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Wed 4 Dec 2019 11:39 AM

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US hopes to secure govt funding for Expo 2020 Dubai pavilion by year's end

A State Department official told Arabian Business that it hopes legislative changes will help avoid the risk of the United States being the only country not present at the Expo

US hopes to secure govt funding for Expo 2020 Dubai pavilion by year's end

The department considers a US presence at the Expo – the first in the Middle East – “vital” to American diplomatic and national security interests.”

The US State Department hopes legislative changes will allow it to secure government funding by the end of the year to help build the American pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, according State Department officials.

Currently, the US State Department and other government entities are legally prohibited from providing funding for capital expenditures or operational expenses associated with US pavilions or exhibits at world expos.

In a bid to secure funding, American lawmakers have introduced a motion requesting that the government waive those regulations and provide emergency funding for the 2020 event. While the bill has been approved by the House of Representatives, it still needs to be approved by the Senate before being sent to be signed by President Donald Trump.

According to a State Department official in contact with Arabian Business – who asked not to be named – the department has “extensively” engaged Congress since the summer in a bid to change the funding model for US participation in events such as Expo 2020 Dubai.

“These briefings have occurred at all levels, and have included congressional staff and members from the authorising and appropriating committees, and involved the Department’s most senior leadership,” the official said.

Vital

The official added that the department considers a US presence at the Expo – the first in the Middle East – “vital” to American diplomatic and national security interests.”

“Unfortunately, relying solely on private contributions has failed 7 out of the last 10 times,” the official added. “We have asked Congress to correct that broken model so that the State Department can ensure the United States has a robust presence at Expo 2020 Dubai.”

The official said that while the Department’s request for federal funds “did not make it” into the most recent extension of the resolution to change the model, it is working closely with Congress to make the changes by the end of 2019 “to avoid the risk of the United States being the only country not present at Expo 2020 Dubai.”

“Time is of the essence,” the official said.

Previously, a number of senior business and diplomatic officials have warned that time is running out for the United States to make its Expo participation a success.

In November, for example, Danny Sebright, the president of the Washington-DC based US-UAE Business Council, told American and UAE officials in Dubai that the US is “woefully late to the table” in starting work on its pavilion.

Additionally, the new US ambassador, John Rakolta, told Arabian Business that the US is “up against the wire” to get the pavilion up and running.

“I am confident that the Congress will ultimately pass some legislation that will allow us to proceed,” he said. “The old legislation does not work, didn’t work and will not work going forward.”

Digital magazine: Read the latest edition of Arabian Business online