¿Los inversores extranjeros siguen siendo bienvenidos?

Los flujos de inversión extranjera directa (IED) en el mundo aumentaron en los últimos veinte años, de 40.000 millones de dólares a principios de los 80 hasta 900.000 millones de dólares el año pasado. El stock acumulativo de IED alcanzó alrededor de 10 billones de dólares, lo que lo convirtióo en el mecanismo más importante para el suministro de bienes y servicios en mercados extranjeros: las ventas por parte de los asociados extranjeros totalizan aproximadamente 19 billones de dólares, comparados con los 11 billones de dólares de las exportaciones mundiales. Al mismo tiempo, la liberalización de los regímenes de IED prácticamente en todos los países ha sido una fuerza impulsora del comercio intra-firma –el elemento vital del sistema emergente de producción internacional integrada y, a esta altura, aproximadamente una tercera parte del comercio mundial-. Pero, ¿acaso los buenos tiempos están llegando a su fin?

La IED puede aportar una variedad de beneficios, pero también puede traer aparejados costos. Durante los años 70, cuando las corporaciones transnacionales (CTN) que realizaban este tipo de inversión llamaron la atención pública, muchos gobiernos creyeron que los costos de la IED superaban sus beneficios, así que la controlaron. Liderado por los países desarrollados, el péndulo empezó a oscilar en los años 80. Alguna vez vista como parte del problema, la IED se convirtió en parte de la solución para el crecimiento económico y el desarrollo.

Nada ejemplifica esto mejor que los cambios en los regímenes nacionales de IED. Como informa la Conferencia sobre Comercio y Desarrollo de las Naciones Unidas, de los 2.156 cambios que se produjeron entre 1991 y 2004, el 93% tuvo que ver con la creación de un contexto más receptivo para las CTN. Pero existe el peligro real de que el péndulo esté empezando a balancearse hacia atrás, lo que conduciría a una reversión de aquel proceso de liberalización.

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