Mr Needham said after detailed talks with Prince Charles on the Government's industrial strategy that he was 'a priceless national asset'.
He added: 'We want to make sure he is on the inside, not on the outside looking in.' The move will be seen as ministerial support for the Prince's succession to the throne.
Mr Needham and Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, are keen to involve Prince Charles more closely in boosting British exports of know-how, technology and equipment in areas that interest him. The DTI said last night these included clean water, the environment and education and training.
The meeting - arranged three months ago - follows an overseas trip to the Middle East during which the prince expressed frustration that he was not given sufficient help by government departments in the promotion of trade.
It was agreed that the prince's staff should meet regularly with the DTI to plan ways in which the Prince could promote British interests.