November 3, 2022, 11:05
Iulius Town Hall
Mayor Fritz, Prefect Ritivoiu, County Council Vice President Proteasa
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you all for the kind welcome. I would like to thank Letitia and her team at American Chamber of Commerce for bringing us together here today.
It is always an honor for me to visit Timisoara. I had ample opportunity to reflect on this storied city’s reputation for bravery and sacrifice as I walked through Liberty Square yesterday. It was your city, and your parents and grandparents, who freed Romania from the stranglehold of communism… they showed how ethnic Romanian and Hungarian communities could successfully support each other even under the heel of tyranny… and they reinforced Timisoara’s role as Romania’s First City. This is an amazingly courageous and innovative area. And I am truly looking forward to returning when Timisoara represents Romania as a 2023 European Capital of Culture and seeing how this region’s denizens share their stories and experiences with visitors from around the world.
My colleagues from the U.S. Embassy and I are here today to help strengthen the ties between Romania’s First City and the United States. Premier U.S. companies such as Amazon, Coca-Cola, IBM, Intel, Hamilton, Honeywell, Kimball, McDonalds, Microsoft, and Proctor & Gamble have all found a home here in Timisoara. The list does not stop there, and we hope it will continue to grow in the years to come. As we salute AmCham Romania’s 30th anniversary next year, we would highlight that the number of its U.S. and U.S.-affiliated members have multiplied ten times to over 500 members today. We are proud that our commercial relationship is a critical component of the 25-year-old U.S.-Romania Strategic Partnership.
In 1997 – the year we signed the Strategic Partnership – the United States imported nearly $400 million of Romanian goods and exported $258 million of American goods to Romania. In 2021, nearly a quarter of a century into our Strategic Partnership, Romania’s exports to the United States had multiplied seven times to nearly $3 billion. At the same time, U.S. exports to Romania quintupled to $1.4 billion.
But make no mistake, Romanian-U.S. economic cooperation extends far beyond trade. President Iohannis’ COP announcement to deploy a “first of its kind” small modular reactor, or SMR, in Romania by 2028—using U.S. industry leader NuScale—underscores our decades-long partnership on civil nuclear cooperation. In recent years, numerous U.S. agencies have worked hand-in-hand with your government to pass legislation that screens foreign investments in Romania against malign interests and that protects 5th generation and future generations of Romania’s wireless internet. With Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine this year, there has never been a better time to demonstrate how elements of economic security contribute directly to national security.
Yearly we set new trade benchmarks with Romania and reflect upon what brought us here and how can we continue to move forward. Our International Trade Administration notes Romania’s very high Human Development Index measures, its skilled labor force, its population size, and its strategic location. Romania is ‘energetically blessed’ with nuclear energy, hydroelectricity, oil, natural gas, wind, solar, and more. It has developed strong computer science, technical, and engineering talent. However, there are still challenges. The European Commission’s 2020 Country Report for Romania pointed to persistent legislative instability, unpredictable decision-making, sometimes low institutional capacity, and corruption as factors eroding investor confidence. U.S. companies often speak to me about these concerns, along with shortfalls in energy and transportation infrastructures that reduce operating efficiency and increase costs.
The United States’ global alliances and partnerships – founded on respect for rule of law, transparency, and accountability – have driven unprecedented economic prosperity over the last 75 years. We can.. and want to.. do more here. As a close partner and friend, the United States will support Romania’s efforts to achieve the investment climate and rule of law standards that would make it competitive for Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, membership. Operating along OECD standards, and stewarding EU Next Generation funding efficiently and responsibly, will help improve both the overall business climate and Romania’s position among EU member states who also seek to attract U.S. investors.
Later today you will hear about the vital role that our bilateral investment plays in strengthening communities in both our countries, and about our U.S. Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA Program from Commercial Officer Laura Gimenez.
Again, let me say that it is an honor to join you today. I see a bright future for Timisoara and look forward to visiting you again in 2023.