Saturday, November 1, 2014
26

De la maldición a la bendición de los recursos naturales

KAMPALA – Los nuevos descubrimientos de recursos naturales en varios países africanos – incluyendo aquellos en Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, y Mozambique – plantean una pregunta importante: ¿serán estos descubrimientos inesperados una bendición que trae consigo prosperidad y esperanza, o serán una maldición política y económica tal como ya ha ocurrido en muchos países?

En promedio, el desempeño de los países ricos en recursos ha sido aún más deficiente que el de los países sin recursos. Estos países han crecido más lentamente, y con mayores desigualdades – ha ocurrido justo lo contrario de lo que cabría esperar. Después de todo, imponer altas tasas de impuestos a los recursos naturales no hará que dichos recursos desaparezcan, lo que significa que los países cuya principal  fuente de ingreso son los recursos naturales pueden utilizarlos para financiar la educación, la asistencia de salud, el desarrollo y la redistribución.

Se ha desarrollado una gran cantidad de literatura económica y de ciencias políticas para explicar esta “maldición de los recursos” y se han establecido grupos en la sociedad civil (como por ejemplo “Revenue Watch” y la “Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative”) para contrarrestar dicha maldición. Tres de los ingredientes económicos de dicha maldición son bien conocidos:

  • Los países ricos en recursos naturales tienen la tendencia a tener monedas fuertes, lo que obstaculiza otras exportaciones,
  • Debido a que la extracción de recursos a menudo implica poca creación de puestos de trabajo, aumenta el desempleo;
  • La volatilidad de los precios de los recursos naturales causa que el crecimiento sea inestable, dicha inestabilidad se ve reforzada por los bancos internacionales que se apresuran a hacer negocios en el país cuando los precios de las materias primas están altos y se apresuran a salir cuando los precios bajan (este comportamiento refleja el principio aceptado a través de los tiempos que dice que los banqueros sólo prestan dinero a aquellos que no necesitan dichos préstamos).

Además, los países ricos en recursos naturales a menudo no siguen estrategias de crecimiento sostenible. No se dan cuenta que si ellos no reinvierten su riqueza proveniente de los recursos naturales en inversiones productivas por encima del suelo, en los hechos, se están empobreciendo cada vez más. La disfunción política exacerba el problema, ya que el conflicto sobre el acceso a las rentas provenientes de los recursos naturales da lugar a que surjan gobiernos corruptos y antidemocráticos

Existen antídotos bien conocidos para cada uno de estos problemas: un tipo de cambio bajo, un fondo de estabilización, una inversión cuidadosa de los ingresos provenientes de los recursos naturales (incluyendo inversiones en la población del país), una prohibición sobre endeudamiento, y transparencia (con el fin de que los ciudadanos por lo menos vean el dinero que ingresa y que sale).  Sin embargo, existe un creciente consenso acerca de que estas medidas a pesar de ser necesarias son insuficientes. Los países recientemente enriquecidos necesitan tomar más pasos con el fin de aumentar la probabilidad de beneficiarse de una “bendición de los recursos naturales”.

En primer lugar, estos países deben hacer más por garantizar que sus ciudadanos reciban el valor total de los recursos. Existe un inevitable conflicto de intereses entre las empresas que explotan los recursos naturales (que por lo general son extranjeras) y los países de acogida: las primeras desean reducir al mínimo lo que pagan, mientras que los segundos necesitan maximizar lo que reciben. Las licitaciones bien diseñadas, competitivas y transparentes pueden generar muchos más ingresos que los acuerdos preferenciales. Los contratos, también deben ser transparentes, y deben garantizar que en caso de que los precios se disparen – tal como ha ocurrido en repetidas ocasiones – las ganancias extraordinarias no beneficien únicamente a la empresa.

Desafortunadamente, muchos países ya han firmado contratos malos que dan un porcentaje desproporcionado del valor de los recursos a las empresas extranjeras privadas. Pero existe una respuesta simple a esto: renegociar; si la renegociación es imposible, se debe imponer un impuesto a las ganancias extraordinarias.

