Industrial estates lobby for one-stop investment centers

Urip Hudiono, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

If there is one thing investors like, it is being able to get their investments up and running without too much hassle. That means spending the least amount of time and money, and if possible, processing all the required documents in one place.

With this in mind, a seminar concluded Tuesday that the government should look into developing one-stop investment centers, particularly at existing industrial estates.

The administration should also consider expanding such industrial estates into special economic zones (SEZs) to attract even more investors, participants added.

Speaking at the seminar held by the Indonesian Association of Industrial Estates, MM2100 Industrial Town president Yoshihiro Kobi said the government could promote Indonesia's economic potential and convince prospective investors by coordinating all related agencies in the effort.

This could be achieved if the government established a one-stop center where investors could go to either for information, or to begin arranging their planned investments, Kobi said.

He added that industrial estates are good candidates for these centers, since the estates already have the necessary infrastructure and facilities.

"Furthermore, the government should then focus on establishing Indonesia as a production and export base for the region," he said.

Kobi suggested the government study the Philippines' success in expanding the role of existing industrial estates to develop SEZs. These provided enticing incentives, but more importantly they provided simplicity and convenience to investors.

"An investor registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, for example, would automatically receive all the incentives and benefits without having to go through any more bureaucratic hassles," he said.

The government recently established SEZs as pilot projects in the Riau Islands provinces of Batam, Bintan and Karimun, with plans to launch similar SEZs in the future.

Indonesia's industrial estates have argued that it is only fair to give them a chance to become SEZs too. Before Batam became an SEZ, it was home to several industrial estates which had been given the status of free-trade zones.

The MM2100 Industrial Estate is situated in Bekasi, West Java, and houses 160 companies, mostly from Japan. Total investments there amount to US$3 billion; it exports $3.5 billion worth of goods annually and provides jobs for some 60,000 workers.

Kobi, who is also a member of the Japan Club of investors in Indonesia and has 16 years of experience here, argued it was important for Indonesia to act now, as the country was falling behind other countries in the region in attracting investments.

He mentioned a recent survey by the Japan External Trade Organization which showed Indonesia losing appeal for Japanese investors. Only 53 companies here have plans to expand their investments into a regional production base level, compared to 124 in Thailand, 68 in Malaysia and 54 in the Philippines.

Indonesia was recently ranked 135 out of 175 countries for convenience of doing business, according to a report from the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation.

As of June this year, Japan was Indonesia's largest investor, at $653.4 million, followed by South Korea with $438 million.
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