Indonesia’s 274 million population, USD 1 trillion economy, growing middle class, abundant natural resources, and stable economy are attractive features to U.S. investors; however, investing in Indonesia remains challenging. President Joko (“Jokowi”) Widodo, now in his second five-year term, has prioritized pandemic recovery, infrastructure investment, and human capital development. The government’s marquee reform effort — the 2020 Omnibus Law on Job Creation (Omnibus Law) — was temporarily suspended by a constitutional court ruling, but if fully implemented, is touted by business to improve competitiveness by lowering corporate taxes, reforming labor laws, and reducing bureaucratic and regulatory barriers. The United States does not have a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) with Indonesia.
In February 2021, Indonesia replaced its 2016 Negative Investment List, liberalizing nearly all sectors to foreign investment, except for seven “strategic” sectors reserved for central government oversight. In 2021, the government established the Risk-Based Online Single Submission System (OSS), to streamline the business license and import permit process. Indonesia established a sovereign wealth fund (Indonesian Investment Authority, i.e., INA) in 2021 that has a goal to attract foreign investment for government infrastructure projects in sectors such as transportation, oil and gas, health, tourism, and digital technologies.
Yet, restrictive regulations, legal and regulatory uncertainty, economic nationalism, trade protectionism, and vested interests complicate the investment climate. Foreign investors may be expected to partner with Indonesian companies and to manufacture or purchase goods and services locally. Labor unions have protested new labor policies under the Omnibus Law that they note have weakened labor rights. Restrictions imposed on the authority of the Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) led to a significant decline in investigations and prosecutions. Investors cite corruption as an obstacle to pursuing opportunities in Indonesia.
Other barriers include bureaucratic inefficiency, delays in land acquisition for infrastructure projects, weak enforcement of contracts, and delays in receiving refunds for advance corporate tax overpayments. Investors worry that new regulations are sometimes imprecise and lack stakeholder consultation. Companies report that the energy and mining sectors still face significant foreign investment barriers, and all sectors have a lack of adequate and effective IP protection and enforcement, and restrictions on cross border data flows.
Nonetheless, Indonesia continues to attract significant foreign investment. According to the 2020 IMF Coordinated Direct Investment Survey, Singapore, the United States, the Netherlands, Japan, and China were among the top foreign investment sources (latest available full-year data). Private consumption drives the Indonesian economy that is the largest in ASEAN, making it a promising destination for a wide range of companies, ranging from consumer products and financial services to digital start-ups and e-commerce. Indonesia has ambitious plans to expand access to renewable energy, build mining and mineral downstream industries, improve agriculture production, and enhance infrastructure, including building roads, ports, railways, and airports, as well as telecommunications and broadband networks. Indonesia continues to attract American digital technology companies, financial technology start-ups, franchises, health services producers and consumer product manufacturers.
Indonesia launched the National Women’s Financial Inclusion Strategy in 2020, which aims to empower women through greater access to financial resources and digital skills and to increase financial and investor support for women-owned businesses.
|Measure||Year||Index or Rank||Website Address|
|TI Corruption Perceptions index||2021||96 of 180||https://www.transparency.org/en/cpi/2021/index/idn|
|Global Innovation Index||2021||87 of 132||https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator|
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)||2020||$18,715 M||https://apps.bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?ReqID=2&step=1|
|World Bank GNI per capita||2020||$3,870||https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD?locations=ID|
1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
Indonesia is an attractive destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) due to its relatively young demographics, strong domestic demand, stable political situation, abundant natural resources, and well-regarded macroeconomic policy. Indonesian government officials often state that they welcome increased FDI, aiming to create jobs, spur economic growth, and court foreign investors, notably focusing on infrastructure development, export-oriented manufacturing, mining refinery industries, and green investment. To further improve the investment climate, the government issued the Omnibus Law on Job Creation (Law No. 1/2020) in October 2020 to amend dozens of prevailing laws deemed to hamper investment. It introduced a risk-based approach for business licensing, simplified environmental requirements and building certificates, tax reforms to ease doing business, more flexible labor regulations, and the establishment of the priority investment list. It also streamlined the business licensing process at the regional level. At the same time, investors cite concerns over restrictive technical regulations, policy inconsistency, bureaucratic inefficiency, lack of infrastructure, sanctity of contract issues, and corruption.
