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U.S. Role at China Expo Important for Ties, U.S. Adviser Says

2009. 24 April

(The Wall Street Journal) SHANGHAI - American business interests in China could suffer if the U.S. fails to find $61 million to build a pavilion at next year's Shanghai World Expo, said the former U.S. trade official who is spearheading fund-raising efforts.

"I think there will be an undercurrent of ill will generated if the United States does not participate."
Franklin Lavin, chairman of the USA Pavilion steering committee said in an interview.

Mr. Lavin, a former Commerce Department official involved in international trade, said he couldn't predict specifically what fallout might occur if the U.S. fails to raise the money needed to build a structure for the Shanghai Expo, but that it would be widely regarded in China as "an insult."

The U.S. is relying completely on private sector funding to build a pavilion for the 2010 Shanghai Expo, due to open in May next year. But companies have been slow to pony up money, which Mr. Lavin attributed to factors ranging from the global economic downturn to sponsorship at the Beijing Olympics just last year.

In the only donations offered so far, Dell Inc. has agreed to put $1 million into the project, while 3M Co. has offered $250,000, though the pledges announced in recent weeks also include a non-cash portion.

Mr. Lavin said he has been involved in "active discussion" with more than a dozen companies, which could be worth as much as $40 million, and he put chances of success in the overall funding effort at 80%.

In order to begin construction of the pavilion, he said money might be borrowed.

Write to James T. Areddy at
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