tv Atlantic Council Discussion on the European Union Brexit CSPAN April 12, 2019 9:04am-10:01am EDT
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> good morning, welcome, everyone. and direct our business and economic center. thank you so much for joining us today. it's a real pleasure to welcome back the vice-president, as well as our moderator from price waterhouse coopers. we have a wide variety, but the
main is to take stock of brexit and the future, current state of affairs between the european union and the u.k. and the vice-president will share his thoughts on sustainable finance, and he's been the vice-president for euro dialog with a party with the captain markets union. prime minister of latvia between 2009-2014 and served as country's minister of finance between 2002-2004. our moderator, dr. alexis crowe, and at pricewaterhousecoopers and is also a fellow here at the atlantic can council. the discussion is part of our euro growth initiative which aims to foster pro bust transatlantic dialog between europe and the u.s. and the events, not only on the
record who had, but on tv for your awareness. and with that, vice-president dombrovskis, if i could ask you to come to the stage. >>. [applause] >> vice-president, it's an honor to have you here today with us. i know many of us in the room are here because of a unity that we share across the atlantic ocean and so it's really a pleasure to have someone here who's worked so avidly throughout his career. so the first question i think today also addresses this mini series, this tragic comedy which we're all binge watching. i think it could be called "october is the new black" as this would be brexit. we just had the summit with the ministers. where do we stand today? >> well, good morning.
first of all, i'd like to thank atlantic council for this invitation and for in opportunity to share news on latest developments in europe and in transatlantic relations. well, indeed, brexit is one of the issues which keeps us busy. so, what was happening in this week's eu summit, it seems that good news is that the eu leaders, including theresa may, managed to avoid that most destructive scenario which would be no deal brexit and currently a u.k. basically has half a year more to reflect and to work on what is really their preferred scenario with relations with the eu. because we know that the debates in british parliaments have been very complicated. there have been no majority for
deal, no majority for no deal, no majority for no brexit, withdrawing. no majority for norway model. so apparently, more time is needed to figure out for u.k. to figure out what do they actually want and with are this he can-- where they can find the majority. >> do we still have the range of possibilities on the table then for the u.k.? >> well, exactly the point. that still nothing is excluded from no deal to no brexit, but having more time provides, i think, improves the chances of arriving at orderly solution of this situation. of course, this longer extension means that u.k. will help to participate in european parliament elections and they
are, correspondingly preparing for this until public debate on u.k.'s relations with eu in the european parliament elections. >> we've had stark warnings from carney from the bank of england to mario drago and coming out that it could cost up to 40 billion annually of losses to euro zone countries. >> where do we stand in terms of looking at the financial trading center? are other european capitals well-poised? a lot of clearing to frankfurt. are they well-poised to take some of the activities across the branches of financial services? >> well, i would say we have t two-- two parts of response to this question because one question is what happens in case of no
deals scenario and the second question is what happens if there is an orderly withdrawal with a deal. so in no deal scenario, of course, it will have been very disruptive and we have been preparing contingency measures for the case of no deal brexit. so, basically we were working together with u.k. treasury hammond and set together a working group together with european central bank and european commission to assess risks to the financial stability and to take necessary measures. for example, on the clearing a path, a temporary occurrence, a determination, so to say, mitigating potential effects. now this concern is maybe not
as immediate so the question is how our longer term post-brexit cooperation in financial services could look like and there was agreement in the agreement and political declaration that this could be based on a system of equivalent decisions. eu is basically running equivalent system, which is, i would say, most advanced in the world, which means that both sides preserve relative autonomy and that's what taking back control means, and both sides take equivalent determinations with each other, but it's by sector by sector. and of course, it implies that u.k. frame work and supervisory
