Indonesia has played a modest role in the world economy since the mid-20th century, and its importance has been considerably less than its size, resources, and geographic position would seem to warrant. The country is a major exporter of crude petroleum and natural gas. In addition, Indonesia is one of the world’s main suppliers of rubber, coffee, cocoa, and palm oil; it also produces a wide range of other commodities, such as sugar, tea, tobacco, copra, and spices (e.g., cloves). Nearly all commodity production comes from large estates. Widespread exploration for deposits of oil and other minerals has resulted in a number of large-scale projects that have contributed substantially to general development funds.
Although Indonesia has remained a major importer of manufactured goods, high technology, and technical skills since the early 1970s, the country’s economic base has shifted from the primary sector to secondary and tertiary industries—manufacturing, trade, and services. Manufacturing surpassed agriculture in terms of contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) in the early 1990s and has continued to be the largest single component of the country’s economy. A significant portion of the national budget has continued to be allocated to agriculture, however; consequently, the country has remained self-sufficient in rice production since the mid-1980s.