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Proċedura : 2005/2247(INI)
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Texts adopted
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Tuesday, 4 April 2006 - Strasbourg Final edition
WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong

European Parliament resolution on the assessment of the Doha Round following the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong (2005/2247(INI))

The European Parliament ,

-   having regard to the Ministerial Declaration of the Sixth Session of the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), adopted on 18 December 2005(1) ,

-   having regard to the Final Declarations by the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO at the conclusion of its sessions in Hong Kong from 12 to 15 December 2005 and in Brussels from 25 to 26 November 2004,

-   having regard to its resolution of 1 December 2005 on the preparations for the Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong(2) ,

-   having regard to the Council conclusions on the WTO Doha Development Agenda (DDA), following the extraordinary General Affairs and External Relations Council meeting in Luxembourg on 18 October 2005 (13378/05),

-   having regard to its resolution of 12 May 2005 on the assessment of the Doha Round following the WTO General Council Decision of 1 August 2004(3) ,

-   having regard to the WTO General Council Decision of 1 August 2004(4) ,

-   having regard to the Doha Ministerial Declaration of the WTO of 14 November 2001(5) ,

-   having regard to its previous resolutions of 15 December 1999 on the Third WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle(6) , of 13 December 2001 on the WTO meeting in Qatar(7) and of 25 September 2003 on the Fifth WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancún(8) ,

-   having regard to the Sutherland Report on "The Future of the WTO: Addressing Institutional Challenges in the New Millennium"(9) ,

-   having regard to its resolution of 9 March 2005 on the proposal for a Council regulation applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences(10) ,

-   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

-   having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinions of the Committee on Regional Development, the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A6-0051/2006),

A.   whereas the multilateral trading system embodied in the WTO contributes to enhanced fairness, security, transparency and stability in international trade and to a better management of globalisation through multilateral rules and disciplines and the judicial settlement of disputes, with priority being given to sustainable development concerns and human rights;

B.   whereas the Ministerial Conference held in Doha from 9 to 14 November 2001 committed all WTO Members to a development round (the Doha Round), whose central purpose would be to promote a fairer and more pro-development trade system based on multilateral rules,

C.   whereas a successful conclusion of the Doha Round, providing for genuine further market opening and stronger multilateral rules, could be an important parameter in stimulating worldwide economic growth, development and employment and effectively contribute to the integration of developing countries into the world economy,

D.   whereas the EU has played a leading role in the negotiations since the launch of the Doha Round and submitted credible and substantial offers in all negotiating areas, including agriculture, whilst other developed and advanced developing countries have not shown the same flexibility or level of commitment,

E.   whereas a successful conclusion of the Doha Round leading to further mutual liberalisation of world trade in goods and services will be an important element in achieving higher growth, employment and competitiveness in the European Union and attaining the objectives of the Lisbon Strategy,

F.   whereas a new deadline of April 2006 has been established in Hong Kong for reaching an agreement on full modalities and another one of July 2006 for the submission of draft implementation schedules,

G.   whereas efforts to meet the 2006 deadline for the conclusion of the Doha Round should not compromise the objective of reaching an ambitious and balanced outcome, reflecting the development objectives enshrined in the Doha Ministerial Declaration,

H.   whereas a failure to conclude negotiations in 2006 carries a risk of a collapse of the Doha Round which, in turn, could challenge the credibility of the multilateral trading system and result in a shift towards bilateral and regional trade agreements which often accentuate imbalances between the developed and the developing world,

I.   whereas the Doha Round must deliver pro-development outcomes in all areas under negotiation, especially in the interests of poorer and vulnerable developing countries,

J.   whereas there exists a great variety of situations among developing countries, which should both make commitments and receive special and differential treatment commensurate with their level of development as well as their general and sectoral competitiveness, while the least developed and vulnerable countries should not have to make any commitments,

K.   whereas the EU should respond to the requests for liberalisation of trade in agriculture in a way that secures the sustainability, competitiveness and multi-functional character of the EU agricultural sector,

L.   whereas an end-date of 2013 for the elimination of agricultural export subsidies has been agreed; whereas comparable progress has not been achieved in the areas of domestic support and market access,

