Singapore with almost 6 million population is a small but wealthy city-state. Strategically this country occupies a vital location in the south of Malaysia, between east and west.

Singapore is a model of economic development, international companies contribute for about 50% to GDP. The country religion is for the majority of Buddhism. In this article, we will read about how to behave on business deal with Singaporeans.

English is the official business language and Singapore’s legal system is based on British Common Law, but they are more conservative than in the UK.

In this country, like other Asian countries, more formal forms of address are essential. Singaporeans are likely to make sure they are doing business with the right person. As a result, it is necessary to establish a good and genuine relation with a Singaporean counterpart to demonstrate that your capabilities are good.

They retain strong hierarchical relationships, because of that if you start lower down the company structure on your business contact .it can prove difficult to gain access to senior decision makers.

Singaporeans are not likely to take offence especially when they understand that you come from a different culture but they respect and they would like to be respected. General topics like religion, racial issues and politics are not interesting for whole of the world, as in Singapore.

Meeting, Greeting and Body Language

To negotiate with Singaporeans first send a list of people who will be attending the negotiations and their title well in advance. You have to wait to be told where to sit. There is a strict hierarchy that must be followed in Singapore.

When beginning a business meeting or social occasion, one should always shake hands with each individual present, both when arriving and when leaving, and do so in a firm manner.

Additionally, many people in Singapore will bow slightly when shaking hands, making it appropriate to give a small bow in return. As a general rule, avoid touching a person’s head, or their child’s head, as it is considered sacred.

Business cards are an essential part of a business protocol that should be presented with both hands. No elaborate bowing is necessary in formal business meetings.

Normal business dress code consists of dark trousers, long-sleeved shirts and ties for men, and blouses, skirts or trousers for women. Due to the hot and humid weather, jackets are not usually required. Appointments should be made at least two weeks in advance.

Be punctual more than anywhere

Being punctual in many countries is an important part of corporate culture, but in Singapore punctuality is taken to an even higher level and being on time to meetings or notifying others of any expected delay is crucial.

Business breakfasts are rare in Singapore. Lunch is the preferred meal for business discussions. Even if lunches are not uncommon in Singapore it may be wise to avoid scheduling meetings between noon and 2 pm.


Expect negotiations to be slow and protracted. Relationship building, information gathering, bargaining, and decision making all take considerable time. Be prepared to make several trips if necessary to achieve your objectives. Throughout the negotiation, be patient, control your emotions, and accept that delay.

Pay attention…

Singaporean negotiators, especially those of Chinese heritage, may use pressure tactics such as applying time pressure or making expiring offers.
If they feel that the other side is working against a deadline, they may exploit this point to increase the time pressure.

Fonte: a cura di Exportiamo, di Morvarid Mahmoodabadi,

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