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2020: Revolutions of New Platform Economies

Naseem Javed

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Moving forward, the world of borderless global business managed by monstrous-hyper-metadata, mysterious-artificial-intelligence and mandatory-cyber-security intertwined with mobilized-block-chain will soon become new reality.Who will own it, control it, what will drive it or destroy what or whom.  Why it’s so critically important today on how and why century old businesses and institutions with global expertise and rich experiences are now extremely vulnerable. They have to morph with digitalized futurism or like a 20,000 employee strong organization they too may disappear overnight like Thomas Cooke, leaving 600,000 customers stranded at airports. As if no one had any idea in the corporate corridors …was it a just sleep-walking culture? Who is next? This is almost like coming out of the dark ages into electricity.

It’s time to awaken to digital platform economies or simply wait for massive shocks. 

Digital divide is now mental divide. Mental endurance and skilled citizenry are mandatory.
Smart nations with massive digitations OR not so smart nations stuck in old industrial revolution.
This is a wake-up call, adapt to future and transform rapidly or simply step aside
Revolutions on digital platform economies geared up, get ready for sudden surprises

The United Nations 74th Sessions of General Assembly:

September 2019, at UN HQ some 100 Heads of States spoke of chaos; lack of grassroots prosperity identified as big challenge was a common thread…so was diversity, tolerance and inequality… plus increasing role of women in society were touched by all…and lastly climate change issues…most seeking answers, most trying various solutions, most ready to engage. All ready to do something.

Lack of bold and unified global programs to cover such common debates was obvious. The new awakened world is in need of massive mobilization and deployment of constructive ideas. 

Nations can save themselves from restless citizenry and blowing winds of populism; as futurism of ‘creating local grassroots prosperity’ divides into two distinct national mobilizations.  Firstly, creating skilled citizenry capable to swing with global-age demands and secondly, creating massive digitization of midsize economy to enable global-speed-performance to match trading with 100-200 nations. Nations with acquired mastery will thrive and lead; generational transformation at magical speed with full deployments of platform economy is a prerequisite. Sounds like rocket science; it is, but still very doable and progressively easy. Urgently needed are bold thinking, fearless debates and new priorities.

Alibaba model based on advanced thinking of interconnecting million Small and Medium Enterprises via single gateway with billions new global customers on platform economy format with fascinating ease became a global legend. So, what’s stopping other nations? Any quick response without deep and precise study may not fit these challenging issues, because, in-depth-study a must, as it’s not that easy unless mobilized like a national grassroots revolution. Let’s go deeper.

Big Questions: How will national mobilization of Platform Economy models allow nations to create their own million-mini-Alibaba? How can national leadership finally bring massive digitization of public sectors, deploy overflowing technologies and integrate all this into new style of economic leadership thinking?

Biggest Question:  If these are not new funding dependent projects…they are new-thinking hungry and global-age-style-execution starved projects so what’s stopping this?  

How to create many million new mini-Alibaba: today, creating globally interactive trading platforms are new tests for economic leadership in gasping economies. This critically advanced subject, not be confused either with website and social media management, or routine academia drills…calls for daily diligent meetings till significant progress becomes visible, equally this global-age-thinking demands regular Cabinet Level Meetings if national leadership decides to boost its economy via superiority of national mobilization of digital platforms. This massive transformation automatically creates a culture extremely conducive and pragmatic to creating baby Alibaba on such platforms.

Big business is big business but small business is much bigger; within the walls of most national boundaries, once national mobilization properly deployed, ‘small enterprises’ in cross-combinations grows into larger sizes like massive pillars and solid foundations boosting local economy. In-depth understanding of mobilization and deployment strategies are critically essential. Massive adoption of almost free technologies as wings of new growth and awakening of hidden entrepreneurial talent lying dormant across the most nations as the driving engines becomes the master strategy. Uplifts of the midsize business economies of the world will significantly eliminate grassroots prosperity issue; especially these are ready to go sectors in need of immediate mobilizations under a master program.

