Tongan Culture

Business Culture

Primary Author
Chara Scroope,


  • Tongans tend to have a slow and less rigid approach to work and business negotiations.
  • Due to Tongans' relaxed approach to time, your Tongan counterpart may show up at your office without an appointment. Be prepared for the possibility of prearranged meeting times and standard opening hours to be disregarded.
  • During business meetings, wear appropriate attire such as long pants (for men) or long skirts (for women) and a collared shirt that covers the shoulders and chest. If in doubt, dress modestly.
  • Take the time to participate in social conversation before starting the meeting. Tongans often appreciate it when people show an interest in their well-being, family and culture.
  • Discern the age and pay special attention to the opinion of those present that are older than you.
  • Meetings and decision-making usually progress quite slowly. Be patient and lenient with your time in order to facilitate the best working relationship.



  • In a business setting, Tongans tend to be very polite. They may say what they think their foreign counterpart wants to hear, regardless of whether it is entirely accurate. See Communication for more information.
  • Gifts are sometimes exchanged at meetings. Food or souvenirs from your home country are often appreciated gifts.
  • Foreigners who wish to invest in Tonga need a Tongan partner for any economic venture.
  • Most business transactions are conducted in English.
  • In June 2017, several Pacific Island countries (including Tonga) along with Australia and New Zealand signed the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER Plus), a free-trade and economic development agreement.

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