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1. Indonesia export overview
Indonesia is currently the world’s the 16th largest economy. It’s projected to be the fourth largest economy in the world (by PPP) by 2050.
Doing business in Indonesia takes patience and perseverance. Companies should be prepared to invest time and resources in regular visits over a period of months, sometimes years, before seeing returns.
With 250 million people its the world’s fourth most populous country and the largest in south east Asia. It offers opportunities for UK companies across all sectors.
Contact a Department for International Trade (DIT) Indonesia export adviser for a free consultation if you are interested in exporting to Indonesia.
Benefits for UK businesses exporting to Indonesia include:
- an emerging middle class
- strong domestic consumption
- the largest economy in south east Asia
Strengths of the Indonesian market include:
- population increasing by 4.5 million a year
- a high proportion of working age people
- an abundance of natural resources
- political stability following the transition to democracy in 1998
2. Challenges doing business in Indonesia
UK companies must be prepared to encounter challenges when doing business in Indonesia. It is the 72nd easiest place to do business in the world according to the World Bank.
Businesses should be prepared for:
- a complex bureaucracy
- an uncertain and unpredictable legal and regulatory environment
- a lack of transparency
- high logistics costs
- poor infrastructure
- a business culture where companies will rarely respond to emails
- a strong business case is less important than being a trusted partner
Indonesia offers a lot of opportunities for British companies in a wide range of sectors. Companies looking for a ‘quick win’ would be advised to look elsewhere.
The rewards of doing business in Indonesia can be considerable. However, it can take time to develop the necessary relationships before any financial returns materialise. Companies should recognise this and plan their business entry strategy accordingly.
You should ensure you take the necessary steps to comply with the requirements of the UK Bribery Act.
Read the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) Overseas Business Risk report for Indonesia.
3. Growth potential in Indonesia
3.1 Economic growth in Indonesia
Indonesia has the largest economy in south east Asia with nearly half of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP). 5.3% GDP growth is expected in 2018. Indonesia is the only G20 member from south east Asia.
Indonesia’s economy has grown at a steady 5.4% for over the last 10 years. This is a more stable rate than any of the Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) countries or Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
Domestic consumption makes up 55% of Indonesia’s GDP. This helped to protect Indonesia from the global economic crisis.
Indonesia is the:
- world’s largest producer and exporter of crude palm oil
- second largest exporter of coal
- second largest producer of cocoa and tin
- fourth largest exporter of natural gas
Indonesia also has abundant resources such as nickel, gold, coffee and other forest and marine resources.
3.2 Indonesia’s free trade agreements (FTAs)
Indonesia is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The ASEAN free trade area (FTA) is part of the Asian Economic Community (AEC) agreement among 10 ASEAN countries which allows free movement of goods and services with 0% tax. The country of origin must be one of the ASEAN countries
The AEC will benefit British companies operating in the region. The AEC agenda helps promote reform and raise economic growth in the region.
Improved trade facilitation, regulatory reform and financial development will benefit all domestic and foreign firms. British firms producing and shipping goods within the region can also benefit from intra-ASEAN tariff reduction. There will be some areas where the AEC gives other ASEAN countries better market access than UK firms have, but these are likely to be fairly limited.
Indonesia is also negotiating FTAs with Australia and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Indonesia started negotiations with the EU on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in July 2016.
3.3 Emerging middle class in Indonesia
Indonesia’s economic growth is driven by an emerging middle class. International surveys show that Indonesians are trusting consumers, highly receptive to advertising and keen to try new things. Indonesian consumers are:
- IT savvy
- interested in new international brands
Demand from this emerging new middle class is increasing for:
- modern retail and consumer goods
- education and professional qualifications
- Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
3.4 Indonesia’s strategic location
60% of global growth is expected to come from Asia by 2025. Indonesia is part of ASEAN which has a free trade zone. It is also strategically placed to do business with Indonesia, China, Japan and Australia.
4. Top goods and services imports into Indonesia
UN Comtrade ranks Indonesia’s top goods imports from the rest of the world during 2016 as:
- boilers and machinery
- mineral fuels, oils, distillation products
- electrical and electronic equipment
- plastics and plastic products
- iron and steel
- vehicles (other than railway or tramway vehicles)
- organic chemicals
- iron or steel products
- residues, food industry waste, animal fodder
UN Comtrade ranks Indonesia’s top services imports from the rest of the world during 2015 as:
- other business services, such as consultancy, technical services and research and development (R&D)
- royalties and licence fees
- insurance services
- construction services
- government services
- personal, cultural, and recreational services
4.1 UK and Indonesia trade
UK exports of goods to Indonesia totalled £559 million in 2016. The UK’s main exports to Indonesia are:
- machinery and transport equipment
- chemical and related products
- crude materials
An unknown amount of the UK’s exports to Indonesia go via Singapore.
