for the U.S. companies and institutions to show their very best to the people of China and in the world, " he said.
Lavin said that he and his colleagues had special promotional activities with the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong, and talked to all major U.S. companies who are active in China market, encouraging them to participate.
In general, the response from companies who are already very serious about the Chinese market and positive about the China market were very positive, he said.
But he said that the world economy is not very favorable right now, so the abilities of the companies to support them right now is more limited than even one year before.
Because the U.S. pavilion is 100 percent private fund and no government money, "it is not possible to guarantee success, " he acknowledged.
"But we are on the path of success, if we continue on the same path we will be successful. So I’m confident, " he said, adding that the building and operating of the U.S. Pavilion will cost 60 million U.S dollars.
Zhong Yanqun, deputy director of the Shanghai Expo National Organizing Committee said in Shanghai on Thursday that 231 countries and international organizations had confirmed they are coming as of Feb. 23.
But the committee said it was not yet clear if the United States would attend. The U.S. Congress ended public funding for the event in the early 1990s, and private-sector companies must pay the costs. There was no United States exhibit at the 2000 Expo, nor at the one in Zaragoza, Spain last year.
The U.S. government assured its participation in the exhibition orally in October 2006. However, no agreement in written form has been signed to confirm its attendance yet.