Indonesia’s biggest export by value is palm oil, a commodity that accounts for over a tenth of all Indonesian exports.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Indonesian rupiah depreciated by -9.6% against the US dollar since 2016 and dropped by -3.1% from 2019 to 2020. Indonesia’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers in 2020.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 75.3% of products exported from Indonesia were bought by importers in: China (19.5% of the global total), United States (11.4%), Japan (8.4%), Singapore (6.6%), India (6.4%), Malaysia (5%), South Korea (4%), Philippines (3.6%), Thailand (3.1%), Vietnam (3%), Taiwan (2.5%) and the Netherlands (1.9%).
From a continental perspective, 70.3% of Indonesia’s exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian countries while 12.5% were sold to importers in North America. Indonesia shipped another 11.1% worth of goods to Europe. Smaller percentages went to Africa (2.8%), Oceania led by Australia (2%) and Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (1.4%).
Given Indonesia’s population of 270.2 million people, its total $163.3 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $600 for every resident in the Asian nation.
Indonesia’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Indonesian global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Indonesia.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$25.6 billion (15.7% of total exports)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $20.7 billion (12.7%)
- Iron, steel: $10.8 billion (6.6%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $9.2 billion (5.7%)
- Gems, precious metals: $8.2 billion (5%)
- Vehicles: $6.6 billion (4%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $5.6 billion (3.4%)
- Machinery including computers: $5.2 billion (3.2%)
- Footwear: $4.8 billion (2.9%)
- Paper, paper items: $4.2 billion (2.6%)
Indonesia’s top 10 exports totaled 61.9% of Indonesia’s total exports.
Iron and steel was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 46.8% from 2019 to 2020. In second place for improving export sales was gems and precious metals via a 24.2% gain. Indonesia’s shipments of animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 17.5%.
The leading decliner among Indonesia’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil thanks to a -25% drop year over year.
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Indonesia’s Most Valuable Export Products below.
Indonesia went from an overall -$3.6 billion trade deficit in 2019 to then generate an estimated $21.7 billion trade surplus for 2020.
The following types of Indonesian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: US$20.5 billion (Up by 17.9% since 2019)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $9.8 billion (Down by -7.8%)
- Gems, precious metals: $6.2 billion (Up by 32.2%)
- Footwear: $4.2 billion (Up by 18.4%)
- Iron, steel: $4 billion (Reversing a -$3 billion deficit)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $3.9 billion (Down by -3%)
- Wood: $3.4 billion (Up by 4.3%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $3.3 billion (Down by -18.4%)
- Fish: $3.3 billion (Up by 9.8%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $3.1 billion (Down by -8.5%)
Indonesia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of palm oil, coal and crude oil. In turn, these cashflows indicate Indonesia’s strong competitive advantages under the related product categories.
Below are exports from Indonesia that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Indonesia’s goods trail Indonesian importer spending on foreign products.
- Machinery including computers: -US$16.6 billion (Down by -22% since 2019)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$9.8 billion (Down by -10.9%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$4.6 billion (Down by -28.1%)
- Cereals: -$3 billion (Down by -7.2%)
- Organic chemicals: -$2.7 billion (Down by -13.9%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$2.3 billion (Up by 2%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: -$2 billion (Up by 40.8%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: -$1.9 billion (Up by 4.3%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$1.6 billion (Down by -33.5%)
- Knit or crochet fabric: -$1.3 billion (Down by -14.4%)
Indonesia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for machinery, particularly those related to computers.
Indonesian Export Companies
Nine Indonesian corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major Indonesian conglomerates that Forbes included.
- Gudang Garam (Tobacco)
- Semen Indonesia (Construction Materials)
- Telekom Indonesia (Telecommunications services)
Wikipedia also lists exporters from Indonesia. Selected examples are shown below.
- Astra International (financial/industrial conglomerate)
- Bumi Resources (coal)
- Djarum (tobacco cigarettes)
- Dragon Computer & Communication (computer hardware)
- Krakatau Steel (steel products)
- MedcoEnergi (oil, gas)
- Pertamina (oil, natural gas)
- United Tractors (heavy equipment)
Searchable List of Indonesia’s Most Valuable Export Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Indonesia during 2020. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2019.
