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In 1960, the President asked the Secretary of Commerce to enlist the efforts of the U.S. business community in enlarging export opportunities for American firms. The Secretary created the National Export Expansion Council to review the challenge.

In response to National Export Expansion Council recommendations and to stimulate greater business participation in the national export expansion effort, the President signed an Executive Order in 1973, which directed the Secretary of Commerce to establish District Export Councils throughout the United States.

Under the authority of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Secretary of Commerce established 41 DECs in 1974. Approximately 1,000 business and trade experts were appointed to serve on the newly formed DECs. Since then, the number of DECs and DEC membership has been expanded to 55 DECs and 1,500 members to better meet the needs of the growing number of U.S. exporters.


DECs are tasked with assisting the U.S. Commercial Service, the international field agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, with export promotion. DEC members volunteer their time to sponsor and participate in numerous trade promotion activities, as well as to supply specialized expertise to small and medium-sized businesses that are interested in exporting. They create seminars on export basics and trade finance, host international buyer delegations, design how-to guides and webpages to help firms export, and help build export assistance partnerships to strengthen the support given to local businesses interested in exporting. In order to help small businesses succeed in the world economy, DEC's also provide mentoring to share their expertise with local firms.

The South Carolina DEC actively promotes awareness of export opportunities to SC firms, working closely with the three U.S. Export Assistance Centers of the U.S. Commercial Service in the state.The South Carolina DEC brings a comprehensive array of export services directly to local firms.

Members include exporters from manufacturing, the services industry, and export trading companies; bankers; U.S. Small Business Administration representatives; state and local officials; and international lawyers. On both a national and local level, South Carolina DEC members work to educate their local communities about international trade. They speak out on national trade policy issues through a variety of means, including the issuance of trade policy recommendations at the annual national DEC conference.