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Intra-South Asia trade to triple to $67b if tariff barriers lifted: WB

Finance minister AMA Muhith is seen with World Bank lead economist Sanjay Kathuria and country director (Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal) Qimiao Fan, Centre for Policy Dialogue distinguished fellow Mustafizur Rahman, Policy Research Institute chairman Zaidi Sattar, Bangladesh Enterprise Institute president Farooq Sobhan and PRAN-RFL Group chairman and chief executive officer Ahsan Khan Chowdhury holding the WB report titled ‘A Glass Half Full: The Promise of Regional Trade in South Asia’ at its launching ceremony, jointly organised by PRI and World Bank Group at the Amari Hotel in Dhaka on Wednesday. — New Age photo

Business Report

Intra-South Asia annual trade could increase threefold to $67 billion from the existing $23 billion if trade barriers including tariffs, para tariffs and trust deficit are eliminated, said a World Bank report.
The report also estimated that Bangladesh had the potential to double its trade with South Asian countries to $18.9 billion from the existing $7.6 billion by eliminating the barriers.
The WB report titled ‘A Glass Half Full: The Promise of Regional Trade in South Asia’ was launched at a ceremony held at the Amari Hotel in Dhaka on Wednesday.
Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh and World Bank Group organised the report launching ceremony.
Bangladesh’s trade with the South Asian countries is 9 per cent of its total global trade, said World Bank lead economist Sanjay Kathuria while delivering presentation on the report.
The country’s trade with South Asian countries is $7.6 billion against $84.3 billion trade across the globe, he said.
The report mentioned India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as the top three trading partners of Bangladesh in South Asia.
Speaking about the potential of regional trade, Sanjay said that South Asia was the most disjointed region despite being the most rapidly growing area.
‘The regional trade accounts for only 5 per cent of the total trade of this region with the global market,’ he said.
In South Asia, protection is greater in the case of imports from within the South Asian region than from the rest of the world, Sanjay observed.
He said even though the countries of the region reduced tariffs, several countries simultaneously introduced protectionist para tariffs, undermining tariff liberalisation.
He said that better regional connectivity would allow consumers to avail product at best prices along with providing them better life.
South Asia is in the bottom considering the intraregional trade as a share of regional gross domestic product compared with East Asia and Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa, he said.
Finance minister AMA Muhith said that the government was aware about the impact of border markets and about the importance of improving connectivity for increasing regional trade.
He said, ‘It seems to me that the country’s businessmen enjoy doing business with rest of the world rather than with the regional countries.’
Muhith also said an increased attention within this region to improve the trade climate would be very much useful for boosting trade.
Speaking about the connectivity barrier issue, the finance minister said that Bangladesh’s connectivity with the neighbouring countries had improved in recent times and they would work on the issue further.
World Bank country director (Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal) Qimiao Fan said that only 9 per cent of Bangladesh’s trade was with South Asian countries.
There are a lot of potentials to increase the trade and that’s why Bangladesh needs to rethink how to increase the potentials, he said.
Qimiao mentioned high tariff and para tariff, non-tariff, connectivity cost and border trust deficit as the four major barriers to increasing regional trade in South Asia.
Policy Research Institute chairman Zaidi Sattar said para tariffs had constrained the trade of this region.
‘It is the task of the policymakers to resolve the issue and move forward,’ he said.
‘Despite being most disjointed, South Asia has managed to attain the highest growth and it’s become a question how much growth potential we are missing for being disjointed,’ he said.
Centre for Policy Dialogue distinguished fellow Mustafizur Rahman said that six countries of this region would graduate from LDC status within a few years and the benefits that these counties had been enjoying in different regions including Europe as LDCs would go.
Considering the situation, these countries have to take initiatives for deepening of intra-region trade, he said.
Bangladesh Enterprise Institute president Farooq Sobhan said that there was a need for public diplomacy to create public awareness for increasing bilateral trade.
He also suggested improved capacity of customs authority along with better infrastructure and connectivity including rail, road and waterways.
Mentioning that PRAN attained above 30 per cent growth in India, PRAN-RFL Group chairman and chief executive officer Ahsan Khan Chowdhury said that better connectivity that would allow Bangladesh’s trucks to enter inside India would help them reduce cost of transportation significantly, which would benefit the consumers.

