Deal or No Deal: Brexit’s Impact on the Translation Industry
What is a no deal Brexit?
A no deal Brexit is akin to one member of a marriage exiting with no specified terms, agreement or plans on how the household will operate going forward.
In this scenario, when the UK leaves the European Union (EU), the governmental, legal, financial, trade, employment, taxation, customs and migration arrangements among the EU members would need to go through a transitory period or become immediately null and void with regard to the UK.
If there is no approved plan in place on the date of a formal exit from the union, the trade terms of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) would need to be implemented. Trading on WTO terms would mean different taxation and logistics parameters for goods. Services industries, such as language service providers (LSPs), would lose their guaranteed and unrestricted access to the EU single market, including access to talent. The disruptive impact on professional translation projects in progress and long-term customer relationships could be significant.
Communications across European languages will continue after the UK leaves the EU
No restrictive governmental policy can eliminate the need for organisations and individuals to communicate across languages. As long as personal, business, legal, medical and technology-based relationships, migration and trade continue with the UK and the rest of the EU, there will be demand for inter-language services.
The resources and tactics that UK agencies currently employ to service customers in the other EU countries may simply need to change.
Post-Brexit demand for language services is favourable
Regardless of whether a deal is made between the UK and the European Union countries by the ever-extending deadline, the demand for language services provided by British translation agencies will remain. The Association of Translation Companies (ATC) has been actively researching and preparing European language services companies, and their customers, for the impacts of Brexit. The ATC continues to lobby for its members’ best interests and has secured grant funding to help its members understand and adjust to the upcoming changes on their business models.
Although the details of how Brexit will be implemented for service companies during the short- and long-term, one thing is clear: UK language service providers will continue to aid European organisations in communicating effectively with each other. In fact, the ATC’s CEO believes UK’s language service companies will play an even bigger role in assisting UK businesses export goods and services throughout Europe post-Brexit.
Overall, the outlook for translation services demand is good. Over time, policies and their implementation will become clear. For now, the industry is simply waiting to determine how, to whom and by whom their services will be delivered in the future. Skilled, native-speaker professional translators from other countries often work for or are subcontracted on a freelance basis by UK agencies. The structure of these service engagements may change as talent provides services across borders.
At Renaissance Translations, we are committed to serving our clients globally. Therefore, we are continually monitoring the situation of Brexit. Let’s discuss the best plan of action for your business translation needs.