US pavil­ion at Expo 2020 on course for fund­ing from govern­ment


For the first time in more than 25 years, the US pavil­ion at a World Expo is on the path to re­ceiv­ing fed­eral fund­ing.

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives passed a bill on Wed­nes­day to au­tho­rise the State De­part­ment to use fed­eral funds to build the pavil­ion at Expo 2020 Dubai. In­tro­duc­ing the bill, Dean Phillips, a con­gress­man, said the US was the only G7 coun­try that re­lied en­tirely on pri­vate fund­ing to build a pavil­ion at the world expo. “For gen­er­a­tions, the United States has show­cased our lead­er­ship, in­no­va­tion and in­dus­trial ad­vance­ment through bril­liant dis­plays called pavil­ions at world ex­pos around the world,” he said.

Urg­ing fel­low house rep­re­sen­ta­tives to sup­port the pas­sage of the Ex­po­si­tions Pro­vide Op­por­tu­ni­ties Act, or the Expo Act, he said with­out a sub­stan­tial pres­ence at world fairs, the US had left a vac­uum that was be­ing filled by Rus­sia and China.

The bill’s pas­sage paved the way for Amer­i­can cities to host world ex­pos, said Mr Phillips.

He rep­re­sents the third dis­trict of Min­nesota, which in­cludes Bloom­ing­ton, a city keen to host the 2027 World Expo.

“A crit­i­cal com­po­nent in com­pet­ing for host city sta­tus is a coun­try’s pavil­ion at the cur­rent world expo,” he told the House.

“In this case, the next op­por­tu­nity to make the case for an Amer­i­can host city is the Dubai 2020 World Expo.”

Sev­eral coun­tries have bro­ken ground on their pavil­ions at the Dubai South Expo site.

The US had to de­lay con­struc­tion af­ter a pri­vate con­sor­tium was un­able to raise $60 mil­lion (Dh220.3m) needed to build and main­tain their pavil­ion.

Un­like many govern­ments that aside bud­gets to fi­nance par­tic­i­pa­tion in world ex­pos, a US law passed in the 1990s prevents fed­eral funds be­ing used with­out ap­proval from Congress.

Af­ter a vote in the Se­nate, the bill will need to be signed by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Philip Frayne, US Con­sul Gen­eral in Dubai, pre­vi­ously told The Na­tional he was con­fi­dent fund­ing would come through. He said the US expo team was work­ing to lower the bud­get es­ti­mate with a new de­sign that would re­duce costs.

De­scribed as fu­tur­is­tic when plans were un­veiled last year, the US pavil­ion will be housed in the mobility sec­tion of the expo, with space ex­plo­ration as a ma­jor theme.

The first expo in the Mid­dle East, Africa and South Asia re­gion will run from Oc­to­ber next year un­til April 2021.

The US passed a law in the 1990s that prevents fed­eral funds be­ing used for world ex­pos with­out ap­proval from Congress

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