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Remarks by Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves at the AmCham Romania Celebration

Thank you, President Simion, for that introduction.

Thank you to Charge d’Affaires Muniz, President of the Senate Gorghiu, Deputy Prime Minister Grindeanu, Deputy General Secretary Geoana, Under Secretary Fernandez, Honorable Ministers and Mayors, and all our distinguished guests for joining us.

And thank you to AmCham Romania for organizing today’s event. AmChams are essential overseas partners for the U.S. business community and for the Commerce Department, and I am grateful for AmCham Romania’s strong collaboration with our Commercial Service team here in Bucharest.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the launch of the U.S.-Romania Strategic Partnership. It is an honor to be here with you to celebrate this milestone.

Over the past 25 years, the primary focus of the Strategic Partnership has been national security and defense. As we continue our work together to address common threats and challenges, strengthening the U.S.-Romania economic relationship is the natural and important next step.

We commend Romania’s leadership in building the successful Three Seas Initiative, which is fostering transatlantic business ties, and we’re glad that Romania will be hosting the next Three Seas Summit and Business Forum in 2023. This platform is critical for stimulating more rapid development in the region.

I want to take a few moments to highlight some of the many successes in our bilateral relationship.

First, on defense, we want to thank Romania for your continued contributions to NATO, particularly for your significant increases in defense spending and investment.

Romania and the Black Sea Region are integral to Europe’s defensive capabilities and its economies. NATO remains strong, ready, and able to fulfill its Article V commitments.

Romania has committed to meet the NATO guideline of spending 2% of GDP on its defense sector, representing several billion dollars of opportunities for U.S. firms.

Last November, Lockheed Martin announced a successful outcome, upon which our local Commerce and Embassy teams provided commercial diplomacy and advocacy, when the Ministry of Interior ordered an initial six Blackhawk helicopters under a Framework Agreement. Ministry representatives saw the first test flight just last month.

On energy, we’re working closely with our Romanian partners to address climate change and identify long-term solutions to Romania’s energy diversification.

U.S.-Romania collaboration and leadership in nuclear energy is an essential and powerful tool in combating the climate crisis, supporting global energy security, and upholding high global standards for nuclear nonproliferation, safety, and security.

In May, we announced the signing of the U.S.-Romania Workplan on Small Modular Reactor Civil Nuclear Cooperation, which aims to enhance U.S.-Romania small modular reactor collaboration and expand and modernize Romania’s civil nuclear power program. The signing of the workplan demonstrates the strong commitment by both of our nations to advance clean nuclear technology in Romania and collaborate on the deployment of a NuScale Power SMR in Romania.

The U.S. will continue to support investments that promote a flexible R&D ecosystem that is conducive to accelerating the commercialization of advanced nuclear technologies.

We also applaud Romania for ceasing its nuclear energy cooperation with China and promulgating the U.S.–Romania Intergovernmental Agreement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation, which will facilitate U.S.-led solutions for modernizing Romania’s nuclear energy program.

Russia’s military attacks and seizures of Ukrainian nuclear facilities, combined with its threats to withhold nuclear fuel, have caused many countries to question Moscow’s claim to be a trustworthy nuclear supplier.

We look forward to assisting Romania in finding new pathways to achieve energy diversification in the near- and long-term.

On information communications and technology, or ICT, the sector not only accounts for a significant portion of our bilateral trade, but also provides fertile opportunities for cross-border collaboration that drives innovation, stimulates entrepreneurship, and retains talent – the lifeblood of sustained growth.

U.S. ICT companies are active and interested in the Romanian market. Working together with Romania, we’re aiming to ensure resilient supply chains and the competitiveness of our industries – especially in emerging technologies that are the heart of innovation and in sectors that are critical to the future of our economies.

With cyberattacks on the rise, tech leader Honeywell selected Bucharest for its fourth and newest Cyber Operations Center worldwide. The company drew upon the Commercial Service’s successful engagement in defense and government decision makers to promote the facility, a gold standard for ruggedized cyber operations command and control centers.

Our team also recently assisted a U.S. internet service company in communicating with the Romanian telecom regulatory authority to improve communications in Southeast Europe and Ukraine. As a result of the Commercial Service’s efforts the company received approval for four locations in Romania in only three days. This will greatly contribute to better communications in Ukraine.

We also applaud Romania’s leadership in passing legislation to ensure its 5G networks are only developed with trusted partners. We welcome collaboration with Romania to ensure our shared security in a 5G future.

And we want to acknowledge that Romania has been a leader in pushing back on Chinese influence in telecommunications infrastructure, the civil nuclear sector, and in your own state procurements.

On health care and pharmaceuticals, the U.S. Department of Commerce is pursuing ways to foster and support innovation and improve the sector’s performance in Romania.

Vertex Pharmaceutical has developed multiple approved medicines including cystic fibrosis therapies. In February, the Commercial Service convened an industry roundtable of providers, insurers and regulators. By May, Romanian authorities had approved the third available cystic fibrosis therapy, which is now available for treatment for about 150 patients.

And on investments and national security, we support Romania’s efforts to develop an effective investment screening mechanism to ensure that strategic adversaries do not acquire Romania’s strategic assets in ways that could jeopardize its national security.

Finally, I want to recognize AmCham Romania for being one of the first signers of a Declaration in Support of Women’s Economic Empowerment furthering EMPOWER HER ideals. . 

EMPOWER HER is a collaborative effort between Commercial Service and AmChams in Europe to promote women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship in international trade. I encourage the companies here to join this effort by furthering EMPOWER HER ideals in their organization.

I appreciate Romania’s dedication and determination to meet the moment on so many of these challenges. We have been lucky to count on Romania throughout the years and we trust this relationship will only continue to evolve for the better.

And I’m thankful to AmCham Romania and the U.S. Commercial Service for your work to bolster our bilateral commercial ties.

Together, we can tackle the range of 21st century global threats and regional conflicts, strengthen our relationship, and support workers and businesses in both of our countries.

Thank you.

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