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Fleet Space Technologies Collaborates with Thor Energy to Revolutionize Mineral Exploration at Alford East Project

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exosphere by fleet space technologies

In a significant move demonstrating the power of combining space technology with mineral exploration, Fleet Space Technologies (“Fleet”) announced a collaboration with Thor Energy Plc (“Thor”). The companies say the partnership will redefine the mineral exploration methodologies at the Alford East Copper-REE Project in South Australia.

Central to this collaboration is the integration of Fleet’s state-of-the-art EXOSPHERE BY FLEET® technology. This technology, when combined with Thor’s exploration expertise, promises to accelerate the realization of the project’s potential. The aim is to achieve faster, more precise, and sustainable exploration practices, reducing overall environmental impact, according to the company.

Fleet’s technology uses advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) techniques to integrate geophysical and geological data sets, culminating in a detailed 3D model of the exploration site. The collected data is quickly processed and relayed via Fleet’s network of low earth orbit satellites.

Exosphere by Fleet Space Technologies

The partnership also introduces the use of ANT surveys over the northern sector of the Alford East Project. By harnessing natural environmental vibrations, this exploration technique can provide insights into the Earth’s composition at considerable depths. The incorporation of data from these surveys with Thor’s existing geological models is expected to lead to a clearer understanding of mineral-rich zones.

Nicole Galloway Warland, Managing Director of Thor Energy, expressed her enthusiasm about the partnership, noting that the satellite-enabled exploration approach powered by Fleet’s Exosphere technology promises to bring new levels of efficiency and accuracy to the industry.

Reiterating their commitment to the project, Fleet took an equity stake in Thor Energy. This decision follows Fleet’s recent news, including completing their Series C fundraising round and securing contracts with globally renowned exploration companies such as Rio Tinto and Barrick Gold.

“We are delighted that Fleet has signalled its intent for a long-term collaboration at Alford East by taking a stake in Thor Energy that see us become partners in innovation as we work together to redefine exploration practices for the better,” the managing director said.

The Alford East Copper-REE Project, located on the picturesque Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, remains a crucial focus for Thor Energy. With Fleet’s technology integration, expectations are high for revolutionized exploration strategies, enabling more informed decision-making processes and efficient drilling campaigns.

About Fleet Space Technologies

An Australian frontrunner in the space sector, Fleet Space Technologies operates at the forefront of bridging the connection between Earth, Moon, and Mars. With their groundbreaking products and connectivity solutions, they made significant strides in mineral exploration, defence, and space exploration domains. Based out of Adelaide, South Australia, the company has a global footprint, including presence in the US, Canada, Luxembourg, and Chile.

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About Thor Energy Plc

Specializing in mineral exploration, Thor Energy Plc is known for its innovative approach in discovering valuable resources. With its advanced geological and technological methods, the company is steadfast in its mission to redefine exploration in the minerals sector.

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3 Ways Service Industry Businesses Are Leveling Up Their Client Experiences With Tech

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By its very nature, the service industry is heavily geared toward creating deep, personalized customer experiences. That’s especially relevant for meeting modern consumers’ desire for customization. And make no mistake: Shoppers want to feel like they’re being treated as individuals.

One surefire way to quench this endless thirst for personalized, seamless experiences that are focused on delivering exceptional levels of client satisfaction is to invest in the latest tech tools. The right technology has the capability to take any service business’s competitive edge up a notch. That way, the business can stay ahead, foster stronger buyer relationships, expand its reach, and fuel customer loyalty.

Truth be told, most service industry companies are dabbling with bleeding-edge technology right now. However, there are three service-based industries I feel deserve a bit of a spotlight at the moment for their fascinating and creative use of tech. These are the beauty and salon services industry, the financial services industry, and the hospitality industry. Even if you’re not involved in any of them, you can learn quite a bit from their adoption of emerging tech solutions.

