Malaysian Business & Trade Portal


Conducting Business in Malaysia

Malaysia, one of the fastest growing countries in Asia provides huge market for entrepreneurs to expand their business within the country. Malaysia offers a gateway into other ASEAN market. To begin your business plan in Malaysia, it is a good move to pick up some knowledge on the language used – Bahasa Melayu. But generally, since Malaysia is a multiracial country, you can communicate in English. In certain companies, you can even use Mandarin to communicate with business associates.
However, considering Malaysia as a multiracial nation, the business etiquette is rather complex with a mixture of various cultures. Generally, here are few tips for entrepreneurs to venture into Malaysian market – cultural customs, appropriate dressing, and rules on gift giving.
But perhaps, you need to take note on keeping face. Malaysians, regardless of their races, they prioritize on keeping faces. It simply means, you are not supposed to create a situation that embarrasses your business counterparts. Malaysians are well-known to be personal and direct with questions and also ‘pushy’ for better bargains. So do not be surprised if they continue to bargain even after the deal is completed.
Stay clear from alcohol and eating pork during business meetings and events around Malaysian counterparts especially around Muslims. If possible, try not to plan any appointment on Fridays. And bear in mind, you need to do everything with right hand as using left hand is seen as impolite.
Common business etiquette among Malaysians – you are expected to dress appropriately during business conference and meetings. Although, you will notice that Malaysians tend to dress-up casually in jeans and blouse during informal outings, for formal meetings you are required to wear suit and tie for men and a knee-length skirt and long sleeves for women. Pants are acceptable for non-Muslim females. The colour yellow is the colour of royalty in Malaysia. Therefore, avoid wearing yellow in the country.
Lastly, remember not to extend your gifts to Malaysian business information associates as it is perceived as a form of bribery. Unless you are given one first, you can then return the gift to your associates.

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