The Charleston metro region exported more than $2.4 billion in merchandise in 2012, up nearly six percent from 2011, officials said Wednesday.

The announcment came from Francisco Sánchez, Under Secretary for International Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Sanchez was the keynote speaker at the World Trade Center Charleston luncheon at the Charleston Area Convention Center this afternoon.

“The Charleston community and I share two important goals – to increase exports from local businesses and attract more foreign direct investment to our shores,” Sánchez said.

The luncheon also featured a Brookings Export Initiative update led by Geoff Schuler, chief operating officer of Boeing Charleston.

Several groups in the Charleston region are designing export strategies to grow the local economy.

Last year, The Brookings Institution identified Charleston among eight communities selected to participate in the Brookings Metropolitan Export Exchange, an initiative that will provide a road map for the region to develop an action-oriented export plan customized to the region’s assets and capacities,

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