International Business Gift Giving

Business Gift Handshake ExchangeA question that comes up frequently is what is proper etiquette when presenting gifts for international business. Is it appropriate to give a gift or go empty handed? The answer to this question is based on several factors, such as your relationship with the client/business and their country of origin.

In many situations and countries, a gift is considered a social gesture that is expected. Whereas in some countries it could be considered a bribe. Before conducting business in a foreign country it is important to learn all you can about the country you will be visiting before your departure.

In addition to verifying the gift policies in the country where you will be conducting  business, it is good practice to put thought and care into your gift. If you are working with a business in China, it is probably not too diplomatic to present a gift with a sticker on the bottom that says “Made in China”.  The point of this example is to magnify the importance of giving the gift thought.

The question as to whether to give a gift that includes your company logo comes up frequently. If you want to give a gift with your company  logo, it is better if the logo is discreet and not an advertising banner.  In most instances, it probably shows more thought and sincerity to give a gift that does not include your  company logo.

Not only is the gift you select important, the presentation is key in many countries. In Asia and the Middle East it is customary to present the gift using your right hand or both hands. This also holds true when you accept a gift. In Japan and Hong Kong presenters and recipients use both hands only.

There are many more factors involved when gifting in foreign countries. Always do your research first on that particular country to determine your best plan of action.

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