Mitt Romney fleshes out vision for US foreign aid

Republican Party standard bearer Mitt Romney fleshed out his proposed plans for the U.S. foreign aid program at the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative. Photo by: Austen Hufford / Daily

The United States’ aid program would be more effective by embracing partnerships, free enterprise and the energy of the private sector. Only with these three elements can U.S. assistance create “enduring prosperity.”

These were statements made by Republican Party standard bearer Mitt Romney on the third day of the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative, where he outlined what he described as a “new approach” to aid “for a new era.”

Romney said that while “a temporary aid package can jolt an economy,” it cannot sustain it for long “because at some point, the money runs out.” History, he added, has shown that an “assistance program that helps unleash free enterprise” is more successful in promoting enduring prosperity.

In his proposal of an overhaul of the U.S. program, Romney introduced the idea of “prosperity pacts” with developing countries. Under these agreements, the U.S. will offer aid packages focused on institutional building and rule of law as incentives for developing countries to work toward eliminating trade and investment barriers and for opening their markets to U.S. trade and investments.

“The aim of a much larger share of our aid must be the promotion of work and the fostering of free enterprise,” Romney said. “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.”

This speech appears the most detailed so far on Romney’s plans for the U.S. foreign aid program. Quite notably, it lacked mention of an element that a number of Republican lawmakers have been staunchly pushing for: budget cuts.

It is also worth noting that some elements of Romney’s proposed approach are already being considered by the current administration. Both the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development, for one, have started exploring more partnerships with other donors and with the private sectors.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.