Les services sont-ils les nouvelles industries ?

PRINCETON – Dernièrement le débat international sur la croissance dans les pays émergents a pris un virage à 180 degrés. Le battage médiatique et l'excitation de ces dernières années sur la perspective de rattrapage rapide par rapport aux économies avancées se sont évaporés. Peu d'analystes sérieux croient encore que la convergence économique spectaculaire dans les pays asiatiques (et de façon moins spectaculaire dans la plupart des pays d'Amérique latine et d'Afrique) va se maintenir durant les prochaines décennies. Les faibles taux d'intérêt, les prix élevés des matières premières, la mondialisation rapide et la stabilité de l'après-Guerre froide qui sous-tendent cette période extraordinaire, sont peu susceptibles de persister.

Une deuxième prise de conscience est bien assimilée : les pays émergents ont besoin d'un nouveau modèle de croissance. Le problème n'est pas seulement qu'ils en ont besoin pour se défaire de leur dépendance à l'égard des afflux de capitaux changeants et des booms des matières premières, qui les ont souvent rendus vulnérables aux chocs et sujets à des crises. Fait plus important encore, l'industrialisation orientée vers l'exportation, le plus sûr chemin vers la richesse de l'histoire, touche peut-être à sa fin.

Depuis la Révolution industrielle, l'industrie est la clé de la croissance économique rapide. Les pays qui ont rattrapé et ont finalement dépassé la Grande-Bretagne (comme l'Allemagne, les États-Unis et le Japon) y sont parvenus en mettant en place leur secteur secondaire. Après la Seconde Guerre mondiale, il y a eu deux vagues de convergence économique rapide : la première à la périphérie de l'Europe au cours des années 1950 et 1960, la seconde en Extrême-Orient depuis les années 1960.

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