The President's Export Council ("the Council") was first created by Executive Order on December 20, 1973. Originally, the Council consisted of only private sector members drawn from business and industry, mostly CEO's of major U.S. companies. Eight of the members were chosen "without regard to geographic considerations." Twelve members were selected to provide appropriate regional representation. The Council advised the President on matters relating to export trade and report this advice to him through the Secretary of Commerce. Members served "at the pleasure of the President." Thus, a change in Administrations would bring a change in the Council. The Council's activities and operations were subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
Since its inception, the Council's mission has remained fundamentally unchanged: it advises the President through the Secretary on export enhancement and works with industry encouraging U.S. companies to increase exports and enter new markets. Its members serve at the pleasure of the President and its activities are subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act. On the other hand, changes to the Council's structure have elevated and expanded its voice in matters of export trade.
Under different Administrations, the Council has identified barriers to and opportunities for U.S. export enhancement. Certain issues have been a mainstay for Council attention: foreign market development; trade liberalization through multilateral and bilateral agreements; the effects of U.S. law, such as tax and antitrust law, on U.S. export performance; concern over export controls for national security and foreign policy reasons; and the effectiveness of U.S. trade promotion. The Council has encouraged U.S. industry to enter new export markets and has, through the operations of the PECSEA, made industry-Government dialogue on export controls a regular feature of regulation and policy-making.
All of past Council's recommendations and achievements are reported annually under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. However, the Council itself has no required reports. The Council has usually chosen to submit ad hoc recommendations to the President rather than lengthy reports. Nevertheless, since 1980, the Council has always prepared a major report to the President at the end of each Presidential term.