1. Automating the customer journey: How beauty and salon services are restyling manual onboarding processes.

Beauty shops, salons, and hairdressers have historically gravitated toward manual marketing, onboarding, and client-engagement processes. This makes sense, given how tactile and physical their relationships are with customers. Yet many clients—particularly those from younger and digitally savvy generations—want to be able to use tech devices to select services, book appointments, and more. They’re not accustomed to calling a salon to speak for minutes with a receptionist during normal business hours. On the contrary, they want to be able to research potential hairstylists or manicurists and set up a visit online when it’s convenient for them.

Fortunately for these savvy consumers, tech-forward industry professionals like Chrystal L. Graves, salon owner and founder of All Hair Academy, are rethinking how to use tech throughout the customer experience. As a hairstylist-turned-entrepreneur, Graves has spent time mapping out places in the customer journey where tech could be helpful. Her brainstorming led to a groundbreaking, comprehensive online onboarding system that transformed the guest experience at her salon. The onboarding system went beyond merely arranging appointments to asking consumers about personal particulars and preferences like allergies, music choices, and even if they wanted a chatty stylist or someone to let them meditate during their cut and style.

Eventually, Graves started to incorporate more tech into the salon experience, even adding Healium VR as a virtual reality element for reconditioning treatment clients.

“I use technology to enhance the guest experience. It’s so personalized for each person that it makes them feel seen or heard better,” she says. “This is an ever-evolving industry, and you want to be ahead of the curve, not behind it!”

2. Reducing barriers to financial confidence: How the financial services industry is investing in AI to educate and inform clients.

Consumers aren’t always confident about what financial decisions make sense for their needs. An Unbiased survey from earlier this year shows that only one-third of consumers feel confident when dealing with money matters, particularly those related to retirement, pensions, and stock trades. To improve this dearth of financial literacy, people like Karen Barrett, Unbiased’s CEO and founder, want financial services organizations to take more of a consultative approach.

Said Barrett to Yahoo! Finance, “While nearly half of U.S. residents find financial topics complex, an even greater amount feel too intimidated to seek financial advice… many cite that they do not seek input from a financial advisor due to perceived cost, lack of assets, or because they do not know where to turn.” To rectify this problem, a few forward-leaning financial services institutions are adding AI-driven chatbot-style “recommenders.” The recommenders come in various forms and serve in assistive capacities.

Take BlackRock’s Aladdin, for example. It’s a portfolio investment management platform that’s entrenched in AI. As mentioned in a KPMG article, Aladdin has broad capabilities, including being able to adjust its models for climate-based and sustainable investment opportunities. While Aladdin certainly isn’t the only tool that’s enabling people—and professional advisors—to take less risk with their money, it’s a showpiece for how AI could alter the way the average consumer feels about wealth management.

3. Dabbling in “servitization”: How hospitality providers are bunking up with new tech.

We’re seeing a lot of so-called servitization in business, whereby a product takes on a service angle. If the concept seems fuzzy to you, just think of Netflix. It’s delivering a product through a service lens so consumers get a bigger experience than just being able to view the show or movie they want. Essentially, they enter into a service agreement with Netflix to build a more comprehensive, individualized relationship with the media giant. They’re no longer just purchasing a thing. They’re buying a full-scale service.

A branch of “servitization” is happening in hospitality with the advent of connected, smart hotel rooms. Traditionally, a hotel room was just a place to spend the night. It (hopefully) had at least one bed, a bathroom, a TV, and access to a desk with a comfy chair (if you were lucky). But smart hotel rooms are different. They’re connected via the Internet of Things, making an overnight stay a very different experience than it used to be just five years ago.

An InspireDesign piece talks about this phenomenon by spotlighting a next-generation smart room planned by Marriott. Among the many novel features of the futuristic, personalized room is a digital voice assistant ready to change the digital picture on display, alter the ambient temperature, or even change the view out the window to a different locale. Though still in its planning stages, the Marriott connected room may just be a natural extension of connected, smart houses. And that means Marriott guests could honestly say they “feel at home” when they’re receiving concierge service through a variety of devices.

No matter what type of tech you’re already using, the aforementioned use cases illustrate that there’s always more to consider. Now is a great time to experiment, too. Customers are eager for one-of-a-kind experiences. By delivering them with the assistance of innovative tech, you can sneak into the lead in your marketplace.

