Doing business

Current situation

Expansion of the Malagasy economy is driven by the following sectors:

  • agriculture
  • >mining
  • services
  • tourism
  • textiles.

The establishment of a duly elected government marked the end of a protracted transitional period, bringing back international donors, a large number of investors and foreign companies. Tourist numbers have been increasing, as Madagascar boasts a unique biodiversity and rich history which attracts nature enthusiasts, anthropologists and others.

Given the position Madagascar occupies within the region, achieving stability on the island is expected to ensure a formidable asset, with a strategic role to play in ensuring food security, enhancing the flow of trade and powering growth in the region.

Madagascar is a member of a number of international organisations, including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), World Trade Organization (WTO), Southern African Development Community (SADC), Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). The island has strong ties with France and West Africa and is well-positioned to supply Asian markets.

Business culture

Business tips

Malagasy and French are the most prominent languages within business circles. Discussions flow more easily if conducted in French, while English is understood by most professionals.

Lightweight suits are usual, but it is also acceptable for professionals to wear business casual clothing. Men do not have to wear full suits, but pants and shirt with a collar are recommended and women should dress conservatively, avoiding sleeveless tops and short skirts. Avoid expensive or flashy jewellery.

The most common form of greeting in the central region (other regions may differ) is a handshake with the right hand, while the left hand holds the right arm below the elbow.

Not many people have business cards, so in some meetings an exchange of cards may not take place and it is acceptable to offer one business card for a group of people to share. It is not proper etiquette to write on business cards with red ink, as this colour is viewed negatively. Gifts are generally not expected in business situations.

Addressing people by Monsieur (Mr), Madame (Mrs), Mademoiselle (Ms), Dokotera (Dr) etc., is the recommended way, avoid using first names unless invited to do so. When pronouncing Malagasy names, which tend to be long, the last vowel at the end is silent and the "o" inside the name is pronounced as “ou”, e.g. Mr Rakotomanava would be pronounced “Monsieur Rakoutoumanav” and Antananarivo is in fact pronounced “Antananariv”, Tana for short.

In the capital, Antananarivo, appointments are usually on time.

Setting up in market

Connecting with local distributors, agents or representatives experienced in an international trade environment would be the best way to approach business in Madagascar.

The political instability has impacted upon the sovereignty, operations and decision making of key institutions overseeing the business and economic sector. It is very important to seek local advice and updates before taking up projects or making any commitments.

Initial source of advice could be the Economic and Development Board of Madagascar, set up to act as a one-stop-shop for investment and business development. They are able to assist with procedures linked to company registration in Madagascar.

Banking and finance

Ten commercial banks are in operation in Madagascar, a mix of European, Asian and Mauritian establishments. For more information visit the Banking Association.

Links and resources

Government, business and trade

Central Banks
Chamber of Commerce
Chamber of Mines
Commerce Ministry
Investment Promotion Agency
Main Government Page
Office of Mining and Strategic Industries
Statistics Office
World Bank

News and media

No English Language newspapers are available in Madagascar.

La Gazette de la Grande Ile
L’Express de Madagascar
Mada.Pro (online newspaper)
Madagascar Tribune
Midi Madagasikara
Portal for Madagascar

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