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Business Culture

Business in Myanmar requires patience as well as a willingness to build friendships and foster trust. Attempts to do business without due regard for the local culture and way of doing business will be difficult. Often a first meeting will simply be an opportunity for parties to get to know each other, as a prelude to more serious discussions.

Asians in general, including Myanmar, do not like to use the word no, which means that what Danes may think is a “yes” can be an attempt to politely decline and avoid that the partner loses face or indicate that more discussions are needed. Matters can initially seem ambiguous and you may need to make contact several times before a matter is finalized. This is not always the case and matters are sometimes concluded more rapidly, but it is something which should be kept in mind. Most deals are agreed verbally and then followed up with a written contract.

Myanmar has a culture of hospitality and openness. Exchanging gifts and favours is ingrained in society, when you meet new or potential business partners, exchanging gifts are often part of the first rituals of getting to know each other. It is also a good custom to address people by their honorific title and full name. In Myanmar ‘U’ and ‘Daw’ are used as equivalents of ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ or ‘Ms’. Exchanging business cards is common in Myanmar. As a mark of respect, it is a good idea to take a short time to read a business card. Some people use both hands to exchange cards. Generally you should give or receive with your right hand and avoid the use of your left. It is also polite to keep them on the table during the meeting. If you are planning long-term or repeated trips to Myanmar, it might be wise to print double-sided cards with both English and Myanmar text. As in much of South East Asia, it is also important to be aware of whether or not your hosts remove their shoes before entering their office.

Another important aspect of doing business in Myanmar is the need to be in the country either permanently and regularly, as personal relations are culturally important, also for business.

When doing business in Myanmar, it is important to also consider the many public holidays in Myanmar, 25 to 27 days per year. Most of the private businesses are closed during public holidays, but shipping and customs are generally open.