Comment

Finance minister AMA Muhith is seen with World Bank lead economist Sanjay Kathuria and country director (Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal) Qimiao Fan, Centre for Policy Dialogue distinguished fellow Mustafizur Rahman, Policy Research Institute chairman Zaidi Sattar, Bangladesh Enterprise Institute president Farooq Sobhan and PRAN-RFL Group chairman and chief executive officer Ahsan Khan Chowdhury holding the WB report titled ‘A Glass Half Full: The Promise of Regional Trade in South Asia’ at its launching ceremony, jointly organised by PRI and World Bank Group at the Amari Hotel in Dhaka on Wednesday. — New Age photo

Business Report

Intra-South Asia annual trade could increase threefold to $67 billion from the existing $23 billion if trade barriers including tariffs, para tariffs and trust deficit are eliminated, said a World Bank report.
The report also estimated that Bangladesh had the potential to double its trade with South Asian countries to $18.9 billion from the existing $7.6 billion by eliminating the barriers.
The WB report titled ‘A Glass Half Full: The Promise of Regional Trade in South Asia’ was launched at a ceremony held at the Amari Hotel in Dhaka on Wednesday.
Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh and World Bank Group organised the report launching ceremony.
Bangladesh’s trade with the South Asian countries is 9 per cent of its total global trade, said World Bank lead economist Sanjay Kathuria while delivering presentation on the report.
The country’s trade with South Asian countries is $7.6 billion against $84.3 billion trade across the globe, he said.
The report mentioned India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as the top three trading partners of Bangladesh in South Asia.
Speaking about the potential of regional trade, Sanjay said that South Asia was the most disjointed region despite being the most rapidly growing area.
‘The regional trade accounts for only 5 per cent of the total trade of this region with the global market,’ he said.
In South Asia, protection is greater in the case of imports from within the South Asian region than from the rest of the world, Sanjay observed.
He said even though the countries of the region reduced tariffs, several countries simultaneously introduced protectionist para tariffs, undermining tariff liberalisation.
He said that better regional connectivity would allow consumers to avail product at best prices along with providing them better life.
South Asia is in the bottom considering the intraregional trade as a share of regional gross domestic product compared with East Asia and Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa, he said.
Finance minister AMA Muhith said that the government was aware about the impact of border markets and about the importance of improving connectivity for increasing regional trade.
He said, ‘It seems to me that the country’s businessmen enjoy doing business with rest of the world rather than with the regional countries.’
Muhith also said an increased attention within this region to improve the trade climate would be very much useful for boosting trade.
Speaking about the connectivity barrier issue, the finance minister said that Bangladesh’s connectivity with the neighbouring countries had improved in recent times and they would work on the issue further.
World Bank country director (Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal) Qimiao Fan said that only 9 per cent of Bangladesh’s trade was with South Asian countries.
There are a lot of potentials to increase the trade and that’s why Bangladesh needs to rethink how to increase the potentials, he said.
Qimiao mentioned high tariff and para tariff, non-tariff, connectivity cost and border trust deficit as the four major barriers to increasing regional trade in South Asia.
Policy Research Institute chairman Zaidi Sattar said para tariffs had constrained the trade of this region.
‘It is the task of the policymakers to resolve the issue and move forward,’ he said.
‘Despite being most disjointed, South Asia has managed to attain the highest growth and it’s become a question how much growth potential we are missing for being disjointed,’ he said.
Centre for Policy Dialogue distinguished fellow Mustafizur Rahman said that six countries of this region would graduate from LDC status within a few years and the benefits that these counties had been enjoying in different regions including Europe as LDCs would go.
Considering the situation, these countries have to take initiatives for deepening of intra-region trade, he said.
Bangladesh Enterprise Institute president Farooq Sobhan said that there was a need for public diplomacy to create public awareness for increasing bilateral trade.
He also suggested improved capacity of customs authority along with better infrastructure and connectivity including rail, road and waterways.
Mentioning that PRAN attained above 30 per cent growth in India, PRAN-RFL Group chairman and chief executive officer Ahsan Khan Chowdhury said that better connectivity that would allow Bangladesh’s trucks to enter inside India would help them reduce cost of transportation significantly, which would benefit the consumers.


