The Los Angeles area is considered the Gateway For Trade, steeped in a long history of solid business and consumer relationships, groundbreaking innovation and tremendous resources. For 89 years, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce has worked with the Southern California trade community to spread the word about the financial benefits of trade, transportation and logistics, and the impact trade makes on jobs and opportunities within communities. 

We have seen those very opportunities germinate right here in Los Angeles. One of the greatest examples is the port complex of Long Beach and Los Angeles. This port complex is remarkably the largest in the country, the largest on the West Coast of our hemisphere and ranks among the top ten in the world. Additionally, the Los Angeles International Airport ranks among the top passenger and cargo airports in the world.As well, the Southern California logistical network moves more than $400 billion of cargo annually and is one of the most efficient in the world -- satisfying one of the most demanding, diverse and affluent consumer bases of nearly 20 million inhabitants. Furthermore, the strong entrepreneurship and diverse presence of manufacturers, service providers and financial services complement our geographic advantages. 

One of the most significant geographic advantages is having the Southern California trade community positioned at the gateway of the Pacific Rim, centrally located to capitalize on activity in the Americas with South America and Canada. Additionally, trade continues to grow in significance to our economy with Asia, the Americas, Europe and Africa.

While we recognize its history, we also understand the importance of its future.  It is imperative that our high schools and universities continue to enhance trade curriculum in order to prepare our students and give them competitive career opportunities related to trade transportation and logistics. The World Trade Week (WTW) celebration supports this by offering scholarships and outreach to high schools and universities. We also encourage the business community to continue to coordinate efforts by providing internships and experiences for students to have practical training.

Diversity in global markets, the composition of our global community (people, languages, cultures) represented, and varied industries are the strengths of the Southern California trade industry. We trade with more than 200 countries and have 209 languages spoken in our communities. We are not dependent on one trading partner, but instead have well-established ones, including China, Ecuador, Germany and Angola. We have the innovation to offer superior products that meet worldwide demands and have the capacity to purchase products around the world. Industries such as agriculture, auto, metals, electronics and aerospace make California unique. These innate qualities make Southern California extremely competitive.

While WTW allows us to laud the progress in trade tools and visibility, there are challenges that remain that can impede growth. Some of these include deterioration of natural resources, lack of infrastructure to support growth and failure to continue to create an educated workforce prepared to meet global demands. We must work together to not only remove obstacles, but also continue to keep Southern California competitive as the logical gateway for trade in the years to come. 

Our trade community must stay updated on the changing dynamics with key partners such as China, which has rapidly moved from a low-cost provider to a viable trade market for U.S. products.  We’ve also seen a shift from the U.S. dollar being the exclusive currency in global trade to increased usage of the Chinese renminbi.  Additionally, technological advancements, automation and robotics are impacting trade and job markets.  Companies are focused on improving their cash flow and mitigating their risks. Trade continues to offer new opportunities but these same opportunities demand new, competitive strategies.

I am honored to serve as Chair of the 2015 World Trade Week in Southern California and celebrate its 89th year that includes programs, scholarships and recognition of trade achievements. I’d like to recognize the collective efforts of the many trade organizations, business, educational and government members of the trade committee for their invaluable support. I encourage you to participate in the many WTW activities. We know trade is dynamic and as such, it is vital to stay abreast of the global and economic changes, potential risks and emerging opportunities. WTW will help you do just that. Moreover, our continued efforts to work together will keep the world recognizing Southern California as the Gateway for Trade.


Caroline Brown

2015 World Trade Week Chair 
Director, Global Trade & Supply Chain Solutions
Bank of America Merril Lynch