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Taiwan Pavilion covers construction, operating costs

2010. 21 September

by Charles Kang, Huang Yen-yu and Elizabeth Hsu
( The Taiwan Pavilion at the World Exposition Shanghai 2010 has earned enough to cover all the costs of building and running it for the six-month show, the chairman of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) said Monday.

The semi-official council, which is responsible for running the pavilion, has collected the full cost of NT$1.1 billion (US$34.75 million) through donations from enterprises and the sale of the facility, Wang Chih-kang said.

As a result, "the government won't have to spend a dime" on the project of presenting Taiwan at the May 1-Oct. 31 expo that has drawn the participation of over 240 countries and international organizations, Wang noted.

However, he admitted it was difficult to achieve TAITRA's goal of setting up and opening the national pavilion without spending money from the state coffers.

TAITRA had originally assessed that the cost of running the pavilion would reach NT$1 billion. One month after the opening of the pavilion, however, it was forced to raise the operating budget to NT$ 1.1 billion because of higher-than-expected facility and personnel costs.

To cover this massive expenditure, he went on, the council began seeking funding from Taiwanese and Chinese enterprises and thanks to the pavilion's increasing popularity among visitors to the expo, many big enterprises, including the Hon Hai Group, made generous donations, Wang said.

Last week, TAITRA sold the Taiwan Pavilion to the Hsinchu City government for NT$458.88 million. According to TAITRA President Chao Yuen-chuan, the pavilion is valued at NT$700 million and is expected to generate over NT$6 billion in additional benefits for the northern city in the hotel, restaurant, marketing and transport industries.

The pavilion will be dismantled soon after the Shanghai Expo closes Oct. 31 and shipped back to Taiwan for reassembly.

Meanwhile in Hsinchu City, home to the Hsinchu Science Park, the move of spending such a large sum on an exhibition booth has triggered public concern that the procurement will sink the debt-ridden city government into an even deeper financial plight.

Mayor Hsu Ming-tsai said Monday that once the pavilion is operating in Hsinchu, any profits generated will be ploughed back into repaying the cost of buying it

Forecasting that the pavilion, which is touted as a landmark of Taiwan's cultural innovation industry, will attract visitors from China once it is erected in Hsinchu, Hsu said he is confident the facility will be able to cover the purchase cost without creating a drain on the city's coffers.

According to TAITRA officials, the Taiwan Pavilion has proved to be one of the most popular booths at the Shanghai Expo, drawing more than 400,000 visitors as of August, and getting rated by the Japanese weekly "Flash" in June as the best of all the national pavilions at the expo.