ATC: New study shows how vital languages are for SMEs to export

Comtec was recently in attendance at the House of Commons on Tuesday, 24th February for an Association of Translation Companies (ATC) event to launch an academic paper by Professor James Foreman-Peck, titled ”Firm-level evidence for the language investment effect on SME exporters.’

The new study by Professor Foreman-Peck and Dr Peng Zhou shows in stark detail the impact of in-house language capabilities on small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that export.

The report ‘Firm-level evidence for the language investment effect on SME exporters’ shows that SMEs utilising language assets and skills achieved far higher export to turnover ratios than others. These assets and skills included hiring staff with specific language expertise for export needs, employing native language speakers and training staff in languages

Roy Allkin, Chaiman of the ATC, says:

“The government has repeatedly emphasised that expanding the country’s exports is a key strand of its broader strategy to rebalance the economy. Despite this, the UK has long struggled to improve its trade deficit. An earlier reportby Professor Foreman-Peck clearly shows that poor language skills are costing UK plc £48bn a year in lost exports. British businesses must take notice of this latest report, which emphasises that one of the secrets of export success is to have a language strategy in place to effectively communicate with target markets.”

As well as showing an increase in export to turnover ratio, the findings highlight that companies with in-house language capabilities are much more likely to appreciate the benefits of engaging external professional language services when exporting. Rather than one form of language provision replacing the other, SMEs with in-house language capabilities tend to adopt a twin-track approach to support their global business activities.

Professor Foreman-Peck, who is Professor of Economics at Cardiff University, says:

“The results from this study point to the significance of languages for the bottom line of exporting small and medium size enterprises. While there are many factors that can influence export performance, the research was able to isolate many of the factors and give an accurate picture of the impact of language skills on SMEs when selling abroad. Having a strong language strategy by no means guarantees success, but it does increase the likelihood of it quite significantly.”

About the Association of Translation Companies

The Association of Translation Companies was established in 1976 by a group of leading translation companies to ensure the quality assurance and accreditation of translation and interpreting companies in Britain. It is one of the world’s oldest organisations representing the interests of translation companies and helped form a Europe-wide association for the sector with representation in 23 countries.

About Comtec

An award-winning, full service translation agency, Comtec has over 30 years’ experience in providing fast, accurate and high quality translations in more than 200 languages . We’re the trusted language translation partner for many companies who call on our knowledge of international business and expert translation services to help them expand into new markets overseas.

If you’re a UK-based SME considering expanding your business abroad and would like some advice on translating and localising your business materials, please get in touch on or call us on + 44 (0) 1926 335 681. We’re here ready and waiting to help.

Pin It on Pinterest