September 24, 2023

Thailand expects Tesla, Google, Microsoft to invest $5 billion -prime minister

Thailand expects Tesla, Google, Microsoft to invest $5 billion -prime minister © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin speaks during a press conference after a weekly cabinet meeting at the government house in Bangkok, Thailand, September 13, 2023. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on Sunday the country expected to receive investment of at least $5 billion from Tesla (NASDAQ:), Google (NASDAQ:) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:).

“Tesla would be looking into an EV manufacturing facility, Microsoft and Google are looking at data centres,” he said, without detailing whether the $5 billion was expected to be a combined investment or made individually by each company.

Tesla, Google and Microsoft did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

Srettha was speaking to reporters in Bangkok after attending the U.N. General Assembly in New York where he also held talks with company executives earlier this week.

Fresh foreign investment would boost Thailand’s flagging economy, which is expected to grow by 2.8% this year, less than previously projected, due to weaker exports.

Srettha spoke with Tesla CEO Elon Musk last week about the electric vehicle sector.

Thailand, Asia’s fourth-largest automobile assembly hub, has been offering incentives to EV and battery makers, and tax cuts to local EV buyers, to remain a regional auto centre.

Tesla’s Saudi Arabia expansion rumors dispelled by Musk: This week in EVs

Tesla's Saudi Arabia expansion rumors dispelled by Musk: This week in EVs © Reuters. — Here is your weekly Pro Recap of the past week’s biggest headlines in the electric vehicle space: Elon Musk claims WSJ report ‘utterly false’; VinFast posts impressive results; and EVs are taking over EU.

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Musk Denies reports of Saudi expansion

Conflicting reports have emerged this week regarding Tesla’s (NASDAQ:) potential expansion plans in Saudi Arabia. Initially, The Wall Street Journal reported that the EV giant was in preliminary discussions with Arab government about establishing a manufacturing facility in the country. Citing unnamed sources, the report highlighted potential challenges stemming from the complex relationship between Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, and Saudi officials, as well as Saudi Arabia’s existing collaboration with electric vehicle competitor Lucid Group (NASDAQ:).

If a deal were to materialize, it could have a significant impact on Tesla’s ambitious goal of selling 20 million vehicles annually by 2030, as Elon Musk has previously suggested. This objective might require around twelve additional manufacturing facilities worldwide. Currently, Tesla manufactures vehicles in the United States, China, and Germany, with plans to expand operations into Mexico.

However, the story took an unexpected turn when Elon Musk himself took to his social media platform “X” to deny The Wall Street Journal’s report. Musk dismissed the article as “another utterly false article from the WSJ.”

The Wall Street Journal had based its report on information from unnamed sources who acknowledged that the talks between Tesla and Saudi Arabia were still in their early stages and could potentially fall apart.

Shares of TSLA reached a weekly high of $272.13 on Wednesday before ending the week down 8%.

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Vinfast impresses with inaugural report

Vietnamese automaker VinFast Auto (NASDAQ:) is making significant strides. In its first quarterly report since going public in August, Vinfast announced a remarkable 131.2% increase in revenue. The company reported Q2 revenue of 7.95 trillion Vietnamese dong ($327 million) for the period ending on June 30th. This impressive growth can be attributed to a substantial surge in deliveries, with 9,535 vehicles delivered during the second quarter, marking a more than fivefold increase compared to the first quarter. In the first half of the year, Vinfast reported a total of 11,315 deliveries, showcasing its expanding presence in the electric vehicle market.

Despite a history of losses, Vinfast achieved a valuation of approximately $85 billion upon its Wall Street debut, surpassing the valuations of U.S. automakers Ford (NYSE:) and General Motors (NYSE:). This valuation surge was fueled by increased delivery volume and reductions in research and development expenses, leading to a reduction in net loss from 13.65 trillion Vietnamese dong to 12.54 trillion Vietnamese dong.