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As Trial Looms, Sam Bankman-Fried’s Own Words May Pose His Biggest Risk

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Throughout every stage of Sam Bankman-Fried’s swift descent from cryptocurrency darling to criminal defendant, there’s been one constant: He can’t stop talking.

The FTX founder sat for multiple interviews with journalists and crypto influencers, and started a Substack newsletter after being extradited from the Bahamas in December. “I didn’t steal funds, and I certainly didn’t stash billions away,” he wrote in January. He was so loquacious that the judge overseeing his upcoming fraud trial revoked bail, forcing him from his parents’ home in Stanford, Calif., and into a federal detention center in Brooklyn. Bankman-Fried had shared the personal diaries of his former romantic and business partner, Caroline Ellison, with the New York Times — a move prosecutors characterized as an attempt at witness intimidation.

Lawyers generally advise their clients to stay quiet before a trial. Elizabeth Holmes and Bernie Madoff, for example, were not doing press tours ahead of their equally high-profile prosecutions — and they were still found guilty. Bankman-Fried’s approach, legal experts say, would be risky if it extends into the courtroom.

“The way he’s comporting himself is nothing short of scandalous and shocking,” said Yesha Yadav, a law professor at Vanderbilt University who closely follows cryptocurrency and financial markets. “What you need in a criminal trial,” she added, “is extreme discipline.”

Bankman-Fried, 31, is accused of bilking customers and investors out of billions of dollars in the November 2022 collapse of FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange he founded. He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of wire fraud, two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit commodities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, in U.S. District Court in New York City. His trial begins Tuesday and could run six weeks.

Given the scale of the alleged losses, Bankman-Fried could be facing decades in prison, says Neama Rahmani, a Los Angeles-based trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor. He also faces civil charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission.

Four members of his inner circle have pleaded guilty to fraud and other criminal charges: Ellison, former co-CEO of Alameda Research, an FTX-affiliated hedge fund; Gary Wang, former chief technology officer of FTX; Nishad Singh, former director of engineering at FTX; and Ryan Salame, former co-CEO of FTX’s Bahamian subsidiary. Ellison, Wang and Singh are expected to testify for the prosecution, cooperation that Rahmani said will lead to lighter sentences.

A lawyer and spokesman for Bankman-Fried didn’t respond to requests for comment. Lawyers for Ellison and Wang declined to comment. Lawyers for Singh and Salame didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Legal experts note that this trial not just about the fate of one young man. The reputation of the nascent crypto industry is riding on it as well. The wider digital-currency world, Yadav notes, “is really trying to get past this and not have FTX be emblematic of the industry as a whole.”

From wunderkind to criminal defendant

Bankman-Fried, the son of two prominent law school professors, grew up in a wealthy, leafy neighborhood for Stanford University faculty and their families. He and his brother Gabe were raised as utilitarians, an upbringing that primed him toward effective altruism, and he studied physics and mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 2010s. Effective altruists believe in using rationality to do the most good in the world, and many pursue lucrative careers so they can generously support charitable causes.

This belief system was, in part, how Bankman-Fried landed in the world of finance; in 2014, he joined the Wall Street investment firm Jane Street Capital, where he’d later meet Ellison.

“I was kind of scared of him,” Ellison told the New York Times of her initial impression of Bankman-Fried. “You could tell he was quite smart and sort of intimidating.”

Still, the pair had a lot in common: She, too, was the child of accomplished academics, a math whiz and an effective altruist. In 2017, Bankman-Fried quit Jane Street, moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and formed Alameda Research. Ellison joined him two years later and eventually became one of the hedge fund’s top leaders with co-CEO Sam Trabucco.

Bankman-Fried and Ellison have been romantically linked off and on. According to her diaries leaked to the Times, their dynamic often weighed on her; when he was around, Ellison wrote, she had “an instinct to shrink and become smaller and quieter and defer to others.”

In a December 2022 court hearing, Ellison was contrite, saying: “I’m truly sorry for what I did. I knew it was wrong.”

