After overcoming the Asian financial crisis in 1998, Indonesia developed into a vibrant democracy with the largest and most dynamic economy in Southeast Asia. The country’s GDP has grown at a consistent pace at just above five percent in the past year before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and domestic consumption accounts for approximately 60 percent of GDP.

Now a member of the G20, the country offers foreign investors the best growth potential for those seeking long-term commitments, given its status as the largest economy in ASEAN (and 16th largest in the world), a young workforce, and a rapidly expanding middle-class.

Since President Joko Widodo’s re-election in April 2019, his government has vowed to continue implementing his prudent macroeconomic policies and structural reforms to further enhance the ease of doing business and improve the country’s investment climate. This included issuing various tax incentives as well as widening the number of positions open to expatriate workers.

Indonesia international free trade and tax agreements

As an autonomous market and a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Indonesia has signed and executed a number of free trade agreements with countries and regions all over the world (ASEAN). This includes the Asean Free Trade Area and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership; two of the largest FTA in the world.

The Asean Free Trade Area (AFTA) was signed in 1992 with the aim to be a catalyst to help ASEAN become a production base for global markets. Under the agreement, goods originating in ASEAN have applied a 0-5 percent tariff rate.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement, signed off on November 15, includes all ten ASEAN countries, along with Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. It is the world’s largest FTA, covering about 30 percent of global domestic products and nearly one-third of the global population.

Get a detailed overview of the Indonesia International Free trade Agreements in this section.

Why companies relocate to Indonesia

Indonesia is the 15th largest economy in the world based on purchasing power parity (PPP) and the fourth largest in East Asia – after China, Japan, and South Korea. By 2030, Indonesia’s robust economic development is expected to transform the country into the world’s seventh-largest economy.

[tips title="Did You Know"]Indonesia’s government is eyeing long-term reforms to improve its bureaucracy and investment environment. This includes introducing the Job Creation Law, also knowns as the Omnibus Law in 2020 that opened up more sectors for foreign ownership, preparing new labor laws, and simplifying business licenses, among others.[/tips]

Why companies relocate to Indonesia.

Ease of doing business in Indonesia

Indonesia has consistently improved its ease of doing business (EODB) ranking by improving the business environment in the country. In recent years the country has improved its rank by implementing various regulatory measures for:

Starting a business — it is now easier since the introduction of an online platform for business licensing, which issues the electronic certificates.

Paying taxes —  the country has made paying taxes simpler due to the online filing and payment system for major taxes.

Enforcing contracts — it is now managed through an online case management system for judges designed to streamline the filing, and delivery of court documents.

Trading across barriers — it has improved because of the online processing of export customs, enabling more efficient and cost-effective cross border trade.

Getting electricity — it is now easier for businesses due to renovations and upgrade maintenance to its electrical grids.

Ongoing business reforms

In November 2020, Indonesia’s government enacted the job creation law – commonly known as the Omnibus Law. The law and its implementing regulations has been heralded for introducing the most significant reforms in Indonesia’s history in a range of areas including investment, employment, business licensing, immigration, and environmental standards, among others.

[video file='https://cdn.jwplayer.com/videos/BD5PFLAr-RPafXtEf.mp4' image='https://resource.dezshira.com/resize/900x506/Misc/banners/web_2.jpg' title='Indonesia’s Omnibus Law and New Investment List  New Opportunities for Foreign']

The Omnibus Law amended more than 75 current laws with the aim to simplify licensing processes and the harmonization of regulations to increase the ease of doing business and enable the central government to respond faster to global changes or challenges. The most notable change to doing business is the introduction of the ‘positive investment list’. The general principle under the positive investment list is that a business sector is open to 100 percent foreign investment unless it is subjected to a specific type of limitation. The regulation presents one of the greatest liberalizations in foreign ownership limitations in Indonesia since the negative investment list was first introduced in the 1980s.

Important sectors that had previous foreign ownership restrictions, which have now been lifted include, among others:

  • Telecommunications;
  • Transportation;
  • Energy;
  • Distribution; and
  • Construction services.

Another significant reform act is the risk-based approach to the issuance of business licenses. Business licenses will now be issued based on the assessment of ‘business risk level’ determined by the scale of hazards a business can potentially create.

To determine the risk level, the government will conduct a risk analysis of each application before deciding on issuing a business license. This will comprise of:

  1. Identifying the relevant business activity;
  2. Assessing the hazard level;
  3. Assessing the potential occurrence of hazards;
  4. Determining the risk level and business scale rating; and
  5. Determining the type of business license.

Based on the aforementioned risk analysis, the businesses activities undertaken by the applicant company will be classified into one of the following risk-level types:

  • Low-risk businesses;
  • Medium-low risk businesses;
  • Medium-high risk businesses; and
  • High-risk businesses.

Based on this risk-based approach, the lower the business risk, the simpler the business licensing requirements will be.

The government will undertake the risk-analysis for business activities in the following sectors:

  1. Maritime affairs and fisheries;
  2. Agriculture;
  3. The environment and forestry;
  4. Energy and mineral resources;
  5. Nuclear energy;
  6. Industry;
  7. Trading;
  8. Public works and housing;
  9. Transport;
  10. Health, medicine, and food;
  11. Education and culture;
  12. Tourism;
  13. Religious affairs;
  14. Post, telecommunications, broadcasting, and electronic system, and transactions;
  15. Defense; and
  16. Employment. 

