Chinese container ship Sean Gallup | getty images

La Chine et l'avenir du prix des matières premières

MANILLE – Il ne fait aucun doute que le ralentissement actuel de la croissance de la Chine a des effets considérables sur l'économie mondiale. Mais son rôle dans la forte baisse du prix des matières premières qui a lieu depuis 2014 (un résultat dévastateur pour les pays exportateurs de matières premières, y compris les économies émergentes autrefois dynamiques), est plus limité que ce que l'on croit habituellement. En fait, le ralentissement de la Chine est seulement une partie de l'histoire du prix des matières premières.

Il y a évidemment une corrélation claire entre la croissance du PIB de la Chine et les prix des matières premières. Au début des années 2000, lorsque la croissance chinoise a accéléré, les prix des matières premières ont fortement augmenté : en effet, le ralentissement de la Chine a commencé en 2011, les prix de l'énergie ont chuté de 70%, les prix des métaux de 50% et les prix des matières premières agricoles de 35%.

Mais le point de vue selon lequel le ralentissement de la Chine est le principal moteur de l'effondrement des prix des matières premières est au mieux incomplet. Comme l'établit une nouvelle recherche menée par l'Asian Development Bank, alors que la Chine joue un rôle important sur les marchés des matières premières (elle représente environ la moitié de la consommation mondiale en métaux, en charbon et en porc, par exemple), elle est loin d'être aussi dominante qu'on l'imagine. La Chine représente moins d'un cinquième de la consommation mondiale de sucre, de blé, de volaille et de bœuf, 12% de la consommation mondiale de pétrole brut et 5% du gaz naturel. En fait, certaines matières premières qui ont connu la plus forte baisse des prix, surtout le pétrole (-73%) et le gaz naturel (-55%), sont celles pour lesquelles la Chine est un acteur relativement mineur.

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