Vietnam To Cooperate With Qatar In Food Security
 
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Feb 14, 2018
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Vietnam and Qatar have decided to work closer in the field of food security as the Middle East country is looking for new import sources and food trading partners in the wake of continued tensions with other Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

According to Vietnam’s ambassador in Qatar, Nguyen Dinh Thao, Vietnam has made significant advancement in food exports over the past decade and also made progress in cooperation with large food importers in the Middle East under their food security programmes.

“Vietnam plays an important role in global food security as it has made progress in food security and increased production for international markets,” Thao said, adding that “Vietnam is ready to cooperate with Qatar especially in the field of food security. High-tech agriculture is also a development focus for Vietnam in maintaining food security in the future and it is an area which Qatar and Vietnam can work together.”

Vietnam is a net exporter of agri-food, seafood, rice and many other agricultural products. In 2016, exports of agriculture and forestry products reached $18.1 billion, an increase of 6.5 per cent year-on-year and accounting for 10.3 per cent of the country’s total exports. Seafood exports were valued at $7 billion, an increase of 6.8 per cent as compared to the previous year and accounting for four percent of total export value.

Vietnam also wants to increase export of tropical fruits to the Middle East, starting with Qatar, with the main types of fruit being bananas, grapefruit, dragon fruit, mango, coconut and also durian.

Vietnam could fully meet Qatar’s demand for tropical fruits, Vietnam’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nguyen Xuan Cuong, said. According to him, Vietnam had 1.8 million hectares of cultivation area for fruits and vegetables with an annual output of 20 million tonnes, and this figure would double in the future if demand increases.

Besides seafood, other food exports to Qatar would include Vietnam’s top agriculture products such as vegetables, coffee, cashew nuts and pepper.

Vietnam and Qatar are looking back at many years of close relations and business ties. As early as in 2008, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority set up a $1-billion fund to invest in agricultural development, as well as cattle and lamb farming in Vietnam.

Qatar is also investing in the real estate, tourism, banking and petroleum sector in Vietnam, and the Gulf country’s national airline Qatar Airways operates direct flights from Doha to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City

Currently, there are around 1,400 Vietnamese citizens residing in Qatar, namely researchers, students, engineers and workers in the construction and service industry.

Photo by Peter Wendt on Unsplash

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Vietnam Going Solar After Nuclear Power Plants Shelved
 
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Feb 05, 2018
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The Vietnam government decided to embark on a number of projects to build large solar power facilities in the country and encouraged large companies to invest in the sector in order to prevent anticipated power shortages due to the recent cancellation of nuclear power plant construction projects.

Originally, it was planned to build two nuclear power plants with Russia and Japan in the southern province of Ninh Thuan, but the plan was cancelled in November 2016 due to hefty up-front costs of several billion dollars per reactor and because of security fears.

Thien Tan Group, a large construction and energy conglomerate and one of Vietnam’s largest solar power company, now said it will spend $2 billion to build five large solar power plants by 2020 in Ninh Thuan. A 50 megawatts solar plant will start operating this year, followed by four plants generating 200-300 megawatt each. The five solar plants will generate an estimated one gigawatts, equivalent to the total power output of a nuclear reactor.

Ninh Thuan Province – which is blessed with ample sunshine and abundant idle land – is highly suitable for solar power generation. The province is trying to attract solar power plants as an alternative to nuclear. The province plans to attract 4.85 gigawatt worth of large solar power plants by 2030.

TTC Group is another large enterprise that decided to tap into the solar power generation business. By 2020, the sugar, energy, real estate and tourism conglomerate said it will build 20 large solar power plants in southern provinces with ample sunshine, including a 320 megawatt plant in Tay Ninh province and a 300 megawatt facility in Binh Thuan Province.

The government in Hanoi is trying to nurture solar power generation as one of the country’s main sources of electrical power. Currently solar power only accounts for 0.01 per cent of total power generation capacity in Vietnam, but the government plans to increase the ratio to 3.3 per cent by 2030 and 20 per cent by 2050.

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Foreign Startup Founders Flock To Vietnam
 
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Jan 22, 2018
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Vietnam’s vibrant startup scene is not only fostering a new class of domestic entrepreneurs, it is also attracting a growing number of foreigners who want to tap the country’s huge growth potential as a revived Southeast Asian tiger economy and its skilled IT workforce.

And the government is readily supporting this with many programmes that help create a dynamic startup ecosystem by facilitating training, mentorship and business incubation and acceleration of young businesses, as well as through business incubators and startup centers at Vietnam’s universities, Viet Nam News noted.

