There’s been a flurry of foreign investment laws in the twilight months of the Duterte administration. The Retail Trade Liberalization (RTL), Foreign Investment Act (FIA), and Public Service Act (PSA) amendments were signed into law within weeks of each other. These all passed on the strength of a powerful argument – that the country is in desperate need of foreign investment, and more foreign investment is always a good thing.
The argument is compelling – but wrong. If anything, the foreign investment fetish is keeping Filipinos poor and the economy underdeveloped. Is foreign direct investment (FDI) the magic bullet for development that it is so often made out to be? Not really, if we look at the Philippine experience with unjaundiced eyes.