BUSINESS IN BRIEF 24/9
Vietnam, ASEAN cooperate in tourism development

Vietnam and four other ASEAN countries have built cross-border tourism itineraries and discussed specific measures to promote national attractions within ASEAN.

From now to 2018, ASEAN countries will organize eight cross-border tourism itineraries: the southern coastal corridor crossing Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, the northern heritage road through Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, the Exploring the Mekong connecting Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, Cruiser on the Mekong between Cambodia and Vietnam, the Central Road of Myanmar and Thailand, Cruiser on the Mekong’s Golden Triangle in Laos and Vietnam, the Road eight of Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, and the East-West Corridor of Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Marketing Director of the Vietnam Travel Group Vu Thi My Tien said her company has worked with firms in Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand to organize tours.

“We have set up online programs to promote tourism. Some Thai travel agencies have sent tourists to our company. Most Thai visitors prefer tours through the Mekong delta,” she said.

Trac Thai Hoang Vu, Marketing Director of the Ben Thanh Tourism Company, said, “We have tours along the Mekong River. Tourists will explore life on the Mekong River and local specialties.”

The World Tourism and Travel Council said ASEAN tourism has made gains and contributes a major share of the economy, more than in Europe or Latin America. 

Vietnamese Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism Nguyen Ngoc Thien told a Ho Chi Minh City meeting of Tourism Ministers from Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar that “Countries should connect their travel infrastructure and organize more flights. Travel procedures between countries should be simplified."

PM allows Hà Nội to choose flyover investor

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has allowed the Hà Nội People’s Committee to choose the investors for a pedestrian flyover along the city’s ringroad No 2.

The decision is somewhat unusual in that even major cities that enjoy a measure of autonomy usually have to defer to the Government in chosing investors for major projects. Exceptions are made when a project is highly localised and distinct. 

PM Phúc warned Hà Nội to ensure that its instructions for the tender are clear, adding that the capital city will be responsible for implementing the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s requests. He also said Hà Nội must closely supervise the project’s cost based on the BT (Build-Transfer) model to ensure it conforms with market prices.

PM Phúc asked the Hà Nội People’s Committee to seek guidance from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

The Hà Nội People’s Committee approved the project last year at a total investment of more than VNĐ4.7 trillion (US$210 million). Construction of the 5km flyover is scheduled to last four years.

The ringroad runs from the Vĩnh Tuy Bridge, which connects Hai Bà Trưng and Long Bi6n districts, to Ngã Tư Sở intersection in Đống Đa District.

Vietnam-WB Group partnership framework focuses on inclusive growth

Inclusive growth is one of the main focuses of the new Country Partnership Framework between Vietnam and the World Bank Group (WBG) for 2017-2022 which was announced at a workshop in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap on September 22. 

Other priorities are private sector participation, investment in people and knowledge, environmental sustainability and resilience, and good governance. 

The Country Partnership Framework (CPF) introduces a number of strategic shifts, including comprehensive engagement to strengthen private sector development and participation across sectors; support to achieve the financial sustainability of public services and transfers; support of poverty reduction among ethnic minorities through activities that generate jobs and incomes; multi-sector engagement to strengthen linkages between education and the labor market; and promotion and stimulation of low carbon energy generation.

Through the CPF, the WBG will assist Vietnam in carrying out its five-year Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2016-2020 and its goals of balancing economic prosperity with environmental sustainability, promoting equity, and strengthening the capacity and accountability of state agencies.

Addressing the event, WB Country Director in Vietnam Ousmane Dione pledged that the WBG will mobilise all its institutions – the WB, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), as well as available instruments in order to create strategic changes like lending, policy dialogue, analytical and advisory work or guarantees.

Representatives from Mekong Delta cities and provinces highly valued strategic orientations set in the new framework, saying they suit pressing requirements of their localities in the current context. 

They expressed their hope for support in job generation for rural labourers in response to adverse impacts of technological applications in agriculture, along with assistance in capital disbursement mechanisms and procedures, and capital access in order to carry out infrastructure, transport and water projects.-

Workshop promotes Vietnam - Russia trade ties

The Russian Centre for Sciences and Culture of the Embassy of Russia in Vietnam and the Saint Petersburg State University jointly organised a workshop to promote trade ties between Vietnam and Russia in Hanoi on September 22.

