The Hawaii Pacific Export Council (HPEC) was established in 1973 as one of 56 District Export Councils (DECs) nationwide as advisory committees to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s U.S. Commercial Service. HPEC is composed of leaders from the local business communities of Hawaii, Guam, the Northern Marianas and American Samoa, appointed by U.S. Secretaries of Commerce, whose knowledge of international business provides a source of professional advice for local firms.

HPEC has been in the forefront of providing advice and counsel about foreign markets, and in producing export education programs, since at least the early 1980s. In those days, local colleges and universities offered little or nothing in the way of practical export education and HPEC filled the gap with a monthly series of pragmatic seminars on subjects such as foreign marketing, financing international transactions and managing the logistics of international trade. This tradition of offering export education continues, though HPECs programs – reflecting better offerings on Oahu by our colleges and universities – now tend to focus on visiting experts and programs about selling in particular markets.

HPEC continues to try to awaken interest in foreign markets among our local business community through stands at local business fairs, seminars at appropriate conferences or trade shows, public speaking members and availability for specific counseling on issues encountered by local companies overseas. We also take advantage of international activities in our islands, such as organizing trade education events and an international trade show during the 2001 Asian Development Bank meetings in Honolulu. HPEC is gearing up now for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Honolulu in November 2011.

Our tradition of basic export education continues, too. We worked with the High Technology Development Corporation and the Foreign Trade Zone in 2009 to offer a five-week certificate course in international marketing, a program completed by five companies from Oahu and Kauai. HPEC is now planning further export education programs on Hawaii’s neighbor islands.

Other activities have included organizing trade missions (e.g., Hong Kong in 2008, Singapore in 2006) to introduce Hawaii companies to international trade fairs; testimony to the state legislature on international trade matters; and, of course, advice to the U.S. Department of Commerce.