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In brief for Nation/World on April 2, 2010


Fertilizer unit trades hands



AMSTERDAM (AP) -- Royal DSM NV, the Dutch chemicals company, said it will sell its fertilizer and melamine businesses to Egypt's Orascom Construction Industries for $418 million.



The fertilizer business makes high-nitrogen fertilizers for agricultural crops. Melamine is used in laminates used on furniture and flooring.



DSM said the disposal is part of its strategy of focusing on health-related products like nutritional supplements.



OCI said it was seeking to grow operations.






McDonald's ups China education



SHANGHAI (AP) -- McDonald's inaugurated its first Hamburger University in China March 29 to train new generations of managers as foreign companies step up efforts to develop and keep Chinese talent.



China is McDonald's Corp.'s fastest-growing global market, said Tim Fenton, the company's president for Asia, Pacific, Middle East and Africa. He said the country's $300 billion-a-year "informal eating out" market is expanding at an annual rate of 10 percent, compared with 2 to 3 percent in the United States.



"It's because of China's strategic importance to McDonald's that we have chosen to have our new Hamburger University in Shanghai," said Fenton. "We have to get ahead of the people curve."



The move comes as foreign companies in China are focusing on developing local managers but face pressure to keep them as young, ambitious employees move on for better opportunities.






Deforestation starts to ebb



ROME (AP) -- Ambitious planting programs in Asia and the United States have helped slow the global rate of deforestation but farmers are still cutting trees to clear land at an alarmingly high rate, a U.N. survey shows.



Forests absorb and store greenhouse gases so deforestation can exacerbate mean the effects of climate change, said Mette Loyche Wilkie, coordinator of the assessment by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.



Eduardo Rojas, assistant director-general for forestry, said the study of the last decade showed the first decrease in global deforestation since experts began tracking the phenomenon.



Planting programs, notably in China, India and Vietnam, helped dramatically slow the rate of forest loss, from 20.3 million acres a year in the 1990s, to 12.8 million acres per year from 2000 to 2010, said forestry experts presenting the study at the Rome headquarters of the U.N. agency.



But South America overall lost 9.9 million acres annually over the last decade, and Africa 8.3 million acres yearly.



Severe drought in Australia since 2000 has contributed to forest loss, the report said.



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