Jon M. Huntsman Jr (wikimedia)

Why Ford has added Jon Hunstman to its Board of Directors

The addition of the former presidential candidate gives Ford an obvious leg up in Asia, especially China, for its global sales as the former governor and ambassador joins Ford's ranks.

Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. brings a long list of credentials to the Board of Directors at Ford. He has been a staff assistant to the White House under Ronald Reagan, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce under George Bush, Sr., the U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, Deputy United States Trade Representative under George Bush, Jr. where he brought China into the World Trade Organization, as a two-time Governor of Utah, and finally was appointed U.S. Ambassador to the People's Republic of China by President Obama.

With that impressive resume, Huntsman resigned as Ambassador in order to explore a presidential run under the Republican Party in 2011. His short-lived campaign ended when he suspended it and endorsed fellow GOP hopeful Mitt Romney last month.

What he brings to Ford is a long history of Asian trade. The world's fastest-growing automotive market is mainland China and Ford is one of many competitors world-wide hoping to grab a big slice of that pie. Huntsman, who speaks Mandarin and Thai Hokkein thanks to his 2 year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) in Taiwan after graduating high school, has an extensive history in Asia and especially China. He also holds a degree in international politics.

This means that as a Board member, Huntsman could bring powerful guidance in Ford's expansion into Asian markets. Being well-known in business, trade and governmental circles in China and other Asian countries, Huntsman brings a potent amount of influence to Ford's table.

“Jon brings to Ford’s board of directors extensive global knowledge and experience – particularly in Asia with trade issues – and operational experience gained as governor of Utah, a state that has grown jobs even during the economic crisis,” said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford. “Jon understands the importance of strengthening the country’s manufacturing base, which will contribute to our success going forward.”

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Just to be clear, I'm no fan of Huntsman and lived in Utah while he was governor. He is, however, an extremely savvy addition to the Ford BoD considering the importance of Asian sales.