practices help to stay close to the e uchu relative to framewor and produce equivalent outcomes because only then we can have the equivalent determinations. >> excellent. thank you. turning to the euro zone economy, we've had a softer published by the imf and a lot of risk triggers on the dashboard of the economy talking about the future of a global recession and what will cause it. on the external shocks we have at trade wars, the trade skirmishes going on. how do you feel about trade on the euro zone and impact on the economies? >> well, first of all, as records the euro zone and eu economy, indeed, this year we see some economic slowdown. but at the same time, it says that eu is currently at 7th
year of continuing economic growth. all 28 eu member states are growing. employment levels are at record high. unemployment is down to pre-crisis levels. all in all we can say we're in a good part of economic cycle, very currently in very good economic times. if you look, also, this in the context of global economy developments, the latest forecast forecast by imf, which forecast global economic slowdown this year to some 3.3% and then rebounding next year again, maybe in a range of 3.5, 3.6%. and similarly, we follow this tendency in europe, so we have slowdown as of this year and are expecting to rebound somewhat next year. so there, i would say we're indeed in line with the global
tendencies. then, what is impact of trade tensions on this? this is, indeed, one of the risk factors. we have one round, so to say, of escalation when u.s. took unilateral decision of introducing tariffs on steel and aluminum and eu came with a proportionate response so to say setting additional tariffs on equivalent amount of american goods. but since then, we've managed to avoid further escalation. there was a meeting with the president trump and president of european president to not escalate this, and the eu
member states agreed on a negotiating mandate for this group. so we hope that we can contain those trade tensions and continue to address the issue through negotiations and continue to work within wto framework with respect to multilateral rules-based system. >> thank you. i think even lurking beneath some of the recovery in 2018 and lurking beneath some of these external shocks, solve the jumped lying vulnerabilities in the system, not exclusive to europe. these would be flatlining productivity, and wage growth and decline of profitability in the banking system. how are you feeling about each of these three today in the euro zone and the capacity to improve on them? >> indeed, if you look at
longer term challenges for the european economy, in cases of europe where we're concerned about population aging and how to respond to that, and there are questions on banking sector, we see more like a cyclical question. so currently when both ecb and fed continue, poll roll interest rate policy -- developments, on longer term tendencies, we need to address them and on productivity, it's mainly through investment in research, investment in innovation, that we can sustain productivity growth, also
through people with the right skills to work and to be successful in a rapidly changing work environment which we are currently having. so there's no coincidence that we set up what is called eu skills agenda to deal exactly with those issues. and also, in 2017 we came with initiative of what we call european field of social rights and also, they're the first principles setting out concerns skills and education. and on population aging, it's a question on long-term sustainability of our pension, health care, long-term care system and also a question of broad labor market participation which will be needed, so to say, offset population aging.
and many member states already implemented substantial reform, more will be needed because a tendency is very clear and the more time we react, the more gradual and less destructive this change can be. >> excellent. there's one country i think in the euro zone today which unfortunately acts as a bit of microcosm of the unlying vulnerabilities. it's one that some people don't necessarily want to address head-on and it's italy. we've seen with the change in government, an unfortunate, i think, in my view, emlation of the pro cyclical expansion we've had in the united states. where we do stand on the delicate dance between frankfurt, brussels and rome? >> in italy we have concerns, concerning economic and fiscal
performance of italy and indeed, when current government came in office, they presented this year's budget was substantially increased budget deficit and we had difficult discussions with italian authorities on their plans to increase budget deficit in a station where they should be decreasing budget deficit, and we saw that also markets reacted negatively. so interest rates increased both for lending and for broader economy. as a result, confidence indicators went down. this negatively affecting investments and italy's economy slowed down very substantially. so if -- as of late last year, that this year's budget was
built on assumption of 1% growth, just last week italy presented i would call economic and financial document with underlying forecast of 0.1% growth. so, one can say, okay, it's overall slowdown in eu economy, but still, the eu economy continued to grow with growth rates well above 1%. while we're presenting our next figures on this so i'm not quoting maybe all the figures which may be changing by now, but so one can say that the damage to the economy is already done. then in december we managed to reach an agreement with italian government, say corrected course, say a reduced budget deficit, quite substantially to