In opening the workshop, Russia Ambassador to Vietnam Konstantin Vasilievich Vnukov highlighted the growing economic and trade relations as well as the friendship and mutual understanding between Vietnam and Russia.

He called on the two nations to build on the cooperation advantages between the two nations, and promote promising joint projects.

According to the Ambassador, Russian enterprises have actively participated in the training of Vietnamese officials and experts, with an example being the State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM which has offered scholarships for over 400 Vietnamese students.

The Government of Russia has also provided aids to help Vietnam overcome natural disaster consequences, implement poverty reduction and hunger eradication programmes, promote socio-economic development, and tourism, he added.

Russia’s head trade representative in Vietnam Viacheslav Nikolaievich Kharinov highlighted Vietnam’s favourable investment climate for Russia firms, saying that despite the still modest economic and trade cooperation between Vietnam and Russia, the influence of Russian culture is strong in Vietnam.

Vietnamese people still remember the comprehensive support the Soviet Union provided for Vietnam in the past, he said.

Besides Russia’s support for Vietnam in the framework of the national key cooperation programmes, Russian firms are operating in Vietnam in the fields of education – training, science, health care, sports, charity work, telecommunication, among others.

VN-Index rebounds on ROS, Vietjet

Shares rebounded after a three-day decline on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange on September 22, with the benchmark VN-Index rising 0.4 percent to close at 807.13 points, after declining 0.5 percent in the last three sessions.

Strong rallies of several heavyweight stocks supported the market.

Both FLC Faros Construction (ROS) and budget airline Vietjet (VJC), two of the top 30 largest stocks by market value, hit the ceiling increase of 7 percent a day regulated by the HCM Stock Exchange.

ROS led the market by market value with nearly 2.8 million shares worth 338.7 billion VND (14.9 million USD) being traded. VJC came second with over 1.5 million shares worth 154 billion VND exchanged.

Some large-cap stocks maintained an uptrend, including PV Gas (GAS), insurer Bao Viet  Holdings (BVH), brewer Sabeco (SAB), FPT Corp (FPT), steelmaker Hoa Phat Group (HPG), Masan Group (MSN) and Mobile World Group (MWG).

Meanwhile, bank shares slumped after the previous day’s rally.

The Big Four (four biggest banks by market value and assets) – Vietcombank (VCB), Vietinbank (CTG), BIDV (BID) and Military Bank (MBB) – decreased between 0.5-1.3 percent.

According to BIDV Securities Co, September 22’s rally was mainly driven by some heavyweight stocks while cash flows only concentrated on some stocks.

On the Hanoi Stock Exchange, the HNX-Index climbed for a third day, up 0.72 percent to end at 106.52 points. The northern market index has rallied 1.7 percent over the last three sessions.

Liquidity continued to increase with a total of 269.7 million shares worth a combined 5 trillion VND (220.3 million USD) being traded in the two markets, up 21.2 percent in volume and 16.3 percent in value compared to the previous day’s levels.

Foreign traders were mixed on September 22. They remained net sellers in HCM City’s market for a small value of just over 3.7 billion VND, but they picked up shares worth a net 8 billion VND in Hanoi’s market.

Hau Giang to experiment RoK bio-products on rice

The Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang will cooperate with the Republic of Korea (RoK) in experimenting bio-products on rice at the province’s hi-tech agriculture zone.

The provincial People’s Committee had a working session on September 23 with a RoK delegation on this issue.

At the event, Vice Chairman of the Committee Truong Canh Tuyen said the Korean bio-products have been experimented at the provincial hi-tech agriculture zone and more experiments will be conducted in the coming rice crops.

Dr. Lee Sang-huyk from the RoK’s agricultural technology transfer and trade fund expressed wish to transfer his country’s scientific advances to Hau Giang, adding that the province should expand the area for bio-product experiments.

