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.
Continue reading “Brazil, Russia, India, China: BRICs in the wall of recovery?”

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!

Chinese New Year fit for the credit crunch?

Yesterday saw the start of the Chinese New Year, celebrating the Year of the Ox. The festival begins on the first day of the first lunar month of the Chinese Calendar. This calendar far pre-dates the internationally used Gregorian calendar, with evidence of its use as far back as the second millennium BC.

Naturally London will be the scene for several New Year celebrations, including a parade, stalls and dances in central London on Sunday 1 February. Last year’s celebrations saw 50,000 people attend the grand parade and welcoming ceremony in Trafalgar Square. At WorldAccent, we have been busy with various posters and adverts expressing clients’ new year wishes – mostly written in Traditional Chinese for a UK audience.

Once the celebrations are over, what might this Year of the Ox bring us? The Ox is thought to signify prosperity but through fortitude and hard work.

Furthermore, according to tradition, the Ox is never extravagant. One contemporary interpretation of this facet is that an Ox is nervous of living off credit cards or being in debt. In the on-going credit crunch, perhaps this will truly be the year of the Ox?

Is Arabic translation of credit crunch a spending spree?

I’ve mentioned before that I am a big fan of Charlton Athletic football club and the past few weeks have been a real rollercoaster for us fans. For a while I thought my separate worlds of football and Arabic translation would be brought together as Dubai based Zabeel Investments made an “indicative offer” to buy the club. Following the take-over of Manchester City by the Arabic group ADUG, it’s no wonder fans’ thoughts turned to Fantasy Football transfers we could expect to see arrive at the Valley.

In the end the deal did not go through as Zabeel are looking to concentrate on investing in property and tourism nearer home. It all made me think about how, in this time of world economic gloom, oil rich Middle East companies look set to try to diversify.

In the United Arab Emirates alone, there is currently around £200 billion worth of active construction projects while the Dubai International Financial Centre aims to massively expand the financial sector with tax, rent and regulatory breaks. Meanwhile the Palm Islands are a massive real estate and tourism development – the largest land reclamation project in the world, increasing Dubai’s shoreline by 520 km. All of this has made the United Arab Emirates one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with some estimates putting GDP growth in 2006 at a staggering 35 percent.

The vast sums of money are not restricted to the Arab world as business opportunities are sought out around the world. So we see Barclays bank raising £7.3 billion from Middle East investors. Other famous names that have seen an influx of Arabic capital include P&O, Aston Martin and Madame Tussauds.

In these times of doom and gloom news stories, it’s no wonder that such growth, investment and let’s face it, plain cash, is catching people’s attention and many other companies have their eyes set on pulling in some of that investment.

All of which probably goes to explain why we have been inundated with Arabic translation and typesetting over the last few weeks!

Strategy for surviving recession?

It seems like every day there are new headlines of doom, gloom and forthcoming recession. Whilst the American recession has perhaps had less of an impact on the global economy than it would have done in the past, the overwhelming evidence of global recession casts a grey cloud over small businesses.

Earlier this month, an OECD report suggested that Britain’s economy would fare worst amongst those of the G7 in the last two quarters of 2008. This gloomy message was reinforced yesterday when the European Commission also predicted that the UK would fall into recession in the second half of this year.

The web is flooded with “recession help” sites. It would seem that everyone wants to put in his or her piece on how to avoid economic doom, and I’m afraid I’m no exception! But here I want to consider one way of keeping company finances healthy that is often overlooked: translation into one or more foreign languages.

Although the downturn is global it’s by no means uniform – for a small outlay you can tap into an international market, effectively “recession proofing” your company. Even near-by in Europe, you can find more reasons for optimism. France and Italy, for example, look set to be spared recession, while Poland is considered to have one of the fastest growing economies at present, with an annual growth rate of 6.0%.

On top of that, the weak pound may have been painful during our summer holidays – but it makes UK goods and services attractive to global consumers.

It seems almost paradoxical to expand in order to avoid recession, but business strategist Richard Denny disagrees: “When the going gets tough, business owners should step up their sales and marketing activity rather than cut back”. And what better way to do this than to break into a market less burdened with downturn?