Tips for doing business in Asia Pacific – cultural points you need to be aware
New Zealand culture values fairness, ingenuity, practicality, modesty, restraint and informality. English is the everyday language but Māori and sign language are also recognised as official languages. New Zealand aspires to be a multi-cultural society, with record immigration numbers over the last five years from all over the world adding greatly to this goal. We accord a special significance to Māori culture, reflecting Māori status as the indigenous people of the land.
New Zealanders can be somewhat reserved, especially with people they do not know. Once they develop a personal relationship, they are generally very friendly, outgoing and social. Expect to receive respect from people and try to focus on being honest, direct, and demonstrating a sense of humour. Locals will trust you until they are given a reason not to.
With regard to doing business, most people will want to interact on a first name basis as quickly as possible. Meetings should be planned at least once a week in advance by telephone, fax or email and it is generally easier to schedule meetings with senior level managers if you are coming from another country.
When presenting your business case, use facts and figures. Emotions and feelings are not important in the New Zealand business climate and New Zealanders are interested in what people ‘can do’, not what they say they can do. Gifts aren’t generally exchanged in business situations, but if invited over to someone’s home, it is polite to bring a small gift such as chocolate, wine, or pastries.
When engaging in commercial negotiations you should take your time and start the negotiation with a realistic figure. It is not a bargaining culture and New Zealanders do not expect to haggle over the price. Be direct and expect the same in return. Kiwis appreciate brevity and are not impressed by more detail than is required.
Mark Copeland Lawyers, in Rotorua is the New Zealand commercial and real estate member Firm of IR Global, a global network of over 300 professional services firms in over 150 countries who are able to provide expert local advice on international business transactions.
Mark was recently invited to contribute his perspective on doing business in New Zealand, as a part of an IR Global feature Gateway to Asia Pacific: A Guide to doing business in Asia. Read what Mark and 8 other member contributors had to say here: “Gateway to Asia Pacific: A Guide to doing bu