Doing business in India: 14 rules of etiquette to adopt

Doing business
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Trade between Canada and India is flourishing. As proof: bilateral trade reached 9.3 billion dollars in 2018, more than double the figure for 2010 (4.2 billion). Ruzan Desai, EDC’s Regional Manager in India, tells us what every Canadian who wants to do business in this booming market needs to know.

It also recorded a growth of 6.8% in 2018. And thanks to the attractive programs that its Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has put in place in all sectors to attract foreign direct investment, exporting to India is easier today.

Trade between Canada and India is flourishing. As proof: bilateral trade reached 9.3 billion dollars in 2018, more than double the figure for 2010 (4.2 billion). India is an attractive market for Canadian companies because its government is stable, its domestic demand is strong, and the country has the potential to become a regional hub or manufacturing hub for exports to Asia.

We sat down with Ruzan Desai, EDC’s Regional Manager in India, to find out what every Canadian who wants to do business in this booming economy needs to know. According to him, it is necessary to adopt the approach of the “three Ps” — presence, price and perseverance — and to fully understand the business culture that reigns there.

Doing business in India

Learn about India, one of the world’s largest emerging markets, and how your business can take advantage of the country’s opportunities and manage risks, including those related to intellectual property.

14 Rules of Etiquette for Doing Business in India

Be present: It is important to have a physical presence in the market in order to establish a bond of trust with your customers in India. This way you make them understand that they can easily get support for your products or services in their country.

Set competitive prices: India is one of the most attractive markets for businesses around the world. To be successful there, you need to offer competitive prices.

Persevere: India is a densely populated country with fierce competition. Indians are used to competing for attention from others to survive; this principle is also true in business. It’s in their upbringing: you get nothing for nothing”. Canadians doing business there must therefore also comply with the rule.

Speak English without fear: English is one of the country’s 22 official languages, so don’t be afraid of the language barrier. Nobody will blame you for speaking English: it is the language of business and almost all Indians learn it at school.

Have a chat: Get interested in non-business topics. For example, consider saying a pleasant word about what you saw along the way or about the local dishes you tasted.

Be careful with familiarity: India has a conservative culture where physical contact (handshakes, hugs between a man and a woman) is not customary. Indians prefer to avoid physical contact before getting to know you. »

Hand out your card: Hand out your business card – but no need to bow, as is customary in other parts of Asia. Besides, be prepared to answer questions that you would not be asked in Canada or Europe. For example, you might be asked if you have children or if you are married. It is normal for the conversation to go from business to private without transition.

A yes can hide a no: If an Indian agrees to meet you, but specifies that he is very busy, it is possible that he cancels your appointment at the last minute. Indians generally prefer to cancel a meeting rather than refuse it from the start. This does not mean that your projects are in the water, but simply that your interlocutor has other priorities.

Opt for business attire: When meeting with a government or corporate official, dress neatly.

Watch out for traffic jams: In big cities, expect to be stuck in traffic jams. To ensure you are on time, leave early. Driving two kilometers could well take you 30 minutes. Generally, if you are late because of traffic, your hosts will forgive you.

Prepare for extra work: “The Indian market is huge, and Canadian companies should expect strong demand,” says Desai. Keep in mind that you may need to significantly increase your production.

Think Vegetarians: Hosting a business lunch? Always ask your guests if they are vegetarians. If so, be sure to offer them meal choices that are right for them. In restaurants, if you order meat, make sure it will not offend other diners.

Don’t rely too much on Wi-Fi: You’ll find it in cafes and hotels, but it doesn’t always work very well.

Refine your strategy: Don’t see India as one big country. Instead, find the right region for your industry – Mumbai or Delhi, South India or North India – and develop your network there.

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