tech factory Frederico Scoppa | Stringer via getty images

Une Amérique anti-commerce ?

CAMBRIDGE – La montée du populisme anti-commerce dans la campagne électorale américaine de 2016 laisse présager un recul dangereux du rôle des États-Unis dans les affaires mondiales. Sous prétexte de réduire les inégalités aux États-Unis, les candidats aux élections présidentielles des deux partis entendent contrecarrer les aspirations à rejoindre la classe moyenne de centaines de millions de personnes désespérément pauvres du monde en développement. Si l'attrait politique des mesures anti-commerciales s'avère durable, cela pourrait bien marquer un tournant historique dans les affaires économiques mondiales, ce qui est de mauvais augure pour l'avenir du leadership américain.

Le candidat républicain à la présidence Donald Trump a proposé d'infliger une taxe de 45% sur les importations chinoises vers les États-Unis, un projet qui séduit de nombreux Américains qui estiment que la Chine s'enrichit grâce à des pratiques commerciales déloyales. Mais en dépit de tous ses succès extraordinaires au cours des dernières décennies, la Chine reste un pays en développement où une part importante de la population vit à un niveau de pauvreté inimaginable selon les normes occidentales.

Voyez par exemple le nouveau plan quinquennal de la Chine, qui vise à tirer 55 millions de personnes au-dessus du seuil de pauvreté d'ici 2020, un seuil fixé à seulement 2 300 CN¥ soit 354 dollars par an. Cela équivaut à un seuil de pauvreté de près de 12 000 dollars pour une personne seule aux États-Unis. Oui, il y a des différences significatives de coût de la vie qui rendent douteuses les comparaisons directes. Et oui, la pauvreté est aussi bien une condition sociale qu'une condition économique, au moins dans les économies avancées. Mais le point de vue général selon lequel les inégalités entre les pays submergent les inégalités au sein des pays est très puissant.

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