The Ministry of Investment / Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) serves as an investment promotion agency, a regulatory body, and the agency in charge of approving planned investments in Indonesia. As such, it is the first point of contact for foreign investors, particularly in manufacturing, industrial, and non-financial services sectors. In August 2021, BKPM launched the Risk-Based Online Single Submission (OSS), an integrated online system that streamlines almost all business licensing and permitting processes (except in the oil and gas, and financial sectors). Under the OSS, businesses deemed lower risk will face fewer administrative requirements to obtain permits and licenses. The GOI abolished building permit requirements and relaxed environmental licenses, which the government deemed were major sources of corruption in the business licensing process. The OSS system intends to streamline permit issuance, but integrating overlapping authorities across ministries into one system, both at the national and subnational level, remains challenging. The Omnibus Law on Job Creation requires local governments to integrate their license systems into the OSS. The law allows the central government to take over local governments’ authority if local governments are not performing. The government has provided investment incentives particularly for “priority” sectors (please see the section on Industrial Policies).
As part of the implementation of the Omnibus Law on Job Creation, the Indonesian government enacted Presidential Regulation No. 10/2021 to introduce a significant liberalization of foreign investment in Indonesia, repealing the 2016 Negative List of Investment (DNI). In contrast to the previous regulation, the new investment list sets a default principle that all business sectors are open for investment unless stipulated otherwise. It details the seven sectors that are closed to investment, explains that public services and defense are reserved for the central government, and outlines four categories of sectors that are open to investment: priority investment sectors that are eligible for incentives; sectors that are reserved for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and cooperatives or open to foreign investors who cooperate with them; sectors that are open with certain requirements (i.e., with caps on foreign ownership or special permit requirements); and sectors that are fully open for foreign investment. Although hundreds of sectors that were previously closed or subject to foreign ownership caps are in theory open to 100 percent foreign investment, in practice technical and sectoral regulations may stipulate different or conflicting requirements that still need to be resolved.
In total, 245 business fields listed in the new Investment Priorities List, or DPI, are eligible for fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, notably pioneer industries, export-oriented manufacturing, capital intensive industries, national infrastructure projects, digital economy, labor-intensive industries, as well as research and development activities. Restrictions on foreign ownership in telecommunications and information technology (e.g., internet providers, fixed telecommunication providers, mobile network providers), construction services, oil and gas support services, electricity, distribution, plantations, and transportation were removed. Healthcare services including hospitals/clinics, wholesale of pharmaceutical raw materials, and finished drug manufacturing are fully open for foreign investment, which was previously capped in certain percentages. The regulation also reduced the number of business fields that are subject to certain requirements to only 46 sectors. Domestic sea transportation and postal services are allowed up to 49 percent of foreign ownership, while press, including magazines and newspapers, and broadcasting sectors are open up to 49 percent and 20 percent, respectively, but only for business expansion or capital increases. Small plantations, industry related to special cultural heritage, and low technology industries or industries with capital less than IDR10 billion (USD 700,000) are reserved for MSMEs and cooperatives. Foreign investors in partnership with MSMEs and cooperatives can invest in certain designated areas. The new investment list shortened the number of restricted sectors from 20 to 7 categories including cannabis, gambling, fishing of endangered species, coral extraction, alcohol, industries using ozone-depleting materials, and chemical weapons. In addition, while education investment is still subject to the Education Law, Government Regulation No. 40/2021 permits education and health investment as business activities in special economic zones.
