Trading envoys

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Successful industrialists could be head-hunted by a Labour government to serve as ambassadors in countries seen as key trading markets for Britain.

The proposal, floated by foreign affairs spokesman Robin Cook, would be a significant break with the tradition of appointing ambassadors from within the Diplomatic Service core. Mr Cook and his team have already consulted industrialists and say reaction has been favourable. Present thinking is that about half a dozen executives could fill posts in countries where Britain's interest was mainly commercial. The growth markets of the Pacific rim would be prime targets.