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Doing Business in Myanmar (with description)

Flag of Myanmar
Business Attire: Myanmar enjoys a predominantly monsoon, equatorial climate on the coast and a humid temperate climate in the extreme north. In formal occasions, lightweight tropical business suits for men and women conducting businesses in the country are appropriate.

For less formal occasions, smart trousers and a shirt and tie for men, or a skirt and blouse for women are sufficient.

Most Burmese men wear a traditional sarong referred to as a "longyi" with a western-style shirt. Women wear a similar outfit comprising a sarong with matching top. Most Burmese business people, however, will wear a western-style suit or shirt and tie when dealing with foreigners.

During informal meetings you can wear a smart shirt or blouse with a collar as an alternative to a jacket and tie.

Introductions: The use of business cards is widespread in Myanmar and it is not uncommon for the owner of even the smallest tea-house or restaurant to present foreigners with his/her card.

Always distribute and receive cards with both hands as a sign of respect and always take a few seconds to read cards presented to you. Do not place a card immediately into your pocket or wallet. This is particularly important when dealing with Myanmar's sizeable Chinese community, many of whom dominate the country's commercial environment, particularly in the north, around the regional centre of Mandalay.

Burmese names are unique in that they cannot be classified as given names or surnames. Burmese people are given one name, often two or three syllables long, which denotes neither marital status nor family connections. Hence, it is quite common, for Burmese siblings to have entirely different names. Similarly, women do not take their husband's name when they marry.

When introduced to Burmese people, always refer to them by their full name, regardless of whether it is two or three syllables long. Do not shorten a Burmese name as this is considered inappropriate.

Burmese is a very polite language which contains around half a dozen honorific titles. The most commonly-used honorifics are U (as in U Nu) which means "Uncle" and is the approximate English equivalent of "Mr", and Daw (as in Daw Suu Kyi) which means "Aunt" and is the English equivalent of "Mrs", "Ms", or "Madam."

Business Hours: Government offices in Myanmar are generally open from 8am to 11am and then from around 2pm to 5pm.

Private businesses and shops usually keep longer hours.

Gifts: Imported cosmetics such as lipstick and eye-shadow are very popular gifts for women and in some parts of the country, they can be exchanged for goods and services.

Burmese people who are studying English as a hobby, are always grateful to receive English books, language and music tapes and magazines.