News / Press Release

SpaceX CFO and U.S. SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet Kick Off 89th Annual World Trade Week Celebration

More than 600 business leaders and members of the diplomatic corps kicked off a month-long celebration of world trade in Southern California

LOS ANGELES – Today, SpaceX CFO Bret Johnsen joined Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, and more than 600 business executives and members of the diplomatic corp to kick off the 89th Annual World Trade Week at the Beverly Hilton.

Bret Johnsen, CFO of SpaceX, delivered the keynote address, in which he shared the work SpaceX is doing to expand space exploration in United States and spoke about the possibility of one day focusing on multi-world trade.

The L.A. Area Chamber’s annual Kickoff Breakfast jump starts more than 20 events hosted by partnering organizations celebrating world trade in Southern California. World Trade Week dedicates itself to educating the public on the importance and benefits of global trade on the local and national economy through a series of educational programs and events.

Prior to the keynote address, attendees also heard from U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, who advocated for promotion of safe and secure international trade, while emphasizing of the importance of small business to global trade. “Two thirds of all net new job growth is created by small business. At the SBA we focus on helping borrowers meet lenders in order to get SBA export loans and lines of credit.”

The morning’s program also included an award ceremony honoring individual organizations and companies that have had a major impact on the international trade community. In addition, as part of the World Trade Week’s Education Initiative, 17 local college and high school students were awarded scholarships totaling more than $10,000.

Mickey Kantor, partner at Mayer Brown, was awarded the Stanley T. Olafson Bronze Plaque to recognize his outstanding contributions as a member of the international business community in Southern California. While accepting his award, Kantor spoke about the vital importance of passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). “If we don’t pass TPA and TPP it will hurt trade policy for an entire generation,” Kantor said. “We have a major responsibility as people who care about our community.” Formerly the United States Secretary of Commerce and United States Trade Representative, Kantor has been called “arguably the finest trade negotiator in the world,” (Chambers Global 2006) and has been noted for his political insights and connections (Chambers USA 2007).

The Export Achievement Award was given to local companies, especially small and medium sized firms, which have experienced significant and continued growth in export sales, and now derive a significant portion of their revenue from exports. This year two companies were recognized – Aleph Group Inc. and Haas Automation Inc.

The Foreign Direct Investment Award was awarded to InBody USA for being a non-U.S. company that has made a significant investment in the Southern California economy.

Women In International Trade – Los Angeles was awarded the Bob Kleist Leadership Award and Los Angeles Custom Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association, Inc. was given the Service Achievement Award.


The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of business in L.A. County. Founded in 1888, the Chamber promotes a prosperous economy and quality of life in the Los Angeles region. For more information, visit