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Monday, August 10, 2009

UTSA forms research partnerships with Cambodian universities

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) has formed relationships with two Cambodian universities that will allow faculty and staff at all three schools to collaborate in research, teaching and study abroad programs.

UTSA formed partnerships with Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), Cambodia’s first and largest university, and Pannasastra University. Pannasastra is a private university that was opened in 2000 by a group of Cambodian Americans who fled the country because of the genocide that took place during the 1970s. However, they decided to return home with advanced degrees to start the university.

The collaborative efforts between the universities began earlier this year when UTSA associate professor of bicultural-bilingual studies, Wayne Wright, traveled on a Fulbright Scholarship to teach at RUPP in the master of education program.

Wright, who is fluent in Cambodian, says he chose the country in order to contribute to the rebuilding of the education system devastated by genocide and decades of civil war. Additionally, he was able to introduce his children to the Cambodian language, history and culture and reconnect with his wife’s family who live near the capital.

Wright will be supervising five master’s students working on their theses at RUPP and will be finishing up a research project that he started with one of the faculty members there.

“My hope is to find funding to support a big collaborative research project related to teacher training in Cambodia that can involve all three universities,” Wright says.

UTSA president Ricardo Romo says agreements like these are important for UTSA students.

“We would be left behind if we didn’t try to be a bit more proactive in setting up programs that would allow the students to see other parts of the world,” Romo says. “We need to take advantage of these kinds of connections with other universities and let our students reap the benefits of those kinds of networks.”
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Cambodia continues to extend visa exemptions to aid economy: official

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia will continue to extend the visa-exemption program to four additional ASEAN member states despite the loss of revenue, local media reported on Monday, citing a tourism official.

Cambodian tourism officials last week announced the loss of more than 14 million U.S. dollars in revenue generated by tourists from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) since January 2008, when the government adopted a visa-exemption agreement with five ASEAN countries .

According to a report by the Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia honored 278,842 visa exemptions in the first half of this year from travelers from Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam and Laos, which resulted in a loss of 5.5 million U.S. dollars in revenue, the Phnom Penh Post reported.

The report added that last year revenues declined by 8.6 million U.S. dollars after visa exemptions totaling 431,426 were issued to tourists from the same countries.

"We realize that our visa-exemption program for travelers from ASEAN countries results in lower national revenues, but we will continue it because increased arrivals can boost economic growth Kingdom-wide and will create many jobs for Cambodians," Thong Khon was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post as saying.

He added that visa exemptions would be extended to all ASEAN countries by 2015.

"Next year, we will implement visa exemptions for Thailand, followed later by Indonesia, Brunei and Myanmar," Thong Khon said.

Cambodia agreed to its first visa-exemption program with Malaysia in the late 1990s, adding the Philippines, Singapore, Laos and Vietnam in subsequent years.

The Ministry of Tourism estimates that under the visa-exemption program, at least one million tourists from nine ASEAN countries will travel to Cambodia between 2010 and 2011. (PNA/Xinhua) ALM

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US to hold seminars for Vietnamese meat inspectors

HCM CITY — The US’ Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will hold two week-long seminars for Vietnamese meat inspectors next month, Michael Riedel, Agricultural Attache at the American consulate in HCM City, told a conference last week.

One would be held in Ha Noi and the other in HCM City.

Also this [autumn], some Vietnamese food safety officials would go to the US to participate in FSIS’ training in HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) implementation, Riedel added.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), under which the FSIS functions, is working with the Department of Animal Health in Ha Noi and the Division of Animal Health in HCM City to arrange the seminars.

"We work very hard to identify areas where Vietnamese and US organisations could work together to learn from each other," he said.

The USDA’s main task is to expand and maintain overseas markets for US agricultural exports.

It also produces reports like the annual grain report about Viet Nam and Food Retail Sector report for the benefit of American farmers and exporters.

"The HCM City office also covers Cambodia where we do many of the activities above, while also conducting some food aid programmes," Riedel said. — VNS
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DoCoMo Eyeing Acquisition in Cambodia

­Japan's DoCoMo has confirmed that it is interesting in buying a mobile network in Cambodia. The country has several operators as possible targets, including Millicom's local subsidiary, Mobitel which the parent company has put up for sale.

However, DoCoMo has not decided to make a bid for Mobitel, which sources have priced at several hundred million dollars, and will consider other M&A targets in Cambodia and political and economic risks, Toshinari Kunieda, senior vice president and managing director of DoCoMo's global business told the Reuters news agency.

"It's like a marriage proposal -- you don't make an offer the day after falling in love at first sight, you look at other potential partners, too," Kunieda told Reuters in an interview on Friday. "But we will date."

Statistics from the Mobile World database shows the Cambodia ended last year with an estimated 3.77 million mobile phone subscribers, representing a population penetration level of 26%. The country has seven active network operators, along with two seemingly dormant license holders.

The Japanese operator is also seeking investments in Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and China. It already owns 26% of India's Tata Teleservices, 30% of Bangladesh's Aktel and 16.5% of Malaysia's U-Mobile.

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Maybank opens 5th branch in Cambodia

Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) has opened its fifth branch in Cambodia.

Located in Chbar Amplov town, south-east of Phnom Penh City, the branch would offer commercial and wholesale banking together with selected retail banking services.

It would also offer trade finance facilities, deposit and placement products, remittance and foreign exchange service as well as housing loans.

Maybank head of international Abdul Farid Alias said the opening of the fifth branch was part of the bank's strategy to strengthen its presence in the region as well as support the expanding Cambodian economy.

"Our Cambodian operations, which began in 1993, have shown positive growth over the years arising from the rapid economic growth there.

"In the past three years, for example, loans grew by 185 per cent while deposits grew by 27 per cent," he said in a statement today.

He said the bank would continue to increase its range of facilities and services to reach even more segments of the local market as it expanded its operations in Cambodia. -- Bernama
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