Wednesday, August 3, 2011

International Business Meeting Gift Giving – Detailed

Countries in which a gift is expected:
  • Europe: Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Ukraine
  • Latin American: Bolivia, Columbia, Costa Rica
  • Pacific Rim – China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Phillipines and Thailand
Countries in which a gift is not expected on the first visit, but would be accepted on a subsequent visit:
  • Europe: Portugal, Spain
  • Latin American: Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and Venezuela
  • Pacific Rim: Singapore
  • Scandinavia: Finland, Norway
Countries in which a gift is not expected or gifts are less frequently exchanged:
  • Africa
  • Australia
  • Europe: England, France, Hungary and Italy
  • Latin American: Uruguay
  • Scandinavia: Denmark
  • Middle East: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia
  • United States
Cultures with detailed rituals for the ceremony of gift giving are the Japanese and Chinese. And Nomadic cultures in the Middle East have a tradition of hospitality to travelers, while Latin culture countries consider all relationships as personal.

In today’s world, with global companies, as well as countries populated and influenced by different religions cultures, it is important to develop good business relationships by taking the time to learn more about the person you are doing business with.

Chinese Culture: Countries in the world with a Chinese cultural influence, accept gifts with a reserved demeanor. In order not to appear greedy, a gift will not be immediately taken, but refused three times before finally being accepted. If you are presented with a gift, follow the same process of refusing it three times then accept it with both hands. You will also not open it, but wait until later.

In China, official business policy considers gifts as bribes, which are illegal. Though this policy is softening, there may be times when a gift you offer will absolutely not be accepted.

In Chinese culture symbolism is important, with colors and numbers having special meaning. Red is a lucky color. Pink and yellow represent happiness. The number eight (8) is the luckiest number. The colors black, white and blue and the number four (4), or four of anything are negatively associated with death and funerals.

Sharp objects like knives or scissors represent “a severing of a friendship or relationship” including a business relationship.

Japanese Culture: In Japan gift giving is an art form. It represents respect, gratitude and friendship. For a first business meeting, come prepared with a gift, a quality gift that is not extravagant. When you offer your gift, hold in both hands and bow. In Japan, symbolism is important. A gift with a pair of items is considered lucky, but sets of four or nine are unlucky. Plus, the number four (4) also means death. The color red is associated with funerals. So do not give a pen with red ink. And do not write out a card using red ink.

The Japanese will refuse a gift once or twice before accepting it. And it will not be opened in your presence. When a gift is offered to you, follow the same ceremony.

Latin Culture: Latin cultures don’t have formal or traditional ceremonies surrounding gift giving. However, business relationships are developed as personal relationships. And in order to build a strong and lasting friendship, gifts are a thoughtful way to make a good first impression. If you are a man giving a gift to a female, in order for the gift not be construed as a romantic overture; tell her you’re delivering the gift on behalf of your wife or assistant. Symbolism in this culture will also influence the choices you make for gifts and wrapping paper. Black or purple paper isn’t used because it’s used during Holy Week. As in other cultures, sharp objects should never be given, since they represent a severing of a relationship.

Jewish: Orthodox Jews are not allowed to eat pork and shellfish. The dietary laws are very specific regarding which foods are acceptable to eat, and their processing and preparation. Because wine is used in religious ceremonies, it’s required to be kosher even for social drinking. So all wine and wine-based drinks consumed must be kosher, prepared and bottled by Jews. If you want to buy a gift of food or wine, it is best to shop at a kosher store.

Muslim: In the Muslin culture, the Koran forbids alcohol. Gifts of liquor or any product that contains alcohol such as perfume would never be selected to give. Also forbidden are products or foods from scavengers, which include pork, birds and shellfish. So a leather item made from a pig skin could not be given. Other categories are also not appropriate for gifts. Dogs are considered unclean, so any dog item, even something with a picture of dog would not be given. The same applies to knives, considered severing a relationship.

A good gift for Muslin is a compass. Each day he must face Mecca for prayers.

Gifts are presented using the right hand, or both hands. The left hand is never used alone to hand someone a gift, as it’s considered unclean.

Hindu: In the Hindu culture the cow is sacred, plus fish and all animal products except milk or butter are shunned. Therefore, you would never select any leather or food product from these categories. Most Hindus also don’t drink alcohol.

Gifts are given and accepted using your right hand, or both hands, never only your left hand, as the left is considered unclean since it’s used for personal hygiene. And gifts are not opened at the time they’re received.

European Root Culture: Cultures without strong gift giving traditions, European cultures and countries influenced by these cultures, don’t use gifts as an integral component of a business relationship. This doesn’t mean that an occasional and appropriate gift is not appreciated.

Article provided by Patricia Desiderio, owner and president of Patty’s Gifts and Baskets, LLC, T/A Patty’s Promotions. A promotional products distributor and international gift company.

Contact: or

No comments:

Post a Comment