The UK is Indonesia’s seventh biggest investor. Major British investors include BP, Jardine Matheson, Unilever, Shell, Standard Chartered Bank, HSBC, Prudential, Rolls Royce and GlaxoSmithKline.
There is also a strong and growing UK retail presence including Marks & Spencer, Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Karen Millen, Coast, New Look, Super Dry, Top Shop, Ted Baker, Mothercare and Early Learning Centre.
5. Opportunities for UK businesses in Indonesia
DIT provides free international export sales leads from its worldwide network. Search for export opportunities.
5.1 Airports sector in Indonesia
Indonesia plans to build 15 new airports by 2019, 9 new air cargo facilities, redevelop 100 existing airports, and upgrade 26. A fourth terminal at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is also planned and expected to be operational by 2021.
There are opportunities for UK companies in
- modernising equipment, such as navigation surveillance, and facilities for communication
- automating and upgrading airport systems
- maintaining devices and upgrading systems
- training of human resources
Contact DITJakarta.Enquiries@fco.gov.uk for more information on opportunities in the airports sector in Indonesia.
5.2 Aviation sector in Indonesia
Indonesia has ambitions to build itself into a world-class aviation hub, with fully modernized capacity and air traffic management systems.
In 2015, The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicted the country will have 270 million air passengers by 2034. Any growth will need to supported by the aviation infrastructure, both on the ground and in the air.
It’s likely that there will be opportunities for overseas firms as Indonesia seeks to upgrade its aviation infrastructure to meet growth and improve its safety standards, along with a greater need for aircraft parts and maintenance services.
Foreign investors may partner with local firms to establish aircraft maintenance facilities
Contact DITJakarta.Enquiries@fco.gov.uk for more information on opportunities in the aviation sector in Indonesia.
5.3 Defence and security sector in Indonesia
Indonesia’s annual defence budget is currently US$8.17 billion. It’s currently conducting a major overhaul of its military capabilities.
The country is interested in cooperation with the UK on counter terrorism, counter narcotics, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and industrial defence cooperation. There are opportunities for supply of:
- military equipment
- communications system
- spare parts
- support services.
- monitoring and protection of sea-borne traffic for national security and fisheries enforcement cyber security and counter-terrorism
The Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) issues licences for the export of strategic goods. You must check your goods you are meeting legal requirements for export.
Contact DITJakarta.Enquiries@fco.gov.uk for more information on opportunities in the defence and security sector.
5.4 Education sector in Indonesia
With over 60 million students and almost 4 million teachers in 340,000 educational institutions, Indonesia is the third largest education system in the Asian region and the fourth largest in the world.
The Indonesian government allocated £23.4 billion (20% of the state budget) for education in 2017 and decentralised to local government in over 34 provinces nationwide.
The Indonesian government plans to increase its skilled workers opens up opportunities for UK education providers to establish a presence with a focus on:
- English Language Training (ELT)
- teacher training
- continuing professional development
- vocational training in sectors such as engineering, maritime, aerospace, railway, information technology
Contact DITJakarta.Enquiries@fco.gov.uk for more information on opportunities in the education sector in Indonesia.
5.5 Marine sector in Indonesia
Indonesia has more than 240 active shipyards supporting the development of the maritime sector and 1700 ports. Of these, 111 are commercial ports while only 11 are container ports. According to the Investment Coordinating Board of the Republic of Indonesia, 24 new ports are to be developed by 2019.
In 2015, the Ministry of Industry announced plans to increase the national shipping industry ability from 85,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT) to 300,000 DWT by 2025. As the government is aiming to improve infrastructure, maritime connectivity development and maritime power, there are opportunities for:
- development of roads
- shipbuilding, including tankers, freighters, patrol vessels, warships and submarines
- seaport construction and revitalisation
Contact DITJakarta.Enquiries@fco.gov.uk for more information on opportunities in the marine sector in Indonesia.
5.6 Oil and gas in Indonesia
Indonesia has proven gas reserves of 102 trillion cubic feet (TCF) in 2016. On a reserve basis, according to PWC in 2017, Indonesia ranks 15th in the world and the third in the Asia-Pacific region (following Australia and China).
Deep water exploration and production in Indonesia is still ongoing to cope with the increasing domestic demand. There will be significant opportunities for drilling and completion, equipment, pipelines and control lines. Other opportunities exist in:
- enhanced oil recovery technology to extend oil production
- supply of subsea equipment and services
- liquefied natural gas receiving terminals and regas facilities
- education and training
- coalbed methane and, potentially, shale gas
Contact DITJakarta.Enquiries@fco.gov.uk for more information on opportunities in the oil and gas sector in Indonesia.
