Stock Market Showpiece
Though the Indian Ocean has been unkind to parts of this littoral country, the Jakarta stock market is a symbol of the exciting development path adopted by Indonesia.
Indonesia is a young nation in every sense of the term. A third of the population, which is larger than that of the United States, is less than 15 years old. The stock market, in its modern form, opened its doors only in 1977. The country took shape only towards the middle of the 20th century, shrugging off centuries of Dutch colonialism and World War II subjugation by the Japanese as well.
Though a vast majority of the population is Muslim, people are free to follow other religions as well. The literacy, which approaches 88%, and the country’s rich natural resources and varied agriculture, are Indonesia’s major strengths. The country has risen above the Asian Financial Crisis to grow the GDP at over 5% a year, and the stock market is at the center of dynamic restructuring of the economy. Energy is a major item of export and Japan is a leading trading partner.
The stock market has the usual system of indices but it is the Islamic Index, with about 30 members which monitors performance in accordance with Muslim laws, and yields some unique information for investors from around the world. The stock market is now in private hands, though it started as an appendage of the Finance Ministry: it is therefore a worthy symbol of how Indonesia is on the march towards reform and modernization. More than 300 companies are listed on the Jakarta stock market. It offers services on par with the best international standards.
More than 300 U.S. companies operate in Indonesia. Oil and rubber have been of traditional interest since colonial times, though top consumer brands have penetrated the length and breadth of the country in recent times. The ongoing efforts of the Indonesian government to reform and to restructure the economy bode well for the future expansion of U.S. interests in the country.