The article is focused on the theoretical definition of export promotion, in particular of its basic terminology. The first part of the article briefly describes the development of export promotion that is followed by the description of national systems of export promotion, which have appeared during the 20th century almost in every state. The national systems of export promotion form the empirical evidence on which the theory of export promotion has to be based. The author discusses various definitions and attitudes towards the examined topic as it is treated both in the domestic and foreign literature. As a result the article presents definitions of export promotion and the export-promoting policy as a term covering the state-lead activities in the area of export promotion. The overview and categorization of the export-promoting instruments form the final part of the article.