In 2016, Bank Indonesia (BI) issued Regulation No. 18/2016 on the implementation of payment
transaction processing. The regulation governs all companies providing the following services: principal, issuer, acquirer, clearing, final settlement operator, and operator of funds transfer. The BI Regulation capped foreign ownership of payments companies at 20 percent, though it contained a grandfathering provision. BI’s Regulation No. 19/2017 on the National Payment Gateway (NPG) subsequently imposed a 20 percent foreign equity cap on all companies engaging in domestic debit switching transactions. Firms wishing to continue executing domestic debit transactions are obligated to sign partnership agreements with one of Indonesia’s four NPG switching companies. In December 2020, BI issued umbrella Regulation No. 22/23/2020 on the Payment System, which implements BI’s 2025 Payment System Blueprint and introduces a risk-based categorization and licensing system. The regulation entered into force on July 1, 2021. It allows 85 percent foreign ownership of non-bank payment services providers, although at least 51 percent of shares with voting rights must be owned by Indonesians, and foreign investors may only hold 49 percent of voting shares. The 20 percent foreign equity cap remains in place for payment system infrastructure operators who handle clearing and settlement services, and a grandfathering provision remains in effect for existing licensed payment companies. U.S. payment systems companies have stated that the new regulations could further limit access to Indonesia’s financial services market. Prior regulations required authorization, clearing, and settlement to be processed onshore. The new regulations add initiation of a payment as an onshore processing requirement. The regulations do not specify requirements by product. While the regulations provide for offshore processing if certain requirements are met, it is subject to BI approval.
OJK Regulation No. 12/POJK.03/2021, issued in August 2021, increased the foreign equity cap for commercial banks to 99 percent subject to OJK evaluation and approval, and foreign entities should meet requirements as follows: be committed to support the development of the Indonesian economy; obtain recommendations from the supervisory authority of the country of origin; and have a rating of at least 1 level above the lowest investment rating for bank financial institutions, 2 levels above the lowest investment rating for nonbank financial institutions, and 3 levels above the lowest investment rating for legal entities that are not financial institutions. This new regulation does not repeal the regulations listed in POJK 56 of 2016 article 2 and article 6 paragraph 1, stating that foreign entities may own shares of a bank representing more than 40 percent of the Bank’s capital subject to the approval of the Financial Services Authority (OJK). Foreigners may purchase equity in state-owned firms through initial public offerings and the secondary market. Capital investments in publicly listed companies through the stock exchange are generally not subject to the limitation of foreign ownership as stipulated in Presidential Regulation No. 10/2021.
Government Regulation 14/2018 (Regulation 14) on foreign ownership in insurance companies set the maximum threshold for foreign equity ownership of an Indonesian insurance company to 80 percent but exempted insurance companies with existing foreign ownership levels that exceed 80 percent. Subsequently, the government issued Government Regulation 3/2020 to strengthen the grandfathering provisions of Regulation 14 by allowing foreign investors to inject capital and maintain their existing capital share, repealing the obligation under Regulation 14 for a local shareholder to make a corresponding 20 percent capital injection in the event of a capital increase. In June 2020, OJK issued Regulation 39/2020, which provides for the phased elimination of the domestic cession requirements for purchase of reinsurance from companies domiciled in a country with whom Indonesia has a bilateral agreement. The regulation also phased out the requirement for domestic reinsurance obligations for simple risks by the end of 2020, and for non-simple risks in 2022.
Indonesia’s vast natural resources have attracted significant foreign investment and continue to offer significant prospects. However, some companies report that a variety of government regulations have made doing business in the resources sector increasingly difficult, and Indonesia now ranks 69th of 78 jurisdictions in the Fraser Institute’s 2020 Mining Policy Perception Index. In 2012, Indonesia banned the export of raw minerals, dramatically increased the divestment requirements for foreign mining companies, and required major mining companies to renegotiate their contracts of work with the government. The full export ban did not come into effect until January 2017, when the government also issued new regulations allowing exports of copper concentrate and other specified minerals, while imposing onerous requirements.
Of note for foreign investors, provisions of the regulations require that to export mineral ores, companies with contracts of work must convert to mining business licenses – and be subject to prevailing regulations – and must commit to build smelters within the next five years. Also, foreign-owned mining companies must gradually divest 51 percent of shares to Indonesian interests over ten years, with the price of divested shares determined based on a “fair market value” determination that does not consider existing reserves. In January 2020, the government banned the export of nickel ore for all mining companies, foreign and domestic, in the hopes of encouraging construction of domestic nickel smelters. In March 2021, the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources issued a Ministerial Decision to allow mining business licenses holders who have not reached smelter development targets to continue exporting raw mineral ores under certain conditions. The 2020 Mining Law returned the authority to issue mining licenses to the central government. Local governments only retain authority to issue small scale mining permits.