Founding a startup company is also a relatively easy way to get a Vietnam business visa which is valid either six months or one year and is renewable.

Moreover, the country has financing programmes to support the growth of new companies, while the government is also committed to building a fair and competitive business environment. Apart from that, there are domestic venture capital firms with deep pockets such as Vina Capital, and more and more foreign financiers from Southeast Asa, the US and Europe looking at the Vietnam startup community.

Among the latest venture capital firms to invest in Vietnam were ESP Capital with $20 million which targets startups in first development stages in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, and Innovatube with $5 million which focuses on Vietnamese startups. Most recently, Indonesia’s Lotte Group announced it would pour $1 million into Vietnam startups in the next five years through a cooperation agreement signed between Lotte Accelerator and Vietnam Silicon Valley Accelerator. 500 Startups is another influential fund looking into opportunities in Vietnam.

Apart from that, an exchange programme promoting Vietnamese startups entitled “Runway to the World” was officially launched in Ho Chi Minh City on January 11, 2018. The programme, hosted by the Saigon Innovation Hub, aims at linking local startups with organisations and startup ecosystems in North America, Western Europe, North Asia and Asia-Pacific.

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Sea turtle conservation project to launch
 
Viet Nam News
Dec 30, 2017
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Viet Nam News LÝ SƠN ISLAND — The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) plans to launch a communication campaign to promote the non-use of plastic bags as a prelude to its sea turtle conservation programme on Lý Sơn Island in 2018.

IUCN’s Marine and Coastal resource programme co-ordinator Bùi Thị Thu Hiền told Việt Nam News that the communication campaign aims to raise awareness among islanders and tourists of the need to create clean and safe marine areas for sea turtles returning to the island in the near future.

Hiền said on Tuesday other activities related to marine environment cleaning and protection would be launched beginning next year to boost sea turtle conservation in the area where turtles had laid their eggs in the past decades.

According to IUCN’s research, the sea turtle population in central coastal areas has seriously declined in recent years.

Quảng Ngãi beaches, including areas in Bình Sơn District on Lý Sơn Island, witnessed 200 sea turtles regularly approaching the beaches to lay their eggs in 1980s.

However, the figure dropped by 90 per cent between 1980 and 2000 due to rapid urbanisation, over-fishing and the construction of buildings and concrete dykes.

According to IUCN Việt Nam, only eight out of 16 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Việt Nam offer sea turtle conservation.

Hiền said MPA in Lý Sơn Island still struggles with a lack of investment and human resources for sea turtle conservation.

Beaches in Quảng Ngãi were home to species including green turtles (Chelonia mydas), hawkbills (Eretmochelis imbricate) and leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea).

According to Lê Xuân Ái, a sea turtle conservationist, beaches in Quảng Ngãi, Quảng Nam, Bình Định, Phú Yên and Bình Thuận provinces were favourite sites for sea turtles to lay their eggs.

Ái succeeded last year in releasing nearly 900 baby turtles into the sea in a pilot programme for ex-situ sea turtle conservation in the Chàm Islands, off the coast of Quảng Nam Province.

Sea turtle eggs, which had been laid 40 days earlier on Côn Đảo Island, were brought to hatch in sand nests on the Chàm Islands’ beaches before the baby sea turtles made their way into the sea.

Last year, IUCN, in co-operation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, started a marine environment protection communications programme for sea turtle conservation on An Bình Islet, three miles off Lý Sơn Island.

Paintings of ocean life and species were created on the walls of households in An Bình Islet, calling on local islanders and tourists to join hands to protect the marine environment and sea turtles. — VNS

Photo caption/ Concrete dykes and rapid urbanisation in Lý Sơn Island prevent the return of sea turtles for egg laying on warm and quiet beaches. — VNS Photo Công Thành

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Earth Engine Drives Environmental Management in Vietnam
 
Oct 26, 2017
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New technology allows faster, more accurate weather-related analysis

October 2017 --[ ASIA TODAY ]-- Vu Huu Long was always curious why the world behaved the way it did. Science offered a means of answering his questions.

“I chose this field because it helps me understand the world around me. Most importantly, I can use this understanding to help people in my country,” said Long.

In 2010, Long graduated from the Hanoi University of Mining and Geology and began working with the Space Technology Institute, part of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, in 2012.

Vietnam, like other countries in the Mekong region of Southeast Asia, is confronted with water-related challenges. Flooding in the rainy season and drought in the dry season leave millions vulnerable. Rapid urbanization and population growth put increasing pressure on the environment.