Currently, some 30 nations engaged with elections trying to promise superior economic performance while most nations still have their motherboards missing? To drive superior-performance a computer has a motherboard, why can’t a nation have similar type motherboard platforms to drive all of its big and small digitized economy expansion with ultra-superior performance?

In broader strokes and for extreme simplicity; let’s divide ‘midsize businesses economy’ into four major parts;

The Enterprises Groups:  This is where small and medium size businesses of the old and new world trying hard to expand in global space but achieving little or no progress. Stuck with internal digitization of operations challenges they are pushing decade old methods to expansion. If digitization is not new funding dependent but rather new thinking hungry, why there are such critical skills gaps. What’s stopping this?

The Trade Groups: Trade Associations and Chambers of Commerce helping vertical sectors in their own traditional ways spanning over decades but are such vertical trade groups able to showcase their membership in a grand way across the nation and global markets? If showcasing of progressive membership profiles attracts global opportunities why trade-groups are so afraid and what level of expertise they posses to deploy such large scale mobilization. Why they play a critical role?

The Public Sector Groups: Government departments mandated to foster economic growth across all vertical sectors, how such government agencies not only fully digitized internally but also offering to all sectors of vertical businesses and exporting communities large scale options on Platform Economy thinking. If local governments were active and aggressive leaders they will not only boost national economies but also calm restless citizenry and avoid windy storms of populism. Massive induction is required.

The Founders Groups:  every nation is blessed with all sorts of founders, owners and entrepreneurs including senior management and therefore to thrive in Platform Economy such entrepreneurial leadership must demonstrate expertise on digital platform economy because without being savvy how will they grow? Why aren’t digitally showcased are their enterprises on highly integrated platforms to create a global bounce and create world-class exportability performance? Without them platform economy will have no sizzle. 

Anything less than 90% advancements in each of these categories will keep the nation trapped

Identify 1000 to 1,000,000 enterprises in need of global exposure or exportability
Start a high level in-depth debate and discussion with authoritative knowledge and solutions
Start national mobilization of a major agenda to change the picture of national midsize economy
Create a national level dedicated Digital Platform Economy Agency with national agendaStop trade wars and start skills wars. Help the internal working citizenry. EU just tabled a $100 billion dollar program to uplift it internal industries. Australia just announced 50 Billion to fix it manufacturing base. Prime Minster Trudeau of Canada just made a promise to uplift 2000 start-ups with 50 thousand dollars each. Smart leadership is working on this. Trade-wars are proof of poor quality exportability, poor skills and poor policies, but skills-wars are about creating highly skilled citizenry creating superior edge of exportability and blossoming local grassroots prosperity.

Select options:

Projectile Economy; where Rocketry and Mars Missions drive the agenda
Inversion Economy; where grassroots transformation becomes a top priority
Platform Economy; where massive digital mobilizations uplift major vertical sectors

The Platform Economy: Around the world, advantageous are those nations already missed the First, Second and Third Industrial Revolution; now standing at the gates of Fourth industrial Revolution they already have a jump start. Right now, any high quality digitized world-class vertical Trade Group segment is a critical component for shaping something like Mini-Alibaba.  What does this mean for smart economies going forward? What are the next challenges on creating grassroots prosperity? What will be the Election Messages of New Promises going forward? While, economic superiority of super-power-nations via trade wars keeps slowing down world economy. The 100 plus micro-power-nations from the middle of global hierarchy may attempt fully digitalized and globally accessible platforms showcasing enterprises may open up unlimited wide reaching opportunities of trading and exporting.

The 2030:  As forecasted in press,why will Top Ten Economies have combined GDP of USD $200 trillion? Adding further perspective, China and India will contribute $110 Trillion, USA $32 Trillion and Japan $7 Trillion. What does this mean?  How will meaningful translations fit platform economies on mobilization and deployment strategies? How will you apply all these in your own vertical markets in your regions?

