Business Etiquette in Fiji

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A server carrying a tray of mineral water imported from Fiji.
A server carrying a tray of mineral water imported from Fiji. (Image: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Fiji is a island nation in the south Pacific. It has a great scope for business in terms of both import and export. The majority of its self-generated industry is agricultural and manufacturing. Its primary exports are sugar, clothing, timber, mineral water and fish. The nations with which it conducts the majority of its business are the USA, the UK, Australia and Singapore.

Bdy Language

A firm handshake is the standard form of greeting within business situations in Fiji. Certain mannerisms are wisely avoided. These include pointing at a person while speaking to them, which is regarded as rude. Standing with hands on hips is often considered a sign of arrogance, while the indigenous population have a taboo about being touched on the head.

Address

In correspondence, it is normal to use people's full names and titles. In person, first names are the standard form of address. Some indigenous people will have the titles “Ratu” for men and “Adi” for women. These are signs of status within the community and should be used in conjunction with their first names when addressing them in person.

Punctuality

Punctuality is becoming more commonplace in Fiji, but do not be surprised if meetings start 10 or 15 minutes late. You should, however, ensure that you arrive on time. At larger gatherings, such as trade fairs, it is not unusual for attendees at arrive up to half and hour late.

Dress

Attire, even in formal business meetings, is considerably more relaxed than many cultures. Suits and jackets are rarely worn, and a tie will only be required in very formal circumstances, and even then will be combined with a short-sleeved shirt. In general, smart trousers with an open-necked, short-sleeved shirt is acceptable for men, while a similar style blouse with a skirt is fine for women. In Fiji as a whole, women should avoid clothes that are too revealing, such a halter tops.

Character

Generally, Fijians are considered polite, humble and respectful. When it comes to the sharp end of business (prices, timings) they can be quite direct, in discussion they may be hesitant to ask questions or ask for clarification. Be aware that assenting “yes” can mean “I understand” rather than signalling agreement. Ensure that you are comprehensive in giving information and seek to develop a good rapport with your associates.

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