Expanding export trade opportunities is an important strategy for increasing economic and employment success in the Appalachian Region. In 1995, ARC established the ARC Export Trade Advisory Council (ETAC) to advise the Commission on developing trade policy issues and to serve as an advocate for the Region within the global businesses community. Council members include trade directors and other officials from the 13 Appalachian states, international trade experts from the U.S. Commercial Service, representatives from the Development District Association of Appalachia, and members of the ARC federal staff.
Through the council's Appalachia USA initiative, created in 2005, ETAC members plan and administer a variety of activities focused on promoting export opportunities for businesses across the Region. ETAC helps establish and sustain export trade partnerships and information-sharing opportunities, and focuses special attention on helping small to medium-sized Appalachian businesses become more successful in international commerce. Projects include support for conferences and events stressing trade economics and best practices, and for research on issues affecting the Region's ability to engage, compete, and succeed in the global economy of the 21st century.
Each year business, civic, and academic leaders join together in Appalachia USA delegations, working to strengthen the Region's competitive presence in a variety of global markets, including Europe, Central and South America, and Asia. The council also works with colleges and universities on activities to strengthen the Region's global competitiveness, and works closely with the Network Appalachia initiative to enhance the Region's transportation access to both domestic and international markets.