Longue vie au ralentissement de la Chine

NEW HAVEN – A 7,7%, la croissance annuelle du PIB de la Chine au premier trimestre de cette année est plus lente que beaucoup ne l’avaient envisagé. Ce chiffre, comparé à la prévision projetée de 8,2%, n’est pas si dramatique, mais de nombreux observateurs (dont moi-même) s’attendaient à un deuxième rebond trimestriel consécutif suite au recul qui semblait avoir été résorbé à la fin du troisième trimestre de 2012. Les sceptiques partout dans le monde ont tout de suite réagi à ces résultats, exprimant des craintes sur l’éventualité d’une paralysie, ou même d’un très redouté double recul.

Mais un ralentissement de la croissance du PIB est à priori bon pour la Chine – si effectivement il est le reflet de la très attendue transformation structurelle de l’économie la plus dynamique du monde. Les grandes lignes de cette transformation sont bien connues – le passage d’une croissance portée par les exportations et les investissements vers une structure économique puisant principalement son énergie dans la consommation intérieure. Ce que l’on sait moins en revanche, c’est qu’une Chine rééquilibrée devrait avoir une croissance plus lente – les premiers indices de ce qui est peut-être en train de se passer.

Il est possible qu’une Chine rééquilibrée entraine une croissance plus lente pour une raison simple : en se reposant de plus en plus sur la demande des consommateurs tirée par les services, le nouveau modèle de la Chine adoptera une recette de croissance grosse consommatrice de main d’œuvre. Les données chiffrées semblent le confirmer. Le secteur des services chinois requière 35% d’emplois en plus par unité de PIB que le secteur manufacturier et la construction – principaux moteurs de l’ancien modèle.

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