José Roberto Tadros: Carries commerce in his blood, inherited from a long family tradition of businessmen and traders

por The Winners

Descendant of Greek, Syrian and Lebanese immigrants who arrived in Brazil in the 19th century and created the commercial company that certified to be the oldest in the Amazon, founded in 1874, the current president of the National Confederation of Commerce, Services and Tourism (CNC), in addition to family businesses, has a life dedicated to the development of the service sector. A lawyer by training and a dedicated entrepreneur, Tadros also developed a passion for letters and history from an early age. He has written four books, including O Grande Amazonas em Marcha (The Great Marching Amazonas, in free translation), in addition to co-authoring a fifth work, entitled Incentivos Fiscais para o Progresso do Amazonas (Tax Incentives for the Progress of Amazonas, in free translation). He is a member of the Amazonas Academy of Letters (AAL), of the Academy of Letters, Sciences and Arts of Amazonas (Alcear), of the Geographic and Historical Institute of Amazonas and president of the Academy of Legal Sciences and Letters, among other institutions, in an admirable ability to combine his intellectual life with his entrepreneurial background and his
career as a trade union leader. He was married for 51 years to Vânia Maria Thereza Novoa Tadros, who passed away in 2020. He has three children and four grandchildren, whose relationship he values as a key element, although the distance factor is also a reality, since the almost unanimous election, for the Presidency of the CNC, in 2018. His administration at the head of the largest business union entity in the service sector has been marked by great challenges. But Tadros, who is also president of the National Deliberative Council of Sebrae, never gave up, leading the Confederation, Sesc and Senac to occupy a position of increasing prominence on the national scene. A striking feature of this Amazonian born 75 years ago in Manaus. A man of faith, reflective, humanist, who is proud of the teachings of his ancestors and always seeks to do good, with work, honesty, honor and a Christian spirit. Get to know a little more about this leader in the exclusive interview with The Winners magazine.

The Winners – Recently, the National Confederation of Trade in Goods, Services and Tourism (CNC) announced that the Business Entrepreneur Confidence Index (Icec) rose 1.4% in January compared to December, to 121.1 points. How do you assess this result for the economy in 2022?

José Roberto Tadros – From the end of last year, we had the advancement of the Omicron variant, but vaccination has ensured smaller impacts of covid-19 on the population, with milder symptoms and reduced lethality. This feeling of security has contributed to entrepreneurs seeing a small improvement in economic conditions in the short term. With more favorable expectations, even in the context of higher interest rates, the intentions to invest in the business and to hire employees through commerce also increased at the beginning of the year.


TW – One of the legacies of your management at the head of CNC and at the National Sebrae Council is the defense of qualification and education. How do you see the activities of the entities as support in public policies for the development of the country and each region?

JRT – Acting for the strengthening of trade in goods, services and tourism and for the development of our country is the very raison d’être of the CNC-Sesc-Senac System. This work encompasses a structure present throughout Brazil, in an integrated effort with the Trade Federations, the National Federations, the more than a thousand business unions in the sector and the Regionals of Sesc and Senac. When we think of development, of course, we must also think of education, including professional education. The work of Sesc and Senac and also the work of Sebrae with a focus on micro and small companies are references. The capillarity of this system, the alignment with the needs of the market, the excellence in the services provided, all this is at the service of Brazil, which can be proud of having one of the most expressive social development systems in the world. We are working very hard to ensure that this system continues to contribute effectively to the growth of trade and Brazil


TW – You have always defended the free trade agreement between Mercosur and the European Union as a reality for the economy and development of Latin America. After 20 years of negotiations, there is very little left for this to become a reality. How does the agreement benefit Brazil?

JRT – The potential expansion of the consumer market for Brazilian products and the greater integration of new supply chains are undoubtedly two of the main benefits of the agreement to the Brazilian economy. Since it was created, just over 30 years ago, Mercosur has brought gains to Brazil, such as an increase in the volume of trade, the formation of a market for industrialized goods and the free movement of people, for example. In the agreement with Europe, we will also have an important competitiveness shock for the evolution of the domestic economy. For that, we need to have a
strong regional bloc. Mercosur needs to unite more and more to reduce the poverty of nations and improve the purchasing power of society. It was with great commitment that we signed the agreement with the European Union, in which we were emphatic in highlighting that we are on the same side.


TW – As a representative of key sectors in Brazilian society, how do you see the issues necessary for the country’s growth, such as job and income generation, investment recovery and the importance of trade and entrepreneurship?