|Rank||Indonesia's Export Product||2020 Value (US$)||Change|
|2||Coal, solid fuels made from coal||$14,547,621,000||-23.3%|
|7||Flat-rolled stainless steel items||$2,993,038,000||-8.2%|
|8||Industrial fatty acids and alcohols||$2,916,548,000||+11.1%|
|10||Copper ores, concentrates||$2,412,204,000||+88.4%|
|12||Chemical woodpulp (non-dissolving)||$2,126,555,000||-11.6%|
|16||Uncoated paper for writing/printing||$1,823,957,000||-18.6%|
|17||Laminated wood (including plywood, veneer panels)||$1,744,322,000||+3.2%|
|18||Stainless steel ingots||$1,630,912,000||+296.5%|
|19||Crustaceans (including lobsters)||$1,608,548,000||+12.6%|
|20||Phone system devices including smartphones||$1,539,748,000||+23%|
|22||Rubber tires (new)||$1,485,363,000||-9.9%|
|29||Refined copper, unwrought alloys||$1,257,646,000||+16%|
|31||Precious metal waste, scrap||$1,057,979,000||+9.5%|
|33||Crustaceans, molluscs (preserved/prepared)||$908,000,000||+21%|
|34||Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)||$880,391,000||-0.2%|
|35||Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)||$875,311,000||-9.9%|
|39||Cocoa butter, fat, oil||$790,990,000||+0.7%|
|40||Nickel matte, oxide sinters||$764,413,000||-2.3%|
|42||Miscellaneous oil cakes||$747,462,000||+18.2%|
|43||Petroleum oil residues||$740,670,000||-25.2%|
|44||Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)||$719,326,000||+36.1%|
|45||Processed petroleum oils||$706,792,000||-11.5%|
|46||Women's clothing (knit or crochet)||$691,244,000||-20.5%|
|47||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$691,093,000||+2%|
|48||Organic cleaning preparations, soap||$683,169,000||+11.8%|
|50||Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)||$639,256,000||-24.8%|
|52||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$608,591,000||+14.8%|
|54||Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)||$607,826,000||+3.8%|
|57||Cases, handbags, wallets||$568,551,000||-9.5%|
|58||Fish fillets, pieces||$563,982,000||+4.4%|
|59||Aluminum ores, concentrates||$555,496,000||+19%|
|60||Coconut, Brazil nuts, cashews||$544,110,000||+36.4%|
|61||Turtles' eggs, birds' nests||$540,761,000||+48.5%|
|62||Saturated acyclic mono acids||$535,232,000||+56.9%|
|63||Whole fish (frozen)||$529,046,000||+23.8%|
|64||Coffee/tea extracts, concentrates||$527,181,000||-12.8%|
|65||Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products||$514,835,000||-2.3%|
|68||Other food preparations||$489,633,000||+25.5%|
|69||Yarn (synthetic staple fibers)||$483,410,000||-36.3%|
|70||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$482,369,000||+2.4%|
|72||Medication mixes in dosage||$472,015,000||+14.5%|
|73||Clothing, accessories (vulcanized rubber)||$466,543,000||+73.7%|
|74||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$438,466,000||-1.1%|
|75||Women's shirts (not knit or crochet)||$433,166,000||-29.3%|
|76||Men's coats, jackets (not knit or crochet)||$431,137,000||-12.9%|
|77||Iron or non-alloy steel products (semi-finished)||$415,106,000||+77.9%|
|78||Uncarded and uncombed artificial staple fibers||$414,467,000||-20.6%|
|79||Footwear (rubber or plastic)||$414,234,000||+15.7%|
|80||Yarn (85%+ cotton)||$412,102,000||-15.1%|
|81||Wood carpentry, builders' joinery||$409,700,000||-1.9%|
|83||Fish, caviar (preserved/prepared)||$399,159,000||-15.7%|
|84||Chemical woodpulp (dissolving)||$396,397,000||+6.7%|
|85||Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys||$393,338,000||-2.9%|
|87||Wigs, false beards, eyelashes||$387,602,000||-2.8%|
|89||Piston engine parts||$369,895,000||-12.9%|
|91||Electrical converters/power units||$349,973,000||+4.3%|
|97||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$318,491,000||+9.9%|
|98||Miscellaneous vegetable products||$313,935,000||+55.5%|
|99||Other organic cleaning preparations||$304,760,000||+10.6%|
|100||Bras, corsets (not knit or crochet)||$302,220,000||-23.3%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$130.3 billion or 79.8% by value for all products exported from Indonesia during 2020.
In macroeconomic terms, Indonesia’s total exported goods represent 4.9% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($3.302 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 4.9% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 4.9% for 2019. Those percentages suggest a relatively stable reliance on products sold on international markets for Indonesia’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Indonesia’s unemployment rate was 7.07% at February 2020, up from an average 5.28% for 2019 according to Trading Economics.
Indonesia’s capital city is Jakarta.
See also Indonesia’s Top Trading Partners, Indonesia’s Top 10 Imports, Top Asian Export Countries and Coal Exports by Country
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook report on East Asia/Southeast Asia: Indonesia. Accessed on April 17, 2021
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 17, 2021
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on April 17, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on April 17, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 17, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 17, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on April 17, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Indonesia. Accessed on April 17, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on April 17, 2021