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Crisis has limited impact on Expo
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08:40, March 09, 2009

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The global economic downturn has had little impact on the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, despite some countries facing difficulties funding their national pavilions' construction, and the event could boost global confidence, organizers said.

"I'm sure all the countries participating in the World Expo would like to take this opportunity to improve their images and bolster national confidence," Shanghai World Expo Executive Committee director Wan Jifei said on the sidelines of the annual Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference session in Beijing.

"As the event's sponsor, China will try its best to provide participants all necessary support and help them cut costs," Wan said.

"So far, no country or organization has withdrawn from the event, although some may scale down their investments in their exhibition halls," he said.

A record-high of 231 countries and organizations have signed agreements and confirmed participation in the event. Of the 40 national pavilions, seven have already started construction with the rest to begin in the first half of this year, he said.

But it would be "fully understandable" if any country decided to back out during the deepening economic slowdown, he added.

As the world's largest showcase of different countries' most advanced economic, social and cultural achievements, the expo could boost the world's ailing economy, Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination director Hong Hao told China Daily.

"It would help shore up confidence in the future as we gather and put our heads together to seek solutions to the problems we face today," Hong said, also referencing the 1933 Chicago World Expo, which helped lift the US out of recession.

As the first expo held in a developing country, the event is also expected to drive China's economy by promoting infrastructure construction and stimulating consumption, especially in the Yangtze River Delta, World Expo Executive Committee deputy director Zhou Hanmin said.

It would spur the development of an array of emerging industries, such as those in the international exhibition, logistics, tourism, cultural and creative fields, Zhou said.

Zhou was also very optimistic about the number of visitors. "About 95 percent of the estimated 70 million visitors will be Chinese, so if one in 20 Chinese come - which is highly possible - we would be able to achieve that goal," Zhou said.

"With the number of visitors guaranteed and sponsorship from partners, we'd at least be able to break even."

Source: China Daily

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