Industries driving Indonesia’s economy

Mining and petroleum

Indonesia’s mining and petroleum industry have been a backbone of the country’s economy since the 1970s. Primary commodities accounted for some 60 percent of total exports. Despite Indonesia trying to climb up the value production chain, commodities are set to continue to dominate exports for the next 10 years, with China and India replacing the US and Japan as the top export destinations.


Indonesia is keen to diversify and develop its manufacturing sector and transform its low-value manufacturing capabilities to more high-value products. The sector currently contributes to 20 percent of GDP with the country aiming to increase this to 25 percent of GDP by 2030, turning Indonesia into a manufacturing hub by 2030 that rivals Germany and South Korea. The government hopes this can be achieved through developing the automotive industries, chemical manufacturing, and electronics through the Making Indonesia 4.0 roadmap.

[tips title="Did You Know"]Indonesia’s manufacturing sector employed some 15 percent of the total workforce.[/tips]

The main areas of production are food and beverages, textiles, electronics, automotive, footwear, and textile and garments. An estimated 99 percent of the manufacturers are micro, small, or medium enterprises (MSMEs), who account for two-thirds of total employment in manufacturing.


The country’s services sector is the largest source of job creation, forming over 45 percent of total employment and some 45 percent of total GDP. Tourism and hospitality are some of the biggest sub-sectors and demand for hotels and other accommodations will continue to rise significantly as more tourists and businesspeople visit the country.

[video file='https://cdn.jwplayer.com/videos/pmiSWWLl-sZcHHUE7.mp4' image='https://resource.dezshira.com/resize/900x506/Misc/banners/web_2.jpg' title='The Rcep Advantage  Part 3 – Trade Opportunities In Indonesia']

Aviation is another promising industry. Indonesia is a major importer of civilian aircraft and their parts, a vital market for suppliers from countries such as the US. The country has the second-fastest-growing aviation industry in the world behind China. More than 350 million people are expected to fly to and from Indonesia by 2036, making it the world’s fourth-largest air travel market.

Indonesia’s healthcare industry is another lucrative investment opportunity for foreign investors as the growth of its middle-class and the introduction of universal healthcare has driven demand in almost all aspects of the industry from hospitals to pharmaceuticals to medical devices. Indonesia introduced its universal healthcare program, the JKN, in 2014, which has since grown into the world’s largest, covering over 200 million people.


Agriculture continues to play an integral role in the economy, employing one-third of the country’s total workforce. The sector consists of small-scale farming and large commercial plantations for a variety of products such as rice, rubber, palm oil, tropical fruits, nutmeg, cocoa, and coffee. The country is aiming to achieve food-self-sufficiency by 2045.

Digital economy

Indonesia’s digital economy has seen exponential growth over the last few years and is expected to be valued at US$124 billion by 2025. An increasingly prosperous, tech-savvy consumer demographic is reshaping the way the nation consumes, creating a wealth of opportunities for foreign investors.

The e-commerce industry will be the main driver of the digital economy, which is set to be worth over US$83 billion by 2025. In addition, there are other untapped, scalable opportunities, bringing the government closer to its target of building the largest digital economy in Southeast Asia.

An array of foreign tech giants, from Google to Amazon to Facebook, have already invested in Indonesia’s digital landscape, attracted not only by the long-term potential, but the government’s ongoing efforts to develop much needed regulatory framework.


During President Joko Widodo’s first term (2014-2019) he announced an ambitious infrastructure plan worth US$350 billion. Now into his second term, the government intends to spend another US$400 billion on infrastructure projects across the country.

This includes developing 25 new airports, waste-to-energy facilities, as well as mass transit projects. The government will also build 2,600 km (1,600 miles) of new highways and construct 35,000 MW of electricity plants. Further, the construction of the new capital city on the island of Borneo will begin in 2021, which is set to cost US$33 billion.

Some 40 percent of the cost of these projects will be funded by the government, 25 percent through state-owned companies, and the rest from the private sector.

Indonesia’s natural resource availability

Indonesia has an abundance of natural resources ranging from coal, silver, gold, nickel, copper, bauxite, thermal coal, tin, petroleum, and natural gas, among others. Mining, including oil and gas extraction, contributes to one-tenth of GDP as well as the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

In addition to hydrocarbon reserves, Indonesia’s mineral resources also contribute significantly to the economy. The country is the world’s largest producer of tin in addition to accounting for roughly 30 percent of the world’s nickel production ahead of Australia and Brazil. Indonesia produced 760,000 tons of nickel in 2020.

Further, Indonesia’s Grasberg mine has the second-largest reserve of copper in the world as well as the world’s largest reserve of gold.

ASEAN’s largest labor market

Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country (272 million) with a young demographic averaging 30 years of age. Additionally, 60 percent of the population is under the age of 40. This makes Indonesia ASEAN’s largest labor market with over 130 million workers.

The country’s current stage of development makes it ideal for labor-intensive manufacturing and the country is already a prominent producer of garments and textiles in addition to automobiles.

Despite its large labor market, only 55 million workers are considered ‘skilled’ and productivity is relatively low compared to its ASEAN counterparts. The government predicts that Indonesia requires 100 million skilled workers by 2030 as it aims to become the world’s fourth-largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity.

To encourage human capital development, the government is offering businesses tax incentives for those establishing apprenticeships or training programs.

Indonesia has also one of the regions’ lowest wage rates and every province sets its own minimum wage. The lowest is in the Special Region of Yogyakarta set at 1,840,951 rupiah (US$128) and the highest is in the Special Capital Region of Jakarta, at 4,452,724 rupiah (US$310).

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