Los países están procediendo de esta manera a lo largo y ancho del mundo. Por supuesto que las empresas de recursos naturales responderán airadamente, recalcarán la santidad de los contratos, y amenazarán con irse. Sin embargo, el resultado por lo general es completamente distinto. Una renegociación justa puede ser la base de una mejor relación a largo plazo.

Las renegociaciones de Botswana de tales contratos asentaron los cimientos para su notable crecimiento durante las últimas cuatro décadas. Asimismo, no sólo países en desarrollo, como Bolivia y Venezuela, renegocian contratos; países desarrollados, como por ejemplo Israel y Australia, han hecho lo mismo. Incluso los Estados Unidos ha determinado que se pague un impuesto a las ganancias extraordinarias.

Es igualmente importante que el dinero ganado a través de los recursos naturales sea necesariamente utilizado para promover el desarrollo. Las potencias coloniales de otrora consideraban a África simplemente como un lugar del cual se extraían recursos. Algunos de los nuevos compradores tienen una actitud similar.

Se ha construido infraestructura (caminos, vías férreas, y puertos) con un objetivo en mente: sacar los recursos del país al menor precio posible, sin hacer ningún esfuerzo por procesar los recursos en el país, y mucho menos por desarrollar las industrias locales que se basan en dichos recursos.

El verdadero desarrollo exige que se exploren todos los vínculos posibles: capacitación de los trabajadores locales, desarrollo de las pequeñas y medianas empresas para que provean suministros a las operaciones mineras y a las empresas de petróleo y gas, procesamiento dentro del país de los recursos naturales, e integración de dichos recursos en la estructura económica del país. Por supuesto que es posible que estos países, hoy en día, no tengan una ventaja comparativa en muchas de estas actividades, y que algunos argumenten que los países deben atenerse a sus fortalezas. Desde esta perspectiva, la ventaja comparativa de estos países es hacer que otros países exploten sus recursos.

Dicha perspectiva esta errada. Lo que importa es la ventaja comparativa dinámica, o la ventaja comparativa en el largo plazo, a la cual se le puede dar la forma deseada. Hace cuarenta años, Corea del Sur tenía una ventaja comparativa en el cultivo de arroz. Si se hubiese quedado adherida a dicha fortaleza, no sería el gigante industrial que es hoy. Podría ser el productor de arroz más eficiente del mundo, pero aún seguiría siendo pobre.

Las empresas dirán a Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, y Mozambique que actúen de forma rápida, pero existen buenas razones para que estos países se muevan de forma más reflexiva. Los recursos no desaparecerán, y los precios de las materias primas han estado elevándose. Entre tanto, estos países pueden poner en marcha las instituciones, las políticas y las leyes necesarias para garantizar que los recursos naturales beneficien a todos sus ciudadanos.

Los recursos deberían ser una bendición, no una maldición. Los recursos sí pueden ser una bendición, pero esto no es algo que va a  suceder por sí solo. Y no sucederá de manera fácil.

Traducido del inglés por Rocío L. Barrientos.

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  1. CommentedEnrique Fleischmann

    In my humble opinión "The curse" is related but not determined by the relative importance of natural resources. The main source of inequality and por performance is the fact that these economies do not rely upon local consumption power but rather on external demand. Therefore, profits and incomes depend on a larger scale on the wellbeing of affluent countries. Moreover, since these economies must compete with other sources for the same market, the economic logic tend to créate huge pressures on local salaries in order to reduce costs. For the same reason, there is no direct economic reason to charge huge royalties on these resources.

      CommentedOscar Alcalde

      What other alternatives do they have? The competitions and race towards the bottom is created by capitalism itself.

  2. CommentedMassimo Stolzuoli

    What about Norway?... they have bullt on oil a $660 billion sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest. See at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-02/norway-oil-fund-made-29-billion-last-quarter-as-stocks-rose-1-.html

  3. CommentedSugandha Pahwa

    because someone will lose their hard earned trust funds with exchange rates higher than the non earned trust rates.