Managing resources and planning for weather-related shocks is the focus of Long’s work. He uses satellite imagery and field data to better understand risks and to forecast trends to inform decision-making. But this work is not easy.

Environmental management needs big-picture thinking. It requires the use of satellite imagery and big data. However, obtaining this data either requires high-performance technology or is time-consuming and expensive, as expressed by Luong Tuan Trung, a researcher at the Vietnam Academy for Water Resources.

“I face many challenges with accessing satellite imagery,” said Trung. “The processing power needed is immense; we lack the computational resources. Storage capacity also limits us to access high-quality data. Using commercial software can be expensive and with different codes, difficult to understand.”

In 2016, Long was introduced to Google Earth Engine (GEE) (link is external) through SERVIR-Mekong (link is external), a program funded by USAID in cooperation with NASA, and implemented by the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center. GEE, which is a catalog of satellite imagery and datasets with analysis capabilities, is also a game changer for Long and his colleagues at the academy. SERVIR-Mekong teamed up with Google to reach government ministries in the region with this new technology.

Technical challenges once faced by Long and his colleagues have greatly improved with GEE. They can now perform analysis faster and more accurately predict trends. As a result, reservoir monitoring, flood mapping, crop detection and many other projects now use GEE.

“As GEE becomes more popular, it will improve decision-making with faster information and more accurate analysis,” said Long.

Demand for the platform has exceeded expectations. Across the region, government ministries and development practitioners are seeking GEE for their work, and meeting demand has been a challenge. SERVIR-Mekong is now developing online courses via edX (link is external) to allow more people to use the platform.

The SERVIR-Mekong program, which runs from 2014 to 2019, helps government and other stakeholders in the Lower Mekong use publicly available satellite imagery and technologies to address development issues such as disaster impact and environmental changes.

Source / USAID

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Panasonic Donates 1,200 Solar Lanterns to Central Vietnam
 
Oct 17, 2017
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Quang Ngai, Vietnam, 13 October 2017–Panasonic Corporation donated 1,200 solar lanterns to people in Minh Long, Tra Bong, Son Tay and Bac Tra My districts in Quang Nam and Quang Ngai provinces. The program is under Panasonic’s “100 Thousand Solar Lantern Project” that aims to donate 100,000 solar lanterns to people living in off-grid areas by its 100th anniversary in 2018. The ceremony was held at the People’s Committee of Long Son Commune, Minh Long district in the cooperation with World Vision International Vietnam.

This is the third year Panasonic has deployed the project to the local people in Vietnam bringing the total number of lanterns to 2,832 units. In the previous year, Panasonic donated 630 units in Dien Bien, 702 units in Yen Bai and 300 units in Thanh Hoa to create positive changes in their lives.

Understanding the challenges faced by the people in the Central region during the typhoon season this year, Panasonic decided to donate solar lanterns to provide an energy-efficient solution to many households, pre-schools and medical facilities in four districts.

At the ceremony, Mr. Masaaki Kobayashi, General Director, Panasonic Vietnam said: “Since our founding in 1918, we have established and remained true to our management philosophy of contributing to society through our business activities by providing superior, environmentally-friendly products that bring convenience to our customers. In addition, we have strived to address the social challenges with various practical solutions in the field of education and the environment. With positive comments from the World Vision International Vietnam’s report on the effectiveness of the program in improving people’s lives in Dien Bien, Yen Bai and Thanh Hoa provinces, we are committed to further promote the program in Vietnam to encourage the use of green energy and eco-friendly products.”

Along with the Solar Lantern Donation activity, Panasonic has implemented a special care program to aid flood victims. The program is applied for TVs, washing machines, refrigerators, air conditioners to support flood victims in Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Hue provinces. During the program period, between October 2 and 15, 2017, customers in the above provinces can get free repair, maintenance and 50% reduction of fees for spare-parts or replacement of used parts (applicable for non-repairable or discontinued replacement parts) when registering via Panasonic’s toll-free, call-center at 18001593.

n estimated 1.2 billion people worldwide still live without access to electricity. Panasonic will continue to bring light and electricity to people living in off-grid areas to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations and achieve "A Better Life, A Better World.”

About Panasonic

Panasonic Corporation is a worldwide leader in the development of diverse electronics technologies and solutions for customers in the consumer electronics, housing, automotive, and B2B businesses. Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2018, the company has expanded globally and now operates 495 subsidiaries and 91 associated companies worldwide, recording consolidated net sales of 7.343 trillion yen for the year ended March 31, 2017. Committed to pursuing new value through innovation across divisional lines, the company uses its technologies to create a better life and a better world for its customers. To learn more about Panasonic:http://www.panasonic.com/global.

