Ambassador Kathleen Kavalec at Ford Otosan Craiova

Ambassador Kathleen Kavalec (right) and Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu (left) visit Ford Otosan Plant. Craiova, Romania, October 24, 2023 (Simona Adela Stupar / Public Diplomacy Office)

Domnule Prim Ministru Ciolacu,

Distinguished members of the Romanian Government

Domnule Ambasador Altan, care vorbește destul de bine limba română, felicitări!

Distinguished Guests,

I would like to thank our host Güven Özyurt for his invitation to celebrate the launch today of the Ford Transit Courier with you. I am delighted to be here today to highlight Ford’s vital role and long-standing contributions to Romania’s national economy, and to congratulate Ford Otosan and the Craiova plant on this new chapter in commercial vehicle production. This is but one of many milestones since Ford established operations in Romania back in 1935.

It is my pleasure to return to Craiova today, this plant is come a long way, since I visited in 2006, when it was operated by Automobile Craiova. My last visit was in June this year when I got the chance to tour the plant and drive the Puma ST around the test course, which I assure was a lot of fun. This time, I had the chance to join the Prime Minister for a spin in a Ford Courier and I can tell you he drives very well. During my last visit, I was delighted to be present also to witness Ford Otosan sign the EMPOWER HER Declaration of Support. EMPOWER HER is a collaborative effort between American Chambers of Commerce in Europe and the U.S. Department of Commerce to promote actionable steps that companies can take to advance women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship. It was an honor to meet the women operators who help produce Ford’s high-quality vehicles, and I was impressed to learn that 48% of this plant employees are women. I enthusiastically support Ford Otosan’s goals to increase the ratio of women in management to fifty percent by 2030 and increase the ratio of women in STEM roles to 30 percent by 2026. I commend Ford Otosan’s inclusive approach to supporting and training for its workforce.

Ford Otosan’s €490 million investment over the next three years, and its heavy recruiting drive, are clear signs of the company’s confidence and commitment to Craiova, and Romanian economy. We understand that the investment has already led to 1,300 new production operators, engineers, maintenance, and finance experts, all with competitive salaries. So I’m sure Craiova’s future will shine even brighter, as the plant begins producing electric vehicles next year.

The Craiova plant is one of the most advanced and innovative manufacturing facilities in Europe, one that is propelling Europe towards a green economy. We see that Romanian consumers are increasingly choosing electric vehicles, which now command nearly a quarter of the domestic market. As Romanians make the switch to EVs, and as Ford Otosan electrifies its vehicle lines, we hope to see further development in Romania’s charging infrastructure. I look forward to returning next year to test drive the first mass-produced and Romanian-made electric vehicles.

The United States views Romania as a critical partner in our journey towards a green, energy-secure economy. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry highlighted that government and private sector initiatives are vital for accelerating the energy transition when he visited Bucharest for the 3SI Summit in September. Ford Otosan’s investment in Craiova for electric vehicle production is an important example of the private capital needed to support today’s mature clean energy technologies. Moreover, the U.S-Romanian strategic partnership in producing small modular nuclear reactors will further help us achieve deeper decarbonization in the coming decades.

I’d would like to the congratulate the employees of Ford Otosan Craiova for a record production in 2022. It’s always heartening to see convoys of Ford vehicles traveling across the country. It is a clear example of why continued public investments in transportation – particularly for roads, rail, and ports – are critical to supporting businesses and attracting more foreign investment. Ford Otosan is one of Romania’s top exporters, exporting vehicles to more than 50 markets world-wide. We look forward to see the Romanian government continue making investments that would lower transportation costs for Ford Otosan and for all manufacturers. And we were all delighted coming out here today to see the progress on the road between Craiova and Pitesti. It was nice to be able to get here that much quicker.

Finally, I would like to thank Prime Minister Ciolacu for Romania’s unwavering efforts and collaboration with international partners, including the United States, to facilitate Ukrainian grain transports to the world market. I am optimistic that the improvements to reduce congestion at Constanta Port will yield benefits to Romania’s automotive manufacturers and to the broader Romanian economy.

With these efforts underway, please know that we – the United States – will continue to be here as a steadfast partner to Romania, supporting economic development and promoting transatlantic values. Thank you so much.