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'Foreign ministers' hired

While the trend is still in its infancy, a growing number of US-based multinationals are employing full-time analyst to examine the political climate in foreign countries, according to a recent Conference Board study.

The study covers 193 major US multinations which have substantial business commitments oversea.

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The study finds that 55 percent of the surveyed companies have institutionalized their political analysis activities, exaimining key political issues overseas on a continuous basis. A few companies, in fact, now have "mini-Departments of State" within their organizations, using several full-time political analysts.

Many firms, facing rising competition and growing protectionism, believe an improved capacity to analyze political trends can sharpen corporate decision making and give them distinct competive advanta ges overseas.

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