In December 2020, the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources issued Ministerial Decision No. 255.K/30/MEM/2020 that mandates coal mining companies fulfill 25 percent of its production for Domestic Market Obligation (DMO) and set the maximum price of coal for domestic power generation at $70/ton. In January 2022, the government of Indonesia banned exports of coal for all mining companies due to low DMO fulfillment, leading to the risk of power blackouts. The government has lifted the coal export ban and imposed stricter control to allow exports only for coal mining companies that have fulfilled DMO requirements.
The latest World Trade Organization (WTO) Investment Policy Review of Indonesia was conducted in February 2021 and can be found on the WTO website: directdoc.aspx (wto.org)
The last OECD Investment Policy Review of Indonesia, conducted in 2020, can be found on the OECD website:
The 2021 UNCTAD Report on ASEAN Investment can be found here: http://investasean.asean.org/files/upload/ASEAN%20Investment%20Report%202020-2021.pdf
Business and Human Rights Resource Center’s Reports:
- Report on Human Rights Impact Assessment for Japanese Business Investmnt in Indonesia:
- Investigation Into Deforestation at An Indonesian Company:
Global Witness country-specific reports can be accessed here:
List of conflicts related to environmental and human rights involving companies investing in Indonesia can be seen on Environmental Justice can be accessed here: https: https://ejatlas.org/
In order to conduct business in Indonesia, foreign investors must be incorporated as a foreign-owned limited liability company (PMA) through the Ministry of Law and Human Rights. Once incorporated, a PMA must fulfill business licensing requirements through the OSS system. In February 2021, the Indonesian government issued Government Regulation No. 5/2021, introducing a risk-based approach and streamlined business licensing process for almost all sectors. The regulation classifies business activities into categories of low, medium, and high risk, which will further determine business licensing requirements for each investment. Low-risk business activities only require a business identity number (NIB) to start commercial and production activities. An NIB also serves as the import identification number, customs access identifier, halal guarantee statement (for low risk), and environmental management and monitoring capability statement letter (for low risk). Medium-risk sectors must obtain an NIB and a standard certification.
Under the regulation, a standard certificate for medium-low risk is a self-declared statement that certain business standards were fulfilled, while a standard certificate for medium-high risk must be verified by the relevant government agency. High-risk sectors must apply for full business licenses, including an environmental impact assessment (AMDAL). A business license remains valid while the business operates in compliance with Indonesian laws and regulations. A grandfather clause applies to existing businesses that have obtained business licenses. Guidance on the business application process through the Risk-Based OSS can be found at https://oss.go.id/panduan. The OSS system is an online portal which allows foreign investors to apply for and track the status of licenses and other services online. Foreign investors are generally prohibited from investing in MSMEs in Indonesia, although Presidential Regulation No. 10/2021 opened some opportunities for partnerships in farming, two- and three-wheeled vehicles, automotive spare parts, medical devices, ship repair, health laboratories, and jewelry/precious metals.
According to Presidential Instruction 7/2019, the Ministry of Investment/BKPM is responsible for issuing “investment licenses” (the term used to encompass both NIB and other business licenses) that have been delegated from all relevant ministries and government institutions to foreign entities through the OSS system. BKPM has also been tasked to review policies deemed unfavorable for investors. While the OSS’s goal is to help streamline investment approvals, investments in the mining, oil and gas, and financial sectors still require licenses from related ministries and authorities. Certain tax and land permits, among others, typically must be obtained from local government authorities. Though Indonesian companies are only required to obtain one approval at the local level, businesses report that foreign companies must often seek additional approvals to establish a business. Government Regulation No. 6/2021 requires local governments to integrate their business licenses system into the Risk-Based OSS system and standardize services through a service-level agreement between the central and local governments.
Indonesia’s outward investment is limited, as domestic investors tend to focus on the large domestic market. BKPM is responsible for promoting and facilitating outward investment, to include providing information about investment opportunities in other countries. BKPM also uses its investment and trade promotion centers abroad to match Indonesian companies with potential investment opportunities. The government neither restricts nor provides incentives for outward private sector investment. The Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) encourages Indonesian SOEs through the SOE Go Global Program to increase their investment abroad, aiming to improve Indonesia’s supply chain and establish demand for Indonesian exports in strategic markets. According to the United Nation Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Indonesia recorded USD 4.5 billion outward direct investments in 2020, increasing 33.3 percent.