Can Jokowi boost Indonesia?

Indonesian president Joko Widodo, known as “Jokowi”, has been sworn in for a second five-year term, says Amy Chew in the South China Morning Post. He pledged to turn his country into one of the world’s top five economies by 2045 by overhauling an “inefficient, corruption-riddled bureaucracy”.
Asia’s third-largest country by population, Indonesia has vast potential. Half of the population is under 30. While Jokowi presents himself as a business-friendly reformer, he has also formed an alliance with his country’s Islamist movement. Plans to outlaw insulting the president and expand blasphemy laws sparked a wave of protests recently. Planned reforms to labour laws have also seen workers rebel.

Indonesia rose from 128th to 73rd in the World Bank’s “ease of doing business index” during Jokowi’s first term in power, note Jun Suzuki and Shotaro Tani for the Nikkei Asian Review. Now his top challenge will be to reignite a “sputtering economy”. Growth will slow to 5% this year, a rate regarded as “the minimum needed for businesses to keep investing”. The US-China trade war is a chance for southeast Asia to grow its manufacturing base. Yet most of the firms that have left China have relocated to Vietnam, with few opting for Indonesia’s “red tape”. It remains to be seen if Jokowi can make good on his ambitious promises of reform.

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