Ambassador Kathleen Kavalec at the AmCham Economic Forum

September 6, 2023

As prepared for delivery

President Sporis,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning. It is a great pleasure and honor to be here today at the AmCham U.S.-Romania Economic Forum: Innovation for Prosperity.

Let me start by thanking AmCham Romania for organizing this important event. Thank you also for being a valuable partner of the U.S. Embassy in promoting bilateral trade and investment, strengthening the rule of law, and fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.

Events like this forum are important because they allow us to deepen bilateral cooperation in partnership with the private sector to achieve shared goals.

Today’s event continues the productive dialogue of last year’s forum held on the margins of the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, where we discussed ways to strengthen our economic relationship.

The theme of this year’s forum, Innovation for Prosperity, reflects our shared vision of a prosperous, resilient, and secure future for both our countries and for the region.

Innovation is not only about technology, but also about creativity, collaboration, and courage. It is about finding new ways to solve old problems, to create value, and to enhance competitiveness.

As Strategic Partners, the United States and Romania have a long history of innovation and cooperation in areas ranging from energy, information communication technology, transportation, to health care, education, and defense.

We have supported each other in developing critical infrastructure, diversifying energy sources and routes, enhancing cybersecurity, modernizing military capabilities, and advancing scientific research and education.

We have witnessed the impressive growth and potential of the Romanian private sector, especially small and medium enterprises and start-ups, which have shown remarkable adaptability, ingenuity, and social responsibility.

For example, the robotics automation company UiPath, which began as a tiny startup in Bucharest in 2005, is now one of the fastest growing software companies in the world. Based on UiPath’s success, many U.S. venture capitalists have invested in Romanian startups.

Building a strong investment climate requires the solid foundation of a trustworthy ICT infrastructure. Companies must be able to trust that their investments are secure and that their business secrets, R&D, and intellectual property won’t be compromised by untrusted networks, data centers, and other ICT infrastructure.

The creation of Romania’s Cybersecurity Directorate and passage of a trusted vendor law demonstrates Romania’s commitment to ensuring a safe and secure environment for the digital economy. As Romania builds out its 5G infrastructure, this will be even more important.

Fostering creativity and innovation requires strong intellectual property rights protection. We are happy that Romania continues to build on its progress following its removal from the Special 301 Watch List.

Appointing a new National IP Coordinator, as Romania did last week, send a strong signal to U.S. investors that Romania takes IPR seriously.

A key step we are pursuing to facilitate our economic partnership is Romania’s inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program, which would allow Romanian citizens to travel to the United States without a visa for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days.

Romania’s inclusion into the Visa Waiver Program would not only facilitate travel and people-to-people exchanges, but also boost trade and investment opportunities between our countries.

We appreciate Romania’s efforts to meet the technical criteria for admission to the program, as well as its continued cooperation on security and law enforcement issues.

One of the criteria for the Visa Waiver Program is having a low visa refusal rate, which is why we want as many qualified applicants as possible, and I would highly encourage all Romanians to renew their U.S. visa any time after October 1st!

Another important step we are taking together is enhancing our cooperation within the Three Seas Initiative. Though we are not a member, the United States strongly supports this initiative as a strategic investment in building Europe’s cohesion, resilience, and security.

Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine makes our work in this area even more critical.

We commend Romania’s leadership and vision in promoting regional connectivity and integration through the 3SI. Romania has been a key player in advancing the 3SI agenda since its inception in 2015, hosting the third summit of the initiative in Bucharest in 2018.

Romania will play a vital role in enhancing energy security and diversification in the region by further developing its offshore gas resources in the Black Sea, expanding its interconnectors with neighboring countries, and participating in regional initiatives such as the Black Sea subterranean electricity cable.

We applaud Romania’s recent efforts to improve transportation links and mobility in the region by upgrading its road and rail networks and modernizing its ports.

Similarly, Romania can foster digital transformation and innovation in the region by enhancing its broadband connectivity, developing its e-government services, and supporting regional initiatives such as the ‘Digital 3 Seas’ or the ‘Three Seas Digital Highway.’

The United States stands ready to support Romania and its partners in pursuing these and other projects that advance our common interests and values.

This is why we have pledged up to $300 million in financing for 3SI projects through the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The U.S.-Romania economic partnership is strong, dynamic, and mutually beneficial. But it also has tremendous untapped potential. Potential for growth. Potential for development. Potential for prosperity in both our countries and the region.

By working together, we can unlock that potential and create new opportunities.

The U.S. embassy is committed to working with AmCham Romania and its members to achieve this goal. AmCham Romania is not only a voice of the business community, but also a force for positive change and social impact.

We appreciate your support, your expertise, and your partnership.
Together, we can build a brighter future, based on innovation, cooperation, and friendship.

Thank you very much.