International Business Gift Giving 101

Corporate gift giving in America is much different than in other countries. In both the United States and England, it is less common to give a business gift than it is in other countries. If you have business dealings with other countries, it is wise to study their gift giving procedures and customs. While no list will include every ritual and practice, here is a brief look at what you can expect in a few highly-traveled business arenas.

If you are giving gifts to the Japanese:

· It is quite normal to give and receive business gifts in Japanese culture. Expect to be given a gift if you are traveling to Japan on business.

· Be prepared with gifts to give in return. Have a series of gifts at the ready so you won't be caught in an awkward situation.

· The Japanese tend to focus on the art of giving the gift rather than the gift itself. So instead of dropping off your gift and running, plan to spend time presenting your gift to your Japanese business associates.

· Do not give gifts in multiples of fours or nines. They are considered bad luck. Give gifts in groups of two.

· Never give a cheap gift. The Japanese are known for giving gifts of value. Prepare to give your very best.

· Don't walk in and immediately hand over your gift. This is considered poor etiquette. Instead wait until the end of your visit to present it. If you've giving a gift to just one person, say the boss, present it to him in private. If you are offering a group gift, make sure each recipient is there in the room before you present it.

· If you are offered a gift, and you will be, refuse one or more times before accepting. This is expected behavior. When you do reach out to accept the gift, receive it with both hands.

If you are offering Chinese business partners a gift:

· It is considered perfectly acceptable to give a gift of thanks or even in hopes of receiving future favoritism. This is very different from American business culture.

· Do not give a gift to a Chinese person without a witness or bystander. And if you don't have a good reason for giving your gift, don't.

· A Chinese person may ask what you would like for your gift. This is considered good etiquette. It is expected that you will respond. Ask for something in line with Chinese culture like a brush and pen set or a tea from their region. It may be hard for an American to ask for something specific, but the Chinese will be offended if you don't have something in mind.

· Always give a gift in return. And never give cash or money. It is considered very poor taste to do so. However, your return gift should be expensive and thought out. This is not the time to visit the bargain bin. Think elegant and upscale.

· Much like the Japanese, the Chinese see value in numbers. Do not give one of something as it is seen as bad luck. Give gifts in pairs of things as this is seen as a balance and a harmonious offering.

If you are giving corporate or business gifts in a country like Saudi Arabia:

· Study up on the culture. It is considered inappropriate to give a gift to any but an intimate friend.

· Select only the very best gift you can afford. Better not to give a gift than to give a cheap one. The worst things you can buy for a man are silk or golden objects. Go instead for silver, as it is acceptable.

· If you are offered a gift, reach out and accept it with your right hand. Not doing so would be an offense. You should open your gift when you receive it. Not to do so is in poor taste.

Of course there are many other countries you may do business with. It's always best to ask a friend with that ethnic background and do some research before embarking on a gift giving journey.

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