Farewell Jerry Fong
Jerry Fong is retiring after 23 years at the ECCT. During this time he has witnessed dramatic events and changes and made valuable contributions to the chamber’s development
Farewell message from ECCT Chairman Giuseppe Izzo
I met Jerry about 10 years ago and all along this time he has been a source of enthusiasm, knowledge and help for me. Jerry's very large network has allowed us at ECCT to expand our activities with the government across the political camps. I wish Jerry a well-deserved rest in the years to come, with the hope to meet him anywhere anytime to share his deep insights on the world geopolitical issues.
Farewell message from ECCT CEO Freddie Höglund
Having been employed with the ECCT for 23 years, Jerry Fong has been a member of the ECCT team longer than anyone else. The success of the chamber over the years is in no small part due to his contribution where he skilfully and successfully built relationships across the political spectrum. He was always "the man to go to” when complex situations arouse and when a different approach was needed. Jerry was also involved in some of the milestones and challenges of the chamber throughout the years such as the ECCT office move to the current location, Taiwan joining the WTO, the SARS epidemic, the establishment of the EETO office and the ECCT’s transformation to a nationwide association, just to name a few. There are many more.
I would like to thank Jerry for his contribution and support over the years and for all the help that he has personally given me. The office will not be the same without him and he will be dearly missed. As sad as it is that he is leaving, this is not an obituary. Jerry will be retiring so we are happy for him and wish him and his family all the best during his well-earned retirement. “Jerry, you can run but you can’t hide”. I look forward to staying in touch with you after your retirement.
Jerry’s personal farewell message
The end of one remarkable journey and the start of another
Jerry Fong has had an eventful career. As a child he lived through Taiwan’s remarkable political and economic evolution. He grew up in the era of martial law and witnessed the rapid and dynamic transformation of Taiwan’s economy through multiple phases as well as the gradual transition to democracy in the 1980s and 1990s.
Jerry had a career in media and as a staffer at the Legislative Yuan before he joined the ECCT, at a time when the chamber had just four staff members. He was hired as the chamber's first Government Liaison Director in 1997 by Theo Stiftl, who had taken on the newly-created position of CEO, just two years earlier. The creation of the CEO position and Jerry’s hiring was part of efforts to streamline and professionalise the ECCT's operations and reduce the workload of the board of directors, who had, hitherto handled most of the chamber’s day-to-day operations. Besides hiring Jerry to improve government relations, in that same year, the chamber hired a dedicated person to take care of communications.
Jerry was instrumental in building the ECCT’s relations with government across all levels, from the presidential office and premier to ministers and mayors, down to working level officials at the national and municipal level. Thanks to Jerry’s efforts, the frequency and quality of exchanges between ECCT members and the government has increased year by year, so much so that the ECCT now enjoys unmatched access to the government.
Besides arranging meetings with government on an almost weekly basis, Jerry was instrumental in securing the participation of Taiwan presidents at the ECCT’s annual Europe Day Dinner every year, as well as ministers and other senior officials to speak at countless chamber Premium Events, conferences and seminars. His diligence in arranging meetings with government ministries was critical in fostering dialogue, forging consensus and ensuring ongoing progress in ECCT Position Paper issues over the years.
Jerry played a vital role in increasing the chamber’s status and influence as well as a facilitator of EU-Taiwan bilateral trade and investment. Since its founding in 1988, the ECCT has been instrumental in paving the way for major European investments in Taiwan. In the early years this included European participation in government procurement projects and the semiconductor industry.
Taking advantage of Taiwan’s unique status in the world, the ECCT has served as a unifying voice of European business. Jerry played a crucial role by cooperating with a series of board directors and CEOs to create and promote a unified pan-European brand for both the ECCT and its members. This is something which is difficult to do in many other countries where national interests tend to trump broader European interests. Thanks to the joint efforts of the board and secretariat over three decades, the ECCT now serves and is seen by the general public as a real life example of Europeans working together for the mutual benefit of business and the people of Taiwan. Helped by Jerry’s efforts, here in Taiwan, Europe and its companies are now seen as a positive force in the world. This is part of Jerry’s enduring legacy.
As you can see from Jerry’s farewell message, he maintains a positive optimistic outlook.
As he noted in his final interview for this article, he has lived through many crises, including, during his time with the ECCT, the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the Y2K crisis in 1999 and the global financial crisis in 2008-2009. He notes that Europeans and ECCT member companies have also overcome many crises and he expressed no doubt that they will also overcome the current coronavirus pandemic.
While some companies have changed and evolved, they have lived on. In the same way, according to Jerry, while the ECCT has evolved, changing its name four times since its founding, it has maintained its fundamental essence and has always been known as the ECCT.
In Jerry’s view, the ECCT has always represented a united Europe, without any of the internecine disputes that happen. The ECCT has from the start promoted the European brand as one. This, in Jerry’s view makes the ECCT the best and most effective European chamber in the world.
As Jerry is now retiring, he will have time to devote to his hobbies. He plans to travel, read, write and play the piano, which he has been practicing for 10 years. His favourite pieces include compositions by Bach, Chopin and Beethoven’s 5th symphony. In terms of reading, as an East-West polyglot, Jerry loves both English and Chinese poetry and literature. He is equally happy reading English poetry as he is Tang Dynasty literature. Cast free from the demands of his hitherto punishing work schedule, Jerry can now look forward to a life of well-deserved leisure. We wish him many happy years doing the things he enjoys.