Investment Coordinating Board of Indonesia (BKPM) published its first quarter investment figures on Tuesday. The biggest headline was that China has entered the list of the ten largest foreign investors in Indonesia during the first quarter.
"It's the first time that China made it to the top 10," Franky Sibarani BKPM chairman confirmed, according to The Jakarta Post.
The news is an improvement for China in this regard. As I noted in a previous article on Sino-Indonesian relations, BKPN had previously reported that China ranked 13th in terms of investment, which was then Mauritius and even Taiwan. He had also noted that only six percent of Chinese investment in Indonesia had actually materialized, revealing a clear gap between the proposals and made investments.
While some might have new figures as another indicator of the growing dominance of China in Southeast Asia, Beijing's investment in Indonesia is still quite low. Rating-wise, China was tenth on the list, and investment figures for Singapore, Japan, South Korea, the UK, USA, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the British Virgin Islands and Hong Kong were eclipsed. Even if the total investments in Hong Kong and mainland China are combined, China remains trapped under the BVI, only moving to the point number nine.
Get a little more in numbers, The Jakarta Post said China reportedly invested just $ 75.1 million in 200 projects in Indonesia during that period, while Singapore (first inverter Indonesia) invested $ 1.2 billion and the fifth-placed United States invested $ 292 million.
More generally, as the relationship between China and other Southeast Asian countries, the evidence suggests that economic ties between China and Indonesia reflect a pattern where trade was considerably larger and has grown much faster than the investment (as noted in my previous article, by one count, trade quadrupled to $ 66 billion from 2005-2013 by former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono). A recent report by the Commission for Economic and Security Review US-China, which measures the economic relations between China and the ten states of Southeast Asia from trade and investment data, it was found that the role of investment in Beijing remains rather "marginal" with China contributing a paltry 2.3 percent of total FDI inflows of ASEAN in 2013. "The fact is that China is not yet a major investor in ASEAN," the report concludes sobriety (you can find my breakdown of the report here). Beijing may be slowly climbing the charts in some cases as Indonesia, but still has some way to go to catch up with other important countries on this score.