- Business Meeting
- Public Holidays
The days when we had a comparative advantage over other countries from the days of Czechoslovakia are long gone. Belarusian partners are very rational, good accountants and interested in quality. Business with BY is therefore not a simple matter. However, practice shows that a Czech exporter with quality goods and the courage to try has a chance to succeed in Belarus even against Chinese and Russian competition.
- Programingplease: Yearbook 2010 of nation Belarus, including population, politics, and abbreviations.
Approaching a foreign business partner logically brings with it greater difficulties than doing business at home. First, the given market must be mapped in advance. After mapping the market, the methods of reaching out need to be considered.
Given that the PaulTrade Export Promotion Agency does not operate in Belarus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic offers the cooperation of the economic section of the embassy, which can be used especially in the search for suitable business partners, in specific negotiations with state authorities, important companies, in targeted presentations, in the organization of professional seminars, or in the form of additional support during trips to the territory. As in other countries, the services of the local Belarusian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (https://www.cci.by), which has its own department in each region of the country, can be used to search for and approach potential business partners.
Reaching out is the alpha and omega of possible future cooperation. When approaching, avoid familiarity, be as brief and to the point as possible. The first message should contain not only the reason why you are approaching the Belarusian partner, but also how your cooperation will benefit him. Impressing the first time is the key to success.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic is well aware of the importance of a proactive stance in support of Czech business. In cooperation with other departments (especially the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic and the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic), it opens the door to the market of important regions of Belarus for Czech exporters. It does so, among other things, through proven projects to support economic diplomacy. Organized so-called B2B conferences represent one of the ways to reach foreign partners in an effective and simple way. Those interested in entering the Belarusian market can be recommended territorial seminars on Belarus at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Prague and Brno, where the International Engineering Fair with the already traditional Belarus Business Day is held every year.
Business in Belarus cannot usually be done “from a desk” and relies heavily on personal contacts where there is mutual trust. Before traveling to Belarus, it is necessary to agree on the meeting date with the Belarusian partner in advance (preferably in writing in the case of meetings in state-owned enterprises). It is therefore unlikely that an agreement will be concluded at the first meeting. The support of a local partner who has an overview of your market segment can help. Expect sharp negotiations on prices and conditions, it is necessary to calculate with a certain reserve for unpredictable expenses. Always confirm important agreements in writing. Better leave all administrative matters such as company registration to the experts – you will save time, nerves and often considerable funds.
In contrast to some republics of the former USSR, it is customary to strictly adhere to the agreed deadlines for meetings and negotiations, a maximum of 5 minutes is acceptable without an apology. When introducing yourself, it is advisable to give your partner a business card (preferably in Russian). When addressing, it is customary to use the name and patronymic “otchestvo” (e.g. Vladimir Vladimirovich). For Czech businessmen, it can sometimes be unusual for a partner to switch to ticking at the very first meeting. Guests are often given small gifts (vodka, publications, folk souvenirs, etc.). Before the trip, you need to take this into account and also take a few gifts with you. Popular is Becherovka, Czech beer, objects made of cut glass, costume jewelry, etc.
A peculiarity when doing business with Belarusian partners is the necessity to deliver the goods within 90/180 days from the date of payment of the advance, or pay for the goods within 90/180 days from the date of delivery – in case of non-compliance, a penalty is applied for a resident of Belarus.
In the vast majority of cases, the language of business and communication is Russian. After prior specific agreement with the partner, it is possible to communicate in English, less so in German. However, in general, knowledge of foreign languages in official communication in Belarus is completely insufficient. The situation is starting to get slightly better for the younger generation of Belarusians. Visit Aparentingblog for more information about Belarus culture and traditions.
Personal contacts are best established during informal meetings around the table. The working lunch of approximately two hours usually starts between 13:00 and 15:00, the working dinner usually starts at 19:00. The course of consumption is accompanied by regular toasts, guests are expected to toast prospective cooperation, the health of the family, etc. Toasts are rarely brief and are always a demonstration of oratory. A simple Czech curt “cheers” could be considered disrespectful. It is drunk on command and most often local vodka, which is of very good quality.
It is not uncommon for a business partner to be invited to a chat and a Belarusian sauna after a certain period of cooperation. The biggest deals are often made in this environment.
The Czech-Belarusian Joint Commission for Economic, Industrial and Scientific-Technical Cooperation deals with creating favorable conditions for the development of mutually beneficial economic cooperation and supporting specific joint projects and business plans of companies from both countries, whose twelfth meeting will most likely take place at the end of this year in Minsk. The Commission and its expert working groups can be considered a very good platform for bilateral relations and at the same time an effective tool for identifying new opportunities and supporting mutually beneficial economic projects. In previous years, the active participation of Czech companies in the activities of individual working groups has therefore proven very effective.
Czech companies that are looking for a business partner in Belarus can also be recommended to publish the offer on the Russian-language website of the embassy, specifically in the section “Offers of Czech companies”. If you are interested in this free service, write for more detailed information ([email protected]).
Belarus has a total of nine national holidays associated with working holidays. However, if a public holiday falls on a weekend, it is customary to move the day off to the next working day. Similar to the countries of the post-Soviet space, the first weeks of January and May are the period for taking vacation. Dates of holidays: January 1 – New Year, January 7 – Orthodox Christmas, March 8 – All Souls’ Day, April 29 – All Souls’ Day, May 1 – Labor Day, May 9 – Victory Day, 3 July – Independence Day of Belarus, November 7 – October Revolution Day, December 25. – Catholic Christmas.