  4. CommentedOlanrewaju Kamil-Muhammed OSENI

    Resources are a curse because they are easy and you did not work for them and you have this belief that they will be there forever.Nigeria have had many leaders and scholars that talk about diversification and at least this has been on for 30 years but the crude oil is killing everything. Manufacturing,services,agroallied and other industries are moribund or not cost effective to attempt to go into them.I really dont know what it will take to diversify the economy.Largest chunk of FDI into Nigeria goes to Oil industry and now to telecommunications and this 2 business does not improve our local content rather they just collect our money by providing poor services and no communit services to where the oil is being lifted. Natural resources i will say is a curse for now.

  5. CommentedSAMINDRA MITRA

    The article brilliantly covers the various facets associated with growth pattern of resource-rich or rather specifically resource-rich countries.
    My reading of the growth saga shows a few revelations: domestic firms, even efficiently-run state-owned firms, contribute highest in terms of economic gain in a developing country instead of foreign firms who promise to bring in world-class technology, expertise in mining, investments and so on. The foreign firms will look for ‘gains’, period, and they’ll find a way through the contract clauses to ensure that ‘rents’ from mining accrue to them alone. The only other entities that may gain in such ventures are the banks that lend to them. In this quest, the asset-owners, will only be a fractional beneficiary, irrespective of the scale of royalty or ‘windfall tax’ they impose because the ‘visible’ or ‘declared’ base value on which taxes or royalties are being imposed, are carefully ‘adjusted’ to be on the lower side.
    Secondly, the ‘idle’ or rather ‘effortless’ earnings of Government or individuals who own the assets or in some cases just the surface rights, will lead to investments either in unproductive activities, populist measures or into subsidies to another sector of economy which may be inherently uncompetitive. These policies may seem to elevate the ‘welfare’ of some in the short run, but eventually impoverishes everyone in the country. Unlike fuel, most other mineral resources from a given base, has the potential to earn high ‘rents’ only for a limited period until the ‘good grades’ disappear. And this gives a limited opportunity to earn ‘rents’ while the marginal cost of extraction runs on the lower spectrum of global cost curve, which is often bolstered by a weak currency if the country has no other significant exports.
    Thirdly, the biggest ‘evil’ seems to come from within the home base itself: corruption is the real ‘curse’ behind the resource-based incomes of a relatively ‘new’ nation where those with powers would like to enrich themselves too quickly. Weak institutions are solely responsible for diversion of the ‘rents’ from the main economic system (into so-called ‘black-money’), for allowing foreign firms to find their gainful ways, for allocation of resources sans transparency and most importantly, to disallow strict adherence to seemingly water-tight rule-sets.
    The net result of all of the above steps, is one: spoiling the gains or ‘rents’ while they last, only to rue thereafter, and call the resource a ‘curse’! Botswana is the least corrupt country in Africa and it has the maximum ‘blessings’ to show from the mineral resources: this is not a coincidence.

  6. CommentedHayel Saeed

    An insightful article and with no doubt a resource should be a blessing to a country and help it prosper. The issue however, is linked to politics and it is the factor that differentiates a resources from being a blessing in a well-functioning government to a being a curse in a corrupt one.
    This is what would make a government capable of renegotiating contracts as there would be a mechanism for doing so and it will facilitate the process of ensuring that the domestic economy taps into the benefits of the resource. Without an established set of rules and a sound legal system, most slices of the pie would be grabbed by few hands, which would not be ideal for any part of the economy when the full picture is analysed.

