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International Business, U.S. Exports

Get on DEC: U.S. Exports = U.S. Jobs


By Ray Hays

Member, Arizona District Export Council



Did you know that nearly 2,000 international executives across the U.S. volunteer their time to promote American exports?

U.S. exports build U.S.  jobs, and the District Export Council is a leading voice for U.S. export promotion. The  District Export Council (DEC) is actually a network of 56 regional DECs in the U.S., which are affiliated with the U.S. Export Assistance Centers (USEACs) in their local markets. Staffed by trade specialists of the U.S. Commercial Service, the purpose of each USEAC office is to assist local U.S. companies to expand their global exports. The DEC serves as the USEAC’s team of private sector partners.

Regional DECs are non-profit organizations, which serve as a volunteer advisory group for the U.S. Commercial Service in the promotion of U.S. exports. DEC members are international executives, who are vetted by the U.S. Commercial Service and appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. DEC members’ responsibilities include advising on U.S. trade policy, attending U.S. export events and serving as volunteer consultants for small and medium businesses who want to export products and services.

At a national level, the guiding strategy for the DEC is the National Export Initiative, an Executive Order, under which the U.S. Commercial Service and other federal agencies are tasked with doubling U.S. exports within five years. For more information on the National Export Initiative, see the following link: http://export.gov/nei/index.asp

At a regional level, each DEC may have different areas of focus, based on key exports in their home markets. As international business leaders in their communities, the DEC members are able to leverage their knowledge, contacts and other resources to help promote exports from local companies.

What are some of the activities of the National District Export Council?

The National District Export Council (www.districtexportcouncil.com) is focused on advocating for trade policy to drive U.S. exports. This involves interfacing with key leaders in the Federal government to address important issues in trade policy. Additionally, the National DEC works with leadership of the regional DECs to develop a consistent and cohesive strategy for export promotion. The National DEC’s Steering Committee is made up of six standing sub-committees, each focusing on different functions in export promotion.

How do the Regional DECs promote U.S. exports?

Regional DECs are typically comprised of 20 to 30 members, which are also divided into different sub-committees. Their grassroots export promotion activities include:

  • Export University – A national initiative of the DEC and U.S. Commercial Service to offer a trade education to small and medium companies wishing to start or expand their export activities. Local DEC members participate as subject-matter experts, and help coach the Export University attendees. Regional DECs also organize other trade education events, often coordinating with local institutions or community organizations.
  • Trade Events – DEC members help organize and execute outbound trade missions to key international markets. These events typically enable U.S. exporters to meet with possible clients and partners in their target markets. Other export promotions may include participation in trade shows, speaking engagements and export tours for foreign buyers.
  • Legislative Affairs – DEC members typically visit the local offices of elected officials, including state government representatives and members of Congress, to help educate representatives and their staff on international business and export promotion.

How do DEC members offer a unique voice for export promotion?

Staff members of the U.S. Commercial Service and other federal agencies are limited on what they can say and do in the support of export promotion. Due to budgetary constraints, political pressure and agency policies, federal employees have boundaries. For example, federal employees are very limited in fund-raising for export promotion programs and events. However, DEC members as citizens and business leaders have much more latitude to seek sponsorships, express views on trade policy and other activities that may be inappropriate for a federal employee.

How can you get involved?

  • Attend DEC events in your area – On your local DEC website or social media site, you may find calendars of local speaking events, networking receptions and education opportunities.
  • Sponsor your DEC – Get your company involved in the DEC as a sponsor. With modest sponsorship contributions, your company can help to build exports in your community and build your brand as a local leader in international business.
  • Join your local DEC – If you are an international executive, consider volunteering to become a DEC member. Contact your local DEC for information on the application process.
  • Spread the News – Regional DECs need to get the news out into local business community, and word-of-mouth is a key component of this effort. Please share this article through email or social media with your network of business contacts.

Remember: U.S. exports build U.S. jobs!

Throughout our history, much of the U.S. economy was built on our strong base of export industries. As global business becomes more competitive and complex, trade education and promotion are critical for success. In this regard, the DEC is doing its part to support the American economy.

Participation in DEC activities is good for the economy, good for your business and good for your professional development. Make a decision to get on DEC and help drive American exports!

Helpful Links

National DEC website: www.districtexportcouncil.com

U.S. Commercial Service: www.export.gov

Blog on International Business:  www.rayhays.com


About rayhays

Ray Hays is an international executive and Member of the District Export Council of Arizona. Ray has over 20 years experience in franchising management, international business development and small business growth. He has field experience in over 50 countries, working for global market leaders in the service sector. He holds an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and a BS from Georgetown University.


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