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DOING BUSINESS IN PANAMA Business Customs & Etiquette Punctuality is appreciated by business people, as is giving your host enough time to plan for your arrival. Thus, you should make appointments at least one week in advance. When you meet with your Panamanian colleagues, a handshake is a normal greeting. Do not rush into a meeting with talk of business right away. Your associates are more likely interested in getting to know you first. The exchange of business cards is important. If it is possible, get them printed in Spanish. This goes for any other literature you will be using for business matters. Executives and general managers are expected to wear suits, whereas low-level managers usually wear panabrisas, shirts left untucked and worn over trousers. Foreign businessmen should always wear dark suits on their first visit, but later may wear panabrisas if their business associates do at the next meeting. Businesswomen should wear dresses or skirts and tailored blouses. Since Panamanian women are now moving into higher managerial positions, there should be no difficulties for women doing business . Be aware of the importance of titles: "Licenciado" for a BA holder; "Doctor" for a Ph.D., lawyer or medical doctor ; "Arquitecto" for an architect and "Ingeniero" for an engineer. There are some anti-American feelings felt in Panama . To prevent an uncomfortable situation by saying something that may offend, avoid discussing local politics, the former Canal Zone and
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racial issues. Business Hours Office hours are usually Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to Noon, and then 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Importance of Relationships Expect to invest a considerable amount of time developing good rapport and a pleasant, relaxed relationship before discussing business. Establishing an atmosphere of trust is a precondition to a successful business relationship.
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