MARKET INSIGHT: Don’t cry for me Argentina – the future is rosy

When I was asked to reflect on this 2020 and provide my forecast for 2021, the first thing that came to my mind was “What else can I say that hasn’t been said or analyzed already?”. I believe there’s still room for in-depth analysis focusing on the Argentinian market, writes Agustina Pioli, President of Translated In Argentina (TiNA), photographed, one of the EUATC's strategic partners.

Before COVID-19, remote work was possible but not preferable

We all knew that remote work was a possible business model though not the preferred one for many. COVID only speeded its implementation for small, medium and large companies alike.

At the beginning of the pandemic, companies that operated remotely had a significant advantage over those that only considered working remotely as a benefit for their employees. And they benefited from this by showcasing their business model, sharing their knowledge on managing remote teams, and promoting their well-established service.

If remote work can be done within the limits of a city, it can also be expanded to more cost-effective markets, like Argentina. This could be a quick and easy way to recruit top talent, but it remains to be seen if this will prove to be successful in the long term.

Spotlight on knowledge-based services

After years of discussion and collaborative work between associations like Translated in Argentina (TINA), industry players and government institutions, Argentina became a pioneer within Latin America when it comes to encouraging knowledge-based services (KBS), considered to be the third exporting sector in the country following Agriculture and Mining. The new legislation for KBS providers allows for taxation benefits to local companies that invest in R&D and incentives to talent training and development.

Argentinians are resilient and creative, especially when it comes to businesses. It is no surprise that, unlike the US where 65.5% of small and medium sized localization companies stagnated or declined their growth*, their Argentine peers saw a significant growth during COVID-19.

Challenges for 2021

During 2020, small, medium and big players from all over the world saw the opportunity to outsource to local companies that offer managed services to reduce their expenditure in wages. Once again, Argentina was positioned as the go-to market in our industry when it comes to quality services for competitive rates.

Local companies have a track record of offering services that make their clients competitive and profitable. We’ll have to wait and see how this trend of foreign companies recruiting in Argentina will impact the local market, as it will have to compete for talent with larger players offering pay structures well above local standards.

Will local companies need to adjust their labor cost structure to retain talent? This will inevitably translate into higher per word rates to compensate for that. For years, foreign LSPs have partnered with local companies because of their talent and competitivity. Will the Argentinian market still be competitive? Will local companies be forced to compete for better paying customers that are today served by US and Europe-based LSPs? With this new “virtual” reality, this might be quite possible.

Argentinian companies might be able to keep competitive prices because of the favorable exchange rate, but perhaps there will be a shift in what foreign LSPs buy from Argentinian companies – PMing and other key positions as opposed to quality translation services. If this trend continues, the key question is who will provide the quality Spanish translation services in the volumes that Argentina provides right now. This will very interesting to see develop as Spanish is one of the key languages for big players.

For the US and European market, I see this shift as profitable in the short term, but not necessarily in the mid and long term, as more companies that traditionally served them will become competitors, in a market already strained by interpreting business that reconverted into translation due to COVID.

Interpreting in Argentina

The Argentinian LSP landscape is mainly made up of translation companies as there is not such a big market for interpreting companies as in the rest of the world. COVID impacted this scenario as VRI is now widely accepted and on-site interpreting is no longer a must. Local high-tech startups, like Ulang, are now seeing that there is a niche worth exploring here and this might open the door for more linguists turning to interpreting offering their services to foreign companies.

The outlook

The translation industry in Argentina went from non-existent 20 years ago to developing hundreds of translation and localization companies of all sizes, and now, to having high tech start-ups developing technology focusing on interpreting. The hard and passionate work of the key industry players and associations like TINA have helped bridge the gap between academia, business and the market that is evident today: highly skilled professionals are being recruited by international companies every day and international companies have established branches in Argentina. We are still the go-to place for small, medium and large companies looking to have qualified talent at competitive rates.

Argentina has proven to provide valuable resources, experience and technology to the translation industry worldwide, and global LSPs and end clients alike are still relying on Argentina to help their businesses grow. Hopefully 2021 will prove to be another year of successful partnerships.

About Translated in Argentina

Translated in Argentina (TINA) is the first non-profit association of language service companies and professionals whose objective is to promote the local language industry, train resources, and build awareness to strengthen the activity within the Argentinian business environment. TINA focuses on bringing together localization industry stakeholders in Argentina in an effort to further strengthen the already established position as the go-to place for into-Spanish language services; providing training to member companies and industry players in general as well as seeking partnerships with government and industry associations all over the world.

TINA promotes and supports activities related to the use of new technologies, professional information & training, the organization of conferences and seminars, participation in international events, and the promotion of language activities as a source of economic growth and the creation of direct and indirect jobs. Despite the recent formalization, TINA gained quick formal support of their close to 100 members and 37 partners around the world. Want to become a member and be part of the most important network in our industry in Argentina? Register here.

*  “One-third of LSCs with revenues below USD 1 million reported modest growth, 65.5% stagnated or declined” ALC Industry Survey 2020