How to Do Business in Argentina
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Argentines are very proud of their country
and culture. They are well-educated and sophisticated and
like to be viewed as cosmopolitan and progressive. Because
85% of Argentina’s population hails from Italy, Spain, Austria,
France, Germany, Great Britain, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland,
Poland and the Middle East, Argentines tend to identify
with Europeans. It has been said that Argentines are a nation
of Italians who speak Spanish and think they’re British
living in Paris. Predominantly Catholic (93%), families
are highly valued and hold conservative values.
Meeting and Greeting
- A handshake and nod show respect when
- An embrace and one kiss on the cheek
is common between friends and acquaintances.
- Argentines are touchers and stand close
to each other when speaking. Do not back away.
- The “O.K.” and “thumbs up” gestures are
- Hitting the palm of the left hand with
the right fist means “I don’t believe what you are saying”
or “That’s stupid.”
- Personal relationships are important
and must be developed before business is done.
- Argentines often need several meetings
and extensive discussion to make deals.
- Decisions are made at the top. Try to
arrange meeting with high-level personnel.
- Guests at a meeting are greeted and escorted
to their chairs. The visiting senior executive is seated
opposite the Argentine senior executive.
- During business meetings, sustain a relaxed
manner, maintain eye contact and restrict the use of gestures.
Don’t take a hard sell approach.
- Be prepared for a certain amount of small
talk before getting down to business.
- Argentines are tough negotiators. Concessions
will not come quickly or easily. Good relationships with
counterparts will shorten negotiations.
- Contracts are lengthy and detailed. A
contract is not final until all of its elements are signed.
Any portion can be re-negotiated. Get everything in writing.
- An Argentine contact is essential to
wading through government bureaucracy.
- Be punctual for business appointments,
but prepare to wait thirty minutes for your counterpart,
especially if you are meeting an important person.
- The pace of business in Argentina is
slower than in the United States. A meeting that is going
well could last much longer than intended, even if it
means postponing the next engagement.
- Make appointments through a high-level
person. Your Argentine contact can help with this.
- Confirm meetings one week in advance.
Dining and Entertainment
- Meals are for socializing. Refrain from
“talking business” unless your Argentine colleague brings
- Business dinners are generally held in
restaurants. When you are the host, arrange payment ahead
of time. If this is not possible, insist on paying when
the bill comes.
- Don’t use toothpicks, blow your nose
or clear your throat at the table.
- To summon a waiter, raise your hand with
your index finger extended.
- Do not order imported liquor unless your
host does. Taxes are exorbitant.
- Avoid pouring wine, which is a complex
ritual in Argentina.
- For social events, arrive thirty to sixty
minutes late. Arriving at a party on time is impolite.
- Be on time for lunch appointments, the
theater and soccer.
- Argentines are extremely fashion conscious.
Dress well if you want to make a good impression. Conservative,
modest clothing is best.
- Women are expected to dress with a flair
that does not detract from professionalism.
- Do not give personal items, including
- When presented with a gift, open it at
once and be appreciative.
- Bring flowers, candy, pastries, chocolates
or imported liquor when invited to someone’s home.
- Business gifts are not expected until
a fairly close relationship has been formed.
- High-quality gifts are appreciated, but
very expensive gifts may be interpreted as bribes.
- Don’t be offended by Argentine humor,
which may mildly attack your clothing or weight.
- Always greet officials before asking
- Don’t compare Argentina with the United
States or with Brazil, which is considered a rival.
- Avoid talking about Great Britain or
the Falkland Islands (Las Malvinas). These are sensitive
subjects to many Argentines.
- Be careful when discussing the Perуn
years. People either love or hate the Perуns.
- Although Argentines may be very vocal
about politics and religion, avoid adding your opinions
to these discussions.
Especially for Women
While machismo persists in Argentina, it
is being challenged and women are gaining visibility and
influence in politics and business. Argentine businesswomen
are similar in status to North American businesswomen.
- A kiss or a hug is considered a compliment
to a woman.
- Piropos—flirtatious comments—are common.
Men may call out “Hey, gorgeous!” while you’re walking
down the street. Just smile, say, “Thank you very much”
and keep walking.
- Defensive behavior will damage your credibility.
