East Asian Integration and Its Challenges to Taiwan. Tain-Jy Chen. National Taiwan University. October 2013

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1 East Asian Integration and Its Challenges to Taiwan Tain-Jy Chen National Taiwan University October

2 East Asian Integration and Its Challenges to Taiwan I. Introduction In the last decade, we have witnessed the most rapid expansion of world trade since World War II. The value of world trade (exports and imports combined) expanded from $13,033 billion in 2000 to $36,890 billion in 2012, an increase of 2.83 times. This was achieved despite the severest financial crisis that we have encountered since WWII. The extraordinary performance of world trade can be attributed to the participation of emerging countries in the global division of labor. If we look at the so-called BRIC, namely Brazil, Russia, India and China, their combined share in world trade increased from a mere 6.1% in 2000 to 15.62% in 2012 (Table 1). The major impact of BRIC countries on world trade was that their large populations became an integral part of the global labor market, thus restructuring the patterns of global production. Income distributions in developed countries were adversely affected by their presence, as manifested in relative decline of wages in these countries (Subramanian and Kessler 2013). Although some expect the rapid rise of emerging market economies to come to an end (Economist 2013), the impacts of these economies are likely to last, because they already constitute a significant share of the world GDP, and their important role in global production is here to stay, if not magnified. The purpose of this paper is to examine the rise of China and its impact on the patterns of East Asian production, especially that in ASEAN. We find that the rise of China has created a new industrial force in ASEAN which offered low-price products to local consumers, using Chinese materials and parts as inputs. This new force challenged the MNCs that had been operating locally behind the tariff walls, forcing the latter to strengthen their local supply chains. This defensive effort, coupled with 2

3 the expanded local markets, has made ASEAN a new favorite destination of foreign direct investments. The recent movement of preferential trade arrangements reinforces the China-ASEAN nexus, presenting a challenge to more developed countries in East Asia: Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. Given the importance of China in the Asian production networks, any attempt to integrating the regional economies without taking China into account is unrealistic. Taiwan, which used to be an important player in the Asian export-processing industry, still has a role to play in the reconfigured supply chains despite the risk of being marginalized by the waves of preferential trade arrangements. II. China-ASEAN Nexus As far as the impact on the world trade is concerned, China has been the most influential among the BRIC with its share in world trade increased from 3.64% in 2000 to 10.45% in China is now the world s largest trading nation, with the value of trade accounting for 53% of GDP (2012). It is fair to say that China attained its current status in the world economy largely by trade. Since 2000, two important events have occurred to China which strengthened its role in trade: China joined WTO in 2001 and entered a free trade agreement with ASEAN in These two events also reshaped the production map in Asia and made China an integral part of the Asian production networks. Upon its entry to WTO, China opened its domestic markets to foreign products and shifted its resources to the industries in which China possesses the comparative advantage. The forces of trade specialization were fortified by the inflow of a large amount of foreign capital seeking to exploit China s cheap labor resources. China soon became the world s factory supplying all kinds of labor intensive goods to the international markets. Trade specialization had advanced so fast that roughly by 2010, 3

4 China s surplus labor had disappeared and wages rose rapidly afterwards. It had been worried that China s participation in the offshore sourcing business would crowd out the countries that were previously in this industry, such as ASEAN countries. As it turned out, this worry did not materialize. The share of ASEAN countries in world trade stayed virtually unchanged as China expanded its share at a breath-taking pace. It can be seen from Table 1 that the combined share of ASEAN-5 (Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore) in world trade actually increased slightly from 5.76% to 5.93% from Although part of their traditional markets in US and EU was replaced by China, they found a new market in China itself (Napoli 2012). ASEAN exported an increasing volume of intermediate goods and raw materials to China, allowing it to enjoy a trade surplus in most years. In 2012, 82.8% of ASEAN s exports to China were classified as intermediate goods or raw materials. For example, in the information technology industry, ASEAN exported integrated circuits and hard disk drives to China to support its computer production. Whereas ASEAN exports of computers to US and EU decreased, its exports of electronic components increased. Trade therefore redefines the division of labor between ASEAN and China. This allowed MNCs to increase the scope of offshore sourcing in Asia and reaped more profits from it. China surpassed ASEAN as a world factory, the size of which was several times of that in ASEAN. The other side of story, which is less explored but may have a more profound effect in the long run, is China s exports to ASEAN. China exported an increasing volume of goods, both intermediate and final goods, to ASEAN since China s share in ASEAN imports increased from 5.55% in 2001 to 13.17% in China has surpassed Japan as the top source of ASEAN imports (See Table 2). Final goods imported from China competed with local products that were once dominated by MNCs. Some Chinese companies also invested in ASEAN to join the camp that 4