Deep study is critical…Rest is easy…

Today’s Challenges: Will next economic leadership going to be about “skill-wars or trade-wars” Old models of random quick fix helping of SMEs gets mostly wasted, creating alternate economies demand alternate thinking like national mobilizations of commercialization with LIVE linkage to global digital access platforms.

A new and smart world is awakening right in front of us. Round-table discussion with authoritative command on such issues and participation of top trade-groups and national leadership is a good start.

Vision is all about see far but more clearly; kindly adjust your binoculars

Naseem Javed is a corporate philosopher, Chairman of Expothon Worldwide; a Canadian Think tank focused on National Mobilization of Entrepreneurialism Protocols on Platform Economy and exportability solutions now gaining global attention. His latest book; Alpha Dreamers; the five billions connected who will change the world.

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Economy

Future Economy: Upskilling Exporters & Reskilling Manufacturers

Naseem Javed

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Pandemic recovery is now openly calling global thought leaderships to speak up and enter their bold debates on national/global economic development issues to foster grassroots prosperity to avoid a billion displaced magnetized to populism. Seriously missed during the last decade, collaborative synthesizing with diversity and tolerance and wrongly replaced by seek and destroy economics creating trade wars… now is the time to cooperate, upskilling, and reskill working citizens of all nations.  

The United Nations should lead with a global mandate…

Upskilling Exporters: When exporters in any country suffer lack of market share and their lower prices bringing in lower profits because of lack of quality upskilling and reskilling becomes mandatory. When innovative excellence is parked under the umbrella of entrepreneurialism national mobilization becomes number one priority. The pandemic recoveries across the world coping with a billion displaced all have now critical needs of both upskilling and reskilling. Upskilling is the process of learning new skills to achieve new thinking. Reskilling is the process of learning new skills to achieve new performances. Today, in super advanced and globally competitive markets raw hard work will not achieve global competitiveness only upskilling and reskilling will create a sharp edge.

Reskilling Manufacturers: When factories start having larger warehouses to hold unsold inventories and when production commoditized and price becomes the only deciding factor, reskilling on “real value creation” becomes mandatory. Advanced Manufacturing Clusters in various nations will greatly help, but understanding of global-age expansion of value offerings with fine production is a new art and commercialization to 200 nations a new science.

Now under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, The Annual Investment Meeting, organized by the UAE Ministry of Economy, scheduled to be held from 20th to 22nd October 2020.. The AIM under the theme “Reimagining Economies: The Move towards a Digital, Sustainable and Resilient Future.” This is a gathering of the global investment community with participants attending from more than 170 countries. The conference addresses multiple issues on FDI, national digitization and uplifting SME and midsize business economies with great speakers from around the world.

The future of economies, exports, Chambers of Commerce, Trade Associations and SME and midsize economic developments all called for bold and open regular debates. The zoomerang impact of global thought leadership now forcing institutions to become armchair Keynote speakers and Panelists to deliberate wisdom from the comfort of their homes round the clock events… study how Pentiana and Expothon Project tabled advanced thinking on such trends during the last decade. For fast track results, follow the trail of silence and help thought leadership to engage in bold and open debates and help show them guidance to overcome their fears of transformation. The arrival of Virtual leadership and Zoomerang culture is a gift from pandemic recovery, acquiring mastery.

The Difficult Questions: Nation-by-nation,when 50% of frontline teams need ‘upskilling’ while 50% of the back-up teams need ‘reskilling’ how do you open discussions leading to workable and productive programs? Each stage challenges competency levels and each stage offers options to up skill for better performances. Talent gaps need fast track closing and global-age skills need widening. New flat hierarchical models provide wide-open career paths and higher performance rewards in post pandemic recovery phases. When executed properly such exercises match new skills and talents with the right targeted challenges of the business models and market conditions. The ultimate objective of “extreme value creation” in any enterprise must eliminate the practices of ‘extreme value manipulations”. Study of the last top 10 highly exposed global scale corporate scandals on ‘value manipulation’ spanning years and decades and recognize their fake reign of legitimacy during such traps as lessons. Economies around the world solely based on ‘value manipulations’ are not economies, they are schemes. The billion displaced need optimization and upskilling to contribute to real value creation.