  7. CommentedPhilani Lubanyana

    Mr. Joseph Stiglitz’s suggestion that developing countries must “renegotiate contacts” is very fascinating considering the fact that African countries are being instructed by imperialist’s countries “not to temper with private property”! If they temper with private property sanctions kicks in and the entire economy suffers. African countries are being bullied by imperialist’s countries that they are forbidden from starting debate on “nationalization” because it is scaring the investors and it is a taboo! Then the question is how can developing countries renegotiate contacts if they cannot debate issues and put facts on the table? The looting of African resources by imperialist’s countries and companies is the main threat to African prosperity. Imperialist’s countries/companies are the major sponsors of conflict violence in Africa. Philani.Lubanyana@Durban.South Africa

  8. CommentedPhilani Lubanyana

    Mr. Joseph Stiglitz’s suggestion that developing countries must “renegotiate contacts” is very fascinating considering the fact that African countries are being instructed by imperialist’s countries “not to temper with private property”! If they temper with private property sanctions kicks in and the entire economy suffers. African countries are being bullied by imperialist’s countries that they are forbidden from starting debate on “nationalization” because it is scaring the investors and it is a taboo! Then the question is how can developing countries renegotiate contacts if they cannot debate issues and put facts on the table? The looting of African resources by imperialist’s countries and companies is the main threat to African prosperity. Imperialist’s countries/companies are the major sponsors of conflict violence in Africa. Philani.Lubanyana@Durban.South Africa

  9. CommentedPaula Lezama

    Talking about the course of resource rich countries.http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/17/us-safrica-lonmin-idUSBRE87G04K20120817

  10. CommentedSUMANT KUMAR

    "Moreover, resource-rich countries often do not pursue sustainable growth strategies. They fail to recognize that if they do not reinvest their resource wealth into productive investments above ground, they are actually becoming poorer"
    That is correct that the Natural Resources Costing should provide fund to the development of the Country men. That is the One part of the Economics and the other Part is that it should provide fund to the future(i.e fund for sustainaibility, funding for green Technology). This is the two dimensional costing. Costing for the geographical area( Counntry) and costing for the time frame (Future). The Opec Countries have mostly priced for 1st Dimension and not for 2nd Dimension. They have used the fund for their food, house and their luxeurious habits only. And the Second Dimension would be more Costly. And further, after geting fund on the second Dimension, keepiung the fund in the Correct Bottle is again an important issue.

  11. CommentedAlvaro Cedeno

    According to the Global Footprint Network, humanity is extracting nearly 50% more natural resources every year than what the planet can naturally regenerate. What will happen when economists understand what ecologists have known for 25 years? Resource curse indeed!

  12. CommentedDonata Garrasi

    In 2011 more than 40 countries and organisations, including 19 conflict affected and fragile countries, the entire UN system, the World Bank, the US, and the United Kingdom have signed up to five Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goals, as part of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States (www.newdeal4peace.org). Goal number 5 "Revenues and services" recognises that a transparent management of resources, including natural resources, is critical for more equitable service delivery in conflict affected and fragile contexts. It is critical for local, regional, and global peace and security. Fulfilling this goal is a collective responsibility. World leaders, senior officials of major international organisations, heads of big multi-national corporations, and ordinary citizens must wait no longer to implement the recommendations and commitments to better manage natural resources, including the commitment to implement the internationally recognised Peacebuilding and Statebuilding Goal number 5. People living in resource rich, but conflict affected and fragile countries are increasingly aware that missed opportunities are becoming the uncomfortable status quo. Change can happen if resources and political capital are invested in breaking the resource course. It is an achievable goal, and one that brings benefits for all. Donata Garrasi, International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statbeuilding

  13. CommentedSolomon Mkumbwa Mkumbwa

    I follow Stiglitz well and have always enjoyed his comments. I guess this is a very good tip, especially for African leaders. Often in a bid to seal the mining deals before the next elections, renders Africa get a raw deal for some contracts that they could better negotiate if they had a little patience. On the converse, where leaders have no panic of elections calendar, for example, the former South Africa, Libya, better deals were made and visible infrastructure development is evident.

