Who are the UK’s trading partners?

Just which countries do buy goods and services from the UK? And where do we as a country buy from? The Office of National Statistics have produced a neat visualisation of these UK trade partners, using a map of the world. Hover over a country to see how trade has varied over the past two decades, or move over the side bars to reveal partners in order of scale.
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Beyond the language barrier with a Culture Map

The way we work is transformed continually. Globalisation and the development of the internet has given smaller companies the ability to export goods and services much more easily. It means also that you and I can work from almost anywhere. While a downside of outsourcing has been to remove some jobs from developed countries, it has also offered opportunities to skilled workers in the less developed parts of the world.

Opportunities like these can bring problems along with them; the ability to decode cultural differences was not taught to us in school. To work effectively with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world, we need to be able to comprehend the cultural differences that inevitably arise during our efforts to operate transnationally, and sometimes perhaps across cultures in our own countries.

Professional translators are aware that translation of a text requires that the underlying message should be conveyed in the target language in a culturally sensitive way. A new book, The Culture Map by Erin Meyer, could help not just fledgling translators but also managers navigate through the wildly different cultural realities in which they find themselves through the vagaries of international business.
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Website translation: choosing languages to go world-wide

Three quarters of internet users don’t speak English as their first language.

That’s the picture according to “best guess” statistics from Internet World Stats (see “Crunching the stats” below). This means a vast amount of potential traffic is being ignored by many site admins and developers.

But how do you get to grips with the “other” three quarters of the planet, and which languages should you choose?

Internet langauges worldwide

(click to enlarge)

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UK export advice: how to sell more abroad

Great news for both the UK economy and those of us who spend our days providing translation – or, more loftily, helping global communication. Britain’s trade gap with the rest of the world narrowed more than expected in July, driven by record exports to countries outside the European Union, reports the Telegraph (Good News Britain: UK trade deficit narrows in July)

In fact, July is the third month in a row that exports to countries outside the EU has been higher than exports to eurozone countries. Continue reading “UK export advice: how to sell more abroad”

Translating luxury brands into global success

Chinese website tranlsation: Rolls-Royce

The last month has seen more diamonds of economic news than there are in Cullinan mine. While British retail remains patchy, UK and other European companies selling “luxury” have done phenomenally well on the global stage. They have reaped dividends of promotion in emerging economies, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, targeting High Net Worth Individuals or those aspiring to perceived luxury.

Translation plays no small part in this global success: research has shown that the majority of consumers will only buy from websites with information presented in their language. This effect becomes more pronounced the higher the value of the product or service. (see Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: Why Language Matters, Common Sense Advisory)

A few news snippets illustrate the trend:
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Brazil, Russia, India, China: BRICs in the wall of recovery?

Brazil Russia

Pic: By Ricardo Stuckert/PR (Agência Brasil [1]) [CC-BY-2.5-br], via Wikimedia Commons

Will translation rescue London businesses from the morass of the UK economy? A report today by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry shows a difficult last few months for London business, but concludes that part of the solution is reaching out globally to growing economies.
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Could French economic happiness be infectious?

The champagne corks weren’t quite popping but the French and German finance ministries were no doubt pleased with themselves last week.

The news that both economies have emerged from recession was welcome, leading French economy minister Christine Lagarde to comment “These are obviously very positive numbers, which have surprised us and made us quite happy.”

The front page of last Friday’s City A.M. also adopted a positive tone, stating “European pair lead recovery”, hinting at a view of a wider recovery across the Eurozone.

Less heralded was the news that Portuguese-speaking Brazil is also now no longer in recession having grown by 1.5% in the second quarter. Along with growth from China and Japan, this means that six of the world’s top 10 economies are now out of recession.

Meanwhile in the UK, the picture seems more bleak. Discussing the outlook and success of Quantitative Easing in his eclectic but always insightful and intelligent blog, Newsnight’s Paul Mason says:

“Even with 0.5% interest rates right through to 2011 and the full £175bn still in circulation until then, the Bank of England is predicting inflation will undershoot the 2% target for CPI. That means we should expect interest rates to be low for at least that long. It also signifies the recovery is going to be pretty appalling: weak and fragile.”

So much for the economics, what does this have to do with translation? Apart from professional translation being effected by the wider economy, I’ve argued before on this blog that translation can be part of a business survival strategy and that the global recession is not playing out evenly.

As Business Secretary Lord Mandelson points out:
“Different economies will show different patterns of behaviour. But the key point is all these economies rely on each other; 55 to 56% of our trade is with the rest of Europe. So when [they are] recovering that is good news for our manufacturers and our exports here.”

The French or German economy may not be booming but if they are pulling ahead of the British, some businesses – not least SMEs – may well wish to revisit the idea of translating a product brochure into French, or translating their website into German. This could not only open up new markets for them, but mean busy times ahead for those of us in the professional translation business!