Additionally, Vinfast CEO Thuy Le revealed plans to send the first batch of electric vehicles to Europe later this year, following regulatory approval. Approximately 3,000 VF8 crossover vehicles will be shipped to France, Germany, and the Netherlands during the fourth quarter from VinFast’s manufacturing facility in northern Vietnam.

This marks a significant expansion, surpassing their previous target of delivering 700 vehicles by July of the previous year. The move into the European market is strategically timed, given the European Union’s investigation into Chinese electric vehicle manufacturers, potentially creating an opening for Vinfast.

Shares of VFS ended the week down 3% to $15.63/sh.

EV Surge in Europe

EVs made significant strides in the European market in August, with data released by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) revealing that slightly over 20% of all new cars purchased in the European Union were fully electric. This marked the first instance where EVs constituted more than a fifth of total sales, with close to 1 million fully-electric vehicles sold in the EU over the initial eight months of 2023.

Volkswagen (OTC:), Europe’s leading car manufacturer, reported a notable 21.2% increase in sales for August, according to the ACEA. Stellantis (NYSE:) and Renault (OTC:) also experienced sales growth, with increases of 6.4% and 22.3%, respectively.Sign Up for a Free Week Now!

China state asset manager plans $14 billion emerging industry fund -report

China state asset manager plans $14 billion emerging industry fund -report © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Coins and a banknote of China’s yuan are seen in this illustration picture taken February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration/File Photo

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China Reform Holdings Corp, a Chinese manager of state assets, plans to raise at least 100 billion yuan ($13.70 billion) for a fund that will invest in emerging industries, the China Business News reported on Sunday.

The fund has already received investment intentions from more than 20 central government-owned enterprises as well as local governments and private investors, and will start operating by the end of this year, the newspaper said.

China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have been ramping up investment in emerging and strategic industries such as artificial intelligence, new energy, new materials and biotech as part of Beijing’s SOE reforms.

China Reform Holdings was set up in 2021 and tasked with deepening SOE reforms. It managed nearly 860 billion yuan of assets at the end of 2022, according to the company’s website.

($1 = 7.2980 renminbi)

Karabakh’s Armenians start to leave en masse for Armenia


Karabakh's Armenians start to leave en masse for Armenia © Reuters. A view shows a border-crossing point on the frontier between Armenia and Azerbaijan and a base of Russian peacekeepers deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh as seen from a road near the village of Kornidzor, Armenia, September 23, 2023. REUTERS/Irakli Gedenidze


STEPANAKERT, Azerbaijan (Reuters) -Ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh began a mass exodus by car on Sunday toward Armenia after Azerbaijan defeated the breakaway region’s fighters in a conflict dating from the Soviet era.

The Nagorno-Karabakh leadership told Reuters the region’s 120,000 Armenians did not want to live as part of Azerbaijan for fear of persecution and ethnic cleansing.

Those with fuel had started to drive down the Lachin corridor toward the border with Armenia, according to a Reuters reporter in the Karabakh capital known as Stepanakert by Armenia and Khankendi by Azerbaijan.

An Armenian government statement said 1,050 people had crossed into Armenia from Nagorno-Karabkah as of 10 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Sunday.

Reuters pictures showed dozens of cars driving out of the capital toward the corridor’s mountainous curves.

The Armenians of Karabakh, a territory internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but previously beyond its control, were forced into a ceasefire last week after a 24-hour military operation by the much-larger Azerbaijani military.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars over the enclave in 30 years — with Azerbaijan gaining back swathes of territory in and around Nagorno-Karabakh in a six-week conflict in 2020.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who backed the Azeris with weaponry in the 2020 conflict, was due on Monday to meet Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev in Nakhchivan — a strip of Azeri territory nestled between Armenia, Iran and Turkey.

Erdogan last week said he supported the aims of Azerbaijan’s latest military operation but played no part in it.

The Armenians are not accepting Azerbaijan’s promise to guarantee their rights as the region is integrated.

