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April 8, 2010

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US, late to join Expo, finally gets the dollars

THE United States finally raised enough money for its World Expo 2010 pavilion - with some to spare - and is taking in more from companies from China and the US to improve entertainment, the top official of the US Pavilion said yesterday.

The US, which signed its participation almost at the last minute and was among the last to start its pavilion, will finish construction and outfitting the building before the Expo's start on May 1, said Jose Villarreal, commissioner general of the US Pavilion.

"I am proud to announce today that we have achieved both goals - finish on time and raise enough funds," Villarreal, a lawyer from San Antonio, Texas, told media from around the world at the almost-finished 5,600-square-meter pavilion.

"When I signed the participation agreement with the Expo organizer last July, I made what was then viewed as a very audacious statement: That we would finish on time and we will raise the funds necessary for US participation at the World Expo."

With Citigroup yesterday signing a contract to donate the final US$5 million of the targeted US$61 million budget, the US Pavilion ended a year-long campaign to solicit private companies hit by the recession. Since 1991, US law has barred the use of federal government money for international Expos.

The American branch of Haier, China's largest household appliance manufacturer, also signed to sponsor the pavilion yesterday afternoon. The company declined to tell the amount of the donation.

Villarreal said many more companies expressed interest in donating, and the pavilion will welcome their help.

Every additional dollar will allow the pavilion to improve programming and entertainment and bring more celebrities to the pavilion, he said.

The US Pavilion's 56 sponsors so far include such major firms as PepsiCo, General Electric and Walmart.

The pavilion will feature an eight-minute movie, "The Garden," described as an urban fairy tale with "4D" effects such as wind and rain.

Artists due to perform include jazz legend Herbie Hancock, jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater and hybrid rockers Ozomatli.


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