5 Tips for Doing Business in Malaysia | AS White Global

5 Tips for Doing Business in Malaysia

Beside a dynamic business environment, Malaysia is a beautiful and unique multicultural country driven by its rich variety of ethnicities, cultures, and customs. Many corporations welcome this as a perfect landscape to tap into the pool of various talent and perspectives. Whereas, other companies worry about choosing a suitable approach to their business partners, considering unique cultural and religious etiquettes they have to follow.

Below are 5 useful tips for you when doing business in Malaysia:


Dress code for business meetings in Malaysia is quite straightforward. Men generally choose smart, formal clothes with long sleeve shirts and ties while women are seen with trousers, skirts, working blouses, or dresses. However, ladies should refrain from wearing revealing clothes as they are inappropriate in Islamic culture. In some special occasions (noted with “long sleeve batik”), you’re recommended to wear Malaysian traditional shirts made from batik to impress your counterparts.


Handshakes are the norm when greeting another businessman. In case your guest is a businesswoman, the situation is more complicated as physical contact between opposite sexes can be informal in Malaysia. The safest option is to wait for a Malaysian woman to extend her hand first before you follow suit with the gesture. In addition, you’re not allowed to touch anyone on their head or use your left hand to pass items as these gestures can be seen as a form of disrespect.


Gifts are not really popular in Malaysian business culture as they can relate to bribery. However, if you receive a gift from your Malaysian counterpart, always receive it with both hands and never open the gift in his / her presence. It’s always polite to reciprocate back with a gift of equal value to express your gratitude and respect. You can also invite them for dinner in lieu of a gift. Upon choosing a suitable gift, remember to stay away from money, knives, and images of animals as they are taboos and signify bad luck.


Malaysians tend to have small talks before discussing business issues and it may take several meetings before they come to a final decision. You’ll need to be patient and take your time to establish trust and familiarity – two important factors in this consensus-driven culture. Initial meetings are often oriented towards this purpose and good rapport should be maintained throughout the negotiations.


As in other economies, business card is an integral part in Malaysian business culture. You’re recommended to use both hands when exchanging business cards and take some time to examine them. Most Malaysian companies are hierarchical based structure. Therefore, it would be ideal to address senior executives and above with their corresponding titles as a form of respect.

If you would like to know more what it takes when doing business in Malaysia, contact our team at ASW Global today to find out how we’re able to further assist you. No matter what industry you’re in, our aim is to attract only highly capable and self-driven individuals with the highest calibre for you to grow your extended team in Malaysia.

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