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How to negotiate prices with Chinese suppliers

How to negotiate prices with Chinese suppliers:

Tips and strategies

Negotiating prices with Chinese suppliers can be challenging, especially if you are unfamiliar with their cultural norms and communication styles. However, effective negotiation can help you get the best possible price for your products and build a positive relationship with your supplier. In this post, Ignacio Rexach, the CEO of Wellview Universal Group, shares some tips and strategies for successfully negotiating prices with Chinese suppliers.

How to develop a relationship with a Chinese supplier?

Understanding the cultural context is essential to effectively negotiate with Chinese suppliers. Chinese culture differs significantly from Western culture, and these differences can affect the negotiation process.

  • Importance of building relationships:

In China, building a relationship or guanxi (关系) is crucial before starting any business negotiations. The guanxi concept is based on trust and mutual benefits, and it is believed that a good relationship with your Chinese supplier can lead to a long-term business partnership. Therefore, it is essential to spend time building a relationship with your Chinese supplier before negotiating any deal.

  • Emphasis on indirect communication:

In China, communication is often indirect, and messages are conveyed through non-verbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions. The Chinese may not say no directly, as they value harmony and may not want to offend you. It is essential to be aware of these indirect communication styles and to read between the lines to understand the intentions of your supplier, do not trust yourself when you hear a “yes”.

  • High Context Culture:

China is a high-context culture, which means that communication is based on the context and the relationship between the parties involved. The Chinese value group harmony and keeping up appearances, so they may not want to lose face or embarrass you or themselves. Therefore, it is important to know the context of the negotiation and the relationship between the parties involved.

We recommend that you always have a business card handy, since in China It is customary to hand one out at a first business meeting. As soon as you receive one, take a moment to examine it and keep it in a safe place, but never in your back pocket, as the Chinese consider this disrespectful.

  • Respect to their culture:

In China, hierarchy and respect for authority are essential, and it is common to defer to those in positions of authority. Chinese suppliers can expect you to show respect for them and their position, and it is important to do so to maintain a positive relationship.

Remember that in China greetings are not intrusive. The correct way to say hello and goodbye to your Chinese supplier is with a small bow of the torso and head, and/or shaking hands. If you hire an interpreter to communicate, always try to look at your provider while they speak.

Respect for Chinese culture and customs is crucial when building a positive relationship with a Chinese supplier. Showing respect for their culture, traditions, and language can help establish a sense of trust and rapport, so we recommend learning a few Chinese words. Also, knowing Chinese culture can help you avoid cultural misunderstandings, which can damage your relationship.

  • Understand your provider's needs and interests:

Understanding the needs and interests of your Chinese supplier can help you develop a better business relationship. Chinese suppliers value long-term partnerships, and by taking the time to understand your supplier's business goals, you can tailor your negotiations to suit your needs. This can lead to a more positive outcome for both parties.

  • Better comunication:

The key to any positive relationship is communication. When both parties understand each other's needs and interests, communication is more open and potential issues can be addressed more efficiently. This can lead to smoother negotiations and a more productive business relationship.

Keep in mind that China is a country with a strict digital censorship network, and the Chinese government has banned the use of Whatsapp, Google and other platforms we use to communicate in the West. Therefore, for smoother communication, we recommend using WeChat and/or QQ.


Research and analysis are essential elements in negotiating from a position of strength. By thoroughly researching the market and production costs, you can gain a better understanding of what a fair price is, which can help you negotiate effectively.

First, researching the market price of your products can help you understand the range of prices that are typical for your product. This information can be obtained by researching competitors, analyzing market trends, and monitoring prices over time. By understanding the market price range, you can set realistic expectations for negotiations and prevent vendors from taking advantage of them and offering prices well above the market average.

Second, researching production costs can help you understand the minimum price at which a supplier can realistically sell your product. This information includes raw material costs, labor costs, and other general expenses. By understanding these costs, you can assess whether a provider's price is reasonable and whether there is room for negotiation.

Additionally, researching your vendor's capabilities, reputation, and experience can help you understand the quality of product they can offer and the risks involved in doing business with them. It can also help you assess the potential for a long-term relationship and identify areas where you may need to negotiate additional services or support.

Common misunderstandings that can occur include:

Slang use:

Idioms and slang can be difficult for non-native speakers to understand and can lead to misunderstandings. To avoid this, use clear and concise language that is easy to understand.

Lack of clarity in the specifications:

Chinese suppliers may have different standards or specifications for products. It is important to clarify the specifications early in the negotiation process to avoid misunderstandings.

Differences in trading style:

As we mentioned earlier, Chinese suppliers may approach negotiations differently than Western companies. For example, they may focus on building relationships before talking about business. Understanding these differences and adapting your trading style accordingly can lead to a smoother trading process.

Don't know where to start?

Negotiating prices with Chinese suppliers can be challenging, but if you understand the cultural context, do your research, build a relationship, communicate effectively, and are prepared to compromise, you can negotiate a fair price for your products and build a positive, long-term relationship.

If you are interested in importing products from China, it is always recommended to have a strategic partner that supports you in each step of the negotiation. If you are interested in learning more about the services of Wellview Universal Group, a purchasing agent with more than 20 years of experience in imports from China, please feel free to contact with us. You can also write to us directly at info@wellviewuniversal.net.

We speak Chinese, English and Spanish, we offer a free first consultation with no obligation, we work with a comprehensive Quality Management System and we are ISO 9001:2015 certified.


We wish you the best of luck with your imports. Do not forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive more information about imports, and share this publication with your fellow entrepreneurs. Ni-hao!

Ignacio Rexach Torner

Ignacio Rexach Torner

Founder and CEO of Wellview Universal Group. Entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience in the Import and Export industry, specialized in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Barcelona.


Guide to import,Imports,Import from china,Negotiate with suppliers,Chinese suppliers


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