Is Indonesia the Next China?

CIGI Papers No. 90

February 9, 2016

This paper reviews Indonesia’s economic prospects and what these imply for a closer relationship with Canada. By posing the question “Is Indonesia the next China?,” the author suggests that Indonesia has the considerable economic potential envisaged by foreign investors, but conveys uncertainty as to whether Southeast Asia’s most populous country can make the changes necessary to realize that potential. A review of the economic record and comparison of China’s and Indonesia’s economic structures, endowments and institutions show major differences between the two countries. The paper further questions what it will take to realize Indonesia’s potential, finding the answers to be: human capital development; increased participation in the region’s global value chains; meeting the growing middle-class demand for modern services; raising productivity in agriculture and fishing; and increasing use of the Internet. Failure to make these changes will increase the chances of Indonesia’s growth in per capita incomes slowing and falling into the middle-income trap. Canada’s role will be to monitor closely how Indonesia tackles its five priorities at the same time as it responds to the opportunities to exploit Indonesia’s abundant natural resources, urbanization and its expanding consumer demand for modern services and educational opportunities.

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CIGI Papers Series

CIGI Papers present in-depth analysis and discussion on governance-related subjects. They include policy papers that present CIGI experts' positions or contributions to policy debates, and background papers that contain research findings, insights and data that contribute to the development of policy positions.

About the Author

Wendy K. Dobson is a professor and co-director of the Institute for International Business at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.