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BD needs assistance from IFC in bigger way: Muhith

Business Report

Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith has said Bangladesh needs assistance from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in bigger way.
The minister also sought cooperation of IFC to increase the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country.
Muhith came up with the statement while addressing at a workshop on ‘Investment Process and IFC Strategy for 2017-21’ at Sonargaon Hotel in the city on Monday, reports UNB.
“We need all kinds of assistance in all sectors in both public and private sectors. We need deeper engagement of IFC,” he said.
IFC, the World Bank’s private lending wing, and Economic Relation Division (ERD) jointly organised the workshop to provide understanding about the work procedures, and also product and services of the multilateral funding agency.
ERD secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam presided over the workshop.
Wendy Werner; IFC country manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, and Mengistu Alemayehu; South Asia regional director of the funding agency, Kazi Aminul Islam; executive chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), were also present at the function.
Muhith said the country has just started getting some FDI and at this very complex period, “we need assistance in bigger way from IFC.”
He said there is a happy relation with the IFC and such relation is very important.
“We think the private sector should be assisted by the banks and financing agencies. That’s why we developed relationship with IFC”, he said.
He mentioned that as a nation Bangladesh is committed to welfare of the country. “Since we are committed, we need all kinds of assistance for welfare of the country”.
Kazi Shofiqul Azam said Bangladesh needs to raise the private investment to 35 per cent of the GDP to achieve the double digit growth to become a developed nation by 2041.
He said the private investors should be assisted by the IFC and all potentials of the private sector to be utilised.
He said there are some unresolved issues in engagement of IFC. “But those issues will be resolved soon”.
He said IFC’s advisory services are also very important for the private sector investors.
In the presentation, it was said that the IFC is expecting to extend its support in debt and equity finance to 4,343 MW base power supply and also the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) project.

Comment

Business Report

Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith has said Bangladesh needs assistance from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in bigger way.
The minister also sought cooperation of IFC to increase the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country.
Muhith came up with the statement while addressing at a workshop on ‘Investment Process and IFC Strategy for 2017-21’ at Sonargaon Hotel in the city on Monday, reports UNB.
“We need all kinds of assistance in all sectors in both public and private sectors. We need deeper engagement of IFC,” he said.
IFC, the World Bank’s private lending wing, and Economic Relation Division (ERD) jointly organised the workshop to provide understanding about the work procedures, and also product and services of the multilateral funding agency.
ERD secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam presided over the workshop.
Wendy Werner; IFC country manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, and Mengistu Alemayehu; South Asia regional director of the funding agency, Kazi Aminul Islam; executive chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), were also present at the function.
Muhith said the country has just started getting some FDI and at this very complex period, “we need assistance in bigger way from IFC.”
He said there is a happy relation with the IFC and such relation is very important.
“We think the private sector should be assisted by the banks and financing agencies. That’s why we developed relationship with IFC”, he said.
He mentioned that as a nation Bangladesh is committed to welfare of the country. “Since we are committed, we need all kinds of assistance for welfare of the country”.
Kazi Shofiqul Azam said Bangladesh needs to raise the private investment to 35 per cent of the GDP to achieve the double digit growth to become a developed nation by 2041.
He said the private investors should be assisted by the IFC and all potentials of the private sector to be utilised.
He said there are some unresolved issues in engagement of IFC. “But those issues will be resolved soon”.
He said IFC’s advisory services are also very important for the private sector investors.
In the presentation, it was said that the IFC is expecting to extend its support in debt and equity finance to 4,343 MW base power supply and also the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) project.


