Posted by: mel | July 13, 2009

Special Report: Crisis-free RI lures foreign job seekers

Jakarta Post | Business | 13 July 2009

Expanding business opportunities and security stability are all the ingredients attracting foreigners to live in Indonesia. The Jakarta Post’s Lilian Budianto and Rendi A. Witular explore the profiles of foreign nationals residing in Indonesia and the reasons behind their recent migration in large numbers to the country. Here are the stories:

Despite the negative news coverage of Indonesia worldwide revolving around Islamic extremism, terrorist threats, natural disasters, rampant corruption and deteriorating hygiene, the country is attracting more foreign nationals than ever.

A striving economy, low cultural barriers, a friendly climate and political and security stability have apparently phased out such concerns, luring more foreign visitors than scaring them away.

Statistics from the directorate general of immigration obtained by The Jakarta Post recently reveal the extent of this mass migration to Indonesian shores.

More than 124,000 visas excluding tourist visas have already been issued in the first half of 2009, compared to almost 130,000 issued in 2008 for the entire year.

The office has estimated it would issue twice as many visas in 2009 than 2008.

Between January and June this year, the office granted more than 38,000 working visas, or 30 percent of the total number of visas issued for non-tourist purposes.

For the entire 2008, the office issued 39,887 working visas or 30.8 percent of the total number of visas issued.

The working visa excludes people working for the United Nations and the Red Cross, individuals training and carrying out research, NGO staff and investors.

While the data measuring which nationalities are granted the most working visas is not publicly available, it is possible to infer the origin of most foreign nationals by looking at the number of visas issued for temporary stays of between six months and one year.

Most of those visas are issued to South Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian and Indian nationals.

The immigration office reported that the largest intake of foreign nationals worked for businesses engaged in industry and manufacturing, trading, construction and building, mining and education.

Other sectors also include oil and gas, entertainment, transportation, hotel and restaurants and telecommunications.

Around 85 percent of working visas are issued to foreigners recruited to work in these sectors, said the immigration office.

“More foreign nationals are flocking to the country because we have not been that hard hit by the *global* crisis. Many of them are seeking jobs here,” said immigration office spokesman Maroloan J. Baringbing.

He believed the trend would likely pick up as business opportunities in Indonesia were growing and the security environment remained conducive.

Huang Kai, marketing director for China Hua Dian Engineering Corporation, said more foreign nationals came to work in Indonesia because of its thriving economy.

Huang, who has been in Indonesia for three years, said the number of Chinese companies operating in Indonesia, for example, rose to around 1,000 this year from merely 20 in 1998.

The influx of Chinese companies has created jobs for local workers as well as foreign nationals whose skills are highly sought after to run the companies.

Morgan Harrington, an Australian who has been living in Jakarta for the last nine months, said he chose to seek a career in a local media company in Indonesia as he believed the country would play a greater role in the global economy in the future.

“People have misconceptions about Indonesia. Despite some problems, Indonesia has a lot to offer,” he said.

While most of its neighboring countries are struggling to fend off negative growth caused by the impact of the global financial crisis, the predominantly Muslim country had enjoyed a 4.4 percent economic growth in the first quarter of this year.

Last year’s 6.1 percent growth placed Indonesia behind China and India as one of the fastest emerging Asian economies.

More foreign arrivals and businesses seeking prospects in Indonesia are expected as Indonesia wraps up its legislative and presidential elections peacefully, boosting Indonesia’s reputation as a more stable and secure nation – once profoundly doubted by overseas analysts in early 2000.

There are currently less than 500,000 foreign nationals living in Indonesia, according to the immigration office, a far smaller number than at least 1.6 million living in Malaysia and 1 million in Thailand.

Based on immigration data, the nationality of the country’s foreign population has shifted away from being predominantly Japanese and Western before the late 1997 Asian financial crisis, to mostly South Korean, Chinese, and Japanese.

According to Maroloan, the influx of foreign nationals before the crisis was related to the huge foreign investment originating mostly from Japan, the United States and European countries.

“But as China and South Korean rose to become economic powerhouses, their small-scale investments that proliferated here since 1999 have influenced the mix of foreign nationals in Indonesia. At the same time, Western investors fled the country because of the crisis and the political instability,” said Maroloan.

The inflow of foreign nationals has also contributed to boosting the local economy with the sprouting of restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels, and apartments catering to expatriates, especially in the capital. Those businesses are more striving and alive than ever compared to five years ago.

However, it remains to be seen whether the influx of foreign nationals seeking jobs here would sideline capable local workers in competing for a similar post in the long run.

Ranking by temporary stay Visa (kitas)

1. South Korea——-10,238————8,809
2. China————-9,369————-9,860
3. Japan————-7,932————-7,620
4. Malaysia———-5,415————-6,157
5. India————-5,309————-5,568
6. United States—–4,005————-4,241
7. Australia———3,638————-3,676
8. Philippine——–2,694————-2,904
9. Singapore———2,047————-2,139

Ranking by permanent stay visa (kitap)

1. China————-253—————195
2. Japan————-78—————-60
3. India————-74—————-77
4. South Korea——-72—————-62
5. United States—–71—————-64
6. Germany———–43—————-29
7. Taiwan————41—————-34
8. Netherlands——-34—————-38
9. Malaysia———-30—————-23
10. Australia——–24—————-30


Ranking by visiting visa (non-tourists) 


1. China—————-15,262———–17,974
2. Netherlands———-3,850————3,126
3. Timor Leste———-3,502————4,825
4. Australia————3,440————3,815
5. United States——–2,863————3,103
6. Malaysia————-2,683————3,459
7. France—————2,373————1,905
8. South Korea———-2,234————2,383
9. Germany————–2,203————2,133
10. Japan—————1,440————1,573

* As of first half 2009


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