be, you know, just-- just within acceptable, concerning the eu fiscal rules. it also helped to calm down markets somewhat, even though interest rates still remain elevated and indeed, we expect complicated discussions of italian authorities, also concerning 20/20 budget. you mentioned may, so how are you feeling about the elections. we've seen huge polarization whether it's brazil, israel, turkey, the return to populism 0 and rise of the far right in europe. how are you feeling with the election? >> we don't see so much polarization, we'd rather see fragmenttation. and they're fragmenting and a part of tradition now, strong parties in many european countries, currently have new
parties emerging to say both on the left and right of the political specter. and these can expect for the next european parliament can be somewhat more fragmented, but we still expect that throughout the european political forces we'll have substantial majority in next european parliament. and how the european parliament function, we're not like coalition, and opposition, so, it's more like ad hoc majorities on different issues, but clearly this means that throughout the european forces will cooperate to ensure that there are majorities and that we can effectively take decisions at the level. >> excellent. thinking about trades, there's rather a downside, but one of
upsides on that front is trading partners, quickly cementing free trade agreements with japan, vietnam, and now as we know in the room, there's no eu-china free trade agreement, but you've wrapped the china summit this year. how are things looking between brussels and beijing? >> first as regards eu trade agenda, eu remains open to international trade and indeed, in last year, we held the number of growed and comprehensive trade agreements, besides the ones you mentioned, we also have a deal with canada and singapore. we have agreement in principle with mexico. and negotiations are ongoing with australia, with new zealand, some others, so in terms of trade, indeed, also
this president trump unilateral trade tendency trade trade conflicts gave additional momentum for others, actually, you know, to concentrate and to reach those agreements because that clearly was more urgent and more needed. as regards eu-china relations, indeed, just this week, earlier this week we had eu-china summit, so discussing our cooperation in a number of areas, including of course economy and finance, including global challenges like fight against climate change. so that said, we also had our issues with china and when, for example, u.s. is raising issues like forced technology transfer, intellectual property rights, industrial subsidies,
we held the same concerns and from that point of view, we feel that it would have been better to address those concerns in a coordinated way between eu and u.s., but currently this is not exactly happening. >> so thinking also about the relationship between china and the european union, there are-- there's not necessarily a great harmony on the responses to the belgian road, whether it's in eastern european countries whether it's portugal or italy. how is the european union approaching the initiative? >> and the european union remains open to foreign investment, including from china, but of course, we need to be careful when it concerns strategic sectors, strategic
technologies. so what we have recently set up in europe is so-called investment screening mechanism, which allows eu member states to screen and if necessary, stop certain investment in strategic sectors or technologies. it must be said, it's not country specific. it's not aimed against any specific country, but if there are concentrations of member states, seeing certain risks, this, too, is in-- >> you mentioned china with finances and held to your heart and to your agenda. i think certainly we're at the turning point in the global economy amongst investments in companies, there should be some
harm harmonization, and describe some of the european union's efforts on this. >> indeed, let's start with broader note that we have reached the paris agreement on limiting climate change to well below 2 degrees celsius, 1 1/2 degrees celsius is mentioned as kind of a target and from the eu side we are determined to fulfill this agreement and lead the way globally in its implementation. of course, there was lots of efforts, also, from public finances, technological change, but the scale of investment needed, for example, in europe, we estimate we need around 180
billion euros additional annual investment till 2030 to meet our paris goals. which means that it's beyond the scope of public finances. that's why private finance needs to be involved and needs to play its full role. correspondingly in march last year we presented action plan on sustainable finance, followed by the legislative proposals and two out of those three proposals are already agreed. first as regards disclosures, and how sustainability is taken into account. and second on low carbon benchmarks. and we are making progress on a proposal which is classification system of sustainable finance activities, basically providing clarity.
