Paul Lachine

El mito del aumento del proteccionismo

CAMBRIDGE – Hubo un perro que no ladró durante la crisis financiera: el proteccionismo. Pese al mucho griterío habido al respecto, los gobiernos han impuesto, en realidad, extraordinariamente pocos obstáculos comerciales a las importaciones. De hecho, la economía mundial sigue tan abierta como antes de la crisis.

Normalmente, el proteccionismo prospera en tiempos de peligro económico. Al tener que afrontar el declive económico y un aumento del desempleo, los gobiernos tienen una tendencia mucho mayor a prestar atención a los grupos de presión internos que a cumplir con sus obligaciones internacionales.

Como reconoció John Maynard Keynes, las restricciones comerciales pueden proteger el empleo o contribuir a su creación durante las recesiones económicas, pero lo que puede ser conveniente en condiciones extremas para un país determinado puede ser enormemente perjudicial para la economía mundial. Cuando todo el mundo pone obstáculos al comercio, el volumen de éste se desploma. Nadie gana. Ésa es la razón por la que el desastroso altercado en materia de política comercial durante el decenio de 1930 agravó en gran medida la Gran Depresión.

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