  14. Commentedsrinivasan gopalan

    Prof.Stiglitz monograph gives a graphic picture as to how resources-endowed nations should convert their raw resources into building things above the ground. Yet even in a relatively emerging economy like India, the resource-rich States such as Bihar, Chattishgarh or Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, let alone other States like Jharkhandand Rajasthan continue to be a mute spectator for not being able to exploit their wealth to foster a sustainable growth pattern. Both the Federal law and the governments at sub-national level had not done helped to make these resources useful to the economy either for captive consumption or export in raw form or through value-additions because no one is serious about harnessing resources to maximize gains and minimize pains. A lamentable lack of any concerted and coordinated strategy such as evolving a national mineral policy, paying due royalties and taking on board foreign investors' concerns for uninterrupted supply of the minerals through contracts that are recognized by all the stakeholders are all responsible for this sorry state of affairs. In recent years, the concerns over forest lands and environmental clearance needed for mining have further muddied the waters, making the authorities hapless. It is time India, a country rich in mineral resources, did not become one to curse its hidden wealth by policy inertia and deplorable lack of purposeful actions on the ground. Let us learn a few valuable wrinkles from Prof Stiglitz as also from the experiences of African countries who have unfortunately been reduced to seeing their wealth wasted away due to a perverse combination of factors, all of which denied them their due share in their own natural endowments.
    G.Srinivasan. New Delhi, India

  15. CommentedGary Marshall

    Hello Again,

    Here is a little excerpt of a summary on your exemplary nation of Botswana:

    ####
    Unlike many African nations, Botswana has successfully kept corruption in check.


    We do acknowledge we are no longer the poorest of the poor. But we don't accept that we should be totally excluded.

    According to the corruption watchdog, Transparency International, Botswana is the least corrupt country in Africa.

    The poster on the wall in the arrivals hall at Gaborone Airport is a clear pointer.

    "Botswana has ZERO tolerance for corruption. It is illegal to offer or ask for a bribe," it reads.

    Lebang Mpotokwane, chairman of Transparency International in Botswana, says that in a fast-growing economy, there are temptations, but the government has led by example.

    "The government is forever preaching to the nation about corruption, and I can't think of any corruption involving government ministers," he says.
    ###
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4318777.stm

    But being the least corrupt country in Africa is still not saying much.

    GM

  16. CommentedGary Marshall

    I see, Mr. Stiglitz, its the companies, who actually go into some very inhospitable nations, find, develope, and extract the resource while paying a handsome royalty to the government, educating the workers, greatly improving their standards, enriching the local economy that are the threat. And I thought it was the corrupt, thieving, despot riddled, undemocratic governments and their employ that were responsible for the impoverishment of their own peoples.

    There is a great deal of energy production in countries like the US and Canada where one can find little of the destitution and nefarious activities that you describe. It only seems in nations in which one can find little of a similar government that such problems thrive.

    Is it any wonder that economics is in such a sorry state with practitioners like yourself. And they even gave you a Nobel. Well, you are in good company. They even gave one to Arafat. Be proud and be Nobel.

    GM

      CommentedMK Anon

      GM,
      this is war economics you talking about... ie. find the ressources, defend it against hostile poeple.. and paying the less taxes possible to biggest power (i.e. the army) to act freely.

      Now, if you think differently and accept that these resources the north crave for BELONG to the poeple of that land. Then, it should be totally normal that the poeple of that land sell the resources for the highest price possible.
      Companies buying governments and bribing dictators (directly wired to Swiss bank account) and paying barely enough taxes to pay the army that will defend them against the "hostile" people. They are actually stealing the resources.
      You argument is that since these companies mange to "convince" a couple corrupted people at the top, their actions are right and ethical?

      As for the local development, these are low skill jobs, and most technical workers come from abroad. So actually all the value added goes abroad. But what stays there is the pollution from open-sky mines, oil spill, polluted rivers, ect.. no wonder people are hostile.

      CommentedGary Marshall

      Hello Hoang,

      I did read the article. I can see you read the article as well. The all important question is, "Did you understand it, Hoang?"

      Mr. Stiglitz thinks it best that governments take the flows created by resource riches and use them to enrich the land. That it is the cupiditous firms moving in to plunder the land that primarily impoverish its peoples.

