Prime Minister Hun Sen returned from South Korea on Monday having struck a series of deals with Seoul, including an agreement to explore the creation of a South Korean-funded agricultural university in Cambodia, according to one of Mr. Hun Sen’s advisers.
Speaking to reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport upon Mr. Hun Sen’s return, Kao Kim Hourn, a minister attached to the prime minister, said the premier used the occasion of the Asean-South Korea summit to ask the Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica) to fund a new University of Rural Development.
“The request of the prime minister was to construct a University of Rural Development via a grant from Koica,” he said. “Mrs. President [Park Geun-Hye] said she would assign a working group to work with our Cambodian side.”
Mr. Kim Hourn also said Mr. Hun Sen requested that Koica support training centers in Cambodia.
“The prime minister requested assistance in creating technology and productivity centers in Cambodia, including Korean language training…which will be requested through grants from Koica,” he said.
Mr. Kim Hourn added that the prime minister suggested to Ms. Park that any such assistance be provided in loans and interest-free grants.
“The prime minister requested that the Korean government consider providing 40 percent of grants through a financial package,” he told reporters.
In June, South Korea signed off on $21 million worth of aid to Cambodia for 2014, including $8 million for a project following the Saemaul Undong, or “New Community,” approach to developing farming communities based on traditional Korean communalism.
A further $2.5 million was pledged for the development of the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX), 45 percent of which is owned by the South Korean stock exchange.
During Monday’s press briefing, Mr. Kim Hourn said Mr. Hun Sen also asked Ms. Park to consider ways to open her country’s borders to more Cambodian migrant workers, and promote bilateral trade, which he said grew from $538 million in 2011 to $750 million last year.
“There is no limitation on the number, but what we want is for them to increase the number of workers,” he said. “For example, we now have 35,000 workers [in South Korea], so it could rise to 40,000 or 45,000 or 50,000.”
While in Seoul, Mr. Hun Sen also presided over the signing of five memoranda of understanding between the two countries that included agreements on education, young entrepreneurs, health care, intellectual property rights and retail prices, according to Mr. Kim Hourn, who declined to go into detail about the pacts.