China poor sidewalk bike Taro Taylor/Flickr

El verdadero desafío de la reforma en China

LONDRES – Se suele dar por sentado que los niveles de vida de las economías emergentes van camino a converger con los de los países desarrollados. Sin embargo, dejando de lado algunos exportadores de petróleo y los estados-ciudades de Hong Kong y Singapur, sólo tres países -Japón, Corea del Sur y Taiwán- han avanzado desde muy atrás hasta alcanzar un PIB per capita de por lo menos el 70% del promedio de los países desarrollados en los últimos 60 años. China espera hacer lo mismo, pero enfrenta un desafío peculiar: su tamaño.

Japón, Corea del Sur y Taiwán dependían del crecimiento liderado por las exportaciones para ponerse a la par de las economías desarrolladas. Pero China -hogar de casi el 20% de la población mundial y responsable del 15% de la producción global- es lisa y llanamente muy grande como para depender exclusivamente de los mercados externos. Para alcanzar la próxima etapa de desarrollo, necesitará forjar un sendero de crecimiento diferente -y eso exigirá reformas más difíciles de aquellas en las que hoy se suele centrar la atención.

Sin duda, el crecimiento liderado por las exportaciones ha alimentado el ascenso económico de China hasta el momento. Su excedente de cuenta corriente creció al 10% del PIB en 2008. Pero este tipo de excedentes elevados son, en definitiva, imposibles de sostener. Simplemente no existe suficiente demanda de importaciones en el mundo como para absorber las exportaciones chinas en constante crecimiento.

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