Your guide to expat life in Argentina

Working in Argentina

With one of the largest economies in South America, Argentina is a force to be reckoned with. Its main industries are agriculture, information and communication technology and tourism, which provide a wide range of job opportunities for expats.

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Doing business

Despite having one of the highest GDPs in the region, Argentina still lacks political and economic stability. Once one of the richest countries in the world, it hit an all-time low in 2001 when it defaulted on the largest foreign debt ever recorded.

Since then the economy has recovered, but jobs for expats are still scarcer than in other countries. If you do find work and you’re paid in pesos, your salary may be considerably lower than you’re used to. But if you’re employed by an overseas company, you’re likely to have a higher salary that’s paid in a stable foreign currency.

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Business culture

Argentinians are very family-oriented and this affects the way they do business. Respect is given to older associates and more loyalty is shown to individuals than to companies.

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Relationships

Close personal relationships are valued in Argentinian business circles – so you’ll have to network if you want to succeed. Nepotism and name-dropping are common. And while it may feel strange at first, you shouldn’t be embarrassed to use these tools to your advantage.

Communication style

Honour is incredibly important in Argentinian culture and it’s frowned upon to publicly criticise or correct a colleague. This doesn’t mean that local businesspeople skirt around the issues. In fact, they’re very direct, sometimes to the point of being blunt. Argentinians are known for their passion and use big gestures to make a point. Touching is common during a conversation and personal space is virtually non-existent.

Meetings

Try to arrange business meetings at least a week or two in advance. Punctuality is expected. And it’s common for discussions to begin with small talk to break the ice.

Fast facts

Business language

Spanish is the official language, but English is widely spoken in major cities like Buenos Aires.

Business hours

Usually from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Some businesses in smaller provincial towns operate between 8am and 9pm, with a three- or four-hour siesta in the middle of the day.

Dress

Appearance is important to Argentinians and businesspeople like to dress formally. Men tend to wear dark business suits, while women choose conservative dresses and trouser suits.

Greeting

A firm handshake with direct eye contact is the standard business greeting. Always greet the oldest or most senior associate first.

Gifts

Gifts aren’t exchanged until a close business relationship has been formed. Avoid giving expensive items that could be interpreted as bribes – a bottle of imported spirits is a safe option. It’s inappropriate for women to give gifts to male colleagues as this may be seen as too personal.

Gender equality

Argentina’s gender gap is narrower than the rest of Latin America, with many women holding senior positions in the corporate world. But businesswomen still face challenges in the workplace, including sexual harassment and pay inequality.

Expat salaries

The economic situation in Argentina is constantly changing, but salaries paid in pesos tend to be low. Most expats are paid in a foreign currency such as euro, sterling or US dollars.

People look shy and introverted but actually most of them are friendly and caring.

Expat Explorer Survey respondent

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All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by expatarrivals.com, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in June 2017. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

Always remember to ensure you are aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.