Remarks Before the 162nd BIE General Assembly

Remarks
John J. Sullivan
Deputy Secretary of State
OECD Conference Center
Paris, France
November 15, 2017


Thank you very much, Secretary General, distinguished delegates, my good friend Foreign Minister Faurie, Deputy Prime Minister Glinski. It is my privilege to represent the United States, which is once again a member state of the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE).

I’d like to begin by thanking those of you in the room for your support in June that enabled us to be here today.

I have been a strong supporter of this project since my first day as Deputy Secretary of State.

In my first public appearance with the diplomatic corps in Washington, I spoke about the Minnesota-USA bid, in advance of the June vote and described the many attributes of the state of Minnesota – its beauty, its hospitality, and the strong national support for this public-private initiative.

Since that time, our team and I have met with you and your governments’ representatives to echo the unique, compelling points of our bid: the universality of the health and wellness theme; the United States’ proven ability to host World’s Fairs and other large-scale events; and the strong support of the United States government.

If selected, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Commerce will work with the host committee and all participating states -- before, during, and after the Expo -- to facilitate travel, assist with cultural and trade delegations, and to deepen ties between our countries.

Last month, I hosted the diplomatic corps at the State Department in Washington, D.C. to review our Expo journey. Two members of the United States Congress joined me at the Department’s U.S. Diplomacy Pavilion to underline the strong congressional support for this project.

U.S. Senator Klobuchar and U.S. Representative Emmer, both members of the Minnesota Congressional delegation, emphasized how Congress had unanimously passed bipartisan legislation – signed by the President – that authorized Secretary of State Tillerson to rejoin the BIE. At every level of our government – from the representatives of the American people in Congress to America’s top diplomat to the President – we have found deep support for our bid to host the 2023 Expo.

We can’t help but share our enthusiasm with others – whether in Washington, Paris, Addis Ababa or other capitals around the world where we have hosted Expo 2023 events. Two weeks ago, more than two dozen Ambassadors to the United States traveled with the U.S. Deputy Chief of Protocol to experience the great state of Minnesota for themselves.

They reviewed the site’s perfect location, which is next to the largest retail and entertainment attraction in North America, and its great connectivity to existing rail, road, and air infrastructure.

In fact, the excellent transportation infrastructure would allow your head of state or head of government to arrive at your country pavilion to celebrate your national day within 10 minutes of landing at the airport.

Hospitality in Minnesota is also top of the line. There are thousands of hotel rooms in close proximity, and the site allows direct access to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

The United States’ Expo bid is a true public-private partnership, similar to previous bids to host other large-scale events in Minnesota, like the upcoming National Football League’s Super Bowl, which Minnesota will host this coming February.

We, and more specifically Minnesota, are able and eager to execute a large-scale, three-month event with millions of visitors.

The U.S. bid offers BIE member states the best opportunity to promote trade, tourism, and culture with a specific focus on improving health and wellness around the world.

Our country has wholeheartedly endorsed the grassroots, community-driven efforts of the Bid Committee to bring the world to Minnesota.

Not only is the United States once again a member of the Bureau of International Expositions, but we have also re-established a unit at the Department of State to manage our relationship with the BIE and future U.S. participation in Expos, beginning with Expo 2020 in Dubai.

Last month, Secretary Tillerson conveyed to the United Arab Emirates our intention to participate in that universal exposition — right on the heels of our successful participation in Expo 2017 in Astana.

The United States’ bid to host Expo 2023 is also an essential part of our renewed commitment and support of the Expo movement. Expos are about much more than just countries, themes, and pavilions; they are about the hopes and dreams of people, coming together to solve problems by connecting with one another.

I think we can all agree that there is something inspiring about a World’s Fair – a time when the world comes together to celebrate, explore, and discover the promises and opportunities of new technologies and partnerships

More than half a century ago, I went to my first World’s Fair in New York City, where I met people from around the world. It was in Queens, New York, where my wife is from. I didn’t know her at the time. The American people were grateful for that experience and we are grateful for the legacy that was left behind. And my experiences at that World’s Fair animate my passion for promoting the Minnesota bid here. And we are eager to host the Expo in 2023.

I have not forgotten that Expo experience from over 50 years ago, and I am proud to stand here before you today, and ask for your country’s support and vote for the United States’ bid to host the 2023 Expo in Minnesota.

Thank you for your time.