M.   whereas the EU is by far the world's largest importer of agricultural products from developing countries,

N.   whereas the protection of geographical indications remains of crucial importance to the EU, which enjoys competitive advantage for a number of high-quality regional products,

O.   whereas non-agricultural market access (NAMA) has significant potential trade gains for the EU, but equally for developing countries since a considerable amount of their trade is in industrial goods and they face high tariff barriers in their trade with other developing countries,

P.   whereas market access is also hampered by significant non-tariff barriers,

Q.   whereas in the area of services, negotiations have not yet yielded any satisfactory results; whereas the objective sought by the EU is further liberalisation which, while preserving WTO members" national policy objectives and their right to regulate public services, should nevertheless take into account the specific needs of developing countries,

R.   whereas an improvement of WTO rules on Trade Facilitation, anti-dumping, and other rules issues would be advantageous for all WTO members by improving legal certainty, lowering the costs of trade transactions and preventing abusive or protectionist use,

S.   whereas the process of globalisation and the role played by the WTO are often misrepresented and misunderstood, and there is a need for enhanced accountability and transparency in the WTO,

1.  Reiterates its commitment to the multilateral approach to trade policy, and its support for the WTO as the guarantor of rules-based international trade; points out that a failure of the multilateral negotiations and a shift to bilateral/regional agreements would lead to an unequal process of liberalisation and uneven development and would thus adversely affect particularly the least developed countries (LDCs);

2.  Deplores the slow progress in the negotiations so far and the predetermined low level of ambition for the outcome of the Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong; notes that this low level of ambition threatens the ability to deliver meaningful results for the Doha Round; calls on the Commission to prepare an alternative action plan in case the Doha negotiations fail; hopes, however, that the Ministerial Declaration will pave the way for a successful conclusion of the Round in all key areas;

3.  Believes that a greater commitment on the part of all mayor players, including the EU, the US and the emerging economies, would be necessary to promote collective progress; calls on all WTO members, especially developed and advanced developing countries, to engage constructively in real negotiations with a view to reaching a successful conclusion; especially appeals to the European Union to put its weight during the undoubtedly complex and difficult negotiations in the coming months behind the achievement of freer and fairer trade relations worldwide;

4.  Stresses that, in a situation where many deadlines have been neglected throughout the course of the current Round, the target of 2006 for the conclusion of the Round simply must not be missed;

5.  Reaffirms its strong support for placing development at the heart of the DDA and calls on the developed countries, as well as the more advanced developing countries, to deliver on the ambitious goals set out in the Doha Declaration in order to ensure that the new trade round is a development round;

6.  Insists that the Round must not be focused only on the agricultural issues and therefore the key negotiating areas should be treated in parallel, in line with the notion of the Single Undertaking and with a similar high level of ambition and determination to contribute to development;

7.  Welcomes the increased level of organisation and self-confidence achieved by the developing countries (G-90 and G-20 in particular);

8.  Stresses that the undertakings entered into by the Commission during the agricultural negotiations within the WTO cannot go beyond the bounds of the current CAP arrangements or the negotiating mandate;

9.  Believes that it is essential for the Commission's current offer to remain conditional in connection with the DDA and for it to remain possible to withdraw it during the course of the negotiations should no satisfactory offers be forthcoming from other WTO partners;

10.  Reiterates the need to respect the multifunctional character of EU agriculture;

11.  Supports the right of farmers to have access to traditional seeds;

12.  Recalls that, due to the 2003 CAP reform, the EU has significantly reduced its trade-distorting domestic support and asks for concrete commitments in that direction by other trading partners; welcomes, in the Ministerial Declaration, the constraint imposed on "box shifting" through the obligation to proceed to an overall reduction in trade-distorting domestic support;

13.  Recalls the scope of the Luxembourg Agreement on the CAP reform and insists on the need to define "green box" measures, including decoupled support;