Bankman-Fried launched FTX in 2019, positioning the cryptocurrency exchange as an easy-to-navigate way for consumers to invest in digital assets. The Bahamas-based company received hefty backing from well-known investment firms such as Sequoia Capital, SoftBank and others; it was valued at $32 billion in early 2022 before it imploded in November. Bankman’s net worth, once estimated by Bloomberg to be as high as $26 billion, is now near zero.

For many Americans, FTX became the mainstream face of crypto: Celebrities such as NFL star Tom Brady, supermodel Gisele Bündchen and comedian Larry David shilled for the exchange in Super Bowl commercials. The company purchased the naming rights to the Miami Heat’s arena, which it has since relinquished. Larger-than-life ads with Bankman-Fried’s trademark curly mop once adorned downtown San Francisco and Washington’s Union Station. In August 2022, he appeared on the cover of Fortune magazine, as did Holmes before her fall from grace.

FTX’s demise came as high inflation and rising interest rates were making investors more cautious. Trading volumes and valuations plummeted, with bitcoin and ethereum shedding more than 60 percent since their 2021 peaks.

Meanwhile, FTX’s former rivals are facing their own struggles. The SEC has accused crypto exchange Binance and its CEO Changpeng Zhao with multiple securities law violations. The regulator also has charged Coinbase with operating as an unregistered securities exchange, broker and clearing agency. SEC Chairman Gary Gensler told a Senate panel last month that he’s “never seen a field that’s so rife with misconduct.”

In stark contrast to some of his competitors, Bankman-Fried had sought to legitimize the cryptocurrency industry — and encourage a new wave of institutional investment — by asking Washington for regulation. He advanced his lobbying effort by coordinating more than $100 million in political contributions to members of both parties, prosecutors allege. Donations to Republican politicians were mostly made through Salame, the co-CEO of FTX’s Bahama affiliate

Prosecutors allege those donations were made fraudulently, with customer funds deposited on the exchange, and that Bankman-Fried, Salame and Singh violated campaign finance laws by engaging in a straw-donor scheme to obscure the source of the funds. Prosecutors claim that Bankman-Fried “leveraged this influence, in turn, to lobby Congress and regulatory agencies to support legislation and regulation he believed would make it easier for FTX to continue to accept customer deposits and grow, which would, in turn, allow the misappropriation scheme to continue.”

John J. Ray III, who oversaw the restructuring of Enron in the early 2000s, is now the CEO of FTX and focused on securing assets to repay creditors. As part of the bankruptcy process, FTX Trading has sued multiple former employees and business partners of the exchange, including Bankman-Fried and his parents, to try to recoup millions of dollars believed to be part of the alleged fraud. One suit alleges that Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried “siphoned millions of dollars out of the FTX Group for their own personal benefit and their chosen pet causes.”

In a joint statement, Sean Hecker, counsel for Bankman, and Michael Tremonte, counsel for Fried, said the those claims were “completely false.”

The road from arrest to trial

In the spring, Stanford students were a bit obsessed with the fact that a once-ascendant crypto billionaire was being detained on campus. Holed up at his parents’ home, Bankman-Fried had it pretty good: His parents got him a German shepherd named Sandor and, according to the Times, they were installing a pickleball court for him in the yard.

That was until mid-August, when Judge Lewis A. Kaplan revoked his $250 million bail. Bankman-Fried is now being housed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where, according to court filings and news reports, he’s been subsisting on peanut butter, bread and water; his reserves of prescribed medications for depression and ADHD are dwindling; and he has limited internet access to prepare for his trial. His lawyers asked that he be released before trial, but the government declined, as did an appeals court. A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Damian Williams did not respond to a request for comment.

Even in jail, Bankman-Fried is still finding a way to defend himself. Last month, the Times reported on 15,000 words of unsent tweets he had shared with crypto influencer Tiffany Fong while he was under house arrest. In them, he blames others for FTX and Alameda’s implosions, alleging Ellison “avoided talking about risk management — dodging my suggestions — until it was too late.”

