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United States of America: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in United States of America

Businesspeople are generally expected to dress smartly. Western business courtesies should be observed, although Americans tend to be less formal than Europeans. Appointments and punctuality are expected procedure and business cards are widely used. Dates in the US are written month-day-year.

It is quite common for meetings to be held over lunch, although the prohibitive cost of eating out in major cities at traditional business venues means that some companies bring in outside caterers to the office for important, large-scale lunch meetings. For lunch meetings, alcohol, in moderation, is acceptable. Business dinners tend to take place in restaurants rather than at home. Cocktails after work are commonplace.

Office Hours

Business hours are officially Mon-Fri 0900-1730, although an extended working day is very common in certain sectors and it is not unusual for people to be working well into the night or over the weekend.

Economy

The US economy is the world's largest, most technologically powerful and diverse. Distinct benefits arise from a unique combination of mass immigration, technological and marketing innovations, vast natural resources, expansion of international trade, historical fortune and an economic system designed to reinforce professional and personal enterprise.

The enormous influence of US-based multinational companies within the world economy affords unparalleled global influence and allows its currency unique international status.

Large areas of the USA, particularly in the Midwest, are under cultivation and produce a wide range of commodities: important are cotton, grain and tobacco, all exported on a large scale. Principal mining operations produce oil, gas, coal, copper, iron, uranium and silver. US industry leads in steel production, automotive manufacturing, aerospace technology, telecommunications, chemical engineering, electronics, computer-based commerce and manufactured goods.

The largest employment is in the service sector, finance, leisure and tourism. The unemployment rate in 2011 was 9.1%, with growth at 2.5% and inflation at 3%.

If for no other reason than its role in the world economy, the USA is an important conference destination; there are state, city and regional travel and convention organisations in every part of the country, each actively promoting its own assets. There are several magazines aimed at helping the conference organiser; they include Meeting & Conventions Magazine (www.meetings-conventions.com) and Successful Meetings Magazine (www.successfulmeetings.com).

Three of the largest convention and trade show venues in the USA are Las Vegas, New York and Chicago, with Las Vegas holding the top position for a number of years.

Organisers interested in US venues should contact the US Travel Association (www.ustravel.org) or the travel organisations listed in the individual state sections. In addition to the state organisations, addresses of travel and convention organisations for cities and counties are also included.

GDP

US$18.03 trillion (2015).

Main exports

Agricultural products, industrial goods, computers and electrical machinery, vehicles, consumer goods, and military equipment and aircraft.

Main imports

Agricultural products, industrial supplies, computers, telecommunications equipment, automobiles and clothing.

Main trading partners

Canada, China, Mexico, Japan and Germany.

Keeping in Touch in United States of America

Telephone

Though usage is declining payphones are still relatively common in the US. Most are coin operated. For emergency police, fire or medical services in major cities, dial 911. The following codes denote toll-free (freephone) numbers: 800, 855, 866, 877 and 888.

Mobile Phone

Foreign mobile telephones only work if they are tri-band or quad-band; charges are high. Visitors can also hire a mobile telephone. Pre-pay cell phones can be purchased from a variety of retail outlets, including drug stores.

Internet

Most hotels, restaurants and public buildings offer free Wi-Fi. There are Internet cafés in most urban areas, and an increasing number of Wi-Fi hotspots in larger towns and cities.

Media

Freedom of expression in the US is guaranteed by the constitution. The USA has the most highly developed mass media in the world. Public broadcasting is partly government-funded, but also supported by private grants.

Post

There are numerous post offices throughout the states. Stamps can also be bought at stamp machines in hotels and shops. Airmail to Europe takes up to one week.

Post Office hours

Mon-Fri 0830-1630.

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