14.  Stresses the important offer made by the EU to abolish its export refund system by 2013 and insists that a parallel move by other WTO members is required in the areas of export credits, State trading enterprises and food aid; emphasises that 2013 is an end-date for this process and calls for a frontloading of a substantial part of the cuts in the first half of the implementation period; supports the Commission's view that export subsidy elimination should be expressed in value terms;

15.  Welcomes the solid progress towards the agreement on a framework to determine new disciplines to prevent the dumping of non-emergency food aid, which constitutes a disguised form of export subsidy, and the creation of a "safe box" for the exemption of bona fide emergency aid;

16.  Suggests that there should be an independent audit of all forms of aid to international trade (export credits, guarantee systems, State enterprises, food aid etc.); suggests that the aim of this audit should be to distinguish between humanitarian aspects, which should be subject to public monitoring, and aspects that distort the rules of competition in international trade, which should be eliminated;

17.  Considers that market access is an important issue for the negotiations and the implementation of CAP reform; believes that, in view of this, the general reduction of customs tariffs should be assessed in the light of the efforts made by all WTO members regarding the various aspects of the agricultural negotiations and of the European Union's efforts with regard to domestic support and export competition, in which connection it must remain possible to impose the same requirements on imported products as on home-produced products;

18.  States, with regard to market access, that a limited degree of flexibility is needed through both the formula for tariff cuts and the designation of sensitive products; welcomes the formulations on Special Products and Special Safeguard Mechanism corresponding to the requests of the developing countries and offering them some room for manoeuvre to safeguard their food security and rural livelihoods; refers, in that respect, to the prescription of a common set of specific indicators;

19.  Welcomes the agreement on the elimination, by developed countries, of export subsidies for cotton by 2006 but highlights that this is already required under a recent WTO dispute ruling and notes that such subsidies constitute only a small proportion of subsidies that the US gives its cotton farmers; stresses the importance, therefore, of achieving positive results in reducing and eliminating its domestic subsidies; welcomes the provision of duty-free and quota-free market access for cotton exports from LDCs; however, notes the limited impact that this will have; stresses the importance, therefore, of achieving positive results in reducing and eliminating domestic subsidies; considers that these measures should be complemented by structural supportive reform programmes for farmers and industry in the EU regions affected and with development support measures for the developing countries to be taken by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the UN Development Programme and other international organisations;

20.  Asks the Commission to consider the possibility of introducing a "development box" for the LDCs into the agricultural negotiations, so that they can tackle food safety and rural employment, which are major issues when it comes to eradicating poverty;

21.  Notes the need for the European Union to strengthen its relations with the countries with which it shares a common vision in terms of agriculture, in particular the G10 and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries; considers in this regard that the opening of the Community market following recent commitments should apply first and foremost to the LDCs and to the ACP states; stresses that full account should be taken of the problems linked to the erosion of the preferential margins from which these countries benefit;

22.  Considers that all concessions granted to developing and LDCs should be made conditional upon strict compliance with origin rules and the mechanism for the prevention of triangular trade;

23.  Deplores the absence of progress on the establishment of a register for wines and spirits as well as on the extension of the protection of geographical indications to other products; recalls that these elements are essential for a balanced outcome of the negotiations;

24.  Calls for ambitious and balanced results in the negotiations on NAMA, guaranteeing new real market access opportunities, including in South-South trade, through substantial cuts in applied rates, taking due account of the special and differential treatment required by vulnerable developing countries; insists that the link established in the Ministerial Declaration between the levels of ambition in AMA and NAMA should mean cuts in applied rates; calls on advanced developing countries to take their share of responsibility, commensurate with their degree of development, while stressing that the outcome should reflect the agreed principle of less-than-full reciprocity;

25.  Welcomes the agreement to use a Swiss formula for tariff reductions; stresses, however, that the harmonising effect of such a formula should not be lessened through the definition of multiple coefficients; favours the pursuit of sectoral initiatives in sectors of export interest for the EU;

26.  Acknowledges that a great deal still remains to be done to establish the arrangements and conclude the negotiations; stresses also that difficult decisions will have to be made by 30 April 2006 on the tariff reduction arrangements, with regard both to the number and the level of the coefficients;

