English Language’s Role in International Trade


Nowadays, during the era of global tendencies and active global cooperation in the area of economy, politics, and technology, English has become the most important language in the sphere of business and trade. Millions of transactions in different trading spheres beginning from the tourism and hospitality industry and ending with the sphere of financial services such as cash remittance and effecting international payments are made using English each day. Such a situation is explained by many factors including such excellent characteristics of English as accessibility as a second language, and good linguistic features such as the rather simple and laconic system of grammar rules and a variety of easy means to express one’s ideas even for a beginner in mastering this language. Overall, evaluating the situation it appears that English can be classified as the major language dominating in the area of international trade, and helping humanity to make considerable achievements in the area of economy and business.

Main body

Global tendencies in the international trade

First of all, speaking about the role of English in international trade, it should be stated that today all the major business activities including trade are subjected to the laws of the globalization process. As a result of the globalization process, the world became a “large village” where people from the most remote and distant lands cooperate daily. In such conditions, it is more than important for these people to understand each other while their negotiations, and in this case, English becomes a helping hand. According to Stead (2012, par.2),

The role of English as an international language

English remains the leading international language, with an estimated 1.5 billion speakers across the world. The dominance of English is colossal; the most widely used language the world has ever seen. It is the language of modern scholarship, the internet and technology, the global media and advertising, international politics and diplomacy, and particularly, global business.

Being both “a result and cause of globalization”, English occupies its leading position in a variety of the most important trading spheres such as international tourism, hospitality service, construction and engineering, financial operations, and healthcare services. Lazaro and Medalla (2004, p. 6) argue that “the use of English language for cross-border communications is important in many areas of trade ranging from tourism to the trade-in financial services”. Similar ideas are expressed by numerous respected specialists in the area of global economy who declare that English has its dominating role in any of the most important areas of international trade (Deutsch & Speyer 2001, Moon 2000, Rauscher 1997). This tendency is strong even though English is not a language of the majority of people on the planet. Specialists report that it is only the third largest language in the world with about two billion speakers (Feenstra 2004). Still, English became a dominating language in international trade as is evident from the following comment:

With more people on the move today than at any other point in human history, English has increasingly become the ‘lingua Franca for international trade. This is powerfully underlined by the calculation that an estimated 80 percent of those communicating in English are non-native speakers (Stead 2012, par.5).

It is true, the process of globalization that started its active and ever-growing pace in the twentieth century, made humanity choose an easy and efficient way of communication. English was able to occupy such an important position the reason of its excellent characteristics as an easy language to be learned, and a rich means of communicating the widest range of ideas even for the non-speakers. In addition, English is called a language of “business” for its laconic grammar structures and a variety of forms to express one’s thoughts and ideas in a respectful and still uncomplicated manner (Goldin & Reinert, K 2007). There can be hardly found a person in the world who does not speak English at least on the level of a beginner or the elementary level. In the area of business education, students are trained very seriously to acquire great skills in spoken and written English (Deutsch & Speyer 2001). Such active efforts appear to be blessed, and numerous professionals in the world of business and economy are skilled English speakers.

The connection between the history of the English language and its importance in the world trade

Finally, discussing the depth of the phenomenon of the importance of English as an international language of trade, the history of its distribution in the world appears to be very significant. Beginning from the era of colonization English occupied a position of a language of international interaction and negotiations. This tendency could be well explored in the vast territories beginning from eastern British colonies such as India and ending with the western ones such as America. When the United States became an independent country, and gradually occupied the position of a world leader in the area of trade and economy, English established its hegemony in the world of business. This tendency continues for more than a century now. The most intriguing fact in this development is that the process of popularizing English is ever more active. Nowadays, the countries of the third world work very hard to make English their second language as it is well-known that such change will help them to attract more investments and become more competitive in international trade (Stead 2012). In this vein, the other fact worthy to mention is that all the countries occupying the positions of major players in international trade have English as their first or second language. Thus, the history of the distribution of the English language in the world can be considered to be one of the central explanations why its role is dominating in international trade.


Concluding on all the information discussed above, it appears that the role of English in international trade can be hardly underestimated. As a result of the process of globalization, English occupied its leading position in the modern world as an international language especially in the area of business and trade. During decades, such tendency can be noticed in a variety of business and trade areas beginning from tourism and hospitality and ending with the most diversified financial services offered worldwide such as cash remittance and effecting international payments. English proved itself as an easy and laconic way to communicate one’s ideas and thoughts not very labor and time investing in its studies and accessible in any area of the world. The benefits and profits English brings in the area of international trade can be evaluated by billions of American dollars. All in all, nowadays, the role of the English language in international trade is dominating and can be even qualified as critical for the efficient cooperation between the people of the world.


Deutsch, K & Speyer, B 2001, The World Trade Organization Millennium Round: Freer Trade in the Twenty-First Century, Routledge, London.

Feenstra, R 2004, Advanced International Trade: Theory and Evidence, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

Goldin, I & Reinert, K 2007, Globalization for Development: Trade, Finance, Aid, Migration, and Policy, World Bank, Washington, DC.

Lazaro, D & Medalla, E 2004, ‘English as the Language of Trade, Finance and Technology in APEC: An East Asia Prospective’, Philippine Institute for Development Studies, Discussion Paper Series, no.36, pp. 1-20.

Moon, B 2000, Dilemmas of International Trade (2nd ed.), Westview Press, Boulder, CO.

Rauscher, M 1997, International Trade, Factor Movements, and the Environment, Clarendon Press, Oxford.

Stead, S 2012, English – The International Language Powering World Trade, Web.

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