The Valley International Trade Association (VITA) Newsletter
Meet VITA's New Board of Directors!
"Doing Business Without Borders" Recap

The Valley International Trade Association hosted "Doing Business Without Borders" on May 1st at Bobrick Washroom Equipment. The resourceful event included four panel sessions and a networking mixer. 

Felipe Cusnir, Director of International Trade and Investment from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's Office of International Trade;  Julie Anne Hennessy, Office Director of United States Commercial Service and  Marianne Hughes, Western Region Director of Export-Import Bank of the United States shared available resources for business' export and international activities. The panel shared government resources available for cross border business. 

Andrew Sweibel, Vice President, International of Bobrick Washroom Equipment, Inc. and  Richard Brent, CEO of Louroe Electronics discussed export opportunities and manufacturer case studies. The panel shared their success' as local manufacturers doing global business and their experiences. 

VITA also recognized Andrew Sweibel for his contributions to San Fernando Valley Trade and support as a boardmember. 

Jeffery Daar, Partner of Daar & Newman, Lawyers presented on strategies to avoid disputes when doing business with other countries and shared tips on how to safely do business globally. 
Deborah Leonard, General Manager of Micronova Manufacturing Inc. presented on how to manage trade in uncertain times and discussed how to conduct cross-border business in our current uncertain times. 
The panels were moderated by Elizabeth Glynn of CMTC. 

Event sponsors included Bank of America, Van Nuys Airport and Bobrick Washroom Equipment. 

Event partners included The Valley Economic Alliance, CMTC and the Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. 

Photo 1: from left; Felipe Cusnir, Julie Anne Hennessy and Marianne Hughes. 
Photo 2: from left; Richard Brent and Andrew Sweibel.
Photo 3: Jeffery Daar.
Photo 4: from left; Elizabeth Glynn and Deborah Leonard. 
New Member Spotlight

Kayla Owens
Stein Shostak Shostak Pollack & O'Hara, LLP
Kayla Owens has practiced customs law at Stein Shostak Shostak Pollack and O'Hara law firm since 2002.  She is admitted to the bar of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Court of International Trade, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  She handles administrative cases with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and federal litigation.
The firm's practice involves a wide range of customs and international trade issues including tariff classification, valuation, marking, IPR protection and enforcement, seizures, forfeitures, penalties, prior disclosures, audits, antidumping, and import requirements administered by other federal agencies (i.e., FDA, EPA, DOT, CPSC). 
Visit for more information or contact Kayla directly at 213-630-8888 or
Jim MacLellan
Director of Trade Development
Port of Los Angeles

As Director of Trade Development for the Port of Los Angeles, Jim MacLellan is responsible for trade programs to encourage increased trade through the Port of Los Angeles and the Southern California Gateway. This includes education programs such as Trade Connect, Export University and TradeX to assist local small-to-medium size businesses entering global markets. 

He is also responsible for outreach to trade organizations, professional associations, chambers of commerce and other agencies to promote international trade development opportunities.

This thriving seaport not only sustains its competitive edge with record-setting cargo operations, but is also known for groundbreaking environmental initiatives, progressive security measures, diverse recreational and educational facilities, and LA Waterfront.

Visit for more information. 
Keith H. Fichtelman
Attorney and Partner
Lee, Hong, Degerman, Kang & Waimey

Keith Fichtelman is an attorney in California and New York, and a solicitor of England and Wales.  Keith's practice focuses on international dispute resolution and regularly represents clients in state and federal courts across the country, as well as representing and advising clients with arbitrations and litigation overseas.

Keith is also a partner with Lee, Hong, Degerman, Kang & Waimey law firm, which provides quality legal counsel to companies of all size ranging from Global 500 companies to small and family-owned local businesses. The firm practice areas include complex commercial litigation, international arbitration, commercial contracts, technology licensing, intellectual property (prosecution, transactions and litigation), product liability litigation and product regulatory counseling, labor and employment, acquisitions, and franchising, among others.  

Visit for more information or contact Keith directly at
VITA Board of Directors and Members Receive Awards during World Trade Week Kickoff Breakfast

VITA Boardmember Andrew Sweibel accepted the Export Achievement Award on behalf of Bobrick Washroom Equipment at the World Trade Week (WTW) Kickoff on May 4th at the  InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown Hotel. VITA was a proud partner during the week-long event series, which included their "Doing Business Without Borders" program on May 1st. 

This award recognizes companies in the five-county area that have demonstrated success in exporting or have provided significant export services to others over the past two years.  
Bobrick Washroom Equipment, Inc. is a 112-year-old global washroom accessory, toilet partition and child accommodation company headquartered in North Hollywood. Andrew, in his remarks expressed particular pride in the fact that Bobrick manufactures most of its products in the U.S., and sells throughout the world.

VITA Member Jim MacLellan, Director of Trade Development for the Port of Los Angeles was awarded the Stanley T. Olafson Bronze Plaque Award.  Chosen by the WTW Stanley T. Olafson Selection Committee and presented each year to an outstanding member of the world trade community in Southern California, the award recognizes those who, throughout their lifetime, have contributed above and beyond their job requirements to the development and advancement of world trade in the region.  Jim thanked all of Port of Los Angeles' partners in his acceptance speech.

The District Export Council of Southern California (DEC So Cal) was awarded the Bob Kleist Leadership Award. VITA Board Co-Chairperson, Brett Tarnet was on hand to help celebrate the win, as was VITA Member David Habib. 

