There is more than one United States in the Western Hemisphere. Can you name all three?

Answer in the comment section below. The answer will be revealed at next week’s “Jeopardy!”

Answer to last week’s “Jeopardy!”: Which countries are involved in the TPP? The current members are Singapore, Chile, New Zealand, Brunei, Australia, Peru, Vietnam and the US. Read more about the TPP at:

Doing Business in Singapore

Singapore is a multicultural society with a population of about 4.5 million. Many ethnic groups are represented in its population, for example Chinese (76.8 percent), Malay (13.9 percent), and Indian (7.9 percent), and many languages are spoken, for example Mandarin (35 percent), English (23 percent), Malay (14.1 percent), Hokkien (11.4 percent), Cantonese (5.7 percent), and Teochew (4.9 percent).

Since its independence in 1965, Singapore has adopted four national languages, namely Mandarin, Malay, Tamil, and English. For business and politics, English is the language of choice. While Singapore claims to be an egalitarian society, Singaporeans retain strong hierarchical relationships that can be observed in the relationships between parents and children, teachers and students, and employers and employees. This reliance on hierarchy is drawn from Confucianism, which emphasizes respecting elders and status.

This cultural value translates to a more formal approach to business in Singapore than in many Western countries. Having “face” and giving “face” to others are important aspects of both social and business interactions in Singapore. As such, Singaporeans tend to be subtle, indirect, and implicit in their communications. They hint at a point rather than making a direct statement, since that might cause the other person to lose face. Rather than saying “no”, they might say “I will try.” This allows the person making the request to “save” face and thus maintains harmony in their relationship. Singapore has a group-oriented culture, so links are often based on ethnicity, education, or working for the same company. Most Singaporeans are soft-spoken and believe a calm demeanor is superior to a more aggressive style.

Punctuality is a virtue so you should arrive at meetings on time. Business cards are exchanged after the initial introductions. Business cards are exchanged using both hands. Examine business cards carefully before putting them in a business-card case. Treating business cards with respect is essential as this is a signal to Singaporeans as to how you will treat the relationship.

When business gifts are involved, there are a few things to note that depend very much on the ethnic group of the recipient. If the recipient is Chinese, one should avoid giving clocks as they are associated with death, and avoid wrapping gifts in white, blue, or black as these are mourning colors. If the recipient is Malay, so not give anything made of pigskin as Malays are Muslim; do not give alcohol; give halal goods only; and avoid white wrapping paper as it symbolizes death. Finally, if the recipient is an ethnic Indian, avoid giving bouquets that include frangipani as they are used in funeral wreaths; avoid wrapping gifts in white or black; and avoid giving leather products to a Hindu. In all cases, do not expect the recipient to open the gift when received as this is not courteous in Singapore’s culture. Likewise, do not open the gift received from a Singaporean in front of him or her unless you are asked to.

For more information, refer to Fundamentals of International Business: 1st Asia-Pacific edition by Michael Czinkota et al. 

Japan and Asia: Oceans Apart

It is a common perception that since Japan is in Asia, it should be culturally closer to Asian economies like China and the four tigers (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan) than Western countries in Europe and the USA. However, research in the area of cultural values suggests that this is not the case. In fact, Japan is found to be more culturally dissimilar to Asian countries than are the USA and European countries. Based on the well-known cultural dimensions articulated in Geert Hofstede’s Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations, the masculinity index of Japan is 95. Singapore and Hong Kong’s masculinity scores are 48 and 57 respectively while those of the UK and the USA are 66 and 62. The masculinity index focuses on the degree to which a society reinforces the traditional masculinity work role model of male achievement, control and power. A high masculinity index for Japan indicates a high degree of gender differentiation. In such a culture, males dominate a significant portion of society and its power structure, with females being controlled by male domination. In Singapore and Hong Kong, this is not the case.

In addition, the uncertainty avoidance scores of the UK and the USA are 35 and 46, once again in between Japan (92) and Singapore (8) and Hong Kong (29). Uncertainty avoidance index focuses on the level of tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity in a society. A high uncertainty avoidance index indicates that Japan has a low tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity. This creates a rule-oriented society that institutes laws, rules, regulations and controls in order to reduce the incidence of uncertainty. Thus, Japanese culture encourages less risk-taking while in Singapore and Hong Kong, risk-taking is almost mundane.

While culturally distinctive, Japanese culture and business practices are perceived to be closer to those of South Korea than to China and other Chinese-dominated countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. Relationship building is a key element of business transactions in Japan. To be able to join an existing network is especially important for companies trying to conduct businesses in apan or trading with Japanese companies. Reciprocity in relations and saving and maintaining the “face” of Japanese counterparts are priorities fo sustaining relationships. The high uncertainty avoidance index suggests that when dealing with Japanese companies, it is important to show one’s commitment to a plan of joint action.

For more information, refer to Fundamentals of International Business: 1st Asia-Pacific edition by Michael Czinkota et al. 

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) Negotiation

The 14th Trans-Pacific Partnership has taken place in Leesburg, Virginia, on September 6th – 15th. Leaders of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam have gathered there to deepen comprehensive market access, regional agreement, cross-cutting trade issues, and new trade issues.

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) has been engaged in high-standard economic integration process with comprehensive duty-free access to members’ markets and new trade and investment rules.  Currently with nine team members, the Partnership has drawn strong attention and interests from other countries in Asia and Pacific region, in particular, Mexico and Canada.  The Partnership Negotiation has also actively attempted to address new issues in the trade arena, such as information technology, green growth and new technologies. TTP derived from Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement in 2007 with four members originally.

For more information.

[NTS Alert] Trafficking in persons: Singapore’s evolving responses

Source: The Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS)

For a long time, sending countries have been the focus of efforts to combat trafficking in persons (TIP). However, in recent years, destination countries such as Singapore have also stepped up their efforts. This is timely because improved recognition and management of the threat and challenges of TIP will do much to prevent the abuse and commercial exploitation of adults and children. This NTS Alert discusses the TIP phenomenon, focusing on Singapore and the significant new developments in Singapore’s policies on the issue. In particular, it highlights the establishment of Singapore’s Inter-Agency Taskforce on TIP and the development of its National Plan of Action.

To access the full report, click here.