5 competed with Western MNCs. The presence of Chinese goods induced ASEAN to lessen its concentration on offshore sourcing activities and to become more specialized in industrial production. The changing production pattern is reflected in its import composition (See Table 3). It can be seen from Table 3 that in 2001, 82.1% of the ASEAN imports were intermediate goods while 70.7% of exports were also intermediate goods, a manifestation of an export-processing platform. ASEAN imported foreign intermediate goods and processed them into semi-finished goods for exporting. They also imported foreign intermediate goods to produce final goods for local consumption. In 2012, the share of intermediate goods in imports decreased to 72.3%, while the share of intermediate goods in exports decreased to 63.6%. With the declining shares of intermediate goods, the shares of final goods significantly increased. ASEAN imported final goods from China and exported final goods to the rest of Asia. Trade with China has led ASEAN to become more specialized. Specialization was driven not only by competition from the imported final goods, but also from the imported intermediate goods. Chinese-made intermediate goods presented a new force in ASEAN s local markets. These goods could be incorporated by local firms to make final products to compete with Western MNCs which engaged in import-substitution production. Local firms could not do it previously with the Japanese or American intermediate products because they were either too expensive or technologically demanding. To defend against local products embodying Chinese intermediate goods, Western MNCs stepped up their investments in ASEAN to strengthen the local supply chains. In , the FDI stock in ASEAN increased 3.5 times, more than the 3.0 times increase in China. In other words, the China threat induced more local presence of MNCs. China was also instrumental in prompting trade liberalization in ASEAN. In 2002, China engaged ASEAN in a framework agreement for establishing an 5

6 ASEAN-China FTA (ACFTA) by This set off a host of ASEAN+1 FTA agreements, with Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Australia, and India as the counterparts. The China initiative also accelerated the process of ASEAN FTA (AFTA), which had been moving at a slow pace before the ACFTA was inaugurated. ASEAN wanted to make sure that AFTA was realized sooner than ACFTA, and with a higher degree of liberalization. However, the impact of ACFTA appeared to be greater than AFTA. This can be understood by the changes of intra-asean trade. It can be seen from Table 1 that the intra-asean import share only increased slightly from 21.41% in 2001 to 22.78% in 2012; and the share actually decreased from 2006 to However, the predominant majority of intra-asean trade is intermediate goods (including raw materials). If only intermediate goods are counted, ASEAN-sourced products accounted for about 40% share of the total imports (JCER, 2013, 107). This implies that the intra-asean division of labor has been driven by a restructuring of the regional production networks rather than by an integrated consumer market. Restructuring of production networks was orchestrated by MNCs. In order to compete with the China forces, MNCs began to consolidate their production bases in ASEAN regions, for which AFTA worked as a facilitator. Until 2000, production in ASEAN has been segregated and self-contained. This was most evident in the automobile and consumer electronics industries where MNCs set up one shop in each country to serve that country separately. Now, the cross-asean trade in these products is duty free, MNCs can concentrate their production in one country while serving the entire region through their sales webs. This allowed MNCs to increase the scale of production, which in turn, enabled vertical integration. That means that more upstream suppliers can co-locate in the same region. MNCs could also bring their products from China to strengthen the local production networks, but they usually preferred to establish separate supply chains in ASEAN. Most MNCs adopted a 6