27.  Notes that it is of strategic importance that all trading partners also remove their unjustified non-tariff barriers, since they hamper market access and might counteract the possible benefits from tariff cuts, while preserving the necessary policy space to protect non-trade concerns; calls for increased efforts in promoting international standardisation and mutual recognition; regrets the lack of progress on this point in Hong Kong;

28.  Is concerned about the back-loading of negotiations in the services area and calls for their intensification at both bilateral and plurilateral level, with due regard for the interests of weak and vulnerable economies and without weakening their position by pressing them to liberalise additional services sectors; notes that the WTO is altering the structure of the method of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) negotiations method; insists on the necessity of a timely impact assessment; welcomes the fact that the end of February 2006 deadline for the submission of plurilateral requests was met and considers this to be a positive sign for the further progress of the negotiations; regrets the fact that the final Declaration does not set any quantitative targets for the submission of revised offers; reiterates that essential public services, such as health, education and audiovisual services should be excluded from liberalisation;

29.  Expresses concern about the fact that the intermediate deadlines for reaching a successful conclusion of the services negotiations are "out of synch" with those laid out for the completion of modalities and the submission of draft schedules in agriculture and NAMA, and that such a different timeline may make it more difficult to achieve a balanced outcome across all key areas;

30.  Insists that the EU continue emphasising in the WTO the liberalisation of services and the opening of markets, such as those in the financial, tourist and distribution sector, which are important sectors for European economy;

31.  Emphasises the progress made when examining the relationship between trade, debt and finance and calls on the Commission to incorporate in its multilateral and bilateral requests to its WTO trading partners new and improved GATS commitments in financial services, in order to ensure that trade liberalisation, particularly as regards financial services, is mutually beneficial to the parties involved;

32.  Notes that all WTO members have agreed to find the least trade distorting solutions when drafting new legislation and stresses the importance for the European Union to show leadership in this aspect;

33.  Reiterates that a successful conclusion of the negotiations must deliver on the commitment towards concrete development benefits in all negotiating areas, notably in the interests of the LDCs, and must contribute to achieving the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, the eradication of poverty, fairer distribution of the benefits of globalisation, better market access for developing countries and the economic diversification of developing countries, without weakening the most fragile economic sectors in those countries;

34.  Welcomes the development package adopted in Hong Kong, although less ambitious than expected; regrets, however, that the duty and quota free access for LDC products to markets, excluding 3% of tariff lines that cover some crucial products for the poor countries, substantially reduces the benefits for the LDCs; calls on all developed and advanced developing countries to follow the model of the EU "everything but arms" initiative in guaranteeing 100% duty and quota-free market access for LDCs; calls on the EU and the LDCs to strive jointly to achieve 100% duty and quota-free market access for LDCs in developed and advanced developing countries;

35.  Regrets the slow progress of work on the important issue of preference erosion; considers that the problems of the erosion of trade preferences and falling commodity prices should also be addressed in this Round; calls on the Commission after dismantling the existing EU/ACP system of regulation, to contribute positively to the identification and proposing of possible new solutions, both at bilateral and multilateral levels, for the stabilisation of commodity prices;

36.  Considers that special and differential treatment must form an integral part of the WTO agreements; considers also that further progressive South-South market opening, especially regional trade and a commitment to stronger multilateral rules can prove beneficial for the economic development and the integration of developing countries into the global economy;

37.  Stresses the importance of adequate technical assistance to help developing countries formulate their trade interests, engage effectively in negotiations, meet new obligations, adjust to reforms and effectively implement WTO rules; stresses also the need to encourage weak and vulnerable economies in the integration of trade into their national development policies and poverty reduction strategies without jeopardising other development objectives; supports the expansion of "Aid for Trade" to developing countries which require assistance to build the capacity needed to realise benefits from improvements in market access and trade rules, aimed at strengthening their commercial and exporting capacity, diversifying their production bases if so required, and replacing customs resources by other fiscal resources;

38.  Calls on the European Union to ensure that the additional aid for trade announced in Hong Kong is financed out of new resources through an addition to the Financial Perspectives and does not involve shifting resources already earmarked for other development initiatives, such as the Millennium Development Goals; calls at the same time for more coherence among various aid donors;

