Public mistrust is declining in many places across the world and there are also significant differences from country to country.

What we are also seeing is that in the countries where there is high public trust, they enjoy faster growth, higher GDP, less corruption and more effective government.

In wealthy Norway, the population of the population who think “most people can be trusted” is as high as 70 per cent, whereas in impoverished Colombia it is only 4 per cent. In New Hampshire 60 per cent trust each other, compared with only 20 per cent in Alabama and Missippi.


In Italy trust twice as high in prosperous Trento in the north as in Sicily in the south.
Trust in government in the USA has fallen from 75 per cent in the mid-1950s to a mere 19 per cent today…the list goes on.

At the same time, Kasper Hjulmand, the manager of Denmark’s small successful 2021 UEFA Championship team says,

“the Danes are world champions in trusting each other and is one of least hierarchical countries with great focus on togetherness.”

So, any exporter must seriously consider:

  • whether they themselves can be trusted and whether indeed their partners across the world do trust them
  • to what degree do you trust your partners in different countries and how does that affect the way you do business with them

As highlighted above the national culture and belief system do play a major role but you should also consider the track record and reputation of your current and potential partners. If they display any behaviour towards you that makes you distrust them, then rest assured they will also behave that way towards others, include customers. All the signed 59-page agreements in the world cannot replace trust.

Trust is the social glue that holds business relationships together. Business partners who trust each other spend less time and energy protecting themselves from being exploited, and both sides achieve better economic outcomes in negotiations.

There also seems to be cultural differences in assessing trust in current/potential partners so the importance of competency, respect, openness and similar values vary in different parts of the world, but all four aspects play a role as to whether organisations are regarded as trustworthy.


But, honestly, are you trustworthy?

Or does the pressure to achieve your sales targets make you perform less than scrupulously that you would like? 

Rest assured your overseas partner will soon suss you out and your relationship will suffer.

However, we have also seen companies where across the organisation there are considerable differences as to how ethically senior executives behave and where often the ‘lieutenants’ are busy (re)building relationships with disgruntled partners. 

Obviously, long-term that is not a sustainable situation, but it takes a brave lieutenant to raise this issue with their superiors.