Africa and the Middle East


  • If invited to a home, bring a gift of baked goods or chocolates.
  • Suggestions: a compass (to show the direction of Mecca) and small electronic gadgets.
  • Receive the gift with the right hand, not with the left. Using both hands is acceptable.


  • Avoid giving gifts until you know the individual/party better.
  • If giving a gift of food, make sure it is kosher if the recipient is orthodox.
  • Receive and present the gift with the right hand or use both hands.


  • Crafts or picture books from your home region are always appreciated and liked.
  • Avoid pictures of people; Islam prohibits images of the human body.
  • Good gifts are gold pens and businesscard holders.



  • When presenting or receiving a gift, use both hands.
  • Gifts are not opened in the presence of the giver.
  • Avoid giving gifts where the majority color is white, black or blue. The colors are associated with death in Chinese culture.
  • When wrapping gifts, keep these colors in mind: Red (lucky), Pink (happy), and Yellow (prosperous).


  • Gifts are not opened in front of the giver.
  • Don’t wrap gifts in white or black, which are considered unlucky colors. Green, red, and yellow are lucky colors.
  • Avoid giving frangipani blossoms. They are associated with funerals.
  • Avoid giving gifts with pictures of dogs or toy dogs to Indian Muslims.
  • If you decide to give money, make the amount an odd number, so $11 instead of $10.


  • Usually, Japanese do not open the gifts directly upon receiving them. If they do, they may be restrained in their appreciation. This does not mean they do not like the gift, rather a humble reaction to your giving.
  • Try to wrap your gifts in Japan or have them wrapped by hotel or store services that know the proper and tasteful papers to use. Black or white colored paper is not acceptable. Rice paper is always a safe choice.
  • Avoid gifts with even numbers of components. The number four is an unfavorable number. Never give four of anything.


  • Gifts are given between friends. Do not give gift to anyone before you have established a personal relationship with that person. It may be seen as a bribe if there is no relationship.
  • Gifts are not opened in the presence of the giver.

South Korea

  • Good business gifts to give are impersonal products with your company logo on them. Make sure the product is not made in Korea or Japan.
  • Liquor may be given as a gift, but only to men never women.


  • Gifts are not opened in the presence of the giver.
  • If invited for a meal, bring gifts of flowers or fruit.
  • Avoid marigold or carnations, for they are associated with funerals.
  • Anything from your region (crafts or products) is appropriate to give as gifts. Thais are very interested in what your region/city produces.



  • Gifts are not a part of business interactions. Rather than giving a gift, invite your hosts to a meal.
  • When invited to a home, you may bring flowers, liquor or chocolates. Send a thank you message to the host afterwards.
  • Avoid giving white lilies as they signify death.


  • Businesspeople do not expect to receive gifts. If a gift is given, the gift should be of good quality, but not cost an exorbitant amount.
  • A good gift to give would be a wine that is not available in Germany.


  • Do not give a gift at the first meeting or encounter.
  • Avoid too lavish and too skimpy and gifts that show your company logo.
  • Local crafts or products from your region are appropriate.


  • Business gifts are mainly given at a senior managerial level. They should be small and not too obviously expensive. The craftsmanship and quality is important.
  • Again, avoid company logos on gifts.
  • If giving flowers, never give flowers in even numbers. Do not give chrysanthemums for they are used for funerals. Brooches, handkerchiefs and knives all connote sadness.


  • If you are given a gift, open it in front of the giver.
  • Don’t give 13 flowers. It is considered bad luck.
  • Business gifts should not be given at the first meeting.
  • Avoid giving gifts with your company logo on it. A pen with your logo is acceptable.
  • Local crafts or illustrated books from your region/city are always appropriate.


  • Liquor is expensive in Sweden, so a gift of liquor is always welcome and appreciated. A wine from your region is a good business gift to give.

Latin America


  • Due to high taxes on liquor, this makes for a good gift. Avoid giving wines for the Southern Cone produces good quality wines.
  • Any gift should be of high quality. Gifts with company logos should appear discreetly.
  • Avoid bringing leather gifts. Argentina is a major cattle and leather producer.
  • If giving a gift of flowers, the bird-of-paradise is highly appreciated.


  • Avoid giving gifts of black or purple, as they are colors for mourning.
  • Giving a gift is not required at a first meeting. An invitation to lunch or dinner is appropriate.


  • Gifts are not required until the relationship is closer.
  • If you receive a gift, open it in front of the giver and extend your thanks.


  • Gifts are not given during the first meeting.
  • Do not present a gift during business hours. Present a gift during a long lunch.
  • Functional gifts are appreciated (a lighter, pen or books).
  • The orchid is the national flower.
  • Never arrive empty handed, if invited to a person’s home.

Other Resources

For more comprehensive information on cultures, customs and gift giving, please refer to:

  • Asia Business Book by David Rearwin
  • Business Opportunities in the Far East: The Complete Reference Guide to Practices and Procedures by Lawrence Chimerine
  • Do’s and Taboos Around the World by Roger E. Axtell
  • Dun and Bradstreet’s Guide to Doing Business around the World by Terri Morrison, Wayne A. Conaway, and Joseph J. Douress
  • Global Etiquette Guide to Asia: Everything You Need to Know for Business and Travel Success by Dean Allen Foster