Uzbekistan Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public Holidays

Introduction

Doing business with Uzbekistan has very good potential, but it is necessary to take into account that entering this market is still (not only in terms of the culture of negotiation) quite complicated, expensive and especially time-consuming, despite the fact that significant changes have been taking place in the country in recent years and reforms. When communicating with Uzbeks, we recommend giving preference to personal contact or a phone call. Knowledge of Russian is a basic condition for setting up effective business relations, as well as using the services of a local representative/partner of the company. Visit Animalerts for more information about Uzbekistan culture and traditions.

Addressing

It is very likely that you will not receive a response to email communication at first. In the case of initial contact, it is more effective to send a scanned official letter by email and then check by phone whether the partner has received the correspondence. Telephone urgency of the answer is possible and often necessary. Searching for contacts and information on the Internet may not be effective, as few entities have websites. Of the electronic forms of communication, the mobile phone is used significantly more in the country (the Telegram application is the most popular).

In Uzbekistan, the emphasis is on personal contact. Without a personal meeting, it is difficult to make significant progress in establishing business relations or negotiating a contract. The standard way of arranging a meeting is a formal approach well in advance, followed by a phone call to the person in charge of organizing the meeting. Then arrange the date and place of the meeting with the person in question. About a week in advance to remind yourself. It is necessary to take into account the possibility of changing the place and time of the meeting at the last minute (including moving it to the evening hours). The key task of preparing for a meeting is to find out which particular person makes sense to deal with. In Uzbek realities, there is a usual concentration of decision-making powers (not always in the formally highest position), the delegation of powers is not frequent.

Business meeting

The vast majority of Uzbeks are Sunni Muslims. The importance of faith amplifies and displaces the earlier relaxed post-Soviet approach. We do not recommend planning meetings with UZ partners during Ramadan, which is observed by more and more Uzbeks. Likewise, it is not advisable to direct the meeting to Friday noon/early afternoon because of the Friday prayer. Working hours start around nine, the lunch break lasts over an hour, but on the other hand, you often work until late in the evening. Most offices also work normally on Saturdays (sometimes Sundays). Repeated rescheduling of the time and day of the meeting is completely normal, negotiations are often confirmed at the last minute.

The culture of dealings and customs differ in the regions and in the capital city of Tashkent, which is basically the newly built administrative center of the country, which serves as the main place for the distribution of finances obtained from the extraction of oil and mineral resources. State institutions, ministries, management of semi-state companies, which are characterized by a directive approach to decision-making, and other organizations are concentrated in it.

Negotiations with Uzbeks differ in many ways from Central European customs. It is not advisable to overestimate possible expressions of friendship (sometimes associated with the joint consumption of alcohol), as well as the impact of a situation where, according to our understanding, the UZ partner should be obliged to you. A frequent source of misunderstanding is the situation when the UZ partner tests the possibilities of the foreign partner during negotiations by changing key parameters, such as the possibility of increasing deliveries by 10 times, etc. In such a case, it is advisable to react neutrally and request the provision of the given proposal in writing. UZ partners prepare for the negotiations primarily in terms of finding out who they will be negotiating with, and significantly less about issues related to the technical parameters of the offered goods/services. Negotiations are facilitated if the head of the Czech team is a man. The presence of the CEO or top management representative on the Czech side is important during key negotiations. The technically focused team should be covered by a business manager from the company’s management. Older age is perceived more respectfully, however, with the arrival of a young and educated generation, greater age equality is beginning to be asserted.

Meeting place: If the meeting takes place in the office, it can be a purely formal meeting, if the UZ party suggests meeting in other premises (e.g. in a restaurant), this is often a positive signal and a significant move forward. As for offering alcohol during the meeting, it depends a lot on the nationality and religiosity of the partner, however, if the meeting takes place in an administrative building, this is not customary. If there is a meeting in a restaurant, then while in some cases it is almost required, in others an orthodox Muslim would consider it an insult. We recommend leaving this question up to the partner’s decision, whose decision will also greatly influence whether he or she participates alone from the UZ side or if several people are present. In general, alcohol consumption in the country is decreasing, but Czech beer continues to enjoy considerable popularity. Only if long-term cooperation is established, may be invited home. Then it is advisable to expect increased alcohol consumption.

