China: A $1.3bn Translation Market?

According to this article China’s translation market is anywhere between US$1.3bn and US$2.5bn; this is according to the Translators Association of China.

Also according to the assocation, there are 3,000 registered translation companies in China, although the article mentions that there could be more than 10,000 agencies (primarily mom and pop types) in all.

This market revenue estimate seems a bit steep to me. If we assume that the 3,000 registered firms are doing $2bn in revenues, that would mean each firm is averaging more than half a million dollars in revenues. Since most small firms in the US and Europe average less than $200,000, I’d say the $2bn number is aiming a bit too high. If we were to try to get to $2bn using all 10,000 Chinese firms, each firm would still need to generate US$180,000 — still too high on average.

Of course, the wild card here is what percentage of revenues is driven by the Chinese government. Perhaps the government alone is contributing $500m or so to the pie; if that’s the case I can see how the association is reaching this market estimate.

Any thoughts/input from you vendors out there?

PS: I almost forgot the mention the point of the article: “The State Commission for Administration of Standardization recently approved China’s first set of standards on the quality of translation, effective from Sept. 1 of this year.”

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.