7 so-called China plus one strategy, meaning that one production site is to be established outside of China, normally in ASEAN, to parallel with the China operations. This strategy is partly a hedge against the China risk, partly a response to ASEAN as being a distinctive market. China is unique because of its enormous size. This size is too big to skip any production activities. China can host production of all sizes, and it holds a special advantage in projects characterized by scale economies, such as those in steel, chemical, petrochemical, textile industries that manufacture general-purpose materials. China s macro-environment also favored such kind of projects, although it often resulted in over-capacities. These materials, which were available at low costs and could be applied with minimum technological requirements, lowered the entry barriers for the local producers in ASEAN and heightened the level of local competition. The ASEAN+1 FTAs with Japan and Korea served to protect the original supply chains linking ASEAN to Japan and Korea, allowing them to defend against the Chinese penetration in the ASEAN markets. The ability to provide components and parts from Japan and Korea without tariff barriers also enabled the parent companies to keep production at the headquarters rather than supply them locally. While these linkages were great walls for Japanese and Korean MNCs to protect their market shares in ASEAN, the goods flowing from Japan and Korea to ASEAN were clearly differentiated from the Chinese products. They were in distinctively different categories. This can be understood from Table 4 where we list the value of imports from China in product categories (HS Code 6-digit classifications) in which the Chinese share was 50% or more in It can be seen that in 2012, in these product categories, the Chinese share was 70.2% whereas the shares of Japan, Korea, and Taiwan were only 4.7%, 3.0% and 2.0% respectively. This suggests that Japan, Korea 7

8 and Taiwan presented few challenges to China in these areas. Although as far as market shares are concerned, Chinese imports appeared to have replaced some imports from Japan, the substitution effect was limited. Presumably these were the new market frontiers that had been pioneered by China. Import items in these product categories accounted for 24.5% of Chinese imports in 2012 and 50.8% of them were intermediate goods. They were the major items that contribute to China s rapidly increasing share in ASEAN s imports. In contrast to the China-dominated imports, we can look at the imports that were dominated by Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, as shown in Table 5. In Table 5, we list the import values of the product categories (HS Code 6-digit classifications) in which Japan, Korea and Taiwan together accounted for 50% or more of the import share and among which at least two countries held 5% or more of the share. It can be seen that Japan dominated these product categories with 31.4% of share in However, Japan has been challenged by Korea and Taiwan and the shares of the latter countries stood at 17.7% and 14.7% respectively in Chinese presence in these product categories, which were predominantly (over 90%) intermediate goods, was also visible with its share increasing from 10.9% in to 15.3% in Apparently in recent years China was able to offer similar intermediate products to ASEAN in the categories that had previously been dominated by Japan, Korea and Taiwan. These products might have been manufactured by MNCs in China, but they nevertheless provided an alternative to products originated from the Northeast Asia. In short, China offered intermediate goods, some of which were newly available and some of which were substitutes to Japanese, Korean or Taiwanese products, allowing ASEAN producers to be more competitive. This presented a challenge to the interests of MNCs. The effect was to be felt in the local markets rather than the export-processing industries. Competition between the China forces and the 8

9 traditional MNCs was a backdrop to the competition of trade grouping in the region. III. Taiwan s Role in ASEAN Taiwan was a major foreign investor in ASEAN from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. Its investment concentrated in labor intensive industries that used to formed the mainstay of Taiwan s exports, including textile, electronics, and chemical products. When China became an attractive FDI location in the mid-1990s, the investment momentum shifted to China. Small Taiwanese firms that already invested in ASEAN stayed there as they could not manage multiple overseas operations; large Taiwanese firms set up their second production bases in China. With a few exceptions, if this second production base succeeded, as it did in most cases, they scaled down or shut down their operations in ASEAN and concentrated their resources in China. Today, there are still a large number of Taiwanese firms operating in ASEAN, many of which are small-scaled and remain in the export-processing industries. This group of firms, despite the knowledge that they have accumulated over time about the local economy, remained closely linked to Taiwan. Because of the tariff draw-back scheme that was commonly available in ASEAN, their operations were not affected by the preferential trade arrangements. Because of the rising labor costs in China in recent years, their businesses have been rejuvenated. However, they are essentially outsiders to the recent boom of domestic markets in ASEAN. Large Taiwanese firms that have succeeded in China are also outsiders to the ASEAN s domestic markets. Because of the abrupt rise of labor costs in China, some of them readjusted the production configuration in Asia whereby the weight of China was reduced in favor of ASEAN. There was also increasing intra-firm trade between their Chinese and ASEAN subsidiaries. Normally China holds an advantage in large-scale production. For example, the upstream materials might only be produced 9

