Etiquette to Follow When Importing/Exporting From China

Etiquette to FollowTo engage in an import/export business, you not only have to have knowledge of the business, you need to know the Chinese method of doing business. The tips below will help to insure you meet the proper business etiquette when importing/exporting from China.

  • Be Patient: This is imperative, but also difficult when you have deadlines, transactions, and other business opportunities, but have to take it slow. China is relatively new to the international. Sometimes, the individual you’re working with may not have the experience and the necessary skills when making international business deals. How the Chinese view the risk of the transaction and their relationship with the foreign country determine if the arrangements are done quickly or slowly.
  • Keep a Good Relationship: Starting a good Chinese relationship requires trust and security. To the Chinese, it is a relationship which will develop into a well-built personal relationship. This relationship requires honest, reliability, and acceptance, not just money or the actual business itself. If you develop a personal relationship, a foreign businessman can increase opportunities in import/export business transactions with Chinese businessmen. The Chinese prefer to do business with those who have already established good character. They give importance to safe, sound, and low risk business deals.
  • Remember to foster “Guanxi:” For most Chinese businessmen, “guanxi” pertains to honor, making good promises, staying true, showing good manners, and showing them respect and loyalty. Having the appropriate “guanxi” can determine whether or not your business will prosper. Establishing “guanxi” with the Chinese government can assess whether or not your company is competitive enough for doing business transactions in China. Sometimes, “guanxi” can be a fragile thing, so it is importance that you take care so you can have a successful import/export business relationship with China. If you maintain a good “guanxi,” you can do business in China for a long time.
  • Establish Local Contacts or Other Professionals: It is important that you be sure all decisions relating to your import/export business in China are discussed properly and well handled. You should be sure to speak Chinese, or have an interpreter. You also want to be sure to recognize, give due respect and adhere to their ways of doing business. You can ask for help from import/export professionals, locals or other persons who have had experience with doing business with the Chinese. A Chinese business partner will feel honored by a team of local representatives and foreign visitors. The Chinese also view this as honesty and promise to make the business relationship last.

    Local experts or representatives know very well the tricks of the trade that can or cannot work with the import export business or the businessmen they’re negotiating with. Those who truly know and understand the Chinese business culture can handle the ins and outs of the business. They can also determine if the matters being dealt and contracted with are expected and carried out. Resorting to an expert’s advices can reduce the costs and ensures that import export business will be successful in the long run.

  • Show Contract Awareness: The Chinese have a different business system and etiquette differ from those of foreign businessmen. Most Westerners, contracts as documents binding two parties in an agreed-upon arrangement. A Chinese businessman will dislike it if you bring along a contract in the initial stages of the negotiation. To the Chinese, this is not how you show commitment. You show it by promises and responsibilities that are based on relationships, not solely on a piece of paper. For the Chinese, a contract is just a formality. Be patient for time will come that the contract will be signed, and the business transaction will be sealed and completed.

Doing business with the Chinese is very different from doing business in other countries. If, however, you follow these guidelines and build a good, solid relationship with the Chinese, you can have a very lucrative import/export business.


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