5.7 Rail in Indonesia
The Indonesian government has set a target of adding over 3,000 km to the existing railway network. £5.7 billion allocated for urban transport is aimed at constructing railway in 6 metropolitan cities and 17 large cities across Indonesia.
There are opportunities in:
- planning and development (master planning, environmental consultancy, financial and legal planning)
- architectural and engineering design services
- project and commercial management, rail technologies including product supply, rolling stock components, operations and maintenance
Contact DITJakarta.Enquiries@fco.gov.uk for more information on opportunities in the rail sector in Indonesia.
5.8 Sports and sports infrastructure in Indonesia
Interest in sports in Indonesia is high, as the country has been selected to host several international sporting events such as Asian Games 2018 and Asian Paralympic Games 2018.
There are opportunities for UK firms to capitalise on this interest and help Indonesia create a national sport legacy, especially in the areas of:
- event promotion
- talent development
Contact DITJakarta.Enquiries@fco.gov.uk for more information on opportunities in the sports and sports infrastructure sectors in Indonesia.
5.9 Smart cities in Indonesia
The government initiated the 100 Smart City project in 2015, starting with 25 cities and regions.
At present, Indonesia has 10 pilot smart cities - Jakarta, Makassar, Surabaya, Bandung, Medan, Palembang, Yogyakarta, Semarang, Surakarta, and Denpasar. Jakarta and Makassar, for example, will adopt smart cards to distribute social assistance and provide integrated services.
As the government progresses towards its goal, there are opportunities in:
- the development and improvement of existing and new urban townships
- infrastructures and buildings
- research and development
- innovative and inclusive urban development
- innovative technologies, including use of open data and information and communications technology
Contact DITJakarta.Enquiries@fco.gov.uk for more information on opportunities in the smart cities sector in Indonesia.
5.10 Waste disposal and treatment in Indonesia
Indonesia’s rapid economic growth and improvements in living standards are generating increasing levels of municipal solid waste. Final disposal sites with sanitary landfill technologies make up only a small percentage of the total number of the country’s sites.
There are opportunities for:
- waste handling and processing
- waste-related design and engineering
- operation and maintenance of waste disposal processes and sites
- incinerators/thermal converters
- boilers, steam turbines, generators, gas engines, segregators, dryers, conveyors
- project financing
Other opportunities exist in off-grid waste to energy systems.
Contact DITJakarta.Enquiries@fco.gov.uk for more information on opportunities in the waste disposal and treatment sector in Indonesia.
6. Start-up considerations in Indonesia
There are various ways to operate a business in Indonesia including:
- setting up a joint venture company
- establishing a representative office
- appointing an agent, distributor or importer
6.1 Joint ventures in Indonesia
The ‘Penanaman Modal Asing’ (PMA) is the corporate entity required for foreign investors under the terms of the foreign investment law. It takes the form of ‘Perseroan Terbatas’ (PT), a limited liability company, with the joint ventures as shareholders. PMA companies:
- may be either publicly listed on the stock exchange or privately owned
- must have 2 parties holding shares either a legal entity or an individual
The foreign investor’s shareholding percentage must meet requirements under the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board’s Negative Investment List (DNI).
6.2 Representative offices in Indonesia
Foreign companies may open and maintain a representative office. The representative may be foreign or local. Such offices:
- are not permitted to carry out any profit making business activities
- can undertake sales promotion, market research and assistance to local agents and distributors
You should appoint third party advisers to assist with documentation as dealing with government ministries can be challenging. Lack of transparency can make the process last longer than expected.
The third party adviser needs to be reliable, experienced and most importantly have close connections with the relevant authorities.
Contact DIT Indonesia for information about third party advisors.
6.3 Agents, distributors or importers in Indonesia
A foreign company will usually appoint one or more agents or distributors. They can keep track of market regulations, which can change at short notice.
You should spend time taking local advice and assessing a range of potential agents before making a choice. Beware of agents promoting similar or identical products.
DIT Indonesia can help you identify and meet potential agents and distributors.
7. Legal considerations in Indonesia
Foreign and domestic investment is administered by the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM). BKPM regulates the Company Law and the Foreign Investment Law.
Investors must apply for approval from BKPM. BKPM does not issue licences for investments in banking, financial institutions, insurance, and oil and gas. These are issued by industry specific regulating bodies.
Import licences and permits to employ non-Indonesian workers are issued by the Ministry of Manpower. You should take advice on your legal obligations which can vary depending on your business.
Contact DIT Indonesia to help find tax and legal advisers before entering into agreements.
7.1 Standards and technical regulations in Indonesia
Indonesia requires most products to be registered through governmental authorities and undergo technical testing before they can enter Indonesian market.
