University of Southern California

Special Report
USC Marshall MBA ABAC team lead invited to Vietnam to present findings
February 10, 2017 • by News at Marshall

With free-trade deals between the United States and Asian Pacific economies facing uncertain headwinds under a new administration, the issue of non-tariff barriers in agriculture and food trade has surfaced as a critical touchpoint. A team of USC Marshall MBAs have produced a research project on the topic that is getting high-level attention.

The USC Marshall ABAC team, a select group of MBAs who spend a year conducting exhaustive research on a given topic, presented its findings on non-tariff barriers in agriculture and food to the APEC Leaders Meeting in Lima Peru in November.



Some findings:

  • Without a smooth and unhindered trading environment, Asia Pacific economies will never attain food security for its citizens. Trade improves access to food, lowers costs, and protects economies from supply side shocks that can decimate socio-economic welfare.
  • Since 2007, close to 150 million people in APEC economies have been pushed into poverty due to rising food prices.
  • With a 60% increase in food production required to meet global demand by 2050, the world must work together to address the prevalence of hunger at a domestic, regional, and global level.

The full results of their research findings were well received at the APEC Leaders Meeting in Lima, Peru in November, and widely distributed. But with the drumbeat of protectionism and “America First” growing louder under the Trump administration, the USC Marshall ABAC research has become a part of the conversation. The team has been invited to Vietnam for more discussion.

USC Marshall ABAC team leader, Sarah Horn MBA '17, will be representing the team when she makes presentations to two groups of APEC policy makers.

"This is really a watershed moment for our ABAC team," said Carl Voigt, professor of clinical management and organization and the academic adviser to the ABAC team. "These high-level invitations are tantamount to being asked to testify before a congressional committee. Our MBAs are conducting research that is in demand by top foreign policy makers and being put into use. The bar has been raised.”

Horn has been invited by the government of New Zealand to be the keynote speaker for a Trade Policy Dialog organized by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Nha Trang, Vietnam, on Friday, Feb. 24.

Horn has also been invited by ABAC to present directly to the APEC Market Access Group on Feb. 25.

"I am so honored to represent USC Marshall and my esteemed ABAC teammates in Viet Nam," said Horn. "The research we presented in Lima was the result of countless hours of work and refinement under the guidance of professor Voigt. That we have been asked to present the information to new groups greatly validates our efforts.”

Each year, a select group of USC Marshall full-time MBA students undertake an exhaustive research project on behalf of the business arm of the Asian Pacific Economics Council (APEC), known as ABAC (APEC Business Advisory Council). Each year, that team travels to the APEC Leaders Meeting, where it presents its findings to a consortium of C-suite economic leaders, who in turn inform high-level government officials.

It is a real-world, high-stakes consulting project that USC Marshall has been undertaking every year since 2003. It is the only business school invited to make such presentations.

ABAC team members include: Rachel Bitter, Carlie Carpio, Jieyu (Steven) Chen, Michelle Green, Tania Hansraj, Sarah Horn, Jennifer Jodoin, Nicholas Shiya, Xiaozhu (Gillian) Sun, Nathaniel Thompson, Yiding (Debora) Zhang and Renhang (Michael) Zhou.


About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.