VITA Newsletter August 2015

The mission of The Valley International Trade Association is to promote the Greater San Fernando Valley as a leader in international trade by providing our members with valuable resources, informational programs, referral assistance and networking opportunities.

A Note from your VITA Chairman

The Valley International Trade Association presents opportunities for members of the international trading community to gather informally to share thoughts about their businesses, resources and ways in which to improve business in international trade. At each meeting, in addition to networking, we have educational presentations from experts in international trade. These give our members an opportunity to consider new ideas relative to the processes used in their businesses, conventions of conduct, governmental rules that are both foreign and domestic, as well as thought provoking ideas relative to marketing in emerging markets.

Attendees have opportunities to chat with and hear from experts in law and trading customs, taxation, financing transactions and methods to protect assets during transactions. Members of our Board are present at our quarterly networking and educational events and chatting with them provides an opportunity to connect with experts from a variety of professional disciplines in trade.

I hope to see you at our next Global Networking Breakfast on Wednesday, September 30th, for what promises to be an excellent presentation focusing on the effective use of the internet in marketing your import/export activities.

Robert Rodine, The Polaris Group
2015 Chairman, VITA

VITA Presents “Exporting in the Connected World” with Mark Matsumoto and Miguel Olivares

“Exporting in the Connected World” is a dynamic book for anyone looking to tap into today’s global market where trade happens at the click of a mouse and your virtual office is your smartphone.

Join authors Mark Matsumoto and Miguel Olivares on Wednesday, September 30th, at 8:00am, at the VITA Global Networking Breakfast in the Alliance’s BFG Boardroom in Sherman Oaks. Matsumoto and Olivares will share effective and empowering techniques on starting and growing your international business.

“Exporting in the Connected World” offers immediate, actionable tools and straightforward real-world advice. This event is great for professionals, entrepreneurs, and seasoned exporters looking for an edge, or those who wish to make their trade business a reality. Learn how to:

* Leverage the best free resources available.
* Find or develop an export trade-lead generation system at little to no cost.
* Spot an export winner that generates repeat orders.
* Establish private label products for export.
* Create a profitable online export marketing strategy using Google AdWords.
* Negotiate international techniques effectively.
* Start and operate an export business anywhere

Participants will also get a copy of the book!

Register at or click on flyer below.

State of the Professional Organizations Address

Join The Valley Economic Alliance and our partners for the State of the Organizations Address on Wednesday, October 7th, 4:00pm-6:00pm, on the 2nd floor of 5121 Van Nuys Blvd.

Organizations include:

  • The Valley International Trade Association (VITA)
  • The United Chamber of Commerce (UCC)
  • Valley Economic Development Corporation (VEDC)
  • Valley International Commerce Association (VICA)
  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)
  • Southland Realtors Association (SRAR)
  • Asian Business Association

Ugliest Mug Contest!

We will be serving appetizers and spirits. Bring your ugliest mug to use for refreshments. The ugliest mug wins a special prize.

Email to RSVP and join the fun.

New Member Spotlight

Victor Berrellez, Vice President & Sr. Relations Manager, American Business Bank

Victor Berrellez joined American Business Bank in 2013 as Vice President and Senior Relationship Manager at the Bank’s San Fernando Valley (SFV) office. He has earned over 23 years of commercial banking experience, having previously worked for Bank of America, Sanwa Bank and City National Bank. Prior to working in the banking industry, he owned and operated a company which specialized in importing electronics and wholesale distribution. He began his career as a marketing specialist with the Xerox Corporation in Southern California.

In addition to his professional responsibilities, Victor serves as a Director of Valley Community Healthcare in North Hollywood and other charitable enterprises. He also enjoys sports and spending time with his family.

Victor joined VITA to help improve the business environment and increase the Valley’s ability to export products and services. “As a lifelong resident of the SFV, I can recall when there were hundreds of companies dedicated to manufacturing, from small to huge, and most of the products made here were sent to other parts of the country and abroad. I believe that we can grow this exporting base again, through improvements in regulatory and economic structures. The Valley was once a hotbed of innovation and we can become that once more,” said Victor.

Importing/Exporting Made Easy

Online course by The Institute of International Commerce

The Institute of International Commerce has launched an extraordinary online international business course, entitled “Importing/Exporting Made Easy.” This course will teach you everything to know about becoming an international entrepreneur and is designed for people who are currently conducting business internationally as well as for people who are new to the field.

Each topic is taught in a simple, easy-to-understand format to prepare you to enter the world of global trade and get started with your international business. The course can be accessed any time with no tests and no textbooks and offers a practical approach to learning.

Topics covered include:

  • Determining what you want to sell and where it will sell best
  • Branding and licensing
  • Buying and selling
  • Importing and exporting
  • Financing
  • Transporting (logistics) and U.S. customs
  • Marketing, networking, and relationship building

Visit to learn more and enroll.

Photo Exhibit Brings Port’s History to Life

The true story of the Port of Long Beach will come to life in Port Town: A Historical Photo Exhibit, which starts a three-month run at the Historical Society of Long Beach, 4260 Atlantic Ave.

