Maya USD export with references

I am trying to export a USD file from Maya which will include references rather than hard-coded geometry. For example:

  1. Create new scene; Add a cone; Export as cone.usd
  2. Create new scene; Add a sphere; Export as sphere.usd
  3. Create new scene, Import cone.usd; Import sphere.usd; Export as layout.usd
  4. I converted layout.usd to layout.usda and examined the contents which has sphere and cone as Mesh with all their attributes. But I was expecting them to have references to sphere.usd and cone.usd which it does not.

Using: Maya 2020.2, Maya Connector 101.1.22, Windows 10

Import USD is like merging a file with the current file. We currently do not have an add reference to current USD in Maya. Currently, you could build this out using Create from you smaller USD files.

I’ll be sure to track an add reference feature in our system.

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I’m also noticing in UE, it seems as though the referencing works but after converting a scene from usd to usda, its actually hard-coding the entire cone.usd into layout.usd instead of referencing the file (like it does with materials). The odd thing is that updating cone.usd within Unreal appears to hot-swap the updated cone attributes into layout.usd (rather than just referencing). Why does it have this behavior and can it be changed to reference the file itself?