If Bankman-Fried’s post-arrest behavior is a preview of how he’ll approach his trial, legal experts are skeptical it will go his way.

“We’re seeing a lot more of these very smart, successful and sophisticated defendants taking the stand in high-profile cases and testifying in their own defense,” Rahmani says, noting that he can “easily see” Bankman-Fried taking the witness box. “When they testify, the case comes down entirely to the defendant’s testimony. … It better be very, very good.”

Beyond what he might say, how he says it will be important. Christopher Slobogin, a Vanderbilt University law professor specializing in criminal justice, says Bankman-Fried must contend with his own hubris, a quality that rarely sits well with a jury. “He seems to have defrauded a lot of people — big businesses and everyday people — and that can get a jury pretty exercised,” Slobogin said.

Tory Newmyer contributed to this report.

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Transplant Factories, Joint Ventures Will Blunt China’s Electric Car Impact

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Europe’s manufacturers are braced for a Chinese electric car sales onslaught but the impact will be mitigated by their establishment of European factories and willingness to set up local joint ventures.

Threats of tariffs won’t stall China’s threat to European electric carmakers, but the plans might stumble as the promised exponential gains in electric car sales meet the consumer reality of high prices, inadequate performance, patchy power availability and a skimpy charging infrastructure.

If those problems aren’t solved, electric car sales may plateau prematurely, scuppering assumptions and causing consternation in the industry. Hostilities between Taiwan and China would be an all-bets-are-off nightmare.

European manufacturers await a sales onslaught from an assortment of Chinese companies. But auto industry consultants JATO Dynamics, in a report, expected success for the Chinese, but said this would be more orderly than words like “invasion” would suggest. The process would include establishing factories in Europe and joint ventures with local companies.

According to investment bank UBS, Chinese giant BYD has a 30% cost advantage over Western incumbents, offering competitive prices in Europe, even with tariffs, shipping costs and more costly local production. The implication is that all Chinese automakers have similar advantages.

Bernstein Research thinks this is an underestimate.

“China can produce EVs which are 50% cheaper than the West, given scale and labor costs advantages. Europe cannot match this and could become increasingly protectionist towards its auto industry. Regardless, China EV makers will take a higher share of the global EV market,” Bernstein Research said in a report.

Investment bank Morgan Stanley said any action taken by the European Union, which has started an anti-subsidy inquiry into the China threat, won’t make much difference.

“We believe any trade restrictions would slow, but unlikely derail, China’s EV launch, given their competitive product offerings and well-established supply chain,” Morgan Stanley said.

Schmidt Automotive Research says its forecast earlier this year that by 2030, Chinese BEV sales in Western Europe (includes all the big markets Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Spain) will hit 1.2 million or 9% of the BEV market is now slightly conservative. Investment researcher Jefferies forecast that in all of Europe, BEV sales will hit 9.3 million in 2030, up from just over 1 million in 2021 and 4.8 million in 2025.

This is a truly massive automotive revolution, with volume increasing by almost 10 times in 9 years, and although it seems to be accepted by a great majority of politicians, economists, forecasters and the industry itself, it requires many controversial factors to fall into place.

Firstly, electric cars need to be affordable. Sales were launched in Europe by well-heeled early adopters, followed by corporate purchasing of company cars. But if all sections of the market are to be included, prices must fall dramatically. The average price of an all-electric car is now close to €30,000 ($31,800) after tax. This needs to be at least halved if consumers on average earnings are included. Some experts say battery prices are going to fall, but this now seems to have gone into reverse.

Given the current shortages of crucial and scarce battery components like lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese and graphite, and the fact demand is going to increase by more than 4 times between now and 2030, it’s hard to see how battery prices can do anything but rise sharply.

Battery-powered cars are terrific on city streets and country roads, but hopeless if you need to drive long distances on high-speed highways. That shows no signs of being solved, even for the battery technology leaders of China. The massive increase in demand in Europe by 2030 requires a similar increase in electric power delivery. That’s a cause for concern, as is the need for a ubiquitous charging network.

