Indonesia's economic positives - ranging from demographics to natural resources - should have made the country an investment magnet, but a slew of obstacles make it a tough sell for foreigners.
"There has not been any significant move to open sectors to foreign direct investment," Credit Suisse said in a note last week, adding OECD indexes indicate policy barriers to foreign direct investment (FDI) aren't just high compared with the region, they've been getting higher.
The roadblocks can start with just getting permission to operate, which historically has taken as much as three years.
"One of the difficulties regularly cited by foreign companies in setting up operations is the length of time and the number of agencies that they have to deal with to obtain the necessary business permits/licenses," Anton Alifandi, an analyst at IHS, said via email.
While new Indonesian President Joko Widodo has moved to set up a "one-stop shop" for approvals, Alifandi hasn't yet heard feedback on how well it's working.
The approval process can also be changeable, with Alifandi noting protectionism and nationalism can be issues. In 2013, DBS walked away from a $7.2 billion deal to acquire Indonesian lender Bank Danamon, citing regulatory concerns after Indonesia decided in the wake of the Singapore bank's offer to cap foreign ownership of banks.
Another barrier may be in the works: "A number of Indonesian officials and ministers have spoken of the need for foreign employees to pass an Indonesian language test before they can work in Indonesia," Alifandi noted.
That would exacerbate what foreign investors already see as a difficult labor market, despite a strong demographic trend.