“Ninety-nine point nine percent prefer to leave our historic lands,” David Babayan, an adviser to Samvel Shahramanyan, president of the self-styled Republic of Artsakh, told Reuters.

“The fate of our poor people will go down in history as a disgrace and a shame for the Armenian people and for the whole civilised world,” Babayan said. “Those responsible for our fate will one day have to answer before God for their sins.”

The Armenian leaders of Karabakh said that all those made homeless by the Azerbaijani military operation and wanting to leave would be escorted to Armenia by Russian peacekeepers.

Reuters reporters near the village of Kornidzor on the Armenian border saw some heavily laden cars pass into Armenia. Armenia said 377 refugees had arrived by Sunday evening.


Armenia Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has faced calls to resign for failing to save Karabakh. In an address to the nation, he said some aid had arrived but a mass exodus looked inevitable.

“If proper conditions are not created for the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh to live in their homes and there are no effective protection mechanisms against ethnic cleansing, the likelihood is rising that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh will see exile from their homeland as the only way to save their lives and identity,” he said, according to an official transcript.

The situation could change the delicate balance of power in the South Caucasus region, a patchwork of ethnicities crisscrossed with oil and gas pipelines where Russia, the United States, Turkey and Iran vie for influence.

Last week’s Azerbaijani victory appears to end one of the decades-old “frozen conflicts” of the Soviet Union’s dissolution. Aliyev said his “iron fist” had consigned the idea of an independent ethnic Armenian Karabakh to history and that the region would be turned into a “paradise.”

Armenia says more than 200 people were killed and 400 wounded in the Azerbaijani military operation.


Nagorno-Karabakh lies in an area that over centuries has come under the sway of Persians, Turks, Russians, Ottomans and Soviets. It was claimed by both Azerbaijan and Armenia after the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917. In Soviet times it was designated an autonomous region within Azerbaijan.

As the Soviet Union crumbled, the Armenians there threw off nominal Azeri control and captured neighbouring territory in what is now known as the First Karabakh War. From 1988 to 1994 about 30,000 people were killed and more than 1 million — mostly Azeris — displaced.

In 2020, after decades of skirmishes, Azerbaijan won a decisive 44-day Second Karabakh War. That war ended with a Russian-brokered peace deal Armenians accuse Moscow of failing to guarantee.

The Armenian authorities in the region on Saturday said about 150 tonnes of humanitarian cargo from Russia and another 65 tonnes of flour shipped by the International Committee of the Red Cross had arrived in the region.

With 2,000 peacekeepers present, Russia said that under the terms of the ceasefire, six armoured vehicles, more than 800 small arms, anti-tank weapons and portable air defence systems, plus 22,000 ammunition rounds had been handed in by Saturday.

Space for 40,000 people from Karabakh had been prepared in Armenia. Azerbaijan, which is mainly Muslim, has said that the Armenians, who are Christian, can leave if they want.

Pashinyan on Sunday blamed Russia for failing to do enough for Armenia, which he said would review its alliance with Moscow.

“Some of our partners are increasingly making efforts to expose our security vulnerabilities, putting at risk not only our external, but also internal, security and stability while violating all norms of etiquette and correctness in diplomatic and interstate relations, including obligations assumed under treaties,” Pashinyan said in his Sunday address.

Russian officials say Pashinyan is to blame for his own mishandling of the crisis.

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy says he met top businessmen during U.S. visit

Ukraine's Zelenskiy says he met top businessmen during U.S. visit © Reuters. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends an event in Toronto, Ontario, Canada September 22, 2023. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

KYIV (Reuters) -Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday he met leading American entrepreneurs and financiers during a visit this week to the United States, where investment opportunities in Ukraine were discussed.

Zelenskiy said the businessmen, who included Michael Bloomberg, Larry Fink and Bill Ackman, were prepared to make major investments in rebuilding Ukraine after its war with Russia.

