Tortillas et ouverture des marchés

BUENOS AIRES – Depuis la ampquot;crise des tortillasampquot; en janvier dernier au Mexique, les manifestations contre la pénurie et les prix élevés dans le secteur alimentaire et contre la hausse des taxes sur les produits agricoles se sont étendues de Haïti aux pays d'Amérique centrale et à l'Amérique latine. Les gouvernements ont parfois réagi par des initiatives au niveau macroéconomique ou en prenant des mesures pour protéger la population, mais dans d'autres cas ils ont réagi par la répression.

Un paradoxe s'attache à la crise alimentaire en Amérique latine : alors que la région est un producteur important au niveau alimentaire, elle doit importer épisodiquement pour éviter des pénuries. Selon la Banque mondiale, l'Amérique latine et les Antilles ont exporté pour 55 milliards de dollars de produits alimentaires en 2006, pourtant les familles pauvres consacrent 50% de leur budget à l'alimentation - ceci au moment même où l'Amérique latine connaît ses meilleurs résultats économiques depuis les années 1970.

Le coût de la nourriture, en hausse de 83%, ne va sans doute pas diminuer avant fin 2009. Pour l'Amérique latine c'est une difficulté, mais aussi une opportunité. Le principal défi est politique : réformer une politique conçue quand les ressources - notamment le pétrole, le gaz naturel et les produits alimentaires - n'étaient pas considérées comme un élément moteur de l'économie mondiale. Il s'agit d'éviter le piège du protectionnisme et de l'isolation sur le plan international.

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