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BHBFC offers loan at 9pc interest in Dhaka, Ctg

BSS

Bangladesh House Building Finance Corporation (BHBFC) is set to distribute housing loan at 9 percent interest rate in Dhaka and Chattogram metropolitan areas.
“The Finance Ministry has already given approval in this regard. The interest rate came into effect from July 1 this year. But, the existing rate of 8.5 percent for the areas outside Dhaka and Chattogram will remain unchanged,” BHBFC managing director Debasish Chakrabarty told BSS today.
For eliminating classified loan, he said, the existing borrowers can also enjoy the new rate if they clear all the dues of installments. “So, I call upon all the defaulters to clear their dues and enjoy the new rate of interest,” he said.
He said BHBFC is also offering 9 percent interest rate for purchasing ready-flats, which was 10 percent earlier.
The BHBFC managing director said his agency is offering seven types of products to take the services to all.
The products are Nagar Bondhu, Nagar Bondhu Falt, Palli Ma, Abasan Unnyan Reen, Abashan Meramat Reen, Probash Bondhu and Krishak Abashan Reen.
Debasish said BHBFC has increased the ceiling of all products for covering more people across the country.
Now, he said, a person can take loan of maximum Tk one crore of Dhaka and Chattogram areas, which was Tk 50 lakh earlier and maximum Tk 60 lakh for others areas which was Tk 40 lakh.
He said the trend of loan disbursement and recovery is upward since the BHBFC is providing all sorts of efforts to reach the loan facilities at grassroots level.
BHBFC disbursed Tk 360.02 crore in fiscal 2017-18, which was Tk 278.51 crore in fiscal 2016-17 and Tk 247.98 crore in 2015-16, he said.
Debasish said the disbursement of loans outside Dhaka and Chattogram areas is also rising as BHBFC disbursed Tk 223.67 crore in fiscal 2017-18 in those areas, which was 167.52 crore in 2017-18 and Tk 138.12 crore in 2016- 17.
He said BHBFC has also opened a helpdesk for giving information and solving problems of its customers.

Comment

BSS

Bangladesh House Building Finance Corporation (BHBFC) is set to distribute housing loan at 9 percent interest rate in Dhaka and Chattogram metropolitan areas.
“The Finance Ministry has already given approval in this regard. The interest rate came into effect from July 1 this year. But, the existing rate of 8.5 percent for the areas outside Dhaka and Chattogram will remain unchanged,” BHBFC managing director Debasish Chakrabarty told BSS today.
For eliminating classified loan, he said, the existing borrowers can also enjoy the new rate if they clear all the dues of installments. “So, I call upon all the defaulters to clear their dues and enjoy the new rate of interest,” he said.
He said BHBFC is also offering 9 percent interest rate for purchasing ready-flats, which was 10 percent earlier.
The BHBFC managing director said his agency is offering seven types of products to take the services to all.
The products are Nagar Bondhu, Nagar Bondhu Falt, Palli Ma, Abasan Unnyan Reen, Abashan Meramat Reen, Probash Bondhu and Krishak Abashan Reen.
Debasish said BHBFC has increased the ceiling of all products for covering more people across the country.
Now, he said, a person can take loan of maximum Tk one crore of Dhaka and Chattogram areas, which was Tk 50 lakh earlier and maximum Tk 60 lakh for others areas which was Tk 40 lakh.
He said the trend of loan disbursement and recovery is upward since the BHBFC is providing all sorts of efforts to reach the loan facilities at grassroots level.
BHBFC disbursed Tk 360.02 crore in fiscal 2017-18, which was Tk 278.51 crore in fiscal 2016-17 and Tk 247.98 crore in 2015-16, he said.
Debasish said the disbursement of loans outside Dhaka and Chattogram areas is also rising as BHBFC disbursed Tk 223.67 crore in fiscal 2017-18 in those areas, which was 167.52 crore in 2017-18 and Tk 138.12 crore in 2016- 17.
He said BHBFC has also opened a helpdesk for giving information and solving problems of its customers.


