First $30M fully automated medical-grade glove factory showcases Bavet as an emerging manufacturing hub in Cambodia

Gareth Johnson

The first fully automated medical glove factory has been inaugurated by Lt. General Hun Manet, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), and Commander of the Royal Cambodian Army as the Manhattan Special Economic Zone in Bavet, Svay Rieng province looks to turn into a carbon-neutral city for Cambodian manufacturing.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour of the state-of-the-art factory, which was attended by Cambodia Investment Review and included a number of high-level dignitaries such as the governor of Svay Rieng, members of parliament, as well as H.E Ly Thuch Senior Minister & First Vice President, Cambodian Mine Action & Victim Assistance Authority.

To read CIR Leader Talks with H.E. Ly Thuch click here.

The first medical-grade glove factory in Cambodia 

The factory was built by MedTecs Group which describes itself as “the world’s leading provider and distributor of personal protective equipment” and is the first to produce medical-grade gloves within the Kingdom.

To read about MedTecs click here.

The facility, which according to MedTecs and Manhattan Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Chairman Clement Yang cost around $30 million has the capacity to produce up to 50 million units per month, or 600 million a year.

This according to Mr. Yang would not only solve local supply issues but also make Cambodia a net exporter of the product. In 2021 Cambodia imported around 200 million PTE gloves.

Cambodia Investment Review reporter Gareth Johnson with H.E Dr Hun Manet.

This was though just the start with Mr Yang further adding “We see this as phase one and are offering two product lines, eventually we want to keep investing and increase to ten product lines. This is due to the potential of not just the products, but also with the special economic zone itself”.

This point was emphasized by H.E Dr Hun Manet who told attendees: “I want to thank MedTecs and the Manhattan SEZ for developing the economy through the envelopment of the PPE market as we strive to become a middle-income nation by 2030”.

The Manhattan Special Economic Zone

As well as the inauguration of the new factory Mr. Yang was also keen to point out not just the success of the Manhattan SEZ, but also its potential in the development of Cambodia.

Speaking exclusively to Cambodia Investment Review he stated: “When we first opened the SEZ in 2005 the legislation for them simply did not exist. Therefore it was very much trial and error, but with the support of Prime Minister Hun Sen we were able to make it a success”.

H.E Ly Thuch Senior Minister & First Vice President, Cambodian Mine Action & Victim Assistance Authority (center).

A success that meant it was now the leading zone within the Kingdom with Mr. Yang further adding: “I am really proud that we now employ over 36,000 people, including whole families, as well as accounting for around 5 percent of all Cambodian exports”.

Following theirs and the success of other zones such as the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone (PPSEZ), legislation was passed and there are now an estimated 54 SEZ’s throughout the country, all falling under the umbrella of the Council for Development of Cambodia.

Improving Supply Lines and Cambodia as a logistics hub

One of the reasons for pushing the Manhattan SEZ, as well as other zones was in the interest in pushing Cambodia as an alternative supply line, particularly with regard to the problems created during the pandemic.

To read more about logistics in Cambodia click here.

Speaking to Cambodia Investment Review at the event Mr Michael Tang of M Square Capital Partners said: “Covid showed us the bottlenecks that can happen, particularly with regards to China. This is therefore an opportunity for Cambodia to act as a place where people can diversify to. From Cambodia’s perspective as well it does not mean turning away from China, but diversifying so as to not be over-reliant”.

Cambodia Investment Review reporter Gareth Johnson testing the glove making facilities.

In this respect, both the Royal Government of Cambodia, as well as the Manhattan SEZ see huge scope for growth.

Turning Bavet into a green carbon neutral city 

When you enter the Manhattan SEZ just after 5 pm, it is impossible not to be caught up in the buzz of the place as people finish work. There are buses for workers as well as shops, small restaurants and even a hotel within the zone.

The entrance to Bavet, Cambodia via the Vietnam checkpoint.

This was something Manhattan CEO Mr. Clement Yang wanted to not only improve upon but also set the pace for other special economic zones within the country, telling Cambodia Investment Review: “We want to create a new kind of SEZ, SEZ 1.0 if you will. By this we mean we want to turn the area into a green carbon neutral city by 2030, inclusive of recreation, sports, entertainment areas as well as other facilities for the workers”.

Should they achieve this then once again Manhattan SEZ and the Royal Government would again be revolutionizing the way exports are done within the country.

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