39.  Welcomes the decision of the General Council of the WTO of 6 December 2005 on an amendment of the TRIPS Agreement aimed at improving access to medicines for developing countries;

40.  Welcomes the progress achieved so far in the negotiations on Trade Facilitation; calls for the establishment of multilateral commitments for increased legal certainty, especially in the field of trade defence measures and rules on counterfeiting, simplification and modernisation of trade procedures; underlines the particular importance of targeted technical assistance in this area;

41.  Calls for the strengthening of the WTO enforcement mechanisms of the TRIPS Agreement, which are necessary for combating the sale of counterfeit products and the violation of EU patent rights; states that protecting Europe's intellectual property, including geographical indications, remains one of the most important issues to be dealt with in the WTO; welcomes, in that context, the fact that the Commission will be stationing a patent officer in Beijing as of 1 April 2006; stresses that the internalisation of counterfeit products adversely affects tax receipts in developed countries, helps fund organised crime at the international level and reduces the incentives to invent and innovate in all countries, therefore posing a risk to EU industries´ heavy investment in high technology products and services;

42.  Calls on the Commission to make it clear in its talks with other trading partners that the EU disapproves of the regular violations of WTO rules, particularly with regard to intellectual property, product piracy and non-tariff trade barriers;

43.  Calls for strengthened discipline with regard to anti-dumping and other rules issues in order to prevent abusive recourse to trade defence instruments while preserving the legitimate use and effectiveness of these instruments;

44.  Insists that all forms of dumping be prohibited and be defined as exports made at prices below the average full production cost, taking into account all types of upstream and downstream subsidies and cross-subsidisation;

45.  Notes the need for improved coherence and enhanced supportiveness of trade and environmental legal and policy systems; asks for progress in the area of trade in environmental goods and clearer rules regarding the relationship between WTO rules and Multilateral Environmental Agreements;

46.  Emphasises the importance of taking into account non-trade concerns such as social, environmental and cultural issues in the Doha Round;

47.  Calls on the Commission to give due consideration to non-trade concerns (animal welfare and the environment) in the field of agriculture in the forthcoming negotiations;

48.  Stresses the heavy distortion of competition suffered by European farmers as long as imported products are not subject to the same standards as home products;

49.  Bearing in mind the growing importance of a social dimension in trade relations, regrets that the strengthening of links between the WTO and the ILO has once again failed to find its expression in the Ministerial Declaration; strongly believes in the importance of standards for the modern trading system; reiterates its long-standing pledge to grant the ILO observer status at WTO meetings and strongly supports the creation of a joint ILO-WTO Standing Forum on this issue;

50.  Reiterates its call for a thorough reform of the WTO and for its better integration in the general framework of global governance; calls for greater coordination and coherence among all international institutions active in the field of trade and development, including UN-based organisations in charge of human development, health and the environment, and calls on all WTO Members to provide it with a clear mandate for enhanced cooperation;

51.  Supports negotiations on the improvement of the dispute settlement mechanism towards enhanced effectiveness and transparency aiming inter alia at improving rules and procedures for panel composition, addressing the "sequencing" issue, encouraging compensation arrangements, enhancing third party rights, granting remand authority to the Appellate Body, the facilitation of access by developing countries, and taking into consideration environmental, social and human rights legislation in its decisions;

52.  States that investment, competition and transparency in public procurement remain important areas to be negotiated within the WTO;

53.  Proposes to the EU negotiators in the context of the WTO, to start formulating an EU position on energy that introduces greater security of supply and stronger market forces in the field of energy, which covers industrial applications in the field of energy, facilitating investment in developing countries and eliminating dual pricing and other forms of export restrictions or taxes that threaten the survival of many EU industries;