The Bob Kleist Leadership Award recognizes and honors an organization or company that has demonstrated inspiration and visionary leadership in the development of world trade in Southern California. DEC So Cal members are appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, and volunteer their time in support of international trade in the region.

Photo 1: Andrew Sweibel receives award. 
Photo 2: The District Export Council of Southern California and friends. 
Out and About

At the 2018 Chinese New Year - Year of the Dog Dinner on February 27th, hosted by International Law Sections of The California Lawyers Association, Los Angeles County Bar Association, The Valley International Trade Association and Women in International Trade-Los Angeles. 

VITA's Board of Director's recognized Angela Amirkhanian for her service to the international trade community. 

Angela is Secretary on VITA's Board of Directors, former Treasurer of VITA and Senior Economic and Workforce Development Coordinator of The Valley Economic Alliance. 

At the Belt and Road Forum on April 27th at The L.A. Hotel Downtown, hosted by the Hong Kong Association of Southern California.

1,500 Students Explore Aviation Careers at Van Nuys Airport

Van Nuys Airport (VNY) has created another truly impressive, "The Sky's the Limit: Aviation Career Day." On April 27th, the airport hosted no fewer than 1,500 Los Angeles-area students for a day's worth of adventures into what makes the industry tick. Participants were also treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the history and daily operations of VNY, one of the world's busiest general aviation airports.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Nury Martinez, Clay Lacy Aviation, Van Nuys Airport and The Valley Economic Alliance hosted 54 exhibitors showcasing interactive exhibits, 17 static aircraft displays, high-tech video presentations and industry experts. VITA Member Robert Rodine exhibited on behalf of the United States Naval Academy. Pictured in photo 1 and 2.
Students participated in a panel discussion, "How to Enter a Career in Aviation", hosted by Aerolease/Aeroplex that offered insider career tips from panelists. Aircraft displays included a U.S. Navy F-18, NASA Armstrong Research Center BE-20 King, an LA Fire Department rescue helicopter and a WWII-era Condor Squadron AT-6. Industry experts, including personnel from LAFD and airport police were onsite to talk about their careers.

"In a time when the aviation industry is experiencing a shortage of pilots, air traffic controllers and other aviation professionals, it is more important than ever to introduce aviation to our students," said City of Los Angeles Councilwoman Nury Martinez. "This is a fantastic event that introduced youth to the many professions and opportunities available in aviation, many of which can be found right here at VNY," said Jim Hansen, owner and founder of Western Jet Aviation.

Major event sponsors included Clay Lacy Aviation, Western Jet Aviation and Signature Flight Support.

2018 Select LA Investment Summit
May 23 and 24, 2018

VITA is proud to be a partnering organization of the 4th Annual Select LA Investment Summit on May 23rd and 24th - an international trade event that brings together global investors with business and government leaders from around Southern California, hosted by Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation and Los Angeles World Trade Centers. 

Select LA is an essential platform for businesses seeking to secure foreign direct investment opportunities and gain exclusive insights into market trends and deal flow throughout the Los Angeles region. 

The program includes a keynote presentation by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and breakout sessions. 

Visit for more information and registration. 
Maersk CEO calls for end to shipping subsidies

Soren Skou, AP Moller-Maersk A/S Chief Executive, is calling for governments to withdraw their financial support for container shipping lines, saying subsidies and other backing are causing overcapacity and profit-crushing price reductions across the maritime industry.

"I don't think any government needs to throw money at container shipping, building ships that are not needed," Mr. Skou told a maritime conference in Singapore.

Denmark-based AP Moller-Maersk operates Maersk Line, the world's biggest container shipping line by capacity, and a pioneer in the use of so-called megaships -- massive vessels capable of carrying around 20,000 twenty-foot containers.

He didn't mention specific carriers. But operators like  state-run Chinese behemoth Cosco Shipping, South Korea's Hyundai Merchant Marine Ltd. and Taiwan's Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp. which have been benefiting from cheap state financing, bailouts and other perks for years.

In many cases, governments like those in Seoul and Taipei have pressed ahead with the support because of broader industrial and trade policies that support vast numbers of jobs, such as those in South Korea's shipbuilding sector, and provide critical transportation for exporters.
"In my mind there is no longer anything strategic about governments investing in shipping. The market will sort it out," Mr. Skou said.

Without pointing the finger at any one nation, he said companies are building ships that were "not needed, for companies who were not profitable and who do not have a profitable business model," he added.

His criticism comes as shipping rates on key global trade lanes have been slipping, threatening to undermine a recovery for ship operators from a recent downturn that led to broad consolidation among shipping lines.

The cost for sending a container from Asia to Europe, the world's biggest trade route stood at around $600 this week, less than half what industry experts say is a $1,400 break-even rate. Maritime executives estimate capacity outweighs demand by 20% on the route.

Alphaliner, a global shipping research group, forecasts that overall container vessel capacity world-wide will grow 6% this year, ahead of its projecting for 5.1% growth in demand. Capacity across the industry grew at a double-digit annual pace during the mid-2000s across the industry and has nearly doubled since the end of 2008, according to the group's figures.

"This is a very competitive industry," Mr. Skou said. "Even after we have consolidated, there are still more than 10 global carriers and we fight like only siblings can fight for market share, amongst other things."

The Valley International Trade Association | 818-379-7000 
The mission of The Valley International Trade Association is to promote  international trade by providing valuable resources, informational programs, referral assistance,  and networking opportunities.