they say what is green and us avoiding so-called green washing. and so we're currently launching, also, international platform to coordinate the work of different areas of sustainable finance, so a number of countries have been open to this initiative, including china, india, canada, argentina to mention a few. so in any case, we think that sustainable finance is rapidly moving from being a niche to being mainstream and we indeed see increase demand for green and sustainable investment for both institutional and retail investors. so we need to create conditions
that there's also sufficient supply on green financial instruments. >> which is of course helping when it's linked to performance as well, increasing performance. >> certainly. >> you mentioned innovation and someone sort of comically said that europe is very good at digital taxation, but not necessarily at growing the digital companies. so that's probably not an education question given the fact that we have some of the most stellar technical universities, whether it's in the u.k. or switzerland, but also across the european union. what do you see are some of the challenges and stumbling blocks in ways to overcome this? >> well, indeed. in regards to innovation and broader start-up landscape, actually eu has very dynamic startups, landscape and in terms of start-up creation, we're basically on par with u.s. so where the difference comes
in, what happens two, three, five years down the road, that actually much less of those companies are still active at that stage. and so the challenge seems to be for those companies to scale up and in this context, there are two things which are important. one is for them to be able to useful potential of eu internal market. we held eu single market, but too often companies start scaling up, still are confronted with different sets of environments in each member state. so, to the extent possible, changes allowing companies to act on basis of single authorization or a single license across the whole eu. so, another challenge is funding and that's why there were a number of initiatives in
our capital markets initiative on how to develop capital markets across the eu, but especially how to facilitate venture capital, you who to facilitate what we call funding escalator, how to facilitate sme growth market, sme listings, so all those initiatives that have recently been either adopted or agreed and thus, soon to be implemented. and we hope that with this development of capital markets, we will help to address also those scaling up issues. >> thank you. so where we sit here in washington d.c., the dollar is still the world's reserve currency. what is the outlook for the euros, becoming growing as a reserve currency around the world? >> well, indeed. euro is now the second biggest reserve currency and in terms
of trade, it's actually really close to dollar. so in december last year, we launched the initiative on strengthening the international role of the euro. so where we are looking at a number of areas, how we can make euro more attractive of a reserve currency, transactions currency and international trade, there are examples, for example, we're importing only a few percent of our energy from u.s. at the same time we are having more than 80% of contracts in dollars. and often, that's even like in certain sectors, even trade, intraeuro zone is taking place in dollars. so they're looking at what are the reasons for that and how we can address it and how we can actually have bigger role for
euro in those transactions. they're also looking how to make euro more attractive as payments kcurrency. so we recently, for example, reduced the bank transfer for all euro transactions in the whole european union until recently had it only for euro zone, the transactions in euro zone are priced as cheaply as domestic transactions, so, now we're expanding to the whole eu and also for countries outside of euro zone and we're developing a system of instant payments across eu, where basically money can be transferred within seconds, pretty much, everywhere within the eu. so there are many streams which they're currently developing concerning the international role of the euro.
>> excellent, thank you so much and i must ask, some do say there's a bit of a geopolitical tit-for-tat happening, that the united states hurts europe in its jugular vein of economic growth, which is exports, and that europe can in turn retaliate with taxation of americans companies. where do we stand on the taxation? >> well, on digital taxation, indeed those discussions are ongoing and yesterday we had a meeting with-- we had a chance to touch up on those issues. well, first of all, what needs to be acknowledged that economy is changing and economy is becoming increasingly digital. at the same time taxation system is still mainly geared towar towards, so to say, tangible
economy. and we need to adjust our taxation system to increasingly digital economy. and this is internationally recognized that it was ongoing within ocd, how to base this more digital economy. so what we are doing now in the eu is basically trying to facilitate this international agreement, but if it sees that international agreement is not materializing, then we came with some proposals on so-called digital tax at the eu level. because alternatively what we see is that concerning especially direct taxation, member states are basically free to set the taxation and what we see that in absence of coordinated global response or
coordinated at least european response, member states are taking their own decisions because it's member states treasu treasuries which are losing money because on average, digital companies say three time lower effective tax rates from, say, classical companies, and we risk fragmenttation of our single market if you do not tax at european level and member states start acting individually, we may end up with very fragmented system. so, to sum up our first scenario would be global internationally coordinated solution. if it's arriving excellent and they're willing to facilitate this and then stick with that. if it's moving -- proving, second best is european solution, and then help with international solutions and
multinationals in europe and there come from different tax environments in each member state. >> thank you so much. we will open to questions from the audience, so may i please ask you to identify yourselves. >> [inaudible] >> there's a microphone coming. coming. >> two questions, please. with regard to derivative clear houses in london, u.s. policymakers are frustrated that the new eu law not yet implemented, would extend oversight to u.s. clearinghouses, despite a 2016 u.s.-eu agreement, equivalence agreement. your thoughts, please. second question, agreements on sustainable finance internationally, of course you mentioned a number of countries. the u.s. is not one of them. thoughts about the u.s.
isolationism on esg and sustainable finance, please. >> excellent question. >> well, on, first question, indeed we held recently adopted changes to supervision of counter parties and amendments to the european market infrastructure regulation and indeed, we had also discussions on what are the potential implications vis-a-vis the u.s. but as you know, we were in close dialog on this specific issue with cftc, with chairman carlo and following the adoption of our legislation, we even issued a joint statement, myself, together with chairman carlo, reflecting how this would reflect our relations and how we would continue to rely on the systems of equivalence or as it's called in the u.s.
