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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Romney Urges Attaching Certain Strings to Foreign Aid


Mitt Romney laid out the broad outlines of his plan to foster work opportunities and free enterprise in developing nations on Tuesday morning, suggesting during a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York that he would make foreign aid conditional on progress on these fronts.

Referring to a hypothetical program he called “Prosperity Pacts,” Mr. Romney talked about his desire to use aid initiatives, like the ones President Clinton's group supports, to encourage lasting change in the Middle East and other developing regions.

“Working with the private sector, the program will identify the barriers to investment and trade and entrepreneurialism in developing nations,” he said. “In exchange for removing those barriers and opening their markets to U.S. investment and trade, developing nations will receive U.S. assistance packages focused on developing the institutions of liberty, the rule of law, and property rights.”

He added: “The aim of a much larger share of our aid must be the promotion of work and the fostering of free enterprise. Nothing we can do as a nation will change lives and nations more effectively and permanently than sharing the insight that lies at the foundation of America's own economy - and that is that free people pursuing happiness in their own ways build a strong and prosperous nation.”

Mr. Romney's speech at the conference came a few hours before President Obama was to appear at the event, a rare instance of the two men on the same stage, albeit at different times.

Mr. Romney said his aid proposal would focus its efforts on small and medium-size businesses abroad, using micro finance techniques.

Mr. Romney described what he believes are the three objectives of foreign aid - to address humanitarian needs, like treating those suffering from HIV and AIDS abroad; to foster the strategic interests of the United States abroad, be it military, diplomatic or economic; and to create conditions for long-term progress and tangible results in countries that receive the aid.

This third goal - “aid that elevates people and brings about lasting change in communities and nations” - he said, would be “a much higher priority in a Romney administration.”

In his address, Mr. Romney also made sure to praise Mr. Clinton, who, at the Democratic National Convention, offered a forceful warning against returning Republicans to the White House. Referring to Mr. Clinton's widely lauded speech, Mr. Romney joked: “If there's one thing we've learned in this election season, by the way, it is that a few words from Bill Clinton can do any man a lot of good. All I've got to do now is wait a couple of days for that bounce to happen.”