(As Prepared)

UNDER SECRETARY FERNANDEZ: Thank you for having me. I appreciate the chance to discuss our economic priorities in both Romania and Europe.

The United States and Romania have benefitted from decades of close defense and security cooperation, the foundation of our bilateral relationship. We need to build on this foundation by expanding and deepening our bilateral economic and commercial partnership.

As business and government leaders, we have an important role to play in ensuring that our economies create jobs and foster innovation.

The private sector is essential to laying the groundwork – including establishing secure supply chains – that will prepare us for the next pandemic and help usher in the climate-smart, tech-centered infrastructure we need to build our future economies.

Last September, the United States and the EU launched the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC), where we seek to demonstrate how democratic, free-market governance approaches can deliver for our citizens and the world.

Together through ten working groups, we are addressing supply chain vulnerabilities, including in the semiconductor industry; investment screening; export control; and standards for emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence.

As we all know, our most critical supply chains are deeply reliant on global partnerships in both the public and private sectors.

Global diversification of supply chains and ensuring that producer countries fully benefit from the minerals they produce are two of the driving goals behind the Minerals Security Partnership – or the MSP as we call it – that I launched alongside partners in June.

The MSP aims to ensure critical minerals are produced, processed, and recycled in a manner that helps countries realize the full benefit of their natural resource endowments. The MSP will catalyze investment from governments and the private sector for strategic opportunities – across the full value chain – that adhere to the highest environmental, social, and governance standards.

Resilient supply chains, particularly for critical minerals, are also essential for the clean energy transition, a key part of the Biden Administration’s efforts to combat the climate crisis.

From day one, climate has been at the forefront of the foreign policy of the Biden-Harris Administration. We must do everything we can to accelerate the energy transition to meet our climate goals – specifically to ensure that the planet’s temperature rises no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The administration is fully committed to the clean energy transition because it is a necessity. It is a transition, and we’re pragmatic about what it means. We know it won’t happen overnight.

Renewable energy and battery storage costs continue to decline rapidly, to the point that they’re increasingly the cheapest source of new electricity generation. Energy security will ultimately be achieved through diversification of energy supplies and a clean energy transition.

We applaud Romania’s leadership in advancing energy security and making this transition to clean energy sources. President Iohannis’ COP announcement of the deployment of a “first of its kind” small modular reactor (SMR) in Romania by 2028, using U.S. industry leader NuScale, underscores our decades-long partnership on civil nuclear cooperation.

As are some others here today, I am in Bucharest for the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, as the world gathers to agree on telecommunications policy. The United States advocates for a vibrant digital economy worldwide that enables all citizens to benefit from the promise of fifth- and future-generation (5G) wireless networks.

5G is transformative and will touch every aspect of our lives, including critical infrastructure such as transportation, electrical distribution, healthcare, and many more sectors. Therefore, the stakes for securing these networks could not be higher.

This is why the Biden-Harris Administration views the security of 5G and future networks as a high priority. They will enable critical and emerging applications, including telemedicine, public utilities, and autonomous vehicles; help bridge the digital divide; and allow all citizens around the world to take part in the future digital economy.

In addition to Radio Access Network (RAN) options, we have viable, cost-effective alternatives to untrusted suppliers now – including incumbent trusted suppliers such as Ericsson and Samsung — alongside the Open RAN-based networks.

Thank you again for the opportunity to join you today. I look forward to hearing more about ways and ideas to deepen and expand the U.S.-Romania economic and commercial relationship.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future