10 in China and shipped to ASEAN to support the downstream operations there. They also procured parts and components from China, usually from their supply chains in China, to support their ASEAN activities. In both cases, preferential trade arrangement between China and ASEAN played little role in the division of labor. It was primarily the need to diversify production bases that drove the new geographical division of labor. The Chinese labor market has been fundamentally changed: rising labor costs were coupled with shortages of labor, especially in the coastal regions. This made labor-intensive operations in the coastal areas vulnerable to labor supply conditions. The risk of failing to fulfill an unexpected surge in export orders is high, thus the ASEAN operations provide a safeguard against such a risk. As both small and large Taiwanese firms in ASEAN experienced an increase in export orders, they increased the demand for Taiwan-made intermediate goods. The importance of ASEAN in Taiwan s export map has risen quickly, with its (ASEAN-6) market share of Taiwan s total exports reaching 19.0% in the first seven months of However, Taiwan s market share in ASEAN s imports, as shown in Table 2, has declined in recent years. This reflects the fact that despite the robust growth in the export-processing businesses, Taiwan has missed the boat of ASEAN s booming domestic markets. In the last decade, Taiwan s FDI in ASEAN remained at low levels while Japanese and Korean MNCs stepped up their investments. As previously mentioned, the recent boom of ASEAN s domestic markets was a manifestation of the contest between China and the Western MNCs. Chinese FDI in ASEAN is still limited, but Chinese goods are penetrating the ASEAN markets extensively either directly as consumer goods or indirectly by being embodied in local products. On the other hands, Western MNCs have been in ASEAN for many decades. ASEAN was the top destination of American investment in Asia, with the accumulated stock of FDI (up to 2011) in ASEAN being 2.9 times of that in China. 10

11 ASEAN was the top destination of European investment in the entire world, with the accumulated FDI stock reaching 180 billion euro in 2010 (JCER, 2013, pp ). Local contents of the products made by American and European MNCs were typically low in the past but now there is a pressure for them to increase the local contents, which is accompanied by specialization of production. For example, in the automobile industry, Japanese makers have concentrated their assembly operations in Thailand and Indonesia, leaving countries like Philippines to specialize in auto parts. Different types of vehicles were made in Thailand and Indonesia to realize the scale economies (Jiang 2013). A similar pattern of concentration and specialization also took place in the consumer electronics industry, with Thailand emerging as the most favored manufacturing location. Specialization allowed the production scale to be enlarged, which in turn, set the foundation for the components and parts industry to locate in proximity. Without the scale, components and parts can only be supplied from the parent countries. IV. Challenges to Taiwan Taiwan has ridden on the big waves of offshore sourcing in the last two decades. Despite their small scale, Taiwanese firms were able to invest in ASEAN and China to exploit the local resources on behalf of their global partners. In terms of the number of investment projects, Taiwan was one of the top investors in ASEAN and China. Through these investment projects, Taiwan orchestrated a very efficient production network to serve their clients. As a result, Taiwan became a dominant player in the offshore sourcing operations, notably in the ICT industry. However, the big waves of offshore sourcing appear to be coming to an end (Subramanian and Kessler, 2013). This does not mean that there will be no offshore sourcing activities in the future, but rather the scale of these activities will increase at a slower pace in the future. There 11

12 will be more relocation than expansion of offshore sourcing activities, and it is almost for sure that East Asia will continue to serve as an import platform for these activities. However, Taiwan has to find a way to harness the momentum of the local markets in East Asia, especially those of China and ASEAN, if it hopes to upgrade its economy. It has been shown in the past two decades that increasing the scale of offshore sourcing operations can also drive industrial upgrading at home (Amsdena and Chu 2003), but the law of diminishing returns sets in quickly. Taiwan is faced with the cold reality that the offshore sourcing activities probably will not grow much in the future. There appear to be three ways to harness the momentum of the local markets: explore the markets by oneself, alliance with local firms, and alliance with MNCs. The first approach, meaning brand marketing, is the most challenging route for Taiwanese firms. Nevertheless, some small brands, notably in the area of ICT industry, have been established and shown some success in the global as well the Asian markets. The short experience of brand marketing has indicated that Taiwanese firms, while strong in manufacturing, are weak in product innovation and marketing. Both innovation and marketing require a thorough understanding of the markets which Taiwanese firms largely ignore when they serve as contract manufacturers for MNCs. The second approach is to become partners of local firms. China has brewed a large number of local firms, so has the ASEAN, and as previously mentioned, the two groups have closely tied to one another. They tended to offer low-price products to suit the local conditions. To form a partnership with this group of firms, Taiwanese firms cannot offer low-cost components or parts as a service, in which Chinese firms are more competitive. Neither can they offer marketing or manufacturing services as local firms are superior. The only option is to provide technologies, which can be embodied in parts or materials, to enable local firms to offer new products. In short, 12