JRT–We have advanced in the reform agenda in recent years, such as the Social Security reform and the labor reform, which have brought more rationality to public spending and labor relations. These reforms were important steps towards a more efficient and dynamic economy, with greater capacity to generate employment and income in the long term. But we still need to follow the path of structural reforms, adapted to the reality of the large sectors that contribute most to economic activity today, and that they actually reduce the cost of operating in the country, encouraging the creation of new businesses, long-term productive investments and innovation.


TW – In relation to tourism, what are the prospects for 2022? What were the lessons learned from the last two years that strengthened the sector?

JRT – The characteristic activities of Tourism accumulated a loss of R$ 463.8 billion, from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020, until November 2021. We project a 22.5% increase in tourism revenue volume in 2021, and
1.7% in 2022. Expectations for the first high season after flexibility and vaccination were high, but they were frustrated with the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, which led to the cancellation of important industry events, such as New Year’s Eve and Carnaval. But we believe that the sector will be able to recover its full potential to generate revenue towards the end of 2022. The business sector came together, the Confederation supported and forwarded demands. In June 2021, CNC created the Vai Turismo – Rumo ao Futuro project, which has been mobilizing the tourist trade in all states and the Federal District to recommend public policies that encourage the sustainable development of Brazilian tourist destinations.


TW – The approval of the Complementary Law Project (PLP) nº 5/2021 that extends until 2032 tax incentives granted by the states and the Federal District for companies within the scope of the tax war between these federative units resolved by Complementary Law 160/2017 was an important milestone for the sector. As an advocate of the project, what practical benefits can you establish for advancing the economy?

JRT – From the beginning, CNC followed the entire process and each stage of approval of this project. We held meetings with Trade Federations in the states directly impacted by the measure, we listened to wholesalers who are at the forefront and would actually feel this change, and we shared the trade vision with parliamentarians, both congressmen and senators. We sent a letter to the President of the Republic, Jair Bolsonaro, asking him to maintain the entirety of the text approved by Congress, considering the relevance of the topic – that contributes for the Brazilian productive sector and, consequently, for the growth of our country. It is an advance for the movement of the economy, in addition to the
observance of the constitutional principles of equality and ability to pay. With the expansion of tax incentives and benefits linked to ICMS, aimed at maintaining or increasing commercial activities for another ten years, the wholesale
and distribution sector, a fundamental segment for the national supply, with the generation of employment and income, gains. The bill represents a historic correction, granting commerce the same exemption period that was determined for the industry.


TW – Which CNC and Sebrae projects to adapt to new technologies can be highlighted? How do you see the future?

JRT – The measures resulting from the COVID-19 prevention protocols, which determined, among other actions, social
distancing, represented a kind of trial by fire for the communication infrastructure of companies and the country. The implementation of the workfrom-home regime forced companies to adapt to a new reality. The growth of e-commerce, which was already jumping, remained at high levels, with people incorporating consumption habits that would take years to adopt. The adaptability of Brazilian companies, workers and consumers was one of the highlights, but what made the solutions adopted viable was the intensive use of technology. And we have been concerned with not only adapting, as a System, to this new culture of innovation, but also helping to disseminate this culture to companies.

TW – Talking a little about “Tadros the writer”, do you have plans for new publications? Can you talk a little about the subject and your passion for literature?

JRT – From an early age, I devoted myself a lot to books. Over time, I was leaning towards certain subjects, certain themes, which were turned into books. I started to participate in the Amazonas cultural entities. I have been a member of the Amazonas Academy of Letters for some 12, 14 years; of the Geographical and Historical Institute of Amazonas since the early 1970s. I am president of the Academy of Legal Sciences and Letters, member of the Academy of Letters, Sciences and Arts of Amazonas. I don’t know if the time today, dedicating myself to the presidency of the entities, would provide me with availability for that. But my great passions have always been reading and concern for culture. So
I hope, yes, I still have years to live and enough time to write something more about the reality we live in, everyday life and my thoughts. It is a way of bequeathing to my posterity my passage through the world.


TW – After these years dedicated to public life, how do you see the country’s future? What are the points of advancement and points of attention?

JRT – I see Brazil’s future with confidence. We are still going through a very difficult time with the pandemic, which has brought a lot of pain and enormous consequences to our lives, for the economy of the country and the world. But
Brazil’s potential is really immense, and all we need is to value the consensus already established and prevent dissent from continuing to generate the great impasses that have historically prevented us from moving forward. Transform these consensuses into good practices and effective public policies that favor and encourage the country to show its best. For example, the need for tax reform is a mantra that is repeated and recognized by all. It is very important because it will help unlock Brazil. Perhaps if we could all visualize the country that will result from a more modern, rational, leaner,
less burdensome tax legislation, we would not waste another minute to give ourselves and future generations of Brazilians this chance.

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