La Furtiva Amenaza al Comercio Mundial

Las amenazas al comercio mundial vienen disfrazadas de muchos modos. Entre los sospechosos comunes se encuentran las barreras proteccionistas y las protestas de militantes antiglobalización del tipo que descarriló las pláticas de la "Ronda del Milenio" de la Organización Mundial de Comercio (OMC) el año pasado en Seattle. Aunque estas protestas logran grandes encabezados, una nueva y quizá todavía más insidiosa amenaza al comercio mundial ha ido tomando forma durante los últimos años: el llamado "sectorialismo abierto", o la práctica de negociar el acceso a los mercados foráneos de forma selectiva, industria por industria.

Lo que esta práctica ocasiona es que los países negocien menores tarifas para algunos tipos de productos pero no para otros. A pesar de las apariencias, el "sectorialismo abierto" no es un primer paso hacia acuerdos de comercio más amplios. De hecho, puede impedir la negociación de acuerdos más generales.

Hasta cuando son negociados con éxito, los acuerdos sectoriales comprometen la eficiencia y el desempeño económicos al proteger las industrias menos competitivas porque cada país intenta abrir el comercio en áreas en las que es competitivo. A ningún país le gusta abrir sus dinosaurios manufactureros a la competencia externa. Las implicaciones económicas de tal postura, sin embargo, son perversas. Imaginen un Estados Unidos o una Europa todavía atorados en los años 50, con economías que dependieran del carbón, el acero y los textiles, y sin competencia de productores más baratos en Asia y otros lugares, y el peligro resulta obvio.

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