Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) elected former presidential candidate Jon M. Huntsman Jr. as its newest director, adding a former chief executive with political and diplomatic experience to its board.

Huntsman, age 51, was Utah’s governor from 2005 to 2009 and later served as U.S. ambassador to China until 2011, when he stepped down to join the U.S. presidential race. Huntsman ended his campaign in January after a poor showing in New Hampshire, endorsing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination.

Huntsman’s foreign-policy experience in China covers a key market for Caterpillar, which is vying for more market share in the country’s massive construction sector. Huntsman’s experience with trade issues extends to another appointment as U.S. trade ambassador, an office he held from 2001 to 2003.

The ex-diplomat offers private-sector experience as the former chief executive of chemicals company Huntsman Corp. (HUN), where he remains a director. He also serves on the board of Ford Motor Co. (F), the Naval Academy Foundation and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

Caterpillar shares were up +4.69% at $106.44 Thursday. The stock is off 6.8% over the past year.

-By Drew FitzGerald, Dow Jones Newswires

Copyright © 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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