The zone’s management board has so far received 14 bio-products, equipment and technologies from FACT, a Korean agricultural technology transfer and trade organisation.

Of which, 12 bio-products and equipment have been delivered to households in Vinh Vien commune, Long My district for rice cultivation on 12.85ha in the Autumn-Winter 2017 crop.

The board has also made plans to implement the project and sent farmers to rice cultivation training courses.

In the coming time, Hau Giang will discuss a project to grow rice using all bio-products from the RoK on an area of 10-20ha.

Ministry seeks to promote linkages between farm production, consumption
     
Developing linkages between production and consumption of agricultural products would be the top priority for the sector for developing sustainably, a meeting heard in HCM City on Friday.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development held the meeting to seek feedback for a draft decree on encouraging co-operation and linkages between producers and consumers.

It was attended by officials from agriculture departments, schools and businesses from many provinces and cities in the south like HCM City, Can Tho, Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Tay Ninh, Vinh Long, Ben Tre, Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Dong Thap.

Le Duc Thinh, deputy head of the Agency of Cooperatives and Rural Development, said the Government in 2013 issued Resolution No 62/2013/QD-TTg to encourage co-operation and linkages and pooling of farmlands to upsize them.

Now, after more than three years, linkages under the large fields model has developed significantly, he said.

But the resolution has shortcomings like complicated procedures, failure to spell out the rights and obligations of each stakeholder in the linkage contracts, and only applies to cropping and not animal husbandry, aquaculture or forestry, he said.

In reality, the large-scale linkage model is not always suitable in agricultural production, he said.

Delegates at the meeting called on the ministry to clearly state what kinds of linkages the decree addresses, the rights and duties of all parties in a linkage contract and sanctions for violating the contract.

They also suggested adjusting the support ratio based on the investment size and sector and issuing specific instructions.

They urged relevant agencies to disburse funds before the project starts.

Le Thanh Tung of the Crop Production Department said violations of contracts between businesses and co-operatives and farmers are a hurdle in developing linkages in the agricultural sector.

To overcome the situation, besides clearly stating the rights and obligations of each side, agricultural agencies should also educate farmers in the law and instruct businesses, co-operatives and farmers to honour contracts, he said.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Tran Thanh Nam said stable outlets would help promote agriculture.

There are many support policies for the agricultural sector, but they have not proved very effective since they are hard to apply in practice, he said.

The ministry has been holding many meetings to collect feedback from localities, institutes, schools, businesses, co-operatives and farmers to complete the decree before submitting it to the Government in October. 

Industry 4.0 brings businesses both opportunities, challenges: seminar
     
Industry 4.0 will bring both opportunities and challenges for businesses, and they need to study and choose the most appropriate and efficient technologies, a seminar heard in HCM City on Wednesday.

Speaking at Viet Nam Information and Communication Technology Outlook, Tran Anh Tuan, deputy chairman of the HCM City Computer Association (HCA), said the birth of new technologies like artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing, Internet of Things, bio-technology and nano-technology are affecting many sectors from transportation, healthcare, education and security to the environment, agriculture and housing.

Businesses need to make appropriate changes to stay afloat, he said.

Ha Nhu Hai, deputy director of CMS Telecom’s southern office, said Industry 4.0 is an unavoidable factor and one which is changing all social facets, consumers’ habits and the global economy.

Enterprises who boldly transform would be able to seize business opportunities but would be left behind otherwise, even pushed out the market, he said.

Tuan said many businesses, especially small and medium-sized ones, still hesitate to invest in IT due to a concern about their efficiency.

“Other understand the importance of IT application but have difficulty in finding suitable models or lack resources,” he said.

Phi Anh Tuan, another deputy chairman of HCA, said SMEs have the opportunity to utilise advanced technologies to develop their businesses faster and to participate in the global value chain.

“The world has entered Industry 4.0 at a rapid speed, and businesses that know and utilise [its] strength will achieve great competitiveness.”

If businesses close the door to Industry 4.0, the possibility of them being eliminated from the market is very high, he said.

Hai said Industry 4.0 requires businesses to establish a comprehensive IT system, and sometimes to create new IT infrastructure.

