Tips for Exporters – Hong Kong

Anna Sevastianova | Israel-Asia Ambassadors Program | 17 April 2018

Here are some practical tips which we hope will assist you when doing business in Hong Kong:

  • Greet your business contacts with a handshake and a slight bow. Remember to respect the hierarchy that influences Hong Kong business culture.
  • Make sure to always address people with their title and surname. Many businesspeople in Hong Kong use a Western name to make it easier for their Western contacts to address them correctly.
  • In Hong Kong business culture, physical contact is rare, and interactions are rather formal. Therefore you should try to avoid physical contact beyond the usual handshake.
  • Business people dress fairly conservatively, usually in black suits, shirts, and ties. You should try to stick to your formal attire, even during business dinners. Dark, muted colors are usually the best choice for your clothing.
  • Colors can have different meanings. Red is considered a lucky color while white is a traditional symbol of mourning. Wearing a red tie, a red blouse, or another red piece of clothing might have a positive effect.
  • Make sure one side of your business card is printed in Chinese, the other one in English.
  • “Yes” may not necessarily mean “yes”, just “I hear you” or “I understand what you are saying”, and a refusal or disagreement is mostly not phrased as a blunt “no”. Do not say “no” directly, but try to find a different phrasing. Always remain calm, patient, and modest during negotiations. In Hong Kong business culture, negotiations take a while as everything is discussed in detail and considered thoroughly. Don’t pressure your business partners, but give them time to think things through.
  • Although English is commonly used in Hong Kong business culture, you should try to be respectful of your Chinese business partners. Speak slowly and clearly, you may also try to say a few polite phrases to show your effort.
  • Israeli citizens who possess a valid Israeli passport and are going to Hong Kong for business or tourism may stay in Hong Kong for 90 days without a visa.