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NBR gives tax benefit on imported flat-rolled items

Business Report

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has reintroduced reduced tax benefit on import of flat-rolled products, used as industrial raw materials, in a bid to keep the manufacturing cost of its related products at low level.
The Customs Wing of NBR has fixed 10 per cent customs duty (CD), like the previous year, on import of the products and waived all other duties and taxes on these.
NBR has issued a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO), dated September 18, 2018, making the reduced rate effective.
In the budget for fiscal year (FY) 2018-19, NBR imposed 25 per cent CD and 3.0 per cent regulatory duty (RD) on import of flat-rolled products of iron or non-alloy steel, plated or coated with tin of thickness less than 0.5 mm and plated or coated with chromium oxides or with chromium and chromium oxides.
The products are used as raw materials for manufacturing tin-plated cans by food processing industries, soft drink manufacturers, milk products manufacturers, utensils and light furniture manufacturing industries.
After imposition of the CD and RD, the total tax incidence for the products stood at 60.73 per cent, including 15 per cent value added tax (VAT), 5.0 per cent advance income tax (AIT) and 5.0 per cent advance trade vat (ATV).
Talking to the FE on Wednesday, a senior customs official said different commercial importers and local industries have demanded reintroduction of the previous tax benefit on import of the raw materials.
Almirah, file cabinet, shoe-case, trunk, rack, utensil, mug, jug, bucket, drum, chair, table, stove, key and lock, and umbrella manufacturing industries claimed that they are facing uneven competition due to increase in production cost of the raw materials.
Bangladesh CR Coil Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BCMEA), Bangladesh Iron and Steel Importers Association, Bangladesh Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association, Padma Cans and Closures Limited, and Vitacan Industries Limited have demanded reintroduction of the reduced CD for the items.
The official said NBR imposed higher duty in the budget after BCMEA said some local industries are manufacturing world-class cold-rolled and colour-coated coil or sheet. They also alleged trend of misdeclaration.
After passing the Finance Act 2018, many of the manufacturing companies that use tin-coated plate for producing cans and containers in their industries lodge complaints.
“The industries said there is no local production of iron or non-alloy steel, plated or coated with tin of a thickness less than 0.5 mm,” the official also said.
Even, BCMEA, the main applicant who sought higher duty, said local steel industries do not have the capacity to produce tin-coated plates of these qualities.
The official further said NBR imposed the high duty on the products being misguided by some information.
“We have reintroduced the 10 per cent CD benefit after we found the local manufacturing industries are being affected for imposition of the higher duty,” he added.
Earlier, the association also claimed that the products are included in the SAFTA benefit list and enjoy 3.0 per cent CD.
BCMEA proposed to impose 25 per cent RD on import of the products to save the local industries concerned.
However, NBR found that there was no import of the products under SAFTA benefit in FY 2017-18.