With a large young population and high internet and smartphone growth rates, Viet Nam has the opportunity to access new emerging technologies to improve its competitiveness in the global market, delegates said.

But Industry 4.0 also has implicit potential risks for Vietnamese firms, they said.

Automation would eliminate many traditional jobs and change the way technology is deployed, creating a growth disparity between businesses, Tuan said.

Ha said the application of Industry 4.0 is a process, requiring businesses to spend time to study, invest long-term and gradually automate their production, payment and services.

If businesses merely run after trends without systematically building operation processes, they would get no competitive edge, he said.

Delegates said cyber security is a new risk in the Industry 4.0 era, so businesses must pay more attention on managing the risks at the outset.

To Thi Thu Huong, deputy head of the Ministry of Information and Communications’ IT department, said Industry 4.0 is still new in Viet Nam and so more research into technology trends should be done and businesses should study them carefully to come up with appropriate development strategies, she said.

The IT sector has achieved high growth rates, with exports reaching US$60.7 billion last year, she said.

At the seminar, which had the theme “Businesses and Industry 4.0: Opportunities and Challenge”, delegates also discussed Agriculture 4.0, IT application in human resource management and other topics.

Organised by the HCA, the event also featured an exhibition on IT solutions for businesses. 

Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu calls for investments in Côn Đảo Island
     
Con Dao Island, off the coast of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, has significant untapped potential and advantages for investors, according to the Provincial People’s Committee.

Nguyen Thanh Long, deputy chairman of the committee, at a conference on investment promotion on Friday, said they were seeking high-quality investments into the island with an aim to ensure economic development in line with environment protection.

Long said that the southern province would strive to improve the investment and business climate to create favourable conditions for investors.

At the conference, over 60 investors were introduced to the potential, advantages and prioritized investment sectors of Con Dao Island, as well as investment procedures.

The island has a number of advantages, including a sea port, as well as connected air and marine transport.

Prioritised investments sectors include tourism, renewable energy, hi-tech agriculture, trade and waste water treatment.

The government and local authorities would give tax incentives to investors such as corporate income tax at 10 per cent in 15 years, zero import taxes on goods considered as fixed assets of projects and exemption of land use fees.

"Investors would be given the highest incentives for investments in localities with specially difficult socio-economic conditions," Long said at the conference.

The island has attracted 26 projects so far, with a total estimated investment of US$72.5 million. 

Cần Thơ City posts strong 9-month export growth
     
Businesses in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho have enjoyed good export growth, with sharp increases in the shipments of rice and aquatic products.

These products make up more than 70 per cent of local total export value.

According to the Can Tho Department of Industry and Trade, the city’s goods and services export revenue reached US$1.27 billion in January-September, up 16.3 per cent year-on-year. Of that sum, goods exports were estimated at $1 billion, up almost 17 per cent from a year earlier.

Some 638,100 tonnes of rice worth $261.9 million were shipped abroad, up 22 per cent in volume and 19.6 per cent in value year-on-year. Meanwhile, 117,000 tonnes of aquatic products were exported, bringing home $378.7 million, up 15 per cent and 4.8 per cent respectively.

Other products with good growth included processed agricultural products ($55.4 million, up 24.4 per cent), steel products ($17.3 million, 46.7 per cent) and pharmaceuticals ($12.8 million, up 33.7 per cent).

Deputy director of the municipal department Duong Nghia Hiep said on Wednesday that poor rice export figures in the first half of the year were attributed to fierce competition with rice from Thailand. However, the situation has improved since June, especially in September.

Several Can Tho businesses have won contracts to ship rice to the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia, he noted, forecasting a positive export outlook for the rest of the year as several companies are negotiating new contracts.

The export of catfish and shrimp products have also been growing rapidly since early September. Many shrimp processors face a material supply shortage and have to import raw materials from Bangladesh and India to fulfill their contracts.

Meanwhile, catfish exports have thrived thanks to China, a new and undemanding market with considerable demand, Hiep said.

He predicted that catfish and shrimp exports to European countries are likely to increase strongly after September to satisfy demand during the year-end holidays.

