Le mythe de la relocalisation

CAMBRIDGE – La décennie qui a précédé la crise financière de 2008 a été marquée par d'énormes déséquilibres commerciaux mondiaux, pendant laquelle les États-Unis ont contracté de gros déficits bilatéraux, en particulier avec la Chine. Depuis que la crise a atteint son nadir, ces déséquilibres ont été en partie inversés, avec le déficit commercial des États-Unis (en pourcentage du PIB) en baisse par rapport à son maximum de 5,5% en 2006 à 3,4% en 2012, et l'excédent de la Chine en baisse de 7,7% à 2,8% sur la même période. Mais est-ce un ajustement temporaire, ou bien un rééquilibrage à long terme est-il à notre portée ?

Beaucoup ont cité comme preuve d'un rééquilibrage plus durable la « relocalisation » de l'industrie américaine, auparavant délocalisée vers les marchés émergents. Apple, par exemple, a ouvert de nouvelles usines au Texas et en Arizona et General Electric prévoit de transférer la production de ses machines à laver et réfrigérateurs au Kentucky.

Plusieurs indicateurs suggèrent qu'après des décennies de déclin séculaire, la compétitivité de l'industrie américaine est bien en hausse. Alors que les coûts de main-d'œuvre ont augmenté dans les pays en développement, ils sont restés relativement stables aux États-Unis. En fait, le taux de change effectif réel (TCER), indexé par unité de main-d'œuvre aux États-Unis, s'est déprécié de 30% depuis 2001 et de 17% depuis 2005, ce qui suggère une érosion rapide de l'avantage à faible coût des marchés émergents et donne un coup de fouet à la compétitivité des États-Unis.

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