A country’s economic development depends on a number of factors. The economic growth is impossible if the country lacks industries to manufacture high quality products or to provide marketable services. Until 2009, local construction, oil and gas industries, as well as banks were actively developing. Development in one area contributes to the development of the others. The local translation industry was rising then. I believe the number of small translation companies and freelance translators to have grown substantially during that period. All of them received translation assignments and earned their crust. A lot of beneficial deals were executed and many international contracts were signed then. Local businesses took opportunities to establish numerous contacts with their new foreign partners. Many foreign entities were eager to invest in Kazakhstan. Local companies sought to have their securities listed on the world’s leading stock exchanges. Kazakhstani companies were actively importing equipment and technologies. So, both foreign companies and local businesses became clients of the translation companies. We translated contracts, local laws and regulations, IPO prospectuses and underwriting agreements, operation manuals, development documents, etc.
In the meanwhile, the Kazakhstani translation market was facing certain problems. For example, it lacked standardization, regulation or certification. Neither translators nor the translation companies were legally liable for the quality of their translations. Moreover, there was a shortage of professional translators. Nevertheless, translators’ role was important and highly esteemed. Translation rates were at least twice as high as the current ones in the local market. Professional market players believed that ultimately the growing demand and anticipated stringent quality requirements would result in survival of the fittest.
However, the situation began to change for the worse in 2009. The decay seemed to deepen gradually but steadily. Local construction companies suspended their projects, banks slowed down their operations. Local firms’ proceeds fell. Furthermore, the oil prices went into a spin. The flow of translation assignments got depleted. The translation companies’ income is getting increasingly depreciated due to the ongoing devaluation of the Kazakhstani currency, tenge. Or the tenge’s freely floating rate, as the Government prefers to call this. It’s all the same to us.
We do hope that Kazakhstan will be able to withstand the current difficulties, to diversify its economy and to protect its currency. We also hope that translation service providers will finally become organized by introducing professional requirements and certifications, and will contribute to the country’s survival and further development. I can think of no other way out.