November 2020 Update

by Valerie Baute on November 9, 2020

Message from the NADEC Chair

The District Export Councils were established 46 years ago, and I don’t think in all those years we’ve encountered challenges as we have in 2020. DEC members typically sit down and counsel small companies on how to start sending their products around the world. DECs organize seminars to get together and discover others in the same industry. DEC members attend trade events where we find foreign prospective buyers. Those are all activities we haven’t been able to do lately. As we’ve encountered international political crises, recessions, and trade wars in the past, I’m confident we’ll be able to work through this one.

These are unprecedented times. We will not be doing in-person business for a while into the future. But, I’ve been able to attend virtual events among the California DECs; I’ll be joining Trade Days in New Orleans via video conference; Training now is all online. Along with challenges brought by the pandemic, new opportunities to reach companies have emerged. I get the sense that spreading the word about international trade opportunities isn’t ever going to be what we once thought of as “normal.” But I think we can use this opportunity to adapt, innovate, and even improve our reach as we move forward.
Use the NADEC to help. The NADEC’s mission statement states that we will, “increase awareness and understanding of the importance of exports to the US economy through education, legislative outreach and engagement with DECs and other relevant stakeholders.” One of the most vital parts of that statement is “engagement with the DECs.” Without the 61 DECs and the roughly 1410 members, there wouldn’t be a reason for the NADEC to exist. The NADEC is designed to support the DECs in their endeavors.

  • Everything, including our last NADEC Conference, is now done online. If your DEC lacks some of the technological skills necessary to host events, spread your message, or manage a website, allow us at the NADEC to help.
  • If your DEC needs support getting expertise to write policy papers or letters to representatives, the NADEC can help with templates and spreading that message more widely. If your DEC has done policy work, please share it with others.
  • The NADEC is also a great platform to promote your regional activities nationally. In addition to sharing the events you’ve already had, let the NADEC know about your planned events. With the use of the technology that has become second nature this year, local and regional events can now be open to all 1410 DEC members and all the friends they can bring. Please see Local DECs Update section in this enewsletter and contribute your events if you would like them promoted nationally.

I encourage each DEC member to share with the NADEC thoughts on what we could be doing to give your DECs assistance at the national level. Please reach out to me or any of the other 19 NADEC board members and let us know what we can do to help you. Working together and in a new way, we’ll get through the tough times and become even better on the other side.

The companies that you help, advise, train, and encourage into entering the export market are fortunate to have your DECs for assistance. It makes me proud that we as an organization are still out there pushing forward in our mission.


Shawn Levsen, NADEC Cahir
512.248.9857 or

NADEC 2020-2021 Board of Directors:

Great Lakes – Nate Lamar
Great Lakes – Peter Coromilas Jones

Mid-Atlantic – Scott Blacklin
Mid-Atlantic – Jonathan Szucs – NADEC Vice Chair

Midwest – Tom Hulseman
Midwest – Tom Dustman

Northeast – Karen Wyman
Northeast – Urszula Wojciechowska

Pacific North – Chris Boyle – NADEC Secretary
Pacific North – Ernesto Pinal

Pacific South – David Day – NADEC Trade Policy Co-Chair
Pacific South – Nick Grooters

Southern – Jason Risner
Southern – Anne Burkett – NADEC Communications Officer

Southwest – Brenda Stelly
Southwest – Shawn Levsen – NADEC Chair

At-Large – Rudy Ortiz – NADEC Trade Policy Co-Chair
At-Large – Michael Salerno – NADEC Treasurer
At-Large – Sheriah Johnson – NADEC Education Chair
At-Large – Chuck Fiske

 Trade Policy Update

The Southbound Trade Initiative—

A fresh approach to trade and national security in the Americas

While China has made a substantial push into Central and South American and now is in a position to control both ends of the Panama Canal, the Americas are now faced with a unique opportunity to build a fresh, new approach to trade, national security and cooperation among all of the neighboring countries in the Western Hemisphere. This opportunity presents itself as a consequence of the convergence of several factors.

  • The implementation of the USMCA, and the use of the new chapters within the USMCA modeled for SMEs.
  • The heightened awareness of the extent of China’s investment and its Belt & Road presence throughout Central and South America along with the Caribbean islands.
  • The global restructuring of supply chains diversifying away from China and accelerated by the CoVid pandemic.

There are 3 other important pieces to this puzzle:

  • As the USMCA is built out among its 3 partner countries, there are a whole host of suppliers and sub-suppliers throughout the entire Hemisphere that currently support, or that could support in the future, the manufacturing and trade operations of the 3 USMCA partners with strong anticipated growth potential.
  • There are already a number of additional Free Trade Agreements in place between the U.S. and selected countries to the south of Mexico: Panama, Colombia, Peru, Chile, CAFTA-DR (Central America Free Trade Agreement- Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua).
  • There are, in addition, 2 additional multilateral trade agreements in place in the Americas: Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) and Alianza del Pacífico (Chile, Columbia, Peru, and Mexico). These agreements have worked to varying degrees of success.

The vision of a “Southbound Trade Initiative” (STI) is to build out a Regional trading bloc within the Hemisphere, consisting of producers and consumers in the region, and modelled partially after the USMCA. This NADEC initiative will be exploring the varying viewpoints on the STI, how it might be moved forward along with the Regional national security and foreign policy ramifications of such an initiative.

David F. Day and Rudy Ortiz, Co-Chairs, Trade Policy Committee
Ernest Pinal, Trade Policy Committee and Visionary for STI

NADEC Trade Policy Committee Note:

There will be additional details, articles and programs on the STI as we move into 2021. We encourage discussion and input on this new trade initiative created by the NADEC from our local DEC members throughout the country as we move forward.



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