By Daniel Hunter

The latest trade confidence index report issued this week by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), reveals that growth in the UK exports market in the last three months is at its highest level since the financial crisis.

However for businesses to take full advantage of this resurgence they must ensure they are fully equipped to deal with the language and cultural issues involved when exporting abroad.

The survey, which comprised of more than 1,700 businesses, suggested that export orders for services firms were growing at a record pace, while manufacturers have been enjoying their strongest orders growth for more than a year.

Despite the welcome news, concerns have been raised that UK manufacturers are not fully geared up to communicate successfully with their export markets. Geoffrey Bowden, General Secretary of the Association of Translation Companies (ATC), highlights that although the increase in exporting is excellent progress for UK plc, without the full grasp of the language and cultural barriers, some businesses will be left behind

“The British Chambers of Commerce flagged in a separate report in June that poor language skills are holding British exports back. Although this latest reported rise in exports is very welcome, it also highlights the need for UK businesses to ensure that they are effectively geared up in order to embrace the resurgence in growth. This requires a comprehensive language strategy that is an intrinsic part of their business plan, rather than an afterthought, or worse still, receives no consideration at all,” Geoffrey commented.

“For a start, it is not realistic to assume that a company will be able to hire in-house staff with both the cultural awareness and language skills necessary to communicate effectively. Translation into foreign languages is not a simple word-for-word process and there are a huge number of cultural, grammatical and contextual elements that must be considered before a business would be ready to communicate effectively in non-native language.

“Problems companies could encounter include complications with written materials, from press releases to promotional leaflets, misunderstanding of vital terminology and after-sales support, through to difficulties during international visits. If a business can develop communication strategies for their international markets, they are much more likely to benefit from increased and continued overseas trade and investment,” concludes Geoffrey.

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