a year ago

Hopes and worries to mark the New Year 

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With the year 2022 passing into history, Bangladesh along with the rest of the world welcomes the New Year 2023. What does 2023 have in store for the world? Will the first sunrise of 2023 dispel all the darkness of the past year which was marked by economic downturn associated with runaway inflation and volatility in the global energy and food market and, finally, the war in Ukraine? Obviously, the seismic events that the world has been through in the past year will continue to influence and shape up the upcoming days. Globally, it is again geopolitics that is going to be the key in determining the future course of events.

As the world's economic growth still depends in large measure on the energy drawn from fossil fuel, a lot will depend on the turn of events in the Ukraine war. And that is for the simple reason that Russia is the world's major producer of fossil oil and natural gas. So, for the world energy market to be stable, peace in Ukraine is a precondition. But it appears, far from establishing peace in Ukraine, the world leaders are still busy playing the blame game and getting the better of their political adversaries. And if the energy market remains volatile, the recessionary trend in the advanced economies of the USA and the Europe will only turn for the worse. And with the US dollar, which is basically the world currency, kept strong to fight a historic-high inflation, the developing economies of the world including Bangladesh will continue to suffer from the balance of payments crisis. And to avoid a financial meltdown like that struck Sri Lanka, tightening the belt will be the sole option open before the weaker economies. On the international front, good sense and statesmanship among the world leaders, though it is in short supply nowadays, will hopefully triumph over cynicism so that the world economy could finally be pulled back from the brink. Hence, as always, it is hope on which humanity will continue to thrive.

Remember the all-pervasive pessimism that dominated the pandemic-stricken years? Considering the havoc the Covid-19 disease was wreaking on country after country, the world could not wait a decade or two as is usually the time required to develop a vaccine to fight the epidemic. However, scientists working silently in the research institutions across the globe did not despair. They hit upon a new technology, mRNA, to develop an effective vaccine. And they did succeed. The vaccine against the deadly coronavirus was created within a time span that was the shortest-ever in history. The world was saved from an impending apocalypse. Again, think of the pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions that brought businesses close to a standstill. But then the digital technology showed the way to do business staying in home and without breaking health protocols.

In the same spirit, humanity will continue to pin its hope on the evolving green energy technologies to get around the crisis caused by the uncertainties in the fossil fuel market. Amid the many not-so-optimistic forecasts, how does Bangladesh fare to perform in 2023 and beyond? If one is to go by the rating of the UK-based think tank, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), Bangladesh is already the 34th largest economy in the world. And it is poised to become the 20th largest by 2037, if the present trend continues. Let us keep our fingers crossed.

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