The mood, as we enter the winter season, is one of contemplation. We are trying to comprehend the scope of the great developments this year has brought and to make sense of the new reality in an environment of pervasive uncertainty and confusion.
On the geopolitics front, the situation is complex: The war in Ukraine is now in its ninth month and the prospect of further escalation looms, with dire consequences not only in terms of human lives and suffering in Ukraine, but also in terms of soaring energy costs and supply chain disruption, especially in staple commodities such grains, that threaten to destabilize entire regions. Meanwhile, recent developments in China, Iran, the Korean peninsula, and the SE Mediterranean also give pause for reflection. On the economic front, inflation continues to soar, prices are galloping, and household incomes are decreasing across Europe and the US, while central banks, in a bid to curb inflation, are raising interest rates, increasing the pressure on borrowers of all kinds. On the climate change front, things seem to be getting worse rather than better. Countries are turning to fossil fuels to mitigate the impact of the energy crisis, while deforestation—due to wildfires, sprawling urban development or land clearing for agriculture—is rampant, and these are both alarming trends given the economic impact of climate change, and increasingly frequent extreme weather phenomena, around the globe.
Sadly, and disturbingly, instead of a multilateral and coordinated response by all states to these situations, what we are seeing is each state pursuing measures based on national interests and convenience and driven either by the threat of a breakdown of social cohesion or by grandiose ambitions.
Amid this global upheaval, our country seems to be faring comparatively well; we have had a bumper tourism season, investment interest remains high, the interest on our public debt is low, and the climate is mild. The cost of living and private borrowing exposure are grey areas, but if we can control these, we can afford some optimism that we will be able to overcome this hurdle too, as we did so many others in the recent past, provided conditions worldwide don’t take a dramatic turn for the worse. Nonetheless, there are things we can do to improve our odds—bold changes in areas where our country has consistently struggled and avoided reform, such as justice, tax policy and the fight against tax evasion. It is time to set our aims high and bet on our future.
Through our various initiatives, conferences and events over the coming months, we will create opportunities to examine and discuss all these key issues and to identify best applicable practices and propose solutions, honoring the heritage and mission that our Chamber has upheld throughout its 90 years of history.