China enfrenta insuficiente consumo interno

BEIJING (AP) — Los negocios deberían estar floreciendo para Zhao Guoping, un tendero de Beijing, mientras los líderes chinos tratan de construir una sociedad de consumo para reemplazar un modelo económico desgastado basado en comercio e inversión. Pero los problemas financieros de Zhao ponen de relieve los obstáculos que enfrenta ese ambicioso esfuerzo.

Presionado por mayores costos y escasas ventas para los clientes con presupuesto controlado, Zhao dice que el ingreso de su tienda de vecindario ha caído a la mitad a 50.000 yuanes (6.000 dólares) al año.

"Los precios se están disparando. El ingreso de la gente apenas puede emparejarse", agrega Zhao, de 38 años. "Necesidades diarias, sí, todavía tengo para comprarlas. Pero si no lo necesito en serio, entonces no".

La renuencia de Zhao y sus clientes a abrir más sus billeteras es una de la enorme cantidad de obstáculos que enfrentan los líderes comunistas mientras tratan de rebalancear la economía china y ya no depender sólo de la inversión, de la cual una enorme porción proviene del gobierno y está perdiendo su capacidad de impulsar el crecimiento.

Sin embargo, el gobierno está en el filo de la navaja, ya que un cambio brusco en la economía podría tener consecuencias no sólo para China, sino también para la economía mundial. La importancia de la economía china se puso en evidencia la semana pasada, cuando surgieron reportes que mostraban un descenso en la actividad fabril y esto causó alboroto en los mercados mundiales.

La combinación de un fuerte incremento en las exportaciones, un alza en el gasto en nuevas fábricas, autopistas y otros activos impulsaron la década pasada un crecimiento explosivo. Eso ayudó a China a recuperarse rápidamente de la crisis mundial que comenzó en 2008. Pero esto llegó con un aumento en el endeudamiento que según los economistas se parece al incremento de la deuda que hubo en otros países en desarrollo y que desembocaron en crisis financieras.

Mientras el cambio, también llegan potenciales obstáculos. El gasto del consumidor representa sólo 35% del producto interno bruto, muy por debajo del 60% de la India, y ese porcentaje bajó el año pasado. La reducción de las inversiones significará menor flujo de dinero a los salarios en construcción e industrias de materiales de construcción como acero y cemento.

"Es un camino muy estrecho por el que los encargados de las políticas deben llevar la economía", dijo Mark Williams, economista para Asia de Capital Economics. "El riesgo es que si el gasto en inversión se desacelera demasiado, entonces eso comienza a afectar el gasto del consumidor y se tiene una espiral descendente".

Se prevé que el rango de crecimiento de este año será de 7 a 8%, bastante mayor que el de Estados Unidos y Europa, pero menor a las cifras de dos dígitos que tuvo China la década pasada.

______

Los colaboradores de The Associated Press Zhao Liang en Beijing y Fu Ting en Shanghai colaboraron con este despacho.

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