1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment
With GDP growth of 5.02 percent in 2019, Indonesia is an attractive destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) due to its young population, strong domestic demand, stable political situation, and well-regarded macroeconomic policy. Indonesian government officials often state that they welcome increased FDI, aiming to create jobs and spur economic growth, and court foreign investors, notably focusing on infrastructure development and export-oriented manufacturing. Foreign investors, however, have complained about vague and conflicting regulations, bureaucratic inefficiencies, ambiguous legislation in regards to tax enforcement, poor existing infrastructure, rigid labor laws, sanctity of contract issues, and corruption.
The Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board, or 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. BKPM’s OSS system streamlines 492 licensing and permitting processes through the issuance of Government Regulation No.24/2018 on Electronic Integrated Business Licensing Services. While the OSS system is operational, overlapping authority for permit issuance across ministries and government institutions, both at the national and subnational level, remains challenging. Special expedited licensing services are available for investors meeting certain criteria, such as making investments in excess of approximately IDR100 billion (USD 6.6 million) or employing 1,000 local workers. The government has provided investment incentives particularly for “pioneer” sectors, (please see the section on Industrial Policies)
To further improve the investment climate, the government drafted an omnibus law on job creation to amend dozens of prevailing laws deemed to hamper investment. In February 2020, the draft omnibus law was submitted to the legislature for deliberation.
Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
Restrictions on FDI are, for the most part, outlined in Presidential Decree No.44/2016, commonly referred to as the Negative Investment List or the DNI. The DNI aims to consolidate FDI restrictions from numerous decrees and regulations, in order to create greater certainty for foreign and domestic investors. The 2016 revision to the list eased restrictions in a number of previously closed or restricted fields. Previously closed sectors, including the film industry (including filming, editing, captioning, production, showing, and distribution of films), on-line marketplaces with a value in excess of IDR 100 billion (USD 6.6 million), restaurants, cold chain storage, informal education, hospital management services, and manufacturing of raw materials for medicine, are now open for 100 percent foreign ownership. The 2016 list also raises the foreign investment cap in the following sectors, though not fully to 100 percent: online marketplaces under IDR 100 billion (USD 6.6 million), tourism sectors, distribution and warehouse facilities, logistics, and manufacturing and distribution of medical devices. In certain sectors, restrictions are liberalized for foreign investors from other ASEAN countries. Though the energy sector saw little change in the 2016 revision, foreign investment in construction of geothermal power plants up to 10 MW is permitted with an ownership cap of 67 percent, while the operation and maintenance of such plants is capped at 49 percent foreign ownership. For investment in certain sectors, such as mining and higher education, the 2016 DNI is useful only as a starting point for due diligence, as additional licenses and permits are required by individual ministries. A number of sensitive business areas, involving, for example, alcoholic beverages, ocean salvage, certain fisheries, and the production of some hazardous substances, remain closed to foreign investment or are otherwise restricted.
Foreign investment in small-scale and home industries (i.e. forestry, fisheries, small plantations, certain retail sectors) is reserved for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) or requires a partnership between a foreign investor and local entity. Even where the 2016 DNI revisions lifted limits on foreign ownership, certain sectors remain subject to other restrictions imposed by separate laws and regulations. As part of President Jokowi’s second-term economic reform agenda, Indonesian ministers have stated their interest in revising the 2016 DNI through a new presidential regulation that will be issued in 2020. This new Investment Priorities List, or DPI, will incentivize investment into certain sectors, notably export-oriented manufacturing, digital technology projects, labor-intensive industries, and value-added processing, with the aim to spur innovation and reduce Indonesia’s current account deficit. The government also intends to shorten the list of restricted sectors to six categories including cannabis, gambling, and chemical weapons..
In 2016, Bank Indonesia 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 2017 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.
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 not subject to the DNI.
