Indonesia has a market-based economy in which the government plays a significant role. There are 139 state-owned enterprises, and the government administers prices on several basic goods, including fuel, rice, and electricity.
In the mid-1980s, the government began eliminating regulatory obstacles to economic activity. The steps were aimed primarily at the external and financial sectors and were designed to stimulate employment and growth in the non-oil export sector. Annual real gross domestic product (GDP) growth averaged nearly 7% from 1987-97 and most analysts recognized Indonesia as a newly industrializing economy and emerging major market. The Asian financial crisis of 1997 altered the region's economic landscape. With the depreciation of the Thai currency, the foreign investment community quickly reevaluated its investments in Asia. Foreign investors dumped assets and investments in Asia, leaving Indonesia the most affected in the region. In 1998, Indonesia experienced a negative GDP growth of 13.1% and unemployment rose to 15-20%. In the aftermath of the 1997-98 financial crisis, the government took custody of a significant portion of private sector assets via debt restructuring, but subsequently sold most of these assets, averaging a 29% return. Indonesia has since recovered, albeit slower than some of its neighbors, by recapitalizing its banking sector, improving oversight of capital markets, and taking steps to stimulate growth and investment, particularly in infrastructure. GDP growth has steadily risen this decade, achieving real growth of 6.3% in 2007 and 6.1% growth in 2008. While the government reduced its 2009 growth forecast to 4.2%-4.7% given reduced global demand, the consensus forecast was for growth of 3.5%.
In reaction to global financial turmoil and economic slowdown in late 2008, the government moved quickly to improve liquidity, secure alternative financing to fund an expansionary budget and secure passage of a fiscal stimulus program worth more than $6 billion. Key actions to stabilize financial markets included increasing the deposit insurance guarantee twentyfold, to IDR 2 billion (about U.S. $174,000); reducing bank reserve requirements; and introducing new foreign exchange regulations requiring documentation for foreign exchange purchases exceeding U.S. $100,000/month. As a G-20 member, Indonesia has taken an active role in the G-20 coordinated response to the global economic crisis.
Economic Policy: After he took office on October 20, 2004, President Yudhoyono moved quickly to implement a "pro-growth, pro-poor, pro-employment" economic program. He appointed a respected group of economic ministers who announced a "100-Day Agenda" of short-term policy actions designed to energize the bureaucracy. President Yudhoyono also announced an ambitious anti-corruption plan in December 2004. The State Ministry of National Development Planning (BAPPENAS) released in early 2005 a Medium Term Plan focusing on four broad objectives: creating a safe and peaceful Indonesia; creating a just and democratic Indonesia; creating a prosperous Indonesia; and establishing a stable macroeconomic framework for development. President Yudhoyono reshuffled his cabinet in December 2005, appointing former Finance Minister Boediono as Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs and moving Sri Mulyani Indrawati from the National Development Planning Agency to the Finance Ministry. In May 2008, President Yudhoyono appointed Boediono as Governor of Bank Indonesia, the central bank. In June 2008, President Yudhoyono appointed Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati to also serve as Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs. He re-appointed her as Finance Minister in his new cabinet in October 2009.
The Yudhoyono administration targeted average growth of 6.6% from 2004-2009 to reduce unemployment and poverty significantly. Indonesia's overall macroeconomic picture is stable. By 2004, real GDP per capita returned to pre-financial crisis levels. In 2008, domestic consumption continued to account for the largest portion of GDP, at 61%, followed by investment at 27.7%, government consumption at 8.4%, and net exports at 0.6%. By all measures, investment realization has climbed in each of the past several years.
Following a significant run-up in global energy prices in 2007/2008, the Indonesian Government raised fuel prices by an average of 29% on May 24, 2008 in an effort to reduce its fuel subsidy burden. Fuel subsidies had been projected to reach Rp 265 trillion ($29.4 billion) in 2008, or 5.9% of GDP. The fuel price hikes, along with rising food prices, led consumer price inflation to a peak of 12.1% in September 2008. To help its citizens cope with higher fuel and food prices, the Indonesian Government implemented a direct cash compensation package for low-income families through February 2009 and an extra range of benefits including an expanded subsidized rice program and additional subsidies aimed at increasing food production. Subsequent declines in oil and gas prices allowed the government to reduce the prices for subsidized diesel and gasoline. As of March 2009, gasoline was selling for market rates but was subject to a subsidized price cap in the event of an increase in prices.
