Bureau International des Expositions

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Bureau international des expositions
BIE Logo.png
Formation 22 November 1928
Type International Exhibitions
Headquarters France Paris, France
170 members
Denmark Steen Christensen
Spain Vicente Gonzalez Loscertales
Website www.bie-paris.org

The Bureau international des expositions (BIE) is an intergovernmental organization created to supervise international exhibitions (also known as expos or world expos) falling under the jurisdiction of the Convention Relating to International Exhibitions.

Founding and purpose[edit]

The BIE was established by the Convention Relating to International Exhibitions, signed in Paris on 22 November 1928, with the following goals:

  • to oversee the calendar, the bidding, the selection and the organization of World Expositions; and
  • to establish a regulatory framework under which Expo organizers and participants may work together under the best conditions.

Today, 170 member countries have adhered to the BIE Convention.

The BIE regulates two types of expositions: Registered Exhibitions (commonly called World Expos) and Recognized Exhibitions (commonly called Specialized Expositions). Horticultural Exhibitions with an A1 grade, regulated by the International Association of Horticultural Producers, are recognized since 1960.

The Bureau International des Expositions also recognises the Milan Triennial Exhibition of Decorative Arts and Modern Architecture, on grounds of historical precedence, provided that it retains its original features.

Member states[edit]

170 countries are member states of the BIE:[1]

Former members[edit]


Australia was a signatory to the treaty[8] and won the right to hold the 1988 World Exposition. In 2015 the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry requested that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australia) reconsider membership, as the cost was too high and "difficult to demonstrate an appropriate return on investment", and that membership be withdrawn temporarily in 2015.[9] Australia is no longer listed as a member of BIE.[1]


On October 16, 2012, the Conservative government ended Canada's membership of the BIE when the federal government cancelled its $25,000 per year membership fee as part of “reviewing all spending across government with the aim of reducing the deficit and returning to balanced budgets."[10]

Rejoined Members[edit]

United States (non member from 2001-17)[edit]

Only five world's fair events have been sanctioned by the BIE in the United States since World War II: the Century 21 Exposition in Seattle (1962), HemisFair '68 in San Antonio, Expo '74 in Spokane, Washington, the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee and the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition in New Orleans.[11] The United States' membership in the BIE was revoked in June 2001 due to non-allocation of funds by the U.S. Congress for two years. The United States Congress has not provided a specific reason for failing to pay membership.

The BIE remains open to participation from the United States. In a letter from April 20, 2006, the secretary-general said, "As you are aware, the United States government withdrew from the BIE in June 2001. Citizens realize and would welcome the strong impact a world's fair can have on their city, state and country. It would be wonderful to, once again, attend an exhibition in the United States."[12] Participation in the BIE is controlled by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The online news source Ranger reported:

Dr. Robert Rydell, head of the Humanities Institute at Montana State University and world's fair expert, said the American public lost interest in world's fairs in the 1990s after some disappointing world's fairs in the 1980s.
Indeed, world's fairs were seen as a joke by many; the 1982 world's fair in Knoxville, Tenn., for instance, was the subject of ridicule in the 1996 episode of The Simpsons "Bart on the Road." Rydell said the 1982 fair was not as bad as many people make it out to be.
This bad impression, a drive to save taxpayer money and increasing nationalism in America resulted in then-Secretary of State Colin Powell withdrawing the United States from the body governing World's Fairs, the Bureau of International Expositions, in 2001.[13]

The U.S. is poised to rejoin the organization after President Trump signed a bill titled the "U.S. Wants to Compete for a World Expo Act" (HR534) [14] into law (Pub.L. 115–32). The signing comes as Minnesota looks to host a world's fair in 2023. "The fair is expected to attract 12 million visitors, to generate $4 billion in tourism spending, and to spur further development of the light-rail system in the Twin Cities," according to a public policy paper that was written to support the bid. Upon its return, the U.S. "would then be expected to pay around $33,000 in annual dues to the BIE," according to the public policy paper that was published in 2015. Returning to the BIE would lower the voting threshold the Minnesota group would need to pass in order to win its bid, from 67 percent to 50 percent. It would also mean the U.S. won't have to pay "significantly higher costs to host and to participate in international expositions," as the bill says. As of 10 May 2017, the United States is an official BiE member.

Registered Expositions (World Expos)[edit]

Since the start of the 21st century, Universal (now called Registered) Expositions may occur every five years, lasting six months, on '5' and '0' ending years, e.g. Expo 2010 in Shanghai, Expo 2015 in Milan, and so forth. Countries, international organizations, civil societies, and corporations are allowed to participate in Registered Expositions. The themes of Universal Expositions are broad and pan-humanistic in nature, and the participants must design and build their own pavilions, however, there are exceptions where the Expo Authority at a Registered Exposition constructs pavilion buildings or joint pavilion buildings to maximise participation and alleviate representation costs for developing nations. Examples of themes of recent World Expos include "Man and His World" for Expo '67 in Montreal, and "Discovery" for Seville Expo '92, and examples of joint pavilion buildings for a Registered Exposition is the Plaza of America at Seville's Expo '92, which was constructed by the Seville Expo Authority to maximize participation at the fair by South American nations. The Plaza of Africa at Seville was constructed for the same purpose.

