Indonesia has proven to be resilient in the face of challenges on multiple fronts, from geopolitical tensions to rising inflation and interest rates. Buoyed by robust demand for its natural resources, a vibrant digital sector and surging foreign investments, Southeast Asia’s largest economy has weathered the global turbulence to put itself back on a growth trajectory.
The country’s economy is expected to grow by 5.4% in 2022, and by 5.0% in 2023, according to a report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) released in September. The Asian Development Outlook 2022 update notes that robust consumer demand has more than offset lower government spending, while demand for Indonesia’s commodity exports has also been healthy, supporting growth and generating a fiscal revenue windfall.
“The Indonesian economy is coping well with threats to growth. Consumer spending is robust and commodity exports have boomed,” says Jiro Tominaga, ADB Country Director for Indonesia.
Reflecting this growing optimism over Indonesia’s outlook, foreign direct investments spiked by almost 64% in the third quarter of 2022, compared to the same period in 2021, boosted primarily by development of resources processing. Indonesia’s Minister of Investment Bahlil Lahadalia says the economic slowdown in China, one of its biggest partners, would not affect the flow of investment into the country.
A Tech Resurgence
Indonesia’s burgeoning digital economy is also regaining its momentum, driven in part by the country’s technology startups, whose innovative solutions are helping to overcome high distribution costs and provide access to goods and financial services to more Indonesians.
Indeed, amid an uncertain environment for the global technology sector, Indonesia’s startups continue to attract the attention of investors seeking new avenues for returns. In particular, industry watchers believe that the country’s early- to growth-stage investments present an attractive risk-reward profile for investors.
Indonesia is now home to a rising number of tech unicorns such as Traveloka, Xendit and Akulaku; local startups raised US$9.4 billion in 2021, almost three times the US$3.42 billion raised a year earlier. Indonesian venture capital (VC) firms have also been actively investing in the sector, further fueling growth.
One leading investor in the tech startup space is Alpha JWC Ventures, Indonesia’s first independent and institutional VC firm. Established in 2015, the firm’s total assets under management have grown to around US$700 million across three funds. Its portfolio of over 70 companies features four unicorns and 27 centaurs, with valuations of between US$100 million and US$1 billion.
Indonesia has also seen some of Southeast Asia’s most prominent public listings this year, including GoTo Group, the country’s biggest technology company. As of 10 November, the Indonesia Stock Exchange has recorded 54 new listings in 2022, exceeding 2021’s total.
The Return of Travel and Spending
Meanwhile, the lifting of pandemic-related restrictions and the reopening of borders are proving a boon for the country’s hospitality and consumer sectors. Amid this recovery, the first Langham Hotel in Southeast Asia opened its doors in downtown Jakarta.
The ultra-luxurious Langham, Jakarta sits on the uppermost stories of a skyscraper in the Sudirman Central Business District, with upscale shopping and entertainment nearby. Staying true to its roots, the property pays homage to the refined British elegance of the iconic Langham Hotel in London.
Growing confidence in the economy is also giving a boost to consumer spending. Fitch Solutions forecasts real household spending in Indonesia to grow by 4.8% year-on-year in 2022, an improvement from the 2.2% growth recorded in 2021. While household spending will moderate slightly downwards in 2023, growth is expected to remain strong at 4.7% next year.
As the largest and most successful bread company in Indonesia, PT Nippon Indosari Corpindo Tbk. is well-positioned to meet rising demand for its market-leading bread and cake products under its flagship brand Sari Roti.
To capitalize on the buoyant consumer sentiment, the company announced plans to enter the chocolate spread and chocolate milk business, after observing that Indonesian consumers had developed a strong affinity for Sari Roti’s chocolate flavor.
Healthy Demand for Natural Resources
Indonesia’s resources sector is expected to be another beneficiary of the recovering global economy. In particular, palm oil prices are projected to strengthen as demand increases for its use in food and biofuels. Indonesia is a major exporter of the commodity.
The uptick in palm oil is benefitting Indonesian producers such as PT Sumber Tani Agung Resources Tbk (STAA), which has established itself as a leading and sustainable player in the palm oil industry. Founded 50 years ago, the company has leveraged its expertise and experience to consistently deliver superior results to its key stakeholders.
STAA is now venturing into the downstream business to fuel growth, and is constructing a refinery and fractionation plant in Dumai, Riau. Coordinating Minister of Maritime and Investment Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan says Indonesia’s exports could surpass US$300 billion by 2024, as the country regulates the exports of a range of commodities to encourage investment in local downstream industries.
Meanwhile, sustainability has become a priority for many businesses in Indonesia. The country’s largest integrated energy company, Pertamina, is incorporating Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors into its operations as it views ESG and sustainability as fundamental to its future growth.
While threats to growth still abound, Indonesian businesses are riding the economy’s resilience to position themselves for long-term success as the effects of the pandemic fades into the background.