Comment

Business Report

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has reintroduced reduced tax benefit on import of flat-rolled products, used as industrial raw materials, in a bid to keep the manufacturing cost of its related products at low level.
The Customs Wing of NBR has fixed 10 per cent customs duty (CD), like the previous year, on import of the products and waived all other duties and taxes on these.
NBR has issued a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO), dated September 18, 2018, making the reduced rate effective.
In the budget for fiscal year (FY) 2018-19, NBR imposed 25 per cent CD and 3.0 per cent regulatory duty (RD) on import of flat-rolled products of iron or non-alloy steel, plated or coated with tin of thickness less than 0.5 mm and plated or coated with chromium oxides or with chromium and chromium oxides.
The products are used as raw materials for manufacturing tin-plated cans by food processing industries, soft drink manufacturers, milk products manufacturers, utensils and light furniture manufacturing industries.
After imposition of the CD and RD, the total tax incidence for the products stood at 60.73 per cent, including 15 per cent value added tax (VAT), 5.0 per cent advance income tax (AIT) and 5.0 per cent advance trade vat (ATV).
Talking to the FE on Wednesday, a senior customs official said different commercial importers and local industries have demanded reintroduction of the previous tax benefit on import of the raw materials.
Almirah, file cabinet, shoe-case, trunk, rack, utensil, mug, jug, bucket, drum, chair, table, stove, key and lock, and umbrella manufacturing industries claimed that they are facing uneven competition due to increase in production cost of the raw materials.
Bangladesh CR Coil Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BCMEA), Bangladesh Iron and Steel Importers Association, Bangladesh Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association, Padma Cans and Closures Limited, and Vitacan Industries Limited have demanded reintroduction of the reduced CD for the items.
The official said NBR imposed higher duty in the budget after BCMEA said some local industries are manufacturing world-class cold-rolled and colour-coated coil or sheet. They also alleged trend of misdeclaration.
After passing the Finance Act 2018, many of the manufacturing companies that use tin-coated plate for producing cans and containers in their industries lodge complaints.
“The industries said there is no local production of iron or non-alloy steel, plated or coated with tin of a thickness less than 0.5 mm,” the official also said.
Even, BCMEA, the main applicant who sought higher duty, said local steel industries do not have the capacity to produce tin-coated plates of these qualities.
The official further said NBR imposed the high duty on the products being misguided by some information.
“We have reintroduced the 10 per cent CD benefit after we found the local manufacturing industries are being affected for imposition of the higher duty,” he added.
Earlier, the association also claimed that the products are included in the SAFTA benefit list and enjoy 3.0 per cent CD.
BCMEA proposed to impose 25 per cent RD on import of the products to save the local industries concerned.
However, NBR found that there was no import of the products under SAFTA benefit in FY 2017-18.


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ICMAB’s event on raising awareness on SDGs Sunday

Business Report

The Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Bangladesh (ICMAB) will organise a daylong international conference on September 23 to create awareness on sustainable development goals.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith is scheduled to inaugurate the event as the chief guest at Sonargaon hotel in Dhaka, said Mohammed Salim, president of ICMAB.
Salim spoke at a press conference held at the ICMA Bhaban in the city yesterday.
ICMAB is organising the event on “Achieving sustainable development goals: challenges and way forward” for the first time as a development partner of the government, he said.
Regulators, corporate practitioners, accountants, other professionals, development partners, NGOs, bureaucrats, academics, IT experts, women entrepreneurs, and other related parties are coming under a single platform to engage in policy dialogues on the issue.
There will be six technical sessions where more than 40 experts from home and abroad will join.
Currently, only financial assets are included in the financial reporting but in the new system non-financial assets will get similar priority in the report, Salim said.
“As a result awareness is necessary over the issue among the stakeholders.”
Mahbub Ul Alam, executive director of ICMAB, and Nazmus Salehin, director, attended the press meet.
Stay updated on the go with The Daily Star Android & iOS News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Comment

Business Report

The Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Bangladesh (ICMAB) will organise a daylong international conference on September 23 to create awareness on sustainable development goals.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith is scheduled to inaugurate the event as the chief guest at Sonargaon hotel in Dhaka, said Mohammed Salim, president of ICMAB.
Salim spoke at a press conference held at the ICMA Bhaban in the city yesterday.
ICMAB is organising the event on “Achieving sustainable development goals: challenges and way forward” for the first time as a development partner of the government, he said.
Regulators, corporate practitioners, accountants, other professionals, development partners, NGOs, bureaucrats, academics, IT experts, women entrepreneurs, and other related parties are coming under a single platform to engage in policy dialogues on the issue.
There will be six technical sessions where more than 40 experts from home and abroad will join.
Currently, only financial assets are included in the financial reporting but in the new system non-financial assets will get similar priority in the report, Salim said.
“As a result awareness is necessary over the issue among the stakeholders.”
Mahbub Ul Alam, executive director of ICMAB, and Nazmus Salehin, director, attended the press meet.
Stay updated on the go with The Daily Star Android & iOS News App. Click here to download it for your device.


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