Persistence and a reliable local partner makes big difference in helping with import authorisation procedures.
Some mandatory certifications for product registration at national level include:
- SNI (Indonesian National Standard) certification for toys, tyres, cement, single inorganic fertiliser, bottled drinking water, helmets, low-pressure regulators for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) steel tubes
- Ministry of Health certification for medical related products
Contact DIT Indonesia for more information on registration requirements specific to your products or service.
7.2 Intellectual property rights (IPR) in Indonesia
The Directorate General of Intellectual Property Rights of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights is responsible for administering IPR in Indonesia.
Indonesia is a World Trade Organization (WTO) member and has comprehensive intellectual property protection regulation. However enforcement can be extremely difficult.
You should register your intellectual property, a process which can take 2 to 3 years. The EU ASEAN IPR helpdesk offers tools and advice to help you manage your intellectual property in Indonesia.
8. Tax and customs considerations in Indonesia
Indonesia and the UK have signed a double taxation agreement.
8.1 Sales tax in Indonesia
Value Added Tax (VAT) and Goods and Services Tax (GST) are applied to most goods and services in Indonesia. Imports are subject to VAT and GST.
VAT and GST taxes are called Pertambahan Pajak Nilai (PPN). PPN is a 10% point-of-sale tax.
PPnBM (Pajak Pertambahan Nilai dan Pajak Penjualan atas Barang Mewah) is a sales tax on luxury goods. It is levied in addition to PPN and is imposed on luxury goods which are both manufactured in and imported into Indonesia. Rates range from 10 to 50%. Some items can be taxed at 75%.
8.2 Corporate tax in Indonesia
A foreign company with a permanent establishment in Indonesia will have to the same tax obligations as a resident taxpayer.
Foreign companies without a permanent establishment will settle tax liabilities through withholding of the tax by the Indonesian party paying the income.
Corporate income is taxed at 25%.
8.3 Income tax in Indonesia
Taxpayers are obliged to make a prepayment of their annual tax obligation by a withholding of 2.5% (7.5% if the company does not possess an import permit) of cost, insurance and freight (CIF) value of imports.
8.4 Customs in Indonesia
Import duty is payable at the rates from 0% to 150% on the customs value of imported goods.
Customs value is calculated on the CIF level. It is possible to apply for an exemption, deferment or restitution of import duties where the import meets criteria, such as:
- imports used in production of exports
- capital goods, spares and raw materials by manufacturers and certain other sectors
- equipment and materials imported for use in a foreign aid funded project
You can find more about import tariffs in the EU’s Market Access Database.
8.5 Documentation in Indonesia
Correct paperwork is crucial. Check with your importer or agent on the documentation required when exporting products to Indonesia. Different products will require different documents due to rules set by government authorities.
You will need a commercial invoice which must be signed by the manufacturer and contain the:
- name and address of the shipper
- place and date of the shipment
- name and address of the consignee
- number and kind of packages
- content and weight of each package
- tariff number, marks and numbers
A pro-forma invoice is not compulsory, but will be needed by importers for quoting price.
9. Business behaviour in Indonesia
The official language is Bahasa Indonesia. English is widely spoken by young people, but interpretation may be required for business meetings, particularly outside Jakarta and other major cities in Indonesia.
During meetings you should:
- exchange business cards immediately after introductions presenting with both hands or with the right
- not offer anything with your left hand, nor receive anything with your left hand
- keep cards on the table, not put them away immediately
- not start drinking when offered a drink until formally invited to do so by the host
- not to cross your legs when sitting as showing the soles of your feet is considered highly discourteous in Indonesia
- not stand with your hands on your hips or with your arms folded as this is regarded as aggressive and rude
Email is treated as an optional form of communication and rarely gets responses.
After a meeting send a formal letter setting out what you discussed. Company literature will be well received. Then follow this up with a phone call to confirm the letter has been received. Do not expect progress until your next face to face meeting.
10. Entry requirements for Indonesia
You need a visa to enter Indonesia.
British citizens visiting Indonesia are able to buy a 30 day visa upon arrival by following the ‘Visa on Arrival’ sign. Visas of this kind can be extended once for a maximum of 30 days by applying to immigration offices within Indonesia.
10.1 Travel advice for Indonesia
If you’re travelling to Indonesia for business, check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice page first.
11. DIT contacts for Indonesia
Contact a local DIT trade adviser in the UK if you are interested in finding out more about doing business in Indonesia.
Contact the DIT team in Indonesia for more information and advice on opportunities for doing business in Indonesia.
The UK-ASEAN Business Council (UKABC) provides practical advice and guidance on how to do business in all ASEAN markets.
Contact UKABC’s team to discuss your ASEAN export strategy.