EQHO Communications opens a subsidiary in Vientiane, Laos to meet increasing demands for localization services as foreign investment pours in. The Thailand based corporation is the first full-service language service provider to open for business in Lao PDR.
A handful of small translation agencies are no longer adequate to meet the needs of the developing Lao economy. The country has experienced massive growth at an average rate of 7% each year for the last decade. The World Bank recently announced that figures of 8.3% are expected for 2012. This is set to continue as they hope to attract $8 billion in foreign investment from 2011 to 2015.
A gradual return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment laws began in 1988. Laos made headlines in October last year when its application into the WTO was approved. The Government have also been making rapid improvements to infrastructure in anticipation of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2016.
Marketing manager Steven Bussey commented “Laos has long been overlooked by mainstream investors. Some have questioned why we opted to open here, rather than in other emerging nations like Cambodia or Myanmar. Laos is a growing player in Southeast Asia, with an abundance of natural resources. It supplies electricity to its neighbors Vietnam, China and Thailand and the Government is actively encouraging foreign investment in metallurgy. Tourism is experiencing significant growth which has promoted spending in the real-estate sector…. In any case, the opening of localization production facilities in Cambodia and Myanmar are also on our roadmap for the future!”
Bussey continued “Laos has an industrial growth rate of 17%; it is one of the top 5 in the World. The localization industry is primitive and no longer able to meet demands. Small translation agencies are charging by page, rather than by the word, there are no computer-aided translation (CAT) tools, no translation memory (TM) and certainly no machine translation (MT) technology. We plan to develop the Laos Localization industry to incorporate these technologies over time.”
“It won’t be easy. Investing in this developing nation poses many challenges for corporate enterprise. The country lacks robust institutions of accountability and international experience. As commercial law is in its infancy, it can be a minefield to navigate.”
However, the country shares many cultural and economic traits with Thailand, and in addition, the Lao language and the Thai language share a lot in common and in many cases the two languages are mutually intelligible to Lao and Thai people. This promotes confidence, making EQHO’s goals seem entirely realistic.
Steven added “EQHO currently has over 20 in-country Lao translators, enabling us to meet the growing demand for Lao translation and localization services, and we are bringing on-board new resources daily. We offer a full suite of services to facilitate business in Laos, from standard business translations to desktop publishing, software, voiceover and multimedia.”
In order to facilitate the investment and growth of US companies in Laos, the Lao Chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce (Lao AMCHAM) was set up in September of 2012. In January, Lao AMCHAM held its first trade show and Gala dinner at the Lao Plaza Hotel which was attended by representatives of US businesses, Lao Government stakeholders, NGOs and other regional organizations with a keen interest in Laos. Also present at the events were Miss Minnesota (Ms. Nitaya Panemalaythong, a Lao-American) and Miss Lao. EQHO attended and exhibited at the event.
In April this year, EQHO will sponsor their industry’s main event – Localization World Singapore 2013. At the event, Steven Bussey will participate in a panel alongside representatives of Expedia and Adobe to discuss the role of emerging Asian markets. He will share EQHO’s experiences of setting up their branch in Vientiane, offering valuable insight into what it’s like to do business there.
About EQHO Communications
EQHO Communications – one of Southeast Asia’s largest independent localization firms, has over 70 in-house staff. Building on a well-educated labor base in Thailand, EQHO has created an internationally recognized localization firm specializing in the rarer Southeast Asian language services, as well as Chinese, Japanese and Korean. EQHO operates from a 1000-square-meter office in central Bangkok. With in-house linguists, multilingual DTP operators, localization & multimedia engineers, and on-site recording studios, EQHO offers an unrivalled level of service and rapid turnaround. Languages like Thai, Lao, Chinese, Vietnamese, Burmese and Khmer have character sets that pose unique challenges. For this reason, it is essential to have layout staff and native linguists under the same roof. Clients include: Acronis, SAS, Citrix, ABBYY, AVG, Dow, P&G, Siemens, Transocean, Shell, Michelin, Air France, Sheraton, Unilever, and many more. In addition to its Headquarters in
Bangkok, EQHO has facilities in Vientiane, Lao PDR and Brno, Czech Republic. In 2012, EQHO was ranked as a Top 20 Asia-based language service provider by Common Sense Advisory, the localization industry’s leading research organization.