Registered Expositions are also massive in scale, sometimes 300 or 400 hectares in size (Montreal's Expo 67 was 410 hectares, Osaka's Expo 70 was 330 hectares, Seville's Expo 92 was 215 hectares and Shanghai's Expo 2010, 528 hectares). Pavilions participating at a Registered Exposition can also be large, sometimes 5,000 to 10,000 square metres in size, mini city blocks in themselves and sometimes more than several stories in height. (The Australia Pavilion for Shanghai 2010 was 5,000 square metres, the British Pavilion sat on a 6,000 square metres lot, as did the Canadian Pavilion. The flagship Chinese National Pavilion had 20,000 square metres of exhibition space.) Shanghai Expo 2010 allowed three types of Pavilion structures, (1) designed and constructed by the participant; (2) individual Pavilions designed and constructed by the Expo Authority for rent to the participant; (3) joint pavilions designed and constructed by the Expo Authority for rent to developing nations.

Also due to the fact that they are usually held in major centres of world population, Registered Expositions have been known to average 200,000 persons per day of visitors - or more - and some 50 to 70 million visitors during their six-month duration. Montreal's Expo 67 attracted 54 million visitors, Osaka's Expo '70, 64 million visitors, the Seville Expo '92, 41 million visitors and Shanghai's Expo 2010 attracted 70 million visitors.

As a result, transport and other infrastructure at a Registered Exposition is an important concern (Seville's World Expo of 1992 boasted cable car, monorail, boat, and bus) and the overall cost for hosting and being represented at a World Expos is quite high, compared to the smaller Specialised scale Expositions.

Recognized Expositions (Specialized Expos)[edit]

Since the start of the 21st Century, International Specialised Expositions (now called Recognized Expositions) may occur between Registered Expositions and last from six weeks to three months in duration, i.e. Expo 2008 in Zaragoza (Spain), Expo 2012 in Yeosu (South Korea). Countries, international organizations, civil societies, and corporations are allowed to participate but the exposition must have a precise character for its theme. An example of a theme of a recent International Recognized Exposition is the 1988 World Exposition, popularly known as World Expo 88 of Brisbane, Australia, which had as its theme "Leisure in the Age of Technology". The pavilions are built by the hosts and not the participants, and there is no rent for pavilions. Nevertheless, the largest pavilion may be no larger than 1000 square meters, and the site of the fair must not exceed an area of twenty-five hectares. For this reason Recognized Expositions are cheaper to run than Registered Expositions, and more money is spent on content of the pavilion as opposed to its design. Nonetheless, there are exceptions where a participant designs and constructs its own Pavilion where ethnic work is involved, i.e. bush huts for islands of the South Pacific, a pagoda for Nepal or Japan or Thailand, etc. A nation or organization does not need to be a member of the B.I.E. to be represented at a B.I.E. recognized Exposition.

Expo Mascots[edit]

Mascots have been used to publicise world's fairs since 1984.


The anthem of the International Exhibitions Bureau is the starting part of the 4th Movement of Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 in E Minor "From the New World".[citation needed]

See also[edit]

  • List of world expositions - an annotated list of all world's fairs sanctioned by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE)
  • List of world's fairs - comprehensive chronological list of world's fairs including fairs not sanctioned by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE)


  1. ^ a b "The Member States". www.bie-paris.org. Retrieved 20 July 2017. 
  2. ^ "Cameroon is now a Member State of the BIE". www.bie-paris.org. Retrieved 20 July 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "BIE Member States - june 2013.pdf". Retrieved July 3, 2013. 
  4. ^ Kosovo joins the International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kosovo, 2016-03-18
  5. ^ "Two more countries become BIE member states". Retrieved 25 September 2012. 
  6. ^ "The BIE welcomes South Sudan as its 168th Member State". Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "The BIE recognizes the Second Accession of the United States of America into the BIE". Retrieved 16 June 2017. 
  8. ^ "Agreement concerning the Voluntary Contributions to be Given for the Execution of the Project to Preserve Borobudur [1973] ATS 34". www3.austlii.edu.au. Retrieved 20 July 2017. 
  9. ^ https://13-acci.cdn.aspedia.net/sites/default/files/uploaded-content/field_f_content_file/acci-submission-to-dfat_bie-final.pdf
  10. ^ Rider, David (April 29, 2012). "Toronto's World Expo 2025 bid dead after Prime Minister Stephen Harper government says no". The Star. Toronto. Retrieved April 30, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Expo Details". Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  12. ^ Letter from the B.I.E. Secretariat to David Oats Archived December 31, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Regis, Robert L. (October 18, 2007). "San Antonio changes after HemisFair '68, speaker says". The Ranger. San Antonio. Archived from the original on November 20, 2010. Retrieved February 23, 2011. 
  14. ^ "President Trump Signs Bipartisan Bill For U.S. To Rejoin World's Fair Group". Retrieved 20 July 2017. 

External links[edit]