About Panasonic Vietnam

Panasonic Vietnam (PV) is the first 100% foreign invested company to assume the role of the country headquarters in Vietnam. To date, Panasonic Vietnam Group comprises of seven companies, five of which are manufacturing companies – Panasonic Industrial Devices Vietnam (PIDVN), Panasonic System Networks Vietnam (PSNV), Panasonic Appliances Vietnam (PAPVN), Panasonic AVC Networks Vietnam (PAVCV) and Panasonic Eco Solutions Vietnam (PESVN), and the Panasonic Research & Development Center Vietnam (PRDCV). The Group currently employs a total workforce of about 8,000 people. In Vietnam, Panasonic is a company that places great emphasis on contributing to the community with social activities surrounding education and environment. To learn more about Panasonic Vietnam:http://panasonic.com/vn/

For media enquiries, please contact:

Ms. Nguyen Huyen Trang
Corporate Communication Division
Panasonic Vietnam Co., Ltd.
Hanoi office: 14th floor, Charmvit Tower, Tran Duy Hung Str., Cau Giay Dist., Hanoi.
Tel: 0912 636 434
Email: huyentrang.nguyen@vn.panasonic.com

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HCM City plans major tourism boost
 
Oct 08, 2017
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The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee on October 4 signed an agreement with the HCM City Tourism Association to boost the tourism sector.

The agreement, valid for 2017-2020, would help enhance the role of the association and facilitate the operations of tourism businesses, Tran Vinh Tuyen, Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, said.

“City authorities will have more opportunities to listen to businesses to create favourable conditions for them to develop,” he said.

The move is also part of the city’s efforts to develop tourism into an economic spearhead, he added.

The Department of Tourism works with related agencies to implement the terms of the agreement and regularly report on the work and results to the People’s Committee.

Bui Ta Hoang Vu, Director of the Department of Tourism, said the agreement would give a boost to tourism businesses and improve tourists’ security.

The department and related agencies would coordinate with the association for tourism stimulation and promotion programmes, develop tourism products, cooperate with other cities and provinces to diversify tourism products, and train human resources, he added.

Tran Hung Viet, Chairman of the HCM City Tourism Association, said the city led the country in the number of hotels and travel agents.

The association and the department would work on concrete activities to boost tourism, he said.

In the first nine months of the year, the city received 4.2 million foreign visitors, a 16.6 percent increase year-on-year, according to the department.

Tourism revenues are estimated at 84 trillion VND (3.7 billion USD).

Source: VNA

 
 
APEC seeks to foster start-ups
 
Viet Nam News
Sep 12, 2017
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HCM CITY – Building a vibrant start-up eco-system is an important step in the Asia Pacific region, Võ Tân Thành, vice president of the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has said.

Speaking at the APEC Start-up Forum on the sidelines of the APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting being held in HCM City, Thành said in the context of globalisation, fostering entrepreneurship and innovation had become a common goal of all economies.

Developed economies in the bloc like the US, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore constantly improved their start-up eco-system to ensure the best business opportunities were grasped to boost economic growth, he said.

Therefore, it was very important for developing economies like Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Việt Nam, to emulate them to nurture entrepreneurship, he said.

"Việt Nam is engaging very strongly in promoting entrepreneurship nation-wide and offers many new policies and incentives to support start-ups. Việt Nam is considered among the economies to embrace entrepreneurship the most in the APEC region."

Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Trần Văn Tùng said "with all the challenges and opportunities that come with globalisation and the fourth industrial revolution, promoting entrepreneurship and innovation has become an inevitable trend and is the focus of all APEC economies like never before".

Start-up networks, start-up nation models, silicon valleys, incubators, and innovation centres had been built everywhere in the world, he said.

"However, APEC economies as well as other economies in the world are facing many challenges. To name a few, many start-up eco-systems in the region are still underdeveloped, there are big gaps between economies, start-ups find it hard to access resources."

He called on APEC economies to strengthen co-operation to address these challenges and build a strong network to support the start-up community.

The forum, hosted by VCCI, has brought together many experts with experience in working with start-ups and small firms around the world, who are sharing their insights.

Start-up destination

Tùng said Việt Nam was working towards becoming a destination for start-up businesses, and in the last three years more and more young Vietnamese had chosen to become entrepreneurs and want to establish their own businesses.

Việt Nam had set a target of increasing the number of efficient enterprises to one million by 2020, he said.