Banking Sector: Indonesia currently has 124 commercial banks, of which 10 are majority foreign-owned and 28 are foreign joint venture banks. The top 15 banks control about 70% of assets in the sector. Four state-owned banks (Bank Mandiri, BNI, BRI, BTN) control about 37.4% of assets. The Indonesian central bank, Bank Indonesia (BI), announced plans in January 2005 to strengthen the banking sector by encouraging consolidation and improving prudential banking and supervision. BI hopes to encourage small banks with less than Rp 100 billion (about U.S. $11 million) in capital to either raise more capital or merge with healthier "anchor banks" before end-2010, announcing the criteria for anchor banks in July 2005. In October 2006, BI announced a single presence policy to further prompt consolidation. The policy stipulates that a single party can own a controlling interest in only one banking organization. Controlling interest is defined as 25% or more of total outstanding shares or having direct or indirect control of the institution. BI planned to adopt Basel II standards beginning in 2009 and to improve operations of its credit bureau to centralize data on borrowers. Another important banking sector reform was the decision to eliminate the blanket guarantee on bank third-party liabilities. BI and the Indonesian Government completed the process of replacing the blanket guarantee with a deposit insurance scheme run by the independent Indonesian Deposit Insurance Agency (also known by its Indonesian acronym, LPS) in March 2007. The removal of the blanket guarantee did not produce significant deposit outflows from or among Indonesian banks. Sharia banking has grown in Indonesia in recent years, but represents only 2.05% of the banking sector, about $4.1 billion in assets as of November 2008.
Exports and Trade: Indonesia's exports grew to a record $136.8 billion in 2008, an increase of 10% from 2007. The largest export commodities for 2007 were oil and gas (19.4%), minerals (18.8%), electrical appliances (13.27%), rubber products (6.8%), and textiles (3.6%). The top four destinations for exports for 2008 were Japan (12.8%), the U.S. (11.6%), Singapore (9.4%), and China (7.2%). Meanwhile, total imports rose to $128.8 billion in 2008. The U.S. trade deficit with Indonesia increased 1.9% in 2007 to $10.1 billion ($4.2 billion in exports versus $14.3 billion in imports).
Oil and Minerals Sector: Indonesia left the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 2008, as it had been a net petroleum importer since 2004. Crude and condensate output averaged 977,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2008. In 2008, the oil and gas sector is estimated to have contributed $25.3 billion of government revenues, or 31.5% of the total. U.S. companies have invested heavily in the petroleum sector. Indonesia ranked eleventh in world gas production in 2007. In early 2007, Qatar passed Indonesia as the world's number one exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Despite the declining trends, Indonesia's oil and gas trade balance remained positive at $2.3 billion for 2006 and $156 million in 2007, according to unofficial statistics.
Indonesia has a wide range of mineral deposits and production, including bauxite, silver, and tin, copper, nickel, gold, and coal. Although the coal sector was open to foreign investment in the 1990s, new investment was closed again after 2000. A new mining law, passed in December 2008, opened coal to foreign investment again. Total coal production reached 189.7 million metric tons in 2008, including exports of 140.3 million tons. Two U.S. firms operate two copper/gold mines in Indonesia, with a Canadian and a U.K. firm holding significant investments in nickel and gold, respectively. In 2007 Indonesia ranked fifth among the world's top gold concentrate producers. Since 1998, the number of new mines has declined compared with previous years. This decline does not reflect Indonesia's mineral prospects, which are high; rather, the decline reflects earlier uncertainty over mining laws and regulations, low competitiveness in the tax and royalty system, and investor concerns over divestment policies and the sanctity of contracts.
Investment: President Yudhoyono and his economic ministers have stated repeatedly their intention to improve the climate for private sector investment to raise the level of GDP growth and reduce unemployment. In addition to general corruption and legal uncertainty, businesses have cited a number of specific factors that have reduced the competitiveness of Indonesia's investment climate, including: corrupt and inefficient customs services; non-transparent and arbitrary tax administration; inflexible labor markets that have reduced Indonesia's advantage in labor-intensive manufacturing; increasing infrastructure bottlenecks; and uncompetitive investment laws and regulations. In each of the past three years, the Government of Indonesia has announced a series of economic policy packages aimed at stimulating investment and infrastructure improvements and implementing regulatory reform. A new investment law was enacted in 2007, which contains provisions to restrict the share of foreign ownership in a range of industries. The government is considering a review of Indonesia's negative list, but proposed revisions had not been enacted as of March 2009.
