Bavet, the largest city in Svay Rieng province, is home to one of the four border crossings between Cambodia and Vietnam. It has become the de facto point of entry for overland shipping between the two countries. This is mainly due to its location midway between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City.
Bavet has become a hub for not only trade but gambling, investment and even land speculation. It has attracted attention from many Chinese investors because of its status in the region.
According to a senior government official in Bavet, investments from China have been key to the development of the area’s many Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
The government began its program for SEZs back in 2005. This marked a turning point for the economy of Bavet, and the entire province of Svay Rieng. The Manhattan Special Economic Zone was the first private industrial park in the country. It remains a staple of industry in Bavet. A total of four SEZs have been built in Bavet, and six in nearby areas of Svay Rieng.
Currently, Bavet boasts a population of over 50,000, most of the country’s special economic zones, 56 factories, 17 casinos and hotels and more on the way.