Cisco holds seminars

Cisco this week organised two seminars in Ha Noi and HCM City to introduce its ‘intent-based network’ which would help enterprises develop a digital-ready architecture to deal with challenges arising from rapid digitalisation.

Luong Thi Le Thuy, general director of Cisco Viet Nam, said that digitalisation was powered by a number of trends including mobile technology, Internet of Things and cloud computing, urging enterprises to adapt.

Cisco Digital Network Architecture (Cisco DNA) is an open platform which provides solutions to allow for the development of digital-ready architecture, including visibility, control and automation.

A report by global analytics firm IDC pointed out that Cisco DNA would help improve the efficiency of IT staff by more than 28 per cent, speed up the implementation of new applications by 17 per cent, and especially increase the ratio of net profit to cost by up to 402 per cent in five years.

Thuy said that with the development of its intent-based network, the company aimed to promote the development of enterprises and allow them to grasp opportunities.

Cisco’s statistics showed that connected devices increased from just 1,000 more than 30 years ago to 14 billion, and forecast them to reach 50 billion by 2020 and 500 billion by 2030.

Bitcoin mining botnets infect thousands of PCs: Kaspersky
     
The Kaspersky Lab Anti-Malware Research team has identified two botnets made of computers infected with malware that silently install cryptocurrency miners, which are legitimate software used to create (mine) virtual currencies based on blockchain technology.

In one instance, researchers estimated that a 4,000-machine network could bring its owners up to US$30,000 a month, and in another instance witnessed criminals jackpotting more than $200,000 from a 5,000-PC botnet.

The architecture of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies suggests that in addition to buying cryptocurrency, a user can create a new currency unit (or coin) by utilising the computing power of machines installed with specialised “mining” software.

But the more the coins produced, the more the time and computing power required to create a new coin.

Several years ago the malware silently installing Bitcoin miners was a common threat.

But after more and more Bitcoins were mined, it became harder to mine new ones and at some point the process even became useless: the potential financial gain for a criminal from Bitcoin mining no longer covered the investment for the creation and distribution of malware and backend infrastructure.

But the price of Bitcoin, the first and still the most famous cryptocurrency, has been skyrocketing in recent years from hundreds of dollars per coin to thousands, igniting a cryptocurrency fever around the world.

This has inevitably attracted cybercriminals.

Kaspersky Lab experts have found that the criminals behind the newly discovered botnets distribute the mining software with the help of adware programmes that victims instal voluntarily.

After the programme is installed in the victims’ computer it downloads a malicious component: the miner installer.

To prevent computers from turning into a cryptocurrency harvesting zombie, Kaspersky Lab researchers advise users not to install suspicious software from untrusted sources, enable the adware detection feature, and use a proven internet security solution.

If customers are running a server, they should make sure it is protected with a security solution since servers are lucrative targets for criminals thanks to their high computing performance, they said. 
     
HCM City comprehends startup ecosystem

The government has approved a National Program to Support an Innovative Startup Ecosystem in Vietnam until 2025, initiated by the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Ho Chi Minh City is starting to improve its startup ecosystem to obtain the goal of 2,000 new startups out of 500,000 firms.

The city has 20 organizations, research centers, universities, and firms to help people start a business. They have supported 86 startups and some of them have seen results. But there has been little marketing for these projects.

They need more resources for product distribution and trademark promotion. Economists say an Investment Fund for Startups is needed and agencies should create clear regulations for the fund’s shareholders and operation.

Nguyen Hung Phong, Director of the Startup Development Center of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Economics, said, “The fund will help startups realize their ideas and refine them. The government should manage the fund to ensure its efficiency.”

HCM City will establish a center for startup consultancy that will connect startup incubators and ideas with businesses. 

Le Thanh Liem, Deputy Director of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, said, “The city and the Ministry of Science and Technology signed an agreement on technology support, developing a startup ecosystem, and piloting a financial mechanism for startups. We’ll organize a conference to connect incubators and call for investment in startups.”

Intellectual Property protection increases startups’ competitiveness

Intellectual Property protection is a leverage to promote innovation and improve competitiveness of enterprises including startups.

