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Economic nationalism has been a mantra among our industrialists and local manufacturers for a long, long time. During the early days of the Republic, budding Filipino capitalists were already insisting on some kind of preferential treatment not only from the government but from our very own consumers; the principle being that Filipino consumers have the duty, as Filipino citizens, to patronize local products and thus help build local, Filipino-owned industries.

Due to the colonial mentality deeply ingrained by our Spanish and American colonizers, the appreciation for Filipino products did not come naturally. The home court advantage had to be painstakingly pushed.

In 1903, Ang Bagong Katipunan promoted economic nationalism and self-sufficiency as a reaction to American colonialism. The Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands promoted local consumption in the 1920s via a manifesto titled “Ours First, Yours Later.”

The movement attained greater consolidation with the founding of the National Economic Protectionism Association (NEPA) in 1934. But it was in the 50s and 60s that Philippine industry achieved its golden era. The Filipino First policy of the Garcia administration, with its attendant policies of import substitution, protectionism and foreign exchange controls, spurred rapid industrial growth. The Philippines became second only to Japan in terms of economic development.

But somewhere along the way, protectionism was tainted by corruption and cronyism while economic nationalism was drowned by free market globalization.

By the mid-1980s, our industrial and agricultural sectors had become increasingly undermined by neoliberal economic policies imposed by a series of acquiescent regimes held hostage by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and GATT-WTO.

Trade liberalization subjected our local producers to greater competition from their foreign counterparts who had benefited from decades of government support and subsidies. Meanwhile, investment liberalization “leveled the playing field” for foreign capital at the expense of local capital. Combined with government’s “hands off” policy on the economy and the deregulation of strategic industries especially oil and power, Filipino producers were practically left to fend for themselves.

The result? Manufacturing’s share in the Philippine economy and in employment have consequently fallen to their lowest since the 1950s while food production has failed to meet even the most basic levels of self-sufficiency.

So what is to be done?

Perhaps its time to turn to our own people for help. With a 90 million population, the local market can save the day if consumers – starting with the government as the single biggest consumer – deliberately choose to buy Fililino-made products.

But more than this, greater government support and protection for local industry is necessary to achieve any significant level of industrial development. Such is the case with countries as economically and politically diverse as the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, China, Russia, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan.

So much more can be achieved for the economy if Filipino enterprises are given the wide range of potential support that our people, the state and its institutions can and must provide. This includes greater and cheaper access to funding, appropriate technology, power, raw materials and infrastructure. The domestic market should be oriented towards giving greater opportunities for Filipino industry even as foreign markets are actively sought. The government should also cut bureaucratic red tape, develop tax benefits and other incentives for local producers and generally make it easier for Filipinos to do business. There should be an overhaul of reckless trade and investment liberalization policies that have worked against local industry and agriculture.

At the same time the corruption that undermines focused industrial support and breeds debilitating cronyism must be confronted head on. The push for industrial development must proceed apace with the struggle for transparency, accountability and good governance.

Finally, widespread poverty constricts the local market. A genuinely Filipino industrial program should decisively confront the problem of mass poverty and the structural imbalances that undermine any effort at development. Thus, measures such as genuine agrarian reform, environmental protection, equitable wage adjustments and massive social spending in education, health and housing are crucial.

With the neoliberal globalization model clearly in tatters, perhaps its time to reassert the importance of the basics – buying local, achieving food self-sufficiency, national industrialization, agrarian reform, good governance, social justice – as the real building blocks of modernization and sustainable development.

The way I see it, economic nationalism seems to be making sense again.#

*This article came out in my ‘Man in the Mirror’ column in the June 20 issue of the Good Morning Philippines newspaper.

6 thoughts on “Economic nationalism, anyone?

  1. bostsip…isang maalab na pagpupugay sa iyo….napakahusay ang iyong ginawang sanaysay….sang ayon ako sa iyong panukala na isabuhay na muli ang panawagan na bigyan pansin ang ating sariling produkto na gawa ng ating magigiting na manggagawa at makabayang mamumuhunan….dagdag ko lamang at suhestion…mayroon na ba tayong organisasyon ng mga pilipinong mamumuhunan? kung wala o mayroon na, kailangan nating pangunahan ang pagbubuo ng isang grupo ng makabayang kapitalista o dili kayay maimpluwensiyahan o makaalyado ang grupo na ito upang maimulat ang kagyat na pangangailangan na isulong ang pambansang industrialisasyon upang maigiit sa kasalukuyang rehimen…pangalawa…kailangan din natin na magkaroon ng isang database ng lahat ng produkto na gawa ng sariling atin at maglunsad ng isang edukasyon sa level ng komunidad…pabrika….paaralan….masmidya at magkaroon ng isang kampanya upang hikayatin ang bawat isang masang anakpawis na ipatronays ang sarili nating produkto…sa kasalukuyan karamihan sa mga produkto na nasa merkado ang namamayani ay yaong tatak banyaga bunsod narin ng matindi at agresibong marketing at adberstisment sa masmidya kung kayat ang nabubuong kaisipan ng mga mamimili ay mas superyor ang tatak ng banyaga. isipin na lang natin sa lahat ng bansa sa asya ang pilipinas na naging kolonya ng US ay naging atrasado ang ekonomiya samantalang ang ating mga kapitbahay na bansa ay namamayani sa ngayon halimbawa nito ang south korea at iba pang bansang asyano…sa ngayon itaguyod natin ang isang kilusan na mangangampanya upang isulong ang pag-ibig sa tinubuang lupa…mabuhay ka!

  2. ang suhestio ko pokailangang maitayo ang isang tunay na cooperatiba na ang mamamahala ay ang ibat-ibang sektor ng ating lipunan.maganda po ang inyong idea ginoong carino. kaya dapat ang mga local na produkto ng mga magsasaka ay di mapasakamay ng malalaking capitalista,na nagiging isang sanhi kung bakit nagtataasan ang presyo ng mga produkto.kialangan na rin po natin sigurong pondohan ang organic farming.na sa tingin ko ang organic farming ay malaki ang maitutulong para maitaas ang kita ng magsasaka at isang malaking bigwas na rin sa mga imperyalistang bansa na patuloy na nagbebenta sa atin ng mga nakakalasong gamot at masama ang epekto sa kalikasan

  3. Alam mo… Economic Nationalism does not work anymore in this country. It may work from the early years of our country but not now. Nationalism = Oligarchs Economy

    You better study in this school..

    • All developed economies have, at certain points, turned to economic nationalism to build local industries, nurture capital and provide for their own people. The free market works only to a certain point. You still need government to regulate, to set direction, and to intervene especially in situations of massive poverty, inequality and underdevelopment like in the Philippines. All the tiger economies ((except perhaps Singapore which is a city state) built their local economies first before opening up.

  4. Hay naku Casino, you want the Philippines to remain poor. Have you not learned the lessons of other countries? Are you so slow in the head?

    Ano ang Singapore? Ano ang Vietnam and China ngayon? Puro sila mga open to foreign investors kaya sila umuubra. Wala ka sigurong alam ano?

    Gusto mo dumami ang mga pulubi para dumami lalo ang mga puedeng ma-recruit ng CPP-NPA. Obvious naman eh.

    Panoorin mo ito, Casino!

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