China necesita volver al equilibrio

BEIJING – China está en una encrucijada. Tras tres décadas de crecimiento a un ritmo nunca antes visto, el país toleró excepcionalmente bien la crisis económica internacional. Pero aún conserva importantes desequilibrios económicos que le dificultan alcanzar la condición de país de altos ingresos. La pregunta es: en momentos en que la dirigencia china se enfrenta a desafíos como alto endeudamiento de los gobiernos de nivel local e inestabilidad financiera provocada por actividades de riesgo de la banca informal, ¿tendrá margen suficiente para aplicar políticas que resuelvan esos desequilibrios?

Después de la crisis económica internacional, parecía que China iba a conseguirlo. Su superávit de cuenta corriente se redujo de más del 10% del PIB en 2007 a 2,6% en 2012, y por primera vez desde 1998 se registró un importante déficit de cuenta de capital. Además, en 2012 las reservas de divisas extranjeras crecieron solamente 98.700 millones de dólares, cuando entre 2007 y 2011 venían haciéndolo a un ritmo anual promedio de 435.000 millones de dólares. Esto alivió la presión alcista sobre el valor del renminbi.

Pero el año pasado, los desequilibrios volvieron a China reforzados. Es probable que en 2013 el superávit comercial haya superado los 250.000 millones de dólares; el superávit de cuenta de capital superó los 200.000 millones de dólares en los primeros tres trimestres del año; y las reservas treparon 509.700 millones de dólares. Mientras tanto, la reducción del superávit de cuenta corriente (como porcentaje del PIB) puede ser resultado de un mayor déficit en la cuenta de ingresos por inversiones. Y si bien la recuperación de las economías avanzadas impulsó las exportaciones, la persistencia de un exceso de capacidad ociosa y la desaceleración del crecimiento del consumo de los hogares respecto de 2012 llevaron a que el ritmo de crecimiento de la inversión, a pesar de que aún es importante, se redujera al menor valor de los últimos once años.

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