In September last year, H.E. Mr. Jose Borges dos Santos Junior, Ambassador of the Embassy of Brazil to the Kingdom of Thailand arrived in Bangkok. Ambassador Jose presented his credentials to the King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua in November 2021. In addition to Thailand, he is also Ambassador to Cambodia and Laos. At the beautiful residence, Expat Life sat down with Ambassador Jose to learn about his perspective on Thailand and discuss the bilateral relations between the two countries.
Ambassador Jose is a veteran diplomat of 41 years since joining the Foreign Service in the 1980’s. Born in the northern part of Brazil, a remote city called “Boa Vista”. Ambassador Jose recalled, “I was groomed to be a diplomat at a very young age. My mother and grandmother sent me to study French in Alliance Francaise, hoping that I would become a diplomat. I am proud to be the first ambassador from my state.”
Prior to moving here, Ambassador Jose was Ambassador in Switzerland with jurisdiction also for the Liechtenstein principality from 2016 to 2018. Other overseas postings include London, Canberra, San Francisco, Brussels, Bogota, Los Angeles, New York and Houston.” He further admitted, “This is my first posting in Asia, and I had a strong desire to be posted to Thailand.”
Bilateral trade relations between Brazil and Thailand
Thailand is the first posting in Asia for Ambassador Jose. He frankly admitted, “I had asked to be posted Thailand as I believe that there are great potentials in bilateral trade relations to grow between our two countries. Despite the pandemic situation last year, the volume of Brazilian exports to Thailand grew by 36%. The latest figures showed that our trade volumes have reached 5.1 billion USD. Thailand imports huge volumes of soybeans and related products from Brazil, and the volume has increased significantly to 85%. After China and US, Brazil is placed as the 3rd provider of soybeans sub products here. Other Brazilian imports include agricultural machinery, shoes and leather products. We have recently received permission to import Brazilian beef into Thailand. In return, Thailand exports auto parts, IT equipment, natural rubber and electrical devices to Brazil.”
The ambassador further commented, “Thailand is the centre of the Mekong region. I believe the country offers as a compelling market and gateway to China and the ASEAN regional partners.”
Views on similarities between Brazil and Thailand
Expat Life asked Ambassador Jose on his views of Thailand, “I see that our two countries have many similarities. One good example is the temperament of our people. Brazilians are intrinsically friendly just like the Thais. Brazilian households are very family oriented like many Asian families. We like to joke that Brazilian children never grow up and leave home.”
Ambassador Jose shared another observation, “I recognise the urban chaos in Thailand is just like we have in Brazil. Amid the high rise office buildings, we see street vendors selling stuffs and flea markets popping up around Bangkok.”
Goals and plans for Thailand
On his goals during the term in Thailand, “This year 2022, Brazil celebrates the 200th bicentennial Anniversary of our Independence. The embassy has plans to organise cultural events such as concerts and art exhibitions, providing the Covid situation allows. Aside from soccer, Brazilian music is popular and played globally around the world.”
“Given that Brazil is a big country of over 200 million in population, many Brazilian companies are satisfied with our own domestic market. On the other hand, I strongly believe that no country can afford to miss out to be integrated into the global production chain. One of my objectives is to promote more business delegations between our two countries, to attract more Thai companies into Brazil and vice versa. In certain areas such as bio-fuels, there is plenty of room for research cooperation. Thai companies who have expanded into Brazil include Charoen Pokphand Foods, PTTEP, Minor Group, Cal-Comp and Indorama Ventures. We have recently inaugurated our Honorary Consul in Chiang Mai.”
There are around 400 Brazilians living in Thailand, many are expatriates sent by multi-national companies and few are married to locals. Prior to Covid, there are students exchange programmes organised by Rotary International and the American Field Service. On the day of the interview, Madame Danielle Bayer hosted a gathering for Brazilian ladies currently residing in Bangkok at the residence.
Travel around Thailand
Due to the Covid situation, for the past few months, Ambassador Jose has not followed a strict routine of a typical working day. With his goal to promote further investment in Brazil from Thailand, he has aimed to set aside at least one day per week to meet with Thai businessmen who are interested in Brazil.
As Madame Danielle and the two twin children only arrived in Thailand at the beginning of this year, Ambassador Jose admitted that he has not travelled much around Thailand yet with the young family. “So far, I have visited only Chiang Mai. I am looking forward to have the opportunity to explore Thailand. I was invited to join the Loy Krathong Festival at IconSiam. I am very impressed with the Thai festivities atmosphere, and the Thai hospitality that I have experienced since my arrival.”