on deference. he think it's clear that finance is global and we need globally coordinated response. and in a sense, it's a change of our legislation we are making our system, in a sense, more similar to the u.s. system. then to the second question on sustainable finance. indeed, currently we do not see much engagement from u.s. federal government, but at the same time we see lots of interest from states, from cities, from private sector. two days ago i was in new york where i was meeting mike bloomberg, whose mobilizing private sector and cities and states towards green and sustainable finance. so we see lots of activity
actually from u.s. and we believe that evidence of climate change is piling up and at some stage, also, u.s. federal government will help to reconsider their position on this. >> you also mentioned an economic equivalent of new york and miami slipping and. >> exactly. looking at the way the gdp in the u.s. is closely tied to the coastal cities which are highly vulnerable. in the american sense when you have the world's largest asset manager talk about the risk to climate change, hopefully things start to wake up. another question, yes. >> mic is coming. >> hello, barbara mathews, i'm a fellow here as well. and i ask a question about brexit. you talk about the work that you're doing to improve that. one challenge for brexit is the vast majority of the national
instruments denominated trade in london. regardless how the entire brexit situation comes out, i would imagine that strategically you would want more of the euro denominated trading to occur in the euro area. are you thinking about this? if you are, can you provide some insight into what direction you might take? it obviously can't be resolved by october, but i imagine you could put things in place that would put you on a different road. >> well, first of all, we are not setting some kind of location requirements for euro clearing for-- so what we're doing, we are addressing potential risks to financial inability, which i outlined already earlier today, and there will be issues related to the market access for u.k. companies.
because if u.k. is leaving the european union, leaving the single market, it will-- u.k. companies will have no automatic access to eu market, it can be addressed either through the system of equivalence, which i described earlier, or companies helped to establish sufficient presence in eu, in this case, i emphasize eu, i talk about eu single markets not necessarily euro zone and then being able to maintain the eu passport and through to eu customers. so that's a way how we're approaching this. >> thank you. >> the gentleman here in the blue shirt. we have a mic here. >> good morning. dennis fellow with the veterans in global leadership.
with that, we've talked about the challenges facing the european union with the u.s., with the global economy as well as the challenges with brexit. you've certainly had your experience helping to lead latvia through the crisis in 2008. if i may ask, what guiding principles and lessons learned have prepared you to deal with these future challenges? what lessons and scar tissue have remained from that time? >> okay. well, i would say the lessons learned, at the were actually many fold. but there were-- i would say one lesson was during the crisis. that when you are in a deep financial and economical crisis as latvia was in 2008-2010, it's important, actually, to
ask swiftly to address financial instability because financial stability is precondition for economic growth. so, if you delay action, you delay financial stability and these issues are not able to return to the economic growth. and we have seen other examples in eu, for example, in greece where they were trying to delay, for example, fiscal adjustment on -- saying that doing fiscal adjustment during the crisis is further hurting the economy, which is by way true. but the point is that by delaying the fiscal adjustment, greece was not able to return to financial stability and by this, it made a crisis longer and deeper, and eventually ended up doing more fiscal adjustments than latvia did, for example.
