Thursday, March 16, 2006

Korean Ministry Stresses Localization

Much of Korean business in focused on the global market. Key to this is localization, an area I focus on.

This article is on the Korean ministry responsible for promoting Korean business abroad and how they are addressing localization.

The Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency on Thursday published a guide to negotiating the pitfalls of doing business abroad based on the experience of veteran expatriates. Among other useful tips, it discourages asking for cell phone numbers in Russia, where mobile phone users have to pay for incoming calls from abroad. It is inappropriate to ask for a cell phone number before the buyer offers it to you and tells you to call. The person who receives the call has to pay for it, and most companies don't cover cell phone use for employees, so the cost comes out of their own pockets,” KOTRA warns.

Even if you know the buyer's cell phone number, the agency says, calling them up without their permission is very rude, a reason secretaries do not freely give out their boss' number.

In China, the guide says, buyers habitually ask for exclusive rights across the entire nation and will cajole you persistently. They try to secure exclusive rights first and not even appear terribly upset if the whole deal falls apart. Therefore, KOTRA advises, if you conclude a hasty contract for exclusive rights, you may come to regret it.” All things being relative, the guide advises going along with “the typical relaxed and easy-going attitude of the Chinese people” known as manmandi.

In formal Germany with its strict separation of work and play, make sure to use the honorific titles of Herr (Mr.) and Frau (Ms.) when the person you are speaking to is not a close friend, KOTRA urges -- and forget about the Korean itinerary for entertaining clients to dinner, drinking, karaoke and golf: the meal alone will be agony for them.

Much awkwardness can be avoided in the U.S. by using the index finger to point, the middle finger being reserved for insults, while the Japanese appreciate it if you tell them upfront if something cannot be done, KOTRA says.

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