“The American entrepreneurs and financiers confirmed their readiness to make large-scale investments in our country immediately after the end of the war and the receipt of security guarantees,” he posted on Telegram, along with photos of the meeting.

“We are working for the victory and reconstruction of Ukraine.”

On a trip to the U.S. and Canada this week, Zelenskiy sought continued military and financial support for Kyiv’s effort to fend off Russia’s 19-month-old invasion.

China central bank adviser proposes structural reforms to revive economy


China central bank adviser proposes structural reforms to revive economy © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Paramilitary police officers stand guard in front of the headquarters of the People’s Bank of China, the central bank (PBOC), in Beijing, China September 30, 2022. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo


SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China has limited room for further monetary policy easing, and it should pursue structural reforms such as encouraging entrepreneurs rather than counting on macroeconomic policies to revive growth, a central bank adviser said on Sunday.

Liu Shijin, a member of the People’s Bank of China’s (PBOC) monetary policy committee, told a financial forum in Shanghai that Beijing’s room for monetary policy easing was limited by widening interest rate differentials with the U.S.

Fiscally, Chinese governments at various levels are under stress, he told the annual Bund Summit conference.

“If China continues to focus on macro policies in its efforts to stabilise growth, there would be more and more side effects,” said Liu, vice president of the Development Research Center of the State Council.

“More importantly, we will again miss the opportunity for structural reforms.”

China’s post-COVID recovery has lost momentum amid weak consumption, falling exports and a deepening property debt crisis, and the economy is struggling despite a slew of monetary and fiscal measures to boost confidence.

Liu proposed on Sunday a new round of structural reforms that could aid the economy immediately, while also injecting long-term growth momentum.

They include demand-side reforms with a focus on giving migrant workers access to public services enjoyed by city dwellers, as well as supply-side reforms that involve igniting entrepreneurship in emerging industries, he said.

China’s top economic planning body announced this month it would create a new department to help private businesses, as Beijing seeks to revive investor confidence hurt by government crackdowns on sectors ranging from the internet to private tutoring.

Liu said on Sunday that China should give clearer recognition to private businesses’ status, both ideologically and politically.

Italy criticises Germany for funding migrant charity groups

Italy criticises Germany for funding migrant charity groups © Reuters. Italian Minister of Defence Guido Crosetto arrives to take part in the European Air Defence Conference gathering 18 Defence ministers, at Les Invalides in Paris on June 19, 2023. GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

ROME (Reuters) – A German plan to finance charities helping migrants in the Mediterranean causes difficulties for Italy, defence minister Guido Crosetto said on Sunday, as Rome tries to enforce tougher measures to stem the flow of sea arrivals.

Following reports in Italian media, a spokesperson for the German foreign ministry said on Friday that Berlin was implementing a parliamentary financial support programme for both civilian sea rescue and projects on land.

“We have received several applications for funding. The review of the applications has already been completed in two cases,” the spokesperson told Reuters, saying the funding amounted to between 400,000 and 800,000 euros ($426,000-$852,160) for each project.

Italy’s Crosetto told daily La Stampa that Rome regarded the German move as “very serious”, adding his government was instead committed to fighting the human smugglers he said should be treated as “international criminals.”

“Berlin pretends not to realise that, in doing so, it causes difficulties to a country that in theory should be a friend,” said Crosetto, a senior member of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party.

Germany’s foreign ministry said rescuing people at sea is a “legal, humanitarian and moral duty”.

Latest interior ministry data shows over 132,000 migrants have reached Italy by boat so far this year against around 69,000 in the same period of 2022.

On Saturday, charity SOS Humanity said in a statement it would receive around 790,000 euros from the German government.

Italy, which takes a hard-line against illegal immigration, said this week it would increase the number of detention centres to hold migrants ahead of their possible repatriation and lengthen the time they could be detained.

The government also ruled they will have to pay to avoid detention while their request for protection is being processed, drawing strong criticism from human rights groups.

