Are you currently doing business in Argentina, or do you plan to in the near future? Consider this…
- Argentina is the eighth-largest country by landmass worldwide, and the second-largest country in South America after Brazil.
- Argentina has the third-largest economy in Central and South America with a high GDP per capita, and it’s is one of the G-20 major economies.
- Argentina is a country founded on immigration with strong remnants of European cultures. Though Spanish is the official language, English, Italian, German, and French are commonly spoken.
- Argentina is a major agricultural producer. The country is the third-largest beef exporter in the world after Brazil and Australia. Other major industries include consumer durables, motor vehicles, textiles, petrochemicals, printing, metallurgy, and steel.
- Argentina is one of the top media markets in Central and South America. It has more than 150 daily newspapers and dozens of commercial radio and TV stations. One of the newspapers, Clarín is the best-selling daily in South America and has the second-highest number of subscribers among Spanish-speaking countries.
With diverse cultures based on European influences and strong economic pull in the region, Argentina is attractive to foreign businesses. However, Argentina has many social and cultural differences compared to the United States. Here are some pointers for successful business relationships!
- Most of the population considers themselves Roman Catholic, which influences basic perceptions and behaviors.
- Argentines have a different naming structure from other Spanish-speaking countries. They use their father’s surname instead of using both parents’ surnames. When you address people, use job titles with surnames. If your counterpart does not have a professional title, use Mr., Mrs., or Miss with their surnames.
- Both men and women commonly greet one another by shaking hands and nodding slightly. Close friends kiss each other on the cheek.
- Compared to North Americans, Argentines speak at a closer distance. If an Argentine puts his or her hand on your shoulder or lapel, don’t be offended. Patting on the shoulder is an expression of friendship.
- If you give gifts bearing your company logo, the logo should not be obvious. Also, do not give knives; knives signify the end of a friendship.
- Eating food in the street or on public transportation is considered rude.
- Appointments should always be made ahead of time.
- When going to a business meeting, be on time and be prepared to wait patiently. Important people tend to arrive later than the scheduled start time.
- If you are invited to a social event, ask what time you are expected to show up, not what time the event begins.
- Keeping irregular business hours is common for executives. Argentine executives often work late, so scheduling a business meeting in the evening is quite acceptable.
- Make personal contacts who can refer you to business prospects and focus on building your relationship with a prospect before doing business. The higher the level of the prospect, the better.
- When you are doing business with the Argentine government, you need to have an Argentine contact to introduce you to them. Without this intermediary, you are unlikely to get an appointment.
- The country is based on bureaucracy; negotiation processes are slower than in the United States. Even after a final decision maker agrees to a contract, that person still needs to get approval from other people.
- Argentines can be stubborn and have a decided tendency to avoid risk. Expect little yielding in negotiations.
- Before you sign your final contract, you should be prepared to renegotiate items.
- Business dinners are common and usually held in restaurants. However, except Buenos Aires, business lunches are uncommon; most people still prefer to go home for lunch.
- Argentines do not mention business over meals. They believe meals are social events.
- Dinner is not served before 10:00 p.m. If you have a meeting from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., you will be offered pastries, tea, or coffee. It is polite to accept the offer.
- Flowers (especially bird of paradise flowers), imported chocolates, and whiskey are the most popular gifts when you are invited to an Argentine’s home. Since Argentina is a major producer of leather, don’t bring leather as a gift.
- Argentina has the world’s second-highest consumption rate of beef. Many Argentines eat meat twice a day, and most dishes include beef.
- Argentina has great liquors, including wine. Also, domestic products are cheaper than imported. Usually a host pays for the meals, so don’t order imported liquor without the host’s suggesting it.
- Don’t pour wine with your left hand; it is considered an insult.
Morrison, Terri, and Wayne A. Conaway (2006). Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands, 2nd edition. Massachusetts: Adams Media Corporation.