Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is to advise the UK government on how to respond to the challenges of globalisation so it can compete with the fast-growing economies of China and India.
Gates has been appointed to a panel of 12 of the world's leading business people on a new International Business Advisory Council (Ibac) that will advise the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry over the next three years.
Other high-tech names on the Ibac include Meg Whitman, president and CEO of eBay; Ratan Tata, chairman of India's Tata Group; and Sir Ka-shing Li, chairman of the board at Hutchison Whampoa, which owns mobile operator 3.
They will sit alongside more traditional industrial leaders on the panel such as Sir Terry Leahy, CEO of Tesco; Lee Scott, president and CEO of Wal-Mart; and Lord Browne, group CEO of BP.
The Ibac will meet once per year. The first meeting will be held later this year at 11 Downing Street.
Brown said in a statement: "There is no more important question for advanced industrial countries today than how to rise to the challenges and opportunities of globalisation.
"The Council will advise on how we can do more to rise to the challenges we face and ensure that the UK remains one of the world's key locations of choice for high value-added activity, working together to pursue a less protectionist world."
The Ibac's remit is to discuss policies to improve UK competitiveness, including specific issues relating to the globalisation challenge.
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