Susanne T. Stirling, California Chamber of Commerce vice president of international affairs, joined colleagues from across the country at the recent meeting of the National Export Council in Washington, D.C.
The group, which is made up of the regional District Export Councils (DEC), met November 18–20.
There are 1,500 DEC members around the country, all appointed by the Secretary of the U.S. Commerce Department. Stirling serves on the Northern California DEC and on the Steering Committee of the National DEC. The mission of the DECs is to work with the Commerce Department on export promotion and commercial diplomacy.
Welcoming members to the national council forum were Roy Paulson, National DEC chair emeritus, president and CEO of Paulson Manufacturing, and a CalChamber member; Thomas McGinty, national director for U.S. operations at the Commerce Department; and Judy Rising Reinke, deputy director general of the U.S. Commercial Service.
Issues of Concern
Policy issues of concern to the DECs are Trade Promotion Authority, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.
Other activities include the promotion of the Export University, a program designed to educate small and medium-sized businesses in potential export endeavors.
The DEC of the year award was presented to the Louisiana DEC by Holly Vineyard, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for global markets. The other DECs vying were from Idaho, San Diego and Imperial, North Carolina, Missouri, and South Florida. Each outlined their past year’s export promotion activities.
Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally, executive director of SelectUSA, representing the branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce that promotes foreign direct investment, explained the role of his department, which was established in 2011, based on President George W. Bush’s 2007 Invest in America Program. A summit is set for June 2016.
There was a discussion of the DEC collaboration initiative with the Centers for International Business Education and Research (CIBERs). Congress created the CIBERs to increase and promote the nation’s capacity for international understanding and business competitiveness. There are 17 centers around the country hosted at various universities.
The DECs also participated in a Trade Symposium Day held at the U.S. Chamber where the Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment partnerships were discussed in detail.
In addition, Fred Hochberg, chair of the Export-Import Bank, talked about the status of the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. He indicated the bank has already been reauthorized more than 28 times since its establishment.
The bank has approximately 400 employees who until reauthorization cannot plan for future operations. Board members will also need to be confirmed again. Reauthorization, which is hoped for in early December, will be for four years—until 2019.