The exhibit, continuing through November 6th, is a companion to a new history book, Port Town: How the People of Long Beach Built, Defended, and Profited From Their Harbor, written by veteran Long Beach maritime industry journalists George and Carmela Cunningham.

With one-of-a-kind artifacts, ship models, rare photos and video, the exhibit tells the story of the Port of Long Beach and the men and women who built it from a marshy mud flat into one of the greenest and most modern ports in the world. Visitors will learn why the Port isn’t in Santa Monica, how a near disaster for the city turned into a benefit for the Port today, how a metal box changed the Port forever, and much more.

“This is our Long Beach history, one that we should all know and be proud to call our own,” said Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners President Doug Drummond. “I hope you will all come experience the fascinating story of our city’s greatest economic asset.”

Hours to visit the Port Town exhibit: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 1-5 p.m.; Thursdays, 1-7 p.m.; Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sundays and Mondays, closed. Special First Fridays evening events are planned on Sept. 4, Oct. 2 and Nov. 6.

Visit for more information.

Meridian Finance Group Updates

Credit Insurance Update for Major Export Markets

You need to offer competitive payment terms to grow your international sales. But what happens if you don’t get paid? Exporters can protect their foreign receivables against default risks with a trade credit insurance policy. Below is an update on the availability of export credit insurance-along with last year’s US export sales (which totaled $1.6 trillion in 2014) – for some of the leading US export markets.

LATIN AMERICA ($408bn): The region’s economy is growing but commodity prices and weak exports are impacting countries that lack domestic demand. Credit insurance is readily available for sales to Mexico ($240bn), Brazil ($42bn), Colombia ($20bn), Chile ($17bn), Peru ($10bn), and Central America ($33bn). Insuring export sales to Argentina ($11bn) is difficult. Venezuela ($11bn) remains entirely off-cover.

EUROPEAN UNION ($277bn): Export credit insurance is broadly obtainable for most of the region. The economies of Germany ($49bn) and France ($31bn) are stable but growth is flat. Italy ($17bn) and Spain ($10bn) remain of greatest concern, especially if Greece (<$1bn) were to exit the euro-zone. The UK ($54bn) and other non-euro economies are just as affected by the euro countries’ recession.

CANADA ($312bn): As an individual country Canada is the largest trading partner of the USA but economic factors are not all the same as here. Most of Meridian’s credit insurance clients with sales to Canada elect to include coverage on this market rather than risk bad debt losses north of the border.

CHINA ($124bn): After Canada and Mexico, the next largest country for US exports is China. The Chinese economy has slowed but demand for US products remains robust. Credit insurers are on-cover for China but exporters face challenges in obtaining relevant financial data on smaller Chinese companies.

REST OF PAC RIM ($272bn): Export credit insurance is broadly available for Japan ($67bn), South Korea ($45bn), Taiwan ($27bn), and most ASEAN countries ($79bn) as well as Australia ($27bn). These exporting economies are hoping global demand for their products will soon begin growing again.

Other markets where US export trade is projected to grow-and where credit insurers are offering coverage-include India ($22bn), Turkey ($12bn), parts of the MENA region ($71bn), Nigeria ($6bn), and South Africa ($6bn). Coverage is available but more restricted for the rest of Africa ($26bn). For both political and economic reasons, Russia ($11bn) is off-cover at the present time.

Meridian Finance Group provides trade finance tools that exporters use to grow their international sales, including credit insurance from every underwriter in the market. For more information, visit, call (310) 260-2130, or email

Euro VAT Refund Updates

United Kingdom’s VAT Filing Deadline is Approaching

Many U.S. companies are leaving Value Added Tax (VAT) money behind in Europe, including in the United Kingdom (UK). Are you one of them? The deadline for claiming back business – related VAT incurred in the UK between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015 on events, hotels, and other costs is fast approaching. Please contact Euro VAT Refund, Inc. before September 1, 2015 if you are interested in proceeding with a possible VAT refund from the UK.

Britta Eriksson, CEO of Euro VAT Refund, Inc. and VITA Board member will be speaking at the International Trade Conference; “Discover Global Markets: E-Commerce Strategies” in Dallas / Fort Worth, Texas, on October 8-9th.

North American companies will be able to gain insights, expertise, and knowledge about international market trends that directly impact the bottom line of dealing in e-commerce. This event will include high-ranking U.S. government officials, visiting U.S. commercial diplomats & international business leaders.

Visit for more information.

Vice President Joe Biden visits Bobrick Washroom Equipment, Inc.

Vice President Joe Biden visited VITA member Bobrick Washroom Equipment Inc., a manufacturing firm headquartered in North Hollywood, in what his staff said was an effort to promote the importance of middle-class jobs and to boost the nationwide campaign to raise the minimum wage.

Prior to holding a news conference, Biden toured the Bobrick plant with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. The visit came a day after L.A. County approved a plan to gradually raise the minimum wage in unincorporated areas of the county to $15 an hour, mirroring legislation passed in May by the L.A. City Council.

Company President Mark Louchheim led Biden through a concrete-floored assembly room where employees in safety glasses were bent over their work stations building and testing soap dispensers.

