My New Year's Wish... Peace to Ukraine
After the drama and tumult of the last 12 months, what might 2023 have in store for us? Lord Bilimoria sets out his wish for the new year ahead
Being president of the CBI for two years until recently, during the biggest global crisis since the Second World War, was a huge challenge – yet a huge privilege! My proudest achievement was leading British business to help India in its time of need during its second wave of Covid in April and May 2021; and from two days after the sad war in Ukraine started in February 2022, helping Ukraine, working closely with the Ukrainian ambassador Vadym Prystaiko and his team, including sending millions of ration packs and food packages as well as medical kits. This was business as a force for good.
It was the ambassador who brought to my notice in May this year the consequences of the port of Odessa being blocked and the inability to export grain around the world, in particular to developing countries who desperately needed it and he warned there would be starvation in the world. David Beasley, the director of the World Food Programme, at that time stated that there would be 47 million people at threat of starvation if the port was not unblocked.
The Ukrainian ambassador warned there would be starvation in the world
At every opportunity, including in the House of Lords, I brought this matter up of unblocking the ports. As a member of the B7, (the business community of the G7), I brought it up with Olaf Scholz in Berlin just before Germany presided over the G7. It was such a relief that subsequently the United Nations, and our Nato ally Turkey came to an arrangement with Russia to open the port and allow the grain to be shipped safely. Already 11.5m tonnes have been exported, thereby hopefully preventing starvation.
This one measure gives me hope that we can achieve peace and that the war will stop – it is my wish that in 2023 the Ukraine war ends. That will not only stop the daily tragedy but will lead to an end of the cost of living crisis, rapid inflation, supply chain shortages and the energy crisis. We may well then have the roaring 20s and at long last the global economies not just recovering, but thriving, after the pandemic!
Lord Bilimoria is a Crossbench peer
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