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Indonesia: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Indonesia

Long-sleeved batik shirts are regarded as formal wear (equivalent to dark business suits). Trousers, shirts and ties are also common business attire. Revealing clothing, such as sleeveless shirts, is not appropriate. You should avoid using the left hand, which is considered unclean, to pass or receive anything, including business cards and gifts. Business cards are widely used, and it is polite to take great interest in any card that you receive. If you are being introduced to several people, it is customary to introduce yourself to the eldest member of the group, and it is acceptable to shake hands with women. Patience is required when doing business in Indonesia, and companies may not respond very promptly to emails. Business relationships are based on trust and familiarity, so networking and making personal contacts are important.

Office Hours

Business hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1700 or 0800-1600.
Government office hours: Mon-Fri 0800-1600.


Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest economy, has chartered impressive economic growth in recent years with its GDP per capita reaching US$3,877 in 2018. Services account for 45% of the GDP with tourism bringing in a significant amount of revenue. As Indonesia is rich in natural resources, its industry sector is also vibrant and contributing to its GDP.

Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous nation and the world's 10th largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity. This middle-income country has continued to make remarkable gains in terms of poverty reduction and has cut the poverty rate to more than half since 1999, to 9.8% in 2018.

Domestic demand has continued to be the main driver of Indonesia's economic growth. The country's economic planning follows a 20-year development plan, spanning from 2005 to 2025. The current medium-term development plan, which runs from 2015 to 2020, seeks to attract foreign investment, focuses on infrastructure development, and to improve the country's business environment and social assistance programs relating to healthcare and education.

The biggest challenges facing Indonesia currently include poverty as about 25.9 million Indonesians still live below the poverty line and long-standing rules governing trade and foreign investment in extractive sectors. The quality of schools and health clinics is uneven by middle-income standards, contributing to alarming figures, especially in health. Around one in three children under the age of five suffer from stunting, which reflects impaired brain development that will affect children’s opportunities in the future.


US$1,042.17 billion (2018).

Main exports

Mineral fuels, including oil, animal/vegetable fats, electrical machinery equipment, vehicles, rubber.

Main imports

Refined petroleum, wheat, raw sugar, cotton, soybeans.

Main trading partners

China, Japan, United States, India, Singapore.

Keeping in Touch in Indonesia


Cheap SIM cards and Wi-Fi calls mean that you can make calls from Indonesia with ease and at a reasonable price.

Mobile Phone

Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. SIM cards are widely available and can be easily refilled with credit. SIM cards start from IDR 15,000 and come with cheap calling rates. 4G networks are spreading across Indonesia, but speeds may not be as fast as in your home country.


Wi-Fi is very common in cafes, hotels, malls and restaurants, which allows you to make Internet calls.


Media freedom increased considerably after the end of President Suharto's rule in 1998, during which the now-defunct Ministry of Information monitored and controlled domestic media and restricted foreign media. Kompas is a popular daily newspaper and circulated throughout the archipelago, while English-language newspapers include the Jakarta Post and the weekly Tempo magazine. Television is regulated by the government through the Directorate General of Radio, Television and Film. Televisi Republik Indonesia (TVRI) and Rajawali Citra Televisi Indonesia (RCTI) are the two main public broadcasters, which offer a wide selection of programs, including traditional and Westernised shows. Other private stations include Metro TV and Surya Citra Televisi Indonesia (SCTV). Radio, like television, is regulated by the government through the Directorate General of Radio, Television, and Film. There are about 3,000 live radio stations throughout Indonesia, but only a few broadcast nationally. Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI) is the state radio network of Indonesia, and it has a national news network, as well as a regional station in major cities throughout the country.


Airmail to Western Europe, the USA and Australia takes about 10 days. An express service is available.

Post Office hours

Mon-Fri 0800-1600, Sat 0800-1300 (hours may be longer in city centres).

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