Jakks CEO Berman

Jakks CEO Berman Photo by Ringo Chiu.

The nation celebrates World Trade Week for one week during May, but the city of Los Angeles honors the industry all month.

L.A has long run ahead of traditions on cross-border commerce – it became the first municipality to designate a week for an official celebration of trade in 1926.

This May will see numerous local organizations host panels, workshops and trainings on trade-related topics ranging from emerging technologies, cybersecurity, customs, investment, cargo, e-commerce and more.

The festivities were set to officially kick off on Friday, May 4 with a breakfast hosted by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the core organizer of the event.

“We’re expecting more than a thousand people, including representatives and consulates from than 30 countries,” said Carlos Valderrama, president for the Center of Global Trade and Foreign Investment at the chamber.

L.A. also happens to be the No.1 customs district in the country in terms of the value of two-way trade value, which counts both imports and exports, Valderrama said. The L.A. region was responsible for $431 billion in trade in 2017, figures boosted by the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach and Los Angeles International airport.

“This is part of why we celebrate World Trade Week,” Valderrama said. “We want people to understand the importance of the region. Forty percent of all goods headed to the rest of the country come through LA.”

Valderrama said that trade has also made L.A. the logistics capital of the nation. “We have a vast industry built around the ports including trucking, warehousing and distribution,” he added.

The L.A. chamber conceived the idea of World Trade Week specifically for the industry in Southern California, according to Long Beach-based Foreign Trade Association.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt officially proclaimed World Trade Week as a national observance in 1935, nine years after L.A. provided local recognition.

Q1 Performance

Santa Monica-based toymaker Jakks Pacific Inc. reported first-quarter earnings on April 26, noting net sales of $93 million were down 1.6 percent compared to $94.5 million the same period a year ago.

The company posted a net loss of $36.2 million, nearly double its $18.3 million in red ink in the first quarter of 2017.

The company cited the bankruptcy of retailer Toys R Us as a key reason for plummeting net sales.

“Not surprisingly, our business was significantly affected by two impactful events from Toys R Us,” Chief Executive Stephen Berman said in an earnings call with analysts. “Going into 2018, Toys ‘R’ Us bankruptcy filing last year had led us to expect store closures and therefore lower sales to Toys ‘R’ Us in 2018.”

Berman also used the conference call to discuss Jakks’ interest in a takeover offer from Hong Kong-based Meisheng Cultural Co.

Jakks confirmed that Meisheng had expressed an interest in acquiring additional common stock of the company in January. Meisheng already has an 18 percent stake in the company, and if the deal goes through, it would increase its voting rights to 51 percent.

“We have no new details to share at this point,” Berman said.

Funds for Clean Tech

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have put out a call for clean air technologies for cargo handling equipment that they will fund as part of TAP, or the Technology Advancement Program, which is under their joint environmental initiative Clean Air Action Plan.

Proposals are due by Tuesday, May 22.

CAAP started in 2006 to address the challenge of reducing harmful emissions from port-related sources including ships, trucks and cargo handling equipment.

Public or private entities are eligible to submit a proposal on a technology that will result in the reduction of air emissions, CAAP’s website states.

The technology needs to be beyond the research and development phase and have an existing prototype. The ports will cover 50 percent of the cost of the technologies accepted. It is unclear how much the ports’ have set aside in funding for this year’s TAP program.

The ports have distributed over $21 million in funds since 2007.

Staff reporter Shwanika Narayan can be reached at snarayan@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 556-8351.

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