so, this is one important lesson, that it's important to restore quickly financial stability, because with this, it's possible quickly to return to the economic growth. and actually, in case of latvia, already in 2010 we started to have year on year growth again. and second question is, of course, it's better not to get in that kind of crisis, and therefore, it's important to stick with a responsible fiscal and microeconomic policy. and it's especially true for countries inside europe. because countries inside european union have to their currency and regain competitive, and by the way, especially among smaller eu economies, this is less effective because smaller economies, including latvia,
they tend to be very open economies with substantial share of external trade in a gdp and as such, you lose any competitiveness gains through the relation, very quickly through important information. so therefore, as i said, it's important to stick with a responsible fiscal economic policies and this is one of the lessons learned also at the european level and that's why one of the response from the crisis was introduction of european semester, which is coordination of fiscal and macroeconomic policies in member states at eu level. i'll give you an example, not a very scientific example, i know i'm talking with researchers
here. for example, late last year we had discussions with italy which had been planning budget deficit of 2.4% of gdp. the whole world was up in arms, how come they're planning 2.4% deficit? and everyone knew it's inappropriate and it was a big issue. i looked at italy's deficits before the crisis, only one year, 2.4% of gdp and nobody was really worried about this. it means that at european level we're much more aware and much more preventive of potential buildup of imbalance. >> thank you. another question here? >> hello, i'm from john hopkins university. my question is if you can address the policy on a single
cyber security market and then the agency that is overseeing this policy and secondly, if you can address how private, data privacy is implemented within the eu. thank you. >> okay. well, first of all, we do not speak about single cyber security market, rather the initiative, which we are currently pursuing is digital single market. so, indeed, we're trying to create this digital single market with a number of initiatives. one initiative was directed on movement of nonpersonal data. so, basically we're introducing somethi something, what some people even call a fix freedom within eu, single market. we have for freedom, the free movement of goods, services,
capital and labor and now we're adding free movement of data. so the data can move freely within the eu and in parallel, we introduced general data protection relation setting joint principles of dealing with personal data, whereas the general approach is that people should have control on how their personal data is being used. this data should be portable so the aim is to give more say and more information to individuals how that data is being used and to use the same set of principles across the eu. then we are approaching other issues, for example, practices like geoglobal, making some content available, some member states, not available in others. we think this has no place in a
single market and there were some initiatives to remove this geo blocking. and as a result, cyber security, we are coordinating this work of member states, currently like single eu agency dealing with cyber security issues, but there are a number of institutions which work in close coordination with member states. for example, in financial sector, in financial sector systems, one thing which we're trying to avoid is proliferation of different testing environments because one thing in a financial sector, that-- all that i.t. systems which are set, they need to be tested vis-a-vis cyber trades and then it may often be that for financial institutions, it's working cross borders, they are receiving different testing environments from different
member states. so there we would try to how once again coordinate streamline approach across the eu, concerning those cyber security testing environments. and also, ensuring exchange of information of cyber attacks, cyber incidents, and so there's a faster learning and faster possibilities to react on potential cyber incidents. >> thank you. an excellent question. the freedoms are somewhat aligned with china's-- the gentleman here in the navy blazer. >> hi, michael higgins. i'd like to get back to brexit for a minute. so the eu has now given britain another six months, really surprised me with that decision. does the eu, do you see a road map through parliament during
this six-month period? do you have any hopes that they'll actually get to an agreement? or are you looking for them to decide for another vote or just what? what led to the decision to give them six more months? >> okay. first on this extension. first is the fact that u.k. invested the extension and extension was granted and even the initial rest of u.k. one thing which is clear in a conclusions, by granting this extension is that eu is not reopening negotiations on withdrawal agreement. withdrawal agreements have been agreed so we are not reopening that.
so whether we see some road map in u.k. parliament, no, but it's not our task to see the road map, if u.k. starts to see the road map in their parliament. we remain open to different options. of course, both sides want to avoid no deal brexit and that's what extensions helped to achieve, but they are also different forms are cooperation when u.k. is leaving the eu, there's options discussed, for example, on customs, there's so-called norway model being discussed, there are other options. so it's not that a current option is only one on table, but that is for u.k. to decide and to find the way forward. half a year provides sometimes to do exactly this. >> he has been generous with
his time. we only have one more question. i'll take it from the very back gentleman there. the microphone coming. >> thank you. i'm michael from the european network of credit unions and world council of credit unions and my question is, when do you expect the compromise on the capital amendments directed to be finalized formally. >> well, as regards amendments to the capital requirements, what we call cr. cid. they have been already agreed last december and now we are just going through this formal process. so from that point of view, i cannot give you the specific date, but it's shortly because i would say the deal is already done and we are just finalizing formal procedures in council
and european parliament so i don't know exactly at which stage you currently are, but it's rather a matter of weeks, not months. so, but of course, work is not finished with adoption of current banking package, so what this banking package did, it basically introduced internationally agreed standards in eu legislation, including agreements reached in comity, but in between there is new set of agreements in basel comity, so-called bozell 3 and so-called how to implement bozell 3 in eu law. >> thank you so much, mr. vice-president.
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> and that wraps up our coverage of this discussion on brexit and the european union. if you missed any of this program, it will be available shortly to view on-line anytime at c-span.org. just type atlantic council in
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