($1 = 0.9388 euros)

Armenian PM says Armenians may flee Karabakh and blames Russia

Armenian PM says Armenians may flee Karabakh and blames Russia © Reuters. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan gives a televised address to citizens on the national independence day, in Yerevan, Armenia, in this picture released September 21, 2023. The Office to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia/Handout via REUTE

MOSCOW (Reuters) -Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Sunday the likelihood was rising that ethnic Armenians would flee the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh and blamed Russia for failing to ensure Armenian security.

If 120,000 people go down the Lachin corridor to Armenia, the small South Caucasian country could face both a humanitarian and political crisis.

“If proper conditions are not created for the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh to live in their homes and there are no effective protection mechanisms against ethnic cleansing, the likelihood is rising that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh will see exile from their homeland as the only way to save their lives and identity,” Pashinyan said in address to the nation.

“Responsibility for such a development of events will fall entirely on Azerbaijan, which adopted a policy of ethnic cleansing, and on the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said, according to a government transcript.

He added that the Armenian-Russian strategic partnership was “not enough to ensure the external security of Armenia”.

Last week, Azerbaijan scored a victory over ethnic Armenians who have controlled the Karabakh region since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. An adviser to the leader of the Karabakh Armenians told Reuters earlier on Sunday that the population would leave because they feel unsafe under Azerbaijani rule.

Russia had acted as guarantor for a peace deal that ended a 44-day war in Karabakh three years ago, and many Armenians blame Moscow for failing to protect the region.

Russian officials say Pashinyan is to blame for his own mishandling of the crisis, and have repeatedly said that Armenia, which borders Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan and Georgia, has few other friends in the region.

“The government will accept our brothers and sisters from Nagorno-Karabakh with full care,” Pashinyan said.

Pashinyan has warned that some unidentified forces were seeking to stoke a coup against him and has accused Russian media of engaging in an information war against him.

“Some of our partners are increasingly making efforts to expose our security vulnerabilities, putting at risk not only our external, but also internal security and stability, while violating all norms of etiquette and correctness in diplomatic and interstate relations, including obligations assumed under treaties,” Pashinyan said in his Sunday address.

“In this context, it is necessary to transform, complement and enrich the external and internal security instruments of the Republic of Armenia,” he said.

Shein shifts shipping strategy to bring China-made goods closer to US shoppers

Shein shifts shipping strategy to bring China-made goods closer to US shoppers © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Shein logo is pictured at the company’s office in the central business district of Singapore, October 18, 2022. REUTERS/Chen Lin/File Photo

(This Sept. 22 story has been corrected to say ‘more than 2,000%’ instead of ‘more than 2,000 times’ in paragraph 6)

By Katherine Masters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – E-commerce giant Shein is sending more low-priced apparel and home goods to U.S. warehouses from China to speed up shipping times for shoppers, according to data from global trade analysis firm ImportGenius provided exclusively to Reuters.

Shein, known for its $10 tops and $5 biker shorts, until recently has made many American purchasers face wait times of up to two weeks or more to receive their goods. This, say analysts, has put the fast-fashion e-tailer at a competitive disadvantage to bigger rivals such as Target, Walmart (NYSE:) and (NASDAQ:), particularly during the holiday shopping season.

Analysts told Reuters that Shein would likely continue to expand its bulk shipments to the U.S. in a bid to compete with established retailers on delivery times as it eyes an initial public offering.

The import data seen by Reuters shows Shein’s efforts to narrow the speed gap with retailers such as Amazon, which has made a push to offer next-day or two-day shipping to shoppers who pay $139 per year for its Prime membership service.

The move also marks a strategy shift for Shein, which has traditionally flown goods directly from China to shoppers. Shein lacks any physical stores in the U.S.

According to the import data seen by Reuters, Shein’s ocean shipments of apparel have increased more than 2,000% in the last two years, soaring from 312,385 pounds (141,695 kg) imported in bulk on container ships in 2021 to over 6.8 million so far this year. Virtually all came from China, where Shein relies on a network of suppliers to produce its expansive assortment of low-priced merchandise.

