Indonesia's E-Commerce Sector is Now Open to Foreigners, BKPM Says.
The Indonesian government will allow foreigners to purchase up to a 33 percent stake in e-commerce businesses, previously closed to foreign investors, a top official at Indonesia's Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) said in a statement on Friday.
The government is currently revising its negative investment list.
The list was created with the aim of protecting, against foreign competition, local businesses considered critical or strategic for the economy. BKPM began taking suggestions from both private and public companies last month on which sectors should be restricted or liberalized.
"We also received a suggestion to cap the investment at a minimum of $15 million to make sure the investment will be in the middle-upper scale to let local startups grow," BKPM chairman Franky Sibarani said.
The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, however, did not confirm the investment cap. Noor Iza, the head of the ministry's sub-directorate for technology and e-business infrastructure told the Jakarta Globe that the "official figure" will be released either on Monday or Tuesday next week.
ShintaWitoyoDhanuwardoyo, chief executive officer of web developer Bubu.com, lauded the initiative nonetheless, but cautioned that 33 percent ownership may not be enough of an incentive for foreigners.
"I think foreign investment in the e-commerce sector is needed in the beginning because local investors are not as brave as foreign ones to put a great amount of money into startups when actually these startups need [a lot of] money for marketing, to develop and to grow the company," Shinta said.
Shinta said most investors are looking for ways to hold a majority stake in a company.
"We need to find a middle ground where they want to help us, but at the same time we will not lose the company," she added.
Indonesia attracted $21.3 billion in foreign direct investment in this year's January-September period, a decline from $21.7 billion seen in the same period last year.