On September 2, 2008, the DPR passed long-awaited tax reform legislation. The legislation reduced corporate and personal income tax rates as of January 1, 2009. Corporate income tax rates fell from 30% to 28% in 2009 and will decline to 25% in 2010, with additional reductions for small and medium enterprises and publicly listed companies. The legislation raises the taxable income threshold for individuals, cuts the maximum personal income tax from 35% to 30%, and provides lower marginal personal income tax rates across four income categories. Taxes on dividends will also fall from a maximum of 20% to a maximum of 10%. Long-planned labor reforms have been delayed.
The passage of a new copyright law in July 2002 and accompanying optical disc regulations in 2004 greatly strengthened Indonesia's intellectual property rights (IPR) regime. Despite the government's significantly expanded efforts to improve enforcement, IPR piracy remains a major concern to U.S. intellectual property holders and foreign investors, particularly in the high-technology sector. In March 2006, President Yudhoyono issued a decree establishing a National Task Force for IPR Violation Prevention. The IPR Task Force was intended to formulate national policy to prevent IPR violations and determine additional resources needed for prevention, as well as to help educate the public through various activities and improve bilateral, regional, and multilateral cooperation to prevent IPR violations. It has yet to fully realize these aims. In 2007, Indonesia was removed from the U.S. Trade Representative's "Priority Watch" list and placed on the "Watch" list.
Environment: President Yudhoyono's administration has significantly increased Indonesia's global profile on environmental issues, and U.S.-Indonesia cooperation on the environment has grown substantially. Indonesia is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, which include rising sea levels and erosion of coastal areas, increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, species extinction, and the spread of vector-borne diseases. At the same time, Indonesia faces challenges in addressing the causes of climate change. Indonesia has the world's second-largest tropical forest and the fastest deforestation rate, making it the third-largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, behind China and the U.S. In December 2007, Indonesia hosted the 13th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and led efforts to highlight the importance of forests and deforestation in the climate debate.
In 2004, President Yudhoyono initiated a multi-agency drive against illegal logging that has significantly decreased illegal logging through stronger enforcement activities. The State Department and the U.S. Trade Representative negotiated with the Indonesian Ministries of Trade and Forestry the U.S. Government's first Memorandum of Understanding on Combating Illegal Logging and Associated Trade. Presidents George W. Bush and Yudhoyono announced the MOU during President Bush's November 2006 visit to Indonesia. Implementation of the MOU includes collaboration on sustainable forest management, improved law enforcement, and improved markets for legally harvested timber products. This effort will strengthen the enabling conditions for avoiding deforestation, specifically addressing the trade issues that are involved.
The U.S. Government contributed to the start of the Heart of Borneo conservation initiative to conserve a high-biodiversity, transboundary area that includes parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. The three countries launched the Heart of Borneo initiative in February 2007. In 2009, the Governments of Indonesia and the U.S. concluded a Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA) agreement. The agreement reduces Indonesia's debt payments to the U.S. over the next 8 years; these funds will be redirected toward tropical forest conservation in Indonesia.
Indonesia is also home to the greatest marine biodiversity on the planet. President Yudhoyono called for a Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) in August 2007. The Coral Triangle Initiative is a regional plan of action to enhance coral conservation, promote sustainable fisheries, and ensure food security in the face of climate change. In December 2007, the U.S. Government announced its support for the six CTI nations (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands). Since then, the United States has provided $8.4 million to this initiative. With projected funding of $32 million over five years, the U.S. is the largest bilateral donor to CTI, and President Bush endorsed the CTI proposal formally at the 2007 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.
Indonesia hosted the first-ever World Oceans Conference in Manado, North Sulawesi, May 11-15, 2009. The World Oceans Conference was also the venue for the Coral Triangle Initiative Summit, at which leaders from the six CTI nations launched the CTI Regional Plan of Action. Top government officials and other leaders discussed the scientific interplay between ocean degradation, climate and weather patterns, and fishing stocks.
Information by U.S. Department of State