NEW YORK — During the morning Special Remarks session at the Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney highlighted the importance of fostering free global enterprise as a way to stabilize developing nations.
Romney also advocated for increased private sector participation in development.
“For American foreign aid to become more effective, it must embrace the power of partnerships, access the transformative nature of free enterprise and leverage the abundant resources that can come from the private sector,” Romney said.
CGI, according to Romney, “has also demonstrated the effectiveness of entrepreneurship and social enterprise.
“Free enterprise is crucial in creating a viable middle class and giving people the freedom to determine their own preferred livelihoods,” Romney said. “Free enterprise has done more to bless humanity than any other economic system … [it] cannot only make us better off financially, it can make us better people.”
Romney cited projects undertaken by the John Deere Company, in which it developed farming tools suitable for use by a smaller tractor and expanded capital sources for farmers in Africa. These projects have not only helped farmers expand their yield and their business, but have also proven to be a prosperous investment for John Deere.
“Private enterprise is having a greater and greater positive impact in the developing world,” Romney said.
Giving a glimpse into what his administration would do should he win the presidency, Romney said that he would work to “foster work and enterprise in the Middle East and in other developing countries. I will initiate ‘Prosperity Pacts.’ Working with the private sector, the program will identify the barriers to investment, trade and entrepreneurialism in developing nations.”
These “pacts” will also spread knowledge.
“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,” Romney said.
The importance of personal freedoms in maintaining prosperity became apparent to Romney during his many travels abroad as a business executive. Absolute economic freedom, according to Romney, can have a greater impact than a temporary aid package.
Development efforts will help grow new markets that will, in turn, need goods, thus growing the need for goods and services. Romney made it clear that this should be a main focus of U.S. foreign aid, as the reduction of U.S. exports have caused a shrinking of manufacturing jobs.
“As president, I will reverse this trend by ensuring we have trade that works for America,” Romney said. “I will negotiate new trade agreements, ask Congress to reinstate Trade Promotion Authority, complete negotiations to expand the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and create what I call a ‘Reagan Economic Zone,’ where any nation willing to play by the rules can participate in a new community committed to fair and free trade.
“I believe America’s strategy should be to secure our interests and ideals during this uncertain time,” Romney said.
Though Americans donate nearly a quarter of foreign aid, Romney admitted that evidence of funds going towards corrupt governments leads to discouragement.
“I also hope to remind the world of the goodness and the bigness of the American heart. I will never apologize for America,” Romney said. “I believe that America has been one of the greatest forces for good the world has ever known. We can hold that knowledge in our hearts with humility and unwavering conviction.”
Along with expressing his interest in returning to CGI next year as president, Romney said jokingly, “If there’s one thing we’ve learned this election season, it’s that a few words from Bill Clinton can do any man a lot of good. After that introduction, I guess all I have to do is wait a day or two for the bounce,” Romney said.
Check out Julian Boireau’s coverage of Obama’s speech at CGI here.