In 2022, Shein opened a warehouse in Whitestown, Indiana, where it generally stores that inventory to then be shipped to shoppers within four to seven business days.


Shein had already launched a faster delivery option for goods stored in the U.S., called “QuickShip,” in 2022. The same year, the retailer’s bulk imports brought to the U.S. by ocean freight increased by nearly 790%, from over 312,000 pounds to more than 2.7 million, according to the ImportGenius data.

Goods eligible for QuickShip are delivered significantly faster than Shein’s standard shipping times, which can range from nine to 14 days, according to estimates on its website.

Facing long waits, shoppers will likely make “infrequent” purchases from Shein, particularly during the key holiday shopping season, analysts at UBS said on Tuesday.

The ImportGenius data did not provide detailed descriptions for Shein products imported in bulk on container ships. Importing high-demand products in bulk helps Shein save money, a person familiar with Shein’s strategy said, as ocean shipping is significantly less costly than air freight.

Shein still sends the majority of its merchandise by air in individually addressed packages – most of which enter the U.S. under the “de minimis” trade provision that exempts them from tariffs.

A June report by a U.S. House of Representatives committee estimated that Shein and China-founded e-tailer Temu, owned by PDD Holdings, bring in nearly 600,000 packages a day under the exemption. Shein declined to comment on the estimate.

Shipping goods by air directly from China is a strategy that helps the e-tailer avoid unsold inventory piling up in warehouses, according to Juozas Kaziukenas, founder of e-commerce analytics firm Marketplace Pulse. Prior to 2020, Shein imported no clothing by ocean freight, according to the ImportGenius data.

Shein has said it plans to increase its U.S. storage space with an expansion of its Indiana facility and a new warehouse in Cherry Valley, California, expected to open within months.

Philippines condemns Chinese ‘floating barrier’ in South China Sea


Philippines condemns Chinese 'floating barrier' in South China Sea © Reuters. Chinese Coast Guard boats close to the floating barrier are pictured on September 20, 2023, near the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, in this handout image released by the Philippine Coast Guard on September 24, 2023. Philippine Coast Guard/Hando


MANILA (Reuters) -The Philippines on Sunday accused China’s coast guard of installing a “floating barrier” in a disputed area of the South China Sea (NYSE:), saying it prevented Filipinos from entering and fishing in the area.

Manila’s coast guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources “strongly condemn” China’s installation of the barrier in part of the Scarborough Shoal, Commodore Jay Tarriela, a coast guard spokesperson, posted on the X social media platform, formerly Twitter.

The barrier blocking fishermen from the shoal was depriving them of their fishing and livelihood activities”, he said.

“The (Philippine Coast Guard) will continue to work closely with all concerned government agencies to address these challenges, uphold our maritime rights and protect our maritime domains,” Tarriela said.

The Chinese embassy in Manila did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

China claims 90% of the South China Sea, overlapping with the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines. Beijing seized the Scarborough Shoal in 2012 and forced fishermen from the Philippines to travel further for smaller catches.

Beijing allowed Filipino fishermen to return to the uninhabited shoal when bilateral relations were improving markedly under then-President Rodrigo Duterte. But tension has mounted again since his successor, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, took office last year.

Philippine coast guard and fisheries bureau personnel discovered the floating barrier, estimated at 300 m (1,000 feet) long, on a routine patrol on Friday near the shoal, locally known as Bajo de Masinloc, Tarriela said.

Three Chinese coast guard rigid-hull inflatable boats and a Chinese maritime militia service boat installed the barrier when the Philippine vessel arrived, he said.

Filipino fishermen say China typically installs such barriers when they monitor a large number of fishermen in the area, Tarriela said.

The Chinese boats issued 15 radio challenges and accused the Philippine ship and fishermen of violating international and China’s laws, before moving away “upon realizing the presence of media personnel onboard the (Filipino) vessel”, he said.

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