54.  Recalls the fact that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the economies of the EU and developing countries but their survival in a global trading system requires that private property rights be clearly defined, that there be clear limits to monopoly rents, and that such rights be effectively enforced in order to act as incentives for SMEs to invest in research and innovation; proposes that EU trade policy aim to reduce the risks of international trade and investment for SMEs by vastly increasing market access in emerging countries with the effective removal of tariffs and non-tariff barriers in those countries, by removing restrictions on European commercial activities (investment, establishment, right to trade) and by creating strengthened WTO mediation mechanisms to deal with non-tariff barriers in a rapid and efficient manner;

55.  Suggests that emphasis be placed on economic and social forecasting with a view to measuring, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the economic and social impact of the developments resulting from international trade agreements; takes the view that this aid to decision-making is essential both to help negotiation and to anticipate economic consequences of the agreements that may affect the Member States and economic sectors concerned;

56.  Stresses the importance of encouraging public and political support for the WTO multilateral trading system; notes that companies have a legitimate interest in shaping policies that affect how they do business and that the participation of different groups, including NGOs, is crucial to the WTO's functioning; stresses, however, that corporate and NGO priorities disproportionately influence the WTO's policy agenda and could play a bigger role than democratically elected parliamentarians with regard to the final document; urges the Commission to carefully examine the role of companies and NGOs in the negotiation process; calls for increased transparency and the reduction of corporate and NGO privileges; stresses that better information of the public and wider consultation of civil society are needed; reiterates, in this respect, the important contribution the parliamentary dimension can make as a means of strengthening the WTO's democratic accountability and openness to the citizens;

57.  Underlines the need for institutional reforms to improve the functioning of the WTO, on the basis inter alia of the recommendations contained in the above-mentioned Sutherland Report;

58.  Stresses the importance of the work of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO in strengthening the democratic dimension of the WTO; notes, however, the lack of consideration given to its Final Declarations by WTO negotiators; notes the effort made by EU negotiators to address the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO but deplores the lack of engagement of other WTO negotiators;

59.  States its willingness to contribute positively to the negotiating process through the various contacts its Members have with their counterparts from countries with which the EU shares common interests;

60.  Welcomes the strong spirit of unity among the three major EU institutions present in Hong Kong and underlines the benefit of maintaining a close collaboration between them in these crucial months of the negotiations; calls on the Council and the Commission to continue to keep Parliament properly involved and fully informed on the EU post-Hong Kong strategy and the progress of the negotiations, also during the next General Council meeting in Geneva;

61.  Stresses the importance of Parliament being represented at all WTO meetings at which major steps in the negotiations are taken and where ministers are involved and not only on the occasion of official Ministerial Conferences; requests, therefore, that a small delegation of members of the Parliament be meaningfully involved in the meetings to be convened in Geneva with a view to meeting the 30 April and 31 July 2006 deadlines set in the Hong Kong Declaration; invites the Council to extend an invitation to such a delegation of members of the Parliament to participate, as observers, in at least one of the meetings of the 133 Committee to be organised in Geneva at the end of April 2006; calls on the Commission to support this initiative and to ensure that members of the Parliament receive appropriate information on the progress of negotiations during their stay in Geneva;

62.  Reiterates the importance of a parliamentary dimension of the WTO in order to enhance democratic legitimacy and transparency in the WTO negotiations, since members of parliament can constitute an important link with citizens, in particular as a source of information and response to their concerns; welcomes the results of the Hong Kong session of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO; calls on the Commission and the Council to support actively a reference in the final document of the Doha Round which highlights the role of legislators in trade policy-making;

63.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission and to the parliaments of the Member States, the acceding countries and the applicant countries, the Director-General of the WTO and the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

(1) Document number 05-6248, document symbol WT/MIN(05)/DEC)
(2) Texts Adopted , P6_TA(2005)0461.
(3) Texts Adopted , P6_TA(2005)0182.
(4) Document number 04-3297, document symbol WT/L/579)
(5) Document number 01-5859, document symbol WT/MIN(01)/DEC/1)
(6) OJ C 296, 18.10.2000, p. 121.
(7) OJ C 177 E, 25.7.2002, p. 290.
(8) OJ C 77 E, 26.3.2004, p. 393.
(9) Report by the consultative Board to the Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi, WTO, December 2004.
(10) Texts Adopted , P6_TA(2005)0066.

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