The dress code is similar to that in the Czech Republic, ladies should choose more conservative clothes, especially when meeting in the south of the country.

Business cards: In particular, UZ state administration employees provide their business cards, on the other hand, they will expect you to provide your contacts (business card).

Exchange of gifts: Regarding the exchange of gifts, it is good to prepare for this possibility, because it is customary to give gifts to partners in order to get closer and facilitate the achievement of a suitable result for the UZ party. However, it is better to leave the initiation of the exchange of gifts to the UZ side, or rather monitor whether the UZ side expects a unilateral gift from you.

Communication

The language of communication is Russian, English significantly less so. A number of high-ranking Uzbeks, in both the private and state sectors, have some level of command of English. If you are not fluent in Russian, the presence of an interpreter is necessary. When communicating with the state administration, documents are drawn up mainly in Russian. With a long-term presence, it is better if communication with end customers is handled by a local representative.

When communicating with Uzbeks, we recommend giving preference to personal contact or a phone call. Email communication is given less importance, although this is gradually changing. All electronic or written communication should aim to achieve a personal meeting. The first meeting will usually take place in Uzbekistan, then it is advisable to invite partners to the Czech Republic.

As far as communication taboos are concerned, it is clearly not appropriate to criticize the state establishment in Uzbekistan and especially the president. Furthermore, we recommend avoiding opening political issues, such as the transparency of presidential elections, relations with neighboring countries and Russia, with which UZ shares a significant part of its history and, for example, the victory in World War II is one of the sources of national pride. They are also sensitive issues of Islamic extremism.

Recommendation

In Uzbekistan, do not expect a quick and smooth process, a significant dose of tolerance and patience is necessary, time is not of particular importance for Uzbeks; exact adherence to deadlines, fulfillment of agreements or meeting times cannot be relied upon.

If you are going, especially for the first time, to Uzbekistan for business purposes, it is necessary to find out as much information as possible about local partners, especially about their relations with the government administration. It is almost essential to have a local representative/partner to deal with end customers. Prepare for the fact that the period from the first contacts to the signing of the contract will take a long time. Increased attention needs to be paid to payment terms. Even after the contract is signed, nothing is certain until the first payment is made. Cooperation will require ongoing contact and review. Uzbekistan is characterized by the presence of corruption, which results, among other things, from the considerable influence of the state in the economy.

When dealing with the state and semi-state sphere, support from the embassy is a plus for establishing the first contacts. The presence of an embassy representative helps in the first formal meetings, on the other hand it leads local partners to be more careful. ZÚ Tashkent, as far as possible, provides support in negotiations with the state administration, and also organizes a number of different activities, in addition to supporting participation in fairs, organizing business missions and seminars, as well as, for example, presenting specific companies at meetings in the regions of the country.

Public Holidays

Uzbekistan became a religiously tolerant country after the coup. Supporters of Islam, Orthodox Christianity and atheists live side by side. Islam is practiced by 95% of the population, the calendar mainly includes public holidays, but it is necessary to take into account the fact that, by decision of the president or the government, additional days off are often added to some important (Muslim) holidays, or various transfers are made. It is advisable to find out in advance how exactly the days off from work will be specifically determined for the given year.

Public Holidays:

December 31 – January 1 – New Year

January 7 – Orthodox Christmas

January 14 – Day of soldiers and defenders of the homeland

March 8 – International Women’s Day

March 21 – Navruz, the vernal equinox, has nothing to do with Islam

May 9 – Day of Remembrance and Respect

September 1 – Independence Day

October 1 – Day of teachers and educators

December 8 – Constitution Day

Moving holidays:

Ramadan – is celebrated depending on the Islamic lunar calendar (there is a break at its end, the so-called “Ramadan Chajit”)

“Kurban Khajit” – is celebrated depending on the Islamic lunar calendar

Usual working hours in state and other institutions are from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sales hours in grocery stores are from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., in consumer goods stores from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. a sufficient number of basic food stores with round-the-clock operation.

Uzbekistan Culture of Business