“Our job is to hire talent,” Louchheim said. Some of those at work had been employed at Bobrick for more than two decades.

Biden stopped to crack some jokes and talk with several workers who were hand-manufacturing the company’s new model of automatic soap dispensers.

“Hi everybody, how are you?” Biden said over the whine of power tools. “I’m Joe Biden. I’m looking for a job.”

Biden watched over the shoulder of Pamela Mesolella as she worked. Mesolella said she had worked at the company for 21 years.

In a speech on the factory floor afterward, Biden congratulated L.A. city and county officials for their wage-raising legislation, saying it would “change the circumstances” of those making the current $9-per-hour minimum wage.

“Now for somebody in that circumstance, that’s life-changing. It means you can maybe take your kid to a movie once a month and you couldn’t do it before. It means you can maybe fill the tank of your car one more time,” Biden said. “For people who have never worked for the minimum wage, who have never had to live on the minimum wage … it’s hard to understand how profound that change is.”

By contrast, Biden said, the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is inadequate.


New U.S. Customs Facility at Van Nuys Airport

VITA member Van Nuys Airport (VNY) recently announced the successful launch of its new U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility offering clearance services for arriving international flights that benefit business travelers, fuel the local economy and reduce airspace congestion in the Southern California region.

A dedicated 1,528 square-foot clearance facility officially opened on May 21, 2015 under the federal User Fee Airport Program, which reimburses CBP for all operating costs with fees collected from arriving aircraft. Since its opening, more than 100 international flights have been successfully cleared.

One of the world’s busiest general aviation airports, VNY had been without CBP officers since 2006 when on-call customs clearance services were suspended at all airports within the Los Angeles basin except Los Angeles International Airport. Over the past six years, VNY management has worked in close collaboration with airport tenants and key stakeholder groups to reestablish CBP services at the general aviation airfield.

“Van Nuys Airport is one of the most important civil aviation hubs in the country,” said U.S. Congressman Tony Cárdenas. “After years of advocating the return of customs services, I am proud to say that it is now the only general aviation airport in Los Angeles with an on-site Customs and Border Protection facility. I am very pleased about the jobs that the new Customs station will create, both at Van Nuys Airport and for airport customers throughout the San Fernando Valley.”

The return of CBP services adds significant convenience for arriving international travelers, who can fly directly to VNY without stopping first at another airport to clear customs. In addition to saving private jet travelers time and money, the service benefits the environment by reducing emissions from repositioning flights and decreasing overall operations within Southern California’s congested airspace.

“This new asset at Van Nuys Airport allows the airport to provide more efficient aircraft operations benefiting business, the environment and the public alike,” said Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nury Martinez. “Van Nuys Airport is a major economic engine that benefits working families in our community.”

Signature Flight Support, which advanced approximately $248,000 to construct a dedicated clearance facility, is responsible for collecting user fees and making payments to LAWA that are then submitted to CBP for staffing and operational costs. The dedicated CBP facility features an interview room, inspection room, office space and a high level of security, similar to that found at our nation’s large commercial airports.

Goods Movement Update by Governor Brown

Governor Brown recently issued Executive Order B-32-15 requiring an integrated plan to improve the economic competitiveness and the environmental performance of California’s goods movement sector.

Goods movement has long been one of California’s largest and most important economic sectors. Taken collectively, its components – shipping, port operations, rail, trucking, warehousing, etc. – represent roughly one third of the economic activity and one third of all jobs in California’s massive economy. By far, more goods flow through California’s ports than any other state in the nation. Indeed, the United States’ overall trade economy relies upon on California’s success in goods movement.

However, in an ever competitive global supply chain, California is under intensifying pressure to maintain and grow market share. The massive project widening the Panama Canal will be completed soon enabling goods to bypass California altogether to serve eastern U.S. markets. This, coupled with additional competition from improved port operations in Canada and Mexico, along with eastern U.S. states eager to poach our business, should give all Californians pause as we consider the long term implications to that one third of our economy mentioned above.

And if that weren’t complicated enough, California’s goods movement sector must operate within the nation’s strictest emissions regulations. Accordingly, industry has responded to state mandates by modernizing operations in order to meet and exceed emissions targets. A great example is the technological marvel that is the new Middle Harbor at the Port of Long Beach that will both boost productivity and reduce emissions through automation and low carbon operations. It represents the kind of major investment and commitment that industry is prepared to make when it is confident that the state is a willing partner.

This is why the Governor’s executive order matters so much. It sets forth a clear policy that we must achieve a proper balance between economic, environment and infrastructure needs. It reinforces the critical principle that the term sustainability must mean both environmentally and economically sustainable.

Indeed that policy has been evident thus far in the California Air Resources Board’s approach to the development of a new Sustainable Freight Plan that seeks to move the entire goods movement sector to zero or near zero emissions. A transformation of that scale can only happen through thoughtful, public and private collaboration and investment.

So as the Administration and Legislature now consider our future transportation funding and priorities, and as they determine how best to reinvest the proceeds of the AB 32 Cap and Trade program, they would do well to advance the policy outlined in the Governor’s Executive Order, and commit to creating the conditions in which California’s preeminence in goods movement can endure for generations to come.