ByteDance Ltd’s TikTok is said to be in the process of obtaining an e-commerce permit in Indonesia, local media Antara reported, quoting a minister.

TikTok is free to collaborate with any e-commerce platforms as long as it abides by applicable regulations and procedures in Indonesia, Deputy Minister of Trade Jerry Sambuaga reportedly said.

Sambuaga noted that the government has frozen the operation of TikTok Shop, an online shopping feature offered by TikTok, as it violated its permit for operating merely as a social media platform.

“Earlier, TikTok did not conform to rules and did not have a permit (as an e-commerce platform). Once it has the permit, it can collaborate with anyone as long as it abides by applicable regulations and procedures,” he was quoted as saying.

According to Antara, the minister made the statement after attending the opening of an electric vehicle exhibition in Jakarta on Tuesday.

The deputy minister also said that the government enacted Trade Minister’s Regulation No. 31 of 2023 with the aim of affirming that in Indonesia, a social media platform should not combine its functions and features with ones akin to those offered by e-commerce platforms.

“TikTok is currently making efforts to comply with applicable rules. It should run its functions without neglecting Trade Minister’s Regulation No. 31 of 2023,” he added.

The government has been striving to ensure that collaboration established between TikTok and any e-commerce platforms will not harm other business actors, especially micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the minister said.

“We also need to pay attention to MSMEs. Why? Because the government has committed to protecting and siding with MSMEs,” Sambuaga was quote as saying.

Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Teten Masduki previously said that TikTok had established coordination with three e-commerce platforms in Indonesia.

TikTok has been communicating with Tokopedia, Bukalapak, and an e-commerce platform of CT Corp, he stated, adding that the purpose of the communication is still unknown.

“I received this information from the e-commerce platforms, not TikTok,” Masduki stated in Jakarta on Thursday (November 23).

Masduki then said that he believes it is just a matter of time before TikTok resumes its TikTok Shop feature in Indonesia, the report added.

Last Thursday, Bloomberg reported TikTok is in talks to invest into a unit of Indonesia’s GoTo Group, one of several options the Chinese tech giant is weighing as it tries to restart its online shop in its biggest e-commerce market.

The companies are working on a potential investment into GoTo’s online-retail unit Tokopedia, which could be finalised in the coming weeks, Bloomberg reported, quoting people with knowledge of the matter. Instead of a direct investment, the deal could take the form of a joint venture between the two firms, said one of the people.

The discussions also involve the two companies jointly building a new e-commerce platform, the people added. Such arrangement is designed to address regulatory hurdles and let TikTok revive its online-shopping service in Southeast Asia’s largest retail arena.

Deliberations for a deal are ongoing and talks could still fall apart, the people said. A pact would also be subject to regulatory approval, the report added. A direct investment into Tokopedia, Indonesia’s largest local e-commerce player, might help to further smoothen relations with the government, according to the report.

TikTok has 125 million active monthly users in Indonesia, which has a population of more than 270 million people.

TikTok mulls investing in Indonesia’s GoTo to revive online shop – report