Les investisseurs étrangers sont-ils encore les bienvenus ?

Les flux mondiaux d’investissement direct étranger (IDE) ont explosé au cours des vingt dernières années, passant de 40 milliards de dollars au début des années 1980 à 900 milliards de dollars l’année dernière. Le stock cumulatif de l’IDE a atteint près de 10 billions de dollars, ce qui en fait le mécanisme le plus important de délivrance de biens et de services à des marchés étrangers : les ventes par les filiales étrangères se montent en gros à 19 billions de dollars, comparé aux exportations mondiales de 11 billions de dollars. Dans le même temps, la libéralisation des régimes de l’IDE par pratiquement tous les pays représente une force majeure pour le commerce entre les entreprises, la source vitale du système émergent de production intégrée internationale et déjà environ un tiers du commerce mondial. Mais cette belle époque est-elle en train de toucher à sa fin ?

Si l’IDE peut apporter de nombreux bénéfices, il a aussi parfois des coûts. Dans les années 1970, lorsque les sociétés transnationales (STN) qui se lançaient dans de tels investissements ont commencé à se faire remarquer, de nombreux gouvernements ont cru que les coûts de l’IDE dépassaient leurs bénéfices et l’ont donc contrôlé. Le pendule, tenu par les pays développés, a commencé à s’agiter dans les années 1980. Autrefois considérés comme faisant partie du problème, l’IDE est devenu un élément de solution vers la croissance économique et le développement.

Rien ne l’illustre mieux que les changements intervenus dans les régimes nationaux de l’IDE. Comme le rapporte la Conférence des Nations Unies sur le commerce et le développement, parmi les 2 156 changements qui ont eu lieu entre 1991 et 2004, 93% visaient à créer un environnement plus hospitalier pour les STN. Mais le risque de voir le pendule se mettre à tourner à l’envers est réel, avec pour conséquence un recul de ce processus de libéralisation.

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