Argentines give high importance to establishing good personal relations with their business contacts. For this reason, it is important to ensure continuity and that written and oral communications are from the same person. Personal contact is the key to establishing effective business relations.
Spanish is the official language of Argentina. It is desireable, but not essential. Some senior staff in larger businesses understand English, but not all. Nor do many Government officials.
Interpreters are expensive. You should expect to pay in excess of £180 for the services of a good interpreter for about six hours, and around £200 for eight hours. Some will consider a short meeting to be a half-day’s work. UKTI Buenos Aires can provide a list of interpreters.
Meetings and Presentations
In general, European business practices are followed. Although local standards on punctuality differ and you may be kept waiting, it is advisable for foreigners to be punctual at meetings. If you think you will be delayed, it is better that you call ahead.
Hours of business are generally static throughout the year. However, it is difficult to secure time with decision makers during the summer months of January and February when many Argentines are away on holiday and both the private and public sector organisations tend to run at reduced capacity. Visitors should think carefully before visiting during these months.
Greetings can be effusive, starting with an extended handshake at the first encounter. Once a friendship has been established men will embrace and greet women with a kiss. Women exchange a kiss. Argentines communicate in close proximity, do not back away.
Conservative attire for women is important in business. Men should wear blazers and a long sleeved shirt for casual dress, unless advised otherwise. Business cards are essential.
Many Argentines value the person with whom they do business more than the name of the company. If you change your negotiating team, you may undermine the entire contract.
Be aware that Argentines are sensitive to the use of “America” when referring to theUnited States. They regard “American” as a term that applies to the whole of North, Central and South America.
Argentines are used to last minute planning. Don’t feel awkward to ring for a last minute meeting or to propose changes as, although not ideal, it will be understood and chances are your contact will be accommodating to the new circumstances.
In Argentina, full stops are used to punctuate thousands and commas to indicate decimal points. Also the “$” is used to show Argentine pesos (AR$), whereas “U$S” is used to show US dollars. Thus “$1.000,10” is one thousand Argentine pesos and 10 centavos.
Be prepared to discuss all aspects of a contract simultaneously rather than sequentially.
Unless you are dealing with a very large and/or international contract, common practice will be to negotiate the agreement with your local customer/agent and once you have agreed on the basics, let the lawyers and others participate and give it its legal shape.
Make sure that you have a local lawyer for contract issues. UKTI Buenos Aires can provide you with a list of lawyers and credit rating companies.
Especially in the case of joint ventures, investments or long-term contracts, be careful in agreeing ways for an out of court settlement as the Argentine judiciary can be lengthy and expensive. Argentine law allows for cases to be settled outside Argentine courts as well as for mediation (both domestic and international) clauses to be part of a contract.
Culture and communications
CILT – National Centre for Languages – Regional Language Network in your area:
Kwintessential culture guides:
Produced by the UKTI Team in Buenos Aires
Contact: Alfredo Fierro