Cultural intelligence

 
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Trinidad & Tobago - haggling compulsory!

The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is a two-island country, lying off the coast of South America. It is just 11kms away from Venezuela and borders the Caribbean. The country covers an area of 5,128 square kilometres (1,980 sq miles) and consists of two main islands, Trinidad and Tobago, with numerous smaller landforms.

Trinidad was a Spanish colony from the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1498. During the same period, the island of Tobago changed hands among Spanish, British, French and Dutch colonisers. Trinidad and Tobago (remaining separate until 1889) were ceded to Britain in 1802 then the country of Trinidad and Tobago obtained independence in 1962, becoming a republic in 1976.

Trinidad is the larger island and the capital is Port of Spain; Tobago’s largest city is Scarborough. The population of the two islands is about 1.25m. The official language is English, but other languages which are recognised are Trinidadian and Creole.

Trinidad and Tobago is one of the wealthiest and most developed nations in the Caribbean. It is the leading Caribbean producer of oil and gas and recent growth has been fuelled by investments in liquefied natural gas (LNG), petrochemicals, and steel. The economy is heavily dependent upon these resources but it also supplies manufactured goods, notably food, beverages, and cement, to the Caribbean region. Agricultural products include citrus and cocoa.

Tourism is a growing sector, although not as proportionately important as in many other Caribbean islands. Calypso music and steel drum bands feature in carnival celebrations on Trinidad, while the relaxed and peaceful atmosphere of Tobago attracts diving enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Business culture is not formal but it is worth spending some time establishing a rapport before attempting to do business. Younger business people are likely to start discussions with a bare minimum of formalities. Defer to the person with the most authority, as they are most likely the decision maker. Decisions are often based upon the personal preference of the decision maker, which is why spending time to develop trust and personal relationships is crucial. Business people are generally direct and say what they mean. Avoid high-pressure sales tactics which are seen as confrontational. Bargaining is customary and expected.

Share your Trinidadian business experiences

Sources: Wikipedia, bbc.com, Kwintessential

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