Lunch with Terry Gou
The ECCT arranged a Premium Event lunch with Terry Gou, Founder of the Hon Hai Technology Group (Foxconn) and independent candidate for president of Taiwan in the forthcoming January 2024 election. At the event Gou spoke about his experience in business and aspirations should he be elected president.
Gou said that he had often travelled to Europe for meetings and inspections and his company has investments and manufacturing facilities in Ireland (dating back to 1996), Scotland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Germany. He said that he was "deeply attracted to Europe's rich culture, open society, and pragmatic spirit".
Gou highlighted the fact that Taiwanese and European companies have complementary advantages that can lead to mutual prosperity. In particular, European companies often possess high-quality technology, while Taiwanese companies excel in rapid adaptability and the ability to meet customer demands. In addition, European companies have diverse customer bases, and Taiwanese companies excel in software design, catering to various consumer experiences and needs. Moreover, Taiwanese companies are global leaders in semiconductor manufacturing technology, while European companies have a broader global presence. Gou believes that these complementary strengths can foster collaboration and innovation between Taiwanese and European businesses, leading to mutually beneficial outcomes.
Gou went on to speak about cross-Strait relations, highlighting his proposed "Kinmen Peace Initiative" and intention to form a cross-party, cross-ethnic, and cross-generational negotiation team to reopen negotiations with China. He has allocated US$20 million to establish a foundation dedicated to promoting cross-Strait peace efforts. This initiative, he said, includes collaborations with international academic research institutions, think tank experts, and peace organisations from various countries.
Gou went on to stress the importance of a reliable and clean energy supply for national security and economic development. He noted that Europe leads the world in addressing environmental challenges and holds a global leadership position in renewable energy technologies such as nuclear, wind, and geothermal energy and believes that the experience and technology of European countries will be vital for Taiwan to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Global supply chains are undergoing transformation and Taiwan's political and economic situation is also facing changes in response to these global shifts. Gou said that a peaceful environment, visionary policies, efficient investments, an innovative government, and capable leadership are the five pillars of Taiwan's economic miracle that Taiwan needs to follow to achieve remarkable accomplishments.
In the Q&A session Gou said that there was much that Taiwan could learn from Europe, such as the education system in the Netherlands as well as EU policy and regulations.
On cross-Strait relations, Gou said that discussions should be based on the so-called 1992 consensus and could start with discussions on uncontroversial topics like cultural exchanges and tourism before later moving on to economics and eventually political issues.
On a question as to why he is the most suitable person to lead Taiwan, he said that people care about their livelihoods and that they want a leader who understands business. Gou also said that he would work to create a transparent and friendly regulatory environment for business, on a par with Singapore.
Elaborating on how Taiwan and Europe can cooperate, Gou said that Europeans have a lot to offer in terms of technology and innovation and that Taiwanese are good at commercialising business ideas. He cited the example of complementary strengths in the area of medicine, particularly precision medicine and the development of drugs and vaccines to fight cancer.