13 Taiwanese firms have to offer technologies that enable local innovations. For example, new textile materials that provide new functions to locally made garments; new lighting materials that allow local producers to offer non-traditional lighting equipment. Of course, Taiwanese firms have to compete with Japanese and Korean firms in this regard. However, both the Japanese and Korean firms are closely knit in business groups, which market their own products. Taiwanese firms typically operate in open business networks, which can be more easily allied with local firms in ASEAN and China. The third approach is to become partners of MNCs in developing local-oriented products. Taiwanese firms have been long-time partners of MNCs, but they collaborate in the offshore sourcing activities. In this case, MNCs normally are absent in local production and Taiwanese firms worked as their surrogates. In the case of local-oriented production, MNCs are present locally and they engage in certain production that requires some kind of integration. Modularized production, which is typical in offshore sourcing activities, is uncommon in MNCs local-oriented production. For local production to be valuable, it must combine the intangible assets of MNCs with some location-specific resources (Caves 1971). For example, a locally made automobile is more attractive than an imported one because certain local ingredients are incorporated into the car. These local ingredients are valuable to the final products and only MNCs know how to integrate them into the products. The integration process constitutes local production which entails a higher risk than direct export. This risk is proportional to the psychic and geographical distance of MNCs from the host country. For example, because of geographical distance, the risk of local operations in East Asia is higher for European and American MNCs than Japanese MNCs. Taiwanese firms can be good partners to American and European MNCs, because of their advantage in psychic and geographical distance. Taiwanese firms 13

14 have operated in ASEAN for 30 years and in China, for 20 years. They have accumulated enough local knowledge to shorten the psychic distance. It is also obvious that Taiwan holds an advantage in geographical distance to ASEAN and China. Taiwanese firms can therefore, provide sub-system integration services for their MNC partners. For example, the automobile makers cannot have all their first-tier and second-tier parts suppliers present in the region, not to mention the third-tier suppliers which are typically too small to make long-distance FDI. Taiwanese firms can supplant them to strengthen the local supply chains of MNCs. All three approaches require a change of the business model at which Taiwanese firms have excelled in the past. The new business model requires Taiwanese firms to offer a value proposition to local firms or MNCs. It requires an ability to sense the market opportunities and a capability to put together a right combination of resources to realize those opportunities. The model is more challenging than simply finding a way to reduce the costs of production which Taiwanese firms were good at in the past. V. Risks of Regional Integration Regardless of the approach Taiwan chooses, in order to serve the local markets, it is necessary to obtain resources from different parts of the region, including goods, services, and production factors. A regional network that allows goods, services, and production factors to flow freely is the best infrastructure for Taiwanese firms to provide their services as brand marketers, innovation enablers, or sub-system integrators. The prospect that Taiwan may be excluded from this network, even if only temporarily, is detrimental to Taiwan s attempt at transforming its roles in the Asian production system. The expectation that Taiwan may be marginalized discourages investment and retards the incentives of making an effort toward transformation. Without investment and transformation, Taiwanese economy will undoubtedly enter a phase of lasting stagnancy. 14