The government issued Trade Minister Regulation 71/2019 to revoke the requirement for eighty percent local content and limitation of outlet numbers in the franchise industry. Nevertheless, the government encourages companies to utilize domestic goods and services that meet franchisor quality standards.
Other Investment Policy Reviews
The last OECD Investment Policy Review of Indonesia, conducted in 2010, can be found on the OECD website:
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 register through the OSS system. Upon registration, a company will receive a business identity number (NIB) along with proof of participation in the Workers Social Security Program (BPJS) and endorsement of any Foreign Worker Recruitment Plans (RPTKA). An NIB remains valid as long as the business operates in compliance with Indonesian laws and regulations. Existing businesses will eventually be required to register through the OSS system. In general, the OSS system simplified processes for obtaining NIB from three days to one day upon the completion of prerequisites.
Once an investor has obtained a NIB, he/she may apply for a business license. At this stage, investors must: document their legal claim to the proposed project land/location; provide an environmental impact statement (AMDAL); show proof of submission of an investment realization report; and provide a recommendation from relevant ministries as necessary. Investors also need to apply for commercial and/or operational licenses prior to commencing commercial operations. Special expedited licensing services are also available for investors meeting certain criteria, such as making investments in excess of approximately IDR 100 billion (USD 6.6 million) or employing 1,000 local workers. After obtaining a NIB, investors in some designated industrial estates can immediately start project construction.
Foreign investors are generally prohibited from investing in MSMEs in Indonesia, although the 2016 Negative Investment List opened some opportunities for partnerships in farming and catalog and online retail. In accordance with the Indonesian SMEs Law No. 20/2008, MSMEs are defined as enterprises with net assets less than IDR10 billion (USD 0.7 million) or with total annual sales under IDR50 billion (USD 3.3 million). However, the Indonesian Central Bureau of Statistics defines MSMEs as enterprises with fewer than 99 employees. The government provides assistance to MSMEs, including: expanded access to business credit for MSMEs in farming, fishery, manufacturing, creative business, trading and services sectors; a tax exemption for MSMEs with annual sales under IDR 200 million (USD 13,000); and assistance with international promotion.
The Ministry of Law and Human Rights’ implementation of an electronic business registration filing, and notification system has dramatically reduced the number of days needed to register a company. Foreign firms are not required to disclose proprietary information to the government.
BKPM is responsible for issuing “investment licenses” (the term used to encompass both NIB and business licenses) to foreign entities and has taken steps to simplify the application process. The OSS serves as an online portal which allows foreign investors to apply for and track the status of licenses and other services online. The OSS coordinates many of the permits issued by more than a dozen ministries and agencies required for investment approval. In November 2019, the government through Presidential Instruction 7/2019 appointed BKPM as the main institution to issue business permits and to grant investment incentives which have been delegated from all ministries and government institutions. BKPM has also been tasked to review policies deemed unfavorable for investors. In addition, BKPM now issues soft-copy investment and business licenses. While the OSS’s goal is to help streamline investment approvals, investments in the mining, oil and gas, plantation, and most other sectors still require multiple licenses from related ministries and authorities. Likewise, 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 often must seek additional approvals in order to establish a business.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform, and BKPM issued a circular in 2010 to clarify which government offices are responsible for investment that crosses provincial and regional boundaries. Investment in a regency (a sub-provincial level of government) is managed by the regency government; investment that lies in two or more regencies is managed by the provincial government; and investment that lies in two or more provinces is managed by the central government, or central BKPM. BKPM has plans to roll out its one-stop-shop structure to the provincial and regency level to streamline local permitting processes at more than 500 sites around the country.
Indonesia’s outward investment is limited, as domestic investors tend to focus on the domestic market. BKPM has responsibility for promoting and facilitating outward investment, to include providing information about investment opportunities in and policies of other countries. BKPM also uses their investment and trade promotion centers abroad to match Indonesian companies with potential investment opportunities. The government neither restricts nor provides incentives for outward investment.