At the start of this year the world was beginning to finally come out of hibernation after the lockdown periods, life seemed to be slowly returning to normal and there was a note of cautious optimism in the air (rather than the cautious pessimism of the previous year or two!) But it is fair to say that things didn’t quite go according to plan.
This Year Will Be Remembered For The War In Ukraine
It was in February of this year that Russia invaded Ukraine. It was terrible news for the people of Ukraine but also not great news for the rest of the world. Russia supplies the world with much of its gas and Ukraine produces huge amounts of wheat, which many of the poorer nations rely on in particular.
The war between Russia and Ukraine, which could rumble on for a good many years, is not the only reason for the soaring cost of living, but it is certainly a major reason. Rising fuel prices have a knock on effect on the price of most goods and services and so we now have double digit inflation which is causing great consternation for both the general public and businesses.
Ongoing Trading Issues
We all hoped that during this past year the issues surrounding the Protocol and trading barriers/red tape would be resolved to the satisfaction of all sides so that we could trade with the rest of the UK and the EU with confidence once more. After all the Brexit referendum was as long ago as 2016, so to have so many uncertainties surrounding our trading status is pretty unforgivable.
Politics, Politics, Politics
But with the Conservative Party being in such disarray for these last 12 months and seemingly more interested in their own survival than the big issues that face the UK, and with the Executive here in Northern Ireland not even sitting to make any decisions, there has not been the political will to get anything done.
The Climate Crisis
Finally there is also the climate crisis which is something that the whole world needs to get to grips with in the next year and beyond. The consensus among most scientists is that we are in the last chance saloon and that changes must be made immediately if we are not going to suffer huge changes in our climate, leading to devastating consequences. This is going to put massive pressure on politicians, big businesses and small businesses alike, as there are so many things that need to be done to make us as carbon zero as possible.
But let us be optimistic for the future. We humans are an inventive race and I am sure if there is a collective will that we can still find a way to halt climate change and maybe push it back a little. Here in Northern Ireland we have some fantastic businesses and entrepreneurs who will thrive in 2023 even if the conditions are not ideal for them to do so. And if the government can start to hold down inflation and slow it in its tracks we might just have a rosy next 12 months. Stranger things have happened!