      But everyone knows that corporations already perform a valued service in employing and greatly compensating large numbers of people in locating, drilling, extracting and further developing the sought after resources.

      That is how it works in any nation.

      Since when is it a government or national resource when such did nothing to find and procure it? The companies, if they should elicit success after risking immense sums of money in inhospitable regions among hostile peoples, and their employees will doubtless pay large sums in taxes and fees which the government can use to build and supply the needed goods and services.

      There are many nations rich in resources. Some of them well led, others not. Why do some nations fare better in channeling resource riches to their people than others?

      Well, I would think it has something more to do with the rule of law, don't you? Does the proper antidote for a lawless or corrupt government come down to transparency, better pay for the locals, or mitigation of political dysfunction? This is Stiglitz' prescription, and what a woefully comedic one it is.

      The source of the ills of any nation generally stem from the covetous and controlling nature of a favoured few occupying positions of power protected by able mercenaries. And Stiglitz thinks that placing even greater sums in the hands of such people, newly chastened by his potent antidotes, will build the road to prosperity for that nation.

      There is no such thing as an uncorrupt government. There is no such thing as a truly democratic government. And there is generally no such thing as a wise government, whatever that may mean. There are checks and balances. In some nations, they are better than others. In Africa, there are little or none.

      In short, don't blame corporations for the delinquencies, failings, and iniquities of government. But this is the kind of crap we receive from those celebrated Nobel Laureates.

      Gary Marshall

      CommentedHoang-Anh Ho

      Professor Stiglitz did review the role of political dysfunction such as corrupt and undemocratic governments in the resource curse and antidotes for them in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th paragraph.

      He then argued that these antidotes are necessary, not sufficient. Resources-rich countries need a strategy to negotiate with MNCs to gain the biggest price for their resources and use the revenue to industrialize their economies.

      Uncorrupt and democratic governments are not necessarily wise ones. And professor Stiglitz gave them his advices for free. He definitely should be proud of his Nobel prize.

      Is it any wonder that economics is in such sorry state that a critic of Nobel laureate even can read a non-technical article right?

  17. CommentedZsolt Hermann

    The resource curse cannot be cured until we cure the true problem causing it.
    At the moment we view the world as an open playground, where individual people, nations compete against each other, trying to obtain as much treasures, assets as possible for themselves, building up stock piles for themselves way beyond their necessities, exploiting others regardless of what might be happening to them creating the vast inequalities between individuals, nations, or between social layers even within their own countries.
    This all stems from our inherent selfish, subjective nature that only considers its own satisfaction, fulfilment.
    This problem cannot be solved by local, national changes, taxes or policies, as any other problem today we can only turn the curse into blessing by a global approach, first of all changing our general attitude, outlook at life.
    Instead of looking at everything in a self calculating manner, "what is mine/what is yours" we have to consider the whole system, the whole globe as our common, mutual place of existence.
    As our present fragmented, polarized reality is falling apart being unsustainable, we have to start building a new system based on this global, mutually considerate approach.

  18. CommentedRocio L. Barrientos

    I hope with all my heart that in Bolivia we find our "dynamic comparative advantages". This is a very inspiring article to read on our national day, August 6.

  19. CommentedProcyon Mukherjee

    An insightful article that brings to the fore the dichotomy that the resource rich states face in the wake of depletion that is not well balanced through an adjustment that allows the conversion or transformation of the natural capital to human or other forms of productive capital that is not depletive in nature.

    The fundamental problem has been that natural endowments that are not renewable over smaller tenures have to go through a power struggle between the various constituents of the society and determination of a fair share can only be done through implementation of Property Rights, which is never a less contentious matter itself. The second important impediment is the inability of the State to deal with the diversification of investments into the other areas which are less intensive in resource endowments; this diversification includes infrastructure building that would allow forward integration. States with low State capacity in most cases succumb in this journey to provide a balance that results in depression of aggregate consumption and deterioration of general welfare.

    No wonder Partho Dasgupta's study revealed that resource rich States are generally the laggards.

    Procyon Mukherjee

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