Indonesia eases foreign investment rules, opens up pharma industry

JAKARTA Fri May 2, 2014 6:55am EDT

JAKARTA May 2 (Reuters) - Indonesia on Friday eased its foreign investment regulations for several industries, including pharmaceuticals, power plants and advertising, amid signs of weakening investor appetite in Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

After months of delays, the cabinet secretary's office issued the revised "negative investment list" of sectors in which foreign investors are either barred or restricted. The list, which has existed for decades, limits foreign involvement in areas deemed sensitive.

Under the new policy, the government increased the maximum foreign investment in pharmaceutical companies to 85 percent from 75 percent, and in advertising agencies to 51 percent from 49 percent. The changes were effective from April 24, the cabinet secretary's office said.

Foreign investment growth in Indonesia slowed sharply in the first quarter, rising 9.8 percent year-on-year to 72 trillion rupiah ($6.23 billion, the investment board said last month.

That was down from a 17.5 percent increase the previous quarter and was the slowest growth since the second quarter of 2009. (Reporting by Jakarta bureau; Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Robert Biresl)