Donald Sadoway, Professor of Materials Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), said demand by consumers for electric cars globally is likely to plateau because the inherent disadvantages of electric cars compared with internal combustion engine (ICE) powered ones look set to last. Unless battery-power can make big improvements, the lack of range and a reliable infrastructure will weigh on sales. This could be a nightmare for the industry.

“I believe the race towards electric personal vehicles will hit a plateau because of these uncertainties. As ICE cars are phased out, but the demand for electric vehicles disappoints and we end up with an over-supply, now what,” Sadoway said in an interview. He didn’t say when the plateau might be reached.

JATO Dynamics, in a report called ”Perception: The last barrier for Chinese cars”, said demand in the China home market is flagging, and overseas markets, particularly rich ones like Europe, appear like low-hanging fruit to the likes of BYD, SAIC’s MG, Geely and its Polestar and Lynk & Co subsidiaries, Chery, Great Wall and Dongfeng, among others. Chinese quality is more than adequate to win sales in the lower and middle sectors, but the likes of BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Porsche can remain smug for a while yet.

And the invasion has only just begun. In 2022, Chinese car brands had 1.57% of the European market. According to JATO Dynamics, this crept up to 2.37% in the first half of 2023.

Felipe Munoz, Global Analyst at JATO Dynamics, said in the report joint ventures would extend past manufacturing of vehicles and the impact would be gradual.

“In the coming years we expect to see further collaboration between Western legacy carmakers and Chinese (manufacturers) through joint ventures in areas like technology and charging infrastructure. We may also see more Chinese (manufacturers) following the example set by SAIC in acquiring Western carmakers.”

SAIC acquired the legendary British brand MG in 2007.

Munoz said in an interview by 2030 Chinese manufacturers, including MG, could get around 6 to 8% of all European new car sales. That compares with Japan’s current 13% share and Koreans almost 9%.

“China might have more resources, but it faces more reluctance from consumers than the Japanese and Koreans had some decades ago. In addition to this, my basic forecast is based on the assumption that there won’t be any direct confrontation between China and Europe/USA. This can also change everything,” Munoz said.

“I would not talk about an invasion, as the current data shows Chinese car brands, MG included, Polestar/Volvo excluded, made up just 2.3% of (sales) through August, and 60% of the volume corresponded to MG, not positioned/recognized as a Chinese brand by the consumers. There are definitely interesting cars that would change the game, MGs, some BYDs, Geelys, Cherys, but they first need to address the negative perception strongly related to the pandemic, years of copycats from the Chinese industry to Western cars, low quality issues in the past, and the rising economic/political tensions with China,” Munoz said.

What about the notion of a sales “plateau” soon?

“I think this is already happening, not only with BEVs but with all cars. The semiconductor shortage is an example. In the end the industry adapted and made even more money. That could eventually happen with the BEVs and its raw materials and the energy required for the grids,” Munoz said.

Matt Schmidt of Schmidt Automotive Research said he expects Chinese sales to accelerate, once factories are established in Europe.

“MG and BYD are already looking and we expect an announcement by the end of this year,” Schmidt said.

Short-term sales growth is expected to take a dive this year though, before resuming when EU regulations hitting ICE sales take effect after 2025.

“Growth will likely slow dramatically in the final third of this year. The market has been skewed during the opening two-thirds of the year due to thick order books from a pull-forward effect at the end of last year to avoid increased taxes in Norway, grab the last purchase subsides in Sweden and the U.K., a pull-forward from German corporate customers that saw subsidies wiped out at the end of last month and which caused the German market to account for over 40% of the total region’s BEV volumes in August. The final third of the year looks bad,” Schmidt.

The elephant in the room is of course the nagging possibility that all these expensive plans might count for nothing if China invades Taiwan.

“The geopolitical headwinds are certainly worrying, not just for Chinese companies hoping to do business outside their borders but also to Europeans such as German (manufacturers) highly exposed to China,” Schmidt said.

Munoz agrees.

“I think the industry is in general getting ready for this scenario. They are starting to cut dependence on Chinese suppliers. However, a real war changes everything.”

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