Continuing our focus on the global markets that offer the brightest prospects for U.S. exports and imports, we now turn our attention to Indonesia. Our previous reports had focused on the BRIC countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India and China. Subsequently, a new crop of countries known as MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria & Turkey) has arisen as drivers of future growth for U.S. businesses. MINT is an acronym originally coined by Fidelity Investments, a Boston-based asset management firm and was popularized by Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs, who had created the term BRIC. The term is primarily used in the economic and financial spheres as well as in academia. Its usage has grown especially in the investment sector, where it is used to refer to the bonds issued by these governments. These four countries are also part of the “Next Eleven”. We recently profiled Mexico and identified it as a source of excellent two way trade with the United States. This month we turn our attention to the Indonesian part of MINT

Based on key metrics such as market size, growth potential and accessibility, Indonesia has emerged as a country offering strong economic growth potential. According to World Trade Organization statistics, Indonesia is the world’s 27th largest exporting country. Indonesia is also the world’s fourth most populous country after China, India, and the United States and the world’s third most populous democratic country after India and the United States. In 2009, BRIC and Indonesia represented about 42 and 3 percent of the world’s population respectively and about 15 percent of global GDP altogether. All of them are G20 countries. By 2015, Internet users in BRIC and Indonesia will double to 1.2 billion. In 2009, Indonesia was the only member of the G20 to lower its public debt-to-GDP ratio – a positive economic management indicator. U.S. companies exporting industrial machinery and equipment, chemicals and food products can benefit from opportunities in Indonesia.

From a logistics perspective, Indonesia does have some significant limitations that can adversely affect your export business. The primary issue the country faces in this regard is a weak transportation infrastructure. While Indonesia has been steadily investing in its ocean ports and diversifying traffic away from the main port of Jakarta, there is still a great deal of work to be done. Airport infrastructure in the major cities of Jakarta and Surabaya also are strong and well suited to international trade. However, poor road infrastructure can create significant challenges for U.S. exporters who are selling goods on a DDU or DDP basis. Delays in delivery times and increased costs associated with locating suitable trucks for local delivery can inflate costs thus eroding profit margins on export sales.

Another major issue that U.S. exporters must contend with, and one that poses serious obstacles to Indonesia’s growth as a desirable market for foreign goods and investment, is that of customs procedures. The basic documentary requirements for import into Indonesia are rather straightforward. Exporters must provide:

 

  1. Airway Bill or Ocean Bill of Lading that show the actual cost of transport.
  2. Commercial Invoices that clearly state the buyer and seller of goods.
  3. Certificate of insurance.
  4. Certificate of Origin.

 

Despite these clear and brief requirements, however, the potential for delays and cost overruns resulting from customs compliance issues is significant. For example, the requirement that shipping documents should state the actual cost of transport is significant as Indonesian customs charge import duties on the combined value of merchandise value and cost of transport. Exporters must be aware of this as it has a direct impact on the landed cost of their merchandise. Logistics providers should be aware of this and ensure that their documents reflect accurate charges so as to prevent their clients from unnecessarily facing excessive duties which can result in lost profits and claims from dissatisfied or “overcharged” customers.

Similarly, the accuracy of information stated on commercial invoices is of utmost importance. Discrepancies in the details of the seller, buyer or merchandise stated on invoices can cause Indonesian customs officials to withhold release of goods until corrections or amendments are made thereby resulting in additional costs such as storage, detention charges, courier costs for replacement documentation and fines or penalties for incorrect paperwork.

While the potential of Indonesia as a market for U.S. goods is significant, exporters and logistics companies must be keenly aware of the pitfalls that come with shipping to this market. Knowing these pitfalls is significant to your growth in logistics. Even with pitfalls Indonesia will be ranked seventh in GDP by 2050 according to Jim O’Neill. The country is the largest economy in Southeast Asia and a member of the G-20 major economies. Currently Indonesia has the world’s 9th largest GDP-PPP and 16th largest nominal GDP. Definitely not a market to ignore.