Emphasize status and responsibility.
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Doing Business in Argentina
Are you currently doing business in Argentina, or do you
plan to in the near future? Consider this…
- Argentina is the eighth-largest country by landmass
worldwide, and the second-largest country in South America
- Argentina has the third-largest economy in Central
and South America with a high GDP per capita, and it’s
is one of the G-20 major economies.
- Argentina is a country founded on immigration with
strong remnants of European cultures. Though Spanish is
the official language, English, Italian, German, and French
are commonly spoken.
- Argentina is a major agricultural producer. The country
is the third-largest beef exporter in the world after
Brazil and Australia. Other major industries include consumer
durables, motor vehicles, textiles, petrochemicals, printing,
metallurgy, and steel.
- Argentina is one of the top media markets in Central
and South America. It has more than 150 daily newspapers
and dozens of commercial radio and TV stations. One of
the newspapers, Clarin is the best-selling daily in South
America and has the second-highest number of subscribers
among Spanish-speaking countries.
With diverse cultures based on European influences and
strong economic pull in the region, Argentina is attractive
to foreign businesses. However, Argentina has many social
and cultural differences compared to the United States.
Here are some pointers for successful business relationships!
- Most of the population considers themselves Roman Catholic,
which influences basic perceptions and behaviors.
- Argentines have a different naming structure from other
Spanish-speaking countries. They use their father’s surname
instead of using both parents’ surnames. When you address
people, use job titles with surnames. If your counterpart
does not have a professional title, use Mr., Mrs., or
Miss with their surnames.
- Both men and women commonly greet one another by shaking
hands and nodding slightly. Close friends kiss each other
on the cheek.
- Compared to North Americans, Argentines speak at a
closer distance. If an Argentine puts his or her hand
on your shoulder or lapel, don’t be offended. Patting
on the shoulder is an expression of friendship.
- If you give gifts bearing your company logo, the logo
should not be obvious. Also, do not give knives; knives
signify the end of a friendship.
- Eating food in the street or on public transportation
is considered rude.
- Appointments should always be made ahead of time.
- When going to a business meeting, be on time and be
prepared to wait patiently. Important people tend to arrive
later than the scheduled start time.
- If you are invited to a social event, ask what time
you are expected to show up, not what time the event begins.
- Keeping irregular business hours is common for executives.
Argentine executives often work late, so scheduling a
business meeting in the evening is quite acceptable.
- Make personal contacts who can refer you to business
prospects and focus on building your relationship with
a prospect before doing business. The higher the level
of the prospect, the better.
- When you are doing business with the Argentine government,
you need to have an Argentine contact to introduce you
to them. Without this intermediary, you are unlikely to
get an appointment.
- The country is based on bureaucracy; negotiation processes
are slower than in the United States. Even after a final
decision maker agrees to a contract, that person still
needs to get approval from other people.
- Argentines can be stubborn and have a decided tendency
to avoid risk. Expect little yielding in negotiations.
- Before you sign your final contract, you should be
prepared to renegotiate items.
- Business dinners are common and usually held in restaurants.
However, except Buenos Aires, business lunches are uncommon;
most people still prefer to go home for lunch.
- Argentines do not mention business over meals. They
believe meals are social events.
- Dinner is not served before 10:00 p.m. If you have
a meeting from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., you will be offered
pastries, tea, or coffee. It is polite to accept the offer.
- Flowers (especially bird of paradise flowers), imported
chocolates, and whiskey are the most popular gifts when
you are invited to an Argentine’s home. Since Argentina
is a major producer of leather, don’t bring leather as
- Argentina has the world’s second-highest consumption
rate of beef. Many Argentines eat meat twice a day, and
most dishes include beef.
- Argentina has great liquors, including wine. Also,
domestic products are cheaper than imported. Usually a
host pays for the meals, so don’t order imported liquor
without the host’s suggesting it.
- Don’t pour wine with your left hand; it is considered
For your business document translation needs in Argentina,
contact McElroy Translation. Visit our website to learn
more about how we can help you and your company become successful
in your international business ventures.
Morrison, Terri, and Wayne A. Conaway (2006). Kiss, Bow,
or Shake Hands, 2nd edition. Massachusetts: Adams Media
Published - May 2012
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