The upskilled and reskilled in platform economies are agile builders of the future workforce.  Study the major cycles of the last century, how in the 70s and 80s billions trained on desktop computers for the world to enter the “Digital Age”. Best career paths now based on digital trajectory matched with critical thinking and complex problem solving when all combined will boost the enterprise to newer heights. The economies of the future must declare upskilling of national citizens as prime mandate.

All transformations must start from the very top; nation-by-nationtrue upskilling and reskilling cascading with new vision and with pragmatic solutions to precisely enhance skills to match the digital age and our smart world. The culture must embrace upskilling and reskilling as a daily open routine of lifelong learning and future planning to carve a distinct position in the marketplace. Study ‘national mobilization of entrepreneurialism’ on Google. A very bright future awaits. The rest is easy. 

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Bangladesh: The Rising Economic Power

Shariful Islam

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in its October 2020 report, titled, World Economic Outlook: A Long and Difficult Ascent, notes that Bangladesh has overtaken India in terms of per capita GDP scoring US$ 1888. Notably, in 2015, just five years ago, India’s per capita GDP was around 40 percent higher than Bangladesh. Kaushik Basu, a former World Bank cheif economist tweets that ‘Any emerging economy doing well is good news’. The focused and visionary plans, actions, and the hard work of the Sheikh Hasina government and the people of the country made possible such success for Bangladesh. Though this write-up began comparing Bangladesh’s economic success with India, certainly Bangladesh identifies India as a great friend rather than competitor, believes in constructive engagement with India and other major powers rather than embracing conflict or competition, and acknowledges the role of the major development partners in the overall socio-economic development of the country.

The impressive economic success of Bangladesh has become a matter of discussion in the Indian media and beyond. It is also seen that while many countries in the world including the developed ones are experiencing negative growth due to COVID-19 global pandemic, Bangladesh is experiencing positive growth that also becomes a matter of celebration for Bangladesh. In this context, it becomes crucial to investigate the rise/ emergence of Bangladesh as an economic power. In addition, only the negative news on Bangladesh becomes emphasized in the global media while overlooking the positive developments.

To understand the emergence of Bangladesh as an economic power, one needs to look at the past. The decades long oppression, suppression, injustice and severe discrimination against East Pakistan by West Pakistan made the people of the East Pakistan poor and illiterate. For instance, in a typical year of between 1960 and 1970, per capita annual income was Bangladeshi Taka 450 (US$ 5.30, based on 2020 value), nearly half of the population had a deficiency in calories intake, and the literacy rate was 17 percent only. Between 1949-50 and 1969-70, the per capita income of Bangladesh could increase at an annual rate of hardly 0.7 per cent. In fact, during the fifties, the per capita income of Bangladesh declined at an annual rate of 0.3 per cent. Per capita consumption of milk, fats, oil, fish and other protein items were extremely low in Bangladesh. In March 1972, P. C. Verma wrote in the Economic and Political Weekly that ‘During the last 24 years, while Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan, its economy stagnated. The economic policy pursued by the central government of Pakistan kept it economically backward’ (p.580). Development expenditure in Bangladesh was extremely low. It is also argued that the policies taken by the central government of Pakistan in the context of foreign aid, trade, interregional trade had severe adverse effects on Bangladesh.

Thus, the decades long severe discrimination against East Pakistan by West Pakistan economically, politically and structurally led to the independence movement in East Pakistan under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Finally, after nine-months of War of Independence, Bangladesh emerged as an independent nation-state in 1971. The 1971 War exacerbated the situation. The United Nations estimated the reconstruction cost in/of Bangladesh at US$938 million. In such a scenario, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation took the leadership to rebuild the country, and to make it a ‘Shonar Bangla’ (Golden Bengal). In fact, it was a daunting task. Even at this stage, many raised questions about the viability and stability of Bangladesh as nation-building in a new state was not an easy task. For instance, during his visit to Dhaka in 1974, Henry Kissinger termed Bangladesh as a ‘bottomless basket’. Ambassador U. Alexis Johnson defined the newly born state, Bangladesh as ‘international basket case’. However, Bangabandhu was able to overcome those predictions and speculations through his visionary leadership.

