Cómo conseguir que el consumidor chino consuma

BEIJING – La historia tendrá la última palabra, pero existen buenos motivos para creer que el Tercer Plenario que acaba de realizarse en China será considerado un momento crucial en el desarrollo del país. Finalmente, los altos líderes de China han respaldado un conjunto de reformas que podrían provocar el viraje de la economía de una dependencia de las exportaciones a un crecimiento liderado por el consumo.

Hasta ahora, esta transformación estaba encuadrada en términos de objetivos y aspiraciones amplios. Por ejemplo, el duodécimo Plan Quinquenal, adoptado en marzo de 2011, prometía el surgimiento de una economía liderada por el consumo, que descansaría en los pilares de la urbanización y el desarrollo de un sector de servicios embrionario. Más allá de la importancia de estos compromisos a la hora de establecer oportunidades para la clase media de China, carecían de un componente crítico: incentivos para que las familias chinas convirtieran sus nuevos ingresos en un consumo discrecional.

Por el contrario, la inseguridad financiera y económica se apoderó de los hogares chinos desde que el "tazón de arroz de hierro" -el sustento que el estado socialista ofrecía a los trabajadores y sus familias desde la cuna hasta la tumba- fue eliminado a fines de los años 1990. Por temor al futuro, los hogares han acopiado el ingreso incremental, en lugar de gastarlo en bienes de consumo. Los economistas llaman a esto ahorro preventivo. Los líderes de China lo calificaban de frustración. 

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