15 Until now, the policy regime instituted in Asia for the export-processing industries has created a production network which is segregated from the production network that serves the local markets. Producers in the export-processing network follow international norms in terms of technologies, product standards, and terms of transactions. They may not fit the local production system. By removing barriers to the flow of goods and by conforming local regulations with international norms will help integrate these two production networks. However, the preferential trade arrangements which offer the forces of integration only to the selected countries threaten to create a new divide between the countries within and the countries without the arrangements. For example, a pluri-lateral agreement like TPP or RCEP, if adopts regional value content (VOC) as the rule of origin, will create a strong incentive to exclude the products from the non-member countries. Taiwan is a natural partner for American and European MNCs in Asia. Unlike the Japanese and Korean firms which offer their own products to Asia s local markets, Taiwanese firms serve as contract manufacturers or suppliers of components and parts. In the last two decades, Taiwanese firms have built an efficient production base in Asia, encompassing China and ASEAN, largely to perform export-processing activities for their MNC clients. With the impending integration in the region, this production capacity can be transformed to serve the local markets. In addition to production capacity, Taiwanese firms can offer technological and sub-system integration services, thus reducing the risks of local operations of MNCs. It will be a big loss to the global production system if Taiwanese firms are excluded from the Asian supply chains. 15

16 Table 1 Emerging Countries in World Trade Country Trade Value (billion US dollar) Share (%) World 13,033 21,214 36, China 474 1,423 3, India Russia Brazil Thailand Indonesia Malaysia Philippines Singapore Subtotal 1,574 3,271 7, Source: Calculated from WTA database. Note: Trade value includes exports and imports. 16

17 Table 2 Sources of Imports for ASEAN Country Amount Share Amount Share Amount Share (million $) (%) (million $) (%) (million $) (%) Total 315, , ,083, ASEAN 67, , , China 17, , , Japan 55, , , EU27 38, , , USA 47, , , Korea 13, , , Taiwan 14, , , Source: WTA database. Note: ASEAN-5 includes Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines. 17

18 Table 3 Composition of ASEAN-5 Imports Average 2012 Country Value of import Share of intermediate Share of final Value of import Share of intermediate Share of final Value of import Share of intermediate Share of final ($ million) goods (%) goods (%) ($ million) goods (%) goods (%) ($ million) goods (%) goods (%) Total 315, , ,204, China 17, , , Japan 55, , , Korea 13, , , Taiwan 14, , , Note: Only Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines are included. The sum of shares of intermediate goods and final goods may not add up to 100% because some products are unclassified. Source: WTA Database. 18

19 Table 4 China-Dominated Exports to ASEAN Average Value (million US$) 2012 Value (million US$) Share (%) 2012 Share (%) Japan 2,466 2, Korea 1,165 1, Taiwan 909 1, China 17,332 43, World Total 32,346 61, Source: Calculated from WTA database. Note: ASEAN-6 includes Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam. 19

20 Table 5 Japan-Korea-Taiwan Dominated Exports to ASEAN Average Value (million US$) 2012 Value (million US$) Share (%) 2012 Share (%) Japan 11,042 16, Korea 4,590 9, Taiwan 5,430 7, China 3,562 8, World Total 32, Source: Calculated from WTA database. Note: ASEAN-6 includes Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam. 20

21 Table 6 Procurement of Raw Materials and Parts by Japanese MNCs in ASEAN & China Country Local Japan ASEAN China Others China Thailand Indonesia Malaysia Vietnam Singapore Philippines Laos Cambodia Source: JETRO, Survey of Japanese Affiliated Companies in Asia and Oceania ( 2012 Survey). 21

22 Reference Amsden, Alice and Wan-wen Chu, 2003, Beyond Late Development: Taiwan s Upgrading Policies, Cambridge: MIT Press. Caves, Richard, 1971, International Corporations: The Industrial Economics of Foreign Investment, Economica, vol.149, pp Economist, 2012, When Giants Slow Down, July 27, JCER (Japan Center for Economic Research), 2013, ASEAN keizai to kigyo senryaku (ASEAN economies and business strategies), Tokyo: JCER report. Jiang, Fangqian, Gurobaru jitai ni okeru higashi ajia no seizogyo (Asian Manufacturing Industry in a Globalized Age,), in Japanese, Tanjin: Nankai Publication. Napoli, Christopher, 2012, Competing for Western Markets? The Case of ASEAN, working paper, University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus. Subramanian, Arvind and Martin Kessler, 2013, The Hyperglobalization of Trade and Its Future, Global Citizen Foundation, working paper, no.3. (June) 22

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