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Bureau of International Exhibitions

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Bureau of International Exhibitions
Paris, France


Bureau of International Exhibitions - Headquartered in Paris, France, the International Bureau of Exhibitions (BIE) was established in 1928 as the international treaty organization to sanction and monitor international exhibitions of long duration (over three weeks) and significant scale.  As of October 2012, the membership of the BIE included 161 signatory nations. The bureau currently handles a schedule of 4 major events per decade; the large scale "registered" world expos on the 0 and 5 year of the decade, whose bidding begins 9 years prior to the date in question, and two smaller scale "recognized" world expos, one held during the 1,2,3, or 4 years of a decade and the 2nd on the 6,7,8, or 9 year of a decade. 

The two main criteria that distinguish between registered and recognized events are that recognized events are limited to 3 months in duration and 62 acres (25 hectares) in size.  The large scale "registered" event can be on a universal or special theme scale, depending on the wishes of the organizers.  The last "registered" exposition was Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China.  The last small scale "recognized" event was Expo 2012 held in Yoesu, South Korea.  The Bureau also sanctions the highest caliber international garden expositions (those with A1 status) of the Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH).  An example of this type of event was Royal Flora Ratchaphreuk 2006-7 held in Chiang Mai, China and Floridade 2012.  Most decades see three events of A1 status recognized by the AIPH and BIE.

Events on the Horizon -

  • Presently Sanctioned: World Expo 2015 (BIE Registered Event with Special Characteristics). Milan, Italy won the right to host Expo 2015 during a vote on March 31, 2008. This large scale "registered" exposition will be held in Milan, Italy after the the final vote in the 143rd session of the General Assembly saw Milan gain a majority of the votes among 151 voting member nations.  May 1 to October 31, 2015.
Upcoming Bids -
  • Expo 2017, Expo 2020: World Expo 2017 (BIE Recognized Event, Small Scale Exposition, with Special Characteristics) and World Expo 2020 (BIE Registered Large Scale Exposition with Universal Characteristics). The bidding process for the next recognized event in 2017 will culminate in the selection of the host city in December 2012 between Aksana, Kazakhstan and Liege, Belgium.  The next large scale registered exhibition, 2020, which were submitted nine years prior to their opening day with other candidates wishing to challenge a bid doing so within one year of the first submission for each event, are now in and under review.  They include Dubai, UAE; Ayutthaya, Thailland; Izmir, Turkey; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Ekaterinburg, Russia.
Upcoming Bids -

Expo 2022, Expo 2025: Bidding for the next round of candidates, after selection of the host cities above, can begin five years prior to the small "recognized" small scale event in 2022, and nine years prior to the next "registered" large scale event in 2025.

Current U.S.A. Status
- As of May 2002, the U.S.A. withdrew from the Bureau of International Exhibitions.  This does not preclude hosting or participation in B.I.E. events, however, hosting would be difficult to achieve without membership status due to voting procedures, and participation is more costly for non-member states.  In the past several years, several cities within the U.S.A. have made inquiries into potential hosting (New York, Atlanta, Phoenix, San Francisco among them), however, it is imperative for those efforts, if they are to succeed, to change this stance.

If you are interested in joining the effort to change the stance within the United States toward the Bureau of International Exhibitions, please contact your U.S. Representative and Senator.  Participation in the Bureau is controlled by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; while coordination of a U.S. hosting arrangement is under the auspices of both the U.S. Commerce Department and the U.S. State Department.  Recent staffing changes and the successful participation of the United States at Expo 2005 in Nagoya, Japan and Shanghai, China in Expo 2020 have begun to change minds within some departments of the U.S. government. A privately funded and run effort has just completed hosting the United States pavilion at Expo 2012 in Yoesu, South Korea.

The expenses incurred to participate in international expositions, are currently prohibited to come from general U.S. treasury revenues and must be fundraised from private sources. Membership for nations in the B.I.E. costs approximately $35,000 per year.

U.S. involvement in international expositions began in 1851 with the first world's fair in London, England and continued unabated until our withdrawal from our commitment to participate in Expo 2000 in Hanover, Germany.  The United States also did not participate in Expo 2008 in Zargosa, Spain.

For links to the BIE and other upcoming Expo sources, visit our links page.

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Reports for Expo 2008 Zaragosa (Post) and Expo 2010 (Post) Shanghai now available.