Vietnam is fine-tuning its legal system for intellectual property protection to create a healthy competition environment and boost enterprises’ growth.

Startups are mushrooming nationwide. Their main focus is on product development and resource mobilization but not intellectual property protection which helps them deal with fraud by other entities, create values, and improve prestige. 

Experts say intellectual property rights protection is as important as product development and capital. 

Pham Quoc Dat, Director of the Hatch! Fair the fifth program, a Startup Acceleration Program, said, “The State protects intellectual property rights. We have advised startups to register IP protection at home and in the overseas market to protect their products.”

Intellectual Property is an intangible asset but valuable for enterprises, especially startups. In principle, before introducing their products to the market, enterprises need to register their IP rights. 

Do Thi Tu Anh, Deputy Director of the Business Startup Support Center, said, “Enterprises need to be aware that patent, IP rights certificates, copyrights, and trademarks are vital for their business and competitiveness. They should protect what they produce and sell it if anyone wants to buy. This is a market principle."

"The National Office for Intellectual Property is organizing several free training courses and seminars on intellectual property protection, a new approach to assist enterprises,” he said.

Vietnam has implemented the IP Development Support Program nationwide and a National Innovation Startup Ecology Support Project until 2025.

These efforts are intended to promote innovation and improve the competitiveness of startup businesses amidst extensive international integration. 

Vietnam braces for home-made automobile brand

Vietnam’s largest real-estate developer Vingroup began the construction of the first Vietnamese automobile manufacturing complex (VinFast) in Hai Phong on September 2. The move is a step toward realizing the dream of having made-in-Vietnam cars.

Vingroup has invested US$3.5 billion in Vinfast automobile manufacturing complex aiming to become a leading automobile manufacturer in Southeast Asia with a designed capacity of 500,000 units by 2025. 

The complex is expected to roll out 5-seater sedans, 7-seater SUVs, and electric motorcycles of European quality standards, with a capacity of 100,000-200,000 units per year. 

Addressing the ground-breaking ceremony, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said automobiles are not simply cars but a national brand. 

He said he believes Vingroup’s aspiration illustrates Vietnamese people’s dream of having made-in-Vietnam cars in the near future with an acceptable price and high quality.

Mr. Phuc said the government will create the most favorable conditions for Vingroup to implement the project which covers an area of 335 ha in Dinh Vu – Cat Hai Economic Zone in Hai Phong.

Twenty years ago, Vietnam created a strategy to develop an automobile industry, but the plan has remained incomplete.

Associate Professor-Doctor Pham Bich Sang, an expert in the field, said, “The market is growing rapidly and people's income have increased US$2,000 to US$3,000, while import tax on the ASEAN automobile market is about to reduce to zero percent. The market is expanding not only in Vietnam, but also in other countries."

"Vietnam's transport infrastructure has been invested in much more. Most importantly, there have been many changes in automobile policies and the role of the private sector,” he said.

Vietnam’s population currently is 93 million with an average per capital income of around US$3,000.

Vinfast’s design of engines and major components will be bought from top European and US designers while exterior shapes will be designed by famous Italian studios.

Vinfast will also work with Vietnamese partners to manufacture spare parts, towards raising the rate of locally-made products to 60%. 

Vinfast will use advanced and eco-friendly technologies, particularly green energy, to meet Euro 5.0 and Euro 6.0 emission standards.

It aims for a designed capacity of 500,000 units by 2025 but its first product in the next 12 months will be an electric motorbike model. Automobiles will be built in the next 24 months.

Le Van Loi, a resident in Hai Ba Trung district, Hanoi, said, “In recent years, Vingroup has invested in many fields on top of core businesses like real estate, tourism, retail, healthcare, education, and agriculture. I strongly believe in the automobiles which are made by the group. I’m willing to change to Vingroup cars in the next two years.”

Vietnam, ASEAN cooperate in tourism development, PM allows Hà Nội to choose flyover investor, Vietnam-WB Group partnership framework focuses on inclusive growth, Hau Giang to experiment RoK bio-products on rice
 
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