WELSH SECRETARY Peter Hain last night led calls to save the WDA brand amid fears its disappearance could hit investment.
Yesterday the Western Mail revealed that the name Welsh Development Agency is to be dropped as the organisation is merged with the Assembly Government.
But the idea has already caused unease among senior politicians from all parties who worry the WDA's global reputation for attracting companies to Wales will be damaged.
Mr Hain said, "This is a world-wide brand, the most successful development agency there has ever been. The Welsh Assembly Government needs to think long and hard before considering whether to ditch it."
The WDA brand was known across the world and brought trade opportunities for Wales, he said.
"I hope a way will be found in the reorganisation of economic policy and support, which I understand the reasons for, that the WDA brand will be kept."
First Minister Rhodri Morgan and Economic Development Minister Andrew Davies were aware of his concerns.
Mr Morgan and Mr Davies are today also contemplating a top- level report recommending a shift in policy away from grant-aid to businesses and towards other measures, including Government taking equity stakes.
The WDA - together with the Wales Tourist Board - is set to be merged with the Assembly Government's economic development and transport division by April next year. The move is part of Mr Morgan's "bonfire of the quangos".
The Conservatives accused Labour of "change for change's sake". Economic Development spokesman Alun Cairns said, "Whatever people's views about the organisation, the WDA brand is recognised worldwide, particularly in the Far East from where it attracted most of Europe's inward investment in the 1980s and 90s.
"Anyone with a basic knowledge of marketing would understand that scrapping such a well- known brand will result in a loss of profile and cost millions to win back the same level of customer recognition."
Mike German, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the Assembly, said, "News that the WDA brand is to be scrapped amazes me. WDA is a world-renowned name. It is one of Wales' best-known brands. Any big enterprise entering into a merger would keep and develop its best brand names, not consign them to history."
Mr German, a former Economic Development Minister, added, "In Rhodri Morgan's haste to bring these bodies under Assembly control, there is a danger that Wales' reputation as a place to do business is done lasting damage."
Plaid Cymru attacked the Assembly Government's plans for a "knowledge bank" of leading companies targeted for expansion as being too Cardiff-centric.
Plaid AM Elin Jones said, "Plaid Cymru would advocate a more geographical balance to the companies being targeted. Once again New Labour concentrates on the M4 corridor rather than the whole of Wales. West Wales and the Valleys are forgotten."
Andrew Davies was grilled on the changes at the Assembly yesterday. "The brand is Wales," he told AMs.