Doing Business in Taiwan

Taiwan | BCBusiness

With Chinese, Japanese and Buddhist influences, Taiwan is a melting pot of Asian cultures. As ties between the eastern nation and Canada strengthen, here’s how to navigate these conflicting social codes 

The Greeting

GREETINGS Handshakes are expected, but at a first meeting it is common for Taiwanese associates to first acknowledge each other by offering a slight nod or bow of the head.

GENEROSITY PAYS It is customary to give gifts at a first meeting, but if you decide to pass out favours, be sure to offer one to each member of the party.

SLOW DOWN Early meetings are earmarked for greetings and pleasantry. Don’t rush to bring in business until you’ve started building a relationship.

The Meeting

KEEPING TIME Punctuality is important in Taiwan, so it’s safe to assume that meetings will occur when planned. Arrive five to 10 minutes early.

TWO HANDS When accepting a business card, be sure to hold it with two hands, and take a moment to read all of the information it contains.

The Meal

STAY DRY Excessive alcohol is not common at business meals. But over dinner it is the norm for hosts to offer some table wine to their guests.

RELAX If you’re having a dinner meeting or a meal with your hosts, don’t discuss business until they bring it up. Dinnertime conversation is less serious than workplace discussions.

JUST SAY THANK YOU It’s customary for hosts to cover the bill; if a meeting occurs over a meal, or if your new business associates offer to take you out on the town, let them pick up the tab if they offer. You may offer to pay, but don’t insist if they refuse.

Social Customs

TRUE COLOURS Luck is important in Taiwanese culture and red, yellow and pink are lucky colours. Keep this in mind if you’re wrapping any gifts.

LOSE THE FINGER It’s considered rude in Taiwan to point with your index finger. Gesturing with an open hand is preferred.

KEEP YOUR COOL Displaying strong emotions at a business meeting is frowned upon. Always try to remain level-headed while talking shop.

ETIQUETTE PROFS Scott Yang, director of the Taiwan Trade Centre in Vancouver; Emily Chen, Taiwan Tourism Bureau