"But what is more important than achieving this target is to ensure the quality of the new enterprises, and they have to be strong enough to compete on a global scale to take Vietnamese products to international markets," he said.

In establishing new businesses, entrepreneurs should pay closer attention to innovation, commercialisation and adoption of new business models, he added.

Phạm Thị Thu Hằng, VCCI secretary general, told the media "Việt Nam is on its way to becoming a ’start-up destination’ since it has a promising market, is growing very fast and its population is still relatively young".

Since young Vietnamese dare to think big and act, they can join hands to form a vibrant start-up community, according to Hằng.

"Besides, local authorities also play a big role here. They are the ones who are putting in efforts to build start-up communities in their hometowns."

Officials from Huế and An Giang and Ninh Thuận provinces, which are quite far from HCM City, were attending the forum, she added.

The APEC Startup Forum 2017, has attracted around 300 delegates and speakers from APEC economies.—VNS

 
 
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Increase In Travelers To Vietnam Entices Hospitality Investments
 
Investvine, A Company of Inside Investor, Ltd.
Aug 14, 2017
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Vietnam saw a record number of international arrivals in 2016 with more than ten million visitors and a 25-per cent increase over the previous year – and 2017 is already on track to surpass that. During the first six months of the year, Vietnam recorded more than six million international arrivals, a 30-per cent increase over the same period a year earlier.

With regards to last month, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism counted 1,036,880 international visitors in July, representing an increase of 21.1 per cent over the same month last year. China was the top supply market with 329,319 visits, improving 24.8 per cent. Other top performers were South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and the US, while Thailand slipped off the top ten list, recording 17,960 visits with just a marginal 0.5-per cent increase over the same month last year.

Much of the overall tourism growth can be attributed to the government’s renewed focus on developing the tourism industry. Somewhat onerous visa regulations were changed in 2015, and now tourists from a range of European and Asian countries can visit Vietnam for up to two weeks without needing to obtain a visa at all.

Beyond that, the government is investing more in tourism marketing and promotion as part of a goal for the industry to account for ten per cent of GDP in 2020, up from 6.6 per cent in 2016. In the medium term, Vietnam is targeting 17 to 20 million international tourists and 82 million domestic tourists by 2020.

International hospitality players are increasingly looking to Vietnam for opportunities to expand, and hospitality investment is centered now primarily around two tourism hot spots, namely along the coastlines in central Vietnam and on the southern island of Phu Quoc. Nearly five dozen new hotels are set to open over the next three years in both regions.

Among the currently largest investment is the $4-billion HOIANA tourism development south of the historic UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hoi An in central Vietnam. The project is a partnership between Vietnamese property conglomerate VinaCapital and Gold Yield Enterprises Ltd., a joint venture between the Suncity Group of Macau and a private investor from Hong Kong.

Other hospitality investors in Vietnam are mainly from Japan and South Korea.

 
 
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Hanoi To Spend $40 Billion On New Metro Lines
 
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Aug 05, 2017
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The metropolitan administration of Vietnam’s capital Hanoi proposed to the government to build new metro lines at an investment of $40 billion up to 2050 to ease the notorious traffic congestion in the city.

About $15 billion have been earmarked for three metro lines for the period up to 2025 of which two are already under construction.

The first three lines include the Noi Bai-Nam Thang Long section and Thuong Dinh-Ring Road 2.5-Buoi (Metro 2), the Van Cao-Hoa Lac section of Metro Line 5 and the Nhon-Troi-Dang Phuong section of Metro Line 3 which are listed amongst the priority infrastructure investments from now until 2025.

After that, metro construction will continue in another two phases, with spending of $3.56 billion for 2026-2030 and $21.32 billion after 2031. Overall, the network will have nine lines at a length of 318 kilometers and will initially carry 200,000 passengers per day.

Construction will take place in public-private partnership projects, where private firms will pay to get feasibility report done, hire consultants, clear the ground, dig tunnels and complete other construction work. Hanoi will pay for the trains, equipment, control systems and the management.

As of now, five domestic and two foreign investors have registered for the metro line projects including the Vingroup, Xuan Thanh Group, Russia’s OJSC Mosmetrostroy and South Korea’s Lotte Group.

Hanoi started construction on its very first metro line, the Cat Linh-Ha Dong line or Metro 2A, in 2011 with the support from a consortium of Chinese companies headed by the China Railways Sixth Group. Completion is expected for 2018 after many delays.

Pillar have also been erected for the Nhon – Hanoi Station line, or Metro 3, but the implementation of the project is already delayed by four years compared to the original schedule with completion now expected in 2021.

 
 
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