On October 4, 2019, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina wrote in the Print that “Beyond self-sufficiency, we are now the fourth-largest in rice production, second-largest in jute production, fourth-largest in mango production, fifth-largest in vegetable production and fourth-largest in inland fisheries in the world’. Since 2009, Bangladesh has been achieving more than 6 percent growth. The country graduated to a lower-middle-income nation in 2015 while in 2018; the country met the UN criteria for graduating from the ‘least developed country’ status by 2024. Bangladesh is one of the key players in the global textile industry. This is, in fact, tremendous achievements for Bangladesh. Behind such achievement, the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina played a crucial role along with the hard work of the tens of thousands of farmers, factory workers, garments workers, and other classes of people in the country. Bangladesh has been awarded ‘South-South Award’ in 2013 to make remarkable progress in the poverty alleviation. If one looks at few forecasts, according to a study of UK-based firm PwC, Bangladesh will be 23rd largest world economy by 2050. In addition, the Goldman Sach forecasts Bangladesh as one of the countries in ‘N11’ after BRICS who will dominate the future world economy.

Bangladesh has the potential to become the economic hub in South Asia which requires regional and global economic cooperation. Under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh is preparing 100 special economic zones for major investors which will create employment opportunities for millions along with increased economic growth that can contribute immensely to the overall socio-economic development of Bangladesh. To attract foreign direct investments, Bangladesh enacted One-Stop Service Act in 2018 to provide all the required services to investors from the same point. In addition, Bangladesh offers the most liberal and congenial investment regime in South Asia. Notably, the GDP of Bangladesh has grown from US$102 billion in 2009 to US$302 billion in 2019. One can also note that foreign direct investment has also increased from US$ 700 million in 2009 to US$ 3613 million in 2018. In 2018, Bangladesh was the second recipient of FDI in South Asia.

After coming in power in 2009, the Sheikh Hasina government set several targets for Bangladesh, i.e. to achieve the status of a middle-income country by 2021, accomplishing the SDG goals by 2030, becoming a developed country by 2041, becoming a miracle by 2071, and executing a delta plan by 2100. Thus, one can argue that under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh is moving forward with specific targets in mind. Many argue that Bangladesh can be a developed nation by 2041 if the current political stability in the country under Sheikh Hasina regime continues along with the supports from the major development partners. One of the major strengths for Bangladesh is that among 170 million people more than 60 per cent are energetic and dynamic youths who can contribute immensely to the overall development of the country. The world needs to know that Bangladesh is no more an ‘international basket case’. And for this success, Bangladesh and its people sincerely appreciate the cooperation from the international community.

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Chamber of Commerce and Russia’s Economic Operations with African Countries

Kester Kenn Klomegah

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Largely dictated by the results of the first Russia-Africa summit and the persistent economic sanctions by the United States and European Union, Russia is seriously reorganizing towards increasing its economic prints in Africa. Russia is, indeed, putting its house in order, identifying strategies and drawing roadmaps, and most importantly restructuring.

Quite recently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs created the Secretariat for Russia-Africa Forum. The Secretariat further established an Association for Economic Cooperation with African States. Now Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has restructured the Coordinating Committee for Economic Cooperation with African States that was established as far back in 2009.

According to historical documents, the Coordinating Committee for Economic Cooperation with African States was created on the initiative of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation and Vnesheconombank with the support of the Federation Council and the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. It has had support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economy and Trade, the Ministry of Natural Resources, as well as the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.

With the participation of representatives of business and expert circles, this committee’s primary task is to consolidate the efforts of business, government and public structures of Russia, facilitate the intensification of economic activities in Africa. It has the responsibility for adopting a more pragmatic approach to business, for deepening and broadening existing economic collaborations and for the establishment of direct mutually beneficial contacts between entrepreneurs and companies from Russia and African countries.

