Home / Business Building / Intercultural protocol tips for when you are going to export

Intercultural protocol tips for when you are going to export

Intercultural protocol tips for when you are going to export

When we decide to sell our products abroad we should not only look at the cost of exporting, it is also important to know how to negotiate with a culture that may be very different from ours. We offer you some simple ideas to deal with businessmen from BRICS countries.

Negotiating is much more than making offers and counter-offers. Anyone who has sat down at a table with the intention of closing a deal will know that, beyond the numbers, it is the feelings transmitted by the interlocutor that end up decanting the balance on one side or the other. These feelings are important and, unfortunately, they are very difficult to control when the person in front of you does not share your same cultural background.

That is what this article is about, how to make a good impression and help your business proposal reach a good place in a foreign culture. And for this, we have chosen the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa , which currently represent a great opportunity for those Spanish SMEs interested in exporting. We started the trip.


According to protocol experts, the negotiations in Brazil can be very effusive or temperamental but not fast, so it is best to take the talks with patience and knowing that, although there is a good understanding between the two parties, it is normal that the negotiation late in Close in positive.

For this reason, one of the best ways to advance the talks in having representatives or mediators, a figure that Brazilians know as a ‘dispatcher’. To request the help of this type of interlocutors it is best to go to the Chambers of Commerce or business associations of the Brazilian city where you want to do business.

Indeed, in Brazil punctuality can sometimes be complicated, mainly due to traffic problems, so it is not uncommon to start meetings with a certain delay. If you plan to hold a round of meetings on the same day, it is best to leave enough time between one and the other, and there is probably some delay.


As in Brazil, negotiations in Russia are also often prolonged. Here the motive has to do with the very idiosyncrasy of the Russians, who think that comes quickly to an agreement can be understood as weakness.

With this idea in mind, entrepreneurs who want to do business in this country should expect intense conversations, with many offers and counter-offers before reaching an agreement.

In addition, as some protocol experts point out, it is not easy to close meetings with Russian businessmen as they are quite reluctant to meet with strangers, so it is important to insist and not settle for the assistance of any subaltern.


In Indian culture personal skills and the charisma of the interlocutor is as important as professional ability or business experience. Hence, showing a friendly deal with the appropriate facial expressions is important to start the negotiation well.

That affable treatment is something that they carry quite a bit ‘raja tabla’, so it is very common that, despite rejecting a proposition or idea that we are throwing, do not offer us a complete refusal, but avoid the frontal rejection. That is why it is important to make very clear all the terms of the agreement so that in the future there are no misunderstandings.

As in other countries with well-defined social hierarchies, it is very important in India to know exactly who to interview. In this way, if we are not the owner of the company, we may not be able to access the maximum response of the company with which we want to do business, but with a worker of a rank similar to ours.


We jump from one Millenary culture to another. We will not be surprised to say that in China respect for tradition is fundamental, so there are a series of protocol keys that must be respected in order not to offend our interlocutors. Some of the most important are:

  • Absolute punctuality.
  • Great first the person of greater rank, who is also the one who first enters the room.
  • If applause is greeted, it is important to return the applause.
  • Jokes or jokes are not appreciated at a formal meeting.
  • Business cards are delivered with both hands.
  • It is highly appreciated to offer some tea to drink.
  • It is also understood as a courtesy gesture to bring a simple gift to the host of the meeting.Apart from these basic rules of etiquette, it is important to keep in mind that Chinese entrepreneurs value face-to-face meetings rather than telephone or mail brokerage, so having a meeting with a Chinese entrepreneur is a great opportunity To strengthen ties and close profitable agreements.

South Africa

Given the history of the country, South African culture when it comes to doing business is not too different from what can be found in any European or North American country.

Exchange of cards, shaking hands, formal attire … perhaps the most remarkable thing about the deal with South Africans is that they do not usually look into their eyes during a conversation, something that is understood as a sign of arrogance.

Finally, the issue of punctuality is not something that worries especially in South Africa and although it is never appropriate to be late for an appointment, it does not have such negative implications as in other parts of the world.

About Author: