El camino de África para salir de la pobreza

BEIJING – Todos los países de bajos ingresos tienen el potencial de lograr un dinámico crecimiento económico. Lo sabemos porque hemos visto el fenómeno repetidas veces: una economía pobre, agrícola se transforma en una economía de ingreso medio –o incluso alto– en una o dos generaciones. La clave es aprovechar la oportunidad de industrialización derivada de la deslocalización de manufactura ligera de los países de más altos ingresos. Así fue en los siglos XIX y XX, y sigue vigente.

Japón aprovechó su oportunidad en los años posteriores a la Segunda Guerra Mundial, mediante industrias de uso intensivo de mano de obra, como la textil y la electrónica simple, para impulsar su economía hasta que los costos crecientes de la mano de obra mermaron su ventaja comparativa en aquellos sectores. Este viraje después permitió que otras economías asiáticas de bajos ingresos –Corea del Sur, Taiwán, Hong Kong, Singapur y en cierta medida, Malasia y Tailandia– siguieran los pasos de Japón.

Claro, China es el caso más reciente que ha seguido este camino ya conocido. Después de más de tres décadas de crecimiento económico vertiginoso, se ha autotransformado de uno de los países más pobres del mundo del planeta a una de las economías más grandes del mundo. Y ahora que China también está empezando a perder su ventaja comparativa en industrias de uso intensivo de mano de obra, otros países en desarrollo –sobre todo de África– están determinados a tomar su lugar.

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