So why is it that the United States might risk “global humiliation for the American people” by not showing up at the Shanghai World Expo? Well, partially because they don’t really know what a World Expo is… and partially because it’s awfully hard to raise $61 million without any government help.
From the AP:
Amid the worst recession in decades, U.S. organizers are struggling to raise $61 million for a national pavilion at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, expected to be the biggest ever.
The U.S. exhibit is struggling because, unlike those of most other countries, the American exhibit must be privately funded. A 1991 U.S. law prohibits government financing of such events.
“We’re doing the best we can, but we are in the midst of an economic crisis,” said Ellen Eliasoph, a Beijing-based lawyer who was in Shanghai this week wooing potential sponsors of the pavilion in the American business community.
As a double whammy, many of the largest businesses from America (and thereby the best would-be sponsors) are opening their own pavilions or have their own sponsorship deals set up already. This includes General Motors Corp., Coca-Cola Co. and IBM Corp.
Does all this waffling matter to the Chinese? Most likely not – it doesn’t matter what the reasons are, the U.S.’s lack of participation will probably be seen as a slap in the face to one of its largest trade partners.
“I’m sorry to say it is just unbelievable that the richest country in the world would decide to ignore the Expo,” said Shen Dingli, who directs the Center of American Studies at Shanghai’s Fudan University.
“We all know these may be the most difficult times for the U.S. now, but that surely doesn’t mean they can be so stupid as to miss the chance to showcase American products to the world’s biggest potential market,” Shen said.