Industrialization in Indonesia since the 1970s

Research Papers


by ISHIDA Masami
September 2003

During the period from the latter half of the 1980s until just before the Asian currency crisis in 1997, Indonesia’s economic development had drawn expectations and attention from various quarters, along with Malaysia and Thailand within the same Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In fact, the 1993 report by the World Bank, entitled “East Asian Miracle: Economic Growth and Public Policy,” recognized Indonesia as one of the East Asian economies with the strong economic performance, i.e. sustained economic growth (World Bank [1993]). And it was the manufacturing industry that had been the driving force behind Indonesia’s economic growth during that period. Since the 1997 outbreak of the Asian currency crisis, however, the manufacturing sector in Indonesia has been mired in a situation that rules out the kind of bright prospects it had emanated previously. The Indonesian economy is still in the developing stage, and in accordance with the history of industrial structural changes in other countries, Indonesia’s manufacturing industry can still be expected to serve as the engine of the country’s economic development. But is it really possible in an environment where economic liberalization and globalization are forging ahead? And, what sort of problems have to be dealt with to make it possible? To answer these questions, it is necessary to know the current conditions of Indonesia’s manufacturing sector, and to do that, it becomes important to think back on the history of the country’s industrialization. Thus, this paper is intended to retrace and unlock the track of Indonesia’s industrialization up until the establishment of the manufacturing sector in its present form, with the ultimate goal being to give answers to the above-mentioned questions. Subject to an analysis in this paper is the period from the installment of President Soeharto’s administration onward when industrialization of the modern industrial sector2 moved into high gear.

   The composition of this paper is outlined below. Section 1 first shows why it is important to examine import substitution and export orientation, both of which are used as the measures of the analysis in this paper, in tracking the history of the industrialization, and then discuss indicators of import substitution and export orientation as well as statistical data and resources needed to develop those indicators. Section 2 clarifies the status of the manufacturing industry among all industries by looking at the composition ratio of the manufacturing industry in terms of value added, imports and exports. Section 3 to 5 cover three periods between 1971 and 1995 and make an analysis of import substitution, export orientation and changes in the industrial structure for each period. Section 3 analyzes the period from 1971 through 1985, when Indonesia pursued the import substitution policy amid the oil boom. Section 4 covers the period from 1985 through 1990, when the packages of deregulatory measures were announced successively under structural adjustment policies made necessary by the fall in oil prices. Section 5 examines the period from 1990 through 1995, which saw the alternate shifts between the overheating of the economy by sharply rising investment by both domestic and foreign investors in the wake of the liberalization of investment, trade and financial services, and polices to cool down the economy. Section 6, which covers the 1995-1999 period straddling the economic crisis, is designed for an analysis of the changes in production trends before and after the economic crisis as well as the changes in the industrial structure. Section 7, after summing up the history of Indonesia’s industrialization examined in the previous sections, discusses problems found in respective sectors and attempts to present future prospects for the country’s manufacturing industry.

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