A worker finishes signage before the TikTok Southeast Asia Impact Forum 2023 in Jakarta on June 15, 2023.

Jakarta (AFP) - TikTok on Wednesday criticised calls by Indonesia to ban social media transactions, as Jakarta rails against what it says are monopolistic practices by major companies with e-commerce platforms such as the Chinese-owned firm.

Indonesia users spent more money on TikTok than anywhere else in Southeast Asia over the past year, as the app’s e-commerce arm rapidly grew to gain a substantial regional market share and millions of sellers since its 2021 launch.

Several government officials in recent weeks have called for social media and e-commerce to be separated, taking aim at companies like TikTok for what they say are monopolistic practices threatening local and small businesses.

“Close to two million local businesses in Indonesia use TikTok to grow and thrive through social commerce,” Anggini Setiawan, TikTok Indonesia’s head of communications told AFP.

“Forcing social media and e-commerce to separate into different platforms would not only hamper innovation, it would also disadvantage Indonesian merchants and consumers.”

It called on Jakarta to “provide a level playing field for TikTok”.

It came after deputy trade minister Jerry Sambuaga told a parliamentary hearing Tuesday that “we must differentiate between e-commerce, social media and social commerce”.

He complained there was little regulation of the social media e-commerce space and called for a change to current trade laws.

“A revision… will firmly and explicitly ban that,” he said, without confirming further details of his plan.

Current laws in the archipelago nation do not cover transactions on social media.

US tech giant Meta also uses e-commerce shops on its social media platforms Facebook and Instagram.

Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan told reporters Monday that a revision to laws could require companies to apply for separate licenses for social media and for e-commerce.

Minister of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Teten Masduki also reportedly told a commission last week that companies should not be able to combine social media and e-commerce, warning Tiktok could become a “monopoly”.

Indonesia is TikTok’s second-largest market, with 125 million users, according to company figures. It is owned by Chinese technology giant ByteDance.

Its chief executive Shou Zi Chew visited Jakarta in June where he pledged to pour billions of dollars into Southeast Asia in the coming years.