During its last meeting, the participants discussed various issues and acknowledged that the committee has achieved little since its establishment. The meeting has also identified factors that have hindered its expected achievements and overall performance since 2009. Admittedly, a quick assessment for over one decade has shown very little impact and tangible results. The committee’s documents listed more than 150 Russian companies as members, most of them hardly seen participating in business events in order to get acquainted with investment opportunities in Africa.

Notwithstanding the setbacks down these years, Russians are full of optimism. Completely a new team was put in place during the meeting hosted by the Russian Business Chamber. Russian Senator Igor Morozov was elected as the new Chairman of the Coordinating Committee for Economic Cooperation with African States. He is currently the Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation for Science, Education and Culture.

As the President of the Russian Chamber of Chamber and Industry, Sergei Katyrin, put it in remarks at the meeting, “the new leader has the primary task now to accelerate Russia’s economic return to this continent, from which we practically left in the 90s and now it is very difficult to increase presence there in Africa.”

According to Katyrin, Russia’s economic presence in Africa today is significantly inferior in comparison to the positions of leading Western countries and BRICS partners. “It’s time to overcome this yawning gap. Today, we face a difficult task to ensure the activities of Russian entrepreneurship on the African continent in the new conditions, taking into account all the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.”

“The African continent is of strategic interest for the Russian economy,” explained Katyrin. It is enough to cite just a few figures to understand why this region attracts entrepreneurs. Africa has 30 percent of the world’s mineral reserves, including 70 percent – platinum group metals, more than 50 types of precious stones, oil and gas reserves, and so forth.

In 2019, six Sub-Saharan African countries ranked among the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world. The potential of African countries is incomparably greater than the current level of their development. Cooperating with Africa, among other things, will contribute to the implementation of the national project to increase non-resource Russian exports to $250 billion.

Katyrin however stressed the necessity to resolve financial mechanism for business. “We need a state financial mechanism to support the work of Russian business in Africa otherwise it will be very difficult to break through the fierce competition of Western companies with such support. We need to focus on those areas where you can definitely count on success,” he told the meeting.

While pointing to lack of business information and the need to get rid of stereotypes about Africa, Sergei Katyrin emphasized that the maximum intensification of work is needed right now for the reason that, due to the general economic recession in the world, new companies from all developed countries are rushing with concrete business to new markets emerging in Africa.

In order to move forward and achieve significant success, the reorganized committee has to make double efforts in providing with Russian and African exporters, in both cases or both ways, basis for acquiring adequate knowledge of trade and investment procedures, rules and regulations as well as the existing market conditions.

There are also complicated certification procedures, expensive logistics, security and guarantee issues, and lack of direct aviation connections affecting the entire process of cooperation. The committee has to deal with these challenging questions as it makes the way for boosting Russia’s economic presence in Africa.

On the other hand, it has to work closely with African counterparts on the challenges and opportunities on the continent. Russia is, so far, a closed market to many African countries. It is difficult to access the Russian market. Africans are doing brisk business in the United States, in Europe and in Asia. All that is necessary here is for Russia and Africa to make consistent efforts to look for new ways, practical efforts at removing existing obstacles that have impeded trade and investment over the years.

In practical reality, resetting a comprehensive African agenda requires an extensive work and decisive leadership. With 54 African Union member countries already signed up for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), gives an additional signal for foreign players seeking to take advantage of this new opportunity in Africa. An undeniable driving factor for consideration is that the AfCFTA has a lot more on offer besides the fact that it creates a single market of 1.3 billion people.

According to Sergei Katyrin, Russia is gradually overcoming the negative consequences of its retreat from Africa in the 90s. The first Russia-Africa summit and economic forum took place in Sochi in October 2019. During summit discussions, African representatives there constantly raised the question of the need for a more active return of Russia to the continent. Africans still have nostalgic interest towards Russia and Russians are eager to use that as unifying factor. Soviet Union has had very close and, in many respects, allied relations with most of the countries during the decolonization of Africa.

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