Colombia is the fourth largest country in South America and one of the continent’s most populous nations. This country has many natural reserves like oil and it is a major producer of gold, silver, platinum and coal.

Colombia has civil conflict from more than five decades, drawing in left-wing rebels and right-wing paramilitaries. One of this group is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). It is the oldest and largest group among Colombia’s left-wing party and one of the world’s richest guerrilla armies.

The Farc and the Colombian government opened peace talks, focusing on land reform, political participation, disarmament of the rebels, drug trafficking, rights of victims. The implementation of the peace deal. It means that after many years the FARC put down their guns and formed a political party.

Colombia is starting a new season particularly in economic sector in the mining, tech and agriculture filed. Foreign Direct Investment in Colombia increased by 2685 USD Million in the second quarter of 2017. Foreign Direct Investment in Colombia averaged 1958.02 USD Million from 1996 until 2017.

This deal between Colombian government and Frac may open new opportunities for investment and economic development but absolutely it is a long and difficult road for them and other countries.

If you are interested to do business in Colombia, let’s read some typical business etiquette and cultural behavior.

Colombia’s culture

Colombia’s business culture varies across the country. In the major cities in particular Bogotá and Medellín the business culture is more formal, often more than in Europe while in smaller cities, the culture is generally more informal. In all cases, establishing personal relationships is essential to conduct business.

The titles are more important as names: like ‘Doctor’, Professor, Ingeniero (Engineer), Abogado (Lawyer), etc. This can be used for anyone with a degree, not necessarily a PhD.

On meeting and greeting handshake often for a long time is essential especially with strong eye contact. Smiling is also important.

It’s acceptable if they ask several times how you are and how things are going, especially If this is your first visit to Colombia, you are likely to be asked if you like it.

Be conservative on dress code

Conservative European dress code is the norm for all meetings in big cities. The smart casual dress may be acceptable, or even desirable, in smaller cities, especially in those with more tropical climates.

Business negotiations

Detailed business negotiations are likely to happen in the office rather than over a meal. In general, they want to know you before doing business so you shouldn’t be quick.

Although Colombians are concerned with quality, the price is usually the key factor to determine the success of a business partnership.

As a general rule, it is advisable to appoint a lawyer who will be able to help you with all the legal requirements during the contract process.

Hierarchical is important in Latin America as in Asia

Colombian business is hierarchical. The highest ranking person makes decisions.

It is an interesting mix of casual and formal. Titles are important. On the other hand, relationships are also very important, and you may be invited to address colleagues by their first names. So if they call you first with your first name, then you should have a friendship relation with them.

How to behave with women

The first time you meet a woman, it is generally acceptable to shake hands. But if you have met the woman before, it is acceptable to kiss her on her right cheek. On departure, you should repeat all the handshaking and kissing.

First face to face, then phone and finally email

Colombians are more likely to discuss business issues by telephone than by email. However, the first preference is the face-to-face communication. It would be a mistake to depend on the regular mail service to send material. Instead, it is better to use registered mail/couriers.

Don’t do these

- Don’t use hand gestures when talking

- Have business cards printed in English on one side and Spanish on the other. When giving out your cards, offer them with the Spanish side up.

- Don’t expect that your hosts will speak English. Many people do, but not all. It’s better that you have an interpreter.

Do these

- Meetings in Colombia should be scheduled well in advance – at least two weeks ahead of time. But don’t be surprised if the schedule changes, even at the last minute.

- Colombians tend to be relaxed about punctuality, so expect meetings to start a bit late. However, they do expect punctuality from non-Colombians, so try to be on time, and give them a call if you’re going to be late.

- Allow for a good bit of small talk before beginning the meeting. Your Colombian hosts may be offended if you try to get down to business too quickly.

- While price is often the determining factor in business deals, don’t bring it up too quickly. Talk about other aspects of the deal first.

Fonte: a cura di Exportiamo, di Morvarid Mahmoodabadi,


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