Olivier Douliery/ Stringer

Qual é o problema do proteccionismo?

PORTO – Uma coisa é já certa sobre a próxima eleição presidencial nos Estados Unidos: o próximo presidente não será um defensor determinado do comércio livre. A presumível candidata Democrata, Hillary Clinton, é na melhor das hipóteses uma apoiante indiferente de um comércio mais livre, e da Parceria Trans-Pacífica em particular. O seu homólogo Republicano, Donald Trump, é descaradamente hostil a acordos comerciais que abram os mercados dos EUA. Quebrando a tradição Republicana moderna, Trump prevê uma taxa aduaneira de 35% sobre as importações de automóveis e peças produzidas pelas fábricas da Ford no México, e uma taxa aduaneira de 45% sobre as importações provenientes da China.

Os economistas defendem quase unanimemente que os efeitos macroeconómicos do plano de Trump seriam desastrosos. A rejeição do comércio livre e aberto devastaria a confiança e deprimiria o investimento. Os outros países reagiriam, impondo as suas próprias tarifas, o que diminuiria as exportações dos EUA. As consequências seriam parecidas às da Tarifa Smoot-Hawley, decretada pelo Congresso dos EUA em 1930 e promulgada por um anterior e infeliz presidente Republicano, Herbert Hoover, numa medida que agravou a Grande Depressão.

Mas só porque os economistas concordam, não quer dizer que tenham razão. Quando a economia se encontra numa armadilha de liquidez (quando a procura é deficiente, os preços estagnam ou caem, e as taxas de juro se aproximam de zero), a lógica macroeconómica normal desaparece. Essa conclusão aplica-se aos efeitos macroeconómicos das protecções aduaneiras em geral, e à Tarifa Smoot-Hawley em particular. Este ponto foi demonstrado por mim num artigo científico escrito (e hesito em dizê-lo) há 30 anos.

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