For me, as a British citizen, it was fortunate that 2012 was lifted from the economic doom and gloom by two great events: first was the Diamond Jubilee with its celebrations of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s remarkable 60 years on the throne; and you can guess the second, more international, occasion.

The 2012 Olympic Games I am sure lifted the spirits of millions of people around the world, even if, like me, they are not normally great sports fans. Pre-event fears of terrorist disruption thankfully failed to materialise and, more surprisingly to many Londoners, so did catastrophic meltdown of the British capital’s public transport and general logistics systems!

What a welcome, if temporary, relief from the worries of economic woes in Europe and other parts of the world, the Olympics provided. And what a wonderful atmosphere of international cooperation and friendliness they engendered.

As I write, things have unfortunately returned to ‘normal’ with a bang – literally. We have had riots in the streets of Greece, Spain and other western European countries about the economic austerity measures; and Israel and Palestine, among several nations in the Middle East, are once more chucking missiles at each other.

So what does 2013 hold for this beleaguered world?

I would say that, unfortunately, there will certainly be no quick-fix for the over-spent Euro zone countries and there will also be no end to war.

What I do hope will begin in 2013 are some concrete signs of recovery in the European economies, a reversal of the economic deceleration in the South American region and in China, and the flourishing of the tentative recovery in housing that underpins so much of the US economy.

For the panel industry, I wish the associations which represent our sector every success in their seemingly never-ending fight against formaldehyde legislation and biomass energy generation and I hope that the industry will give them every support in their efforts to defend it.

The major woodworking show, Ligna, will also take place in May 2013 in Hannover, Germany, and this important event can bring the global industry together and often provides a focus for the woodworking industries to look to the future and to plan for investment in that future.

May the upbeat international spirit of the Olympic Games not be just a part of history, but a foundation for optimism as we move forward in what are undeniably difficult economic times.