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Romney praises John Deere in foreign aid speech

Republican president candidate Mitt Romney addresses the Clinton Global Initiative meeting this morning in New York. (Paul Morse/Clinton Global Initiative)

NEW YORK CITY — In a speech on foreign policy and development at the Clinton Gobal Initiative annual meeting here today, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney praised John Deere & Co. for developing smaller farm equipment that African farmers can use.

It was “a good investment for John Deere and the African farmers,” Romney said as he emphasized his view that business and private sector development are the keys to economic development in poor countries.

Romney said U.S. foreign aid programs were put in place when governments led development in most countries, and that if elected he would transform U.S. foreign aid to work more with the private sector.

“The aim of aid,” Romney said, has to be the fostering of work and the free enterprise system.

“Prosperity will increase, he said, with “free people pursuing happiness in their own ways.”

In the Middle East, Romney said, he would focus on the younger generation and tie aid to removing barriers to business and openness to U.S. investment. For countries that establish these policies, Romney said he would provide trade packages that would include advice on how to improve their legal systems. Microfinance programs have done a good job, Romney said, but a system to meet the finance needs of middle-sized companies that are too big for microfinance and too small for regular commercial banks needs to be established.

Romney also said he would pursue more free trade negotiations and complete the Trans Pacific Partnership, and said he has a dream of a “Reagan economic zone” in which countries that agree to open trade policies could participate no matter where they are.

Romney was introduced by former President Bill Clinton, who recalled that Romney had supported the AmeriCorps program that Clinton championed when he was president.
“If there is one thing we have learned in this election it is that a few words from Bill Clinton can do a lot of good,” Romney said, noting that he would be looking forward to the bounce he would get from this event.