Most countries all over the world have now opened their doors for international business. The United States, for one, has shown interest in trading with multiple countries that have products and resources to offer. In Ecuador, export is the main trade of choice for international business. With that, many negotiations and meetings are required for things to follow through and establish a business relationship. If you are to visit Ecuador for business, there are things that you have to learn about that are related to the way Ecuadorians handle negotiations. There are also details on the customs and practices of the people there that you need to learn about in order to present yourself well.
- Attire. Similar to most business attires, Ecuadorians prefer dressing up for meetings, especially during formal occasions. Wear a suit with a matching tie to where you are going. If you are a woman, dress conservatively and avoid wearing short skirts or revealing items of clothing. The latter is considered to be provocative and may be considered rude. Another thing you can do is observe how your associates in Ecuador dress up during meetings. You can match what they are wearing as long as you do not seem to appear too informal for the meeting.
- Schedule. If you were tasked with setting up the meeting, which is unlikely, do it over lunch. Most Ecuadorian businessmen conduct meetings over lunch, followed by a few drinks. With that, do not be surprised if your associates in Ecuador drink during the meeting. It is common to have alcoholic beverages served during lunch and over meetings.
- Behavior. When meeting with people, extend your hand to offer a handshake. This gesture is widely accepted in Ecuador and is reciprocated very well. Present and give your business card to every associate that you meet. However, since Ecuadorians predominantly speak Spanish, prepare your business cards with language translation written on the back of your cards. When you present one, make sure that the side facing up is the one written in Spanish.
- Another thing that you need to remember is that status plays a huge factor among Ecuadorian businessmen. If there is an elder amongst your peers, this person is considered to have seniority over the others and is often the one to give the answers. You need to respect this custom even if you are giving a proposal to another person at the table during the meeting.
Finally, you have to take your time explaining your proposals to these people. This is not because of the language barrier but rather for taking the time so that they may fully grasp your intentions. Ecuadorians are generally not risk takers, and they will often ask for assurance from whatever it is you are offering. If this is something you cannot really promise, simply answer “I’ll see what I can do”. This way, you give a promise to do the best you can which will represent your commitment. Remember to always behave in a mild manner and be respectful of everyone. Good luck!