¿Son los servicios las nuevas manufacturas?

PRINCETON – El debate mundial sobre el crecimiento en el mundo en desarrollo ha experimentado un profundo cambio recientemente. El revuelo y el entusiasmo de los últimos años sobre la perspectiva de una rápida nivelación con las economías avanzadas se ha evaporado. Pocos son los analistas serios que siguen creyendo que la espectacular convergencia económica experimentada por los países asiáticos y menos espectacularmente por la mayoría de los países latinoamericanos y africanos vaya a mantenerse en los próximos decenios. No es probable que persistan los bajos tipos de interés, los altos precios de los productos básicos, la rápida mundialización y la estabilidad posterior a la Guerra Fría que han sostenido ese extraordinario período.

Otra comprensión ha calado: los países en desarrollo necesitan un nuevo modelo de crecimiento. El problema no es simplemente que necesiten liberarse de su dependencia de unas corrientes de capitales inestables y de los auges de los productos básicos, que  con frecuencia los han vuelto vulnerables frente a las sacudidas y propensos a las crisis. Más importante es que la industrialización orientada a la exportación, que ha sido la senda a la riqueza más segura de la Historia, puede haberse agotado.

Desde la Revolución Industrial, la manufactura ha sido siempre la clave para un crecimiento económico rápido. Todos los países que alcanzaron a Gran Bretaña y más adelante la superaron, como, por ejemplo, Alemania, los Estados Unidos y el Japón, lo hicieron desarrollando sus industrias manufactureras. Tras la segunda guerra mundial, hubo dos olas de convergencia económica rápida: una en la periferia europea durante los decenios de 1950 y 1960 y otra en el Asia oriental a partir del decenio de 1960.

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