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American firms set their sights on Asia/Pacific marketplace

Key questions face the global companies as they seek to expand trade and investment in the region

Conference goers shake hands
Participants meet at the Asia/Pacific Business Outlook conference in Los Angeles. (Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging)

With the Trans-Pacific Partnership finally signed after seven years of negotiation, American firms seeking to expand their trade and investment to the Asia Pacific region are facing challenging questions:

“What are the current opportunities in Japan or Vietnam? What opportunities and challenges can firms expect from the Trans-Pacific Partnership? How can companies protect their patents and trademarks outside the United States?”

In a bid to answer those questions, the USC Marshall School of Business, in tandem with the U.S. Department of Commerce, hosted the 29th Asia/Pacific Business Outlook (APBO) conference.

The 2016 conference, held April 18-19 in downtown Los Angeles, attracted 400 registrants, according to Richard Drobnick, director of the IBEAR MBA program and assistant dean of international outreach, who has organized all 29 APBO conferences since 1988. This year’s participants came from 30 states and 20 countries.

APBO brings together business leaders for a comprehensive networking and learning experience designed to provide them with contacts and the latest relevant and valuable information available — all distilled into two days. Business leaders attend lectures, panel discussions and workshops featuring more than 70 academic, business and government experts, and schedule one-on-one appointments with senior commercial officers from American embassies and consulates in 18 economies.

We are honored to be able to bring together this kind of thought leadership under one roof.

James G. Ellis

“This is a conference that is critically important to us at USC as we move through our vision of globalization for our school and opportunities for our students,” said James G. Ellis, dean of USC Marshall. “We are proud and honored to be able to bring together this kind of thought leadership under one roof.”

Trans-Pacific trade

Diane Farrell, deputy assistant secretary for global markets in Asia, told the audience that senior commercial officers from 15 Asian countries, as well as Mexico, were available to answer questions, particularly about opportunities resulting from the signing of the historic Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“You are in the hottest markets that exist right now,” Farrell said. “One of the reasons we have these conferences is that we know that these markets are not easy and yet we see phenomenal potential.”

USC Marshall faculty contributions included lectures by Carl Voigt, professor of clinical management and organization, on cross-border e-commerce and by Nick Vyas, program director of global supply chain management, on the supply chain outlook for emerging markets. IBEAR alumni Kevin McAuliffe (Tokyo), Dan Ping Mu (Los Angeles) and Paul Wilson (Yangon) also spoke at the event. IBEAR alumni James Wen (San Diego), Yosuke Honjo (New York) and James Wong (Singapore) enlisted their firms Beimar, Ito En North America and Axcel Asia to become APBO sponsors.

Drobnick moderated panel discussions on China’s “New Normal” economy and on the Asian Economic Community and Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“The partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce has been fantastic,” Drobnick said. “We also appreciate the sponsors who have provided not just financial assistance but also tremendous intellectual assistance as speakers in many of our sessions.”

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