Le retour de la diatribe sur le Renminbi

NEW HAVEN – La monnaie chinoise, le renminbi, s'est affaiblie au cours de ces derniers mois, ressuscitant des accusations familières de manipulation, de dévaluation compétitive et de mercantilisme protectionniste. À la mi-avril, le Trésor américain a exprimé « des préoccupations particulièrement graves » concernant ce développement, soulignant ce qui a longtemps été l'un des enjeux économico-politiques les plus controversés entre les Etats-Unis et la Chine.

Il s’agit d’un débat rebattu – d’inspiration politique et fondé sur une mauvaise analyse économique – qui rend un bien mauvais service aux deux parties en détournant l'attention de problèmes beaucoup plus importants affectant les relations économiques sino-américaines. Poussé à son extrême, les accusations de l'Amérique risquent de pousser les deux plus grandes économies de la planète sur la pente glissante de frictions commerciales, de protectionnisme, voire quelque chose d’encore pire.

Tout d'abord, les faits. Après avoir atteint son point haut le 14 janvier 2014, le renminbi s'est déprécié de 3,4% par rapport au dollar américain jusqu’au 25 avril. Cela fait suite à une appréciation cumulée de 37% depuis le 21 juillet 2005, lorsque la Chine a abandonné son ancrage au dollar et a modifié son régime de change en un régime appelé de « flottement dirigé ». Par rapport à son point de départ il y a près de neuf ans, le renminbi reste en hausse de 32,5%.

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