¡Bienvenido a Argentina! (‘‘Welcome to Argentina!" in Spanish)
Many people, when thinking of Argentina, might think of Madonna singing "Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” in the musical Evita. The actress/singer portrayed Eva Perón, the famous wife of former Argentinian president Juan Perón.
Argentina, which means “Land of Silver,” is the second-largest country in South America and home to the breathtaking Pampas and Patagonia. Because of the fertile grassland, Argentina is renowned for its sheep and cattle populations. Those who wrangle the sheep and cattle are referred to as “gauchos” (similar to “cowboys”).
Before you take a business trip to Argentina, let’s first learn about the dos and don’ts of Argentinian business etiquette.
- The capital of Argentina is Buenos Aires, which is also its largest city.
- The official language of Argentina is Spanish. The ethnic makeup is about 85% European (Spanish or Italian).
- Argentina is a federal presidential constitutional republic.
- Argentina is about 90% Catholic.
- The national emblem of both Argentina and Uruguay is the Sol de Mayo, or Sun of May. This appears on the Argentinian flag.
- Fun fact: Argentina is the home country of the 266th and current pope, Pope Francis. He was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio.
- First impressions are important in Argentina, so it is imperative to look polished and professional for business meetings.
- Men should wear: dark, conservative suits and ties.
- Women should wear: dark, conservative pantsuits or skirts with white blouses.
- Do not adopt native dress – keep it business conservative.
- Argentinians will judge you on your appearance, so make sure you are well put together for all meetings and engagements.
Make or Break Meetings
- Punctuality is key – make sure to arrive on time for meetings and keep all engagements.
- Greet the Argentinian party with a strong handshake and eye contact to assert confidence.
- Titles are very important in Argentinian culture. If you know the Argentinian party’s professional title (ie, Doctor or Professor), address them as such. Otherwise, use the title “Senor” (Mr.), “Senora” (Mrs.), or “Senorita” (Miss).
- Because Argentinians prefer to build strong relationships before doing business, there will likely be a good amount of small talk. Good conversation topics include soccer, culture, and family. Avoiding discuss politics and religion.
- Arrive 30-45 minutes later than the arranged time. Arriving on time is considered unusual.
- Keep hands visible at all times and do not rest your elbows on the table during the meal.
- Do not sit down or begin eating until the host indicates to do so.
- Like many European nations, table manners are Continental.
- Wait for your host to make a toast before drinking any provided wine.
- When you have finished your meal, cross your utensils on your plate. It is alright to leave a small amount of food on your plate at the end of the meal.
Giving and Getting Gifts
- Gifts are appreciated in Argentina, especially if you are a guest in someone’s home.
- Acceptable gifts include: candy, flowers, and liquor. Since taxes on imported liquors are very high in Argentina, this is considered an especially prized gift.
- Do not give the gift of a knife or scissors, as this has malicious implications in the country.
- Gifts are typically opened upon receipt.
Down to Business
- Argentinians are tough and strict in negotiations, so the negotiation process will likely be lengthy and labored.
- The Argentinian party will want to get to know you before committing to a business deal, which will require several meetings.
- Maintain composure in meetings and do not try to rush proceedings.
- Because companies are hierarchical, decisions will be made by executives.
Now that you’re well prepared for your next jet-setting business trip to Argentina, don’t forget to stay tuned for our next Business Etiquette blurb!
¡Ádios! (“Goodbye!” in Spanish)